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News Article | March 13, 2014
Site: techcrunch.com

Since 1998, the Gerson Lehrman Group has been helping its clients answer their most difficult questions, using an algorithm to choose from more than 350k experts and then facilitating a conversation between clients and counselors. These experts include C-level executives, doctors, scientists, educators, journalists, and anyone else who has fostered a certain level of expertise in various verticals. Today, GLG is launching a new program called GLG Share that lets startups access its network of hundreds of thousands of experts at a highly discounted price. Potential clients sign up for GLG Share and submit their query — this can range from “I don’t know where to start when hiring a sales team” to “I need help understanding the market potential for my business.” From there, the GLG team assigns a research manager to your account, who gets down to the bottom of what you’re looking for in a counselor. They decide whether you need to speak to someone on a very granular level about something very specific, or if you need a more high-level counselor to help with multiple aspects of a problem. Once the proper counselor is selected, you’ll have complete access to that counselor with whatever questions you may have. In fact, you’ll have access to a wide array of counselors for the length of the subscription, with no limit to the amount of questions you can ask. Usually, GLG clients start their subscription as soon as they’ve been paired with a counselor. Six months costs $12,500, while a year costs $25k. In the GLG Share program, however, startups get the first two months of their subscription entirely for free. “What we’re seeing with GLG Share is that our counsel members are actually really interested in talking to startups who are pursuing an interesting idea in their field,” said John Donoghue, head of new markets at GLG. “We’re even seeing that experts end up, in many cases, becoming long-term advisors for the startup.” For startups who have been trading equity for similar answers, GLG Share represents a new way to enjoy mentorship without handing over part of their company. GLG Share already has a small number of startups on the platform, with the public launch making the service available to everyone starting today.

News Article | February 3, 2015
Site: www.fastcompany.com

Sometimes building a new headquarters is especially difficult. When my company, a global 1,000-person professional learning platform called GLG, was in the middle of our pivot, we felt our new office could help define our future, but we had two unexciting options. One option was traditional private offices and cubicles, which are unimaginative and restrictive. The other was an open office plan—the shiny new toy in office design 15 years ago—but a growing body of evidence suggests it decreases productivity and weakens job performance. Instead we designed our new corporate headquarters across the street from Grand Central Terminal—65,000 square feet over two floors for nearly 300 New York employees—around a new paradigm, neither open nor full of private offices. Our architect, Clive Wilkinson, introduced us to an idea called activity-based working (ABW). The thesis is that people should work in the type of space that supports the work they’re actually doing, and that might change many times throughout a day. ABW suits my firm particularly well. We bring together top professionals to learn from each other and in the process make it easier to share the knowledge they need to stay innovative. There are four reasons ABW is just the right layout for our workplace and could be for yours, too. No one has an assigned desk or office, including me. The idea, again, is that one kind of workspace—more specifically one desk in one location—does not suit all types of work equally. We have a menu of options that people can use for different projects throughout the day. We have large open space surrounded by private meeting rooms of different sizes. We have "neighborhoods" where people can work with their teams. Each contains team tables with individual workstations, enclosed glass meeting pods, chairs of different shapes and sizes, and adjustable standing desks. Some people excel in energetic environments filled with interactions. Some work best alone. Others only need a computer, and some spread out with papers. Everyone here has the freedom to decide how and where to work. Each morning we pick up our stuff from private lockers and choose a spot. We move around depending on the work that arises. There’s plenty of private space for confidential calls or reflection. At the end of the day, stuff goes back into our lockers. Yes, we give up our personal desks, but we gain the whole office. Trust and empowerment informed our design process. Early on we formed a design committee with representatives from each business unit and different areas of expertise. They worked closely with our designers. Their input made for a better office and their buy-in made for a smoother transition. Before the move, we surveyed our employees to understand their current work habits and expectations. After the move, we surveyed them again. The survey validated the benefits of our approach: two-thirds of our employees report using multiple workspaces, and 91% say they’re excited about the flexibility ABW affords. No one at GLG has a landline or desktop computer. Everyone uses laptops that dock at screens wherever we work. The physical telephone has been replaced with software phones that run on laptops with headsets. Our technology allows us to be flexible and mobile throughout the office. We didn’t get all the technology right at first. Our employee survey showed meeting room technology needed to be seamless and wasn’t. Armed with that feedback, we fashioned solutions to improve the user experience dramatically. Our growing pains underscore both the importance and the challenge of integrating good technology in the modern office from the beginning. Businesses benefit when folks from different departments, backgrounds, and roles share their ideas. Office design should encourage circulation and interaction, but also support individual focus when it is needed. No assigned desks is a start, and we still have a number of tables in a designated "quiet area." Our café has long tables for meals and other gatherings, as well as smaller tables for groups of different sizes to collaborate. It is a communal space. Overall, we have more seats than people, preparing us for considerable growth. In our survey, 98% of employees observe extensive support for collaboration in the new office. And since the move, dissatisfaction with the level of cooperation between teams fell from 25% to 13%. The survey also showed near unanimous enthusiasm for the way the new office facilitates diverse experiences and interactions: one-on-one or group meetings, catch-ups, private conversations, and creative brainstorming. We’ve been in our new space for six months. Already 80% of employees say the new style of working here makes them feel better about their jobs; 92% say it’s even fun. And having happier people translates into better work for our clients. So today the choice should not be between open offices and private spaces. A better alternative exists. What matters is that each worker has the kind of varied space for their personal working style and the work at hand. That office can be realized by embracing these elements: flexibility and variety, trust and empowerment, integrated technology, and collaboration and cross-pollination. This model of working can help businesses of all kinds become more creative, collaborative, and effective. —Alexander Saint-Amand is CEO of GLG, the world’s leading platform for professional learning and expertise.

