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Welcome to brands bits and bytes hosted by Darrell DC, carbon and Larry Taman brands, Bits and Bytes stands at the intersection of grand tech and culture. We bring you interesting people and insightful points of view on what's poppin and not poppin. In marketing tech culture and beyond the scene, Larry have fascinated with the stories and people behind some of the best marketing in the business. No matter how dope your product. If your marketing sucks, your company may suck too. They both serve as managing partners and marketing consultancy brand positioning doctors where they help companies large and small tech and non tech build better marketers so they can build great brands.
What's happening brand nerds back at you, you know what it is? Brands beats and bytes podcast. I Lt. We in our now many, many podcast episodes, have had folks that are right down the line on the marketing bet. Like they are trained marketers, they've grown up as marketers, that kind of thing. So that's the brand's day. We've had some entertainment people along, so let's call that beats, music, film, that kind of thing. But the bytes now, the B YT s the bytes, the technology. I submit, you cannot be a great marketer today. Unless your Tech game is tight. Tech came has to be tight. And today in the building. We have someone that not only understands marketing, but definitely understands the bytes of it all. Lt. Break down who's in the building today.
Okay, Dee, that's, that's a great setup. So we have Richard White in the house today. Welcome, Richard. Thanks for having me. Okay, D. So before we walk through Richard, stellar background, you started to do an excellent intro into who Richard is. We want to point out what our man Sergio Zeeman back at Coca Cola used to say, just so appropriate for Richard here. He said the marketing should not be left to only the marketers. Richard is actually a tech guru and founder who figured out marketing was going to be an integral part of any success for his companies, and has done some great things in the marketing space. So let's break it down for Richard. So for college, Richard attends this wonderful stellar stellar engineering and Tech University in Raleigh, North Carolina, named North Carolina State University where he earned his BA in computer science. Why
is Larry so so ignorant to Larry again? So Brad, nerds, you can't see Richard right now, but he's doing the raise the roof sign, and he's putting up his two fingers like he's at, like at a rock concert or something like that. Okay, but I just want you to know what he's
doing. Where the Wolfpack This is.
What Oh, it's a Worf. Okay, my bad deal,
you got to know that. So Richard, you might not know this, but I have a graduate degree from that wonderful university in Chapel Hill. So we can all get along. You know, we all we've had Duke ease on the show. You're our first NC State person. So we're happy to have you.
I'm humbled to be here. I spent a lot of time at UNC I owe them I think about $3,000 and parking funds.
That funny if you know Chapel Hill at all, that's so that's so true. That's That's funny. That means you had a good time. We'll leave it at that, right. We'll leave it at that. So decent check this out. So Richard gets the entrepreneurial bug right away. And soon after school, he starts a company, which is an amazing thing called collective core that sets out to build a complete digital replacement for racks of VHS decks that are the backbone for hospital internal education, TV channels on everything from caring for your newborn to managing your diabetes. So Dee, so one of the items, I'm guessing, will really come up with our conversation today with Richard is he doesn't mince words, Richard sends a so after that, after that experience, which again, think about your early 20s You're doing that and he did that for three years. So at some point, and I'm not sure Richard maybe you can clarify this with timing. He sends a cold email to Justin can if I have that. Pronounced right and Emmett shear over at a company called keycode.com telling them how technically impressive but poorly designed their newly launched web based calendar firstname.lastname@example.org was, and then this led them to saying okay, kid if you're so smart, why Why don't you come over and handle this? So Richard is then brought on board to be the first full time employee to fix it. So Richard leads the redesigned Kiko app in Oh, six to a number of accolades before they all realize that they had no business being in calendaring. And they sell the company on eBay for $258,000. Yes, you heard that correctly. What's interesting D though, while the business wasn't a success, it launches the most impactful relationships of Richard's career in provides him the inspiration for user voice, his most successful startup, which we're gonna get to a little later as we walk through Richards background. So before user voice, Richard has a couple other steps. First did Ajax scaffold, which is a ruby red ruby on rails plugin. Again, this is the bite stuffs. So Richard, if I get this wrong, I apologize that made an ailment, get well designed, highly usable crud interfaces for any database table with a single line of line of code. Then he started slim timer and experiment and how far Richard feels he could take a product without any outside help, where he does literally everything from development to design, to marketing, and obtains a very loyal group of users. Did I have that right so far? Richard? Yep.
And the answer that question is, you can't take it very far with just yourself.
That's a good setup.
So so now the it is on to user voice, as I alluded to before, which was born out of Richard's frustrations back to Kiko for not having an easy way to understand the firehose of feedback that they were obtaining from users back at Kiko, it was only supposed to be a side project, scratching an itch for Richard, and jumped to a number of years later, where it's a profitable company, teaching Richard everything he knows about building products and teams. So again, he's the co founder for user voice. And along the way, he and the team were fortunate enough to raise $9 million from some from some great folks and work alongside even more. And now, to this day, 1000s of companies from startups, like Stack Overflow to enterprise companies like Microsoft, our customers, and Richard is most proud of making it easier for people to influence the products they use every day, including the invention of the Feedback tab that can still be seen on sides of 1000s of websites all over the world. So lastly, now while Richard still serves as chairman of user voice, he's still very much involved that user voice in 2020, a zoom culture truly explodes. Richard becomes founder and CEO of Fathom an app for zoom that allows you to record and highlight in real time, your zoom meetings, so you can write your notes later, or skip the notes completely and share clips from your calls with colleagues and closing brand notes. We're super lucky to have a very successful tech founder with lots to share. Welcome to brands, Bits and Bytes. Richard White.
Thanks so much for having me. That's quite the intro. I forgot I did all those things. But I did. So you did appreciate bringing it back up.
And you probably got the scars to prove it. That's right.
Something like that. Exactly.
All right. lt as usual, brother. Respect. Respect on the way you shared Rich's background with the brand nerds. Hi, Richard. We are now moving to the Get comfy section. And brand nerds before we started recording this at least for for live purposes. Richard was talking about. He's now in Miami. And he was was it last week? You were skiing in Colorado? Yep. Last week. Okay. So we get here, he described himself as a bit of a nomad. So we know I've learned that, Richard, you really enjoy ski. So I've learned this about you. And so I'd like to try to take your skiing experience. And I want to relate it to a specific area of business. And that is this. What if anything, about what you've learned in skiing helped, helped and or helps you in the area of attracting investment for your companies? that specific area?
