Q&A with Leading San Mateo County Firm

It’s no wonder the mid-Peninsula region has become a hot-bed of influential tech firms and innovative companies. In the sweet spot between the South Bay and San Francisco, San Mateo County also boasts numerous transit connections and easy access to Highway 101, making the region an attractive hub for businesses that want to be in the middle of the action.

We recently caught up with one of the county’s hottest companies, Reputation.com. The Redwood City-based firm offers online reputation management and internet privacy services. We spoke with Karissa Sparks, VP of Marketing and Christopher Sundermeier, General Counsel and Chief Privacy Officer.

Q. When was Reputation.com founded?
KS: Reputation.com was launched in 2006 by founder and CEO Michael Fertik, who recognized that people needed help to address the serious risks to privacy and reputation that come along with all of the benefits offered by the Internet. We give people a way to monitor where, and how, they appear online as well as the tools to take control of their online reputation.

Q. What type of services are most popular with your clients?
KS: More than one million customers in 100 countries now rely on our products to monitor and manage their online reputations. Many people use our service to reclaim their online privacy and remove their personal data from dozens of sites that expose or sell it for cheap. We also help professionals such as doctors, dentists, and real estate agents because their name is their brand and how they appear in search results is crucial to their livelihoods. We often hear from people who are the victims of a personal vendetta or who just need help to fix inaccurate or negative search results. If problematic search results are the pain point, our Reputation Defender service can help.

For businesses large and small, they often need help to improve their online reviews. This doesn’t mean erasing bad reviews; rather, it means addressing the criticism brought up in those reviews and working to add plenty of positive, authentic reviews as well. Reputation.com for Business is our enterprise solution.

For marketers who are responsible for numerous locations, this is an all-in-one online reputation management solution that includes business listings, reviews, social media management, thematic analysis and more. Finally, people love our PaperKarma mobile app which makes it easy to stop unwanted paper mail such as catalogs, magazines, and unsolicited offers. You just take a photo of the offending mail and we get to work getting you off the associated mailing list.

Q. Technology makes for a rapidly changing online environment. How have you seen your business change over the years?
KS: The rise of local search and online review sites have made reputation management critical to a business owner’s success. We’ve also worked to find social media solutions for businesses with many locations, all of which deserve rich content and finely tuned strategies to use on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and the others that exist today. Finally, the growth of cell phone and tablet usage has introduced new opportunities for us to integrate mobile into our solutions.

Our business has also grown as external events like data breaches and cyber crime, remind citizens of their online vulnerability.  Last year when the Edward Snowden and NSA story broke, even non-techies were talking about online surveillance, digital footprints, and personal data protection. These topics are now are part of the national dialogue, and further underscore the need for “good guys” like Reputation.com.

Q. Can you give us some general tips on how to protect your online reputation?
KS: The first step is to find out what’s out there about you that you may not be aware of. So if you haven’t before, do a quick Google search for your name. It’s also worth setting up a free Google Alert with your name in order to stay on top of new information about you being published online, whether it’s a disparaging remark from a disgruntled ex-employee or a publicly accessible listing of your home address. A frequent issue is sharing a common name with someone with a past that includes a criminal record or other undesirable activities. It’s important to make sure you don’t let your good name be unfairly tarnished due to the fact that the Internet allows people to publish untrue, malicious and damaging information, often without repercussions.

There are quick and easy methods to take ownership of your search results page, such as starting a blog and/or creating an account on various social media platforms. Or if you’re in a situation where the damaging information is overwhelming and too much to overcome on your own, Reputation.com can help by putting our patented technologies to work.

Q. What benefits do you realize from being based in San Mateo County?
CS: We are centrally located in Redwood City and can tap into the incredible talent pools in San Francisco, East Bay, Peninsula and South Bay. Redwood City is thriving and blossoming as a city.

Q. What is your favorite dining spot in San Mateo?
CS: We are located near the heart of the downtown in Redwood City and there are many great restaurants close by that are company favorites, including Mandaloun, Vesta, Milagro’s, Lobster Shack, Martin’s West and Gourmet Haus Staudt & Beer Garden among others.

Q. What do you do to unwind at the end of the day?
CS: Head to the gym and hang out with the family