Pamala Temple Co-Founder and CEO A Place For Mom



welcome to the first installment of the

spring 2017 UC Santa Barbara

distinguished speaker series I'm John

great house you can follow me on twitter

at John great house we have a great

guest with us tonight

Pamela temple CEO and co-founder of a

place for Mom

Pamela co-founded the company in 2004

the next 11 years she served as the

company's CEO she currently continues to

serve at the company as the chairman and

she's still overseeing the aggressive

growth that the company is experiencing

during her years as a CEO a place for

mom was honored by both Deloitte and

Touche and Fast Company is one of the

fastest growing tech companies in

America prior to starting a place for

mom Pamela was us in this work in the

senior housing industry primarily as a

VP of Sales and a VP of Marketing and

that's very that's a very important

lesson there for would-be entrepreneurs

it makes a ton of sense to learn the

industry that you think you might want

to start a business in it's going to

increase your chances of success

dramatically if you just come out of

school you don't have experience in a

particular market it's gonna be hard for

you you're not gonna have a network

you're not going to know the people the

industry you're not going to understand

how the industry works and every

industry is unique and Pamela cut her

teeth in that industry before she

decided to start a company in that

industry I love her vision it was very

clear it's very concise finding a better

way for baby boomers to find the right

care for their aging parents she was

able to execute on that vision ended up

helping millions of seniors extend the

quality of their life through better

healthcare and through better living

changing the world folks the company

also has a in addition to its service

component a software component it sells

a customer relationship management tool

into senior housing facilities so they

were software and there was service

combined in the company so Pamela led

the company from lean startup friends

and family caches

can boot strapping in 2006 she raised

money from a top-tier venture firm

battery ventures and four years later in

2010 she sold a majority stake in the

company to a private equity firm Warburg

Pincus and we're gonna talk about why

she did that we're gonna talk about

taking picture capital money and we're

gonna talk about what you know why not

an IPO why not another exit because I'm

sure the company considered all of those

possibilities she earned her bachelor's

degree in speech pathology and audiology

from Clarion University and she earned a

master's degree in health care

administration from the University of


we are so happy the Pamela lives in

Santa Barbara and has joined our tech

community I've already seen the impact

that she's making

she's networking in our community in a

big way which is wonderful to see but

I'm most excited that Zoe her 13 year

old daughter is here with us tonight

she's getting to watch her mom up on

stage and even more excited by the fact

that Pamela's mom is here so we have

three generations of Pamela's family

celebrating her entrepreneurship and her

success with us and I think that is so

important family first is one of my

credos your family is the most important

asset in your world and you really have

to service your family and I think it's

a great testament to Pamela that not

only is her daughter here but her mom's

here too Pamela is a is addicted to

playing tennis which means I will never

play tennis with her I'm theirs I'm far

too easily embarrassed and I am NOT

gonna get anywhere near her on a tennis

court and she's actually in the in the

early stages of ID aiding and

researching her new business and we'll

see how good I am at getting a little

bit of information about that new

business when we chat let's welcome

Pamela to our class

Wow yes I know those long introductions

I'm known for I just try to shorten them

but there's you've done so many things I

wanted to get some of those out on the

table thank you so when you were in

college so we have a lot of college

students here and then a lot of the

folks that watch this online or younger

a lot of them are emerging entrepreneurs

so when you were in college did you

anticipate that one day you'd be sitting

up here having run a company for well

over a decade a sizable business quite

successful what what was that path in

your mind when you were out here well

I'd like to say yes but really I was

thinking how do I pay off all these

student loans and I did always want to

be an entrepreneur though I started my

dad was an entrepreneur my mother is an

entrepreneur and essentially when I was

8 I went to my dad's company and he had

the chair the first chair from 1950s

that actually rocked and moved around

and I thought this is where I want to be

this is fantastic you can spin around

yeah it's just we had a calendar with

our name on it and it was just to me

that just seemed like a lot of fun so

that that seed was planted and then when

I was in college I actually realized

about two years in as a speech

pathologist that I did not want to sit

in a small room with one other person

for the rest of my life and I went oh no

because when you're taking you know yeah

science you know the science of sound

and the anatomy of the speech and

hearing mechanism it doesn't transfer

well to other things so I ended up

taking a lot of business courses kind of

started shifting and though I was

offered a full scholarship in speech

pathology I went and paid an enormous

amount of money for my master's degree

because I wanted to make that switch

because I wanted to get into management

and eventually entrepreneurship so what

if you don't mind me asking what was an

initial drive to take that major

teenager looking down a well I don't

know I think I wanted to I thought I

wanted to work with children I really

wasn't sure and I I just met with some

other students here it's like yeah I

just don't know exactly where I want to

plant that flag and you know part of my


I'll never regret being a speech

pathologist it's framed Who I am how I

think system structure there's a whole

lot of things so no matter even if you

do take a wrong turn or you have you

don't have the ideal job just take all

of that you can from it and then just

move on when you can yeah you know at

that point it seems really dire I had

two years ahead of me more speech

pathology classic so what am I gonna do

but you know you just do it and and and

it was a great stepping stone well I had

a student in my office hours today with

that exact dilemma he's innocent he's a


what's my major gonna be he wasn't able

to pursue the major he wanted to for a

variety of reasons and I know parents

hate to hear this but it doesn't matter

that much

it really doesn't learn as much as you

can and keep your eye on the prize if

you if you think you're an entrepreneur

it'll you you will figure it out right

you're not you're not destined to be an

accountant just because you've got the

accounting degree I have an accounting

