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As Senior Director of Product at Twitter, Jeff has led the company's consumer, developer, and publisher facing products, including Twitter for iOSAndroid, and the WebFabricCrashlyticsAnswersDigitsTwitter KitTweetDeckTwitter's Publisher Platform, and Gnip.

Previously, Seibert was Twitter’s Director of Developer Platform where he led Fabric, the company’s suite of mobile developer tools, as well as its enterprise Data Platform and Content Syndication efforts.

Seibert was the co-founder and CEO of Crashlytics, an award-winning crash analysis service for iOS and Android apps. Crashlytics was acquired by Twitter in 2013 and has become an essential piece of the mobile developer toolchain - today powering over a million apps across well over two billion devices worldwide.

Seibert co-founded Increo in 2007 and served as its COO and lead architect until its acquisition by Box in 2009. He subsequently oversaw the integration of Increo’s document preview and annotation technologies into Box’s cloud content platform.

Seibert gained experience at Apple in both marketing and engineering capacities and led Stanford University's Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders seminar series as Co-Coordinator. He was selected as a Mayfield Fellow in 2007 and received a B.S. in Computer Science from Stanford University in 2008.

Seibert is a frequent presenter on both entrepreneurship and technical topics and has lectured at Stanford, Harvard, MIT, and Tufts, as well as keynoted Twitter Flight, AppsWorld, AnDevCon, EclipseCon, and others. Find him on Twitter at @JeffSeibert.

He will be live on Jan 26 starting at 930 AM PT for one and a half hours during which he will answer as many questions as possible.

  • SE

    Sean Ellis

    2 months ago #

    Thanks for doing this AMA with us Jeff. I'd like to know how the growth team at Twitter interacts with the product team. It seems natural that growth would focus on acquisition and activation, but how do you guys handle feature development to improve customer engagement? Is this a growth team initiative a product team initiative or something everyone works on together? Thanks!

    • JS

      Jeff Seibert

      about 2 months ago #

      Thanks, Sean.

      As timing would have it, I'm actually no longer at Twitter (http://variety.com/2017/digital/news/google-buys-fabric-from-twitter-1201962640/), but I'll give some quick thoughts here!

      Over the years, Twitter has explored every possible structure for growth and product teams. Originally, Growth and core Product/Eng were quite split, and the Growth team was structured to be "full-stack" - i.e. data science, user research, country business, marketing, and sales leads, engineering, and PMs all in the same org. The team was wholly responsible for identifying, prioritizing, and executing on growth strategies whether they were product changes or marketing initiatives. This had some perks (pace of execution? clear goals?) but fostered conflict with the larger, and historically more established core Product/Eng team, which had its own priorities and goals. One of the most damaging outcomes of this structure was the belief that growth was either your job, or it wasn't your job, based on what team you were on. Obviously unproductive.

      When I took over consumer product, we eliminated the growth team and shifted to a portfolio approach - Product/Eng tackled a Top 10 list of projects that spanned the gamut - some growth focused, some safety/abuse focused, some tech/feature-debt focused, and some new product development/exploratory-focused. This removed a lot of the politics and in-fighting, and made it clear that growth would be everyone's job over time as projects made it onto the Top 10 and graduated off.

      5 Share
      • SE

        Sean Ellis

        about 2 months ago #

        Super interesting, thanks for the response! And good luck at Google. Surprised I missed the news.

  • AL

    Arsene Lavaux

    3 months ago #

    Bonjour Jeff,

    Thank you for doing this AMA.

    What is the most important thing to get right in your mobile growth strategy?

    Merci!

    • JS

      Jeff Seibert

      about 2 months ago #

      Hey Arsene, great question - I assume you are asking about growing a mobile app's user base?

      My advice would be to obsess about the first time experience - how do you deliver immense value within the first 30 seconds of someone experiencing your app?

      That sounds obvious, but most people completely misunderstand what I mean. The first 30 seconds does not begin when you launch the app. It begins when I first hear about it!

