Samasource Reviews | Glassdoor

Samasource Reviews

Updated July 6, 2017
57 reviews

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3.8
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Samasource Founder & CEO Leila Janah
Leila Janah
43 Ratings

57 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • The salaries are great for a non-profit and the infrastructure is just as excellent (in 4 reviews)

  • Strong management team that is working hard to build relationships (in 3 reviews)

Cons
  • Samasource will always be limited in its impact by its non-profit status (in 4 reviews)

  • However the biggest con that I see is with the business model itself, which is fundamentally flawed (in 3 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "Social Enterprise with Incredibly Talented Team"

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

    I have been working at Samasource full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    As somebody who has been at Sama for many years, I can say quite sincerely that the org, the leadership and culture has evolved substantially in my time here, and that I feel very happy and fortunate to be here. I'm also looking forward to being part of Samasource's future as a leader in the world of social impact, as well as a provider of high quality services in the world of tech and machine learning in particular.

    I can confirm that the org has evolved and matured considerably. I am super happy that I was able to ride out some early growing pains to be a part of what is happening now.

    There has been very strong leadership, including an incredibly talented Managing Director that came in with a lot of consulting and BPO experience that helped to professionalize the operations and delivery processes. The culture is positive and there is a strong sense of focus and performance. There are a lot of exciting growth initiatives on the horizon, including expansion to Europe, a delivery center in India, and Advisory Services to help companies measure and understand the impact they are making.

    Cons

    The office location is not my favorite, as 16th and Mission can get pretty rowdy, and the building itself is a bit old, but it's something I can definitely live with, especially since there is flexibility to work from home more often than other jobs I've worked at.


  2. Helpful (1)

    "Great people and mission, fast-moving and ever-changing"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Samasource full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    I thoroughly enjoyed everyone I worked with. My co-workers were smart, dedicated, and fun to be around. I feel the organization is making a meaningful impact in the world. Management actively seeks out feedback from employees and works to improve areas that are challenging for employees.

    Cons

    My job title, manager, and responsibilities changed frequently due to turnover and shifting priorities. I was constantly taking on new projects and putting others on the back burner. It sometimes felt like we were chasing things rather than setting a strategy and pursuing it.

    Advice to Management

    Continue to listen to feedback and build on the organization's strengths - it's people, mission, and work environment.

    Samasource Response

    Apr 5, 2017 – CEO

    Regarding shifting priorities, we hear you. We're making an effort as a management team to develop a more robust strategic plan and had our first international offsite together in February. We feel... More

  3. Helpful (1)

    "Cautiously optimistic"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Samasource full-time

    Pros

    This organization is outcomes driven; constantly striving to evaluate and re-evaluate how to deepen and broaden impact. Impact sourcing is hard, especially in a competitive environment. However, the desire to continue experimenting, investing, succeeding and sometimes failing, makes this an incredibly inspiring place to work. I am consistently amazed at the maturity and caliber of talent this organization has.

    Cons

    Working in a budget constrained environment can be challenging. With a mission as broad as solving poverty, it can be tempting to lose focus and drive too many initiatives.

    Advice to Management

    Focus - Keep your eye on the ball. Invest in your team by promoting from within and creating as many growth opportunities as possible. Keep a discipline of sustainable growth.

    Samasource Response

    Apr 5, 2017 – CEO

    This review really strikes a chord because I've been unfocused in the past and, with input from the management team, trying to learn from our collective experience -- we had to divest some... More


  4. "Sharp, values-driven employees"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    All-hands meetings were well-attended and valuable
    Ops and product leadership are fantastic
    Office space is beautiful, conveniently-located, and dog-friendly
    Employees extremely welcoming of newcomers

    Cons

    High turnover leads to perpetual hiring cycles, which are difficult on all current employees
    Sama brand has fragmented into too many different directions, sacrificing integrity
    CEO is out of touch with daily operations

    Advice to Management

    More emphasis on supporting internal movement to prevent problems with turnover. Many employees would benefit from and are interested in at least a trial period in another position.

