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Unsolicited Feedback

Author: Brian Balfour & Fareed Mosavat

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Tired of interview podcasts? Us too. That's why we created Unsolicited Feedback - the podcast that should have come out 5 years ago, but we're making it anyway. In this podcast, Brian Balfour (Reforge, HubSpot), Fareed Mosavat (Reforge, Slack) and friends provide unfiltered feedback on the products they actually use, along with key product lessons.

Essentially, we're taking the conversations that happen between experts at invite-only happy-hours and delivering them to the podcast platform of your choice.

Although no one asked for their opinions, they're sharing them. It's like eating Goodles when you want Kraft Mac n Cheese, or Olipop when you want Pepsi - it feels wrong, yet so right.

Each week, they analyze recent announcements, features, and releases across product and growth. The hosts make predictions about where Threads and Twitter will be in a year, and analyze unparalleled growth loops at LinkedIn. They give respect where it's due, but also deliver tear-downs when the writing’s on the wall. Sorry, not sorry!

14 Episodes
This week, our dynamic duo, Brian Balfour and Fareed Mosavat, have the pleasure of hosting Chris Savage, the Co-Founder & CEO of Wistia. Our post-Thanksgiving menu features a hearty discussion about InVision's fall (starts at 14:30), spiced up with Chris's “Savage” critique of Humane's product reveal (starts at 36:15). Of course, we couldn't resist visiting the OpenAI drama that's been simmering recently. To round off, Chris shares a product he is excited about, For a full episode summary, exclusive Youtube clips, and more, please join our newsletter at!
Laura Schaffer Dissects Cameo's Rise and Fall; Plus New Benchmarks for Companies in 2024 This week, Brian Balfour and Casey Winters are joined by Laura Schaffer, the VP of Growth at Amplitude. Laura is bringing the heat as we unpack the rise and fall of Cameo and discuss what the latest SaaS benchmarks mean for companies braving the challenging waters ahead in 2024. Our discussion about Cameo begins at 4:30, and the conversation of the Openview VC Benchmarks starts at 39:14. We have a full summary of the episode available at Want to get a full summary and exclusive Youtube clips delivered to your inbox? Sign up for our new weekly email also at
Cem Kansu on OpenAI's DevDay and Airbnb's Strategy Join us with Cem Kansu, VP of Product at Duolingo, as we discuss Duolingo's expansion into math and music (starts immediately), OpenAI's DevDay (starts at 21:15), and Airbnb's bi-annual product announcement (starts at 1:03:05). We’re covering the highlights from our OpenAI discussion below, but join us at for full episode summaries. OpenAI's GPT Store: A New Frontier or a Wild West? 🤠 OpenAI's recent announcement of their GPT store has sent ripples through the tech world. But what does this mean for product and growth professionals? Let's dive in. 🤖 Custom GPTs: A New Era of User Experience 🤖 OpenAI's GPT store allows users to create custom versions of ChatGPT through natural language prompting. This means creating AI models that can advise startup founders, act as math tutors, or even generate content for language learning apps. The possibilities are endless, but we’re skeptical that the first version is a complete success. Why? 1️⃣ Text-based chat functionalities seem limited in a world dominated by engaging graphics accross devices. 2️⃣ The process to get started is still somewhat cumbersome and time-consuming. Is it worth the effort? 🛍️ The GPT Store: A Double-Edged Sword? 🛍️ The GPT store is designed to provide distribution and monetization for creators of GPTs. It's like the app store for AI models. But building a successful app store is no small feat. It requires a robust system for rankings, promotions, search, discovery, and more. Not to mention, handling the back office, fraud protection, and chargebacks. It's a massive undertaking, and one that could distract from OpenAI's core competencies. We also question if GPT has sufficient active users to justify an app store. Successful app stores like Apple and Android have constant active audiences thanks to their devices. 🎯 User Activation: The Key to Success 🎯 One of the biggest challenges with horizontal products like ChatGPT is user activation. Users often struggle to understand what they can do with the product. By creating a GPT store, OpenAI is essentially offloading this activation problem to user-generated solutions. This could potentially drive more traffic and engagement to the platform. But will it be enough to sustain the marketplace? ⚾ A Swing and a Miss, but with Many More At-Bats ⚾ Our hottest take: We're lukewarm on these releases in their current form, but excited for what they could become and respect OpenAI for the swing. We can't remember the last time a DevDay was this highly anticipated. By releasing and iterating, OpenAI shows they essentially have unlimited at-bats, so why not swing? It's clear these new features will unlock new possibilities, but it's likely that the first wave won't have the biggest impact. We're deep in the wild wild west, so we're anticipating some truly crazy initial uses of the custom GPT feature. But, the second wave of movement here is the one we're excited to watch. Are you ready to play? 🎲
