1. Rand Fishkin, born in New Jersey and raised in Seattle, launched software brand Moz in 2004 (then with a consulting arm) and built it from the ground up into a brand that's raised $29.1 million in three rounds and has a valuation of $120 million.
2. Known as the "Wizard of Moz," he hosts a popular weekly video segment called Whiteboard Fridays, where he explains complex search and marketing scenarios in relatable, understandable terms.
3. Fishkin learned a great deal about PR and marketing "through osmosis" by virtue of the time he spent in and around his mother's business growing up. But in a 2010 interview he revealed, "One of our family's particular peculiarities is that my dad was never particularly interested in what was going on with the business. And for a long time dismissed it as sort of a hobby that he wished we would quit doing. So, we didn't talk about it as a family very much."
4. His trademark yellow Pumas helped Fishkin stand out in his earliest entrepreneurial days. Ever the PR genius, he knew he needed a memorable trait to help him get noticed at real-world events in the crowded SEO space.
5. Rand attended the University of Washington in Seattle from 1997 to 2001 but dropped out two credits shy of graduating. His mother's PR company needed to add web optimization and site building skills to its repertoire, but it wasn't easy sailing. It wasn't until 2006 that the SEOMoz brand he'd launched two years earlier really took off.
6. Rand was featured in Businessweek's 'Best Young Tech Entrepreneur' feature in 2007. At the time, author Brier Dudley said of him, "Fishkin's gift for explaining complex stuff with a clear, breezy style is a big reason he's become a star in the mysterious world of search engine optimization."
7. A 2005 Newsweek feature described SEO as "an obscure procedure" and highlighted Fishkin's success in helping an 81-year old shoe store revive their business. He built them an optimized online store that wound up doing 3x the business the physical location was bringing in.
8. Fishkin was chastised by fellow entrepreneurs when in 2011, he wrote one of his typically open and transparent blog posts seeking advice about whether or not he should go after another round of funding. When he revealed he had just $25,000 in his bank account, industry folk were floored. In a blog comment, Fishkin revealed that he felt uncomfortable profiting from the business he had built himself while his staff were still in "salary mode."
9. His first website building experiences were all the way back in the 90s, using Microsoft Frontpage.
10. When it came time to propose to his girlfriend Geraldine, Fishkin wasn't content to get down on one knee. He bought an ad during her favorite show, Veronica Mars, and shared the experience in a blog post called "Tonight I Proposed to Mystery Guest."
11. Speaking of Geraldine, Fishkin's wife is better known as The Everywhereist, a title she earned blogging about her adventures traveling the world with her husband on business. An online personality in her own right, she's a brilliant writer with a massive following who cheered her on while she battled a brain tumor she named Steve.
12. Two years ago, Fishkin stepped down as CEO of Moz and COO Sarah Bird stepped into his place. Rand wrote an incredibly honest piece in December 2015 about how even though that move resulted in a lot of great things for him professionally and personally, leaving his CEO post is something he regrets.
13. Rand is a mentor and investor in the Seattle TechStars accelerator program (the same program I'm involved with in Boston), sharing his financial support and entrepreneurial prowess with worthy startups there.
14. On how he ended up half a million dollars in debt, while his company was still in consulting, Fishkin told an interviewer: "Well, it involves poor hiring of contractors, not being able to make money for many years. Essentially paying, doing the opposite of the lean start-up and bootstrapping. Thinking, you know what, we're really gonna need a great looking office and a great website and we're gonna need contractor help on this project and that project... once you dig yourself $50,000 in, $75,000 in doesn't seem all that much different. Once you're at $200,000, another $50,000 grand just doesn't seem that bad, and they are offering it to you, right?"
15. In a 2010 interview with ZDNet, when asked whether he gets recognized outside of SEO circles, Rand said, "I don't think it's fair to say I have "celebrity status;" especially compared to all those "social media" experts who have 100K+ followers on Twitter." Today, over 315,100 people tune in to see what the Wizard of Moz has to say on Twitter.