I mean, it's interesting, I only learned to ski as an adult. So I actually only learned about eight years ago. Wow. And I kind of I often say that I have two ways of doing a thing. I don't do a thing, or I overdo a thing. And that's certainly true of skiing. It's a shame because I think, you know, past a certain point, the biggest challenge with skiing is your own just kind of self confidence. Right? And it's a mental thing, right? Like, I think the bigger ski accident I've had or not because I couldn't do it because I got my head that I couldn't do it. Right. And so, you know, it's actually Usually I think it really my ski career, I'd often actually I very commonly have like with beers, because with beers tend to help with that whole confidence thing, right? And you can just lean forward a lot more and not worry about how fast you're going sort of thing. But I think so I think it's like, same thing with with fundraising, right? Like, obviously, you have to have some the mechanics, you have to have some of the fundamentals. You can't It's not like we work can't be a total confidence game here, right? You've got to have some of the fundamentals. But then a lot of it is confidence. I meet entrepreneurs all the time, who have great objectively great businesses, but they get to a pitch meeting, and they're so in awe of the investor or the VC that they're not, you know, projecting the confidence they should, right. And the same thing of skiing, you know, like you get in skiing, we call this getting back on your skis, right? You get on your heels a little bit. And so you just got to lean, lean and lean forward and not be afraid to go fast.
Well, what's the for the I go to a Larry? Brother? Do you know how fast you have traveled on a pair of skis?
I do. Because I'm okay. I'm a huge quant person rail until I record all the things in it. I had since I started I had a speed goal of breaking 60 and actually broken for the first time this year was like 60.5.
Okay, what does that feel like? Richard?
It feels like a lot of wind in your face. It's a, you know, I think I think most of the ski racers go like 70 or 80. But I'll tell you, like when I get upper 50s It's a little like, you know, it's a little white knuckling. It's a little like, okay, we can do this, but it's, you know, I assume it's also I don't ride motorcycles, but I assume this is kind of why people like riding motorcycles. Very strange, almost flying feeling, you know, especially one thing I really liked about skiing, that I also really translate to startups is it's a high leverage activity. I put a note for putting you putting in a little bit of effort. I go very fast relative to like running or biking or something like that. Right. And so yeah, go go to over 50 I feel like on skis is Yeah, usually a real a real thrill. I don't generally want to do that for more than like, a minute or so.
Mm hmm. Where?
Well, what I'm also taken with what Richard said is that the fact that he started skiing is an adult and like he said, You're either all in and you're in or you're not in at all. And I think that's really interesting. D I don't know if you know, this. My wife Sherry, same thing. She didn't learn to ski until the adult and there's nothing she loves more than skiing.
I didn't know that. Lt. Yeah, yeah.
And so there's, there's something to be said. I think about what there's something about Richard, I think we're gonna find out with his. You're all the way in and you're not in. I think that's a really interesting nugget there.
All right, pretty sure. There's a real joy of learning things as an adult to I think, right, like, especially when other people didn't, right. They weren't the most kids and just to give you, I feel, it gives me a real feeling of empowerment that like oh, okay, just because I didn't do something in my youth doesn't mean I can't do it now. Right. So it's very joyful. That's awesome.
Yeah, I, I know, a couple of folks who have been lifelong skiers. And this point you're making Richard about coming into this world eight years ago as an adult? What I wonder, I don't know what I wonder is that for an adult that gets into skiing and takes it to the level that you've taken it? Is there a greater appreciation for it? Yeah, because you did not have it at eight. I just wonder, I just I don't know. But I wonder.
Yeah, it feels like, you know, as opposed to like, oh, I kind of lucked into the fact that my parents were privileged enough or whatever to take me to the ski hill. Yeah, it kind of organically. No, no, I like I made this happen sort of thing. I think there is I certainly think there is that sort of joy and gratitude with it.
Cool. Cool. All right, brother. We are now moving to the next section. We call this five questions. Here's how this works. I asked a question where he asked a question we go back and forth until we reach five and I am the leadoff So Richard, share with us a an example of your first brand love the first brand that you engaged with that took your breath away. The brand that had you spend time with it, and you lost yourself in the in the time you spent with it. The brand that made you smile, the brand that brought you joy, a bit like a first love or even a crush. What What was that for? You?
Oh, gosh, that's a great question. I mean, I was, as you might, as you might suspect, kind of a nerdy kid. So I, you know, played a lot of video games. I, you know, I would say probably either be like Sega I back when every kid had the Nintendo, I had the Sega and I think she was like, I always like I'm kind of a contrarian. And so I wonder why everyone's got that one, I should get the other one. And it was interesting, because the Nintendo not like this of the eight bit Nintendo was like, objectively a better product and everything. But I had the Sega and I became very loyal to the Sega. And I was like, you know, you know, I, I kind of knew in my head, I think that like, there were better games Nintendo, and I just didn't. So probably I wouldn't go there won't be like, actually, it's funny, because I feel like this brand has changed so much over the years will be Microsoft. And I played some early like Microsoft games, too. And I remember, I don't know how this happened. But somehow, I got invited to be a beta tester for Microsoft games at like, 18 or something. And they sent me free games, the beta test, and they wanted my feedback. And I remember being so proud of that. And they're just like, some of my mom would tell it was, you know, my son is testing games from Microsoft. Right? And it's like, it wasn't really that big of a deal. I think we're probably sending this out to like, 10s of 1000s of people. But but like the fact that the brand, not only did I like their stuff, but they seem to actually notice me, I wasn't just like, you know, wasn't just a faceless consumer. They're like, Oh, no, Richard White, we actually want his feedback. And you know, if you going back to back to LTS like, intro, I guess, I honestly didn't know this moment, probably realize, but that probably had a format of, like, impact on like, if you look at all the stuff in my career, Oh, yeah. And a lot about customer advocacy and engaging customers. And I think it's because I had such a powerful experience with Microsoft as a teenager.
Hmm. Sega. I have not heard the word Sega in quite a while. But I do remember having a Sega game and in console. I do remember that. But it I hadn't heard in a long time. Yep.
Yeah, I think there are better days are behind them. So but those better days were pretty good.
They were damn good. Larry, I
love that we're really getting a peek into the into Richard D in his contrarian side. Because I think that's certainly something that has been a thread Richard, it seems like, if somebody tells you you can't do something, or you know that you're gonna figure out a way to do it. And it seems like that that's a big part of what you've established in your career in your life. Am I reading into that too much, or? Do I have something?
Yeah, I think most of my ex girlfriends would confirm that.
Okay, okay, so Richard, we're not gonna be mentioned any names, okay. Yeah, no,
no, no, no, it's a safe space. We're gonna keep it.
We're gonna keep moving. All right. All right.
Okay. So Richard, next question is who is hatters having the most influence on your career?
