Michael Fertik founded Reputation.com with the belief that people and businesses have the right to control and protect their online reputation and privacy. A futurist, Michael is credited with pioneering the field of online reputation management (ORM) and lauded as the world's leading cyberthinker in digital privacy and reputation. Michael was most recently named Entrepreneur of the Year by TechAmerica, an annual award given by the technology industry trade group to an individual they feel embodies the entrepreneurial spirit that made the U.S. technology sector a global leader. He is a member of the World Economic Forum Agenda Council on the Future of the Internet, a recipient of the World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer 2011 Award and through his leadership, the Forum named Reputation.com a Global Growth Company in 2012.
Fertik is an industry commentator with guest columns in Harvard Business Review, Reuters, Inc.com and Newsweek. Named a LinkedIn Influencer, he regularly blogs on current events as well as developments in entrepreneurship and technology. Fertik frequently appears on national and international television and radio, including the BBC, Good Morning America, Today Show, Dr. Phil, CBS Early Show, CNN, Fox, Bloomberg, and MSNBC. He is the co-author of the bestselling book, Wild West 2.0, and the author of the upcoming book, The Reputation Economy, to be published by Crown Business in March 2015. Fertik founded his first Internet company while at Harvard College. He received his JD from Harvard Law School.
How did you get into the tech industry?
I started my first tech company in college. Then I went to law school for a variety of reasons that are probably (literally) too Talmudic to warrant brief explanation here! And then I started Reputation.com in 2006.
Tell us about Reputation.com. What inspired the idea and what is your vision for the company?
Reputation.com exists to give people and businesses more control over their online reputations. We enable companies to collect real, authenticable online reviews from their customers. We give the Global 2000 insight on how they compare to their competitors. We give individuals control over their own data.
What strategic partnerships have you implemented that have attributed to Reputation.com's success?
Equifax, AOL, AVG, the big three automakers, some of the larger healthcare systems, etc.. It’s a good list, and we’re lucky to have it.
What industry trends are you noticing and how do you capitalize on them?
The Global 2000 especially are waking up to the fact that they CAN and MUST do something to understand and protect their companies’ digital reputations. They have figured out that reputation drives revenue.
Teach and learn. (No one has ever asked me that before, but teach and learn feels about right.)
You deserve control over your data.
Your greatest success as founder of Reputation.com?
We have a huge culture of learning and continuous improvement at the company.
Most difficult moment-how did you overcome and what did you learn?
The Great Recession of 2008 was tough. We survived by acting fast, preemptively, and aggressively.
Your advice to an aspiring entrepreneur?
Bootstrap as long as you damn can.
Favorite travel destination?
Right now, it would be any beach with warm water and sun.
One food and drink left on earth, what would you choose?
For food, probably nihari. It’s a Pakistani dish that is probably my favorite ever. Then espresso, if I could make it hydrating.
What literature is on your bed stand?
Pretty much always Moby Dick. Lots of noir, especially but not exclusively American noir. Then check these out for a fun surprise:
Role model - business and personal?*
Never met him, but I think Richard Branson is an awesome entrepreneur. Also never met him, but my guess is Bezos is the best alive in tech.
What's next for Reputation.com?
Massive scaling of our B2B customer base in the US and abroad. By the end of the year that part of our business should be as large as the Consumer solutions we were founded upon.