      You need to optimize, in order:
      - How did I hear about the product? Was the value proposition clear? Articulate? Comprehendible?
      - Who did I hear about it from? What is my emotional connection to that person? Do I trust them? Was it a friend?
      - Why did I decide to get your app? Did it look easy to use? Effective at solving my problem? Why is it different or better from other options?
      - How long did it take to get your app? Is it a quick, small download? Or did it take 3 minutes to download/install and I've already moved on?
      - What are the barriers to adoption? What is the minimum amount of setup I need to do in order for the app to deliver significant (not maximum, that can come later, but significant) value almost immediately?
      - Did the app deliver the promised value? Did it -exceed- my expectations?
      - Why am I motivated to keep the cycle going? Why do I tell my friends about it? Strangers about it?

      The key aspect here is the expectation delta - you need to set high enough expectations that the app is worth my time to download and install, but low enough expectations that you blow me out of the water. I am only going to proactively spread the word about your app if I am -delighted-. So, TL;DR - the key to your mobile growth strategy is engineering delight.

      4 Share
    • VM

      Vitor Mozer

      about 2 months ago #

      Good question! The same I'd like to know.

  • MD

    Maksym Domariev

    3 months ago #

    Please tell us about Fabric market positioning, it's from one side has quite unique features, but it's not that powerful as adult metrics companies. Where do you see Fabric within 1 year.

    • JS

      Jeff Seibert

      about 2 months ago #

      Maksym, thanks so much for the question!

      Fabric is an exercise in intentional product focus. Going back to the start of Crashlytics in 2011, our goal has been to provide the essential functionality that developers need, and no more. When we started the company, Wayne Chang and I picked "powerful, yet lightweight" as our mantra. We wanted to build developer trust by demonstrating that we could rapidly deliver the crash insights they needed, without bloating their app. The essence of this approach has continued through what you see today in Fabric - by only offering the essential features, we ensure that your app is not bloated by unwanted functionality, or has its stability impacted by an overly complex SDK.

      As a result, yes, we lose in each and every feature comparison matrix - I love that! We don't aim to compete on functionality. We compete on quality of implementation, accuracy of data, and superior developer experience. As a result, our team can move faster and focus on what matters, rather than wasting time maintaining a kitchen sink of poorly-performing features that few apps need :)

      2 Share
      • AA

        Anuj Adhiya

        about 2 months ago #

        "We don't aim to compete on functionality. We compete on quality of implementation, accuracy of data, and superior developer experience" <- I love this because it's the first time I've heard the "we don't worry about the competition" statement actually articulated with more than one set reason as to why.

  • RB

    Ry B

    about 2 months ago #

    Hi Jeff,

    Thanks for being here!

    1)How do you look at hiring? Can you talk about some of the mistakes you've made hiring (and also seen others make)? What have you learned about hiring A+ talents?

    2)What are traits a manager needs to bring out the best in their employees?How did you go about empowering employees at the companies you've founded and worked at?

    3) At the startups you've founded how do you look at competition, specifically when you're going up against bigger, and better-funded competitors? How does that affect your strategic plan, if it does at all? What is your mindset when you go to compete against the 800-pound gorillas in your space?

    • JS

      Jeff Seibert

      about 2 months ago #

      Hey Ry, let me tackle the first two together - from the startup perspective.

      I have very strong views here, so take this with a grain of salt - I'm sure other approaches work equally well for other founders.

      As a startup, I believe your mission is singular - you need to deliver maximum value, to as many customers as possible, as quickly as possible. That is your ticket to growth and long-term sustainability, which means you will continue to be able to deliver value to customers over a long period of time. Effectively, I would argue that a good metric for how impactful a company has been is the integral of the customer value delivered over time.

      So how does this relate to hiring?