Austin Hay Examines What's Next for HubSpot's Newest Acquisition, Clearbit; Plus a Defense of Freemium This week, we're thrilled to discuss the biggest bombshell acquisition in the marketing space - HubSpot's acquisition of Clearbit. To really understand the implications here, we tapped Austin Hay, a renowned expert in marketing technology. Austin, who currently leads MarTech at Ramp, has previously worked with prominent companies like Branch and Runway and advised industry leaders like Notion, Walmart, and Postmates on their marketing technology strategies. Today he joins us to discuss: 1️⃣ HubSpot’s acquisition of Clearbit (Starts at 2:36) 2️⃣ A blog post by Bobby Pinero, the insightful CEO of Equals, where he tackles the complexities of Freemium (52:48) Below, we’ll unpack the critical takeaways from our in-depth discussion on HubSpot's pivotal acquisition of Clearbit. For summaries of our rebuttal of Bobby’s Freemium takedown and Austin's views on which Martech tools are underrated and which are overrated, you’ll either need to subscribe to our new email list at, or just listen to the episode 🙂. Finally, scroll all the way down for some key definitions for those who haven’t taken Reforge’s Martech course. 1️⃣ HubSpot's Clearbit Acquisition Clearbit has three core products: Prospect: A contact database, much like ZoomInfo. 📚 Enrich: A tool for enhancing your contact data. 📈 Reveal: A tool for identifying anonymous web traffic. 🧩 Here's why this acquisition is a win-win, and a word of caution for Clearbit customers. 💡🔔 1️⃣ Why it makes sense for HubSpot: HubSpot is uniquely positioned to extract value. It can integrate Clearbit into all of its different hubs. 🔄 It aids the core business. CRMs are evolving to auto-fill over time, becoming more powerful and user-friendly. 💼 A seamless Clearbit integration could provide particularly strong value for HubSpot’s small to mid-market customers. 🎯 2️⃣ Why it makes sense for Clearbit: Data has been commoditized. Multiple vendors offer enrichment services making Clearbit's core competency an add-on. 🌐 Clearbit didn’t own the workflow, limiting its growth. 🚦 3️⃣ Key Questions: Will this still be a standalone product in a few years? We think not. ⏱️ How will AI factor into this? Could AI mine consumer data in an aggregate way? Or, could it leverage Clearbit data to auto-customize emails? 🤔 ⚠️ A word of caution for Clearbit customers: If you're not a HubSpot user, it might be time to explore alternatives. 🧭 Key Definitions: Good Redundancy: The ability to use multiple tools to perform a subfunction, with a clearly defined preferred tool. 🔄 Bad Redundancy: When a single vendor performs the same function across different parts of the stack at distinct times, leading to data becoming out of sync, outdated, or inconsistent. 📉 CDP: A system that helps companies unify customer data from multiple sources. 📊 CRM: A tool to manage interactions with current and potential customers. 💼 Enrichment: A process that enhances existing information with additional, relevant data. 📈 Reverse ETL: The process of extracting data from a data warehouse and loading it into cloud-based operational systems. ☁️
Darius Contractor Joins to Unpack Arc's Viral Loops and Show the Slack Redesign Haters They’re Wrong This week, Brian and Fareed are joined by Darius Contractor, the current Chief Growth Officer at Darius has a background in growth, product, and engineering, and his experience spans some of the world's most notable companies. These include early social media platform Bebo and renowned unicorns like Facebook, Dropbox, and Airtable. This week, we're all about the praise 🙌! 1️⃣ First, we're discussing why Arc is succeeding in a market crowded with powerful incumbents. 2️⃣ Next, we're defending Slack's redesign against the wave of criticism in our Slack channels and X comments. Plus, Brian, Fareed, and Darius will each share their favorite viral memories 🚀 And, we're getting an exclusive preview of Darius' new mental model focused on gravity 🧑‍🚀 🔥 Arc browser is stirring things up...and here's why it's a game changer. 👣 Virality is in its DNA 👣 Arc nails the concept of virality by creating a value exchange where both the sender and receiver of shared content benefit. As Darius quips, "when things go viral, you want to make the person who sends the virality look smart and the person who receives the virality get some like quota of value, right?" 🎯 Super Serving a Niche Audience (Fareed) 🎯 Arc effectively caters to a specific ideal customer profile, the tech enthusiast. It facilitates quick link finding, enables seamless multitasking, and maintains links and thoughts at the forefront with Spaces. Even minor details, such as their AI feature that intuitively renames downloads, impress their core audience. As Fareed eloquently puts it, "And I was like, that was really cool.” 🎮Browser Goes Multiplayer 🎮 Arc transforms the traditional browser experience into a multiplayer experience. It’s like the Stone Soup of Virality, Darius Notes. Everyone can contribute a little something difference, and the value of the whole increases. ✨ UI Tweaks for The Win ✨ Minor tweaks in the UI, like moving the navigation bar to the left, make the browsing experience more user-friendly. It's a simple yet effective change that taps into trends in screen sizes. "The left nav makes sense because screens are getting wider... So it just makes sense to use the extra width as the kind of browser bar." In this episode, we delve deeper into Arc, its unique features, and potential impact. We also highlight key insights that founders or product leaders should take note of. We're here to defend Slack Everyone's favorite workplace messenger has moved the cheese, and the world has been set ablaze. Slack's redesign hits the validity bar. First, what is the point of a redesign? It has to do two things to be worth upsetting customers. 1️⃣ it has to solve a core user problem and 2️⃣ it has to set Slack up for a strategic benefit. In our view, this solves numerous problems. 1️⃣ ✅ The redesign is a game-changer for power users, by making DMs and activity more front and center. It also enables users with multiple workspaces to toggle more seamlessly between the workspaces. And finally, it gets rid of the sequence problems with Threads (Darius can't even open his threads unless he's prepared to get through all of them because they are so hard to track). We also feel it's setting up for a Strategic Benefit, although it's hard to be certain this early 2️⃣ ✅ It solves a major problem for enterprise clients who might be in multiple workspaces per company. And, the redesign could be seen as Slack's attempt to make space for non-messaging type features. 💪 Word to the wise - Immediate praise for redesigns is rare, so don't expect them. For those doing a redesign, just know no matter how good it is, people will be upset. So make sure you brace for impact and have clear communication. To listen to their complete discussion on Slack, hear epic virality stories, and discover Darius' new mental model about gravity, tune into the full episode on your preferred platform.