    Samasource Response

    Apr 5, 2017 – CEO

    You make a good point here on hiring/turnover -- your feedback was timely and I'm happy to share that in the last year, we had the lowest turnover in our history with zero voluntary attrition in our... More


  5. Helpful (6)

    "Samasource is a great brand and therefore stepping-stone to launch your career"

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

    I worked at Samasource full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    I am sharing my experience at Samasource after having left the company more than 3 years ago. (I am writing this in the Fall of 2016, and I resigned of my own accord in mid-2013. I didn't depart to join another company; I left Sama to take some much-needed time off and gain some perspective.)

    Within 3 months of my departure, 7 staff people (2 of which were on the management team) and 2 board members also severed their ties with Samasource, perhaps for some of the same reasons that I left. Perhaps for other reasons.

    After having had 3 years to think deeply about my Samasource experience, I must say that Samasource hires the best-in-class, mission-driven talent in Silicon Valley. That is its biggest Pro. You will get to work with some sharpest and coolest folks in the Valley and build your network unbelievably fast because of it.

    Cons

    Back in 2013, Samasource was a sinking ship. However, to Leila's credit she rebuilt the team from the ground up, and in 2014 reset the management structure entirely. And, importantly, she reset the Board. Nevertheless, I still hear of regrettable attrition and there is even a closed / secret Facebook group of ex-Samasourcers, seeking counseling and support, after their negative experiences.

    However the biggest con that I see is with the business model itself, which is fundamentally flawed. Impact Sourcing and the Samasource value model is better advanced within the for-profit world, not a non-profit. In fact there are for-profit competitors (that are hiring by the way) that are able to achieve higher impact scores by utilizing a for-profit model, rather than a non-profit one. Samasource will always be limited in its impact by its non-profit status. Therefore, be sure to learn as much as you can from Samasource, and then go enter the real world of business, and see how much more impact you can have therein. I think anyone who has worked, currently works, or is considering working at Samasource owes it to themselves to really ask how much impact they could have on the world, if the business model were different.

    Advice to Management

    Advice to management: Keep hiring the best and brightest. There is something in that Kool-Aid you serve that is oh so sweet and catches us all in like flies.

    Advice to staff: Don't stay longer than 1-2 years. That's all you need to launch into the next iteration of yourself and your career. Samasource will use you; It's okay to use them too.

    Samasource Response

    Apr 5, 2017 – CEO

    Hi there, I think a lot has changed in over four years since you left Samasource. Thank you very much for sharing this feedback, and trust that we've listened to it and implemented a ton of the... More


  6. Helpful (1)

    "Project Manager"

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

    Pros

    Amazing team, work environment, flexible schedule, career growth, learning opportunities, and being able to connect with people from all different backgrounds. I feel like the work we do truly is making a social impact and we are creating a model that can/should be followed by others. We are showing how it's possible to make sustainable social impact through a revenue model that gives us the ability to reinvest and grow our operations for further impact reach.

    Cons

    Since we connect low-income people to the digital work economy, it's challenging to deal with the inevitable lack of resources, skillsets, and infrastructure of these third-world economies when also striving to be competitive in the market. However, this biggest challenge is also the biggest motivator to continue what we are doing because we are beginning to prove how it can be done.

    Advice to Management

    Continue to promote transparency, two-way feedback, collaborative office space, and future company direction updates. I recognize the bad reviews of Leila, but we wouldn't have the visibility, connections, and success that we've had (and are having) without her work. It takes a driven, commitment person to travel, speak, and connect with influential people as much as she has done and she is always thinking about how to do even more.

    Samasource Response

    Apr 5, 2017 – CEO

    Thank you for the kind words. It does take a lot of sweat equity to build the connections we have as a company, and it's really a team effort at this point, not just me. The whole management team is... More


  7. "This is how an impactful organization is ran"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Instructor in Dumas, AR
    Current Employee - Instructor in Dumas, AR
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    I have been working at Samasource (More than a year)

    Pros

    Sama is a great place to work for anyone who is looking to begin or expand a career. Sama is especially for people that put their heart into their work. The salaries are great for a non-profit and the infrastructure is just as excellent. I have grown more in 1.5 years at Sama than I did in my previous 15 years in the workforce. In a microwave world, work that really matters doesn't matter to most because we are looking for quick fixes to get us through a project or assignment rather than digging deep to create substantial solutions. The thing I love about Leila Janah is the way she challenges and stretches you as a worker. It is a privilege to work with someone with such passion and a great brain to pick. My passion is helping those that are in need of empowerment and I have the right job and CEO for that.

