What the Founder of a $1 Billion Startup Learned From Playing ‘World of Warcraft’ for a Year

People quit their jobs for many reasons: to get a more lucrative position elsewhere, to change careers, or even to scoop ice cream in the Caribbean. Robert Hohman quit his job as president of Hotwire in order to play a video game. Ironically, a year later he founded Glassdoor, a website designed to help people find jobs and to assist companies in recruiting top talent.

As a computer science graduate of Stanford University, Hohman began his career with a little-known company called Microsoft before he went on to take part in the development of Expedia Inc. In 2006, while serving as the president of Hotwire, Robert Hohman decided to put a hold on his professional life to pursue his gaming obsession full-time with the popular online multiplayer game “World of Warcraft” (WoW).

For a year, Robert Hohman focused all his efforts on achieving the highest level in WoW. He told Business Insider:

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“I took a year off and played ‘World of Warcraft.’ I would pat the kids on the bottom every morning, send them to school and then I would dominate as an Orc Warrior.”

However, once he reached the highest level, he lost interest and was ready to move on to something new. That something new turned out to be Glassdoor.

“I played for a year nonstop and then I hit the maximum level in WoW. I was maniacal in chasing this goal and literally the next day I started a company, Glassdoor.”

When launching his startup company, Robert Hohman drew lessons from his year off playing WoW. He felt strongly about the online community that WoW fostered and decided to model Glassdoor after it:

“I learned from playing WoW about community. It was the first time I really felt part of a online community. I’d be up the morning and be excited to see my guild. Isn’t that nerdy?”

When creating Glassdoor, Robert Hohman envisioned a kind of Yelp community for job seekers where users could freely share information about sensitive topics such as their salary and work environment. Though he was initially nervous about how companies would react to such a site, his fears eventually subsided when he realized Glassdoor was going to succeed after receiving an email from a CEO disputing a low “CEO rating.” Such emails addressed to Robert Hohman are common nowadays, he said.

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“You’d be stunned how many Fortune 500 CEOs email me. They’ll dispute the CEO rating, dispute we’re calculating it right because it doesn’t match their own internal analysis. I have to explain to them that we have our own internal algorithm.”

Robert Hohman currently runs Glassdoor as chief executive officer by day and personally codes for the website at night. Nowadays, he does not play WoW as much as he used to and has since moved on to playing “StarCraft” with his two young sons. Gaming is still an important component of his life, and he uses the activity to spend quality bonding time with his family. He is even a strong supporter of his children’s pursuit to be professional gamers:

“My kids and I play now. We just got back from a tournament. My sons are pretty darn good and want to be pro video-game players. That’s a thing now. I support it absolutely. I think it’s amazing. StarCraft is like chess at 100,000 kilometers per hour. My 12 year old thinks faster than I do. He processes strategic info at a speed faster than me.”

With 30 million registered users in over 190 countries, Glassdoor claims to be the fastest growing career site on the web. Glassdoor has 36,000 companies actively involved with the site, including a handful of Fortune 500 companies. Recently, the company was valued at close to $1 billion.

In Hohman’s case, quitting work to play video games ended up being a very good decision.

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Source: Business Insider
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