Headquartered in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, Escrow.com and its operating subsidiaries provide online escrow services that facilitate and accelerate e-commerce by assuring a secure settlement.
Escrow.com is a privately held company that has pioneered the process of online escrow services. The Company, founded in 1999 by Fidelity National Financial, has established itself as one of the leading providers of secure business and consumer transaction management on the Internet.
Brandon Abbey has been the president of Escrow.com since 2004. His background includes senior management positions with Burroughs/Unisys and Digital Equipment Corporation. He actively directs the strategy of the company and is passionate about providing a safe and secure environment for all Internet users to transact business.
BusinessInterviews.com: How has the Escrow.com team managed to create an online escrow platform that is simple and safe for both Buyers and Sellers?
Brandon: We have a team of very bright people with a passion for this business. The company is now beginning our 16th year in business and we have learned a lot of lessons over the years. This isn’t like a mass production of payments, every escrow is unique and closed by an actual escrow officer. Escrow must act as a neutral third party and protect the interests of all parties through the completion of the transaction. The Internet can be a very dangerous place to do business, especially if you aren’t aware of the possible pitfalls and how to protect yourself from them.
BusinessInterviews.com: Can you share a misconception or little known fact about the escrow process?
Brandon: The biggest misconception is that escrow is only for real estate. In fact, we provide escrow for almost everything but real estate. As a ‘licensed’ escrow company there are many government mandated rules and regulations we must follow. By law all monies held by the company are in a non-interest bearing trust account. Insurance policies and bonding are required as added protection for our customers. Anti-Money Laundering policies must be up to date and enforced vigilantly. What seems like a simple process from the outside is highly complex on the inside.
BusinessInterviews.com: What types of advantages and challenges have you encountered as a pioneer in escrow services?
Brandon: Consumer awareness is one of the biggest challenges we face. Many people think real estate when they hear escrow; all our transactions are for personal property or services. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to speak to someone that had an online deal go south only to hear, “I wish I knew about your services before I lost my money.” One of our key advantages is that we do things by the book and our customers know it. Escrow companies are highly regulated and there are many government requirements that need to be met.
Every web business has a different revenue model, but every web business also needs a safe and secure way for their customers to transact business. We needed to fit our business into that of our customers. If your business takes a commission from the transaction we developed an API to facilitate your payment. We developed a broker based system where a broker can set up a transparent or confidential transaction, thus taking the worry out of getting paid. This feature has been used to sell everything from heavy equipment to domain names, many transactions being in the million dollar range.
BusinessInterviews.com: Can you share a bit about your leadership philosophy and style and if/how it’s evolved during the course of your career?
Brandon: If you hire good people that you can trust and with the right skill sets the job becomes a lot less stressful. During my career I have mostly focused on the sales and marketing side of the business. I have held many senior management positions, some with Fortune 500 companies, all in high-tech. I have found the values of a company come from the executive leadership. I have been very fortunate to have worked for some great people. Of course, there were a few others who helped me see the other side of management and I learned from those as well. I thank them equally. Don’t sweat the small stuff and stay focused on the goal at hand.
BusinessInterviews.com: What makes your company culture unique and how do you think that this environment helps contribute your overall success?
Brandon: We are a small company with a large Internet presence. Most of our team has been here for over eight years so there is a real sense of comradery and family. One of our goals is to be the most accessible and transparent Internet escrow company in the business. Everyone in the company is expected to take customer calls. I was fortunate to work for Digital Equipment when Ken Olsen was in charge. His mantra was “Do the right thing”, I try to do the same with customers and employees.
BusinessInterviews.com: Can you elaborate on why your recent strategic partnership with US Commercial Service, part of the US Department of Commerce, is such an exciting development for you and your team?
Brandon: Only mutually beneficial relationships are successful. We have been introduced to, and are working with, other strategic partners (e.g. FedEx) in the development of both educational and promotional materials that meet the requirements of the program and benefitting exporters nationwide. Even though exporting is a proven source of growth for both U.S. companies and the U.S. economy, a small percentage of small businesses don’t export at all and only 59% of those that do export sell to only one foreign market. We have found through various studies that ‘the fear of not getting paid’ is the biggest reason businesses don’t export. This is where we step in. Or secure escrow payment service is now used as an international trade transaction tool that equally protects both importers and exporters. No other trade payment option (whether it be a letter of credit, documentary collections, payment in advance, etc.) equally protect both sides – this is how we differentiate ourselves in this market as well as all other transaction types (domain names, vehicles, personal property, services, etc.) that we support on a daily basis.
BusinessInterviews.com: Congratulations on your new gTLD offerings within the domain space. How will this new addition to your services become a significant part of your business in the years to come?
Brandon: With ICANN delegating over 400 new gTLD’s there is a significant “land grab” going on as domain investors search for the best properties. I don’t expect to see significant movement in the aftermarket for some time with the exception of a few premium names being bought and sold. However, we are in the very early stages of this expansion and over time many of these gTLD’s should see great success.
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