Category: GEMA, GEMA Alumni Spotlight

Title:GEMA Alumni Spotlight – Joe Meyer (C’92), Founder & CEO of ExecThread

Joe Meyer (C ’92) is the Founder & CEO of ExecThread, a VC-backed premium job-sharing network that enables professionals to access the “hidden job market”. ExecThread is the largest global aggregator of hard-to-access executive-level career opportunities, including Board of Director roles. Meyer has been a successful start-up CEO and operating executive at several high-growth tech companies including HopStop (acquired by Apple), Quigo Technologies (acquired by AOL) and eBay. He is a graduate of Wharton (MBA) and Georgetown (BA), and he lives in New York.

What was your first “big break”?

After having started a tech start-up early in my career (that ultimately failed), I interviewed for a job at eBay where the VP (who was the hiring manager at the time) gave me a chance when no one else would (note: I had the stigma of being a failed “dot com” entrepreneur at the time, and the exec at eBay loved that I embraced risk and pursued my entrepreneurial vision even though the company I started ultimately failed) and as a result he took a chance on me and offered me the job largely because of my experience as a startup founder (and as they say, the rest is history).

What is the most significant experience you have had that has made your success possible?

Without a doubt it was getting the opportunity to be the CEO of HopStop (a top-ranked pedestrian navigation app) and assuming that role from the founder, and then leading the company to successful acquisition by Apple a few years later. It was my first true CEO gig, and the experience of scaling the company and then leading it to a successful liquidity event to one of the biggest companies in the world was a career-changing experience for sure.

What is the most challenging part of your job? What is the most rewarding part?

Being a founder & CEO of a tech start-up certainly has its ups-and-downs, and is not for the faint at heart. The series of trials & tribulations in trying to get a company off-the-ground, and to the point of (hopefully) scaling (without going under along the way) isn’t easy, and there are many many potholes & obstacles along the way, but I love what I do and I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else in-spite of the inherent challenges.

What is something current you are working on that you are excited about?

To date ExecThread has been a platform primarily focused on job discovery. We’re now giving more thought to (and taking strides towards) being a service that helps professionals manage and accelerate their career regardless of whether they’re actively job searching or not, which is an exciting (and not so easy 🙂 transformation for us to make.

Are there any ways that you feel Georgetown especially prepared you for your career?

Georgetown gave me the confidence that I needed to know that I was capable of competing at a high-level, and holding my own in a highly rigorous and demanding academic setting, which in-turn led to me to take that confidence with me into the workforce.

What is your best advice to those who are starting out in your field?

Wow, that’s a tough question, because ultimately my “field” is entrepreneurship (more so than it is technology or management). That said, my advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to “just do it” (i.e., stop talking about the possibility of starting your own company, and “just do it” instead).

How is the ever-changing media landscape affecting your industry?

Regardless of whether it’s HRTech (which is my current venture), or location-based services or AdTech or eCommerce (which were my past ventures), it’s all about effective lead-generation & user acquisition, regardless of whether you’re a B-to-C or B-to-B business. If you can’t acquire new users or customers in a profitable and scalable manner then it’s going to be very challenging to turn your business into a big company.

Best Business Advice Received:

To tell you the truth, I don’t know if I can narrow it down to any one piece of advice that I received, but I would say that being yourself, being honest and ethical. and having a strong work ethic with unmatched grit & perseverance are the keys to success IMHO. The other thing I would say is to be comfortable embracing risk, and to not always “play it safe”.

Trait You Most Admire in People:

Authenticity, and a lack of hubris. I enjoy working with people (at all levels) who are genuine and authentic.

Favorite App, Website, Podcast or Social Platform (other than related to your own company):

LinkedIn is still the best business development tool out there and is essential for business-building in so many ways. Slack (for effective internal communication) is also a great tool. And the one I currently love the most is Stripe, since the majority of my company’s revenue is facilitated by Stripe, which means that all of the transactions are self-serve (i.e., no billing) real-time transactions (i.e., no account receivable), which is great.

Favorite Georgetown Professor:

When I attended: Otto Hentz, who taught the infamous “Problem of God” course.

Today: Stefan Zimmers, Professor of History (who btw was my college roommate!)

Favorite Georgetown Restaurant or Bar:

The Charing Cross, which is now unfortunately defunct.

Favorite Georgetown Memory:

I met my wife, Leslie Palmer (maiden name) at Georgetown, and we’ve been married for 22 years now, so this is by far-and-away the best thing that happened to me while at Georgetown. Beyond that, I met a close knit group of friends at Georgetown (note: I lived in a house with 11 guys my Junior and Senior years) with whom I’m still friends today. Lastly, I’m eternally grateful to my Mom & Dad who (in spite of coming from a very modest background) somehow found a way to scrape together enough funds to pay for my tuition while barely making ends meet.