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Yardley Ip is the General Manager of Trulia Rentals at Zillow Group where she oversees product management and marketing for the rentals business. She is on the founding team of Women in Product, a new nonprofit organization focused on connecting women product managers throughout the tech industry. Yardley is also a frequent contributor to The Huffington Post where she blogs about work-life balance and how to succeed in the workplace. Yardley is passionate about building marketplaces, growing monetization businesses, and mentoring the next generation of leaders.

A Silicon Valley veteran, Yardley began her career as an Engineer at Apple before changing career paths to focus on product management at companies such as eBay, Yahoo, and Dun & Bradstreet. She has served on the regional board of the Canadian Cancer Society and she is an informal advisor to several startups. 

Born  in Hong Kong and fluent in Chinese, Yardley graduated from the University of California, Davis with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering, and she earned her MBA from the University of Chicago. Yardley lives in San Francisco with her husband Jason and their two-year-old toddler, Tyler.

You can follow her on Twitter @yipstas or connect on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/yardleyip

She will be live on Nov 15 starting at 930 AM PT for one and a half hours during which time she will answer as many questions as possible.

  • SE

    Sean Ellis

    2 months ago #

    Hi Yardley. Great to have a fellow UC Davis alum on for an AMA. I think you're the first.

    I'm curious how your team goes about setting and achieving growth goals. What is the typical time period for an objective and how many growth objectives does your team pursue simultaneously? Also, does each objective have a single owner?

    • YI

      Yardley Ip

      2 months ago #

      We have a quarterly planning process where we evaluate our performance and plan for the next quarter. Each channel has an owner: SEO, Transaction Email, Marketing Email, App, for example. Though visits and unique users are important top of the funnel metrics, we ultimately goal ourselves on helping renters find their new homes, so downstream metrics such as saving searches, homes, and leads matter a great deal as well. Top of the funnel and downstream objectives are pursued at the same time. However, there’s a delicate balance in what we want a renter to do when he visits Trulia. We try to limit ourselves to one primary call-to-action for a renter to take, so that he is not distracted by other actions. For example, if a renter is coming back to the rentals app from a search alert email, he is encouraged to submit an inquiry about the listing. But on the other hand, if a renter is unregistered and is newly downloaded our app, he is encouraged to save a search instead so that we can learn about his home search preferences over time and build personalized experiences for him. The bottom line is to carefully evaluate the primary action you want a user to take once he lands in your product so that you can engage and build a relationship with that user over time.

  • AL

    Arsene Lavaux

    2 months ago #

    Hi Yardley,

    Thank you for doing this AMA.

    If you had to pick three major disruptions in the Real Estate industry over the next ten years, what would they be?

    Merci!

    • YI

      Yardley Ip

      2 months ago #

      Hi, happy to be here. Let me start by answering the first question.

      Over the next ten years, first of all, we’ll see data continue to play a big role in real estate. Things will become more transparent for renters and buyers, thanks to data. And with more data, technology will be able to continually personalize product experiences for renters and buyers to help them find their homes easily. Second, we’ll likely see a lot of the offline processes be brought online, meaning renters and homebuyers could maybe one day search and secure a new home remotely. Lastly, there will be emerging platforms, such as chatbots, that will gain adoption, so renters and buyers will have additional platforms for them to search for their homes, and companies will undoubtedly need to invest in these platforms as well.

      3 Share
  • KS

    kuldeep sharma

    2 months ago #

    Hello Yardley,

    Thank you for AMA!!

    I curious to know that "how you manage new product launching and marketing at trulia"? can you provide path on planning, launching and marketing?

    Regards

    Kuldeep

    • YI

      Yardley Ip

      2 months ago #

      It’s important for you to create an equal seat at the table for product managers and marketing managers. Both are just as important to building and launching a product as the engineers, so engage them early and make sure they’re in the know on the details and timing, so they can appropriately push your product to the masses.

      Marketing undoubtedly brings invaluable insight into developing a sound value proposition and pricing strategies to a new product, and it’s important to engage them early to gather their point of view from the beginning. In addition, help connect marketing with PR and consumer care teams early. This can help ensure messaging alignment across the board, minimizing any confusion for consumers.

