Dictionary.com Reviews | Glassdoor

Dictionary.com Reviews

Updated September 6, 2017
32 reviews

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2.5
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Elizabeth McMillan
19 Ratings

32 Employee Reviews

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  1. Helpful (5)

    "Good place to gain experience"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Ios Software Engineer in Oakland, CA
    Former Employee - Ios Software Engineer in Oakland, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Dictionary.com full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    - Nice coworkers and company culture
    - Fun company traditions and events
    - Well known/liked brand
    - Large consumer base
    - Good benefits and work/life balance
    - Good location in Oakland downtown - easily accessible by public transportation or company subsidized parking garage
    - Senior management and executive leadership that cares about its employees and engaged in improving shortcomings raised by employees
    - Company invests in continuous learning for their employees through training sessions and online courses
    - Semi-annual company hackathons that bring forth a lot of good ideas

    If you are applying for an entry-level or junior position, I would recommend it

    Cons

    - Although Dictionary.com's current products dominate web and mobile traffic compared to other online dictionaries, it is in a shrinking market
    - Understaffed engineering team
    - Often the focus is just on minor optimizations of current products and revenue streams
    - Large technical debt issues and security policy mandates from parent company make development with a small team even slower
    - Slow release cycles on mobile team - 1-2 releases per year
    - High turn over rate

    Advice to Management

    - Empower employees who are enthusiastic about improving and contributing to Dictionary's products. You will be surprised how many have great ideas and the will to work overtime to ship them, but are not able to. Find out why?
    - Find out what has worked over the last year and what didn't, and improve
    - Celebrate big wins, and try to reduce the hoops a team has to jump through to achieve them more often


  2. Helpful (2)

    "No Vision"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Dictionary.com full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Great coworkers and company culture
    Nice that the company celebrates every holiday
    Teams have nice customs and traditions
    Tons of free food and snacks
    Strong brand with lots of customers
    Significant effort to modernize the infrastructure is paying off
    Lots of opportunity for training and technical growth
    Great place to gain experience

    Cons

    CTO is very rude, tends to bully people in conversation, is very not receptive to feedback, and has a mild obsession with not documenting the process and procedures he puts in place yet gets furious when mistakes are made
    CTO is not very hands on and does not embody the example he demands of others
    There is not enough middle management, no director of product or engineering etc.
    Company culture has become less collaborative and there is often unnecessary drama when the team is under the least bit of pressure
    There is focus on short term gains mostly in advertising over investment in new product development
    A number of good developers have quit and the team is understaffed
    Senior Management too often appears dishonest with staff
    The C level management lacks vision for the future of the company

    Advice to Management

    Listen to the advice and complaints of the staff.

  3. Helpful (19)

    "Unpredictable CEO / Useless Parent Company"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Director of Human Resources in Oakland, CA
    Current Employee - Director of Human Resources in Oakland, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Dictionary.com full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Great benefits. Good pay. Convenient for East Bay workers. Nice view. Good snacks. Nothing but Bay Area liberals, so you can gripe about politics all you want. There's a pot dispensers a block away, so when things get really stressful...

    Cons

    During my time here, every executive has been either fired or quit because of conflict with the CEO. The CEO tries to bribe everyone with offsites and parties and dumb gifts, but has completely failed to keep a consistent team, hire enough engineers, and holds everyone accountable to insane goals , despite not meeting any of the hiring/retention obligations to meet those goals. She puts people on performance plans to scare them, fires an executive every quarter, and acts irrationally and emotionally frequently. She pretends everything is great, but fires people who offer conflict, or a different point of view. She has a textbook understanding of success from her MBA, but no experience managing people to sustained success. This is her first CEO job. She waivers wildly from being purely analytics driven to going on her intuition. For employees, she is like Lucy holding the ball for Charlie Brown. She lures people to speak openly and express their concerns or issues, and then later publicly uses that information to humiliate or attack the employee.

    Don't tell her anything personal. Don't tell her what you did last weekend, your stress level, or concern about goals. She will use that information against you. Don't tell her your ideas for improvement. Let her think she came up with all ideas or they are bad ideas.

