Ask.com SVP of Business Development Eve Chaurand doesn’t miss the dot-com era; she’s found something better.
By Christine Gatuiria
Eve Chaurand moved to San Francisco in 2000 to be part of the dot-com boom, but says she was a tad late to the party. In fact, her timing was ideal because she now finds herself right in the middle of a technology wave in which Internet content is king. As the Senior Vice President of Business Development at Ask.com, a global question and answer (Q&A) service utilized by more than 100 million users, Chaurand is on top of the content game.
Born in France, Chaurand moved to Canada with her parents when she was five years old. She studied French and Anglo-American law, obtaining a Juris Doctor degree at the University of Paris Nanterre in 1993. She then worked as a corporate attorney in France, the United Kingdom and the Baltic states before joining Ask.com in 2005.
Her extensive legal experience served her well, and she quickly moved up the corporate ladder to become General Counsel. Fast-forward seven years and Chaurand was ready for a new challenge.
“I needed a learning curve,” she said, and after a conversation with Ask.com CEO Doug Leeds, in August 2012 Chaurand took over the Business Development role.
At the time, Ask.com was pivoting away from a traditional search site and transforming into an in-depth Q&A content provider. The business development function was an important cog in the wheel, and Chaurand knew that building strong content partnerships would be vital to the success of the company. She quickly changed her way of thinking in order to adapt to her new responsibilities.
“As a lawyer, you tend to be reactive,” Chaurand said, “[but] in business development you have to be very proactive and create your own [opportunities].” She laughs as she recalls her first three days on the job: “I was waiting for my inbox to fill up with email, and nothing was happening.” Now, Chaurand’s inbox is constantly full and she is managing a portfolio of approximately 40 content partnerships.
Chaurand does not do it all alone. “I have an incredible team that knows the ropes, and I learned a lot from them,” she said. She manages two direct reports and works closely with the product team to distinguish quality content partners that are a good fit for Ask.com. When evaluating strategic partners, it is all about asking the right questions.
“You have to make sure that both parties and the end-users benefit from the relationship,” Chaurand said. “It [has to be] a win-win-win.”
Her primary goal is to increase coverage in popular search categories (e.g., health, pets, home repair). When the content from partnerships she develops boosts user engagement and receives a lot of clicks, she finds it to be “incredibly satisfying.”
Chaurand does not believe in micromanagement. She trusts her team to do their jobs and maintains open lines of communication at all times. She also values employees who are passionate, tech savvy and good at forging relationships. As a leader, Chaurand keeps her group strategically aligned with corporate goals. Recognizing the ever-changing nature of the Internet, she also keeps tabs on what is new and notable. Keeping up with technology is her business, and she credits it with keeping her job interesting, exciting and challenging.
At the end of the day, Chaurand unwinds on her 35-minute train ride from Oakland to San Francisco. During the commute she has just enough time to sit down, relax and catch up on French politics before tackling the logistics of soccer practice and piano lessons once she gets home. Chaurand may have missed the dot-com era, but she continues steadily on the right path.
Of her journey thus far, she proudly said, “I have no regrets.”
Christine Gatuiria is a freelance writer based in St. Louis, MO