      Bottom line, it’s about communication and alignment. Those are two keys to success.

      4 Share
  • HQ

    Hila Qu

    2 months ago #

    Hi Yardley,

    Very nice to know you, as someone who also works in product and speaks Chinese :)

    So first of all, why did you start Woman in Product? How can people learn more about Women in Product and become meaningfully involved?

    And do you find any similarity at all between managing a business/team and managing your kid/family?

    As someone who wears so many hats and did so many roles successfully, who do you look up to or learn from?

    Look forward to hearing from you:)

    Hila

    • YI

      Yardley Ip

      2 months ago #

      Yes, I do. As a leader, it is important to care about your team and their career development, similar to how you would care about your family and children. Once you can understand what is going on in your team’s lives, you can then really understand what motivates and drives them. Knowing your employees as a whole person allows you to build trust and that would then allow you to be a better coach, providing the advice and encouragement that your team needs. I encourage you to lead with empathy – to truly understand someone’s point of view – so that you can be a better coach and person.

      2 Share
    • YI

      Yardley Ip

      2 months ago #

      A few months ago while dining with a group of female product managers, we realized that none of us had ever been to a product management conference before. This realization turned to action and we hatched the idea of Women In Product -- an opportunity to bring people together to help other managers grow their product and leadership skills and ultimately create a community for women in product management.
      If you’d like to get involved, please email us at womenpm@gmail.com. We'd love to hear from you!

      • AA

        Anuj Adhiya

        2 months ago #

        What are the different ways people can get involved? Also is the invite open to women only?

    • YI

      Yardley Ip

      2 months ago #

      There are so many women whom I look up to and learn from. The first is my grandmother who who encourages me to take risks and believe in myself. She's a courageous soul who led 13 of her brothers and sisters through WWII and rebelled again arranged marriage so she could find her own true love. She taught me that if I put my mind to something, nothing can stop me. Second is my mother who took a leap of faith in moving to America when she was young to start a better life for her and myself. Both of them have been inspiring to me throughout my life. They consistently show me that through determination and hard work, you can achieve what you want in life.

    • YI

      Yardley Ip

      about 2 months ago #

      To get involved with Women in Product, please feel free to fill out this volunteer form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfpgWpHBNHSYielwL2ojS_gUqspYG5Xh2yOEDmgIPUBUTfqLw/viewform?c=0&w=1. You can also email me directly yardley.ip [at] gmail [dotcom].

  • AA

    Aldin A

    2 months ago #

    Hi Yardley,

    Great to have you here.

    1) You mentioned your passionate about building marketplaces. What are the biggest lessons when it comes to building and scaling marketplaces? Can you name some of your favorite resources when it comes to learning about marketplaces?

    2) Networks at scale can get very crowded, ie you proably have alot of rental properties at Trulia. What processes do you put in place in the network to make sure that even when there are thousands of rental properties the renters can find the properties that are just right for them?

    Thanks

    • YI

      Yardley Ip

      2 months ago #

      It’s kind of the age-old chicken/egg problem, because it’s about supply and demand - you can’t have one without the other. To build a marketplace, it’s really important that you first identify a unique type. Then, you want to convince suppliers to choose your platform as a trusted place for them to grow, and simultaneously bring consumers into the marketplace by providing a unique and delightful experience for them.

      Lessons learned include fostering trust with both suppliers and consumers. While we scaled rental listings, we found that fraud is a big pain point for renters, so we had to find a good balance of growing inventory and minimizing fraud. We started by having humans review questionable listings, and then with time, we use machine learning to remove suspected fraudulent listings. We also allow renters to report suspicious listings so that we have a direct feedback loop that empowers renters to help us continually build a trusted marketplace. Second, I learned that it takes a lot of manual effort to build a marketplace. You’re going to have to figure out how to grow and scale. For example, years ago, I had a startup and I had to personally cold-call vendors to get the inventory, but once I got my “play book” down and got a few big name suppliers under my belt, it was easier to get more suppliers and the demand just naturally followed.

      My favorite resource is “A Guide to Marketplaces” by Boris Wertz and Angela Tran Kingyens.

