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2011 Game Changer: Tim Besse

Co-founder and vice president of product and marketing, Glassdoor Inc., Sausalito, California

“We operate on the Web under three principles,” says Tim Besse, 31. “We believe that if it can be rated, it will be rated; if it can be known, it will be known; if it can be free, it will be free.”

Glassdoor Inc., which Besse and two former colleagues at Expedia Inc. founded in 2007, operates on all three of those principles, offering job seekers free information and ratings of companies and jobs.

“Ten years ago you couldn’t read a review before buying a product, and now we take that for granted, doing that every day on Amazon and TripAdvisor,” Besse explains. “Before Glassdoor, you really couldn’t find out what it was like on the inside of a company before starting there. I suspect in another five to 10 years it’s going to be pretty common, and Glassdoor will have pioneered that trend.”

Besse was nominated for the Game Changers award by Samantha Zupan, corporate communication manager for Glassdoor. “Tim motivates all of us to think on our feet and to come to meetings with really thought-out ideas so we can have progressive conversations,” she says. “I think when you have people who keep pushing the needle for themselves, they set that as a model for everybody else. What he expects of himself and what he expects from the team brings together this perfect concept of game changing.”

Besse and his two co-founders took a risk when they left rewarding positions at Expedia to start their company, based on what they’d learned from Expedia’s TripAdvisor, as well as Yelp and other online rating systems they used in their personal lives. Besse turned down “a really nice ex-pat package” in Hong Kong, he says, in favor of “no salary, write a check to the company and hope it works.” Now the company has 60 employees, is vigorously growing and can claim 5 million unique users per month.

On top of that, its Sausalito location is a beautiful setting, just a ferry ride away from San Francisco. Besse can’t help noting, “It’s actually rated one of the most scenic ferry rides in the world.”