This week, we are joined by Crystal Widjaja, a data-driven product expert. Crystal has held product and data leadership roles at various companies, including Kumu and Gojek, a super app and delivery and logistics platform in Southeast Asia. In these roles, she led data teams and product teams. Crystal is also a prolific contributor to Reforge, providing valuable insights through our programs, blog, and artifacts. If you enjoy what you hear in the podcast, you can find more of Crystal's rich insights at This week, we will be discussing: Jason Cohen's blog post on "Metrics That Cannot Be Measured Even in Retrospect" and the challenges faced by data-driven product leaders. 📊 The lessons that product leaders can learn from the failure of Convoy, a major player in the freight brokerage business. 💡 Challenges of Being a Data-Driven Product Leader We're starting with Jason Cohen's article in which he makes three key points: 1) Some widely discussed metrics, such as the impact of a single feature on product revenue, are not easily quantifiable. 🔢 Why? Customers often ask for many features during the buying process, but they end up not using them. However, this doesn't mean that these features don't affect revenue or aren't important. ❓💰❗ Our take? It's a bit crazy how many product management books and blogs tell you to measure the impact of a feature on acquisition, retention, and monetization. 📚📈 Instead, use TARS, a framework that stands for Target Audience, Adoption, Retention, and Satisfaction. ✨🎯😃 Or, instead of measuring the positive impact on revenue, Shashir Mehrotra suggests measuring the churn rate if you remove the feature to evaluate its impact. ⏪➡️⚖️ 2) Measuring the impact of incremental activities on customer churn can be challenging. Why? There's often a big lag between the action happening and the customer churning, making it impossible to measure the single action that caused the churn. Crystal thinks this is the wrong point to make. In general, there's a sliding scale of metrics from difficult to easy things to measure, but nothing is really impossible. The real question is, for the impossible side of the scale, can we come up with a proxy that's good enough? Do I really need perfect data? "You can come up with a proxy for everything, right?" - Crystal 3) Measuring the probability of risks is more of a "cover your ass" activity than actually being useful? 🤔 Why? Whether something has a 30% or a 70% probability of happening, it could still happen. So, "don't put probabilities on the slide at all. Only list the risks that you feel are so important that they either merit action or awareness." ❌📊 Fareed agrees - there are only two types of risks that matter: Ones with a very high probability of happening ❗ Ones that are so severe that their impact is existential ❗ Anything other than those two should just be a "deal with it when it happens" situation. 💼🕒 Do a pre-mortem. Just sit down in a room and say, if this project fails, why would it have failed? Then figure out which of those fail points you want to try and preempt or solve against. 💭💡 Avoid a "Bike Shedding Discussion." "You are designing a nuclear factory, but everyone's spending all this time deciding, where should we put the bike storage shed? That must be the most important thing to talk about and define, and I'm just gonna force the conversation on this smaller piece, versus the like, building of the nuclear factory." - Crystal 🚳🚲🏭 Want to hear more on Crystal's metaverse approach to data analytics and discover why Brian, Fareed, and Crystal dislike benchmarks? How about hearing the hard truths about Convoy's downfall? Listen to the full episode! It's time to level up your product decisions! 💥
This week, Unsolicited Feedback is thrilled to welcome Patrick Campbell. Patrick was founder and CEO of ProfitWell, an analytics tool for subscription companies, which was sold to payments company Paddle about a year ago for $200 million. This week’s episode features: 1️⃣ Patrick Campbell’s Pricing Corner as he dishes out hot-takes on Unity’s pricing faux pa, AI’s monetization challenges, and the state of the macroeconomy (starts at 12:22) 2️⃣ A Deep Dive into Loom’s growth models in light of their acquisition by Atlassian. Plus, is the acquisition a win-win? (starts at 30:49) The Growth Loops that led to Loom’s Acquisition Loom Growth Loops: Loom utilized several growth loops that contributed to their remarkable growth. One of the main loops was their viral acquisition engine, which was driven by their free account offering. It was a User Generated, User Distributed Loop consisting of the following steps: Entry: The user creates a Loom video. Trigger: The user shares that Loom video with a colleague or client. Action: The colleague or client views or comments on that video. Back to Entry: Some subset of those colleagues or clients will begin using Loom. Environmental & Manufactured Loops Power Loom’s Retention Environmental loops are mechanisms that utilize the user's environment or external factors to strengthen and maintain engagement with a product or service. These loops rely on the context in which the product is used and create a seamless experience that encourages users to continue their interactions. Specifically, Loom is available in all the places where you might need to record: in your applications, on your desktop, and in your browser. It is constantly accessible, just one click away. Loom also offers a strong manufactured loop to combat camera anxiety: Trigger: The loop starts when a user creates a Loom Video and shares it with a colleague or client. Action: The colleague or client is then prompted to take an action, such as playing or commenting on the video. Reward: Every time someone comments on or views the video, Loom sends an email notification to the user, providing a little dopamine boost. This reward gives the user a sense of accomplishment and transparency. Trigger: This reward then triggers a new set of actions as the original user wants to create more videos, thus repeating