Announcing my departure from Bazaarvoice…and search for my CMO successor!

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This is a post about change. Winston Churchill said, “There is nothing wrong with change, as long as it is in the right direction.” 


After 4.5 years at Bazaarvoice, I’m announcing a smooth and amicable departure from the company in order to pursue my next challenge and opportunity. (I announced this to our company last week at our quarterly all hands.)

This is not your typical resignation. You could call this a ‘planned’ or ‘friendly’ departure. During this time I plan to remain on as Bazaarvoice CMO while I help recruit for my successor (one of the reasons for this post), and upon my departure I will be on the Bazaarvoice Board of Advisors to help the company’s continued growth.

“Growth means change and change involves risk, stepping from the known to the unknown.” George Shinn

There are three reasons I’m making this announcement proactively:

  1. To stop speculation or assumptions about this move – before it begins. We are an open & transparent culture and such is the spirit of this transition. Frankly, more companies should do it this way.
  2. To announce the beginning of my journey to explore what’s next, and be able to have open discussions outside of Bazaarvoice.
  3. To publicize and market that one of the best CMO positions in the country is now open!

To start off, I love this company. I’ve been there since we launched the company in January 2006. Brett and Brant (co-founders) have graciously referred to me as a third co-founder, and I’ve felt that way. It’s what has made this decision so hard. 

“Change starts when someone sees the next step.” William Drayton

My interest when we launched Bazaarvoice was to help invent where marketing was going. My objectives were to build the products, platform and brand that would be recognized as the leader in helping companies realize a new paradigm of high-ROI social marketing (i.e. social commerce). It’s been satisfying to consult directly with clients, helping them change the way they market, merchandise, improve products and change their culture.  Along the way we defined a new market, build a great team, developed a great culture, and created an authentic brand in non-traditional ways. By all measures my expectations are far exceeded and I’m proud of how far our company has come in such a short time. Bazaarvoice now has offices in 8 countries and employs 550 people worldwide. I’m incredibly passionate about the customer-centric transformation we’ve had on 850 brands globally. These are the best people I’ve worked with on one of the most exciting missions in one of the most dynamic industries.

“Things do not change; we change.” Henry David Thoreau


My decision to move on is difficult and complex, from the head and the heart. It took time to get here. The short story is I’m interested in building another great company, and I shared my “itch” with Brett (our CEO). We’ve had open discussions for nearly six months about exploring new challenges and taking the next steps in my career. With full support from Brett and the board, we agreed we could make a smooth and positive transition that’s good for both the company and for my future.

“Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.” Karen Kaiser Clark

As for the company, Bazaarvoice couldn’t be in a better position…which (as an investor) makes me comfortable about moving on. This is a fantastic time to find the next CMO. We’re an established market leader still growing at a blistering pace with new products serving new industries in new markets. Though I say this with some bias, the next CMO is coming into the best marketing team in the industry and has an opportunity to make a real difference.  We regularly have marketers reach out to us about joining our team, and I openly welcome the candidate who is going to take this company and team to the next phase of growth. If that’s you, or you know someone great, I hope you’re reading this! Send me an email, tweet or message through LinkedIn

In the meantime, I remain as Bazaarvoice CMO, pushing us forward as the leader in Social Commerce. Upon my departure (TBD), as I explore opportunities and ideas, I will be connected to Bazaarvoice as an advisor and consultant, and I may also consult to retailers, brands and other SaaS companies. I’m excited to uncover what’s next for me, and will share updates here or on Twitter/Facebook. I look forward to discussing new ideas, meeting new people, and exploring all sorts of change!

“When you're finished changing, you're finished.” Benjamin Franklin

14 Responses

  1. Sam,
    I love the openness in your post, both in why you’re leaving and in the recruitment of the next Bazaarvoice CMO. I’m looking forward to hearing about your new adventure.
    Best,
    Heather Strout | @heatherjstrout

  2. Simon Salt says:

    Sam
    Couldn’t agree with you more about other companies striving to achieve this level of openess. Congratulations on everything you have achieved at Bazaarvoice. I know that whatever you decide to do next will equal and no doubt exceed what you have already done. Good luck with it all.
    Simon

  3. Congratulations on your first steps in your new journey. What a terrific opportunity you’ve lined up for your successor!
    All the best!
    Kim Hollenshead – @kimhollenshead

  4. Sam,
    Can’t wait to see what you do next.
    Congrats!
    Robert
    @Adomatica

  5. Sam,
    I have followed your writings many of which have provided valuable insights, enjoyed conversations at meetings and respected your advice and help with business decisions. I only hope you end up somewhere that I can become a client.
    Please stay in touch.
    David

  6. Congrats and you will be missed BUT looking forward to hearing all about your new company! All my best, Lori Pelletier @ Demandware

  7. Ericgohs says:

    Sam,
    Congrats on what you and the BV team have accomplished in such a short time. You’ve helped create a terrific culture and a company that others want to partner with. I’ll start spreading the word about the open position today! Keep us posted on your next endeavors.
    Best,
    Eric Gohs – @ericgohs

  8. Sanjay Varma says:

    Hi Sam,
    As users before me have commented, I think the level of openness you (and Bazaarvoice) have demonstrated in making this announcement is fantastic and really sets a benchmark for other companies.
    Warm regards,
    Sanjay

  9. Sam,
    Congratulations on your announcement and the level to which you brought Bazaarvoice. I look forward to hearing more about your next initiative — which I’m sure will set new standards and draw new lines for others to merely reach. Congratulations again!

  10. Sethg says:

    Sam,
    I applaud your decision and look forward to partnering with you again on the next leg of your journey if possible. You have the right to be very proud of what you, Brett and Brant build from scratch. You guys have seriously changed the way marketers communicate with customers. You built and leave a terrific team that continues to push the boundaries of innovation. You have much to reflect and be proud of my friend.
    Cheers,
    Seth
    http://www.SethGreenberg.com

  11. Chiproyce says:

    Already been 4.5 years? Wow!
    Good luck on your next gig,
    Chip

  12. Mitch Joel says:

    Sam, I am very sad to see you go, but very happy about seeing how you and the company are handling it. I hope you’ll still have time to hang out with me at the Shop.org events, etc… You’re a good man, Charlie Brown.

  13. Terry King says:

    While it’s shocking from a familial standpoint it’s not from a personal achievement standpoint – it feels to me like this is the right path based on everything I’ve heard you say over the past many years. (decade?)
    You forgot one quote..which I think aligns to your happiness in this decision:
    Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.
    - M. Gandhi
    God Bless and looking forward to what you create next!
    tk

  14. karen orton says:

    Sam,

    Wishing you well in your next endeavor. I sure that it will be great. And to Bazaar Voice and you for creating a great company. Looking forward to hearing what’s next.

    Karen

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