I mean, so you kind of alluded to this story, but you know, I kind of like cold emailed these guys, right and said, your product, your product is technically impressive, but design is pretty bad. And actually, I'm originally a technologist. But now I really fancy myself more of a product designer. And I was like, Oh, I'll fix this for you. And you know, that one email, and not only just sending an email, but also the response that the founders of this company, Justin Kahn, Emmett, shear had really changed the trajectory of my career. I was living in North Carolina at the time, I had done some startup stuff before, as you alluded to, but I think I was kind of like how the startup thing, I can't find anyone else that really wants to do it. And I like cold email these guys in Boston. And thankfully, they were like, sure, yeah, we'd love to have your help. Right. Like, and, you know, it didn't start immediately with join the team. It started with, like, you know, wondering from your ideas, and it started, you know, kind of very organically, but it led to me, working with them out of this office in Boston, early in Cambridge, with other startup entrepreneurs, and it was actually part of this pretty famous now incubator called Y Combinator. And so yeah, Kiko was in the first batch of Y Combinator. And so, Justin and Emmett, we shared the office with Steve and Alexis, who were the founders of Reddit. And so it's like Reddit and Kiko are sort of the same room. So it's kind of laughable. You know, Kiko in selling the company on eBay crossed the, yeah, you could throw a paper airplane across the room, and that company had a little bit of a different outcome with Reddit, but it was like, you know, what a transformational experience for me to get kind of air dropped into what I didn't know at the time, but was really kind of like the nexus of, you know, web 2.0 or, you know, web technologists and so that that email their response that email easily is the most influential kind of you know it's almost a sliding doors moment right? I don't even try to think about what happened if that if that doesn't go through the way it does. I love
the way you told that story. So are Justin an avid still, compadres? Are they folks you?
Yeah. So I'm so good friends with them. And you'll know them better as the founders of Twitch. So the company after Oh yeah, it's twitch. And so it was Justin and Emmett. Michael Seibel, who's now the CEO of Y Combinator. Kyle Vogt, who is now the CEO of cruise. Yeah, so that was the that was their, that was their encore performance to Kiko was to do what was then Justin TV, which was Justin wearing a camera on his head, but then she morphed into Twitch, which is, you know, the worldwide like live streaming platform. Wow.
So did you know at the time that that was a special like that you were in? Like, when you got you said, you got air dropped in there? Did you know at the time, like, oh, man I'm in. This is a special place.
Maybe a little bit, but certainly not to degree that I would recognize it now. Right? I just felt like, oh, look, I found kindred spirits, right, like, Oh, these are like, and frankly, these were like the technologists I thought I would find when I went to college, but didn't actually find that commonly in college. And I was like, Oh, these are the people that like live and breathe, you know, programming and building and whatnot. And so I don't think I had there wasn't like a Oh my gosh, I've I've arrived at the Pantheon or right of this thing. It's just more like I found my tribe. Right. And turns out, they're hiding on this in this, this concrete brick building in Cambridge. Right. And so yeah, and so it's great. And you know, all of those guys that are interested I consider friends to this day, and you what a what a impressive group of people to learn from along the way.
Great story. Do you have anything to add to that?
I do. You mentioned the the words kindred spirit. This is what you found when you were in this incubator. What are some of the things now looking back that you think are common with you and those that were there that are tangible? And then the same question for things that are intangible commonalities? Yeah, I
mean, I think, at our core, everyone in that room, really just like building things like I even to this day, I don't get I don't get out of bed in the morning to go make revenue. But that doesn't really excite me, what excites me is like, shipping a product that people are going to be happy with that they're going to be excited to use that that's a product that I want to use, right, I think post everyone was, you know, kind of scratching an itch they had, I think, you know, one of the challenges we had with Kiko, which was kind of like a Google calendar before Google calendar was, none of us, actually, I think I remember one time being in the car, and we were struggling with the business what to do with it. And I think we're all like, 2526. At the time, it was like, have any of us used a calendar before? And the answer was like, we're like, No, not really. Maybe we're not going to be the people to find the billion dollar business in calendaring. But we just wanted to build things. Right. And, and so, and I really think, you know, now I'm gonna sound like the, the grumpy old man. But I think one of the big differences between the, I think, the 2006 to 2009 era, Silicon Valley versus what came later is, you know, the, you know, I remember going to San Francisco in 2006. And that's we started in Cambridge, but then very clearly, everyone moved to the Bay Area, there was way more happening, venture capital wise and whatnot. And I remember all these people will take me around San Francisco Bay. You guys missed it. You should have been here six years ago, this place was poppin. Right? Okay. Yeah. And it was just kind of a ghost town. But the people that were there really, like, were there. I was waiting for the right reasons. Like they just like, we just came here to build stuff, right. And then it turned out, that's where 10 years later, I feel like the people that just wanted to build stuff. And being you know, drew from Dropbox was there. And like the guys from Weebly, were there and like, it's just like, I looked down the list. And none of these people were in the beginning were pretentious. I remember, you know, when Dropbox, Dropbox had some sort, like data leak or something, and they we got like that first 1000 users, and I'm like user number eight, or something. And I remember this, right? There's no, none of these guys were in there with pitch decks and ambitions and making a lot of money. Everyone was there just saying, Look at this cool little thing I made. Look what it does, right. And, you know, and everyone was just scratching their own itches. And I think that was, I don't know, there's no, there's a purity of purpose and creative process to that era that I just really frankly, love.
You, you really did a great job of communicating that in a great way. I'll subscribe to this though having lived in the bay since 97. So I show my bona fides in my age, but I saw the.com Bubble happen and burst and then the error that you're talking about that was posed and I would subscribe that one of the wonderful things about the bay is that that was your generation that you did an incredible job, you know, at that age that were really the technologists that were, you know, taking the next level that twitches and what you're talking about, you know, Richard, but I think, and again, I am biased, because I love it here, it's my home, but I think the next generation is just going to do their thing in their own way that might be a little bit different than yours. That's all because I didn't, you know, come in and make it happen. Yeah, it's
definitely kind of like almost like a college type thing, which like, like every generation goes through, and like, you know, at some phase, now, all my friends really VCs and whatnot, they're just in that phase, right. And there are still I think, at any given point, in a lot of these communities, there are people that are at that phase, we were at 2016, right, and we're there back in building new things. And in fact, I think what's interesting, so now that, you know, I ran UserVoice, for 12 years and started a new company fathom that 18 months ago, and essentially, because I went back through that Y Combinator program, which is a really interesting thing. I was in the first batch, but I was actually never officially part of it and went back to his program and others I went through back to the program was because I was like, oh, I need to reconnect to people that are back in the arena, right? Like most of my friends are out of the arena, they're, they're sitting up in the press box, right? There's sort of boxes at the arena, I need to get back on the on on the Ford and see what it's like. And so, I do think you're right, that there's always some cohort of people, which are, you know, in that early creative journey, and I think a lot of them are the best ones always, I think, look like they're just there, because they really, really, like care about the problem. And they're like, I just want to solve the problem. I don't, I don't have some fancy pitch deck and tell me I'm going to make a bunch of money. And they even I don't even think about that, right? I fact, I'm probably gonna make a bunch of money and still drive my Honda Civic right. But I just, I just want this the solution to exist. And so I think that's, that's honestly, one of my favorite things about the Bay Area culture is that like, it's a culture of building. It's also a culture of, of helping, right, I feel like in, you know, it's kind of funny, because I'm sitting here in Miami, where, but I don't really know my ins culture. But I had told it's not exactly that same sort of culture. But in the Bay Area, people kind of trip over themselves help other people along the way. It's a kind of a form of social currency of like, oh, this person was the angel investor, and all these things, right? This person was the advisor to all these things, this person. And I think it's that culture of, like, you know, support that I think is a really unique thing to the barrier or to tech culture.
