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We are working with Rackspace in their search for a VP of Ecommerce based in San Antonio, TX. Rackspace is a publicly traded cloud-based hosting and infrastructure company that powers some of the world’s largest Internet properties. Its clients include 40% of the members of the Fortune 100, and in 2011 and 2013, the company was named as one of the top 100 places to work by Fortune Magazine.

Rackspace has two main service-level segments: Managed and Intensive. Both service levels receive support via e-mail, telephone, live chat, and ticket systems, but they are designed to fit the needs of different businesses.

The Managed support level consists of basic “on-demand” support where services are provided and customers can contact Rackspace when they need additional assistance. The Intensive support level consists of “proactive” support where customers receive special consultations about their server configurations plus highly customized implementations.

HARRY’S COMMENTS: Of late, Rackspace has been transitioning from a “hardware as a service” company to “software as a service” (SaaS) provider, gradually migrating away from being a dedicated hosting provider to adding a full portfolio products. The company’s new products are cloud-based and they’re purchased differently than Rackspace’s original offerings.

Traditionally, Rackspace generated demand online and engaged in one-to-one communications with its prospects through web chat, then worked the prospect into a lead, and finally transferred the lead to a real human to close the sale.

This “old” sales process is evolving.

For Rackspace’s SaaS business, roughly 70% of its online business may not involve a human, and it’s likely that the prospect will research and make a purchase without Rackspace’s personal involvement. There’s nothing troubling or sinister about this trend. As Rackspace refined its core offering, its customers became more self-sufficient.

Wanted: VP of Ecommerce

In light of this developments, Rackspace seeks a Vice President to grow its digital business. This means having a deep knowledge of all relevant multichannel leading- and lagging- conversion metrics, as well as the underlying ecommerce platform technologies on which Rackspace. The new VP of Ecommerce will own traffic and revenue for in addition to leading all content marketing strategies that will support online customer acquisition.

Currently, Rackspace is known for web hosting but it aims to be world famous for its application hosting offerings. In the future, it’s a safe bet that IT infrastructure is going to evolve dramatically to a cloud-based environment.

According to Forrester Research, “Enterprise use has arrived. Cloud use is no longer solely hiding in the shadows; IT departments are no longer denying it’s happening in their company; and legitimate budgeting around cloud is now taking place.”

Meaning, IT departments are getting down to the real business of incorporating cloud services and platforms into their formal IT portfolios – allowing cloud-based solutions to power on-demand, scalable customer data platforms, offering pay-as-you-go models to store, process, and access customer data. (BIG data.)

Twilight for Small In-house Data Centers

All of this makes millions of America’s SMBs and cloud-based application developers growth-oriented markets for Rackspace. Accordingly, Rackspace seeks to become better known among America’s CIOs, CTOs, entrepreneurs, and technologists – many of whom will discover and use Rackspace’s robust cloud-based developer tools, server capacity, and services to run their:

  • Ecommerce sites, which would provide highly available and scalable online stores, designed for security.
  • SharePoint deployments, which would run SharePoint on the Rackspace Cloud.
  • Mobile apps, which can be built and managed on the Rackspace Cloud.
  • SaaS applications, which allow developers to focus on their applications, not their infrastructure.
  • Rich media sites, which are conducive to high-performance media delivery.
  • Corporate websites, which would be backed by Rackspace’s fanatical support.
  • Test/dev environments, which allow developers to add agility into their application lifecycles.
  • Enterprise applications, which run business applications on the cloud.

There are four things that make this VP of Ecommerce role very interesting:

  1. The size of the market;
  2. The self-sufficiency of the target customer;
  3. Rackspace’s breadth of offerings; and
  4. The size of Rackspace’s AOV and customer LTV.

Without getting into specifics, Rackspace’s current ecommerce business is roughly the size of an Internet Retailer Top 100 business. And it’s growing like a weed.

There is a giant list of things for the new VP of Ecommerce to do to “hit the ground running,” including conversion path analysis; correlating revenue to spend type; evaluating which media buys are working for Rackspace; and developing ways to get prospects through Rackspace’s sales funnel faster.

For qualified candidates, I’ve captured some excellent information on the size of the addressable market, Rackspace’s current market penetration and number of customers, expected growth rates, and the overall number of customers the company is likely to serve. Those numbers have been “sanity checked” by Rackspace’s CMO, and they are spectacular.

In addition to having a list of 100-day primary objectives for this role, I have quite a bit of information on the 8 key areas where candidates will be required to demonstrate deep expertise during their interviews for this position.


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