the loop. Furthermore, Loom has reduced significant friction in the first step by adding AI as a step 1a in the process, which helps clean up the video and gives the core user additional confidence to share it. Looms Monetization Model fueled it’s growth Loom's pricing model is designed to balance acquisition and engagement, with a free plan that allows for viral growth and a paid plan that offers additional features and removes limitations. They have strategically kept Loom's pricing high to maximize revenue from highly engaged users. And they have done a great job packaging it so that for lean-in users, the 5-minute video length cap, 25 videos per month maximum, and Loom branding are enough to encourage them to upgrade, but not so prohibitive that a newer or casual fan of Loom cannot use the product for free. Acquisition was a Win-Win: Atlassian gains a new front-door to sell its other products. "Loom drives the acquisition of logos. This is the next level of fuel for the business." Atlassian has already stated its plans to integrate Loom heavily into its other product lines. Atlassian gains access to new customers in education and customer success, which are slightly further from its core product. Loom achieves much deeper defensibility. Loom avoids the need to become a multi-product company. And, Loom delivers a healthy return for it’s employees and investors! For more Unsolicited Feedback, join us at!
Claire Vo Tackles Monetization Strategy for AI Businesses and Protecting the Super ICs in Product This week, Unsolicited Feedback is thrilled to welcome Claire Vo to the virtual table. Claire, the CPO at Color and former CPO at Optimizely, is known for her prolific Product HotTakes on X! Join us as we dive into an engaging conversation with Claire and get ready for some hot takes as: 1️⃣ This week’s trio analyze the real cost and pricing challenges of new AI products (starts at 10:37) 2️⃣ Brian & Fareed deliver some Unsolicited Feedback on Claire’s views on managing efficient product teams (starts at 48:14) AI’s Monetization Challenges Today’s discussion starts with a Wall Street Journal article detailing how GitHub's Copilot is in the red due to the costs of AI. The debate is fascinating, but ultimately we walk away with three big takeaways: 🏢 AI favors the incumbents: 🏢 Why? High start-up costs, high incremental costs of delivery, and competitive advantages in terms of user base and data richness. Further, large companies like Replit can afford to offer their AI for free as a loss leader, bearing the expense until the cost of delivering AI decreases. 💰 Value-based pricing appears to be the early winner: 💰 Seat-based pricing will eventually decline to zero and may not have an attractive total addressable market (TAM). Brian highlights that cost-plus pricing, where pricing is determined by applying some margin to the cost of goods, presents a few challenges: Is it a strong enough counter-positioning move from a business model perspective to compete against incumbents with more cash, data, and users? How do users perceive value when tokens are introduced? Do tokens inadvertently create friction? If you can develop a solution that delivers tangible and measurable value, and customers can easily recognize this value is lower than their best alternative, the purchase is an easy yes. 🤔 It's not about real value. It's about perceived value. 🤔 Claire says perceived value is often a function of two things. Firstly, it considers the cost of having a human or a group of humans with limited expertise perform a certain task. Second, it considers the amount of enterprise value you know the product will produce. 💡 "I think both of those things are very quickly going to shift in folks' minds over the next couple of years. I think the perceived value of human expertise is going to collapse." 💡- Claire In fact, Claire envisions a future where a department head, instead of thinking about headcount, thinks about budget. They can then decide what portion of that budget to allocate to humans versus AI! Managing Efficiency in Product ❗️The problem: ❗️ "Almost everything about growing the size and scale of your team has an immediate and detrimental impact on the thing that matters most: building awesome products. Unless you actively fight against these effects, you'll wake up one day with a very effective bureaucracy, but a very poor product." - Claire 💪 How do we battle against this? 💪 1) 😎 Smaller teams to achieve big things: 😎 Actually ingraining this mentality in an organization that needs to grow is difficult because all of the industry incentives are just fundamentally flipped in the opposite direction. 2) 🔑 Protect and Incentivize Senior ICs: 🔑 Teams are best served by more star players on the field, not by more coaches on the sidelines. How to fix it? Eliminate financial incentives to becoming a manager by making the IC path equally or even more attractive. This means that folks who actually choose the coach path do it for the right reasons, and not the wrong reasons. 3) 🚀 Lead by example if you are a product leader: 🚀 Emphasize that "there's no pride in size and scope. There's only pride in output and impact." - Claire
