What It's Like to Work at Petsmart.com

FRAMINGHAM (07/31/2000) - Interviewee: Eric Kidd, chief technology officer and vice president of engineeringCompany: Petsmart.com Inc., an online pet supplies storeMain location: Pasadena, Calif. "You can see the [Rose Bowl] parade from our office windows."

Number of information technology employees: 33, divided into five groups - Web engineering and e-commerce engineering, quality-assurance engineering, operations engineering and information systems.

Number of employees (end users): 110

Average age in engineering: About 27

Dress code: Casual

Workday: Varies. "On average we get in around 9 a.m. and leave about 7 p.m.

When we're not on a big project, it's about a 50-hour week, and we're flexible on our start and end times. But we just came off of a big project with a very aggressive deadline, and we were easily putting in 80-hour weeks. People were here 12 hours a day, seven days a week. Some put in in excess of 100 hours a week."

What was the project? "A redesign of our order-management system, which interfaces back to [parent company] Petsmart's inventory management and fulfillment and distribution systems. It also involved updates of the commerce functions on the Web site, like the shopping cart and checkout."

Favorite stress busters: "Rubber-band wars. There was a big war between network engineering, e-commerce and QA, and I have seen a lot of innovation in the design of rubber-band weapons."

How are you rewarding people for the hours they put in? "We gave everyone US$100 American Express gift certificates. . . . Today [July 21], we're having a Mexican-themed party to celebrate. . . . And we're working on giving people some time off. We'll spend $1,500 to $2,000 per person to take the team for a paint-ball day, a trip to [a local theme park] and some other reward that we'll give to each person."

Initial public offering plans: "We recently filed the SEC Form S-1, the first step in taking the company public."

How formal are employee reviews and IT career paths? "[Human resources] is putting together a formal employee review practice."

Compensation and bonuses: Stock options for all employees and "competitive compensation." Spot bonuses include project completion rewards such as a Palm V and a trip to Las Vegas awarded to each engineering team member after a site relaunch last fall.

Office decor: "Modern industrial. All of the walls are different colors - yellow, purple, green, eggshell, black - which is a good break for the senses when you're working long hours. We have windows along all the walls with a nice view of the San Gabriel Mountains. . . . In the middle of the suite, we have a kitchen area with a banana-shaped bar."

Must people carry beepers? Cell phones? Yes. "We used to get beeped pretty frequently after work hours, but we have really worked to stabilize the site, and now maybe only one person a week gets paged outside of work."

In-house cafeteria/food service: "No, but we have free food in the kitchen area. . . . And during the project period, we brought in lunch and dinner for the team every day."

The one thing everyone complains about: "That we don't have cots here for them to sleep on."

Where the office gossips: "We have a terrace outside our suites that overlooks a courtyard, and we recently put patio furniture out there."

Office mascot: Millie, the CEO's dog. "She comes in quite a bit."

Little perks: "We have a Bow-Wow every two weeks, where we have beer and chips and salsa and celebrate birthdays with a cake."

Would employees feel comfortable e-mailing the CEO? "Yeah. They feel comfortable shooting rubber bands at the CEO."

- Leslie Goff


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