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Employee Retention of Qpass -
April 15th, 2011
Qpass of Seattle, WA was a technology company that specialized in providing the infrastructure for electronic payments. Examples are selling products through mobile phones, digital television and for billing services for Voice over IP products.
Prior to the dot-com boom Qpass handled billing of small web purchases such as buying an archived article from the New York Times website. The company nearly collapsed with the dot-com bust and re-invented itself as a company that works for providers in the mobile sector where premium content is still seen as a viable market.
Qpass was launched in 1997 and raised about $100m in funding. It was held privately by a mixture of venture capitalist firms before it was acquired in 2006 by Amdocs. The company says that it serves 175m mobile phone consumers and has conducted over $1bn in business, but does not publish formal accounts.
Qpass formula for building a great company to work for: Hire people who actually like working with each other.
Qpass has managed to attract 175 hard-working, fun people who just click — and part of it was just luck, admits Mark McNeely, one of the companys founders. "At the risk of sounding Pollyannaish, its easily the best company culture Ive been around," says McNeely, 50. "A lot of companies have a toxic streak within them, filled with politics or internecine battles, and somehow weve avoided that."
Privately held Qpass sells Internet micropayment services and software to customers that include The New York Times Co.,USAToday.com and The Wall Street Journal Online. McNeely says that what makes Qpass people passionate about their jobs is a kind of higher-order calling, a belief that the work theyre doing is changing the way Internet content providers do business.
"Its not just a business goal," McNeely says. "People are attached to the company at a level over and above that."
Of course, Qpass also offers more tangible perks. The company pays for employees dry cleaning and subsidizes dog-walking services and gym membership. Staffers staying late are treated to dinner from nearby Indian or barbecue restaurants, and theres cable television in the employee lounge — not to mention three foosball tables. In addition to the occasional spontaneous beer bash, Qpass employees frequent the King Street Bar & Oven, a hangout where staffers gather to celebrate big product releases.
But the real reason most employees remain loyal, McNeely says, is a sense of camaraderie, a good vibe.
Mark Goris, senior engineering manager at Qpass, joined the company three years ago. He says other companies have dangled job offers in front of him, but none could offer the personal satisfaction he gets from his work at Qpass. "For me personally, its a sense of ownership of not only what we built, but also the team I built here," he says. "And its just a fun place to be."
Financially Sound. Strong Product Catalog and Many CWP relationships although some are quite strained.
Absolutely no Process Control or Authority Chain understanding. The internal cost structure creates gridlock to sales organization and very stressful process in getting estimates to customers.
The transformation of Qpass from a mainstream electronic payment system provider to a company which facilitates content sales and transactions for wireless carriers and other network operators has been so remarkable, it has been award-winning. Earlier this year, the company’s turnaround garnered the 2001 Reinvention Award at the WSA’s seventh annual Industry Achievement Awards.
Through its commerce services, Qpass provides merchants, content and service providers, and application developers with the opportunity to increase revenue and broaden distribution. Their clients include Cingular, AT&T Wireless, MForma, Time.com and strategic partners American Express and Accenture. Along the way, Qpass has also been recognized by Interactive Week, Seattle Magazine and Washington CEO as one of the best companies in Washington to work for.
To gain more of the insight that has revitalized Qpass, we engaged the company’ first official employee and current vice president of business development, Ron Faith, in a little Qpass marketing Q&A. Prior to Qpass, Ron spent several years at Apple Computer where he was responsible for bringing the company’s first consumer Internet product, the Apple Internet Connection Kit, to market. Ron is also the author of the soon to be published “Reaching the Interactive Customer: Devices and Services for a Digital World,” available from Amazon and fine bookstores everywhere in January of 2003.
• The game’s duration was one month.
• To redeem a full suit, employees were asked questions relating to the information on the cards. Cards by themselves could not be used to redeem prizes.
• The Joker card was “wild” and could be used to complete a suit.
The people who worked for Qpass in the fall of 2002 weren't able to lounge around after Thanksgiving in tryptophan-induced stupors, or lose themselves in the holiday shopping throng. Instead, they took advantage of the long holiday weekend to complete the final step in a massive transformation of their company.
