When I first met with LiveOps' CEO Maynard Webb, I asked him what it was about LiveOps that would get him back to work. After all, Maynard had just recently retired from Ebay where he had served as COO. While head of technology at Ebay he was credited with stabilizing a platform that, at the time, was on the verge or implosion. His reward for fixing the technology mess was a license to fix everything else as COO, which he did with great aplomb. Maynard had a well earned reputation as a tireless worker. Clearly he had earned himself a summer or two (or ten) off. But when Maynard heard the LiveOps story, he found himself back in the saddle.
So what was it about LiveOps that Maynard found so exciting? In his words it was the ability to do well while doing good. That may seem surprising when you consider that LiveOps is a call center software and services platform. At its core, LiveOps is an incredibly sophisticated VOIP software platform that allows a customer to route, track and manage calls in ways that none of the traditional systems allow. And one of the most important byproducts of LiveOps' all-IP system is that agents can be located anywhere that there's a web connection. They may all be located in a call center in Ohio, or they may be scattered throughout the country in their homes.
LiveOps is the biggest customer of its own call center software. Along with selling its platform to big corporate clients who are looking to better manage the performance of their agents (wherever they may sit), LiveOps uses its own software to manage the LiveOps distributed call center that now encompasses 13,000 active agents and growing rapidly. LiveOps agents on the whole tend to be stay-at-home moms and home-bound individuals who are looking for a way to make money while maintaining the flexibility to work where and when they choose, as may be dictated by their own personal circumstances. Which is precisely what appealed to Maynard. As he told me, one of the things he was most proud of with Ebay was that it empowers a whole host of entrepreneurs to create businesses that best suit their particular life circumstances. The same is true of LiveOps. Rather than outsourcing jobs to other countries, LiveOps insources opportunities to underemployed, but well-educated, individuals who need the flexibility to control their own work environment. And, as Maynard pointed out, the more successful LiveOps is at serving its customers with the most efficient and most effective call center available, the greater the number of individuals the company can empower to take control of their own circumstances.
There is another byproduct of this massive distributed phone force; LiveOps is the only call center in the world that can massively scale in short order to suit the needs of virtually any customers. One great example of this capacity to scale came immediately after the Hurricane Katrina disaster. The American Red Cross was inundated with requests to donate on behalf of the victims of the hurricane. In an effort to support the generosity of the country, the Red Cross went out looking for a call center that could field the enormous volume of calls for donations. Ultimately, only one company could deliver the necessary scale to support the overwhelming call volume, and that was LiveOps. In a matter of hours, LiveOps was able to route the Red Cross's 800 number to thousands of agents throughout the country, who immediately were able to service the generosity of hundreds of thousands of donors.
LiveOps recently put that capacity to good use again when American Idol had its Idol Gives Back campaign. During two separate American Idol shows, the stars of the show promoted a charitable giving program that included an 800 number on the screen and on their website. While the producers of American Idol suspected that the volume of giving would be quite large, they could not scope the scale of the participation with any specificity. That was no problem for LiveOps. They were able to scale the size of their phone force with demand, continuing to take pledges long into the night, and were unencumbered by the limitations of traditional call centers. What's more, they were able to give the American Idol producers instant feedback as to the scale and velocity of the program. In the end, LiveOps deployed over 3,400 agents who answered approximately 200,000 calls and collected more than $6 Million for charity. That's the sort of thing that makes Maynard Webb excited to come in in the morning. And it is the sort of thing that makes me thrilled to be an investor in LiveOps.