Q&A with WSO Founder, Patrick (Part 2)

M Friedman's picture
Rank: King Kong | 1,073

This is the final part of Patrick's two part interview series. In part one, Patrick and I talked about his time in investment banking, private equity, and at Wharton. This time around, Patrick candidly discusses a little more about WSO's initial development, where WSO is today, and the future of this glorious website.

Thank you for all your suggestions for more interviews, hopefully some of our more experienced users will not mind me pestering them for similar Q&A sessions.

Enjoy,

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MF: When did you begin realizing that WSO was a real opportunity for growth? What made you think, "I might have something here?" What were your initial goals with the project?

Patrick Curtis : Honestly, I have always believed in it. Even when we were only making a few thousand $ per month, I could see the usefulness of an open community and the need for detailed and specific advice. The initial members were a lot of young ibankers and students in ibanking clubs around the country - I personally emailed a lot of them when we launched to let them know about the new community.
My initial goals were the same as today. To build the most useful AND entertaining finance community online.

I think we have been largely successful in that goal, but I know we can still always improve. There have been many bumps in the road and lessons learned. I've learned a lot about myself and how I manage people - sometimes I'm too nice, sometimes I'm an asshole. Overall, I think I'm a pretty fair boss though.

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MF: How has WSO developed or evolved over the years? What are some of the trends that you are witnessing?

Patrick Curtis : WSO has matured somewhat in the sense that a lot of our users that were analysts several years back are now associates. We have also seen a huge influx of college students trying to gain an edge in recruiting - this is great, but without the dedication of the Certified Users, I know WSO would be nowhere. I think what is most valuable is when the community helps someone land a job, and then they return the favor by coming back and giving advice to the new chimps.

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MF: You, maybe more than most people, have read the countless pages of advice dolled out on WSO, what was some of the best advice you have heard, or could give to people already in the industry?

Patrick Curtis : I would say stop worrying about prestige and getting into a BB bank. The reality is most of the members on this forum will NOT make it there, or if they do, many more will be in a MO or BO role.

The key here is to find something you love doing and then excelling / impressing your superiors. People obsess over the next step and I realize in this market you have to be incredibly prepared in order to compete.

However, I think it's also very myopic to think that if you don't get a BB analyst gig your path to the Promised Land is forever ruined.

Your career will be long and there will be many ups and downs...be happy to have any job in this economy, work hard, look for professional growth opportunities, take on more responsibilities, learn tangible skills and network your ass off. If you do those, it's hard to see how you can lose - even if you aren't the sharpest tool in the shed. But seriously, network. No, I mean it. Network. The single most important determinant of success is who you know.

Also, shameless plug: practice your networking skills at the WSO Conference this summer in NYC: http://wsoconference.eventbrite.com/

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MF: What is the best part of your daily work on WSO?

Patrick Curtis : I love hearing the success stories (//www.wallstreetoasis.com/forum/wso-success-stories), and seeing users get great advice day in and day out.

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MF: Lastly, I want to open up the discussion to anything you may wish to talk about. What would you like WSO users to know?

Patrick Curtis : I thought maybe it would be interesting to show the users a Google Analytics graph to show you how far we've come and give you an idea of where we are going.

We just passed the 1 million visits in 1 month mark...I'll turn this around on you guys: we are still growing nicely, but what takes us to the next level? We are building a massive company database with Company Review, Interview Insights and Compensation Data (//www.wallstreetoasis.com/wso-company-database).

but what other content would you like to see?

Comments (20)

Feb 7, 2012

Proud to be a part of this community..btw is it just my desktop or has the format of WSO changed overnight?

Feb 7, 2012

this thread has no right column so that you can see the full chart that M Friedman embedded into the interview....otherwise, no format change. at least there shouldnt be...what are you seeing?

Feb 7, 2012

First the whole website's template filled my screen now there are two blue columns on either side

Feb 7, 2012

Is it just me, or does that chart hockey stick right after I started?

    • 1
Feb 7, 2012
Edmundo Braverman:

Is it just me, or does that chart hockey stick right after I started?

Feb 7, 2012

Questions for Patrick:

How much of the work for this site did you do yourself? Did you do any of the graphic design or coding, or did you hire people?

How much capital did you invest initially, and how long before you recouped your investment?

What skills have you picked up along the way?

I'm sure I have other questions, hopefully they will come to me later today...

Feb 7, 2012

Patrick,
If you don't mind what was that drop in visitors towards the end of the graph - pretty sudden and significant. I'm a nerd when it comes to this stuff.

Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art - Andy Warhol

Feb 7, 2012
dwight schrute:

Patrick,
If you don't mind what was that drop in visitors towards the end of the graph - pretty sudden and significant. I'm a nerd when it comes to this stuff.

that was me being an idiot trying to fix some load issues on our server. google bots were hitting our servers hard so I tried blocking one of the more active ones and it crushed us since google's index of our site starting saying pages were unavailable....so it started removing urls from our sitemap index (in other words, we stopped showing up in Google searches for a lot of queries).

we get over 80% of our traffic from organic search...lesson learned: don't eff with the google bots....we got the ship turned around, but that was a very tough/scary 1-2 weeks

Feb 7, 2012

Awesome man, Love WSO

Feb 7, 2012

Proud to be a member! I recommend WSO to my undergrad friends all the time.

Metal. Music. Life. www.headofmetal.com

Feb 8, 2012

Qs for patrick -

1- out of curiosity, what is the main revenue source for the site?? Ads or guides or affiliate stuff or anything else?

2- Did you ever do some theoretical market share analysis (% of users your touch as % of student population or something of that flavour) to see how much growth you have left? I suspect you still have quite a lot of growth left

3 - Also, who do you think are your main competitors?? (M&I, any others?)

4 - And finally, ever thought of doing some M&A - integrating with affiliates, other websites, etc.?

Feb 8, 2012
rastarocket:

Qs for patrick -

1- out of curiosity, what is the main revenue source for the site?? Ads or guides or affiliate stuff or anything else?

2- Did you ever do some theoretical market share analysis (% of users your touch as % of student population or something of that flavour) to see how much growth you have left? I suspect you still have quite a lot of growth left

3 - Also, who do you think are your main competitors?? (M&I, any others?)

4 - And finally, ever thought of doing some M&A - integrating with affiliates, other websites, etc.?

  1. The revenue is pretty evenly distributed between ad revenue, affiliate revenue, guides and Wall St. Mentors making up about 70-90% ....and the job board and video library rounding that out.
  2. Not sure how we could do that...we know our unique visitor level and that has grown considerably, but I agree there is still some good room for growth, especially since we play in so many verticals under the finance umbrella. I think once the WSO Company Database continues to grow that will be a main driver of traffic as more and more people come to WSO to gain insight into interviews, compensation, etc: //www.wallstreetoasis.com/wso-company-database
  3. I would say our main competition is Dealbreaker (for just finance news / gossip) and M&I (for products and services on the ibanking vertical)
  4. Yes - we do have many affiliates that give special deals to WSO visitors (//www.wallstreetoasis.com/wall-street-oasis-discounts) and have considered other partnerships...just nothing that has made too much sense yet in terms of a full on acquisition. I'm always open to suggestion though....thing is we are a small team and already have our hands full running WSO. I wouldnt even want to think of integrating a completely different site into WSO unless it made a ton of sense.
Feb 8, 2012

What are you doing to control trolling on the site. It ruins the site and turns many users away. Including me and a number of my BB classmates. Site is littered w junk and ought to be cleaned up. Maybe an Amnesty period where old posts can be recommended for deletion so searches become more productive. Google doesn't let crap / troll sites show up when I search, they patrol carefully.

    • 1
Feb 8, 2012
RadarBanker:

What are you doing to control trolling on the site. It ruins the site and turns many users away. Including me and a number of my BB classmates. Site is littered w junk and ought to be cleaned up. Maybe an Amnesty period where old posts can be recommended for deletion so searches become more productive. Google doesn't let crap / troll sites show up when I search, they patrol carefully.

Radarbanker - we have a dedicated team of mods that help keep WSO free of spam, but trolls sometimes slip through the cracks. We also have "flag as spam" where any user can flag content as spam or troll content which is placed into a queue for review.

We are more than happy to take suggestions of comments to delete or threads to delete if you think they are only trolling. I'm sorry to hear that you and some of your BB classmates are turned away. I think you'll find that 90+% of the content on this site is genuine questions with genuine responses. Also, if you are not interested in reading the Off-topic forums in Monkeying Around, you can ignore that forum and only read the industry forums that are relevant for you.

Thanks,
Patrick

Feb 8, 2012
RadarBanker:

What are you doing to control trolling on the site. It ruins the site and turns many users away. Including me and a number of my BB classmates. Site is littered w junk and ought to be cleaned up. Maybe an Amnesty period where old posts can be recommended for deletion so searches become more productive. Google doesn't let crap / troll sites show up when I search, they patrol carefully.

More Blastoise!

Feb 8, 2012

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Feb 8, 2012

Re: WSO Conference
Any disclosure on who will be on the panel discussion? and more details on the day's schedule? Thanks!

Best Response
Feb 8, 2012

Love the interview series - keep them coming. However, it would be great if you could take down Patrick's photo at the top. I prefer to imagine him as a benevolent orange-bearded monkey that rules over the Kingdom of WSO. Seeing that he is an actual person is disconcerting.

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Feb 9, 2012

Curious to hear if you plan to keep this site independent and keep control of where the site is going

Sep 24, 2014
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