Having been a passenger on the
Miracle on the Hudson plane in
2009, Red Ventures CEO Ric Elias
is famously familiar with crashes.
But US Airways fight 1549 wasn’t
his frst unscheduled touchdown.
That came years earlier and, though
it wasn’t potentially lethal, the mem-
ory is just as searing. In 2000, Elias
and Dan Feldstein opened an online
discount and loyalty business called
Red F. The two had worked together
at another company in the 1990s
and became good friends through
a mutual love of basketball, chess,
and business. As Elias puts it, they
“wanted to build a company we
would want to work for.”
Shortly after opening their doors,
though, the dot-com crash dashed
the plan. “By the time we packed
our bags and started heading up the
mountain,” says Elias, “everyone was
rushing down.” Their $2 million in
startup cash had dwindled to about
$100,000, which set the company on
a course that would defne its culture:
Evolve continuously. “We were low on
capital, so we went into survival mode
trying to generate cash,” says Elias.
“We had to fgure out a way to restart
The restart became Red Ventures,
a portfolio of companies in digital
marketing and integrated e-commerce.
Today, it owns CreditCards.com,
Reviews.com, and MyMove.com,
among others, a segment the company
calls “integrated marketplaces.”
The sites dispense news, advice,
and reviews, and allow consumers to
compare products being ofered by
advertisers. Red Ventures earns money
when they buy. Then, in 2017, the
company made a move to become
a dominant player in the space,
spending $1.4 billion to buy Bankrate,
including sites such as bankrate.com
and the Points Guy.
Connecting consumers to credit
card, energy, and banking companies
catapulted Red Ventures to No. 4 on
the Inc. 500 list in 2007; by 2015, the
company was valued at more than
$1 billion, and it is now worth twice
that. Red Ventures has posted double-digit growth for the past decade.
Headquartered just south of Charlotte,
North Carolina, it has ofces across
the U.S. and in London and São Paulo.
Expect another big shift, and soon.
“What we are today is signifcantly
diferent from what we were 18
months ago,” says Elias, “and signifcantly diferent from 36 months ago,
and completely diferent from 54
months ago. The only thing that you
can conclude is, 18 months from now,
we will be diferent again.”
That’s why the company has built
a culture predicated on adaptability.
Elias relocates himself periodically,
and employee teams are changed on
a regular basis to keep things fresh,
promote learning, and avoid compla-
cency. This credo is posted on the
wall at the Curve, the company’s
new learning development center:
“Everything is written in pencil.”
Even disrupters get disrupted,
especially as they get bigger, Elias
says—better to do it to your own
company before someone else does.
“The idea has changed countless
times over the years. So, the idea is
a lot less relevant than the team you
do it with—and how you do it.”
PRIVATE TI TANS
Just Don’t Get Comfortable
CEO Ric Elias (right, on stairs) says he wants a culture
“where adaptability is a way of being, not an objective.”
Red Ventures is going
RAIN DOGS Rover, the dog-walking and -sitting startup that’s raised over $300 million—yes,
places. Where? Not sure.
And that’s the plan.
you read that correctly—and Redfn, the real estate marketplace, recently collaborated to run data
on 14,000 U.S. cities to determine which was the most dog-friendly. The winner? Seattle—which
happens to be home to both. As our friend on the left might say: Woof!