We Need Marketing VPs

Several of our portfolio companies are looking to hire marketing VPs. I was reminded of that yesterday when I read Matt Blumberg’s post called Wanted: Rock Star Marketer


Retun Path’s VP Marketing position is the most senior of the open marketing roles in our portfolio but we have several more.

If you are an experienced marketing executive who understands how to support a sales force, generate leads, and tailor a strong message to the marketplace, we’d like to get to know you.

First thing to do is click on the link above and check out the Return Path position.

And please also click the contact link at the upper right of this blog and send me an email if you’d like to run marketing for one of our companies.

#Listings#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. Henry Yates

    Very interesting company and fascinating marketing challenge. Most companies do not realise they have an email deliverability problem.Their proposition seems to have been simplified since I last looked at it – seems much more accessible (it looked like a nightmare to “qualify” as a customer before). Looks like they are well positioned to grow.

    1. fredwilson

      All of that is true henry. I’m quite excited by where return path is right now and where they are going.

  2. maxkalehoff

    Reminds me of your introduction to Kidder.

    1. fredwilson

      Sourcing great people for our companies via this blog works. You are a great example Max

  3. Joe Siewert

    Interesting company. I wonder how their services stack up against companies that have internally developed email marketing systems.

    1. fredwilson

      They compliment them. Many of their best customers do email sending themselves

  4. im2b_dl

    Fred not to bang a drum or get off point …but evangelism via good content makes that hire less critical to get perfect…or makes the range of “perfect” in a marketing VP candidate…exponentially wider. just a reminder that I hope those companies saw any technology with a public market needs a content position /relationship and/or production position should come before marketing…imo…as biased as I am..discussion this morning about marketing in indie film where we talked about “marketing should be viewed as the social aspect of the “story cube” …I think in this new interfacing world that should be the starting point for all companies’ marketing .

    1. awaldstein

      Not to be argumentative, but If you define marketing as evangelism, then marketing is a service org and secondary to the value of the content. If you define it as I do, as the string that attaches product value (through definition) through messaging and distribution to customer satisfaction, then the hire, and marketing itself, is very essential. Even moreso in today’s business models. As a CMO and Marketing Advisor, glad to take this topic offline. A great one for discussion.

      1. im2b_dl

        great way to look at it…but I think it’s almost the same, not argumentative at all…just content value makes the job much easier. I want to say the marketing should evolve out of the content creation mindset…that it is an architecture for a CMO like yourself to find, build, and hang more architecture on. I think I just feel uncomfortable if the marketing architecture supercedes …or is the foundation to build at the core of the importance of a product. (lol but I am not a marketing guy) So I think we are almost saying some things that create the dynamic for a plan for where there is such an integrated road now. …maybe. lol and maybe I give myself too much credit. and I would love to chat about this… offline too.

        1. awaldstein

          We are generally in agreement. Marketing design or infrastructure w/o a core value or product is superficial. Marketing should be the essence of the product itself, that is its value. All else is tactics.

          1. Dave Pinsen

            Sales can and should play a role in product improvement in a start-up, by soliciting feedback from early clients, advocating for them in resolving technical issues, and helping to insure that there’s an interative process of product improvement as the initial designs get field tested. That’s been my experience, at least. I’m less sure of the role of marketing in this, but if memory serves, Seth Godin has made a similar argument to yours, and suggested that marketing folks spend more time with the folks building the product.

          2. awaldstein

            Dave, it depends on many factors: type of distribution and product, stage of company and more. But certainly, those who touch the customer have the greatest knowledge of their experience with the product. This whole side discussion re: marketing and sales has got me thinking about the role of CEO in early companies and when it’s appropriate to have Sales and Marketing combined through a SVP of both or CMO who can define not only the product experience but also the selling strategies.

          3. Dave Pinsen

            Good point about the need to define the selling strategies as well. In my case, I was fortunate enough to convince the CEO to agree on the strategy of wholesaling our (financial) product through financial intermediaries exclusively, even though his initial thought was to sell direct to retail. I thought that would be like boiling the ocean given our limited resources at the time, and if we were going to go the wholesale route, we shouldn’t compete with our main distribution channel by also going direct to retail.

          4. awaldstein

            Big topic. Many variations. i’ve been fortunate to have built a number of models in consumer, B2B, through channels and online. Each new company is unique in some ways. Might be worth a separate posting on its own.

          5. Dave Pinsen

            Have you built any models for subscription-based info websites? If so, what did you find worked well? For the one I’m about to launch, which is targeted toward a relatively small niche of individual investors, I’m going to start with an affiliate program (I’ll let the affiliates offer membership in the site for a 10% discount, so no one will try to cut them out by going directly to my site) and SEO and feel my way from there. I figure if I can connect with some savvy affiliates (I’ve got one of those, so far), they may come up with market ideas I wouldn’t have thought of.

