Rand Fishkin is the cofounder, and Wizard of Moz. He co-authored the Art of SEO from O’Reilly Media, co-founded Inbound.org, and was named on PSBJ’s 40 Under 40 List and BusinessWeek’s 30 Best Tech Entrepreneurs Under 30. Rand is an addict of all things content & social on the web, from his blog on entrepreneurship to Twitter, Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn, and FourSquare.
He’s actually a pretty interesting guy. His blog probably wouldn’t interest those outside of the entrepreneurial or SEO niches. He’s a compelling writer that prefers to be in the trenches.
I first became involved with the World Wide Web in 1993, while still in high school. After playing with MS Frontpage and building websites in the late ’90’s, I moved into consulting on the usability side of the equation, assisting local Seattle-area banks, law firms, doctors and small businesses with their domains. It wasn’t until 2002 that I got involved in the field of search marketing.
The major forums of the SEO world were my training ground, and after months of lurking, I started posting my questions, responses and experiences. In 2004, the scope and size of my material outgrew the forums and I began posting reports, data, and tools on a website that eventually became Moz.
From 2007-2013, I was Moz’s CEO, but have moved into a new position as an individual contributor, while our longtime COO, Sarah Bird, takes the CEO reigns
via his about page
Over 6 years as CEO, Rand grew Moz from 7 employees to 134, revenues from $800K to $29.3mm, and traffic from 1mm to 30mm annual visitors. He raised two rounds of funding ($1.1mm in 2007 and $18.1mm in 2012), led three acquisitions, and, in 2013, re-branded the company from SEOmoz to Moz, shifting focus from exclusively SEO tools to broader web marketing software.
Rand stepped down as CEO in February of 2014 during a rough bout with depression and promoted longtime Chief Operations Officer, Sarah Bird, to the position. He moved into an individual contributor role with the company and retains the title “Wizard of Moz,” as well as the stuffier, less-fun title “Chairman of the Board of Directors.”
Here are some of my favourite posts about how the business has evolved:
- Misadventures in VC Funding: The $24 Million Moz Almost Raised
- Moz’s $18 Million Venture Financing: Our Story, Metrics and Future
- My Complicated Relationship with No Longer Being CEO
- Moz Returns to SEO Simplifying their product offerings and making tough choices
- The “Click-My-Bio” Litmus Test
- Two Psychological Triggers that Make Viral Content More Viral
- A Healthy Dose of Fear is Appropriate When Dealing with the Press
Depressed Rand is weird. Don’t get me wrong, regular Rand is weird, too. But depressed Rand magnifies the bad 10X and minimizes the good. He refuses to even acknowledge good news and, because he’s a pretty smart guy, he can usually argue for why that good news is actually just temporary and will turn to shit any minute. The weird part is, I think depressed Rand is actually a very authentic version of myself. When I felt depressed, I upheld TAGFEE – particularly the values of transparency and authenticity – as the reasons why I could and should be such a raging, all-consuming, negative naysayer.
I loved the above post. While it primarily focuses on the issues Moz (the company and brand) had, it also highlighted how it can be difficult for some people to separate business problems from their own mental health issues. This is a concept I’m hoping to explore.
In this interview, he compares it to a reverse flywheel:
And as a result, you almost get a reverse of the flywheel concept where every bad thing you’re doing to not take care of yourself builds upon the despondence and the frustration and the anxiety or depression or whatever it is that you’re feeling, and your situation gets worse and worse.
And the longer you’re in it and the harsher it is, the harder the cycle is to break.
I find it fascinating. I wrote about How Anxiety Recovery Is Just Like The Flywheel last year, although my approach was different. I think there is a lot of potential with the flywheel as an analogy,