      Many companies are great training grounds for junior employees, or for people who want to switch careers, or move into management, or build some new skill-set. Per the above, that's likely not the goal of your startup (unless you're in the employment space?). As such, you can't afford to take on additional risk - you are already fighting an up-hill market and adoption battle. Why conflate that with additional unknowns?

      To that end, I optimize towards hiring only senior employees, with at least 3-5 years prior work experience in the role I am hiring for. I optimize for alignment around the mission and long-term potential - obsession with job title, or starting salary are red flags. Personality-wise, I optimize for a balance of passion/energy and ability to take change in stride/go with the flow. I optimize for people with strong opinions, loosely held. I want the team to be quick and decisive, yet imminently flexible - dogmatic arguments waste time.

      Once you have these people, empower them completely. As a founder, you have no time for micromanagement. That time is better spent obsessing over the right team members, and then setting them free. You have hired them for their deep experience in their role, and they -must- be better at their role than you would be at it. If that's the case, your job is to provide context and high-level direction, and to view everything else as an implementation detail decided upon by your domain experts.

  • JP

    John Phamvan

    about 2 months ago #

    Hey Jeff

    What skills should product managers & growth leads develop to be able to move faster with product development & experimentation?

  • GH

    Glen Harper

    about 2 months ago #

    Hi Jeff, thanks for being on the AMA today. 2 questions for you, actually:

    1. What are 3 key things you feel a Product Manager must consider while prioritizing new features or feature improvements?

    2. If you lack of enough data or have no data, how do you push features that are based on gut / intuition / leap of faith assumptions?

    Thanks in advance!

    • JS

      Jeff Seibert

      about 2 months ago #

      Hey Glen, these are really great questions, and they tie together perfectly. Let me start with #1.

      A PM is ultimately balancing between A. customers needs (what are they asking for?), B. business strategy needs (what do we need to build to advance our market position?), and C. operational/engineering needs (tech debt). In my experience, very weak product managers focus on A, average PMs focus on A and C, and great product managers focus on B, C, and A in that order. Why?

      This gets to Part 2 of your question. A PM should never be making a leap of faith. They SHOULD be convicted, based on strong intuition, about the path forward, even in the absence of data. The key here is building deep customer empathy. Your first job as a PM is to know your customers better than they know themselves. What are the root causes of their problems? What is the problem they are about to encounter next? If you know their background, tendencies, and goals more consciously than they themselves do, your product should already be delivering 80% of the value they need. You should not need to listen to customer requests to get to the 80% - you should know those intuitively. Now, you have freedom. Now you can focus on what is going to ensure the long-term success of your business - your market position (B), and the efficiency of your operations (C) that allows you to stay nimble and out-maneuver competition. With your spare time, you can take customer input to incrementally advance your offering from an 80% solution to a 90% solution. But if you're serving more than 90% of your target market completely, I would question whether your product is too bloated, and whether you should be more strategic or have less tech debt :)

      5 Share
  • SA

    Shaker A

    about 2 months ago #

    Hey Jeff,

    Great to have you here.

    1)What are some of the resources you used to learn and stay up to date on building culture, managing people effectively, and business in general? Books, podcasts, blogs, courses etc?

    2) What are the most valuable lessons you've learned in your career?

    3) In your opinion what are things early stage startups have to do to not only survive, but thrive? Conversely what do you see startups messing up that they can't afford to, and how do they fix them?

  • AT

    Aaron Tasci

    about 2 months ago #

    Thank you for doing this AMA.

    What was your top challenge at Twitter when aligning cross functional teams, development, marketing, acquisition, working towards the same goal 'growth'? and how did you overcome it?

    Thanks,

  • SK

    S Kodial

    about 2 months ago #

    Hi Jeff - thanks for being here!

    Clearly you have an amazing technical background.
    What advice would you have for non-technical founders to start to gain such skills.
    Where should they start? What should they learn first? And what after that? Is there a playbook you'd recommend to develop the appropriate (however you define it) expertise?

