Rob Pace’s company, HundredX, harnesses his business expertise while it helps nonprofit organizations.
Rob Pace ‘84, as he tells it, was born to be a businessperson.
“My world had nothing to do with this growing up, but I was always interested in business, finance and stocks,” he said. “Some kids can pick up a violin and play it. I was really good at concepts in math and finance. It was a natural affinity.”
The Columbia Gorge town Pace grew up in, Bonneville, was so small that there weren’t any businesses at all. In the 1990s, the Army Corps of Engineers re-routed the Columbia River so that a navigation lock could allow large boats to get around the Bonneville Dam. To create the lock, the town of Bonneville was submerged.
“The 15 or 20 houses in the town are gone now, underwater,” Pace said. “You know the joke, ‘You can never go home again’? Well, I literally can never go home again.”
Throughout his life, Pace has played to his strengths. He graduated from Oregon State with a degree in business administration, then got an MBA from Harvard Business School. His career at Goldman Sachs spanned more than two decades, during which time he held several senior leadership positions.
When he left in 2007, Pace was a partner at Goldman Sachs in charge of the San Francisco office and head of West Region Investment Banking.
For Pace, 2007 was a good time to depart.
“I had an amazing 20 years in my career that I’m really grateful for,” he said. “But I felt that Wall Street in the mid-2000s in general began to lose its way. It got away from serving clients and doing productive things to selling products people couldn’t afford. It created a lot of hardship. It’s almost like success leads to hubris, which leads to excess.”
Pace felt a tension between the idea that doing well in business might not be compatible with doing good in the world.
He wanted his work after his first career to feel different. He thought about his time at Goldman and the business leaders who made the biggest impression on him.
“If we were taking a company public or selling them, I’d get to meet with leadership,” he said. “Every once in a while I’d find leaders who knew what their true north was. They created great outcomes for customers and employees. They organized the business around the needs of those groups. They knew what problems they were solving and what they did better than anyone else.”
In 2012, Pace created HundredX, the company that would help him find his own true north.
“With my time on this planet, I want to do as much good as I can,” he said. “Unfortunately that can feel like a central tension in my life. A lot of people talk about blending business and doing good. But it’s hard to crack the code.”
With HundredX, however, Pace might have cracked it.
Pace created HundredX to provide data and insights about customers’ experience to companies as diverse as Columbia Sportswear, Toyota, Draft Kings and the San Diego Padres, to name just a few.
He also created HundredX to partner with nonprofit organizations who are supporting causes in sectors that include healthcare, social services, animal welfare, education, scholarship programs, youth sports and the arts.
To get data, Pace’s team develops emoji-based surveys on more than 3,000 brands, and nonprofit partners crowdsource survey participants among their supporters. Nonprofits receive up to $2 for each survey completed, so their supporters are inclined not only to take surveys themselves, but to pass the word along and encourage others to do the same.
To date, HundredX has provided more than $15 million for more than 1,000 causes, many of which are guided by small, community-focused organizations.
“We call it data for good,” Pace said. “The cool thing is that almost every single person can support their cause. All they need to have is an opinion and a phone. We love that HundredX has the ambition of a for-profit with the heart of a non-profit. Our data is better for it, and so are customers’ decisions.”
HundredX’s mission – to do well at business while doing good in the world – is one of the reasons Pace received the College of Business’s 2023 Weatherford Award. The award celebrates Oregonians who have changed the face of business throughout the region and the world by advancing entrepreneurship, innovation and social progress.
“One of the things I like about OSU strategy is that it leans into innovation,” Pace said. “To be recognized for that and service are two really cool aspects of our business. I am honored to be associated with innovation and entrepreneurship.”
In February, Forbes released their “Customer Experience All-Stars” list, using data that their partner, HundredX, collected. Two of the top 15 companies, See’s Candies and Dutch Bros., are headed by OSU alumni, a fact that makes Pace proud.
For Pace, attending OSU opened up a wider world of experiences that prepared him for life beyond college. He and his wife, Jennifer, have been paying that forward since 2008, when, in partnership with the Oregon State University Foundation, they created the Rob & Jennifer Pace Finance Student Endowment Fund for Experiential Learning. The fund provides support for internships, experiences and international exchange programs.
“OSU was kind of a portal for me that provided a very comfortable transition to campus and to life beyond campus,” he said. “When you have the kind of upbringing I did and are fortunate enough to rise up in business, you ask yourself, ‘Okay, how do we make this better for everyone?’”
Pace’s goal for HundredX is to give away $500,000 a day to non-profits … and to help businesses find their north star.
“We want to create a world in which people are heard,” Pace said. “Imagine business leaders hearing from a really diverse group of people about the truth, so that they can make the right decisions and serve their customers better. That would be huge, right?”
If you are a nonprofit and would like to talk with HundredX, or if you are a business leader interested in purchasing data for good, please visit: hundredx.com.