degree I'm not an accountant so you can

you could still pick whatever path you

want to pick but it does seem dire when

you're 20 years old you're spending a

lot of money right yep so you came out

you got you said I need to make a left

or a right and I'm gonna I'm gonna pivot

a little bit I'm gonna get that business

degree then what was that next step

right out of right out of them because

now you have more debt you got to feel

like you got to pay it off right and

then you have more debt and so then it

was and also I just loved College and

wanted to keep going but I needed to

make that shift so I got the masters in

Healthcare Administration which is sort

of like an MBA for healthcare very kind

of specific a lot of people who have

that degree go to be hospital

administrators which sounded really

extremely boring to me did not want to

do that so I was in this program and

again like what everybody's doing this

but I want to go here

and so I just did I just went a

different way and I ended up going into

kind of administration of rehab and one

of my favorite courses that my master's

program was what we called at the time

strategic planning I know that's really

outdated term now and but it was sort of

this kind of a class where we got to

create a business and I actually created

friendship village which was an elder

care way yes I know I can't even believe

it sometimes I

I did that at that time so everybody

else was creating hospital programs and

products and things for you know that

type of and I created this thing in

elder care and so it was it was

percolating and you know it it didn't

Proform out real well

uh-huh at the time so I didn't you know

think all I'm gonna jump into this and

do it and then I I interviewed with

Ernst and Young and everybody you know I

had we all went out and interviewed and

had you know this big consultant

consulting firm that I could have gone

to work for and I chose to work for a

rehab company and people were what are

you doing you know weren't done yet and

I just took a different way in a

different path and for the longest time

I was like did I make a mistake yep you

know should I have done that it would

have been much broader experience much

more pay but I just you know you just

got to follow your heart at some level

even if it doesn't seem like that's what

the in crowds doing but I do but I think

I taught a class right before this one

and and one of the terms I used today

was when everyone's digging you should

sag if you're an entrepreneur so if

everyone's doing something you should

just at least question that like why are

they all doing that maybe there's

another path here for me so it sounds

like that's what you did maybe it was

more implicit but you just didn't follow

the herd and say well guess it's

consulting right and I and I didn't do

it because I thought that would lead for

me to be an entrepreneur I really just

that's what I just thought that was a

more interesting job yeah and I think if

you follow your heart that way it will

lead you to better things versus trying

to you know right but the circle into

the square yeah being a bit of a

contrarian often pays off this year as

you're an entrepreneur so let's just

stay in that mindset of being a young

you know young college person or

somebody around the college age I know

that I want to talk about sales and

marketing because I love the fact that

that was your focal point because that's

the heartbeat of business but at that at

the time that you are student is there

anything that you think would have

prepared you better for running a

business if you if you if you sort of

knew oh I should focus on this now so

it's gonna pay off later right you know

I think lots of things but and even for

my daughter you know I love that the

schools now do more about presenting

mm-hmm I was actually extremely shy I

didn't speak out

until I was in fourth grade so the fact

that I could even do this now is kind of

America your mom's here we can check you

on that we should check that okay I'm

gonna keep coming back here and and so I

think you know you get into these great

schools like you're here and you have

the IQ and I think it's the EQ yep and I

was so interested that recently Zoey

came home and told me you know we're

doing this test I forget how she

explained it but essentially it was a

test for EQ not IQ and not math it was

how well do you work with teams how kind

are you how caring are you and you know

I don't know how you teach that but you

can I found throughout my career that

really made a big difference just being

real and not always worrying about the

spreadsheet or the PowerPoint or the

word it's just like a relationship yeah

I think it's being self-aware

I think being self-aware knowing what

works for you what does it work for you

you can't really form an effective team

around yourself if you're not honest

with yourself yeah sometimes that

honesty comes with maturity I know when

I was the age of most of the folks here

I you know I didn't I wasn't stuff aware

because I just wasn't able to be honest

with myself yes to what I couldn't do

well what I couldn't do well right a lot

of times we want to keep those negative

things we have we did this I don't know

it was really horrific actually this

song this thing we did at our company

which we'd kind of like have systemized

calling each other out on our weird

stuff we do you know like we could all

say to each other in a in a safe

environment though like you know so when

you're in those groups you can stop and

say what if we all did this in a kind

way but just sort of like well I wish

you would answer emails a little quicker

and I wish you would you know whatever

what but it was to help us grow not to

be you know hard on each other right to

help us grow so was that a formal

process you started at the company when

he got bigger or what it was probably

more it at the earlier stages and you

know you mentioned co-founder I will

mention I had

great co-founders who are still my very

very very best friends and you know so

much fun and we were all always able to

take it to the mat and get up and be

like yeah yep you got to be able to let

it go at some point we we had Brian my

one co-founder always had a saying which

was um admit quickly when your idea

sucks you know just like get over it and

move on and you know that's a that's a

big thing in companies because sometimes

you just like you know just want to hold

on to something for whatever reason and

you need to kind of take a deep breath

and you need to fight for it and go to

the mat but you also need to get up and

let it go we we you know I think that

mutual respect really important one of

the companies that I did in town I think

one thing we did well was it was never

one person's idea like we didn't take

ownership of the idea right that's

Brian's idea that's John's idea so true

it was just it's an idea it has an

advocate and I might be against that how

do you know right if something changes

if I learn something new it's it's

easier said than done but I think the

way you do it is you start with that

