Home Archives December 2009 The right stuff

The right stuff

| Print |  Email
Sunday, November 22, 2009

ETHICS02

DAVID CHILDERS
EthicsPoint CEO

EthicsPoint
www.ethicspoint.com
Founded: 1999
Employees: 130
2009 projected revenue: $17.5 million

PHOTOS BY KATHARINE KIMBALL

Two years ago, Lake Oswego-based EthicsPoint, which provides hotline and web-based ethics reporting systems, built itself a new world headquarters — in the online, virtual world known as Second Life.

The goal, according to CEO David Childers, was to give clients yet another avenue to report internal wrongdoings within a company — harassment, theft, security breaches. If an employee were too timid to report, say, embezzlement in the real world, maybe their outgoing, aggressive alter ego in Second Life would take care of business.

“Maybe when they put on the mask of their avatar, they become much more bodacious . . . much more capable of exposing a fraud without fear,” says Childers, his native Oklahoman drawl coloring his adjectives.

Lack of interest at the time prevented testing the CEO’s surmise — “We were so far ahead of our time it was crazy,” he says — but this fall, a client actually called and wanted to know if employees’ Second Life avatars could report issues through the EthicsPoint system.

“Obviously we will be going back and putting more emphasis on that,” Childers says, happily validated.

Co-founded by Childers in 1999, EthicsPoint hit its initial stride by offering secure, web-based reporting systems and email communications at a time when telephone hotlines and snail mail ruled the day. The pace picked up after Sarbanes-Oxley in 2002. Angel investors graced the company with $4.1 million in 2003, and in 2005 EthicsPoint recast its application to accept data from a much broader range of sources.
ETHICS18
ETHICS24
ETHICS25
ETHICS28
ETHICS30

“We found that people weren’t capturing and documenting those things that came in over the transom as well as they were the stuff on the hotline,” Childers says, noting that hotline reports only accounted for 7% to 10% of the issues present in an organization. “If you could get it all together though … you could get a much better feel for the actual risks and issues that are occurring in your enterprise.”

Turns out that EthicsPoint was on the right track — and then some. Revenue kicked up from $3.6 million in 2005 to $12.9 million in 2008; Childers expects to see $17.5 million this year and more than $20 million — and profitability — in 2010.    Numbers like that are right in line with the company’s goal of 25% to 30% annual growth and have somewhat altered EthicsPoint’s take on being acquired.

“We always believed that we would have been prey in a rollup or an acquisition strategy,” says Childers, noting that EthicsPoint has been approached several times. “Today, looking around, we’re  open-minded to an acquisition on our own and leading a rollup to be able to inorganically make the company bigger.”

But, he adds, the business would always consider any offer that proved to be the right fit at the right price and the right time.

With 130 employees in the Portland metro region, EthicsPoint now serves 2,300 clients around the world, including 161 global Fortune 500 businesses with names such as Siemens and Coca-Cola. It works in more than 20 different sectors, with banking, finance, education and health care providing the most clients.

EthicsPoint also prides itself on retaining more than 90% of its recurring revenue every year. This year, it’s 98%. Even so, that’s where the company has had to focus even more because in the soured economy, prospects that might see the value of EthicsPoint’s application simply don’t have the budget for anything new.

“We’re using this time to really talk with our existing clients more,” says Childers, citing as one example the twofold increase in regional user groups hosted by EthicsPoint this year.

Childers, a 55-year-old graduate of Oral Roberts University and the former CEO of Oregon Scientific, says EthicsPoint has also been cultivating increased European business, making application tweaks where needed to address specific “points of pain” for clients, and closely watching two emerging realms ripe for its solutions: social media and sustainability.

Already, EthicsPoint is using software to monitor company names and fraud-related words as they appear on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. And with sustainability, Childers says all of the money around carbon credits and other green initiatives is an open invitation for malfeasance.

“Follow the money,” he says. “If there’s going to be money there, there’s going to be an opportunity for someone to manipulate that.” 
JON BELL
 

More Articles

October surprise

News
Sunday, October 12, 2014
roundup-logo-thumb-14BY LINDA BAKER

Cylvia Hayes, tabloid vs. watchdog journalism and the looming threat of a Cascadia earthquake.


Read more...

Powerlist: Law Firms

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY KIM MOORE

A conversation with leading partners at law firms in Portland and eastern Oregon, followed by October's powerlist.


Read more...

Knight Vision

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY VIVIAN MCINERNY

Travis Knight wants to release a movie a year. Can he pull it off?


Read more...

Innovation: a critique

News
Wednesday, October 08, 2014
1008 innovation thumbBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

A Design Week panel discussion raises questions about how innovative we really are.


Read more...

The 100 Best Nonprofits to Work for in Oregon 2014

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
14BY KIM MOORE

Proud, diverse and underpaid.

Pride in their organizations’ mission, fairness in the treatment of women and ethnic minorities, flexible work schedules — these are just a handful of workplace characteristics that employees of this year’s 100 Best Nonprofits appreciate about their organizations.


Read more...

A Complex Portrait: Immigration, Jobs and the Economy

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JOE ROJAS-BURKE & KIM MOORE

Oregon Business reports on the visa squeeze, the skills gap and foreign-born residents who are revitalizing rural Oregon.


Read more...

Podcast: Turn Things Around with David Marquet

Contributed Blogs
Friday, October 17, 2014
davidmarquet thumbBY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER

How can you move from a command-and-control leadership model to one of true empowerment and accountability? David Marquet did, and he took notes along the way.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS