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Kris Jones – the Man Who Believes in Having a Good Time at Work

Kris Jones is a rare breed. He’s been active in Inter­net mar­ket­ing both as an arbi­trager and affil­i­ate mar­ket­ing whizz since the ear­ly days of the web. He’s been there and done that, and now he’s ready to share his secrets.

If you’re in the mar­ket for media jobs you’d be wise to lis­ten.

Kris grad­u­at­ed from Penn­syl­va­nia State Uni­ver­si­ty and gained a Mas­ter of Sci­ence from Vil­lano­va Uni­ver­si­ty as as well a Juris Doc­tor­ate from Albany Law School. He’s pre­vi­ous­ly  found­ed Inter­net mar­ket­ing agency Pep­per­Jam, worked for GSI Com­merce when Pep­per­Jam was acquired by them, and he spent time work­ing in the office of Con­gress­man Paul E Kan­jors­ki.

After rais­ing seed mon­ey from search arbi­trage and PPC arbi­trage, Jones went on to become the founder of one of the fastest-grow­ing com­pa­nies in the US. He admits his meth­ods were a lit­tle unusu­al though: “My focus was on scale. So some search arbi­tragers will say to focus on one or two or three dif­fer­ent mer­chants and just blow out as many key­word lists and every­thing as you can.

“My focus was a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent. I tried to make $50-$100 prof­it a month with as many mer­chants as you could pos­si­bly make that kind of prof­it with.”

After mak­ing mon­ey from his many mer­chants, in 1999 Kris went on to set up Pep­per­Jam, the full-ser­vice Inter­net mar­ket­ing agency and affil­i­ate net­work. The com­pa­ny was named by Inc. Mag­a­zine as the fastest-grow­ing in the US for three years straight and in 2009 Pep­per­Jam was sold to GSI Com­merce, a busi­ness that was sub­se­quent­ly acquired by eBay.

Pep­per­Jam – a Great Place to Work

Kris was renowned for his per­ceived ‘relaxed’ approach to work and par­tic­u­lar­ly to the work­ing envi­ron­ment he pro­vid­ed for his staff. At a time when it seems every start­up wants to ramp up the fun-o-meter and ‘out crazy’ the start­up next door, Kris was one of the first employ­ers to install Nin­ten­do Wiis and ping pong tables in the Pep­per­Jam office, insist­ing that the staff would reg­u­late their own fun and ensure their per­for­mance nev­er suf­fered.

Kris con­tin­ued: “The approach that we took when we were at two employ­ees – myself and our Chief Oper­at­ing Offi­cer said ‘we want to find the smartest peo­ple we can find that will fit with­in a fun work cul­ture.’ We weren’t look­ing for suit and ties. We were look­ing for young, smart, cre­ative peo­ple who were going to set their own stan­dards.

“So my advice would be that some­times you get wrapped up in how much you pay the employ­ee and every­thing. We paid all of our employ­ees very well, but what I think the val­ue of work­ing at a com­pa­ny like Pep­per­jam is not in “I make X num­ber of dol­lars” but “this is a fun place to work.”

The gam­ble paid off, with the com­pa­ny devel­op­ing sev­er­al pieces of inno­v­a­tive tech­nol­o­gy, most notably Pep­per­jam Net­work, which has become one of the lead­ing affil­i­ate net­works in the world and cur­rent­ly pow­ers affil­i­ate mar­ket­ing for brands such as Toys-R-Us, the NFL, Calvin Klein, Levi’s, Mat­tel, Cray­ola, Sesame Street, Jen­ny Craig, Tele­flo­ra, Dick’s Sport­ing Goods, Jel­ly Bel­ly, the BBC, the NHL, the NBA, and over 1,000 oth­ers.

Since Pep­per­Jam…

In April 2010, after leav­ing Pep­per­jam, Kris set up an ear­ly stage tech­nol­o­gy invest­ment fund — KBJ Cap­i­tal, which boasts port­fo­lio com­pa­nies such as edu­ca­tion pub­lish­ing plat­form Highlighter.com, food por­tal Yumm.com, adver­tis­ing start­up LavCup, affil­i­ate mar­ket­ing spe­cial­ists VigLink, app con­ver­sion com­pa­ny Pathmapp and ReferLocal.com, a local dig­i­tal com­merce plat­form. Recent­ly Kris joined on as advi­sor / chair­man of Inter­net Mar­ket­ing and SEO tools com­pa­ny Inter­net Mar­ket­ing Nin­jas.

Kris is very much in demand as a pub­lic speak­er and delights in offer­ing pearls of wis­dom to stu­dents and young entre­pre­neurs. He is also the author of ‘Search-Engine Opti­miza­tion: Your Visu­al Blue­print to Effec­tive Inter­net Mar­ket­ing’, a book that has been at the top of the search mar­ket­ing sales charts since the first edi­tion was pub­lished in 2008. He’s cur­rent­ly work­ing on the third edi­tion, which should be avail­able in the US, Cana­da and Europe lat­er this year.

Not bad for some­one with a dis­tinct­ly relaxed approach to work…

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