mutual self-respect don't get everyone

you know it's not it's not personal you

have a lot but I don't agree with you on

this one and you can leave the room

understanding that it's right it's not

personal he just doesn't agree with me

on this issue yeah makes it easier so I

want to get back to the sales and

marketing that was something that you

were drawn to what how did that manifest

itself were you just the the person that

naturally organically that you were the

the right person and you had the you had

those VP positions and before you

started the business was it was it was

it a bit of a dynamic of your other

co-founders or is it just preordained

that you were the right person to go out

there well that was my experience it's

one of the reasons why our co-founder

ship works so well as I was deep into

sales and marketing on John Zoe's dad

was deep sort of so many things but

finance and technology and big-picture

thinking he worked at Microsoft and then

Brian and these guys went to Columbia

together they were roommates Brian had

had done multiple startups many where he

liked just

like you know just missed a variety of

things I can really interesting stories

I can tell you about but but you know I

think having the three it was clear that

that was my kind of different things and

that when we were great at internet

pointing it's technology and then the

marketing sense that first job I took

out of out of out of school was so I

could go work for instant young actually

took a sales and marketing job at a

rehab a head injury rehabilitation

property that was actually a large

company but I worked at one of their

properties and I ended up transferring

with that company many times and just

kind of set the stage and it sort of

grew from there I encourage you you know

emerging entrepreneurs do sales even if

you feel like it's you're not

comfortable doing it even if it's not

gonna be your career because it is the

heart of business I mean if you're not

you know just about how good your

product is and we all know that many

inferior products did quite well because

the fact that they had strong sales and

marketing behind them yeah it's just

something you have to especially if

you're uncomfortable doing it you should

really try to do it

absolutely and we appreciate it and

understand it even if it's not a


it is the revenue you know and right you

know there was one plaque at one company

I worked out I won't say which one cuz

kind of mean but you know it had his

name there had his name looking at him

but on the other side it said it's the

revenue movement I mean it kind of not a

nice way to put it but true and and so

many times when I meet with

entrepreneurs are really excited about

their idea but what's the revenue model

right and who's gonna do it

and it's okay you're not gonna do it

sorry well but you have to invest like I

I have some companies I mean that's it

and they think well you know we can do

it you don't hire the sales right so

yeah and pay the person more than anyone

else I reward those people let him make

more than I had to us people make more

than me and I was quite happy to be

because they were ringing the cash

register so counterintuitive but it

makes so much sense yeah yeah so so as I

mentioned in the introduction you've

worked in the industry which i think is

brilliant you sort of understood the

industry as an insider would what led to

that what led to the jumping off points

in business so clearly there was other

there were other players in the market

delivering that service what was the

product market fit that you guys saw as

a differentiator and caused you to do it

well this was an interesting story so I

would like to say I was sitting down

penciling it out but what happened was

John was being recruited by Brian to go

to this startup which was in Hawaii and

it was all you should have done that one

well let me tell you where it went and

you actually say yeah you probably

should've done that so this was the

first VRBO or air B&B if you will it was

called something you never know because

they never did make it but basically so

John was gonna go there I'm working in

senior housing I'm doing my thing and

I'm watching John look at this

opportunity and drawl the spreadsheets

and this could be enormous it's just in

Hawaii but they could go worldwide raise

a huge market right yep yep and but he

decided not to go to do it because it

was underfunded which is a good reason

and at the time you know you don't have

you know all the everything out pretty

this is 99

so it's everything's booming yeah but he

thought that Expedia or a ll or any of

those guys at the time we're gonna get

into it and just put so much money into

it that it was not that they were just

gonna drown so he chose not to leave

Microsoft to go do that but as I was

watching him look at this I said well

nobody does that

in eldercare and it's much harder to


elder care for your parents than it is

to find a vacation rental home in Hawaii

much harder yep and so the values there

and the pain points there and literally

we were at our kitchen table that light

bulb came on and then we started to go

and two months later Brian and I had

quit our jobs so he left the Hawaiian

company we started this it was just

immediate so keep your eyes open and

always be applying right I think is the

motto there because it wasn't really I

had tried to start a company before but

when I was 28 and then now at this time

I'm 37 so I can took me that much more


kind of get to that point again where I

could do it right and I also had the

right idea you've got to have the right

idea to something you're passionate


right and and again something I'm gonna

go to the first student question in a

second year so I think I think that's an

important lesson is oftentimes you'll

see a business opportunity in the wrong

market but that opportunity of a

marketplace for instance in your case is

a great idea just need to be applied in

a different in a different way yeah and

you had that experience at the eldercare

but I'm just curious so that what was

the competitive landscape at the time

where there are other people that were

just doing it poorly or what made you

think that you know this so you had the

Hawaii experience you said I think I can

do this in this space but yeah so there

was that what we called mom-and-pop so

at the time I was living and working in

Portland Oregon and we had multiple

properties in nine western states so I

knew nine states okay some states had

senior housing referral services very

like susie-q you know little bubble pop

really local very and you know some days

they were working in some days they

weren't you know it was like a little

homegrown business yeah and so I knew

they were out there and I liked them

because as running properties properties

don't make money until they're at ninety

percent occupancy so everybody thinks

they're all whole well they're not and

even that last 10% is their marginal hmm

so that you have to have the next

patient because a resident because of

course these people are 85 right you

