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CEO of the Year
Di Lewis & Heather Stewart
March 1, 2012
Additionally, Kirk led the company through an initial public offering in 2004 in order to gain the capital needed to continue growing. “That was the beginning of the rapid expansion of Extra Space,” he says. “Because of going public, we have the firepower or the wherewithal to execute on our business plan.”
And most recently, Kirk focused the company on third-party management operations, which have proved to be a major growth sector. In fact, the company has become the country’s largest third-party management company. “We rebrand assets, put our person behind the counter, put our computer in to run the transactions, and the customer never knows the difference whether they checked into a self-storage unit owned by Extra Space or operated by Extra Space,” says Kirk.
The most remarkable aspect of Kirk’s leadership is his effort to interact with employees throughout the organization, says Charles Allen, executive vice president and senior legal council for Extra Space. “He always listens to everyone who wants to give him input. He’s honest with them, he’s direct with them, and he incorporates a lot of their ideas.”
With an eye to increasing shareholder value, Kirk has set Extra Space Storage on a path for continued growth. “The ultimate goal for me is to build an organization that survives all of us,” he says.
President & CEO
“The greatest thing about Ancestry is how much everybody that works for the company everywhere around the world loves our mission, loves what we do. We love succeeding as a business—we love growing and succeeding financially—but helping people make discoveries about their family’s history, really meaningful, emotional discoveries about their ancestors, really is the thing that just makes everyone so excited to work at our company,” says CEO Tim Sullivan.
Sullivan has served as CEO of Ancestry.com since 2005. Prior to that, he was CEO of Match.com for two years and vice president of e-commerce for Ticketmaster Online-Citysearch. With a background in web-based services, Sullivan has focused on investing in new technologies and new content, and enhancing the user experience. Under his direction, Ancestry.com has worked to make family history more accessible and enjoyable. For example, the company created a mobile app that allows consumers to share and update family trees, old photos and records from anywhere.
“The real turning point for us was when we just completely decided to focus on delivering a great experience to our users. That took care of everything—just delivering wonderful content, investing in technology, being transparent and honest with those that subscribe to our service,” says Sullivan.
“He doesn’t allow us just to settle for the easiest answer to a question,” says Jeff Weber, senior vice president of people and places. “He always pushes us to think about what we can do better—even better than we first came up with—and not settle for what’s easiest or most quickly implemented, and how do we do the best solution for the customer overall. Sometimes that takes a little longer, but the outcome is much better.”
This focus on user experience has driven revenue growth. Over the past five years, Ancestry.com’s revenue grew nearly 100 percent from $150.6 million to $300.9 million in 2010. And the company projected about $400 million in revenues for 2010. Ancestry.com boasts more than 1.7 million subscribers, and that number is growing substantially each quarter.
In 2009, Sullivan took the company public. “It was an important step for us,” he says, “but it really wasn’t a big change in who we were or how we ran the business. We just got to the point where we realized that the best way to succeed with our mission, the best way to deliver value to our shareholders, was to be a public company. But I’m actually very proud that it hasn’t really changed who we are or what we do to deliver value to our subscribers.”
Robert G. Pedersen II
President, CEO and Chair
There isn’t much that will stop Robert Pedersen.
With the spark from an entrepreneurial father, Pedersen says he started in business as a very young boy. His first venture was selling bouquets from the garden for 10 cents a bunch. He’s come a long way from that little boy; Pedersen’s new goal is to make his company, ZAGG Inc, a billion-dollar business.