    The parent company should have fired her a long time ago, but they know no other CEO will take the job, which in their mind is to drive the company into the ground as slowly as possible, milking every last cent from the profits while investing zero back into an aging, increasingly irrelevant service and old technology. No one really needs an online dictionary any more, and the people who use it are quickly figuring that out. Thesaurus might have a bit longer to live, but not unless it is significantly modernized to meet modern uses.

    Dictionary.com moves sloooow, and breeds fear and discontent at every level. Sometimes new execs come in full of energy and excitement, but most leave before a year is out, dejected and feeling lied to. Lower and mid level employees have less turnover, but still plenty. They fear for their jobs and gossip quietly about the company and CEO. The employees with no attachment move on, but the ones with family obligations or career goals requiring stability stay, but they resent it.

    It seems the CEO or parent company has stopped replacing some execs that left. They are trimming costs at every point to keep profits high with declining revenue. Mid-level people are asked to do the jobs of the exited execs, but not compensated for it.

    Advice to Management

    Are you kidding? No one in management would ever take advice. Read the other reviews. They ALL say similar things. Nothing has changed. The advice is to the current employees and would-be candidates for the posted jobs.

    Get out. Don't get suckered into joining. And if you're already in, take some time each day to see what's out there so you can move on to something better. It may be a good day, week or even month at Dictionary for you, but very soon the pendulum will swing and you'll hate it here. And don't trust anyone. Everything you complain about to HR or even some co-workers will get back to the CEO. Nothing is confidential. Nothing.


  4. Helpful (16)

    "Rapidly sinking ship, get out while you can. (Read: Look elsewhere for employment)"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Oakland, CA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Oakland, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Dictionary.com full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    -People: an abundance of smart, lovely people who want to do great work and have a ton of pride for the products they represent

    -Snacks: so many great items incl fresh fruits/veggies, nuts, candy bars, yogurts, jerky, etc to keep you satisfied throughout the day

    -Proximity to BART and surrounding Uptown Oakland eateries

    -Product (*caveat: the product HAS been good and a leader in it's vertical for years, however in recent months it simply hasn't met the needs of its consumers and is quickly losing marketshare to Google OneBox and Merriam-Webster)

    Cons

    -Exec Mgmt: for multiple reasons, current and past CEOs have not been successful; it's been tumultuous. Current CEO, Elizabeth McMillan, is a phony and should have never been named CEO to begin with. She is self-fulfilling; don't be fooled by her rise to the top at IAC Search & Media. Her boss, Doug Leeds promoted her because he had the power and nothing to lose. He has since left the company. McMillan is young, often times unprofessional/irrational, and is reckless. She undervalues her employees tremendously (through pay and negative reinforcement, often publicly shaming) and hires & fires with snap judgement. There's no savviness or finesse here. In the past year, the IAC and Dictionary teams have undergone several rounds of layoffs and "job eliminations" bringing morale to an all time low. Decisions are made from the top-down, and in these desperate times everyone should have a voice. Not to mention there have been several exec team members hired and then fired after 3-6mo. Definitely creating a very weak, unstable position.

    -Product: great ppl in place to execute, but poor leadership team in place. No one knows what they're doing (blind leading the blind scenario). Definitely not nimble and no sense of ownership. Flailing, indeed.

    -Morale: because of numerous layoffs the environment turned negative real fast. Trust was lost, pride went out the door and people started to turn against each other. Everyone feared losing their jobs. Gossip is at an all-time high and McMillan perpetuates it, with her confidants. It's blatantly obvious she plays favorites and sadly anything said in confidence gets leaked one way or another. It's probably because there's very little respect there.

    Advice to Management

    Fire the CEO and bloated executive team who don't know what they're doing. Lose the negativity, gossiping and fear-mongering.

    And stop with the incessant, unnecessary meetings. All those meetings are a waste of time, resource and money. If everyone knows, and owns, what they're doing, then let them do their work without interruption.

    Lastly, a word to the CEO (or PR/COMMS team): it's very obvious you go onto Glassdoor and write reviews about your own org to increase your rating. Everyone already thinks Dictionary.com is going to be sold in a matter of months :(


  5. "Moving in the right direction"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Positive Outlook

    Pros

    The company is focused on turning back into a growth company and has a great foundation to build upon. The team is gaining the alignment it needs to accelerate.

