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Tal leads the growth and platform teams at Patreon, where we're making this the best time in history to be a creative person. Patreon makes it easy for artists, journalists, musicians, podcasters, illustrators, youtubers, educators, etc. etc. to get paid by running a membership business for their fans. Patreon's revenue has doubled year over year has raised $47M from CRV and Thrive Capital, and on track to send $150M in 2017 alone *directly* to creators. 

<totally shameless plug from Tal> Patreon is rapidly expanding the team https://www.patreon.com/careers#positions ** </shamelessness>

Previously, Tal consulted on developer platform growth for DuckDuckGo, a USV-backed search engine with 400M+ monthly searches. Before that, he led special projects for the CTO/Co-Founder of Wix.com, a NASDAQ-listed cloud publishing platform with $400M+ in annual revenue. Tal started his career as the CTO and Co-founder of Ecquire, a sales productivity tool whose SV customers include LinkedIn, Salesforce, Dropbox, Jive, Segment, and Mixpanel. 

Tal loves getting his butt kicked in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and belly laughs.

Learn more about what's behind Patreon's meteoric growth... 

Engineering the world's most shareable email: https://patreonhq.com/engineering-the-worlds-most-shareable-email-6efc38cfd9ca

How Patreon doubled its creators' financial activation rate by listening to our front lines: http://www.coelevate.com/essays/patreon-onboarding-growth

The science of product growth: https://medium.com/@talraviv/thats-not-a-hypothesis-25666b01d5b4#.7s1ckpony

How the Patreon growth team moves fast as hell: https://patreonhq.com/how-the-patreon-growth-team-moves-fast-as-hell-9c5458b75bd6

Would you make it as a product manager at Patreon? https://patreonhq.com/would-you-make-it-as-a-product-manager-at-patreon-571be5490bee

He will be live on August 1 starting at 930 AM PT for one and a half hours during which time he will answer as many questions as possible.

  • JP

    John Phamvan

    3 months ago #

    Hi Tal

    Thanks for including your post on how your growth team moves fast.
    What tools do you use to ensure that everyone is on aligned as to what the current objectives are and what the current status of anything might be?
    How do you share learnings throughout the organization?
    How do you include those that aren't part of the core growth team into the ideation process?

    • TR

      Tal Raviv

      3 months ago #

      Hi John, great questions, and thank you.

      Answering inline:

      > What tools do you use to ensure that everyone is on aligned as to what the current objectives are and what the current status of anything might be?

      My team's favorite tool is, to quote my colleague Erin Boyle "talking with our faces." Aside from meeting once a week as a group, I try to have quick 2-3 person meetings of ~20 min throughout the week for individual threads and projects. It's a respectful use of everyone's time and is much more efficient and high-bandwidth.

      Quick face to face meetings (or if your team is remote, quick zooms/hangouts) really help convey a lot more than slack or project software, and are helpful to catch nuances and potential misunderstandings.

      Then, once a week, we all get to hear the high level of what others are doing and chime in if we see something we can help with or add.

      (We also have a daily asynchronous standup via slack to keep posted; it's useful as an additional touchpoint but not sufficient)

      > How do you share learnings throughout the organization?

      Ooooo :) I love this. On my first day at Patreon Adam Fishman (also hanging out somewhere in this thread) set out my expectations and one of them was to *overcommunicate and overcommunicate.*

      So I do just that. I make sure that our launches AND our learnings are broadcast. I share it in slack, and I try to make it memorable with creative images and often videos.

      One thing I found helps really get people involved is I call optional inter-departmental lunch meetings to talk specifically about learnings and workshop thoughts the team has about hard decisions or junctures or weird results we ran into. We call them "I talk you eat, you talk I eat" lunches and they're a ton of fun. We get participation from people from support, marketing, data science, eng, exec, sales, product, etc. and some great great insights that would never have occurred to my team in a vacuum.

      I take every opportunity to stand up in front of the company to share what my team is working on (and encourage my team to share themselves whenever they're around, as the company is probably sick of my voice at this point)

      So, in one word, overcommunicate! There's no downside.

      > How do you include those that aren't part of the core growth team into the ideation process?

