Ferren Warner’s last day in the San Francisco office was September 15, three years (to the day) from when she started at Thumbtack. In her time at the company, Ferren had a front seat to many of the Coordination team’s biggest, most high-impact decisions, and worked tirelessly to amplify Thumbtack’s company culture as the organization grows.
Before she moves to Los Angeles with her husband and little one, we took some time to reflect on a few of Ferren’s many strategic accomplishments, from coining the metric GSD at Thumbtack to spearheading the development of All Thumbs and the weekly Thumbtalk newsletter. But before any of that, we started by asking Ferren to talk about her favorite Thumbtack value: #MakeEachOtherBetter.
Ferren says, “I’m a GSD-er to my core. I live by the rule that if you ask someone if something is possible and they say ‘no’ you’re asking the wrong person. If you really care about something you’ll try every which way until you get it done. So much of that comes down to supporting your team. If I can advocate for someone I always will. No matter where you are at the company, if you have a voice, I’m here to amplify it.”
A Little History
“The founders used to tell me stories of what Thumbtack was like before I came,” says Ferren, describing the days when Jonathan went as far as sleeping on an old mattress (that turned out to have bed bugs) to save money to pay Thumbtack’s handful of employees.
Until very recently, the founders played a part in interviewing every single person in the San Francisco office and many in Salt Lake City as well. “Scaling our culture as we grow has been a real challenge. The founders used to give everyone at the company a handwritten holiday card each year. At one point we wrote 1,500 for the teams in SF, SLC, and TPH. I tried to talk them out of it but they were relentless,” she says.
“They were adamant that they wanted everyone in the company to know that they knew who they were and cared about them.” As the company gets bigger and bigger, Ferren’s initiatives (from Thumbtalk to All Thumbs) represent fresh ways to bridge that gap—without the hand cramps.
Ferren + The Founders
“Interviewing with Marco and Jonathan was like love at first sight,” Ferren remembers, and the feeling was mutual. Ferren was offered the position instantly on the day of her interview and agreed to take the job just as fast. “I said yes right away.”
Those feelings haven’t changed much in Ferren’s years working with Marco, Jonathan, Sander and the rest of the Coordination team. She’s had a front seat to some of Thumbtack’s biggest decisions, from the development of Instant Match to the SF team’s move from 360 into the Marketplace building.
“I’ve watched these guys grow. They’ve taken on so many challenges—the vast majority ones that people don’t know about—and they’ve done it with ease. They were always natural leaders but in the last few years they’ve transitioned into something so much more. They’re these seasoned thought leaders now. Their relationship has always been what makes Thumbtack what it is—how they negotiate with one another, how they agree and disagree.”
All Thumbs: Then + Now
When it first launched, Thumbtack’s weekly All Thumbs meeting was held around the presenter’s desk—seven to 10 employees crowded around a screen with snacks in hand. “My predecessor formalized the format but I’d like to think I helped bring it to what it is today. When I first started, I used to run around the building asking people if they wanted to present at All Thumbs. I used to beg them: ‘You’re doing something amazing! Please, please talk about it.’ That’s me, that’s my personality. It’s been such a privilege to get to operationalize that.”
Internal programs like All Hands and the weekly Thumbtalk newsletter (which Ferren spearheaded with content writers Noelle and Kenzie) have come a long way. “These days All Thumbs is hyper-focussed. The communications team has done a lot to curate these really beautiful and inspiring company-wide moments,” she says.
One thing Ferren would change about All Thumbs today: “I’d take away people’s angst about asking questions and sharing their opinions at All Thumbs. That’s what makes these meetings great, the idea that we should be talking to our teams, early and often,” she explains.
Growing Up Thumbtack
“At the Q2 Kickoff Marco said that you could trace the age of the company in the number of babies people have had across the office,” says Ferren.
Thumbtack has grown up a lot in Ferren’s time at the company. “We have more checks and procedures to keep us on track and I think we’re more thoughtful about things in general. At times almost to a fault.”
And Ferren’s life has grown beside it. “Things were different for me when I came to Thumbtack. I was recently engaged to my husband then. Now we’re married with a child,” she says. “My life has changed a lot too.”
What’s Next for Ferren
Ferren’s last day in the office was September 15th but she’ll continue to consult with the team through the end of December (“You can expect to see my name in your email inbox”). What’s next for Ferren? She’s moving to Los Angeles with her husband and child, where she grew up and her family resides. There’s a six-month, cross-country van trip in the works and she plans to be back in the SF office for some of the upcoming Fireside Chats.
In the long-run, “I’ll be out there cheering for Thumbtack for as long as Thumbtack will have me.”