🎙️ In this week's episode of Unsolicited Feedback, Joff Redfern, the former Chief Product Officer at Atlassian and current Venture Partner at Menlo Ventures, joins the podcast. Fareed takes a bye-week, and Brian welcomes back Adam Fishman as his co-host. This week's discussion includes: 1️⃣ Unlocking the Potential of AI Businesses (Starts at 17:05) 2️⃣ The Release of Adobe's Web-Version of Photoshop (Starts at 1:06:41) We also kick off the episode with Joff introducing us to the Swiss Cheese Method. Curious? Find out more by watching the episode. 🚀 AI's Onboarding Conundrum 🤖💼 Have you ever felt like an AI's forgotten your conversations? 😕 Joff certainly has. He wants a personal assistant like the Chief of Staff from Veep, who knows him inside out and can anticipate his needs. But instead, he gets generic responses and no personalization. 😒 So, what's the real issue here? Why are AI companies falling short of the Job to be Done here? Our experts feel it might be the onboarding experience. What makes onboarding critical? 🤔 Onboarding serves two purposes: educating the user about the application's capabilities, and personalizing the application. Unfortunately, AI companies have not cracked the code here. Why? 1️⃣ Eliminating Friction at All Costs: AI companies focus on reducing friction at the expense of personalizing the experience. Good AI performance requires learning about the user, which takes time and effort. A little good friction can go a long way! ⚙️ 2️⃣ Desire for the largest possible TAM: Companies aim to solve problems for everyone, but we're all unique. Instead, Brian suggests a solution: Starting more narrowly and taking power users who have customized and figured out how to get their job done, and transforming their knowledge into a context window that becomes a new input. Joff expands on this idea and proposes unlocking many possibilities with a few key decisions. He suggests using pairwise refinement to indicate your preferences and offers options for different response modes: long or concise, funny or serious. 🌍🤝 3️⃣ Trust creates a Chicken and Egg problem: Without a detailed onboarding, AI usage is underwhelming. And without trust, users won't share their time and info. It's time for AI companies to reinvent the onboarding process and earn that trust! 🙌 Join the discussion and share your thoughts! How can we make AI onboarding easy but effective? 🌟💬 Adobe’s Web-Version of Photoshop 🎉 Adobe has released a web version of Photoshop, and it offers new collaboration, the ability for non-members to view and comment, and a firefly generative AI model! 🔥🎨 Overall, our cynical experts are pretty complimentary. 1️⃣ The team has brilliantly transformed the desktop version of Photoshop into a user-friendly and streamlined web product. 👏✨ 2️⃣ Say goodbye to solo editing! Photoshop is now a multiplayer experience with the exciting addition of collaboration. No Photoshop experience required to comment and view. 🤝🔍 3️⃣ This update expands Photoshop's audience, bringing its power to a broader user base. 🌍💪 However, there are a few areas that still need improvement. Currently, there is limited connective tissue to other Adobe products, and collaboration doesn't feel like a first-class citizen just yet. 🧩🤷‍♂️ Nevertheless, these additions might be a great defense for Adobe. If they can provide enough value to prevent users from switching to platforms like Canva or Figma, then it might just be good enough. 🛡️💼 What are your thoughts on these new features?
This week, Unsolicited Feedback welcomes Elena Verna - the OG of PLG, former SVP growth at Survey Monkey, and renowned PLG advisor to Miro, Amplitude and MongoDB. Now, she’s the Interim Head of Growth at Dropbox, and trust us, you’re not going to want to miss what she has to say as today’s trio: 🥅 Discuss what it takes to be a solopreneur expert (starts immediately) 🥊 Battle it out with AI-written PLG trivia (starts at 9:30) 🔥 Debate whether Airtable’s shift to enterprise is a disaster in the making (starts at 19:54) 🔎 Evaluate Slack’s move to multi-product-company with new workflow tools and AI features (59:06) This uncovers a deeper conversation around the dangers of betting on a single growth loop. Airtable's Shift to Enterprise Airtable's CEO has announced a shift to enterprise, which has caused concern for Elena and Fareed. Why? The word "SHIFT." 🛫 Growth loops hit plateaus. When that happens, you need to layer other growth loops on top, not shift away from the plateaued loop. It seems from the announcement that this isn't a layering of enterprise on top of PLG, but rather a shift away from PLG. 🥾 It's likely that many enterprise wins were a result of Airtable's PLG motion. Without being inside the company, Elena and Fareed have observed patterns where companies recognize the value of enterprise clients they're closing, but fail to acknowledge the impact that PLG had on closing those clients. 🏁 A shift to Top-Down Sales is a dangerous shortcut. It requires a different set of skills and organizational culture to successfully empower top-down without a bottom-up motion. "The moment you lose that user love, and the moment that you lose that end-user focus, it gives you false hope because you are able to close a few more deals than you did before, but then the root of those deals starts to go down." ~ Elena However, Brian wonders if there is ever a case in which it does make sense to truly ignore and abandon PLG in exchange for an Enterprise motion. Slack’s Move to Multi-Product Slack announces four new products, and everyone has a take: Sales Elevate, a deep integration with Salesforce tools Workflow Builder, enabling custom workflows Slack AI, channel recaps, threads summaries, etc., Slack Lists, a task management interface 💥 While the concepts are exciting, Fareed worries it might be a repeat of the Zoom discussion from the Adam Fishman episode. But these are more focused releases, and it could be their best bet to capture more value. ✨ Elena is thrilled about going multi-product after years of a lack of innovation, but she's concerned about one thing - Slack's AI play. Slack is where human interaction happens now, the heartbeat of remote companies. If we replace too much with AI, will we lose the ability to truly connect with people? 🔮 This leads to a prediction for a larger pendulum swing. As AI scales, human-focused companies will win the Anti-AI trend. Could Slack be that winner or will it’s lean into AI have negative effects on it’s ability to foster genuine connections? 🤔 Finally, it seems like Slack is trying to become the all-encompassing, single-platform system of record for companies. Are Microsoft or Google already leading the way? Will fears of consolidated power create an opening for Slack? We'll see... 🤔 Next week, we’re sitting down with Joff Redfern, who is most recently chief product officer at Atlassian! Much to look forward to!
