In November 2018, Brandon Ridenour took over as CEO of ANGI Homeservices, the company formed by the merger of HomeAdvisor and Angie’s List in 2017. The company has endured some hard times during the transition period, but it’s on its way to becoming the Amazon of home services.
Ladders spoke with Ridenour to hear about the company’s progress, the future of home services, and his unexpected career path.
In 2018 you said you wanted to “restructure an entire segment of the economy” as Amazon did, is that something you believe ANGI Homeservices has succeeded in?
“I absolutely still believe in that and I think we’re still in the very early stages. What I really mean by that is, if you look at Amazon, Amazon has really transformed the way people shop and they’ve had a huge impact on so many lives…particularly for consumers. If Amazon hadn’t done what they did in the last 20 years, it simply wouldn’t exist and the world wouldn’t be anything like it is, and I think a huge benefit would be missing. We think there’s a similar opportunity to reshape the way people find and buy home services and overall just care for their home.
“It’s an antiquated process, it hasn’t changed much in the last probably hundred years, quite frankly. And there are a lot of pain points that make it not always very pleasant, so we really think there’s an opportunity to really transform that entire experience. We’re still in the first couple innings of undertaking that effort. I do think it’s something that plays out over the next 10 plus years.”
So cool to see @HomeAdvisor named a top tech company of the year by @ColoTechAsn 's Annual APEX Awards! Chris Terrill has been a phenomenal leader, and I'm deeply honored to get to be the new CEO of this amazing team https://t.co/J8dlCugjvr via @denbizjournal pic.twitter.com/Wi9JmfavK5
— Brandon Ridenour (@brandonridenour) November 9, 2018
What are your plans for growth for ANGI Homeservices for the rest of 2019 and throughout 2020?
“Our main focus right now…we’re in a marketplace that connects homeowners with home service providers and what we found over the last several years is that there’s so much demand from homeowners, there’s such a dramatic need for help in this space that we’ve just seen the growth really outpace our ability to keep up with it from a provider standpoint. And so one of the big things we’re focused on is we’re going to begin enabling people to buy services directly from Home Advisor.
“They’ll see the price upfront, have the opportunity to purchase the service directly, we’ll manage the delivery of that service and we’ll ensure that it happens and that the homeowner is happy with the service. That’s a big paradigm shift that’s pretty all-encompassing for us right now. That’s really what we’re focused on through the end of this year and into next year.”
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What’s the biggest industry trend that you’re keeping an eye on right now?
“The biggest trend … and it’s already hit really every other industry vertical … is this idea that people used to expect information at the click of a button and now they really expect a solution at the click of a button. We’ve seen that across so many different verticals.
“The home services industry is sort of lagging and always has, in most of these categories. We believe that the same preferences, the same expectations will apply in-home services so that’s a big trend that we’re seeing. Obviously we’re moving in that direction with our fixed-client services.”
That’s so true. And now that Millennials are now the ones buying homes, have you seen major changes with the company?
“That’s exactly it. One of the reasons the industry does lag behind from an innovation standpoint is that homeowners skew a slightly older population and there is a big trend now where Millennials are the largest population buying homes. We expect them over the next ten years to be the largest population buying home services … they’re not there yet.
“But their expectations are definitely different. They are much more comfortable transacting directly on an online platform. They focus on convenience and low friction is dramatically more important. So that reality is driving a lot of where we’re trying to take our service over the coming years.”
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With such a global organization, is company culture something you try to control at ANGI Homeservices?
“Culture is really important to us. It’s been a big part of our formula for success. We’ve always had an incredibly collaborative culture. We’re really focused on a shared mission of what we’re trying to accomplish in this space. It’s such an ambitious set of goals that as you look ahead if we aren’t able to maintain that culture and the aspects of it that helped us get to where we are, it’s going to be very difficult to accomplish what we want to accomplish. So it’s incredibly important to us.
