Dictionary.com Reviews | Glassdoor

Dictionary.com Reviews

Updated November 17, 2017
34 reviews

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2.6
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Elizabeth McMillan
21 Ratings

34 Employee Reviews

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  1. Helpful (1)

    "Brand Impact + Momentum"

    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 (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    - The brand reaches people all over the world and impacts peoples' lives in a fundamental way; language is incredibly personal and meaningful to everyone

    - The small team structure lets you really get to know and trust the people you work with; it also means learning things and taking on roles you may not
    otherwise experience in a larger company

    - There is a culture of "you succeed, I succeed" which makes taking risks easier and the benefits more rewarding

    - There is a commitment to personal and career development for current employees; take advantage of an annual tuition benefit + other training and networking opportunities

    Cons

    - Parent company doesn't necessarily see the potential this company has and treats Dictionary.com like a profit machine, instead of a viable investment for the future

    - Resource constraints + demands from above can force teams to accept speed/efficiency over quality

    - Technical debt keeps teams from innovating as quickly as they would like

    Advice to Management

    For IAC management: Treat Dictionary like the true brand asset it is. It is not just your cash cow, giving you profits to invest in other businesses. Invest in us, too.

    For Dictionary management: Communicate your vision for our future often. Empower teams to inform their own strategies and execute on goals. Reduce micromanagement of new projects and ideas.


  2. Helpful (6)

    "Your time and ideas will be wasted here..."

    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

    Pros

    Most non-management employees are kind and empathetic to one another and there are many opportunities to hang out together during lunch, at the arcade/bar, or during one of the many happy hours.

    Good amount of food and snacks provided daily in the stocked kitchen.

    Comfortable office with good access from public transportation.

    Cons

    Management is a train wreck, being both emotionally unstable and technically inferior with serious ego problems with no clue how to humbly consider input or inspire their team. When differences of opinion arise, you can expect frustration, immature emotional outbursts, and overt or even clandestine backlash to ensue.

    The company is a revolving door of employees, where anyone competent is hired and quickly fired or pushed out at the behest of the CEO while the CEOs are promoted within the larger IAC (parent company) hierarchy (despite continuously missing targets) and are presumed to rise to the level of their incompetence.

    IAC is running Dictionary for cash and despite managements claim that they want to invest in modernizing the tech and strategy, there is little substance to back up that claim.

    Technically superior employees who deliver day in and day out are given more work, while the inferior one's who pay lip service to management are promoted to team leads and given out-sized pay bumps.

    Advice to Management

    Fire the CEO & CTO. Find someone who respects the input of the team and can empower others.

  3. Helpful (6)

    "Nice, but no cigar"

    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

    Hired some great team members. Ticking time bomb from recruiting away.

    Cons

    CEO is immature and nascent to how to run a company. CEO will drive you out, it's a matter of the day of the week, and how her dating life is going.

    Advice to Management

    Replace CEO


  4. Helpful (8)

    "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.


  5. Helpful (7)

    "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


  6. Helpful (19)

    "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 :(


  7. "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.

  8. 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.


  9. 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


  10. 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.


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