Great stuff. That's dope. That's dope, Larry. So like, go to the next question. Brother. Please do. All right. Richard, as a founder in early stage, dude, in many companies, you have no doubt had some major ups and some major downs. And we are going to focus this next question on the ladder. The question is, in your entire career, as you look at the pantheon of Richard career, what's the biggest eff up? You've made you? Not anyone else rich, but you made it and what did you learn from it?
How many hours do we have for the answer this question? You know, this, the answer is probably dovetails nicely to that last story, which is, you know, I worked with Justin Emmett, who went on to do Justin TV, which turned to twitch, and I was actually invited to be the fifth co founder of what was then Justin TV. So, which turned into Twitch. And, and, you know, there's interest, you know, I turned it down. And the reason I turned it down is because at the beginning, it was kind of this crazy idea. It wasn't like this five streaming platform, it was like Justin's gonna strap a camera to his head and walk around 24/7 It's gonna be like an entertainment thing. And I kind of a, I have a bias word, against entertainment things. I'm more of a productivity guy. I like building things that give people more time to waste rather than waste more of their time. But I think also, I looked at that problem. And I was like, there isn't really a design problem here. I was like, there's a, there's what tech problems here. There's a lot of like, social problems here sort of thing. But there's not really a design problem. So I said, I'm gonna pass. And, you know, obviously, my career turns decently well, like, I wouldn't have done UserVoice if I joined them. But I do think that in retrospect, I think one of the things that's always served me well, my career is when I can join other people, right? And I think this is also something you know, I think everyone myself, I have a tendency to like, oh, I don't like because I'm a contrarian, I want to go it alone. I want to do it my way sort of thing. And in retrospect, I probably should have been less focused on the idea and more focused on the team. Because the team was, I love the team. A team was great. That idea I was like, I don't know about this idea. And I don't know if I could be helpful this idea, but that is like less important in the grand scheme of things then the team you're able to show Mm
hmm. Wow. That's the
yeah, there's a quote that Larry Jeff Jade and I have heard. And I believe it comes from Silicon Valley, but you would know better than I, Richard and it is. This is through through the prism of VCs, angel investors, private equity, folks, is that you? You bet on the jockey not on the horse. And you are talking about the jockeys.
Yep. Yeah. It's one ugly horse you're riding but like, I like okay. And then they turned out they like, you know, they just swapped horses at some point in the race with a thoroughbred, and yeah, they were off to the races. So we're gonna get out of here. Horses come and go. I guess the other corollary?
Well, it's such that's such an interesting topic that you bring up. And also again, we're, you know, we emanate from Stanford, you know, Good to Great. Was was written by a couple of Stanford professors. And one of the things that that you get most from good to great. The book is that get the right people on the bus. Oh, yes. We love what you're saying. And it's hard to see at the time, like you knew that was your tribe. Right, Richard, you said that, like you acknowledge that, but you didn't go all in to the tribe?
Yeah, yeah, that's right. That's right. Yeah. It's a bit Richard, like you were with a pack of wolves. But somehow, there was a yearning in you to be a lone wolf food. Yeah, you you were like I'm chilling with the pack. I like to pack the packs cool. We hunt together, we eat together, we protect one another. Sometimes wander off? Yeah.
Well, I think there's also there's just kind of I this dichotomy of like, product market team, right, like the three kind of core components to your startup, right. And I think, early in my career, I thought about it, kind of in that order, like product first, Team second market third. And, and now I actually waited my career, invert those three things and think like, market first, like, is there a market here that we understand that we want to go after Great, let's build a team that can like build against that market. And then lastly, let's find a product that we can execute on right and almost like, works that direction. Because, you know, I think very commonly you have these things where you get overly hung up on, if you go the other direction, you get overly hung up on exactly the product you want to build. Which means you don't focus on getting the right team or also sometimes means and we've had this my career, we go to take it to market, we've got the product in the team, we go to market. Oh, there's not really a market there. Right or like not. Ah, yeah. And so almost inverting that pyramid, I found has been very useful, right. So if I, if I had said the market is just like, oh, yeah, the market is just entertainment. Forget the restrap the camera just had to buy so yeah. Can I get involved? Entertainment? Yeah. Probably gonna get involved in what to do with steam. Absolutely. Is this the product? Maybe not. But like, let's get started. We get two out of the three.
Right? Yeah, we'll figure it out. Because GoPro was around already, I imagine. Right? Like that was part of what you're probably thinking too. Yeah,
exactly. Yeah. Okay, brand nerds. Richard just dropped some brilliance on you. I just wanted to run that back now. When he was a, a young Wolf, he thought product team market. He's now a more mature Wolf. I'm not gonna call you an old wolf. Because you're more mature and
more seasoned. A seasoned see
resolver. Thank you. Great result. He's now flipped this to go market team product that is interesting. That that's interesting. That's interesting.
Well, Richard said it D because if you don't have the market, you can come up with the greatest product. And we've seen that happen to Silicon Valley time. And again, that's really what Richard saints somebody made the greatest products, but the and, and it had great teams, but if there's no market, you've got nothing.
Yeah. And Silicon Valley has a very large graveyard. Yep. It's some of the best products one could imagine. Yep. And they are dead. Yep. Yeah, they did. Larry, next question, bro.
Yeah, so Richard, would we love this question, but for you, especially, you know, for technology, because this is where this is your your bailiwick. You were brought up in this so you have the great background. Can you tell us where you think marketers should lean in or best leverage tech versus areas that you think they should be leery?