      Great question. Cross team brainstorming was something I admittedly struggled with at first because I believed (and still do) that actual "feature ideas" are not the bottleneck on product growth. It's the insights you have and the strength of your hypotheses.

      When it comes to insights, that part I lean heavily on every part of the company for their perspectives. From day one every growth area of focus started with talking to every single team on the front lines for as much insight as possible: sales, customer success, user research, support, events team, community, etc.

      When it came to actual feature/test ideas, I eventually realized that by running brainstorms a) there are some fantastic ideas to harvest from everyone and at the minimum b) it's a great way to acquaint everyone in the company with our hypotheses and research and methodology.

      I can talk more about how I run these brainstorms for maximum engagement and effectiveness. For now I'll move on to some more questions to make sure I can cover more ground today!

      5 Share
  • BB

    Brian Balfour

    3 months ago #

    Tal, your kicking some ass! Now that you have been working on growth at Patreon for some time, what has been your most unexpected learning? In other words, what have you learned that you didn't expect to learn going into the gig.

    • TR

      Tal Raviv

      3 months ago #

      Hey Brian :) Thank you sir.

      My most unexpected learning is kind of embarrassing to say in public. It's also the most delightful, so I'll share it.

      I came into the gig with a stereotype of creators not understanding business very much. I'm not proud of that prejudice - but I had it.

      Wow was I wrong. In repeated user interviews, meeting creators in person, looking at how they operate, they are extremely sharp businesspeople when given the chance.

      Creators I've met could blow away most valley entrepreneurs:

      - Creators intuitively understand the concept of churn and retention and seek causations
      - Creators understand lead nurturing, drip campaigns, etc.
      - Creators understand the power of engagement to create retention
      - Creators totally get the levers of influence like scarcity, urgency, etc.
      - Creators understand branding at a deep level
      - Creators understand consistency of experience

      and, my favorite

      - Creators intuitively understand experimentation-driven growth

      I've been positively blown away by how knowledgeable our users are. I genuinely didn't expect that (and my early failed experiments on the job totally reflected that)

      6 Share
      • GY

        Gabriel Yoran

        3 months ago #

        Hi Tal, can you given an example of the kind of early experiments that failed?

      • BB

        Brian Balfour

        3 months ago #

        I like it. I wouldn't be embarrassed by it. I think the hardest part of the Growth job is to remove all biases. All the things we think we know but haven't actually been backed up with data (qual or quant).

  • TR

    Tal Raviv

    3 months ago #

    Hey everyone! I am plugged in, caffeinated, and ready to answer some questions. [Cracks knuckles obnoxiously]

  • MD

    Mark Anthony de Jesus

    3 months ago #

    Hey Tal

    How much analysis is enough for a test? How do you know when to stop/when it's enough?

    • TR

      Tal Raviv

      3 months ago #

      Hey Mark,

      That's a deceptively difficult question. The tempting short explanation would be something about statistical significance bla bla bla. In practice there's so much more. I've been schooled over and over again by the concept of flukes, randomness, and confidence intervals.

      Every experiment is different, and the factors involve expected conversion rate, expected lift, confidence/power, and adoption (and I know I'm missing some more).

      For some straightforward common conversion experiments there's a slew of online calculators. For more complicated product funnels, the growth/data science field is still figuring out its limits.

      The two best pieces of advice I can give are:

      1. Decide if something truly needs to be an experiment. Do you need precision? Do you see a significant downside at the worst case scenario? How much do you care about learnings vs. speed? (Often growth teams shoot for learnings, but that's not always the priority.)

      2. If you're going to run an experiment, **calculate your runtime and data collection ahead of time** and do not look at the trends or results before that time. I've definitely asked not to be shown any data until the runtime is over because I don't trust myself. Something that looks like it's going great on day 3 of 7 could totally be a fluke.

      My favorite quote is from our Data Science Manager, Maura Church: "Try not to do statistics." It means put yourself in a situation where there's little doubt and tight confidence intervals. And if you can't, consider if you should be running it as an experiment.

      4 Share
  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    3 months ago #

    Hey Tal - super to finally have you on!