  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    about 2 months ago #

    Hey Jeff - stoked to have you on!

    Do you have any recommendations for how to best instrument for collecting and acting on customer data? Would this recommendation differ by business type?

  • JD

    James Dunn

    about 2 months ago #

    Hey Jeff - great to have you on.

    Im sure everyone here looks at Twitter as one acquisition channel as part of their arsenal.
    But where does Twitter go to acquire new users?
    Can you talk about any strategies being employed to increase Twitter's user base currently?

  • SB

    Steve Burman

    about 2 months ago #

    Hey Jeff,

    I want to get into product management, but I don't know how. Have you ever seen anyone transition into product early in their career? What did they do? Who are some of the most successful product managers you've worked with and what qualities do they have?

  • JA

    Justin Adelson

    about 2 months ago #

    Hello, Jeff - thank you for participating in this AMA today!

    I am often approached about assisting a business with the development of a mobile application since "it is what all great companies are doing." I can always hear the glass breaking when I tell them how much it would cost to hire a legit team to code, test, and launch said app.

    That being said, what factors should a small business or company consider before investing time and money into developing a mobile app? If the app would have a limited geographical use (for example, an average line time at popular food truck), would it just make more sense to develop a responsive web application that people can bookmark?

    Thanks again!

  • DH

    Dani Hart

    about 2 months ago #

    Hi Jeff,

    Thanks for being here today!

    In your experience founding companies and leading teams, how important is company culture in regards to growth? Are there any things you've seen done well to contribute to successful teams?

    Looking forward to hearing what you have to say.

    Cheers!
    Dani

  • JF

    Javier Feldman

    about 2 months ago #

    Hi Jeff,

    How did Crashlytics acquire its first 100 users? Also what was it about Crashlytics that made it so important for Twitter to consider acquiring it?

    Thanks!

    • JS

      Jeff Seibert

      about 2 months ago #

      Hey Javier, great question.

      My co-founder Wayne Chang architected our go-to-market strategy and he gets the credit for everything I've learned about driving distribution. Here's the scenario:

      In between when we started the company and launched the product, a direct competitor appeared and launched, so we were suddenly 2nd-to-market at our own game. On the plus side, their weaknesses were easily apparent - an overly complex onboarding flow, and a mediocre user experience. Perfect.

      We believed that product adoption was largely a psychological process, and that by creating the right emotional state, we could drive demand for a product people had never experienced. Countering the competitor, our marketing, verbiage, and the production-quality of our frontend website positioned Crashlytics as the premium, serious product in the space. We believed that developers treated their apps seriously, and wanted to leverage tools that treated them as such. We furthered this by orchestrating mystique - the product launched invite-only, and through a progressive application process, developers shared additional information about their app, company, and team, in order to move up the waitlist. The final step in the process was to Tweet about Crashlytics (N.B. - before they had ever used the product), which dramatically increased the buzz on Twitter and yielded even further waitlist signups.

      This approach worked so well that Crashlytics remained invite-only well past its acquisition by Twitter. Wayne personally, hand-invited the first 20,000 developers off our waitlist and had an email thread with each and every one, ensuring that their experience with the product was positive.

      3 Share
  • JM

    Jason Meresman

    about 2 months ago #

    Hi Jeff - Delighted to have you on today's AMA!

    You founded two companies, both of which were acquired by name brands - in one case Box and in the other Twitter. What was the "north-star metric" you and your team focused on at each of these companies?

    • JS

      Jeff Seibert

      about 2 months ago #

      Hey Jason, thanks so much for the question!

      The biggest lesson I've learned is staying true to your mission - and relentlessly delivering value to customers. It's all too easy for founders to get caught up in the "build this to sell or build this to IPO" false dichotomy. You should be doing neither. Hopefully you didn't start a company just to stop (aka exit) it?! Hopefully you started a company because you saw a problem in the world, and a demographic that was suffering from it, or could have their lives improved, and you realized there might be a solution.