have attrition right and they're going

places and so it's it's really critical

to make that margin it's a very tough

business so knowing that I I wanted

those types of folks but I they just

weren't out there right and so that said

neat and I am gonna go to the student

cushion but I have another follow-up so

so you were you you saw this opportunity

I was a lot of it was local did you have

that national idea in your head at the

beginning like we're gonna go national

with this thing or was it we're gonna

own the northwest or national really a

hundred percent because that's a big

vision well I had lived in let's see

states in 13 years so I traveled and I

traveled so if I took a job in Ohio I

was traveling that whole region so I had

met all these people throughout the

country who then you know over our 50

all kind of went up yeah grew up in the

industry yep and so there were a couple

reasons one was that I sort of had a bit

of a national network the other one was

at the time in 2000 you couldn't really

market for Seattle in Portland on the

internet it was much harder it's just

sort of creaky back then now it's a

little bit easier but it was and that

was part of your early vision was

internet marketing absolutely Wow okay

good yeah it just all came together

because of that vision of what it was

called by otta

what the precursor to Airbnb was because

the hard part though is like even in

rental homes right they had to get that

network in Hawaii we had to get the

network nationally yep but if I called

and so it was scarce you know as I

called the national players the biggest

national player at the time only had 400

properties well today we have 20,000 so

even getting the big guys only netted me

you know 2,000 properties then we had to

start locally so it was it was hard to

build but we were also building a moat

mm-hmm because you can't you you got a

knock on these doors or call and mail

and text and then we hired people to do

that and we still today or by adding

properties the business model is that

the properties pace and not only do we

have to get that the baby boomers to

call us about their aging parent but we

had to have the properties because the

properties actually pay our revenue you

created a business model it's very very

difficult to pull off it's a two sided

marketplace yeah so if you think about

uber if you think about eBay air B&B

these are handful those companies that

have done it because most companies

don't they either get one side either

the splice too big or the demands too

small because you're just not gonna get

a senior care facility excited when you

don't have anybody calling them right

there maybe they'll sign up and then

they're gonna be

how would they even know us right they

weren't looking on the internet for this

type of thing they didn't even really

know of this type of things in most

states right should be difficult to pull

off and and but once you do as you say

it's a bit of a moat because it's hard

to create another marketplace so I guess

one is usually winner so if you look at

eBay uber et cetera

Bambi there's usually one big winner

right it's a decentralized you know

model and so there's just lots of lots

of work that goes into it yep which is

great but also when you're raising money

you know people don't like that they

want the easy you know okay scales

perfectly are way around let's take the

hi Pamela I was wondering if you could

talk a little bit how a place for a mom

has changed since you initially started

the company and maybe some of the

metrics that could you know reflect that

change let's see so much of it has not

changed which is amazing

we still help people we still help them

the same way I am so proud of that I

actually have the first wasn't a white

board we actually did it on those flips

we call it look Turk I still have it and

if you look at it so much of it is the

same which is nice and we're still

helping people so that's good what has

changed is you know obviously it's it's

a very large company now and there's a

lot of structure there's really amazing

technology we were always sort of creaky

technology always afraid when one you

know day I woke up we were in our

basement and I there was no a place for

a long sight like at our site go and I'm

call we're calling and two hours later

we get somebody's like yeah we're moving

to Florida it's on a truck it'll be

there in two days are you kidding that

happens in in 2000 they did that kind of

thing they like move your servers and

unplug them but so the technology now is

so robust and we have 99.9% you know

uptime is just amazing we have more

tools for families before it was you

know you could talk to us but we didn't

have a lot of

tools to back that up and now we have a

lot of really interesting tools that we

help them with where they can rate and

rank the properties as they tour them we

also have expanded into Canada and will

be expanding we have really looked

closely at London and you know we have

plan to expand internationally what else

has changed I think I think those are

some of the big ones so I always like to

ask about mentors because again much of

the audience for this for this show is

in that formative time when a mentor

would really be helpful for them what

about you did you have a mentor that was

that was pivotal in your early stages or

even once you started the business so

when I was in my the corporate world I

did have and and I think of my parents

as mentors to and then I in the

corporate world I had a dear friend of

mine named Mike Martel who ran he he

hired me a dallas rehab Institute and

then we just had a great rapport and we

thought the same and we built this

program there and then he went on to be

a corporate vice president at a larger

company and he recruited me to go there

and it was in Lima Ohio and if you never

have to go that's really liking I said I

will come up and interview Mike but I'm

single and I play tennis and I'm not

moving to Lima Ohio you know what I did

but anyway something because he was

amazing and I just he was just so

positive and he just built things and he

was the greatest salesperson and

marketing leader and invaluable and he

and I are still dear dear friends he

went on to build a company and sell it

all so well and did you work together on

a place for mom yes he came onto our

board right and he you know he always

said you know he didn't say tons but one

day he's like why don't you collect more

money right there's money sitting out

there and so you know just just things

like that having run a business that you

get so busy running the business that

you forget to collect the money you know

or you can you know and that's cash

hello and that's cash so you know it's

just a really insightful things like

that there's a lot of fun having him on

the board I mean that's one of the

things I love the most about my career

was it was the relationships with people

and you get a lot of this in your career

where you work with somebody then you

don't see them for a while then you run

into them again maybe as an advisor or