    What's been your biggest challenge with growing the 2 sided "marketplace"/platform at Patreon?
    How are you addressing it? Any learnings you can share about what you've tried here and what you've learned so far?

  • GH

    Glen Harper

    3 months ago #

    Thank you for joining us today, Tal.

    Are there any lessons you learned from your time at DuckDuckGo that you've been apply to growing Patreon?
    Could you share some of the major lessons that have been applicable?

    • TR

      Tal Raviv

      3 months ago #

      Hi Glen - thank you!

      The first thing I learned at DuckDuckGo that stuck with me was from working with Gabe Weinberg and Zac Pappis was the value of being super methodical and focused.

      That team is extremely sharp at process and making sure clear metrics and focus is set out. It makes it so much easier to get stuff done and block out distractions when you start with deciding what you're not gonna pursue for the next X months and why.

      The second thing that really stuck with me was that once you know your focus for the time being (whether it was activation, retention, etc.), the first step was to truly understand the people you're aiming for, and what makes them tick.

      I spent a lot of my time there working on growing the open source community (creating Instant Answers under the search bar), and what was unique in our case compared to many other OSS communities was that we were perfect for beginning developers.

      So, we spent a lot of time understanding and empathizing with new software developers, making their first open source contribution, and what a successful activation would be for them.

      At times, we made choices that might turn off or frustrate experienced software veterans. It was conscious and on purpose, because we knew who our target was and were okay with that.

      Even though the product and target audience is very different at Patreon, those two meta lessons carried over directly to Patreon - especially the last piece.

      3 Share
  • TN

    Tri Nguyen

    3 months ago #

    From some of the posts you attached, it feels like virality is a big part of how you acquire users - is that correct?
    What other channels are working well for you currently?
    What channels are you excited about experimenting with moving forward?

    • TR

      Tal Raviv

      3 months ago #

      Hi Tri - that is spot on. Our biggest channel, proven by user surveys and quantitative measures, is that creators join Patreon because they've seen another creator that they admire in their category using the platform.

      A channel that the team has been working on a lot is creator-facing content. Sean Baeyens and Taryn Arnold have done amazing work in turning the blog from lightweight "listicles" in the past to in-depth content that's extremely valuable and relevant to our target creator at a specific stage. This focus and quality-over-quantity has paid off extremely well and I'm learning a ton from what that team is accomplishing.

      I'm excited about content because as our product and growth model matures, we're learning that a lot of what's best for creators may not necessarily be the most viral.

      We're dedicated to putting creators first, and over time, that often means receding a little bit more and more into the background. That's okay, there's been super successful platforms that have gone much further down this route (at extremes, think Shopify or Teachable), and content becomes a key pillar in that model.

      2 Share
  • AF

    Adam Fishman

    3 months ago #

    Hey Tal! Glad you're doing this today and not me (hah!). Could you share one or two experiments you've run where the results have really surprised you?

    • TR

      Tal Raviv

      3 months ago #

      Well hello Adam! My hands hurt a little from typing but otherwise this isn't SO bad.

      My biggest surprises definitely came from the team's work on the patron checkout flow. I came in with all these "ecommerce best practices" in mind only to realize they're not universally best practices - they're just "common practices."

      The experiment I thought would absolutely print money was the classic practice of a checkout abandonment email. We saw that 99% of people who were going to pledge within 24 hrs would have done it within 15 minutes. So, we sent an email half an hour later to remind you (just like Amazon, travel sites, shopify sites, etc).

      The experiment wrapped up, and when Matthew Crane, the data analyst on the team, took a look at the data, he did something really smart. He actually compared a 30-day window rather than a 24 hour window. And guess what? *There was a trivial positive difference.*

      The weird thing though was, that so many people who came in via that email on our variant - **would have pledge anyways on the control**.

      In hindsight the answer was forehead-slappingly clear. We didn't need to send this email! Creators were naturally doing this for us already. They were regularly mentioning Patreon in their work, so that anyone who was going to eventually pledge was going to hear about it repeatedly and get reminded naturally. Our email didn't motivate very many new people, because they were already motivated.

