New Year’s Message | FirstRain

New Year’s Message

Ringing in the New Year I decided to send an email out to all my employees – the Rainmakers – to recognize the tremendous progress that we made in 2009, but also to get us all looking forward.

2009 was a hard year for almost every company – especially the first half – but 2010 is starting out with a bang. Some orders came in today (our fiscal year end is January 31 so the sales team is supremely focused), the stock market is up, pundits continue to forecast a recovery, especially in tech (although there are still some respectable analysts on the negative side…) and our customers are giving us good feedback on their use of the research engine.

So my objective is both to acknowledge last year, honor the hard work we did, and then put it behind us so we focus on today and tomorrow, not yesterday. And more importantly to thank everyone.

Here is the email I sent out (with just a few edits to remove unannounced customer wins):

Dear Rainmakers

As we enter 2010 I want to take this opportunity to thank you all for your hard work and the tremendous progress we made in 2009.

When I wrote to you at the end of last fiscal year I reflected that “2008 was all about our algorithms, automation and the quality of our datasets…” and that “2009 is going to be [about] self-service”.

As I reflect on 2009 it is exciting to see that we have more than exceeded the goals we set out a year ago:

– We made our product significantly more powerful when the research engine interface came up in beta in June and went into production in September. It is the first of its kind for business search, it reveals the depth of business structure, topics and content that we have spent the last 4 years developing and it expands the available market we can sell to by appealing to a broad, general business market.

– Although we have been selling to marketing teams all along we were able to start selling aggressively to sales and marketing teams across all types of business-to-business companies. The early positive feedback from sales customers is very encouraging and in 2010 we’ll continue to invest in the workflow for sales teams. Our first Dreamforce show and the demonstration of how we integrate with CRM was an important milestone for us in this market.

– We introduced several very powerful innovations which make our product valuable to our customers – like signals, the company brief, the faceted search engine and the workflow to use the search engine to develop personal email and RSS feeds – and while we will always want to make the research engine easier, we did make significant progress so that now customers can be independent – they can start by themselves and make their own changes. This is a huge step forward from where we were a year ago.

– The recession was very difficult for almost every company and it is to the credit of every one of you, and our sales and support teams, that we came through it stronger than before. We made some difficult staffing decisions during the recession and our finance and HR team worked hard both in the US and in India to bring our costs down and make sure we ran as lean a company as we could.

– We developed and grew our traditional customers like Axxx, Gxxx and Bxxx; we developed important new relationships at Mxxx and Dun and Bradstreet. Our corporate customers continued to use our product, Dxxx substantially grew their use of our reports and the new work with pushed us to make our event detection truly exiting.

As we enter the New Year I believe we are building momentum both in our product and in our channels. In 2010 we will use the investment and innovation of the last few years to continue to grow our bookings and revenue. Our goal is $xxxx and it is going to take hard work, creativity and team work to achieve the goal – and we can and will do it!

I hope you have all had some time with your families and friends over the New Year and are recharged for the exciting opportunity we have in front of us.

Thank you again – it is my privilege to work with you all.