Our third guest at Unsolicited Feedback is none other than Ravi Mehta - previously the CPO at Tinder, Product Director at Facebook, and VP of Product at Tripadvisor. Now, he's the co-founder and CEO of Outpace, and Ravi is not afraid to swipe left as they 🧳 Analyze the migration from Jira to Linear, including the conditions that triggered Ravi’s switch (starts at 1:32) 🔥 Discuss Airtable's move to conquer the up-market (starts at 27:43) 🔮 Offer some hindsight Unity probably would have appreciated heading into their pricing change this week(starts at 50:41) These discussions will uncover the secrets behind switching costs and the eternal question of whether to serve a niche or go for mass appeal. Jira Gets Bit by a Nasty Bug [Filing System] Linear has just announced their latest fundraising, and experts are discussing their momentum. The question arises: How has Linear managed to attract customers away from Jira, considering Jira's powerful capabilities? Ravi explains that there are two main reasons for his dramatic shift: 🤯 Jira has become too complex. It is powerful, but complicated, and perhaps has fallen into a power user trap 🤯 🐞 Jira has neglected to focus on making the bug filing process seamless, whereas Linear has successfully addressed this issue. 🐞 Fareed mentions that "the people who benefit the most from project management tools are project managers. However, for the engineers, designers, and bug filers—the ones doing the actual work—the end user experience is poor." 🤔 "If the planning process places all the responsibility on persona X, but the value goes to persona Y, failure is inevitable if the experience is bad for persona X." 💡 Then, the discussion turns to the significant topic at hand: 🔍🗣️ People Overestimate the Magnitude of Switching Costs. 💼 Conditions that enable someone to come into a market and disrupt the incumbent without significant innovation include: Low switching costs 🔄 Solving a very significant problem. ❗ Hatred for the incumbent. Simply being better than X is not enough if X is not that bad. 😕 Serving a sub-persona that is both high value and vocal. 🙌 Is it possible to avoid the power user trap? 🪄💥 Either you can focus on the power user, but risk alienating new customers (e.g., Salesforce). Or you choose to remain simple but accept that some customers will outgrow the product (e.g., HubSpot). The latter option is more challenging, and the trio express concerns that Airtable may be the next victim as they move up-market, away from their Product-Led Growth (PLG) roots. Who else is in danger? ❗⚠️ 🎨 Ravi believes Figma is at risk and for Figma Super-fans Fareed & Brian, jaws hit the floor. Ravi defends his stance saying, it seems to focus too much on new products and features for technical users, neglecting the non-technical users. 🎨 💬 In another surprising hot take, Fareed suggests Slack is also in danger due to communication overload. Although it is not entirely Slack's fault, the product has not effectively addressed this issue. 💬 🌐 Brian mentions Zoom. Why? They are adding a ton of new features and products. At the same time have not developed the strength of consumer grade design and user experience. The combo leads to the product feeling overly complex and frustration starting to take hold Can We Hit Control-Z on Unity’s Surprise Pricing Shift? 😮🎮 For those who are not aware, Unity announced a series of new pricing changes that will take effect in 3 months. The most significant change is that they will now charge per installation. It’s clear Unity is in a real pickle at the moment 🥒, but where did they go wrong and what can we learn from it? 1) 🤔 Didn’t think about their customers’ business models. 2) 😵 It’s COMPLICATED. 3) 🔒 They broke trust. 4) ❌ It’s not aligned to the value that Unity is helping them create. 5) 👎 No Win-Win or Give and Take here. Let's hope Unity can find a way to respawn ASAP! 🤞🕹️
🚀 Check out the latest episode of Unsolicited Feedback! 🎧 In our third installment, we're joined by the legendary Casey Winters, Reforge program partner and prolific growth expert. 🌟 In this episode, we: 🔮 Revisit our predictions for where Twitter and Threads will be in 1 year (starts at 1:21) 🔍 Uncover a hidden gem in HubSpot’s latest product release (starts at 14:26) 💡 Discuss the viability of the creator economy (starts at 44:17) 🏬 Understand Casey’s perspective on the future of marketplaces (starts at 1:07:41) Tune in now to get the inside scoop on these topics and more! 🎙️🔥 HubSpot’s latest release HubSpot's annual inbound conference serves as a platform for announcing new product releases, with a particular focus on AI-driven solutions. However, Brian argues that the true standout is not the anticipated AI-driven solutions, but rather a hidden gem that seems to be overshadowed - the Commerce Hub. 👀 🛒 The Commerce Hub is HubSpot's latest product offering, which aims to integrate payments, billing, and subscriptions into their ecosystem. The experts believe that the Commerce Hub could be a game-changer for HubSpot for several reasons: 💰 It presents an opportunity for HubSpot to replicate the success of companies like Shopify, which generate a significant portion of their revenue from transaction fees and merchant solutions. 