          6. awaldstein

            No specifically but basically affiliates are a channel, whether they be a customer referral program or a real multitiered distribution program. I would ask myself the following questions. Out of them, a bunch of decisions can be made:-Do I want as many affiliates or possible or just a few chosen ones? Important. You can manage a few one by one, you need an automated program to handle the long tail of many doing little business for you.-Who is going to own the customer? The affiliate (the channel partner) or you?-What’s in it for the affiliate? Ask this seriously beyond a slight $$ uptake.-What is the support mechanism? Where are the selling tools?-And finally, do you have a database underneath this all that will manage ownership of a lead, a customer, payment process and by definition conflict?Mapping out above on a board with seriousness and detail is a useful and defining process if you haven’t already.Good luck

          7. Dave Pinsen

            I’ve done some thinking on this.- I’d rather have a relative handful of affiliates, than many of them.- My company will own the customer (the customer will ultimately sign up via my site, but through a special address that will identify him as having been referred by a particular affiliate). Affiliates will also be able to log into the site and see how many referrals they have in real time.- What’s in it for the affiliate will be 10% of the monthly membership fee, for as long as the client remains a member. Also, the one affiliate whose already on board sees this as a useful exercise for him in that if he successfully drives referrals, he can use similar techniques to do this for a handful of other sites, and position himself as a trusted referrer. Perhaps I can identify some other non-cash motivations for affiliates as well. Or up their referral fee, if need be. 10% ongoing while letting them offer the site at a 10% discount seems like a fair starting point to me, based on a look at some other affiliate programs. I could be wrong though. One thing I am thinking of doing is having a contest among my affiliates for who refers the most members in the first month or so, and giving the winner a domain name I’ve registered that I think would be a great fit for an affiliate site.- If by selling tools you mean content, my site will have detailed, factual copy, and affiliates will be able to re-purpose this with their own marketing angle, and perhaps add some of their own. I’m aiming for affiliates who have knowledge of the area to begin with, so they ought to be able to improvise a little here. If not, I suppose I can provide some extra content for them. Maybe I should prepare a basic support package though.- Every affiliate will have his own unique link to give to his referrals, so the database will automatically track ownership of referrals and payment due based on that. I sent my developers the affiliate page from 37 Signals’s site for inspiration.

          8. awaldstein

            Dave–sounds like you have asked the right questions. We can continue this if you’d like offline if that is helpful. [email protected]

          9. Dave Pinsen

            Thanks, Arnold. I’ll e-mail you.

      2. fredwilson

        You are both right. At the early stages, you have to get the product right. Once you’ve got that nailed, great product centric marketing can be very impactful

    2. fredwilson

      For sure.

  5. jackabraham

    Marketing at technology companies is so different from traditional brands. It’s all quant, SEM, SEO, conversion funnel optimization, etc at this point. I would go for a quant jock!

    1. awaldstein

      The challenge in hiring a VP of Mkting that reports to the CEO is that you usually get 80/20 tactician/analyst to strategy/positioning smarts. Not good unless the CEO is the maven who gets the rest and creates the proper balance.BTW–don’t agree that the traditional brands get it and tech doesn’t from a mkting perspective. Tech used to follow traditional and fashion brands to learn lifestyle marketing. No more…the world is following Apple to learn what brand marketing is all about 😉

      1. jackabraham

        Depends on what kind of business you are running. Marketing an iPod vs a website is very different. Websites usually get the best ROI buying online media and it takes a very particular skill set to understand/optimize for that. Market research, strategic thinking and product development are an entirely different side of marketing that Apple nails.

        1. awaldstein

          Jack, I agree, partly. Yes, if it’s all about click to conversion certainly the cool capture tools and analytical choices are critical. And having a ‘scientist’ to handle this is critical as it is certainly left brain expertise. What I learned a few years back from building a significant online VoIP biz was that the strongest leads with the best ROI were the natural search ones on the company’s trademarks. And if you are fortunate enough to have some components of an aspirational brand message, then that is how to capture those. So, net net, you need both left and right thinking and expertise. One of my favorite topics, so thanks for the discussion.

  6. Keenan

    Sent you a killer applicant via email. Good luck.

    1. fredwilson


  7. Simon Edhouse

    Interesting for such an open and broad pitch for executive level marketers to be made like this. I guess you have the ‘footprint’ to harvest from a wide field. But makes me consider when marketing-smarts should ideally enter the management/service-chain in a digital business? – Ideally, its VERY early on… in that marketing-smarts should (IMHO) inform product-development rather than be applied to “direct a sales-force” etc. Sounds like the companies in question lack marketing DNA in the founder-group. If that’s so, you might never achieve what you might be wishing for. i.e. That magical x-factor, that with hindsight is often attributed to ‘brilliant marketing’.


    Sign that the economic down turn is bottoming?