      3 Share
      • YI

        Yardley Ip

        2 months ago #

        Trulia uses predictive analytics to help ensure we’re surfacing the most relevant listings for our users. Meaning, if we know someone has expressed interest in a two-bedroom pet-friendly apartment, we’ll continue to surface similar listings upfront. Our web and mobile homepages also showcase different collections of homes, which are built based on unique attributes of different homes you have expressed interest in, or that others near you have expressed interest in.

  • SA

    Shaker A

    2 months ago #

    Hi Yardley,

    Thanks for doing this AMA!

    1)How do think about retaining users, if your user only need to use your app occasionally by nature (ex with rentals)? If your app isn't used frequently building up the habit is hard, which makes it even harder to retain the user. How do you go about trying to stay top of mind so when the user has a need that your app solves they think of you?

    2)Given that you deal with some much long tail inventory such as rental listings, what unique things have you been able to do to with seo and ppc that uses the advantages that long tail inventory affords you?

    3)What are some of the challenges you faced scaling the network and how did you overcome them?

    Thanks

    • SE

      Sean Ellis

      2 months ago #

      Part one was the question I was going to ask too :)

    • YI

      Yardley Ip

      2 months ago #

      In the rentals space, a majority of renters are moving due to a life-changing reason and they’re in a time crunch to secure their next home in less than two months. As such, it’s crucial for renters to receive timely and relevant notifications (both email and apps) to make sure that we are alerting time in real-time as new listings that match their search criteria come on the market. In addition, we continually think about building a product that's relevant to renters throughout their lifecycle, not just during the searching process, but beyond into securing their rental and then again when they think about renting it out. Lastly, it’s crucial to building a product that's unique and delights users. A delightful user experience, especially helping in securing a home, is a memorable one which would then help with retaining our users. At Trulia, we invest in keeping our apps up to date with all the platform changes that enhance the user experience, such as 3D touch and iOS spotlight in that latest iOS 10 and Android Marshmallow.

      2 Share
    • YI

      Yardley Ip

      2 months ago #

      The long-tail listings inventory is all about building volume, so that the unique content will naturally let you scale and rank for lots of pages.

  • SK

    S Kodial

    2 months ago #

    Hi Yardley
    Can you talk about what you've learned about creating marketplace liquidity?
    Also, what challenges do marketplaces commonly face with being able to maintain that liquidity on an ongoing basis and what are the best ways to overcome those issues?

    • YI

      Yardley Ip

      2 months ago #

      Marketplaces are attractive because they can build scale quickly and there are easy ways to create liquidity and monetize:
      1. Percentage Margin. Many companies like Etsy take a percentage margin off the transaction from the seller.
      2. Flat fee. Lead generation business models often times have a flat-fee referral fee once a lead is generated.
      3. Subscription. This is my favorite way to monetize. Subscriptions create a predictable and ratable revenue stream.

      Both of these models align incentives between sellers and the business.

      Because it is relatively easy to monetize in a marketplace, if your margin is low, you will need to focus on driving large volume of transactions to make your business profitable. Years ago, my startup's mission was to create a marketplace where emerging designers could sell their hand-crafted products to consumers. Each piece was made by hand, and each designer was hand-selected with no more than ten designers on the platform at once. I started the business by taking a margin off the transaction, I was happy to see the revenue come through with each transaction. However, what I failed to recognize at first was that the low margin strategy was not going to work in the long term, as my marketplace was never going to grown enough volume to make the business profitable. I then added services to the sellers such as trunk shows and consumers such as a remote real-time advice, to complement the revenue solely dependent upon transaction in the marketplace.

      At Trulia, we sell advertising to agents via subscription plans. We focused on retaining customers by carefully analyzing subscription renewal rates and pricing, as well as portfolio mix. By minimizing churn, you can then continue to have a predictable revenue stream and focus your sales and conversion efforts on driving new orders.

  • DH

    Dani Hart

    2 months ago #

    Hi Yardley,

    What an awesome bio. Thanks for joining us here today.

    In your experience working with Apple, eBay, Yahoo, etc. are there any team characteristics you've been able to pinpoint as key to success?