💼 HubSpot's SMB focus makes them uniquely equipped to release this offering. Unlike Salesforce's enterprise clients, SMB customers prefer simplicity and having everything under one roof. 🔝 HubSpot's focus on cross-selling and expanding their product suite within their mid-market customer base has been a key driver of their growth, following a successful B2B product expansion playbook. But, Casey shares a reservation that betting against Shopify is a dangerous game. Only time will tell. 🤔⏳ Viability of the Creator Economy Hunter Walk's recent article "The only thing which has failed about the creator economy thus far as venture capitalists attempt to get their piece, why there's never been a better time to be a creator," struck a chord with Fareed. 💰 In the article, Walk states that it has never been easier for creators to make $50,000 per year doing what they love. Casey highlights a few key caveats: 🎯 Different segments of creators have different needs, so a one-size-fits-all approach doesn't work 🎯 📦 Fulfillment alone is not enough to help creators monetize effectively, or is a venture back-able business 📦 📈 Creators need assistance in driving demand, which many creator economy companies fail to provide 📈 Brian points out the tension between creators' desire for demand and their desire to own their own audience. 🤝 📉 High take rates can lead to creators leaving once they become more successful 📉 Fareed suggests that there are two types of companies in the creator economy: low-margin businesses that prioritize efficiency and high-margin businesses that focus on craftsmanship. ⚖️ Most creator economy startups are low-margin plays, but can you imagine a high-margin creator economy play? ⚖️ Future of Marketplace Businesses We wrap up this episode by getting Casey's bullish perspective on the future of marketplaces: 📲🔄 Good businesses require platform shifts to enable growth opportunities. We haven't had one since the mobile phone era, and we are overdue for a new one. 📲🔄 🏠🍽️ Airbnb and DoorDash may have reached a size where they can serve as platforms for venture-scale businesses. 🏠🍽️ 🧩 All we need are the right ingredients: clear fragmentation of supply and a high frequency of need on the demand side. 🧩 Join us at for more and subscribe to the podcast. We have another episode coming Thursday with Ravi Mehta!!
This week, we have special guest Adam Fishman, original proclaimed Growth Daddy (defined as a father and a growth expert), a Reforge mainstay, and formerly of Lyft, Patreon, and Imperfect Foods. Today he and our hosts are discussing Figma for Dev, Zoom’s COVID strategy, and Twitter’s Creator Payouts. 🎨→ ⌨️ Figma for Dev from Unsolicited Feedback Figma for Dev offers deep lessons and the experts agree it’s a brilliant move. 💰 Figma unlocked unparalleled PLG through their unconventional pricing strategy: Most tools price per seat, but Figma realized that this creates unnecessary friction because when you pay per seat, there’s often approvals that need to happen to add someone. At Figma, anyone who is not editing does not incur any charges. 🚀 Now, they want to capture revenue from the audience that’s already in their funnel: In every project, there are 5-15x more engineers than designers, greatly increasing the TAM if companies now opt to pay for seats for their engineers who are already used to the platform. 🎯 Focus is the name of the game here as Figma takes a step into the Dev audience: Figma could have built a wide range of features for engineering. Figma chose to focus on the part of engineering that is closest to design. 📹 Zoom’s COVID Product Strategy: Zoom delivers a Growth Daddy Cage Match between Fishman and Balfour, with Mosavat as the mediator. Background: Zoom has recently launched several new products, including Zoom Apps, Zoom Events, and Zoom Video Engagement Center. Round 1: 🐟 Fishman asks, "Is this just a spaghetti at the wall strategy? Who are they building for?" 🔎 But, Balfour commends the Product Velocity of the engineering team. Very impressive! 🔑 Mosavat errs toward Fishman in round one, pulling in a Mike Spicer quote from Sutter Hill Ventures. Mike tweeted that the right strategy is to take a series of sequential bets, not a bunch of bets across a bunch of different things because you learn more each time. Fareed feels like none of these are sequential bets. Round 2: 🐟 Fishman zooms in on clips and basically makes the argument that it lacks all of the pizzazz and UGC magic that makes Loom successful. So combined spaghetti strategy + half-baked products, Fishman is not feeling much love for Zoom right now but challenges Balfour to prove him wrong. 🔎 Balfour decides to take the pro-zoom case! He feels this might just be the Microsoft strategy (which notably has been a successful company). Build 80% of the market and bundle it. Their strengths are tech and their sales machine. That is a winning bet. Bundle and sell when you have great tech and sales. 