It's interesting, because I think that we've talked about that question a lot for father right. And I think I think overall thing I've learned is that like, there's a tendency to Cargo Cult what you see waiter stage firms do, right. And from a marketing perspective, waiters stage firms tend to do all the things, right, they do every marketing discipline. But if you go back and look at it, like how to most companies get their start, they usually get their start with like a single marketing channel, right, or single marketing technology. You know, for us with fathom, it's basically this zoom app marketplace, zoom, like launches that marketplace, we're actually the number one app in that marketplace, like nominee app, you know, we basically pick the strategy of marketing based on this opportunity sort of thing. But I think at a very, like, macro level, I my thing with marketing is always just like Zig when everyone sags and like, by the time there's like a bunch of books and blog posts telling you, this is the way to do it, I'm almost certain, it's not the way to do it. Right? By the time there's the everyone's telling you, you should be doing content marketing, you probably aren't going to get much value out of content marketing. And so I think there's, you know, we've actually, I think, gotten a lot of, you know, we don't do any real, we don't do almost any content marketing, we just basically do app store. And we do like we go hard in the paint on customer advocacy with that, to the GRI which we know is some swag which are giving equity out to our users. Wow. And and so, you know, I looked at that as something that was happening on the edges of crypto, where people are getting, you know, basically tokens and new projects. And it's like, how do we? How do we kind of like, apply that to a more traditional business? And so I think it's one of the things where it's like, I think that sometimes the most effective marketing strategies, please, from a technology perspective, are here to find out what's happening on the bleeding edge, because by the time it's, everyone's doing it, marketing sometimes has a bit of a zero sum effect, right? It's like my time everyone's doing it, everyone looks the same, then it's no longer differentiating you from someone else. So that's not really you know, so I don't really have a one size fits all prescription other than find the thing that's like, a little bit unique and maps to your business and your go to market. Hmm.
You know, as as D is Richard tells us that story. I think there's a lot of sage wisdom in it. I also go back to what he was just talking about, which when he laid his brilliance on us about, you know, thinking about market team, and then product, because you think about what you did at fathom what you're doing at fathom. Like duh, what, you know, you, you guys found that fathom, as zoom culture is just becoming the biggest thing. And so who's gonna argue with that?
Right? Yeah, exactly. Like, we almost figured out our go to market before we figured out the product necessarily, right. We just knew there's something around this that that we have, you know, and I had, like, there's also an acute problem that I had, like, with Zoom, right? Like I had my own itch to scratch with it. But yeah, we made maybe not before, but like definitely in parallel figured out like, Okay, but how are we going to get this in the hands of people? Okay, like, turns out everyone's Allen's one platform. Turns out this platform is making this new marketplace. Turns out, there's like a natural virality to recording products and things like that. So yeah, absolutely. I think this has been, you know, I feel like Fathom kind of being really more like the second funded startup that I've done myself. I always described as playing like a video game again, like a second time and going back and playing an old video game. And I'm almost like speed running that video game. Because I kind of, you know, the first time you play the video, the hard part is like you don't know, you don't know, like, I don't know where the good sword is. And I don't know where the good shield is. But this time, I'm like, you know, I remember everything. But I did play this game like five, six years ago, I do vaguely remember that the good shield is in that castle, and the good sword is in that dungeon, and what's just a beeline to those things, right. And so, and part of that is, you know, from the get go, knowing here's what our go to market is going to be, and let's speed around to it rather than, you know, building the product first and then kind of thrashing around in the dungeon looking for the right go to market. Wow,
that's deep. You know, the what I'm struck with, I think of Tom Brady, that we use a lot of sports analogies Richard, and, you know, Tom Brady, at his age, one of the real reason he's been able to somehow keep his body in shape, but he seen things, there's nothing you can see that can happen on a football field that he hasn't seen. And so everything goes so slow when you talk about great players, Jordan curry, you know, whatever the sport is, they always talk about the game slowing down. And I think what you just described in your second now, as you said, funded startup, this game is much slower, because when we talk about this all the time, in our business and on the podcast, it's really we all don't know what we don't know. And all of a sudden, second time around, there's a lot less things that you don't know.
Yeah, 100% and in some ways, I was also fortunate in that user voice we were I would say we were good, not great company. Like we did a lot of great things product wise and There's no real wins there. But we did for different good markets. We did bottom up, we did top down, we tried, we, we did all the things. And in some ways, sometimes when you get one of these companies where it's good, not great, you, you have to get good. Like you have to good the execution piece of all the stuff, right? If you just have the right product at the right time, you can actually be somewhat garbage I like a lot of like marketing disciplines in the thing still takes off just because it's the right thing at the right time. But you don't but you get this almost like false signal of I had execute it. So I think I feel very fortunate that like, not only do I not like, there's less unknown unknowns, but also, I have some semblance experience with like, here's what good execution looks like across these different disciplines of marketing and product.
Wow. It is, this is pretty heavy. And I find that often, the biggest ideas are the simplest. Yep, the things that we walk right by or over. So for fathom, Richard, for you to look at the market and say, I wonder what was going through your head, there is a global pandemic, people are in their homes, they're not going into the offices to do work. So this thing that was sparsely used called Zoom, or teams or fill in the blank, now is all of a sudden is like, blazing. And then for you and whomever you worked with in the early days to go, it is in this domain, that this market, this market to use your nomenclature, where we believe we can connect some tech that might make it easier for people to be more productive in this new environment that they're learning. I mean, that's like, classic. It's dumb, brilliant. Yeah,
it's a compliment.
Yeah, that's a compliment. Yes.
I'll take any kind of brilliant I can get
Yeah, yeah. That's, that's good, man. That's good. Now, go ahead, Larry, you might say something other than. Alright. So in. I was reading this many years ago. Now, the book done on Steve Jobs rest in power. And they talked about his early days, Steve's early days at Apple second time. And he's looking at the mess that Apple has become. And as in his book, he goes to the grease board, and does a two by two, two by two just for boxes, and writes in those four boxes. This is where we're going to play. I don't remember what what the four boxes were. But at the time, we're talking about a company in tech, where there's a lot of shit they could be doing. Yep. For things. And this is what turn that company around. It was dumb. Brilliant. Yeah.
