Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on Wednesday, February 4, 2015 at 1:48 PM PST
Bill Ruckelshaus, CEO of Blucora, was the speaker in the Albers Executive Speaker Series on February 3 rd, 2015. The title of his presentation was, "Value Creation and the Internet Economy." Blucora owns a portfolio of Internet businesses including InfoSpace, TaxACT and Monoprice.
Ruckelshaus was appointed President and CEO of Blucora in 2010 after serving as a board member beginning in 2007. Prior to joining Blucora, he served as CFO of Audience Science, Inc., an advertising technology and services company. He has also served as Senior Vice President of Corporate Development for Expedia, Inc., where he oversaw Expedia's mergers and acquisitions and led strategic planning. Prior to that, he worked at Credit Suisse First Boston Technology Group, Frito-Lay, and Booz Allen Hamilton.
Ruckelshaus preached the importance of resilience and perseverance in succeeding as an Internet based company. The key is to create loyal customers in a rapidly changing environment. Both customer acquisition and retention are critical. With the former, it is important not to be overly dependent on one platform (such as Google), and with the latter innovation is critical to satisfying customers and keeping them as your strongest advocates.
For example, not wanting to be dependent on Google encouraged Blucora to acquire TaxACT and Monoprice, since InfoSpace was 85% dependent on Google for revenues. Blucora continues to look for acquisitions, but Ruckelshaus emphasized that the right acquisition is very difficult to find in this market given current valuations.
In the Q&A, Ruckelshaus provided a number of valuable insights. On what he thinks makes him an effective leader, he mentioned his ability to delegate, to engage with people, to be a good listener, and to articulate a vision were most critical.
On "work-life balance," (which I like to call "work-life integration"), he noted he thought he did it "imperfectly," but said that it was important and pointed out that diminishing returns do set in as the hours add up.
As for his advice to students, he encouraged students to "jump in," meaning follow your passions and do not be afraid to be impulsive as long as you are learning. Students should recognize that most career paths are not linear or well planned, and you can never predict how an experience will contribute to your professional career.
Another great opportunity for our students to hear from a successful and respected business leader!