      When people in growth talk about "don't just blindly apply these to your product" they are absolutely right. Every game is different. Every user model has its own psychology. In my head I'm hearing my negotiations professor's voice: "don't negotiate that last round - focus on this one."

      3 Share
  • GY

    Gabriel Yoran

    3 months ago #

    Hi Tal! Your work re Patreon onboarding is awesome! My question is: At Patreon, how many people work on acquiring new creators and how many work on improving the funnel (like you and your team)?

  • DH

    Dani Hart

    3 months ago #

    Hi Tal!

    Great to have you on. I'm curious... if you had the chance to tell every person getting started in growth 3 things, what would they be and why?

    Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

    Cheers!
    Dani

    • TR

      Tal Raviv

      3 months ago #

      Hi Dani - thank you!

      The first thing that jumps to mind is what I wish I could tell myself years ago. I used to be really scared of "doing growth" to be honest. It seemed like this mysterious practice that some people had the special skills or knowledge of the latest bag of popup banners and adwords or copywriting power words and what not.

      I had come from a science/engineering background and spent all my time working methodically in labs, or building product, and it just seemed SO different from anything I had done before. Like a lot of hard things it seemed like this big mountain that I wasn't born to climb.

      What I would tell everyone starting in growth is... it's not a big mountain. Don't pay attention to the crazy growth hack "how one weird trick..." type stories. It's really logical, to the point where it feels silly looking back.

      Growth is about deciding what you want to accomplish, understanding what's blocking people and/or what truly motivates those people, and doing the logical straightforward (almost boringly so!) thing to address that for them.

      It's a lot like troubleshooting a car or getting cells in a lab to do something. It's not hacking, it's methodology.

      I reeeeally wish someone laid that out for me earlier.

      That's one thing - if you'll allow me, I'll take on some more questions and see if more come to mind :)

      4 Share
  • TS

    Tyler Sean

    3 months ago #

    Tal, overrated or underrated (followed by a one-liner on why):

    Experience
    Mentorship
    Speed
    SF Giants
    Soma

  • AL

    Arsene Lavaux

    3 months ago #

    Bonjour Tal- Thank you for doing this AMA.

    Did you focus on one and only one must-have persona to achieve product-market fit and early traction with Patreon?

    Merci!

  • BI

    Benjelloun Ibrahim

    3 months ago #

    Hi Tal, thanks for doing this AMA,

    From your opinion what is the single way that the artist or to be accurate an musician can follow to succeed in Patreon?

    Thanks for your answer

    • TR

      Tal Raviv

      3 months ago #

      Hi Benjelloun! Great question - I believe there's too much mystery around this simple question.

      The single way to be successful is to start by not opening a Patreon page. I know this sounds counterintuitive.

      Instead, what we've observed in our data and user interviews repeatedly is that the most successful creators on patreon have built established passionate followings online and post regularly (daily, weekly, even monthly) and share with them regularly.

      So, for musicians, that's youtube-first rather than albums. For comics it's a website instead of a book. For podcasters that's start recording first and build an audience. For fine artists/craft that's instagram in addition to physical galleries/showings. Etc. etc. etc. For writers that's blogging in addition to publishing books (or, sharing
      book chapters early and often!)

      The beautiful thing is that we've seen zero - yes zero - correlation between follower base absolute numbers and financial earnings. That tells us it's about the passion of your following about the creator and their journey. (As a simple illustrative example, channels on youtube that have tens of millions of followers for cat video montages won't make as much as a woodworker with 10K subscribers)

      "Make something people want" in other terms. Patreon comes later.

  • JF

    Javier Feldman

    3 months ago #

    Hi Tal
    I read that post on how you double creator activation - great stuff!
    I wanted to ask what the aha moment for patrons was?
    What is it about what is communicated/how it is communicated using Patreon that leads more patrons to convert?

  • DO

    Danielle Olivas

    3 months ago #

    Can you talk about any challenges related to international growth?
    Is there anything you've encountered here that was completely unexpected?

  • GH

    Gustaf Hegelund

    3 months ago #

    Hi Tal,

    Hope you are well.

    I run a social media company. We are still very early in the process and we only have 1000 users.