an investor or something else and it's

just so important to keep those

relationships alive you you think you're

done with that group behind you and then

five years later you realize my gosh I'm

working with three of them again so it's

just good business but it's also I think

the yeah way to run to run a business so

so you I'd love to hear about Mike what

about when people approach you either

either in the past or now and they want

you to be a mentor I'm sure that you get

some inbound right what what is what

stands out in your mind what when

somebody does something or do you recall

something that someone did but you were

like I'm gonna give this person a little

bit of time that was unique or that was


well the first thing I say to people is

I'm happy to meet with you but here's

the thing I don't like most ideas sorry

yeah I just lay it out there it's just

like I'm going to tell you what I think

exactly and I'm not saying that you you

should listen to me if you have I don't

even know what their idea at this point

it's just that I'm going to be critical

and I'm going to give you the best

advice in the nicest way but I you know

I don't want to say oh that's a great


definite you know what I mean or so my

approach is just I'm gonna ask you

questions and I might also say and I've

said to some launch person it's so out

of my league like I I don't even know

how to help you and I'll tell you that

too if I if I do so to me that's being a

good mentor it's just like you know say

it like it is ask the right questions

have you thought about this and usually

with me as a mentor it's all about sales

and marketing and where's the revenue

are you meeting with customers what are

they saying you know customers customers

customers yep so that's sort of my my

side of it yeah do you find that most

and I'm gonna go to an extreme question

a second do you find that when people

approach you they're asking you to a

better idea or are they asking you about

sales and marketing tactics or usually

it's ideas it has been yeah

it's I don't know why you know and I've

only lived here for years so maybe just

haven't met enough people yet but when I

do get people from the elder care

industry calling me from time to time

about you know more of the sales and

marketing side or how would I approach

this or that right and happy to help

sometimes I don't feel like I'm I'm

helping as much as I could I wish I

could help more but I usually just need

a lot of information and so it's but

that's the service-oriented person I

feel that same way oftentimes I get a

lot of inbound most of its email and I'm

like I wish I could help this person

more but right I don't know enough about

their business or their remote or and

and usually I'll try to say maybe try

this guy or no guy that's a Brian or

John because I feel like if I can do

that yeah that's helping them so what I

say when cuz I get that too obviously in

this role what do you think of my idea

and I typically say it doesn't matter

what I think of it honestly I mean I can

give you my like gut you know right

socks it's great but that's meaningless

it really matters what do you think

about it yes and then we usually spend

the rest of the session it's not like

some silly Yoda trick right it's not

like I'm just trying to be too clever we

spend the rest of the time I'll say tell

me why you like it you tell me why it's

such a great idea yes coming about and

they're thinking it's not and sometimes

they're like this is why I'm so excited

about it yes great then it's a good idea

for you yeah absolutely not a good idea

for me at 55 years old but for something

I can tell you the people who sat on the

other side of the table telling me that

my idea soft you know I guess I heard it

and I heard it a lot and especially from

the seasoned anybody in the finance

world and in in 2000 and 2001 when I was

trying to raise that was the worst time

in the home I mean you know what telecom

was then I do with telco no elder care

senior housing away so how did you react

to the I will get to your question in a

second but how did you react to the no

because you're right you're gonna get a

thousand knows and then you might get a

maid how did you internalize that Teflon

yeah get rid of it

you know I mean if to me it was a little

bit empowering it was like it just made

that challenge you know a big

greater but it made that success yeah

stronger so I would try to use that is I

mean I don't stop to Pollyanna but I did

try to use it as a way to because I was

raising money I was the point of the

arrow and trying to get money for our

companies right I gotta know all the

time yeah and I would just say that I

just didn't do a good job of explaining

to that person or they weren't I it was

my fault for eating and talking to them

they weren't a good fit right I always

tried to figure yeah you can't take it

personally at all and you can't in it

mostly is it not it just not a good fit

or they don't understand it and don't

have time to and that's okay the

definite did you like the industry

that's on you not on them right exactly

you know I had one guy you know gave a

presentation to a group of angel

investors and he stood in the line and

stood in line to talk to me and then at

the end he's like I just came to tell

you you're never and he stood in line to

tell me that he's like because that

somebody said to me would you take this

valuation for your company and I said no

oh and I and I told John and Brian

before we go up there don't ever say no

and then they're like no no you said

film it because it wasn't even like it

what's not appropriate a question for

Andrew fat in the beginning so anyway he

was the one he just that he's not the

one who asked the question but he did

not like my answer and he said you're

never gonna make it I was like thank you

for like can I your name and number so I

could call you what I do but didn't you

never make that call you never do we'll

take the next question hi I was just

wondering if you could talk a little bit

more about your pay-for-performance

business strategy if you had any

challenges with it or if you tried

anything that was less successful okay

yeah it's hard because you have to

perform there's a couple ways we did it

one is you know right you're you're on

the line you're not getting you know the

lovely SAS recurring revenue monthly

that's lovely I'd love to have a program

like that actually are you've got leads

a software program is that but but it

made sense we did look at you know

should we pay per lead should we run

advertising you know there's so many

different ways to do it should we do pay

per clicks and

you know really at the end of the day to

us it just made so much sense because in

the in the senior housing industry as I

mentioned they have to have 90 residents

out of a hundred units to make money and

they don't have a lot of extra marketing

dollars very slimming budgets so if I go

to them and say X dollars per year and

they'll go but what for what so it was

really I knew it would be such a hard

sell there were some people selling

