Please join Thomas Otter and me this Thursday, May 6th at 8:00 am Pacific for the SaaS Product Power Breakfast on Clubhouse with special guest Brett Queener, partner at Bonfire Ventures, former President & COO at SmartRecruiters, product-line general manager at both Salesforce.com and Siebel, and member of the board of directors at Aforza, Atrium, ClearedIn, Cube, Invoca, Lytics, Pendo, SmartRecruiters, and Spekit.
Our topic will be The Product Superpowers That Few Flex: Intention and Conviction.
We aim to cover the following questions:
What was it like running product for Marc Benioff? (Or, for that matter, Tom Siebel?)
What do you look for when evaluating products for seed-stage investments?
Cadence: daily / monthly / quarterly releases — which is best and why?
What in your mind is a world-class product manager?
With Brett, the action is sure to be cutting, frank, insightful, fast-paced — and funny. Content warning: when Brett and I get together, the errant F-bomb has been known to drop, so this may be our first R-rated episode.
Bring a friend — it should be a crackling session. If you need a Clubhouse invite, ask. And for those who can’t make it live, the SaaS Product Power Breakfast is now available in podcast form, so it will be recorded and you can always listen to it later.
After struggling to record them , we (or I should say the Thomas part of “we” who did all the work) succeeded on our most recent episode , which features a dazzling interview with entrepreneur, former Salesforce executive, and now venture capitalist (VC) Scott Beechuk of Norwest Venture Partners.
Or, for your convenience, I’ve embedded the episode with Scott below.
See you Thursdays at 8:00 am Pacific for our future episodes. Block your calendar, please. And tell a friend!
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 Clubhouse, like Snapchat, is built around a philosophy of ephemerality so recording is deliberately not a feature and the app seems to disable the iPhone’s recording ability as well. (The app also has other quirks, like refusing to connect to and play over my Bluetooth speaker.) That said, some people record rooms on Clubhouse and the protocol, which we follow, is to both put a red ball in the room title and announce that the room is being recorded.
 Ask Thomas about the gear he had to buy and how he’s now setup as a world-class podcaster. He’s got a pretty cool setup.
Thus far, we’ve had sessions with guests: Thomas; Dave; former Hyperion, Oracle and Planful EPM product leader Mark Bauer; and former Oracle and Salesforce product leader and Skyflow founder and CEO Anshu Sharma.
In response to both our experience and listener requests, we’re now starting to conceptualize these sessions as “podcasts recorded in front of a live studio audience” so we can get the best of both live audience engagement and Internet-scale reach. Ergo, we should shortly (hopefully starting with Anshu’s episode) be posting (potentially lightly edited) recordings of the sessions in podcast form. More later on that.
Which brings us to our next session, 4/22/21 at 8:00 AM Pacific, where we’ll be interviewing special guest, entrepreneur, ex-Salesforce product leader turned venture capitalist, Scott Beechuk, of Norwest Venture Partners. Scott and I worked together at Salesforce almost a decade ago and work together today with Bluecore. This should be a great session!
Areas that we plan to touch on:
What VCs look for in product teams
How to hire top product talent
How to accelerate the roadmap
How Scott made the transition from product leader to venture capitalist
What Scott takes from the world of music to the world of product
Our special guest is Mark Bauer, a career product leader who started on the end-user side as a business planner at Pepsi, flipped to the vendor side at OLAP category creator Arbor Software, which was acquired by Hyperion Solutions which in turn was acquired by Oracle, and then quit a perfectly good job at Oracle to do it all over again as one of the earliest employees at Host Analytics.
In the middle of Mark’s tenure at Host, he took a sabbatical to lead a non-profit (LaunchCode) which provides free education to help people launch their careers in technology.
So Mark really has done it all: from Pepsi to Oracle, from behemoths to ten-person startups, from category leaders to category creators, from corporates to non-profits, Mark’s been there and done that.
In this episode, Dave and Thomas will talk to Mark about topics including:
What makes for success in product management?
Scaling an organization with proper PM ratios
The biggest differences between PM at small and large companies
Working effectively with offshore development and PM teams
Difference he’s seen in PM across different countries (e.g., US, India, Israel, UK)
How to best serve the constituents of PM?
Inbound vs. outbound PM?
Maybe we’ll even sneak in a conversation about technical debt
Thanks to those who joined us for the second session in our enterprise SaaS Product Power Breakfast series, Thursdays at 8AM. The link to our third session is here.
Dave shouldn’t use airpods (and won’t henceforth). And we need to follow mute/unmute protocol better as these devices pick up the slightest noise and jam the audio of the speaker.
We covered what I see as the number one risk in product management as expressed by the all too frequent epitaph: “they weren’t strategic.” That is, in their quest to keep everyone happy too many PM leaders end up steadily advancing in small increments across a broad front. In their effort to keep everyone happy, they make no one happy.
We discussed the bicycle wheel problem in PM: the PM sits at the center of a wheel with lots of spokes and hardest part of the job is managing the pull from each of them. Spokes, e.g., include: sales/AEs, sales/SEs, product marketing, analyst relations, customer success, customer support, professional services, existing customers, prospective customers, the CTO, engineering (e.g., technical debt), and more.
We had a great discussion of technical debt and types of it: platform-driven (e.g., built on an outdated one), shortcut-driven (e.g., deliberately took shortcuts), architectural (e.g., designed it the wrong way, overlooked redundancy), and execution-driven (e.g., wrote bad code).
We touched on the notion of internal platform, a topic worth a session in its own right.
We discussed technical debt vs. legacy code. (See this for a great discussion of the latter.) We discussed legacy org vs. legacy code (i.e., with a legacy org there’s little point in refactoring legacy code as you’re likely to repeat the same mistakes).
We touched on Trust Releases as a great strategy for managing technical debt, and the role of architects in them.
We talked a bit about the challenges involved in adding a second product — a topic large enough to warrant a future session on the transition and associated pitfalls, or as Thomas calls it, the (perilous) second album problem.
We discussed the difference between existing core product, new potential core product and bright shiny object (BSO) product/features designed to keep the company at the front of the industry conversation.
We discussed strategic vs. opportunistic customers and the CEO’s ability to force sales to “sell what’s on the truck,” particularly to opportunistic customers — if it’s a clearly expressed and enforced ground rule.
We (barely) touched on the concept of “holistic PM” and why/how PMs should avoid becoming feature addicts and think of themselves more as GMs, even if the company is years away from having an actual GM structure.
We hope to see you on session 3, Thursday, April 8th, and 8AM Pacific.
Look for differences, not similarities. (Saying “Clubhouse is like talk radio” is the same as saying “Twitter is like group text messaging.” Yes and no, but mostly no.)
Special guest Jason Lemkin was a Tasmanian Devil who — while he blew up my carefully planned structure (think: Eisenhower on planning) — left in his wake a slew of super interesting questions; I literally didn’t sleep well that evening because my head was still spinning.
Thus, overall I’d give the session an A for thought-provocation and a C for structure. But we’re new to the medium, trying to figure it out, and serendipity is definitely part of the equation.
Questions Provoked, Topics for Future Discussion
To what extent should we talk to startups and founders versus large enterprise product managers (PMs)?
How valid is commonality-spotting across unicorns (the spotting is subjective and are the commonalities valid drivers or rabbit’s feet)?
The age-old question of how to measure engineering productivity? Can it even be done? Is it worth trying?
Well, we just finished the first episode (“Dave interviews Thomas“) of our Enterprise SaaS Product Power Breakfast series and wow, was it crazy. In addition to our regularly scheduled interview on product management with Thomas, we had:
A guest appearance from the ever-brilliant Jason Lemkin, EchoSign founder, VC, and creator of SaaStr — thanks for coming!
A surprise cameo from Dharmesh Shah, cofounder and CTO of HubSpot (who I think Jason pulled up ) — thanks for coming!
While it was definitely a romp in terms of structure (or lack thereof), it was high energy, full of great content, and fun.
So, we’re going to try it again next week with Episode #2: Thomas Interviews Dave. Topics on the agenda include: product management, product strategy, product positioning, and product roadmaps.
Maybe he can control the room better than I did. See you there!
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 I was following the “it can’t be that Dharmesh” and the “let celebrities be audience members in peace” principles.
I’m Dave Kellogg, advisor, director, consultant, angel investor, and blogger focused on enterprise software startups.
I bring a unique perspective to startup challenges having 10 years’ experience at each of the CEO, CMO, and independent director levels across 10+ companies ranging in size from zero to over $1B in revenues.
From 2012 to 2018, I was CEO of cloud EPM vendor Host Analytics, where we quintupled ARR while halving customer acquisition costs in a competitive market, ultimately selling the company in a private equity transaction.
Previously, I was SVP/GM of the $500M Service Cloud business at Salesforce; CEO of NoSQL database provider MarkLogic, which we grew from zero to $80M over 6 years; and CMO at Business Objects for nearly a decade as we grew from $30M to over $1B in revenues. I started my career in technical and product marketing positions at Ingres and Versant.
I love disruption, startups, and Silicon Valley and have had the pleasure of working in varied capacities with companies including Bluecore, Cyral, FloQast, GainSight, MongoDB, Recorded Future, and Tableau.
I previously sat on the boards of Granular (agtech, acquired by DuPont for $300M), Aster Data (big data, acquired by Teradata for $325M), and Nuxeo (content services, acquired by Hyland / Thoma Bravo).
I periodically speak to strategy and entrepreneurship classes at the Haas School of Business (UC Berkeley) and Hautes Études Commerciales de Paris (HEC).