    I have a question for you... What do you think is more important to focus on in our stage - retention, or growth? Because we waste resources investing in growth if the retention is not "in place", yet, it is very hard to get good retention with only 1000 users. So there is a clash between growth and retention. What's your thoughts on this?

    I appreiciate your answer :)

    All the best,

    Cheers,

    Gustaf

  • TR

    Tal Raviv

    3 months ago #

    Hey there everyone! Thank you for the thought-provoking questions - my "one metric" was to come away with my hands tired - feel successful on that front. Have to dive back into my schedule - I'll try to pick off another question or two over the coming day if I find a chance.

    Thank you for the opportunity!

    Patreon can use your brains, energy, and passion. Check out this page and see if anything appeals to you https://www.patreon.com/careers#positions

    • AA

      Anuj Adhiya

      3 months ago #

      Appreciate you spending this time with us Tal - lots for the community to chew on here! 🙌

  • SD

    Sédar DIOUF

    3 months ago #

    Hello, I am in charge of growing a site called talent2africa. It is a recruitment platform for African diaspora and of course, we publish job offers on our website.

    To date we have explored:
    Acquisition
    a. Publishing articles that focus on the international (job/startup related) news on LinkedIn like these
    https://talent2africa.com/en/multinationals-jobs-the-big-rush-to-africa/
    https://talent2africa.com/en/francais-et-si-la-diaspora-etait-la-solution-pour-financer-les-startups-africaines/

    The acquisition rate is still idle

    Retention:
    b. We send newsletters to keep users informed about the companies that currently hiring.
    c. We put out a challenge called talent of the week which consists of publishing an article on LinkedIn relating to the person who will most share our job offers.

    What would you advise for the next things to try for acquiring new members and to increase the rate of visits back to our website?

  • CC

    Charlotte Chapman

    3 months ago #

    Hi Tal,

    What are the best proven tactics to implement being featured in a Google Snippet?

  • SS

    Susan Su

    3 months ago #

    Hey Tal! Hope you're having a good AMA day :)

    You've previously talked about activation rate in an onboarding flow as the key to retention further downstream.

    I'm curious what else you guys do for retention at Patreon -- at both the product and the messaging layers -- in addition to optimizing activation.

    • TR

      Tal Raviv

      3 months ago #

      Hey Susan! Indeed :)

      Retention. Phew. What a topic! We're thinking about this a lot all the time. So there's two kinds of retention on Patreon:

      Creator Retention - our creator retention is naturally high and is more dependent on how much our product is meeting their needs in running a membership business. It comes down to "is my investment and effort worth what I'm getting from it."

      Patron and Pledge Retention - this is a really interesting one we think a lot about. Our creators have pretty amazing retention on the whole (when you compare to any tech product for example), and we wonder what we could do to make the patreon platform itself a retention machine on their behalf.

      There's two approaches we take to this kind of retention:

      1) Creator-Driven approach

      Can we create features and surface information that encourage creators to do the things we know make for amazing retention? Can we make "the actions that work" super easy and smooth, and also provide information that would influence creators?

      Examples: Easy acknowledgement, interactions, engagement, and identification of at-risk patrons right in the product

      2) Direct-to-Patron approach

      Can we make a product that does a better job at highlighting all the value they are getting from their pledges? Can we build in a better identity block that feels like an asset and identity they want to maintain and build? Etc.

      We're smack in the middle of thinking and working on this really cool area - so hopefully I'll have more failures/successes/learnings to share in the future.

      2 Share
  • SB

    Sean Baeyens

    3 months ago #

    Tal, I know you place a lot of importance on culture and team moral. Can you talk about your approach to managing and influencing the culture of growth teams?

    What are the main cultural qualities you look to inject into a team to make it successful?

    How much do you adapt things to fit the unique personalities and goals of different teams?

  • D.

    DanTri .

    3 months ago #

    Hi Tal,

    Thanks for doing an AMA with us!

    My question is what advice would you give to a 22-year-old senior college student who wants to become an elite growth marketer in 5 years?

    Thank you!

  • KW

    Kpako Wears

    3 months ago #

    I want to know how it feels when you have to master the struggle. So many things to learn, are they normal and would i learn things about things I need as time goes by?

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