News Article | July 29, 2015
Site: www.builtinchicago.org

Chicago was just named one of the best startup ecosystems in the world, and when companies like G2 Crowd call the Second City home, it’s not hard to see why. The company, which provides the leading reviewing platform for enterprise software, announced it has nabbed a $7 million Series A round, bringing its total funding to right around $12 million. Pritzker Group Venture Capital led the round, with returning investors Chicago Ventures, Hyde Park Venture Partners, G2 Crowd Chairman Godard Abel and its management team all joining in. Participation also included industry leaders like GLG founder Thomas Lehrman and ExactTarget co-founder and CEO Scott Dorsey. “By bringing the collective power of trusted peers to the forefront, business buyers now have transparency when evaluating B2B software technologies,” said Tim Handorf, G2 Crowd’s co-founder and president in a statement. “We’re excited to use this investment to scale our platform, add more software categories with compelling reviews, and grow our awareness in the world of business software.” The company plans on using the funding to hire rockstar talent in order to accelerate growth and expand its community, which currently features more than 37,000 comprehensive user reviews for entire catalogues of business software. According to G2 Crowd, those reviews are read by 300,000 users on the prowl for business software — each and every month. The company has already begun adding key leadership members to its team. Earlier this year, they brought on former LinkedIn executive Adrienne Weissman as Chief Marketing Officer. Alongside the recent round of funding, Pritzker Group Venture Capital partner Adam Koopersmith will join the G2 Crowd board. “G2 Crowd is rapidly becoming the key information source for any executive in the purchasing review phase of B2B software technologies,” Koopersmith said in a statement. “We’re very impressed by the company’s rapid growth and we’re looking forward to partnering with the company’s leadership team to help G2 Crowd scale and further drive awareness of the industry’s increasing demand for expert peer advice.” G2 Crowd’s peer-reviewed, real-time insights are poised to disrupt a system that once relied solely on the outdated and out-of-touch opinions of software analysts to inform purchases. Have a tip for us or know of a company that deserves coverage? Email us via tips@builtin.com

News Article | March 24, 2014
Site: thenextweb.com

Junior developers stuck on a coding problem for hours will probably breathe a huge sigh of relief to hear they can get help instantly from experts with the click of a button — as that’s what Codementor is setting out to do. Codementor is a Techstars-backed startup based in Taiwan and San Francisco aimed at helping developers in distress. All developers need to do is post a request for help on one of more than 30 technical topics including Ruby, Python, PHP, JavaScript, CSS/HTML, iOS and Android among others, then connect with an expert via screen sharing, video and text chat. If the chosen expert isn’t online to help, users can  schedule a session for a later time. Prices start from $10 for a 15-minute session. This means that individuals or startups with tight budgets don’t have to fret over hiring senior developers or experts — they can simply schedule a short session to seek answers to their problems. More than 10,000 developers have already signed up on the platform and over 2,500 experts have applied to be included, though the company says it has only vetted and approved 600 so far. These include O’Reilly authors, creators of popular open source libraries, and top Stack Overflow users. Founded by Y Combinator alum Weiting Liu, Codementor has just raised $600,000 from investors including David Cohen (founder of Techstars) and Will Ballard, CTO of expert network Gerson Lehrman Group, or GLG. Liu says that Codementor is comparable to a marketplace like Uber, and the funding is needed to boost its efforts at building out the business: We’re building a two-sided marketplace, so that always takes time. It’s also unlike something like eBay or oDesk… If I’m selling my cup on eBay for example, I can just post a photo of the cup and I don’t really need to respond to any request immediately. But for building something like Uber, people are often time-sensitive. If you try to request a car on Uber and it takes 30 minutes for you to get a car, that would be a pretty bad experience. For Codementor to work, we need to provide the help as instantly as possible and it’s definitely not a trivial task for us. It’s not just about the funding — the funding is great, but by getting the funding from these strategic angels will give us a lot of tremendous help in terms of experiences, insight on how to build a marketplace successfully. As the idea of “instant help” for consumers becomes mainstream and more popular, seen by Google’s launch of Helpouts and Amazon’s Mayday feature on its Kindle Fire tablet, Codementor is focusing on an area that till now hasn’t really been tapped on. Liu says that no company has specifically pooled experts together to provide live support for learning how to code. Technically though, a generic platform such as Google Helpouts could likely provide similar help if there is such a category. To fit this idea of instant help, Liu explains that Codementor lets experts specify their available times, and also provides IM integrations such as Google Talk which notify them when relevant requests come in. This is so that mentors don’t need to be logged on to the Codementor site all the time. Liu also notes that it is important for Codementor not to be a free service. “If it’s an open, free service you will see a lot of people like students who come here to ask people to do homework for free for them. Our experts told us about this: if you have a free service you will get people who are less appreciative,” he says. Obviously, this gives expert developers more reason to join the platform, given that it’s an extra source of income — though Liu says that the reason why some of the experts come onto Codementor is also because they enjoy helping people. By teaching, they also learn how others are applying concepts or using their open source libraries. The idea of an Uber for software developers seeking on-demand help should go far — and Liu also tells TNW that when the infrastructure has been built out, it could branch out into other verticals as well.