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The original license for the company's software platform was set to expire at the end of 2002, so Qpass had to get a new system in place for its customers. And although both AT&T Wireless and Cingular Wireless were using the system, it was not originally designed for use on mobile carrier networks. So throughout 2002, Qpass worked on enhancing the functionality of its current platform while simultaneously building a whole new Java-based architecture tailored specifically for wireless carriers.
That process culminated on Thanksgiving weekend, when Qpass lined the halls of its Seattle offices with cots, brought in nourishment (“Everything from fried chicken to Red Bull,” as one Qpasser put it) and went to work. Employees with functions like marketing and sales had already completed their parts of the transition, so they were designated “Q Lackeys” and assigned such tasks as taking care of their colleagues' dogs and supplying sustenance to busy co-workers. The company's engineering and operations employees spent the weekend taking the old system down, migrating some million wireless accounts to the new platform and bringing it live.
“Lots of people used the analogy of changing tires at sixty miles per hour,” said Chase Franklin, CEO of Qpass. “It was that kind of a process.”
By 2002, though, Qpass was no stranger to high-speed shifts. The company was founded in 1997 to build a software platform that managed customer accounts and facilitated transactions for Web site operators looking to sell electronic content. Because those were dial-up days, the primary customers were text publishers like Dow Jones, the New York Times and USA Today. In Q1 of 2001, Qpass diversified by repurposing its platform to appeal to cable operators expanding to offer services beyond video, such as home security. Shortly after that, Qpass added AT&T Wireless and Cingular as its first wireless customers on the same platform.
“So the original system, which was really a commerce infrastructure for the creation and sale and support of digital content and services over the Internet, was now being used for that, plus for the delivery of content-based services over proprietary commercial networks,” Franklin said. “When the macro economy stumbled — when the Internet bubble burst and the telecom industry headed into a deep recession — we had a company of about 200 people.”
That's when Qpass faced the first of many difficult decisions: how to whittle down its operations to a level right for the economic environment but stay in the business with the most long-term opportunity.
“We were convinced that the publishing business was not going to get us to where we wanted to be — as a very big, successful company that made an imprint on the world,” Franklin said. “Publishers at that time were a little schizophrenic about how they thought about the Internet as a news distribution channel. In almost no circumstances did an old-line, big brand publisher fully embrace the Internet.”
Qpass, Inc has a new and exciting opportunity for a Human Resources Intern who is eager to provide professional and administrative support to the Human Resources Team and to the organization. Responsibilities include the coordination of HR related projects including benefit administration, recruitment assistance, assist in creating the Qpass Intern Program, compensation processing, HRIS management, assisting in conducting research and analysis for HR related areas, and providing professional customer service to staff and external vendors. Additional responsibilities include other HR support functions as a member of the organization’s HR team.
• Assist in administration of compensation program; helps to administer Dialogue For Success, Qpass’ performance appraisal program.
• Participate in benefits/stock administration including processing of benefits enrollment forms and changes, reporting changes to carriers, updating databases and reconciling monthly invoices.
• Gather materials for new employee orientation; contact new employees regarding logistics of on-boarding; create new employee files; cross train on Qpass, Inc orientation process.
• Develop and maintain Qpass Employee Newsletter.
• Provide assistance in organizational training efforts as a part of Qpass University, specifically administration of the programs and courses included.
• Sustain the Qpass Organizational Chart.
• Maintain Human Resource Information System records and compile reports from database as needed.
• Responsible for all HR related filing in appropriate personnel and benefit files.
• Support department in carrying out various human resources programs and procedures for all company employees.
• Provide a high level of customer service to all levels of Qpass employees on various HR topics.
• Pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree from an accredited university, with an emphasis in Human Resources preferred.
• Basic knowledge of principles and practices of Human Resources administration.
• Inventiveness to establish clear goals and to organize and prioritize work.
• Ability and willingness to work with a diverse population in a fast-growing, mission-driven organization.
• Initiative to research and analyze various types of data and present in a concise manner.
• Ability to follow written and oral instruction, while simultaneously coordinating a variety of complex projects and work within program deadlines.
• Requires effective oral and written communication skills in working with a wide variety of individuals and interest groups.
• Sensitivity, confidentiality, and awareness of employee and business needs.
• Creative approaches to problem solving; and the ability to be flexible and work under pressure.