      In the case of Increo (which was acquired by Box), Kimber and I were obsessed with helping people collaborate in an increasingly digital, "remoting" age. This was 2007-2009 and online real-time collaboration was nascent. We built our document feedback product with no intention of being acquired - we built it to help freelancers communicate and collaborate with their clients. Of course, in the process of doing so, we built a lot of back-end technology (to convert 100+ file formats to SWF, as well as a frontend Flash document "player") as well as a vision for what online collaboration might look like in the future. Both of these turned out to be compelling to Box - initially as a partnership deal, and then an acquisition. In 2009, Box was rapidly establishing dominance in the space, and we believed we could have a larger impact, at larger scale, by joining forces with them rather than becoming competitors. For the next 5 years, Increo's technology powered every document viewed on box.com.

      For the first 2 years of Crashlytics, Wayne and I relentlessly pursued "number of crashes processed per minute". We had evidence to believe that, mobile-wide, apps crashed roughly 1 Billion times per day. That was a truly massive TAM, and focusing on that would be distracting. If we could grow the number of apps using Crashlytics, the number of devices we were installed on, and the number of crashes we were processing, that was our sign we were delivering value to developers. We got lucky and struck a chord with developers - they were desperate to make their apps more stable, and we spent most of those 2 years scaling our backend to handle an ever-growing volume of inbound crashes. Over time, and many generational architecture changes, we brought our per-crash processing down from a couple seconds, to milliseconds, to microseconds.

      Twitter recognized this impact, and the developer love it engendered, and wanted to expand upon to create an entire suite of essential services for developers (including, of course, Twitter Kit) - so we joined forces to build Fabric. As our functionality expanded past crash reporting, our north-star metric migrated to 30-day active unique devices. AKA how much of the mobile ecosystem are we helping?

      I've been blown away by the impact Fabric has made - we recently announced we're on 2.5 Billion 30-day active devices (i.e. most active smartphones on earth). Oh, and we now process 2 Billion crashes every single day :)

      3 Share
      • JS

        Jeff Seibert

        about 2 months ago #

        Anuj, that's a really great insight - yes, I believe for founders to be successful, they must be irrationally obsessed with solving the problem they set out to solve. Startups are NOT "romantic", there is nothing easy or halcyon about them. If you, as a founder, are going to survive that rollercoaster, you need to be relentless.

      • AA

        Anuj Adhiya

        about 2 months ago #

        So much gold here!
        A follow-up question for you.
        In your response above you used the words "obsessed" and "relentlessly".
        Do you believe these qualities of being obsessed and relentless can be developed - or do they have to be inherent in any startup founder - to raise the odds of success? If they can be developed, how would you advise going about learning these skills?

      • JM

        Jason Meresman

        about 2 months ago #

        Thanks Jeff - very insightful response. I think many people underestimate the importance of being a missionary instead of a mercenary.

  • JS

    Jeff Seibert

    about 2 months ago #

    Thanks, all, for the all the great questions! This has been a ton of fun, but I sadly have to run. Best of luck with all your projects!

  • AA

    Aldin A

    about 2 months ago #

    Hi Jeff,

    Can you talk about the challenges of scaling businesses and how have you overcome them?

    Thanks

  • LV

    Lars Vedo

    about 2 months ago #

    How do you feel about the growing popularity of the Stories? Do you see a future for that format in Twitter? Thanks

  • VC

    Varun Celly

    about 2 months ago #

    Hi Jeff,

    With so many dynamics taking place, managing multiple products, how do you manage your time? Or do you believe that you have this spot on team which is able to translate your vision into actual execution? Curious to know how this vast portfolio of work is being managed.

    Thanks!

  • GG

    Geo Graffiti

    about 2 months ago #

    Hello ,
    I am a freelance developer. What is the best way to get hired as a project manager or product manager by a company?
    Thanks

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