LendingTree: 2 kegs are cool, but the stock price growth is cooler

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I drove down to B-town (aka Ballantyne) to visit with Courtney and Megan at Lending Tree.

Not sure how many of you have followed LendingTree closely, but it’s been a fascinating company to follow. I worked there in 2010 and 2011. I love their founder, Doug Lebda – intense, no-BS dude. I was also their when Gabe Dalporto came on board as their CMO.

As a young nerd, it felt like I was living in a Jim Collins business book. At one point, I re-interviewed with Gabe in a tech conference room and I’ll never forget when he asked me, “If you were the only school bus manufacturer in the US, how many buses would you make next year?” Dead serious. I walked him through all my thinking and assumptions, which took about 25 minutes. If I remember correctly, I came up with 42,308.

Gabe made a significant impression on me and I remember thinking that this company was about to transform, I needed to buy the stock. I literally had the buy page pulled up on my TD Ameritrade account and was 2 clicks away from investing about 35% of my savings into the stock, but then I got scared.

I didn’t buy the stock and I left the company (in motion before Gabe got there).

Since I left, the stock (TREE) has gone from $5 to $57. I’m an idiot.

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Before taking a spin around their Ballantyne headquarters, here are 8 things you need to know about LendingTree:

  • Around 225 employees and about 175 of these are located in Charlotte.
  • Full-time fitness coordinator on-site. You can set up custom programs if you’re training for a marathon, etc. Oh, and a yoga instructor also comes 2x week.
  • Employees can order fresh vegetables and they’re delivered on Fridays. I saw the boxes.
  • $3 catered lunches for employees.
  • They take their beer seriously. 2 kegs. On tap when I was there – NoDa Jam Session and Sculpin IPA. If those don’t fit your taste, they have 2 mini-fridges full of quality beer. Oh and I saw a handful of wine bottles.
  • The culture felt smart and casual. Didn’t seem “nerf-gunny” and felt more like a place that a “pro’s pro” works. Hope this makes sense.
  • Vacation is not tracked. Open PTO policy.
  • 3 current job openings that I think look cool: Product Manager, Senior Web Developer & Senior Marketing Manager.
  • The receptionist Brendetta Grier was literally the nicest lady I’ve ever met.

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Ted Williams
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Publisher, golfer, dad and magician (seriously).