🐟 Fishman wonders if they are big enough to pull that off. 🔑 Mosavat sides with Fishman here. Microsoft has a billion people using 365, and by the way, is Zoom's biggest competitor with Teams. It's a bad strategy to fight Goliath with the same strategy Goliath is using. "If you don't have a navy, don't go to a sea battle." Final Round: 🔎 Balfour suggests that strategy and execution should be separated. 🐟 Fishman disagrees, arguing that execution cannot be separated from strategy. If Figma had attempted that strategy and produced subpar products, they would have been criticized as well. 🔑 Mosavat identifies Zoom's original sin as the lack of presence or identity outside of meetings. Fareed often quits Zoom between meetings. 🔑 Fareed's lesson is to lean into what Zoom does well. However, ultimately he agrees with Balfour that Zoom is still a great business. It has the following benefits: 📉 Low acquisition cost 💻 Low R&D cost 💰 Great margins 💸 Profitable at IPO 💰 Hadn't raised much money COVID may have created some challenges, but these five core elements remain strong. For more analysis, the opportunity to hear Brian Balfour rap, and to hear what the trio had to say about Twitter's Creator Payouts, listen to the full episode. Like what you're hearing? Please give us a review and a subscribe.
📢 Hey everyone! Welcome to Unsolicited Feedback! In our debut episode, co-hosts Brian Balfour and Fareed Mosavat discuss Twitter's creator monetization and enterprise verification offerings, as well as internal fears at YouTube that their YouTube Shorts feature will cannibalize their core longer-form content. 🐤 Let's start with Twitter/X (we’re still getting used to the new name…): 🐤 🔍 Twitter's recent releases include the Creator Monetization Offering and Enterprise Verification Offering. 👍 You cannot think your way out of a revenue gap. You have to ship your way out of it. Twitter used to be stagnant from a product perspective. Now, they are taking swings at filling revenue gaps. It is okay if some of these swings inevitably fail.  👎 However, experts have reservations about these offerings: It seems that while Twitter was fighting Threads and its own inertia, LinkedIn ate Twitter's lunch - at least in the tech community. Why? Creator Monetization may have alienated creators who treat social as a business. Businesses need predictability, and Twitter's strategy has been anything but predictable. LinkedIn’s incentives are aligned with creator incentives and their product roadmaps remain predictable. As Fareed says, "Cheaper but worse rarely wins. Free, but worse can win." Enterprise Verification is a filler feature, not a leader, and may not offer enough value for users to justify paying for it. Fareed notes that a leader feature is something that people pay for. It is the thing that attracts them to the paid product. Fillers are usually other things that increase the value of that product for you. For example, for Slack, message history is the leader feature, and advanced search and huddles are fillers. For Twitter, the ability to list jobs for a company is a filler, not a leader, and filler features when the same concept is a leader feature at a competitor is hard to charge for. Brian notes that this is why Hubspot made their CRM free, knowing it was a filler feature that wouldn't compete with Salesforce's leader feature CRM. 🩳 Now on to YouTube Shorts: 🩳 🐌 Internal friction errs toward the status quo. 🐌 If user behavior is flowing in a different direction, your time and energy are best spent understanding the new direction and moving yourself toward it. 🤷‍♂️ The YouTube Shorts hasn't made clear the problem it solves. 🤷‍♂️ It's easy to draw surface-level parallels between YouTube Shorts and Instagram Stories, but it's unclear the real problem that Shorts solves for YouTube. Stories solved a real problem for Instagram. It created a way to post without needing to achieve perfection. ✨ New product lines breathe new life into growth strategy. ✨ Ravi Mehta introduced the framework of Creation, Consumption, and Conversations for content and social platforms. You can try to optimize this as much as possible for your existing product, but eventually, your progress will plateau. Brian thinks YouTube figured this out with their core product. Both their move to premium with YouTube TV and their introduction of Shorts create completely new sets of loops to play with. 🪛 It will take time for YouTube creators to understand how to use Shorts. But when it happens, it stands to be powerful. 🪛 Right now, Shorts seems to be like copycat content from TikTok & Reels, rather than things YouTube creators make themselves. However, over time, Fareed expects the legacy YouTube creators to adapt to the new incentives created by Shorts. Join the conversation on Slack & LinkedIn HERE and subscribe to the podcast to hear more Unsolicited Feedback from Brian Balfour, Fareed Mosavat, and upcoming guests like Casey Winters, Elena Verna, Joff Redfern, Andrew Chen, Ravi Mehta, Adam Fishman, and many more.
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