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Strange Things

(February 26, 2007)
Way back in the dark ages, the mid-1990s, we spent endless hours with Kevin Strange. In those days, he was the cofounder of Net-Temps. He and his partner (and a few miscellaneous techies) lived 20 hour work days in a pizza box laden, beer can encrusted room where ideas were conceived and birthed.

Kevin always had a profound curiosity for the details of the way things worked online. He'd sit in front of a monitor watching the instantaneous transactions in the server logs, mesmerized. Each individual transaction on the website was a live event for him. His view of traffic and site development was molecular.

Kevin taught us how to do real web design. He'd make a change to a page, dip it into the traffic, see if the response was what he wanted and then take the page and tweak it. He didn't really bother with the way it was supposed to be. He had a more scientific view and was only interested in the thing that produced the best results.

For many years, the Net-Temps page design seemed primitive and awkward to outsiders. This was an aspect of Kevin's brilliance. He knew what worked and experimented, behind the scenes, to find something that worked better. Until he found something better, he always kept the thing that worked.

For most executives in online employment operations, this level of attention to detail and near micromanagement of the web operation is unheard of. Usually, the actual work is relegated to someone who works for someone who talks to the executive. That's the reason so few execs understand the details of their own businesses in our space. The actual work is a theory to them.

Not so for Kevin. He believes, to this day, that "dirt under the fingernails" is the essence of good startup behavior. Take a look at what he's doing at RetirementJobs. A look at Quantcast's traffic estimates show the solid steady growth of RetirementJobs traffic. More interestingly, it shows the precision with which they are hitting the demographic target.

This comes from Kevin's approach. He builds traffic like he builds networks of friends, one node at a time. What Kevin looks for in his work is a reliable and predictable source of  results. He cultivates it in small batches. One at a time they add up to something powerful.

Marketing and traffic development are part and parcel in the job board business. There's the spendy way to do it and there's the grassroots way. Kevin Strange is a master of the art of building traffic and sales through grassroots tactics.

It's nice that he's still around the business making a difference.

John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
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