    Cons

    I work remote, but I still love it!

    Advice to Management

    Keep working hard and being innovative. You are making great impact for those that matter most in this line of work.

    Samasource Response

    Apr 5, 2017 – CEO

    Thank you so much for this review. We are trying as hard as possible to make Sama a great place for remote workers (which we kind of have to do, given our mission!), and I'm glad to hear that our... More

  8. "Fighting Poverty Against All Odds"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Executive Assistant in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Executive Assistant in San Francisco, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    I have been working at Samasource full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Being at Sama is to become a gladiator in the greatest battle against inequality and to help give work and education to those that lost in the lottery of life. It is to spend everyday around people who leave you inspired by their brilliance, dedication, and resilience. It is that village of people creating change in the world, some of us are seeking to be part of. The work nurtures a strong dynamism and agility to go back to the drawing board or explore a new path. The experience helps you become more adaptable and to devote yourself to a greater good, detaching from personal ego. The work is always evolving because technology and social factors are so multifaceted. Creative thinking is fostered because every possible resource needs to be explored.

    It's also a lot like working at home if your home was a beautiful light filled top floor office with skylights that you can hear the rain pitter pattering, hilarious dogs, comfy sofas, yoga in the building, a kitchen full of beautiful healthy yummy things, and the coolest genius "roommates" to discuss anything in the world with. Oh and you step out into the heart of the pulsing Mission District full of cuisine from every place in the world.

    Cons

    Fighting inequality is a battle. It is not a standard shift at the factory to clock in and out of. It requires a lot of heart and stamina because poverty is a monster with many limbs and there is no single solution to overcoming it. Some days it feels very heavy because inequality is a never-ending battle and the weight of it all sometimes follows you home and sits on your mind or your inbox.

    Advice to Management

    Keep fighting the good fight

    Samasource Response

    Apr 5, 2017 – CEO

    This review just made my year, especially this line: "Being at Sama is to become a gladiator in the greatest battle against inequality and to help give work and education to those that lost in the... More


  9. "Strong mission and inspired leadership"

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

    I have been working at Samasource full-time

    Pros

    I loved the culture (West Coast, non traditional) and people. Met some of the smartest people I've worked with. The mission is inspiring even though its ambitious. There are good opportunities for advancement.

    Cons

    The company could be better at communicating and salaries aren't as high as at a for-profit. Some people don't like the office location.

    Advice to Management

    Communicate more effectively - especially the thinking behind major decisions.
    Promote more from within.

    Samasource Response

    Apr 5, 2017 – CEO

    Thanks for sharing this review. I hope that, since you wrote this, you feel we've improved in terms of communicating and promoting from within -- this kind of feedback is what drove the changes in... More


  10. Helpful (15)

    "Good colleagues, good mission - all stunted by CEO"

    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

    Pros

    - Great colleagues who, for the most part, are smart and dedicated
    - Admirable mission: trying to reduce poverty in the developing world in a sustainable way
    - Well-stocked kitchen
    - Depending on your role, interesting travel opportunities

    Cons

    - The CEO is great at inspiring people externally and sharing the Samasource mission. However, she's dismal at internal communication and management. Smart senior managers get hired, aren't enabled to take ownership of their roles and make decisions, become disheartened, and leave after 12-18 months. Then the cycle repeats itself.
    - This unfortunate cycle means that the organization's growth is incredibly stunted: they effectively have to start over every year. This has led to cash constraints and an overall negative effect on morale and company culture.
    - Classic "Founder's Syndrome" is at work here. Samasource is 1) too founder-centric (vs. mission-centric); 2) poorly managed (CEO is good externally, poor internally); 3) no succession planning - unclear if management has a plan to have her transition to more of a Chairperson type role; 4) a Board with no teeth.

    Advice to Management

    Figure out a way to address the Founder's Symptom issues - start enabling other senior managers to speak at conferences or take the lead on fundraising; remove the CEO from daily operations; make sure there is a clear plan for a new CEO to take over; install a new Board that will actually hold a new CEO accountable for impact.

    Samasource Response

    Apr 5, 2017 – CEO

    Sorry to hear you disapproved of my leadership and our management dynamic. In the last two years, I think our results have demonstrated some really remarkable impact: we've now helped 35,000 people... More


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