CareerArc Chairman and CEO, Robin Richards Shares His Career Journey
What was your first job?
I’ve never really had a job, because I’ve always been my job. My very first job where I employed myself, I figured out how to borrow money for $105 paint sprayer from Sherwin Williams. There was a lot of building going on in Michigan, and I secured a job painting a warehouse. I took a bunch of the guys from the basketball team and we took that little machine and we painted all day. It was great money for a young person, and we had a blast that summer. So that was my first job really.
“I’ve never really had a job, because I’ve always been my job.”
Tell us the story behind your time at Tickets.com.
A friend of mine had raised the first big fund on the Internet and said, “Hey, you got to get into this.” I said, “What is it?” He hands me a book of pages and pages of names like: plumber.com, this.com, that.com. I said, “What are these?” He goes, “They’re companies.” I said, “Well, what kind of companies?” He goes, “They’re all losing money, but it’s the future.” So I said, “Well, the only thing I really understand is tickets, so how about tickets.com?” He goes, “Oh, they got the most fabulous management team.” We went in and I met Paul Ouyang, who has been my partner from that day forward.
“They’re all losing money, but it’s the future.”
What about mp3.com?
A young man from San Diego showed up and said, “I have something you’re not going to believe.” At the time it was called Zmusic, and we changed it to mp3.com. We brought sound and music to the internet, and it was quite a revolution. At the time, it was the largest IPO in internet history and we sold that company to Universal Music.
“We brought sound and music to the internet, and it was quite a revolution.”
I have been a serial entrepreneur for close to 30 years, and been a part of seven or eight companies. Each company is different. All the companies I’ve been engaged with had some sort of democratization as its overarching theme, and CareerArc was really no different.
CareerArc’s an important company. It’s important, because I think we’re doing things that help people find the right job, not just a job. We’re helping people that get laid off get back to work, and our mission is to help everyone.
“We can use a little bit of technology and give everybody the help they need to get back on their feet for the same price.”
We thought, “How come all the medium and smaller people on the org chart are left out of getting help when they get let go, and it’s only the ‘fancy’ people that get help?” We said, “That’s not right. We can use a little bit of technology and give everybody the help they need to get back on their feet for the same price.”
I believe in valuing every employee at every company. That means recognizing they all have a right to the same kind of services. I think we’re bringing that concept to the world and that it’s a story that hasn’t been told. I believe by the time we’re done, table stakes for every corporation in America will be whether somebody comes or somebody leaves, you have a responsibility to them to help them get back on their feet and give them the professional training that used to be reserved only for the “fancy.”
I think that will be our story when it’s all said and done.