    Cons

    There have been transitions and turnover in order to head in the right direction. Some growing pains are still present, but in decline. Nature of this type of transition.

    Advice to Management

    Continue the efforts to improve communication and collaboration across departments.


  6. Helpful (2)

    "Good place to work"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Software Engineer in Oakland, CA
    Current Employee - Senior Software Engineer in Oakland, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Dictionary.com full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    I've been in the company for over two years, I have gone through 2 different CEOs and a lot of changes have happened, but I don't really have any big complain about the company, they have been good to me during this 2 years and a half. I have really enjoyed my time trying to build a meaningful product that people loves. The previous and current management have always supported me and even when I feel that sometimes we fall a bit behind in comparison to other small startup-like companies we are trying our best to get there and things are moving forward.

    Small nice team.
    What you do at Dictionary has an impact and that's very rewarding.
    Passionate coworkers.
    Flexible schedule.
    While you perform your tasks diligently usually nobody distracts you from what is important (deliver).
    A great coffee machine.
    A massage chair.
    People are very nice.
    I have had multiple requests and the company has always correspond properly.
    The company is getting into a high gear again and that's encouraging.

    Cons

    We have been going through a lot of changes and that was very distracting and at some point frustrating.

    Slightly understaff.

    Bad results in our sister companies create rumors and uncertainty about the future.

    Salary could be more competitive.

    Advice to Management

    I like where the company is going. I do believe that the company can accomplish a lot of things in the coming years.

    I really don't have any advice I think they are doing a good job. I feel that we are all learning here and like in any process where the objective is to improve, mistakes are made but the important part is that the team keeps moving forward.


  7. Helpful (3)

    "Making a difference"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Oakland, CA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Oakland, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Dictionary.com full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    I came in post-pivot. Having been through pivots myself elsewhere, I empathize with the pain expressed in the reviews posted mid-pivot. It seems to me, however, that someone considering a job at Dictionary needs to know what it's like to join post-pivot.

    I'm well into my first year. This is the best job I've ever had.

    Top Pros:

    - all the amazing people you get to work with
    - challenging, interesting problems
    - actual autonomous, self-organizing teams
    - rigorous, collaborative, data-driven tech decisions
    - high engineering standards
    - real commitment (time and money) to employee education and career growth
    - an incredibly diverse engineering team
    - our PMO. Not scrum-masters, but a real PMO, collaborating with us to streamline our process every day
    - all the amazing women you get to work with (Liz, she's a wonder. And she seems to attract other brilliant, confident, capable women, kinda like gravity)
    - the opportunity to make a difference every day. Students and teachers everywhere use dictionary.com. Organically.
    - great pay & benefits (pet insurance, lol)
    - a real commitment (as in, timelines get adjusted, money gets spent, ...) to work/life balance
    - and, oh yeah, all the usual: free snacks, fancy coffee, soda, beer, etc., ping-pong tables, all that stuff

    Cons

    - we're still sorting out process, so it can be a bit rough for some folks who want clear guidelines
    - workloads can be high (well, for our standards - nothing like the startup world) as we're in a hiring phase

    Advice to Management

    More offsites like the playhouses for Habit for Humanity, please! With a steady stream of new people, experiences like that are really helpful

