Events July 15, 2014

#ProductSF 2014

Building Better Products


Several weeks ago, Ty Ahmad-Taylor from Samsung and I hosted our second annual #ProductSF event. Our goal in starting #ProductSF last year was to open a conversation around how we can all be better product managers. I’ve found that product managers often spend so much of their efforts working with their teams and other teams across the company to help them be more effective and efficient. So we thought a day where we can step back together and talk about the art and work of actual product management could be helpful for everyone.

Over 150 product managers from SF, Silicon Valley, and as far as Boston joined us to spend a day together on Treasure Island. Most of the speakers were fellow product managers from companies like YouTube, Uber, LinkedIn, Mint, Google, Samsung, and Kickstarter. They shared hands on stories and case studies about their work and experiences. In addition, we had several designers share their thoughts on the best ways for design and product to work together, and a discussion on culture. We kicked off the day learning about Treasure Island (our site for the day) which was a massive feat of design and product management back in the 1930s.

There were so many great talks I encourage you to watch them all. Here are just a couple of my favorite highlights from the day:

  • Mina Radhakrishnan from Uber discussed the importance of designing technology to enable operations to work freely. More work now lets operations iterate with zero engineering involvement later. For example, when Uber delivered kittens, the product was flexible enough for the city teams to do this without any deploys.
  • Vince Maniago from Mint talked about prevention-focused and promotion-focused design and messaging. And what they learned at Mint applying these techniques to their product to increase conversion rates.
  • David Hahn from LinkedIn shared stories from the early days and how they honed in on revenue opportunities by identifying which users were getting the most value out of LinkedIn. He also talked about his approach to talent, focusing on roles where someone will be slightly under water and have to learn rapidly vs only searching for someone who has done X before.
  • Ellen Chisa from Kickstarter gave me a much deeper understanding of the balance between product and art. With only an iterative / data-driven approach, she argued that you may get to a local maximum, but miss the real maximum potential.
  • Shiva Rajamaran from YouTube closed the day with a rousing call to action for every product manager to find and celebrate the awesome things their users and community do. Since that’s the only way to know if you are building the right products.

Since there were so many great talks during the day, we’ve now put them online to share on our Greylock Partners YouTube channel.

In addition, Greylock is starting a community for Product Managers — those who attended #ProductSF should expect a beta invite and we’ll open this more widely soon.

Also for more reading about #ProductSF 2014 check out these recaps:

We are looking forward to #ProductSF 2015 already.