subscription online you could get your

web page and you know have all the leads

come right to you well then you're

getting not qualified leads that was my

perspective I wanted to talk to people

understand what they were doing and then

give the properties a very highly

qualified lead well that cost a lot more

so they're gonna pay me a lot more than

they're paying the guy who's

subscription but it just made so much

sense and I knew in our industry it

would speak better because as I used to

say to them if you sign up and I never

send you anybody you don't pay me a dime

and we're still friends mm-hmm I said

that 200 thousand times yes headed down

because it was true and they like that

it's true like what do you have to lose

to sign the contract but if I get you


on average they stay 18 months you

charge fill in the blank here

you know $3,000 you get that revenue you

pay me half the month the first month's


that's three percent of your marketing

budget for that client that's a really

great return on investment they could

get that so that's why we did it and in

it but it was hard you know and again

you know VCS and things that's it's nice

but it's just harder to do so sometimes

you got to go the harder route on the on

the model but it worked and it's a great

moat and and still a great model to the

state I still love it I'm similar to

Angie's List had a similar model I

worked with her the very beginning and

she's growing that to a public company

and I had a teeny tiny little business

that had that that's a model and I I

loved it because I could go to a

potential customer and I would say

you're only gonna pay me when I deliver

for you and if I don't deliver for you

I've wasted my time so I am NOT going to

come to company that I don't think I can

deliver for in other words I've done my

homework upfront I think that I can

drive some revenue for you and you know

if I don't I'm the one that's out not

you it was a great sales pitch and it

forced us to you know we made mistakes

and and weren't always able to make it

work but we you know Angie's List was

one of our customers we ended up making

it work for most of our most our

customers super easy so if you can think

about how can you approach someone and

have that kind of an offer to them say

look don't pay me unless I deliver if

you can make that business model work

it's powerful now yeah deliver but if

you have confidence in your product or

compass in yourself it will work so

anyway then I'm going to talk to you

about your business model because I'm

sitting a reading about you getting

excited about talking to you and I think

that's reminds me of this other little

company I had and I love that the

performance model and then I read and

nasty article made me angry that was

questioning the veracity of your

approach I won't name that it was New

York Times you're so anti business just

ridiculously anti business but so which

is very pejorative article that I

thought was just missing the point

entirely yeah how did you deal with that

kind of pushback from obviously the guy

didn't really understand your business

didn't take the time to understand it

but felt like there was an angle like

you're doing something that's just not

quite right you called me for one of

course not we when you read article you

tell that there wasn't that forethought

yeah two questions how do you deal with

that kind of right of press and then how

did you in general just deal with that

pushback on the business model yeah well

the great thing about the business model

is every day I got letters from family

thanking me and that's all I need I

don't care about the New York Times you

know all I had to do is go back open my

email to where all the families float in

and then boom and I could read all those

emails and go this isn't right and

usually with reporter like that and we

hardly had any so interested in fact the

only one I thought that's okay yeah no

and I would send them like here's why

like talk to the families yeah so there

was that so I just and we're just so

confident knew that we were doing the

right things and that the partners loved

it and that the families loved it and

that there's just so much goodness

win-win all the way around that it it

does hurt though because it's it's like

your child getting bullied in school


don't say that about my company you know

it's just it does hurt because you just

think gosh that's the New York Times but

it also it's like there and gone but

you're looking it was pre Twitter cuz it

would have been a Twitter storm for yeah

that's true a pre Twitter and even then

I don't know you just you have to

weather those storms and that's and

that's the thing we said you know it's a

cloud that's coming over it's raining

and then it's gonna move on because

there's just too much goodness and you

just focus on the positive and and try

to do what you can I will say my bad and

you try to learn from well what are they

trying to say in here right what could

we do better to make people not have

that concern whatever it is and so we we

do want to look at anything negative

like that and we did you know and try to

tweak the model such that it doesn't

because I think anybody who read it was

sort of also like but it's free right

and you're not making them go in there

right so you know I think people got it

like just trying to be I want to read

that day yeah I mean like I said just

sort of a negative approach to business

and then at the end of the article he

says and by the way the government

provides us service anyway and you

should use the government service 6 he

said there were 600 agency on aging

offices yeah what are these people doing

and how are you able to compete with

them they they refer to us honestly they

refer to us and they give a list so a

list is like in hospitals do this too

and they they they can't they don't have

time they never leave the hospital you

know we're in these homes right looking

at them touring them we have legal team

making sure that their surveys are good

and you know that we're referring to

great places and you know it's just all

there so I think it's it's really just

building that that great model that no

matter who gives you the left hook

you're still standing right and you just

carry on with your with your torch of

we're helping families every day that's

what I'm doing right yeah no I know I

know that you had the right attitude

there but I guess all these years later

I read that

I know yeah no it's still hurt not happy

about it

we'll take the next student question hi

so building up we were just talking

about giving up ownership of a company

that you have devoted so much time do

doesn't seem like an easy decision so

what were some factors that played into

making this decision and what were some

of the benefits and disadvantages that

were a result of it right yeah the baby

the baby let's see so really from the

get-go it wasn't going to be a lifestyle

business you know that it what is my

life you know it was my lifestyle but it

wasn't meant to be

it was meant to it is just gonna be so