  8. Helpful (7)

    "Change is never easy"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Oakland, CA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Oakland, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Dictionary.com full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    The company is small and people at Dictionary are very welcoming. It barely took a month to feel part of the family despite a surprising number of introverts. Many have friendships with coworkers outside the office and various team members, managers, people in other roles or the neighboring company Ask.com very often eat lunch play games or enjoy a good happy hour together.
    The benefits are pretty great, specifically the unlimited PTO policy has been one of the healthier I have experienced. (No one fears taking time off) Performance Bonus are available annually. Free food, drinks, team celebrations, and entertainment is like that of a young start up rather than a 20 year old company.
    The company is however going through a pretty massive shift especially in the last three months. There is a focused effort to create self managed agile teams, build new best practice infrastructure, open up technology choices and process which best meets the needs of individual teams objectives and refine the company culture into one of more individual ownership, innovation and influence over the products we work on and choose to bring to market. There is an active effort to remove date, ego, and hero driven approaches to short term success, which worked in the past, to one of company culture which encourages calculated risk, fast failure, testing and experimentation. I have seen a significant drop in top down dictation and expert guessing about what we will do as well as open criticism and course correction of current practices which have previously been acceptable bottlenecks.
    Career development, skills training and education has always been a benefit provided by the company but I am told it was modestly exploited in the past. Now it is regularly and actively encouraged that everyone increases their skill sets and puts time aside each week for personal development.
    The CEO appears to have genuine concern that people feel supported motivated and have work life balance. She makes people feel comfortable bringing their kids to the office or to family friendly events which I very much appreciate. Liz strikes me as a person who prefers to weigh a lot of variables and consider many opinions as she makes a decision but is very decisive once she has. As such she makes many requests for feedback and a call for ideas to get what may be considered an emotional beat or gut feel on things. She comes across as opportunity and optimism driven. Which I think I can see reflected in her efforts to make the overall company culture more positive and encourage efforts to reach out for projects and programs which support the surrounding community. Which again, I very much appreciate.

    Cons

    Liz is focused on many areas at once and is still learning the best ways to communicate her steps to a choice or philosophy behind an impacting change and so some things can feel more abrupt if you happen to be out of the loop of communication. Liz is very much into team building and has hired C-Level management who are also very focused on team building. As a result, it has been a little slow staffing up due to the emphasis on cultural fit, and it has been disruptive as some people have been managed out of the business and not yet replaced. I will be honest, some people are being asked to take on lots of new responsibility and learn how to do things that were not previously part of their job. Some people view that as on opportunity to embrace as previously they were bored. Some are unhappy with what in contrast looks like a lack of direction and a sense of uncertainty of how they may be successful as the environment evolves around them. Again it is a small company, so when people leave on their own or when they are asked to go it tends to have more impact on morale then other places I have worked which were at least six times bigger. While being part of the massive changes at Dictionary is a great opportunity going from a lumbering elephant to a sprinting cheetah is very ambitious. I suspect it may be a year before the benefits of the changes under way since before I joined are fully realized, and the company need to keep the existing business stable and profitable during each phase.

    Advice to Management

    Trumpet the mantras of change and the embracement of low cost failures. Continue to take feedback and let everyone know when and how it is responded to. Be upfront about sensitive topics and keep working on better ways of communicating news both positive and negative broadly. I have the benefit of working in companies who have tried and failed for several years to shift half the distance I have seen Dictionary cover in the course of several months. Cultural shift is like moving an iceberg. Getting this far in itself is a praise worth effort. That should be recognized alongside current challenges, fears, and disruptions.


  9. Helpful (28)

    "Visitors love Dictionary but employees say the CEO is a liar"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Oakland, CA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Oakland, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Our loyal visitors LOVE Dictionary. So many people I have met have expressed very positive opinions about the site.

    Cons

    Liz (current Dictionary CEO) is a liar, as other reviews have attested. She has a well developed and insightful plan in her head, but deceives everyone in the company as she slowly rolls out her plan. People are let go quickly with a fake announcement about their reason for leaving. It is all very artificial and disheartening, eroding years of trust and camaraderie among coworkers.

    Advice to Management

    Do you really think you are going to be able to inspire people and recruit talent when everybody hates the CEO?


  10. Helpful (39)

    "Unprofitable and uninspiring company with fake culture"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Dictionary.com full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Free Snacks and drinks
    Good Coworkers

    Cons

    I didn't want to write this post but there are blatant fake reviews here, one of which has been removed/deleted. I know this because my first draft was directly written in response to it, and that fake review with five stars discrediting former employees and lauding the CEO is now gone. I'm not making this up; below is a draft where I was picking it apart:

    "iterate and roll out cool new products." Read that one more time. Who says that unless you're writing a desperately defensive Glassdoor post or writing a job description?
    "20 years of brand history and visibility, support from a large corporation (IAC)"
    Hey that doesn't sound like corporate speak at all! That's what I said when I bragged about working at Dictionary to all my friends! - said no one ever.
    "They mostly blame the CEO who began the reinvention of Dictionary." Yeah, that doesn't sound self-appraising. The CEO reinvented Dictionary like Al Gore invented the internet. All in less than one year! Impressive. It was all her and her awesome ideas...that came from people hired outside of the company because she is not a product person.