Yeah. That's right. Yeah. It's also through experience, learning the value of that kind of focus, and being able to make quick decisions of like, we're not doing that we're not doing that we're not doing that, right. And having strong conviction, like, here's where we're going to win. And here's where we're going to cede ground. And I think that's another thing where like, you know, the naive kind of like, early wolf version is I want to take every hill I can see, right, yeah. And yeah, and now you're like, Yeah, I just want to take that one big one over there. And have
the rest. That's right. Yep. And you want to really take it though, you're gonna take the whole hill? That's right. That's the difference. Deep before we go on, yes, I have a friend of mine, H. Smith, who runs a global business for zoom and in where he was going to be on the show that CA We got to get you scheduled. We've been talking about it for a while. And he told the story and this isn't that a school that when that pandemic happened, and the first thing that he was thinking about running their global business is okay, what kind of PR are we going to generate that is going to help us because obviously, we're in the right moment. Yeah. And literally, he was meeting with with a PR folks. And like an hour later, one of them came in and said, well, Boris Johnson just did his a whole press meeting on our on Zoom. And they're like, well, that's a good start. And nothing hurts. They were in it. They their brand was great, but they were really in the right place at the right time. And then part of the PUD zoom zoomed, right, yeah. Yeah.
All right, Larry, Shall I hit the last question to my man? Richard, what are you most proud of robber?
Oh, gosh. I mean, thankfully, I'm pretty thankful i It's a hard question to answer. It, I think, from a product person Active, you've muted to kind of these like feedback tabs. If you go to our websites, you'll see these little buttons on the side. Sometimes the feedback, sometimes it's a help whatnot. I'm pretty proud of like, we actually came up with that concept. We were the first people with the user voice ever productizing that concept. And it came out of this thing. Like we were building tools that allow people to capture feedback better. But most companies don't care about feedback. And so what they would do is they put a link in the footer that said, feedback. No one's going your footer seeking out giving, right? Yeah, these are always, you know, most of the times you click that link, and it takes you to something, you know, it's probably going into a circular file, right? It's like, oh, yeah, cool. We will we deeply care about your feedback, right? Yeah. So so we said, Well, how do we how do we basically make something that tells that like, breaks people's mental model, right, if we go put a red button on the side of the page above, the fold follows you everywhere, it says feedback. Also, wow, this company was actually care about my feedback. And it was, you know, honestly, one of the things it was like a weekend project, but it drove most of the early growth of user voice because it drove all our visibility adoption. So if you'll if you'll permit me, that's my product one. But I'd say my probably more macro one is, as you know, going back to that whole market team product construct the team, I haven't found this fantastic. And it's, this is the only thing that's like you get to do as a old wolf or grizzled Wolf, or whatever we're calling yourselves now as you know, I've been fortunate to basically go be able to cherry pick the best people I've worked with over the last 10 years in technology. And in customer success, customer care, which I think is the other big thing of what we're doing is making sure we do awesome product and awesome customer care. And my, you know, are 12 person team that are still pretty tiny. But everyone is yeah, it's all. It's all senior folks. Right. And it's all folks have been there done that. And my gosh, like what a difference talking about the importance of not just like strategy execution, what a benefit is on both of those, both of those angles to have people you trust and work with that have been there done that, like you have, it's just, you know, I'm very proud of the product that we've made, like I use the Fathom product every day is my favorite product. Of course, I'm biased. But I'm more proud of the team that has made it that great and makes it better every day. And so, you know, it's great when you get the slack messages that are like this problem happened. And we fixed it, right, like another problem happened. And if it's, you know, you might, it might surprise you, but turns out building your entire business on top of zoom. You know, it's not without, like, technical challenges, right? Yeah. And so we have them every day, we have a very complicated, highly technical product. And I'm very fortunate that we have a team both on the tech side, and on the non tech side that just won like we do phenomenal, we recover quickly. But two, we do a really good job of keeping users in the loop like this thing. You'd even notice this thing broke, but we're letting you know that this thing broke, we saw that we fix it right. And that was like we do a really good job of that. And that's something that I think I'm really proud of with this team.
That's something that really be proud of man like damn struck with. It says a lot about Richard, we we see a lot of this this stuff happen a lot. Richard, it says a lot about you that, as you said, you're you've picked and choose the best people, but the fact that they came on board with you says everything about you, then we're able to do that. Because it seems like I'm reading into this. But as soon as you made that call to those 11 other folks, they're like, when do we start and how, which says a whole lot about you and your leadership and and who you're about.
I mean, it's like this gonna sound cliche, but it's it is truly very humbling. Because every one of these people could get 10 jobs tomorrow if they wanted, right. And so, ya know, I think that's also the benefit of like, you know, putting it up, you know, 1015 years of in your career, and hopefully, I like to think doing it the right way so that people do want to come back and you know, you're not just leaving a string of burn bridges behind you. So but yeah, it's very humbling. I'm very thankful every day that they choose to come to work here because they have that choice to go anywhere they
want. Love it. Hmm, okay. Okay. Good. This is good. Yeah. Larry, next section. Rob.
Let's do it. Alright, D what's poppin?
what's poppin? All right, Richard,
this is our chance to shout out shout down or simply err, something happening in and around marketing today that we think is good fodder for discussion. So D would you like to lead off or shall I?
I would like to lead off Larry, if you're good with that, please. Okay. I mentioned earlier brand nerds that Richard described himself as a bit of a nomad. This is this is what he said about himself because he was in Denver skiing earlier. And then now he's in Miami. And within a week, Richard, would you say we're gonna we're gonna week within a week or so and And there is another nomadic story that has been propagated in the last week and that is the wealthiest man in the world. Elon Musk is purported to not have a home of his own. When he travels, he sleeps on, on maybe not sofas, but rooms of friends of his Yeah, he doesn't he doesn't have his own home. This is this was reported now, I don't know. I don't know if it's absolutely right or not. But they've got quotes from him saying, when he goes to different places, he calls up his mates and he stays over there place. All right. So that then had me get more curious about Elon, he's already a curious do to me. But when I read that, I'm like, this dude could buy any home anywhere on the planet. He can he can build a home in Mars, but you will probably do at some point. So money is not the problem. So I'm like, what, what makes this do tick. So I came across a quote from Elon Musk. That is my what is poppin? And the quote is, most people will panic to find a charger before their phone dies. But won't panic, to find a plan before their dream dies. Hmm. I'm gonna say that again. Mr. Elon Musk. Most people will find a charger before their phone dies, but won't panic to find a plan before their dream dies. Richard and Larry, this stopped me in my tracks. stopped me in my tracks. What's happened for me? Is brand nerves. One. How closely does this describe you? And when I say you, I mean all of us. Yep. And the second thing that's popping from me, Richard and Larry is how big is the dream? How big is the dream you have for your life and your career. I'm going to use myself as an example. I'm always knew that I wanted to become an entrepreneur. I wasn't exactly certain of the domain. But I knew that at some point, I wanted to be an entrepreneur. Right now, Richard, we're working on something, I'm gonna put it out here publicly. That way there will be more accountability is we brand positioning doctors are seeking to start a fund. And the purpose of the fund is to locate black owned black operated brands, and to help to create more black millionaires who can generate generational wealth. So this is something we want to do. Now, right now, what we do is we consult companies all over the world in branding. We want to convert the knowledge and experience that we have Richard into this larger dream that we have. And we're not going to let that dream die. However, I would imagine if our dream were to build a consultancy practice, that would service you know, X amount of clients per per annum. Perhaps there would not be a lot of panic there. If that dream died. But because we have a loftier dream, we're not going to let that dream die. We're not going to panic. So that's what's poppin. For me, gentlemen.
