If you hang out in the tech industry long enough names continue to pop-up and of course after awhile I become curious and want to meet them. Emily Hickey is one of those people. What I didn't know is that she was around during the 1.0 phase of the Internet explosion in NYC and worked for someone who I knew and had become friends with but our paths never crossed. We finally met just recently and made plans to get together this past Friday night. We probably could have spent the whole day together just gabbing. We parted afer having a glass or two of wine knowing that our conversation will definitely be continued.
Before I start on Emily's interesting career, I just want to say that Emily is a very cool girl. She is smart, insightful, artistic and if she wasn't in the tech industry, she'd definitely be a rock and roll chic. Her brain got the better of her. Sorry all you rockers out there.
Emily grew up in St. Louis and left to go to school at UNC Chapel Hill. After graduating from college, like many young graduates, made her way to NYC. She got a job at Anderson Consulting, it was 1996 and it was a crazy time to be in NYC if you were doing anything in the tech industry. Emily worked with People Soft while at Anderson Consulting and happened to learn how to write code while she was there. Certainly an added bonus. She hated the job and after a year left to go to Hot Jobs.
Emily was the 14th person hired at Hot Jobs. The company consisted of sales people and engineers. Emily worked with Lucent to create a recruiting piece to the job board at Hot Jobs. Working at Hot Jobs was like riding a rocketship. I remember when Hot Jobs, that was growing like wildflower, spent over a million bucks to run an add on the Superbowl. Any person in the tech industry with some experience under their hat definitely took pause when that happened. How the hell did these companies grow so damn fast in less than a few years to put an ad on the Super Bowl?
Three years after Hot Jobs was launched there was an IPO. The company was doing over $100 million dollars in revenue and there were 800 employees. It was 1999. She was VP of Products and stayed for a few years after that IPO even going out to San Francisco to help turn around an acquistion the company had made but the atmosphere in the company had changed and people were jumping ship. It was time to leave.
Emily bought a small house and her brother moved out there and together they started a band. She needed time to regroup. Her father had died when she was at Anderson Consulting which had left a big hole and after the last 6 years it was time to chill out. She took 18 months to relax.
Emily took a job after 18 months working with WildAid, as the assistant ED, a non-profit that worked on stopping the trade of illegal wildlife by helping to enforce protection in forests around the world. The USA has laws as well as a forest service that does this but in many foreign countries they do not. She stayed a few years and found herself going back and forth from SF to LA doing her music too. Deciding she needed a change, she took the GRE's and applied to Stanford to get her MBA and got in.
The next two years were spent at Stanford where she met a guy who had a bunch of patents that wanted to commercialize them. At the same time, she met her husband. Her boyfriend (husband to be) got into the Tisch program for the arts and her business partner wanted to be back in NYC so off they went. She was beyond thrilled to leave SF.
She worked on an app that could detect if you were lying through emotions. Think of a mood ring for an app. Way before its time. Nobody was even using apps then. Emily got together with some tech people who she worked with at Hot Jobs and they launched Photoshelter. She took the role of COO. They raised 6 million for the business. This was 2007. They ramped up the business to 30 people and realized after spending 4 million that the model wasn't working. What is truly impressive is that they took the last 2 million, pivoted some of the ideas, barely took salaries and rebooted Photoshelter into a new company and marketed it like crazy. They got the business profitable within 12 months, with revenues in the millions and growing almost 100% annually with roughly 20% net margins. The business continues to build the revenue stream annually.
Ideas kept flowing through her head and she joined Tracked.com and with the group of guys who were there they began to focus on the idea of Hashable which they launched as a separate business. Hashable is a networking app. Emily was critical in making that pivot and single handedly launched Hashable. It was launched this past Labor Day and they were off to the races. The group refers to themselves as co-Creators which is absolutely perfect. The other co-creators are Teddy Jawde and David Sebag and Mike Yavonditte.
Emily has had a really interesting career. Although she might not have been the one singular person with the one idea that she built a company around, she has been part of entrepreneurial teams and has grown businesses from Hot Jobs (being the group of 5 that literally built the business ) to Photoshelter to Hashable. Married with a 2 year old ( she was pregnant during her time at Photoshelter ). There are so many incredible women out there who are product developers. They are integral parts of growing a start-up and without them the company would never get to where it needs to go. These people, like Emily, make sure the business vision gets executed. They are critical. Emily is one of those people and she is a leader in the tech community and as far as I am concerned, a very cool woman.