10 Things You Didn’t Know About Stephen Kaufer


When compared to luminaries such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, Stephen Kaufer cannot be considered one of the more famous names in the business world. However, his influence is much broader than most people expect for the simple reason that he is responsible for running TripAdvisor, which is one of the most oft-consulted resources on the Internet. Over the course of his career, Kaufer has accumulated an incredible number of accomplishments, which range from advisory positions to software patents, which in turn, means that his life has been a rather interesting one. Something that should interest those who want to learn more about people who have managed to achieve meteoric success with their start-ups.

Here are 10 things that you may or may not have known about Stephen Kaufer:

1. Co-founded TripAdvisor

Kaufer is one of the people who founded TripAdvisor, which has managed to become one of the most useful resources for both travelers and would-be travelers. However, it is interesting to note that TripAdvisor was never meant to be the social media platform that it has become. Instead, it was planned to be something along the lines of a digital guidebook, but when the number of consumer reviews overtook the number of professional reviews, those plans began to change.

2. Secured Funding From Numerous Sources

Since he was one of the people who founded TripAdvisor, it should come as no surprise to learn that Kaufer had a role in convincing people to put their trust in the start-up, which seems to have been successful based on the number of interested parties. For example, one of the interested parties was Flagship Ventures, which is known for its interest in up-and-coming fields such as IT, communications and life sciences, while another one of the interested parties was the Bollard Group, which is interested in an incredible range of investments that include but are not limited to IT, real estate, and manufacturing.

3. Learned to Never Become Too Comfortable

In business, becoming too comfortable with current circumstances can cause business leaders to miss both imminent risks and imminent opportunities to their cost. Like a lot of entrepreneurs, Kaufer learned this fact through personal experience when his first start-up floundered. At the time, he was still a senior at Harvard, which could be why he and the rest of the staff became too complacent to make the correct changes when their circumstances changed around them.

4. Move As Fast As Possible

When TripAdvisor was still starting up, Kaufer said something to the effect that he would move on once his start-up had 100 people on its staff. Despite the fact that the current incarnation of TripAdvisor has more than 2,000 people on its staff, he has not moved on, though he has an excellent explanation. In short, he thought that big businesses were slow and cumbersome by nature, but as he continued running TripAdvisor, he realized that their lack of responsiveness was not innate to big businesses but instead a consequence of their moribund structures.

5. Believes in Open Communication

Kaufer’s preference for maximum responsiveness can be seen in his choice to encourage open communications within TripAdvisor, which is intended to ensure that decision-makers at each level of the business have the means to make their own decisions instead of creating bottlenecks by leaving them up to their superiors. For an example of how Kaufer is encouraging open communications, look no further than the fact that he has made their product review meetings open to all of the people on their staff instead of restricting them to a select few.

6. Started TripAdvisor Out of Frustration

Businesses without a clear understanding of who is interested in their products and services tend to have a hard time keeping up with their competitors, which is something that Kaufer has no problems with. After all, he started TripAdvisor because he had become frustrated with a lack of reliable information that could be used to plan a trip to Mexico, meaning that he has firsthand experience of what it is like to be one of the people interested in his products and services.

7. Came Close to Disaster

Start-ups have high chances of failing, so it should come as no surprise to learn that even the most successful start-ups have their moments of weakness. In the case of TripAdvisor, Kaufer and the other co-founders struggled to keep it afloat because while they knew who wanted their products and services, they did not know how they could actually monetize what they were offering. Fortunately, they managed to figure out that they could team up with other travel sites, which is when TripAdvisor really started taking off.

8. Believes in Making a Full Commitment

Kaufer has stated that successful entrepreneurship is not something that can happen without making sacrifices, which in his case, happened to be missing out on some of his family time. In short, this is because starting up a business is tough, so much so that entrepreneurs cannot succeed unless they are willing to make a full commitment. Unfortunately, a full commitment means a lack of time, money, and other resources for other endeavors, which in turn, means the need to make sacrifices.

9. Loves Coffee

Considering the demands that his job puts on his time as well as his energy, it should come as no surprise to learn that Kaufer guzzles down vast amounts of coffee on a daily basis. In his own words, he tends to skip out on breakfast but down between three to four cups before the clock strikes noon. After which, he will have another cup in the middle of afternoon, which is followed by another cup at the end of the day. Kaufer’s coffee habit is particularly striking considering that he likes black coffee, which is rather strong, to say the least.

10. Checks His Site on His Own

When it comes to the great choice between Apple and PC, Kaufer has chosen neither side. To be exact, he has an iPhone, but he spends most of his time on a PC because most of TripAdvisor’s users are on a PC when they browse the site. As a result, Kaufer uses his PC to browse the site while searching for things that are out-of-place so that they can be improved upon, which speaks volumes about his personal work ethic.

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