So Richard, I just have to say one thing, and I'll let you talk. I'm so good with this is something we've been concocting and I'm glad Dee put it out there for us in public for because it does put that accountability for us. And I'll also add, he said it perfectly. But we also want to ensure that as part of this, that we're actually helping people helping the African American community, the minority community, really, in totality in a macro way, because Jeff, Surely our wonderful producer has come across this quote, do you mind it comes that IQ is spread evenly, but opportunity is not.
Yes, that is that's from that's from from Jeff. Yeah. So
anyway, it's fantastic. It goes back to like the earlier thing like the best goals are like intrinsic motivation, right? This is like it's not If we want to get our business to $100 million, it's gonna we want to like leave this imprint on the world, whether it's building a product or building a community of people that are building products and things like that. You know, it's interesting. I grew up, like, I grew up in North Carolina, that's where I went to college. And I think that was a big difference between the Bay Area and North Carolina. It's like, there's been startup exits in North Carolina. But there wasn't a culture of of ownership and companies, it wasn't like stock options, equity, you know, Red Hat goes public, how many millionaires has Red Hat create compared to how many red millionaires did did Facebook creators and go create or any of these companies? And so, you know, it's, it's, there's a, there's a cultural issue here, too, right? Where it's like, yeah, like, there's lots of smart people everywhere. In fact, most of our team is actually based in North Carolina. But it's not everyone. Like there is an outside there's always these cultures of equity of opportunity and things like that. So I am super applaud your dream stare. I think that's a fantastic, a fantastic goal to work towards.
Thank you Rich. And by the way, this was the BPD fun, this was Larry's idea. Like he wouldn't say that, because that's Larry, but this was his idea. And then we started to shape around it. So salute and respect mer respect to Larry. So Larry, your thoughts about my was poppers? Well,
I'm surprised you shared it. So I'm really glad that you did, like I said, and no, I think I think that it's, it's really important to set the dreams big because and that's what Elon Musk is really saying, you bring it out that quote, because we everyone has a dream. But life gets in the way, you know, life gets in the way both in, in knocking you down, as well as may be taking you on a left turn that you didn't expect that might not necessarily be bad. But you know, it takes you in a different direction. And so what he's really saying is, he's never let anything, sway him and get in the way.
Now, I want to end this. I agree, Larry, and also with you, Richard, I just wanna say this one thing, and then I'll, I'll pass the rock about Elon that I'm learning about this brother, and I respected. He's the richest man on the planet. And he doesn't have a house. What that says is what you mentioned earlier, Richard, is that he doesn't do what he does for the money. He doesn't do it. Right. He is into also Richard, what you said earlier, building shit. He wants to build stuff. And then he wants people to delightfully enjoy the stuff that he builds, be surprised by it, be enthralled by it, fall in love with it. He wants that. So if he's getting that the value of that, and his dream far outweighs the value of his holdings. It does. And if you put that in perspective, if the richest man on the planet can have his dream be bigger than his wealth, what are we doing? Yeah, what are we doing?
It's funny, I can really identify with his experience because you know, for the last 18 months, mainly living out of Airbnb is and I've stayed in some really lovely ones looking out over Lake Powell or, you know, ski mountain or whatnot. But the best weeks of the last 18 months have been the ones where I've been staying in a guest house guest room at a friend's house. Right? So I'd argue that like, part of his calculus may also be he's, he's, you know, optimizing for building relationships, as well as building building products, right, but it's good. In this day and age, it's hard. It's hard to find time to carve out time to spend with your friends. And honestly, I'll tell you, my a lot of my friendships have really accelerated in the last 18 months because my gosh, you really get to know someone you go spend a week in their space and you read with him every night and yeah, you were there. You see the real them. And so I actually those experiences, you know, I've loved my like amazing Airbnb views, but the best experience has been one the fact that someone opened their home to me, right one the fact that like, wow, what would gratitude feels like someone cares enough about me that they're gonna let me stay at their place. And then two, I get to really peek behind the curtain really get to know them better.
Great. Great, great point. Great point. All right, Larry, you next up brother on what's
next up but I, my my what's poppin? I think I'd love to get both of your takes on this. So we've talked about this as it pertains to fathom with Richard in the building today, that there's obviously been a sea change in life since the pandemic has happened. So the ladders you guys are all everyone here is familiar with lat the ladders, it's an online job search firm, and they keep close tabs. On people working, not in an office or as we simply refer to it as remote workers. So let me read some of the key findings that the ladders just published literally in the last couple of days here in mid April. So pre pandemic, approximately 4% of US and Canadian jobs are hiring for permanently remote, typically in the fields of technologies and sales. In 2020. The first year, the pandemic that grew to 7% by q4 of 2021 18%, of all professional jobs across the US and Canada, were hiring remote. So the at the end of last year, so at the end of 2021, the ladders predicted that 25% of the jobs at the end of 2022 would be remote. In fact, in q1 of 2022, it's already at 24%. Okay, okay, so that's crazy, right? So what I'm what I'm putting these stats out to both of you what I think, obviously, Richard, again, it's so interesting, you know, to have this, what's poppin before and what you've informed us about your view of the market, you've seen this market right in front of your eyes with your business. So as you will, as you both think about those stats, this also has huge implications for all marketers, especially b2c folks. Because do you remember our days when we used to track people? What's your typical day? Like? Yeah, everybody's typical day that's just been blowed up. So love to hear both of your thoughts as I throw those stats out to you guys. Richard.