News Article | February 27, 2015
Site: www.bloombergview.com

Today’s discussion is aimed at the individual investor, though certainly the professionals might take something from our philosophical musings this morning. The bull market that dates to March 2009 is now entering one of its more interesting -- and perhaps dangerous -- phases. Not hazardous, mind you, from a market perspective, but from a behavioral one. Mr. Market will do what he is going to do, and that is unknown and unpredictable. However, what isn't unknown and is very predictable is that YOU are going to do something very foolish and self-destructive. The only variable is whether you are going to do this sooner rather than later. The noise box in your den (and on the wall of your trading room) has been tallying a catalog of potential crises and hazards. That parade of terribles seems to be getting longer each day. Although none of them are new, it is as if all of them have suddenly risen in unison, a chorus of noise, funk and angst. Markets are expensive, the Federal Reserve's stimulus of quantitative easing and zero interest rates is ending, the euro is collapsing, deflation is a threat, rates are rising, residential real estate is a mess, biotech is a bubble, oil prices are plunging, Grexit will arrive any day. Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes...The dead rising from the grave! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together...mass hysteria! OK, I got carried away. But for the dead rising from the grave, human sacrifice and 40 years of darkness, all of these things are real. However, the ability to turn these macro concerns into an intelligent -- and profitable -- investment thesis has eluded humanity for as long as I can remember. Look no further than the macro-trading hedge funds that have done so poorly in recent months. Macro funds are the very vehicles that are supposed to a) anticipate, b) position in front of, and c) profit off of these big macro events. Only they haven’t been able to do so. Despite a strong start to the year, storied names have all suffered significant setbacks. For example,  Fortress, with $66 billion in assets, had big loss that forced out several executives. A macro hedge fund managed by the GLG unit of the Man Group is closing.  Harness took a big hit as well, and investors pulled $4.2 billion out of hedge fund giant Brevan Howard. Much of these losses were due to the Swiss National Bank's decision to end a peg for the national currency, the franc -- and nobody saw it coming. Not to read too much into this, but these results look like a telling sign as to the success of the funds' investment models. No one ever knows the future, but humans harbor this illusion that they have a sense of what is happening, some idea of what will occur, and an ability to control their fates as events unfold. The Gods find these qualities quirky and amusing, always worth a chuckle on Mount Olympus. Back on terra firma the recent surprises combine to chip away at the lies humans tell themselves to get through their day. Each unexpected result reveals in a small way how much the previously believed clarity was only a mirage. Eventually, the accumulation of truth startles its recipients with its unwanted message: No one knows nuthin'. Don't misunderstand or dismiss my criticism as arrogance or hubris; my single greatest strength isn't that I am smarter than everyone else, or a better trader, but rather, that I am willing to admit how little I know. Despite the rhetoric from pundits and the rising noise levels, investors have the same options they have always had: First, you can take a guess when the bull market will end. You can listen to the self-promoters, pundits and other charlatans seeking the limelight, none of whom have a clue about what the future holds or have the slightest interest in your financial well-being. Or, you can make a long-term plan and stick to it. Just remember, the trading gods are watching. And they find you hilarious. This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors. To contact the author on this story: Barry L Ritholtz at britholtz3@bloomberg.net To contact the editor on this story: James Greiff at jgreiff@bloomberg.net

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