When the computer revolution started it was on a scale we can’t imagine today. I am not talking about the spread of the technologies produced but the scale of the actual machines themselves. The last 25 years of virtual insanity has molded the world into a fast-paced society that churns out new groundbreaking technology on an almost daily basis. In many ways it has enriched our lives with easier ways to connect, interact and to store information.
To celebrate the past 25 years of history, Markel directhas released data that delves into the Internet today, with over 1 billion websites and more than 24,000GB of traffic every second, compared to the Internet of 1989. It’s a mind-blowing look at just how far we have taken the ideas that once touched the very edges of our imagination and took them far beyond unimaginative science fiction that we once thought would take us thousands of years to achieve.
In an interactive presentation explaining the virtual insanity we have experienced, Markel has taken the collected data and compared the existing technologies today with the once astounding technologies back in 1989.
For example, today almost 70% of UK adults use their mobile devices to connect to the Internet. Back in 1989 the only way to even enjoy the Internet was to use a desktop with an external dial-up modem. As email is still the most used method of interaction over the Internet, the 2.3 million emails sent each second today (2014) would have cost a whopping £1.24 million ($ 1.94 million) to send as 2nd class snail mail back in 1989.
Today, 2,5+ Exabyte is created every 24 hours. This is equivalent to everyone alive filling 30 computers with the storage capacity of 16MB in 1989. To further tickle your fancy (and perhaps to relive the retro past), three days worth of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute. This is equivalent to 25 VHS cassettes worth of film every 60 seconds back in 1989.
I think it’s safe to say that the virtual insanity we have lived through is a testament to the greatness of the human mind. I have no doubt that the speed and ingenuity when it comes to groundbreaking technologies will only increase from here on forward. As said at the beginning of this article, we see it on an almost daily basis, and it’s not about to stop anytime soon. We here at Bit Rebels strongly suggest having a closer look at the mind-blowing virtual insanity interactive presentation that Markel has produced. It is definitely going to positively change your look on the technology achievements that we have enjoyed in the last 25 years. Enjoy!
Click Image To Launch Interactive Presentation
25 Years of ISP Evolution – A Snapshot Of The Facts
The Virtual Insanity – Changing Homes And Businesses
“When you have an opportunity to hire LeBron, you hire LeBron.”
It was with this matter-of-fact explanation, that Zenefits co-founder and CEO Parker Conrad summed up what might be the most impactful decision in his already impressive company’s young history.
Beyond raising nearly $ 84 million in less than two years since first launching the small- and mid-sized business (SMB)-focused SaaS HR platform. And, beyond growing faster than any enterprise software company in history – a staggering 30 percent month-over-month – including recent darlings Workday, Yammer, and NetSuite. Conrad and the company’s board are betting Zenefits’ ability to maintain, and dare they predict accelerate this growth on the addition of their Lebron: David Sacks.
Sacks, the founder of Yammer (acquired by Microsoft for $ 1.2 billion) and former PayPal COO, has agreed to join Zenefits as its Chief Operating Officer, and will also be joining the company’s board of directors and making what the parties describe as “a significant [but unspecified financial] investment.”
It’s a bold move for a company that is by all measures a rocket ship, with a product-focused CEO who is by all accounts a rockstar, to bring on another enormous personality with many of the same attributes. But at the same time, the alignment between Sack’s experience and Zenefits’ current direction and growth-induced challenges could not be a better fit. Conrad and Andreessen Horowitz* (A16Z) partner Lars Dalgaard, along with the rest of the board, are betting that Sacks’ addition will be exponentially additive to the business.
“Parker [Conrad] is a world class product builder,” Dalgaard says. “Add in Sacks and, holy shit, the synergy is going to be insane. I mean look at the things he’s been involved in – PayPal, Uber, AirBnB, Yammer. I’m quasi-jealous that I don’t get to work on the front lines along with both of them.”
Where Zenefits and Yammer share similarities is in the two companies’ effectiveness in delivering consumer levels of product usability to solve enterprise problems. Sacks is credited with pioneering this type of approach at Yammer, and Conrad has grabbed the baton and continued running. Together, the theory goes, Zenefits will have two product visionaries and twice the leadership muscle available to execute those ideas.
But with any change as significant as this one atop an organization, there’s reason to give pause and ask, what could go wrong?
It has been since Sacks left PayPal in 2002 that he has been anything other than the senior-most decision-maker in any sizable company. It’s also been at least that long since he’s held a senior management role at a company that he didn’t found. The act of buying in, wholeheartedly, to another founder’s vision, and then answering at the end of the day to that person, as your boss, will no doubt be a different experience – especially for someone as successful and highly-regarded as Sacks. Put another way, that’s a lot of ego and personality to fit in one C-suite.
Dalgaard seems unfazed by this possibility. In fact, if I had to describe his attitude toward Sacks joining the Zenefits team, I’d call it jubilant. Or maybe ecstatic. Or out-of-his-goddamn-mind-excited. At least, that’s the way it came across when we spoke over the phone earlier this afternoon.