    ^^ All the quotes were copied and pasted, but they were in a review called, "Growing company, lots of opportunity" written on 3/10/16 and it is now gone. Like the review, the management is fake and painfully oblivious to it but now they were finally smart enough to delete it. I'm sorry not sorry for the sarcastic comments but read the quotes again; they're so ridiculous and patronizing. The CEO is fake and painfully unaware of it. Nothing I'm saying is libelous because it's the plain truth. The fake review attests to it, and the fact that it has been deleted attests to it. I know the CEO talks about employees disparagingly behind their backs but pretends to be so nice to them. She lies, and encourages people to lie. If your nature is fake, you will inevitably build a fake, poisonous culture. This is what you reap when you're disingenuous, patronizing and arrogant; no one wants to work with you or for you. I would rather work for a janitor whom I can respect and trust rather than work for the smartest person in the world who has less than admirable character. That's what it boils down to: respect and trust, and no one I know respects, trusts or likes the CEO.

    Good, competent people get fired (two of them as recently as 3/18/16) and management thinks having a meaningless all-hands, or team outing or even a box of donuts will make everyone drink the Kool-aid and be happy. Mmm! Donuts! (Chocolate tastings, which weren't her idea to begin with, and donuts were mentioned as awesome perks in the deleted review! I hope a certain someone upped her game and started bringing in Dolly Donuts and Donut Savant at least.)

    You know what the funniest part of the deleted review was? I quote: "Ignore bitter reviews from ex-employees." Every ex-employee I talked to is BETTER not bitter. If Dictionary is such a great place to work, why did people quit and go elsewhere, like to Fitbit and Pandora, where they get paid a lot more? (Dictionary pays next to nothing.) And why did people quit with no job in place? Because it's that bad! One new hire left after two months. That doesn't look good no matter how you spin it.

    Is the product exciting? Nope. Dictionary.com is just a domain serving obnoxious ads. CEO will tout it as a resource and "language success platform". I think she clicked on the marketing jargon generator for that one. They will say they're innovative, but Dictionary.com is always trying to catch up because it is years behind.

    Also, Dictionary and Ask have wannabe startup cultures. They have a "fun crew" to make things um, fun, by having costume /dress up contests but they're lame. The prizes are even more lame; it's kind of embarrassing truth be told. Despite the existence of the fun crew, I heard there had to be a morale crew instated for Dictionary.

    And why is Ask being bundled up under IAC publishing? I can't tell you how many restructuring and new groups there were in the year that I was there; it made my head spin. It's dysfunctional. There are other innovative companies out there actually creating value and aren't dependent on an ever diminishing revenue stream created by annoying ads and a saturated mobile market.

    In summary, work at Dictionary.com if you:

    1) want to be bored and frustrated.
    2) don't want to be respected or valued.
    3) just want to be comfortable and not work on anything challenging or innovative.
    4) want to work at a company that moves as fast as a glacier.
    5) enjoy donuts and washing it down with company Kool-aid.
    6) need the money and don't have any other options.
    7) don't mind being paid way below market rate.
    8) don't go crazy over typos in the dictionary.
    9) like to work with limiting, old technologies.
    10) work well in inefficient processes, "pivots" and "ambiguity."

    I know ten more positive fake reviews with five stars will be mandated after this but I trust that you, dear reader, can sniff them out. Just watch how many reviews will attack this one. The deleted review also attacked another review where someone said the CEO micromanages, saying that that was ironic because it was the fired managers who were micromanagers. Just start taking screenshots of fake new reviews because they will disappear after people realize how ridiculous it sounds.

    If I sound angry, it's because I think Glassdoor should remain as the source for truth and I have to call out the fake reviews. I'm much happier after leaving the company and I hope that you think carefully about joining the company, especially under the current CEO. Much luck to you on your job search!

    Advice to Management

    Don't treat employees as liabilities but as investments; nurture them for success and as businesses and people change, learn how to fire people for legitimate reasons and with dignity. It doesn't have to be as fast as possible and it doesn't have to be a negative experience.


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