big that we knew that we were gonna have

to take on various rounds of funding and

eventually I wouldn't be the CEO and and

I didn't think about that on day one but

I knew that that would happen because

you know my sort of love is you know

kind of the zero to 50 million and

really growing it maybe even the zero to

10 or the 10 to 20 they - but once it

starts being this big machine with you

know it's like that's not my interest so

but I still love the company so the

advantages are you can kind of get in

really great smart people who are good

at the next revenue levels and you know

I think a lot of CEOs they think they

can do all the you know levels very I

can run it I can run a public company

you know and good job Mark Zuckerberg

does it every day it's awesome but you

know for me I don't know I guess I could

have gone that route but I I don't think

that would have been the best thing and

you know so I think that's one of the

advantages is you can really I really

care that the company has a legacy and

is here in a hundred years and you know

forever and that we become everything

elder care and it's a household name I'm

not the best person to do that

necessarily so I think in terms of

getting the right leadership in at the

right time it's great but it is hard to

leave and all of the

you know I love setting up the culture

not only was I kind of the external head

of sales and marketing but the internal

one too in terms of just the hiring and

these people and the culture I love

building the culture and making it fun

and exciting so that was hard to leave

that was kind of maybe one of the

downsides well let me ask you about

culture so when you go on Glassdoor you

know there's all these ways of looking

at a couple of culture from the outside

looking in they're all accurate but you

should get off work so you have a very

very high rating and Glassdoor all of

those your the companies I'm quite

highly well how would you describe the

culture and has it changed since the PE

firm took over but so in the earlier

days what culture did you strive to

create and how do you think it manifests

itself right it's definitely a different

culture and Alba's is both are good both

they're really good it's different and

the the CEO we hires from Expedia it's a

big company you know very tech forward

metric driven metric driven so it's

awesome when I ran it it's it was

different because we were straight

Commission so hiring straight commission

people so really hard because who wants

that job right you know we had other

benefits and things but it's tough and

so we had to get people who loved

helping the elderly and then they could

work from home and so this was a great

job for many people because kids or

whatever so the culture was really we

called it living on love for a while

yeah just because so many of us did this

because we just believed and not only

you know for the families but also like

this is it this could be big and this is

so important and what we're doing and

we're doing it and they were they you

know the first five of us and then the

first 10 in the first 20 and you know a

lot of these people my friends like I'm

calling up people you know at the time

who are making $100,000 a year going hi

do you like to come work for no money

and straight Commission you'll be late

and some of them said yes

and so that was good but yeah I was it

was tough

so it's but it paid off so you do like

that you lived up to your promise to him

I always feel like that's that was the

the most stressful part of being a

entrepreneur for me with the commitments

I made to other team members employees

partners I mean I never really worried

about running on the money even though

we almost did a bunch of times it was

more of how's this gonna impact all

these people that I made all these

promises to yeah so similar yeah so

that's where the real pressure I think

if you're absolutely I don't be culture

that's where the pressure is but so how

was it how was it changed so you were

living on love getting people to make

crazy decisions based on their vision

their belief in your vision and then now

we're in much more of a Expedia run yeah

so you know and that was kind of our

first five years was living on love I

think the next five was just rapid

growth and excitement and we had a lot

of churn because when you have straight

Commission first of all sales people

turnover no matter what company they're

working for they turn yep and then we

add more because when they're straight

Commission they turn and so that's hard

when you have turnover because they have

to make money and some people can't do

the job this is that simple but I think

you know the minute we switched it to

once Warburg took over we were able we

had the financial flexibility that I

didn't have before to change the

Commission model to allow for a base

plus a bonus that helped and it relieved

the churn which was a lot when I ran it

but we still did it I mean we would hire

50 people a month and 40 Woodleigh you

know it was like we were still growing

but it well you can imagine that kind of

that's tough on a company there's a lot

of churn yeah so because we were able to

calm that down that once we had this new

financial model that was really great

I think there's still be you know the

love of what we do because at some level

you know even our dad's you know you're

in Seattle and you're a dev do you want

to work for a place for a mom right or

do you want to work for Google or Amazon

or all this cool companies out there you


but but even they you know some people

do they want that like younger and then

you know you've got this guy from

Expedia I so you start seeing and he's

brought in a whole team of it's great

Expedia people so you start seeing kind

of this excitement like oh this could be

Expedia I get it and I think there's

some real you know culture around that

and excitement around kind of the next

phase we started doing television

commercials after the warburg pincus we

did a few when you know before the money

came in but after we were able anybody

ever see our commercial that was London

you're not the target market I wasn't

surprised it's my wife is a tiger market

and she that's how she knew your company

telling you telling her about it that's

right yeah so if you ask your parents

yeah they'll probably know so that

creates excitement Zoey and I are

walking through the airport like years

ago and then she's like mom there wasn't

a bar in the airport so that creates

some excitement around the culture and

and just what we're doing I think people

are really excited around the

entrepreneurialism the the ability of

this to be the next I don't know fill in

the blank here yeah yeah and I think

your you mentioned the zero to ten or

250 I kind of put myself in that

category again knowing who you are and

what you're good at

and there's just folks that are

following the Expedia CEO who are that

next level like I always hear them like

how can they run a hundred million

dollar company he lost it that's like

right in his wheelhouse you know it's

just so awesome so so I'm gonna take one

