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The folks who brought us Zillow and Expedia today unveil Glassdoor -- a site that could have a powerful effect on the business landscape. Rich Barton, Zillow's CEO and co-founder of Glassdoor, calls the new venture a TripAdvisor for companies.
Glassdoor sets up a way for people to rate the companies they work for -- anonymously, of course. A Microsoft employee can respond to a survey of 16 questions about job satisfaction, enter information about his or her salary, reply to essay-style questions, and give CEO Steve Ballmer an approval rating. In exchange, the employee would get full access to the site -- a "give to get" formula intended to convince people to participate.
If it works -- if people enthusiastically jump in the way they do on TripAdvisor -- then Glassdoor could be profound. Barton and Glassdoor CEO Bob Hohman showed me a preview. Anyone trying to decide what company to work for could get a view of the company previously only available by word of mouth.
You could starkly see how happy engineers are at, say, Google vs. Yahoo. One page Hohman showed me compared engineer salaries at Yahoo, Google, Microsoft and Apple, showing that Apple pays far less than the other three -- but still woos engineers who believe in Apple's philosophy. Another page shows that Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang has a not-great approval rating while VMware CEO Diane Greene has one of the top approval ratings in the industry.
Glassdoor won't just be a boon to job seekers. It could become an important investment tool, helping Wall Street see more clearly into a company and its prospects -- from an employee point of view. It certainly will be a resource for journalists -- a window into a company almost impossible to come by otherwise.
Barton and Hohman initially funded Glassdoor, and it since raised $3 million from Benchmark venture capital firm. It plans to make money on advertising and keep the site free to anyone who contributes information. Hohman says filters will help prevent companies or disgruntled employees from gaming results.
All in all, Glassdoor struck me as one of the more important new Web ventures I've seen in a while.
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