Like most people, Dalgaard has enormous respect for what Sacks has accomplished. And, coming from the founder of SuccessFactors, which achieved its own $ 3.4 billion, that’s high praise. But where Dalgaard had the most good things to say about Sacks was around his approach to this new role and in the way he and Conrad have begun to mesh.
“This could have gone so many other ways, when you put two rockstars together like that,” Dalgaard says. “But they remind me of Jay Z and Timberlake. Did you go to that concert? When they were up on stage together, they wanted to play together, to share the stage. It made it so much better for all of us in the audience. And that kind of thing is a leading indicator of how revolutionary businesses will be built. The modern world of management is collaborative. Sachs is about, ‘Whatever needs fixing, I’m gonna jump in and fix it,’ rather than complaining about ‘Why don’t I have sales?’ It would have been much harder to convince Parker if it wasn’t David we were talking about.”
As Dalgaard pointed out later, Sacks has nearly unlimited choices about how to spend his time. With more money than he could spend and, by his own admission countless offers to become a VC, the very fact that he’s joining Zenefits – and also investing his money into the company – represents a major vote of confidence.
About that investment, Conrad tells me that he was initially surprised by the suggestion – after all, incoming executives typically get equity grants as part of their compensation package, they don’t buy shares. But the opportunity to have Sacks involved in any way possible was a welcome one.
“For me, investing is a sign of my commitment to the company,” Sacks tells me. “If I’m going to invest all of my time, I wanted to make a financial investment as well.”
“It’s more common than you’d think [for incoming execs to also invest],” Dalgaard says. “The only reason it’s somewhat uncommon is that few people have the money to do it when taking a role like this. To me it just says that he want to maximize his ownership benefit and that he understands secret economics of, ‘when you find the right one, go after it with everything you’ve got.’ Sure, as investors, we don’t like to get diluted. But we just ask, ‘Will this person be worth the dilution?’ We think that David could make this a $ 50 billion company, which would be a first in this category.”
As Dalgaard notes, Sacks won’t be a traditional COO in the (Steve Jobs era) Tim Cook or Sheryl Sandberg sense, meaning he’s not being hired to keep the trains on track while some mad scientist CEO focuses on the big picture. Rather, his role will be to act as more of a fixer or pinch hitter executive – Conrad used the word “partner” – to take on and own whatever area of the business needs his attention at any given moment. In broad strokes, he will be involved in product, operations (including customer support and account management), and finance. But, from the sounds of it, those are hardly lines drawn in permanent marker.
“I’ve had a lot of those conversations [about becoming a VC], but I realized I like operating a lot better,” Sacks says. “Sure, it’s fun to be an investor because you get to participate in a lot of things in a lot of small ways. But for me, it’s more fun to be a big part of companies, particularly ones growing at breaknet speed. The thing that impressed me is that Zenefits has done in one year what it took Yammer three years to do. They’re resetting all the benchmarks. They’ve grown something like 20-X in the last year.”
Zenefits’ growth has been truly otherworldly. In addition to 30 percent monthly revenue growth, the company has grown its user base 1,600 percent this year, reaching 2,000 businesses with over 50,000 employees across 47 states. And after starting the year with 15 employees, Zenefits now has grown its full-time headcount to 470 (including 120 in a Phoenix satelite office) and has sights set on reaching 1,300 by the end of 2015. With that kind of scale and pace comes an entierly new set of challenge, ones that few people have ever seen. Sacks, it just so happens, has seen them twice and found success both times.
A16Z took the unusual step of leading both Zenefits’ Series A and Series B rounds (coming in January and June of this year, respectively), making the firm far and away the largest outside shareholder in the company. Dalgaard says he’s met with Conrad at least once a week, each week, for the last year – an unsurprising fact given the promise and pace the business has demonstrated.
“The thing is the management team is executing, and we’re happy, so this isn’t a situation where we’re saying we need to fix this,” Dalgaard says. “It just that the growth is so big. Really, it’s that there’s so much to go after, that we can’t go after it all with the current structure and the current team. But we can go after more of it with [Sacks.] Blasphemous as it sounds for a technology startup, sometimes you actually have to consider not growing so quickly unless you have the right people. Now we have the righ people. David has that special X-factor. Everything he touches is just magic, he has magic coming out of him.”
Zenefits already appears destined for greatness, so it’s hard to imagine things could get much better. But, just as when aiming a rocket ship for the moon, it only takes one small wobble for things to end up massively off course. Adding Sacks to an already well-oiled machine is certainly a gamble. But it’s a calculated gamble Conrad and Dalgaard appear eager to make. Sacks too, is voting with both his time and his wallet.
[*Disclosure: Andreessen Horowitz partners Marc Andreessen, Jeff Jordan, and Chris Dixon are investors in Pando.]
Michael Carney is a West Coast Editor at PandoDaily, covering venture capital, financial technologies, ecommerce, on-demand services, and the future of television, among other subjects. He has spent his career exploring the world of early stage technology as an entrepreneur and early-stage investor, working in multiple countries within North and South America and Asia. He is an enthusiast of all things shiny and electronic and is inspired by those who build businesses and regularly tackle difficult problems. You can follow Michael on Twitter @mcarney.