more student question in a second but

I'd be remiss if I didn't ask you about

John and and how you know would you

recommend somebody starting a business

with a spouse I know there's two sides

to that coin you lived it yeah so how

did you guys try to make it work I

wouldn't did you tried it when you at

home you didn't talk about it or what

words of wisdom because I'm sorry one

more preamble so my class that I had

this afternoon I showed the twelve

wealthiest self-made women and the large

majority were with their husbands and I

don't mean their husbands made the money

and they did it together

yeah so it's very common model even

women that you know you're they're not

household names they grew these

businesses with their husbands so yeah

it's it's alive and Wow yeah I can

we work and actually we were dating at

the time imagine that I mean the company

formed before we were married and it

never occurred to us not to we loved it

I loved working with him he loved

working with me I mean there and I think

there were two reasons

that are critical one is if you if we

were if we both wanted to run technology

and finance that would not work right

you have to divide and conquer you're

going to do this with somebody you love

be it anybody you know a spouse a friend

and and then we brought his college

roommate in and not then we we did

together but that was a key factor

because I called Brian the tiebreaker

but a lot of times I was the tiebreaker

for them like stop right and so because

we had three yeah it was almost easier

yep and it was often like who's tiebreak

and who because there was always you

know it was a triangle right it was

three of us all the time and so for us

it was three parts of a brain I did this

he did that they did that you know and

so we were all it would just it

multiplied in a lovely way I think if

you if you want to all run the same

things may be much harder did you find

it difficult to shut it off because I

always I just thought I thought I could

never work with my wife because I was

always thinking about the business

anyway and then I would just talk about

it all the time with her so it was kind

of nice to have her go I we're gonna

talk about that right now and did you

work with her no no okay yeah so she

would have fired me


no like any so we did not shut it off

and every time I heard there were a

balance I get a little like yeah balance

you know because why because I love what

I do and I want a dog about it all the

time and so what's wrong with that

I to me now of course then when I had a

baby my mom you can fact check my mom

and this she'd be like you get home here

to this baby and it was true and and it

was fabulous it changed the whole

situation because

we're in the depth is oh he was born in

2004 so we're right in the depth of it

of like stills clawing our way you know

no money we're still like the dollar and

the penny and I don't know I mean we

were able to break away from a little

bit but we just loved it so what's if

you love something I mean my dad still

works he's 83 if you take that away from

him he's going to drop dead so why would

we do that for him that's balance I

think you know you have to kind of say

to you know yourself is that okay I mean

your wife was able to say no I don't

want to talk about that but I never said

that's a John he never said it to me so

it just kept going well you probably saw

we liked it and probably solved a lot of

problems outside of work yeah that would

have been inappropriate to talk about at

work right so maybe personnel issues

yeah things like that right there unless

I said it's a model that works for a lot

of people we've got I've got a number of

friends that had those lifelong

partnerships with their spouse and they

built great businesses together yeah I

just don't think I could have done it

and I don't have time for the last

question I'm sorry but I do have next

time but I want to end on talking about

your new venture I know you don't want

to say too much about it but I'd love to

hear what lessons you think you've

already injected into it from a place

for Mom and then if you want to give us

any kind of a basic idea of what you

might be thinking okay well I'm not

saying what it is cuz I have no idea if

it's gonna be worth anything so that's

it's not that it's some big secret and

I'm you know sitting on the next uber

maybe I am so you know it's interesting

because I left the company I started the

company as a chairman in eleven and I

really you know there's this cycle what

are you doing next you know feeling in

myself and everybody asks me and there's

this pressure or sort of in it I finally

had to go

you know it's okay to just travel yeah I

did and take time off and play a little

tennis but also I couldn't think of what

I wanted to do next and so that's okay

you know you just sometimes you have to

be like well there's not a good idea yet

so it's okay what lend you here in Santa

Barbara so 16 years in Seattle wool yes

immediately check police feedback and

saw the Sun three days a year 320 so

John actually exited the company first

and his first job for our family was to

find us a great place to live and so we

we looked all over the place but and

anyway wound up in Carmel Valley but

four months later said oh gosh that's a

little rural too small so we wound up

here we love it

and let's see I got you off I'm sorry

that's right curious about Santa Barbara

but going back at the venture so yeah

it's adventure so the things I'm

applying from a place where mom is one

minimum viable product I'm not putting a

ton of money into this I could call my I

get people all the time who invested in

us before and I was like what are you

doing gum they don't even know what it

is they might do it again Yeah right

your check not taking any money

we're doing minimal Viable Product I

actually am doing with Brian what am ia

founders we cool and and it's you know

we're just putting a little bit of money

yet we're gonna test it we're gonna see

how it goes see if we think it has an

option and we may just put it to rest

and actually John and Brian have done

two or three businesses both all that

they put to rest you know just try it

out yep

didn't work put it to rest so that's I

think what we're learning you know

pulling from a place for mom is just go

slowly not slowly but but go carefully

and don't don't raise a bunch of money

in everybody I talked to loves it and

thinks it's gonna be a great idea but um

I just want to make sure it works right

and think about the model it's not in my

industry so I'm learning so I'm learning

and that's I know this is a big thing

you know doing something not in your

industry or in your wheelhouse you've

got issues there are many parallels to a

place for Mom which I like so it'll be

fun to see a better one I always like

going into a new industry just that

curiosity factor of like why do they do

it this way right challenging

conventional wisdom and all that good


exactly that's that's fantastic good for

you thank you well thank you so much

Pamela we really appreciated