What’s Up, Mo?
UpMo Releases Freemium Edition
If you ever have a chance to meet Promise Phelon, you will be blown away by the force of her charisma and determination. In Silicon Valley’s all male culture, a woman leader is a rarity. A dynamic woman leader is so unusual that she gets the Yahoo CEO job. A dynamic, young, black woman leader is much harder to find than a California Condor.
Phelon is leading UpMo through a radical navigation of the startup process. Originally conceived as a consumer oriented career management site, the company began to focus on internal mobility (moving from job to job in the same company) earlier this year. Investors and partners (watch this space) got a glimpse of Phelon’s view of the future and started getting on board.
Recently, UpMo launched it’s Freemium edition. The idea is the contemporary replay of the Trojan Horse. By getting enough individual employees to sign on to the service, UpMo hopes to create a beach head inside of potential customers.
At the heart of this new initiative is UpMo’s new offering: the mobility index. Based on the common sense notion that one’s ability to move around the company is a function of the sheer volume of opportunity for people like you. So, if the company’s employment pages indicate a need for many mechanical engineers and you happen to be one, you are more mobile than someone with different credentials and no jobs.
While its early incarnation is an overly simplistic view of the problem, UpMo is really on to something here. In a world of rapid feedback in large volumes, employees are looking for clues about whether to stay or to go. There are a ton of variables that can be combined to create a really meaningful assessment of one’s prospects within a company. UpMo is making a great first move in an area for which transparency hasn’t yet been invented.
Of course, the question opens a Pandora’s Box. The way that mobility really works (in most organizations) involves more political savvy than technical qualification. If you’re working within the realm of the anointed fair-haired child, your upside is significantly greater than if you are associated with the recently fired CEO. If you are good at leaping from one regime to the next, your prospects are excellent. If you want to excel within your technical discipline, your prospects are limited. While this important arena can be made visible, the risk is that the truth will be unpalatable.
An organization’s ability to predict the attrition of key players would be better if there was a clear way to measure mobility. Recruiters from other companies would need to make relative mobility in the new gig a part of the discussion. Knowing that my options are greater in Situation A than they are in Situation B is extremely useful.
The distribution strategy involves creating mobility environments for companies. UpMo has committed to building out environments at the rate of one or two a day. Employees of company X will have the ability to begin to measure their mobility within the company. The UpMo Mobility Index only makes sense in companies where UpMo has created a measurement environment. They’re working on obvious targets.
Looking back at the Trojan Horse strategy, it’s possible that UpMo can create enough buzz so that they can deliver on this increasingly common approach to the sale of Enterprise SAAS tools. The jury is out on this one. HR is not famous for being persuaded to buy tools just because employees are using them. In fact, I can’t think of an example where it worked. Most end up like Salary.com who had a slow move into the enterprise business because of the ways that employees use their product.
All in all, UpMo’s Mobility Index points the way forward. As the social contract continues to evolve, employees will have clearer and clearer views of their real opportunities. This is the beginning of what it will look like.