We are a global company, but we’re also made up of lots of different brands. Many of our brands do have smaller companies, some of them are in different countries, including Western Europe and Canada. Each individual company does maintain, to some degree, its own culture. But for our largest brands here in the U.S. — HomeAdvisor, Angie’s List and Handy —we do very much have a shared culture and it is very much focused on collaboration and innovation.”
Do you have any examples that exemplify that shared culture?
“From a collaboration and innovation standpoint, that’s kind of baked into the everyday of what we’re trying to accomplish. We’re really trying to define and create an entirely new way for the industry to work, so every day is about collaboration and innovation. Being in the technology space, we do also try to foster collaboration in different ways.
“Some of the fun ways are we do Hackathons and create time and space for our employees to come up with their own ideas and do some things that are fun and more purely focused on innovation for innovation’s sake as opposed to always being tied to exactly what we’re trying to accomplish at the company.”
Can you pinpoint one piece of advice for riding the waves of change and making the best of it by climbing the ladder?
“I think it’s an unusual path because I never really set out a goal to become CEO, less yet CEO of a public company. I have been more focused on the substance of what we’re trying to accomplish. Since even before I joined here back in 2011, I’ve been very focused on this idea that we could do something really transformational in the home services space.
I know there are all kinds of different paths, but the one piece of advice I would have is that if you pursue something that motivates you and gets you up in the morning and has you thinking about it at night, and captivates you on the weekends, I certainly have seen that translate to creating value for others, for customers, for partners, as well as ultimately for myself in true professional success.”
What’s been the most surprising aspect of being CEO of ANGI Homeservices?
“That’s easy. As you go up the management path in your career, you always become a little reliant on people, and having amazing people to drive success, but in the role of CEO I’m often gone for long stretches of time and never have I been in such a position where the absolute entire opportunity for success is related to the people that work for me and having great people and having a great team.
“I am completely, 100% reliant on the people we have here. Probably one of the most surprising things is just how extreme that is. In the role of CEO, I’m often managing outwardly (investors, the board, the press) and don’t spend really much time in the office working as I used to, so I’m completely reliant on the great team we have at our company.”
What about the most enjoyable part?
“If you’re passionate about what you’re trying to accomplish, which I am incredibly so, there is no better position than CEO to drive those dreams to reality. So that is still what gets me up every morning and excites me about the job, just being able to pursue this really grand ambition that we have at the company.”
What advice would you give someone interviewing with one of the ANGI Homeservices brands?
“I don’t have a specific piece of advice on the best way to interview, but one of the things that I believe and have come to understand throughout my career is how important the choice of job is. Sometimes, early in your career, you think you’re making a decision just about today, but you’re really carving out a path that’s the trajectory of your professional career and you don’t get to make that decision very many times. So thinking about what job you want to take, why you want to take it, and how it fits into how you see your life unfolding is incredibly important and it’s not something I always understood, but certainly do now.”
What kinds of traits and qualities are you looking for in an employee at ANGI Homeservices?
“That’s a great question. Right now we’re looking for all kinds because we’re growing so quickly, so we have so much need. From a cultural standpoint, we want people who share our ambitious view of what we’re trying to accomplish. We want people who are more focused on collaboration and working in teams towards those common goals. And obviously we want people to bring a ton of talent to the table…I would say that’s the fundamental recipe that we look for in people that we’re trying to hire.”
Is there anything else about ANGI Homeservices that you want people to know?
“There’s one other interesting thing. Much like Amazon, our success was definitely not guaranteed. We took a very big risk in 2012. We rebranded an existing company, changed the strategy, and really endured a lot of pain from that change for about a year. It wasn’t always clear that it was going to work, but we had a lot of conviction in what we were doing in that there’s this really significant need, particularly among homeowners, and we were able to come out the other side and have a lot of success.
“As I said, that was never assured, and I think having conviction and having a lot of motivation around something you’re trying to accomplish can really pay off. It’s not always in the short term, sometimes you have to take a longer-term view.”