    What's next for your Women in Product nonprofit? Would love to know how people can get involved, but I know that's already been asked so I'll look for the response there. :)

    Cheers!
    Dani

    • YI

      Yardley Ip

      about 2 months ago #

      Hi Dani,

      In my experience in working in these large-scaled companies, the key to team success are:

      1. Clearly setting expectations and goals.
      2. Empower the team.
      3. Foster a collaborative culture.

      It's imperative for each team member to know her goals, see a clear path in achieving them, and puts the team win first before her own win.

      At Women in Product, the Sept 13th conference is only the beginning. We envision building a robust community of women builders through events, partnerships, education, and social media. We are calling for volunteers to help. Please either fill out the form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfpgWpHBNHSYielwL2ojS_gUqspYG5Xh2yOEDmgIPUBUTfqLw/viewform?c=0&w=1 or email me directly at yardley.ip [at] gmail [dotcom]. Look forward to hearing from you!

  • RB

    Ry B

    2 months ago #

    Hi Yardley,

    Thanks for doing this ama.

    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 do you go about empowering employees at trulia?

    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?

    Thanks

    • YI

      Yardley Ip

      2 months ago #

      Great question. Here are the key skills I look for:

      - Strong desire to solve problems. Rather you’re running a business optimizing for revenue or a new platform optimizing for engagement, you need to understand the problems you are trying to solve and focused on finding solutions to solve them.
      - Customer empathy. You really need to feel the customer’s pain points so that you can come up with the relevant solutions to solve their problems.
      - Leadership. You cannot succeed on your own so you need to be able to lead a team though to the end goal and deliver on metrics.
      - Prioritization. You only have a finite about of time in a day and resources, so you need to be smart about prioritization to make the biggest impact.

      The biggest mistake I have seen is hiring people based purely on education or past work experience. I have mentored countless individuals who I believe will succeed purely based upon their willingness to learn and passion. A person’s background does not predict his success on your team. You need to thoroughly vet out the candidate’s potential. If you think that a candidate’s potential is high and you are willing to invest time in her growth, you will likely gain a strong employee member on your team.

      “On it!” is like music to my ears. A+ talents have a strong sense of ownership and accountability. They’re the people who I know will get things done. No matter how big the problem may be, they will be the ones to step up, face the challenge, and come up with solutions.

      2 Share
  • KM

    Katie Martell

    2 months ago #

    Hi Yardley - I wonder if you'd talk a little bit about your role in product management and marketing. What does a really good product management/marketing position look like, and are there any misconceptions about the position? Thank you!

  • JD

    James Dunn

    2 months ago #

    Hey Yardley - thanks for spending time with us today.

    If you have a "standalone" product is there a way to make it a network effects style, especially if its been out there for a while? How would you do to determine whether you can even go down this road?

  • ES

    Edward Stephens

    2 months ago #

    Amazing to have you on Yardley, so good to have you here.

    A couple of questions from me:

    1) What integral lessons did you learn from Apple that have stayed with you throughout your career and have any become redundant?

    2) What are the key challenges you feel you face for Women in Product and how can you continue to develop the proliferation of key female talent in tech?

    3) What areas of technology currently excite you?

    I can't wait to hear from you.

  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    2 months ago #

    Hi Yardley

    So cool to have you on!

    1. From your prior experiences at ebay, Yahoo etc, what did you learn about product management what are there things you learned about product management that didn't apply (or no longer applied) in the Trulia context?

  • JF

    Javier Feldman

    2 months ago #

    Hi Yardley, Thanks for doing this AMA.

    How would you validate product/market fit in a network effect business? How is this different than for a non-network effect business?

    Gracias!

  • YI

    Yardley Ip

    2 months ago #

    Ok, looks like we are out of time. It has been fun! Thanks for all the questions. I'll continue to answer them over the next day.

    • AA

      Anuj Adhiya

      2 months ago #

      Thank you so much for spending this time with us Yardley - we really appreciate it!

  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    2 months ago #

    One more that sort of follows from James' question above:
    What team composition do you recommend for a company to turn their product into a marketplace/platform?

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