I mean, I think, I think the remote work culture was an inevitability that was just accelerated by COVID. Right. And I think if you look down the, you know, the pros and cons list at this point, you know, the pros list for remote, I think, vastly outweighs the cons list. In fact, you know, what it really did is forced a lot of managers who did not want it, there's a lot of people that only manage by like, you know, by seeing right, like, I don't see your butt in the seat, then I don't trust that you're doing work, right. And so forced everyone to have to kind of rebuild some of these structures. Yeah, fundamentally, I think like, there's, you know, one of the things we're doing Fathom is trying to make it so that a virtual meeting is actually better than an in person meeting. You know, in fact, I am, I prefer now virtual meetings, I am garbage at following up on action items in, in person meetings, because I don't have this thing called fathom, recording my meeting, and highlighting all the action items, pulling out the interesting parts for me to like, rewind again, right? You know, we have so many meals per day. And so I actually people like, Oh, do you want to meet up for coffee and like, I'd rather not actually write with a friend of mine. If we're trying to exchange ideas and knowledge and insight, I'd rather do it over zoom. So I think there's a lot of places there are still places where in person meetings are superior. I'm not going to say that in by all dimensions. But I think technology is a fancy place, and culturally, you know, commute times and lifestyle like choices and whatnot, where remote is just a better way to go. And we're a fully remote team at fathom, and I couldn't be happier about it, because I think there's this real big sword coming in, in employment, right? Where if you look at the studies, it's a they say kind of, of existing corporations, a third of people want to be in the office full time, a third of people never want to go back in the office. And a third of them want to mix in between, which basically means if you're not running a large corporation that originally had an office, no matter what you choose, two thirds of people are not going to be happy with that choice. Right, which from someone who just spent, you know, 10 minutes telling you how important it is to build a team. I am super excited to build a team with people that like now had a taste of remote work and said, That's what I want. But my company won't offer it. Companies like Fathom well. And so I think it's a huge opportunity to service resort the entire workforce, into how people want to work, not just where they want to work.
Larry, Richard, tech, all tech is created by humans, or at least most tech is created by humans. So you have tech that was in some way led by humans. Now I think we're beginning to see tech and its abilities are getting ahead of humans. Tech is now running ahead of humans, and humans now are attempting to catch up to it. And I think this zoom culture is an example of that. And so I now don't know the following. I have some supposition but I don't know it. Richard, you have to said you prefer virtual meetings to physical meetings? And I, you didn't say this explicitly, but um, this was an inference that it's because you're more productive. This is my inference from, from you wanting to be am I getting that? Am I hearing?
And my digital memory is better than my wet brain
than you? Okay, good. Okay. And I imagine that productivity, in some ways has clicked up in many organizations because of working remotely. So I believe that to be true, what I'm uncertain of Larry and Richard is, how has creativity been impacted? By virtual working? I'm not suggesting that human beings cannot be creative working virtually, we certainly can be. And we are, I just don't know the Delta. Between creativity when folks aren't when the team Richard is physically together, versus the team being virtually connected. I just don't know.
I like to think about optimizing for serendipity like how do I put myself in situations where I can have these serendipitous, like, either connections with with people or ideas. And I do think that that is one of the things that that is harder to do in remote culture is, is you don't get those kind of organic serendipitous meetings or watercooler type conversations with your colleagues where everything is so kind of preordained, like we're on this call to talk about this, right? Yes. Okay. Once we're done with this, we're getting off this call. And then we're Yes, that. And so I do think we're going to have to figure out, you know, two people trying to do this, they do the like the monthly team meet up or the quarterly off site or things like this. But you know, we I think we'll have to build this is, I think, a better foundation to build from, but we'll have to build other structures to encourage this piece, because I do think it is one of the things that we're lacking.
Yep. I agree with that. But you're one of the things and then then we'll move on. Here is that, Larry, you you use an analog earlier, when, when Richard was answering some of our questions in the, in the five questions, and you, you brought up Tom Brady, and you said there's very little in the game that surprises him, he has seen it all. What this allows Tom Brady to do is that when he steps to the line of scrimmage, and he sees a set defense, and they had a set offensive play, he has the ability to call an audible. And that audible will allow them to do things against that set defense that they would not have been able to do against the set offense with the set offense. And it feels to me like zoom culture can be a bit like that. You go into it. There's a set defense. Yeah, there's a set offense and very few audibles get called. And I'm curious to find out back to my creativity point. And this is your your point. I think also, as well, Richard, is that how do we build into remote working? The ability to have audibles called in real time, right? Yeah.
Right. My team, we jump on audio only chats actually through slack through their huddle feature quite a bit and find that that is like a, you know, something just came up with not trying to trade emails about it. Let's just start talking. Right, like, bias towards it. And audio is nice, because it allows you to just like not use the mental capacity on like, what I look like right now, right? Oh, yeah. Yeah. Which is a real thing. So but yeah, so I think we'll start developing some things like that. I think that's like one step. But yeah, 100% agree with you.
Right, cool. All right. You have a what's poppin? For us?
I do. Maybe what's not popping what we'll see. So I, you know, Fathom obviously, I mentioned that, like, we care a lot about customer care and user voice was a was a platform for, you know, getting customer feedback at scale, and really was for the best companies that were really trying to understand their customers and really trying to build like, we, you know, or that experience I told you about when I was a Microsoft beta tester as a teen and how I felt so included in the brand, because they really listened to me. That's kind of what we built it user voice. And, you know, if you go back to I think the probably the biggest touchstone for this was Zappos, Zappos. And like, they really I think, were the first company really brought out the banner of like, fanatical Customer Care. Yes, yes. And I kind of thought that was gonna be a turning point for brands where everyone's gonna invest in fanatical customer care. But what's poppin for me is that I am still shocked to this day, the number of brands that put a bunch of money into marketing and branding and product, only to have all that undone by like one or two bad customer care experiences. And they put not nearly the amount of budget in that stuff that they should and I don't understand why because it's not expensive. And what it looks like is, you know, buying a product and it's hard The hard to find the help, I can't figure out how to get support, I get an email and I try to reply to it. It says, You can't reply to this email, or I, you know, I tried to submit a support ticket. It's like, no, you gotta read these five articles first. And I can't tell you, I probably like, at least multiple times a month have a product where I'm like, usually tech products, that's what I use, I'm like, I love this product, this product is great. I have one problem with it as, and it's such a nightmare to get them to care about it. And now I go from, like, loving the brand to, I can't stand this brand. Right. And it's funny, and I think we've seen this without them. It's why we have, you know, our customer service team is almost the size of our engineering team. And we do things like we try to notice my golden rule for us is like, we should notice the bug before the user does. And we should tell them that we know and we should tell them that we fixed it, we shouldn't. Also, we don't use any third party support tools on the front end, because I want you to be able to send a message to us as you would send a message to your you know, my same way my mom would text me if something was wrong with the Wi Fi at the house, right? I want to I want the like, you know, the kid it experience what I want our customers to have. But what's poppin for me is I'm just still in 2022, I'm shocked, I thought Zappos was going to be present the present the basically the treaty for like, here's why you should take some 10% of your marketing budget and put it into great customer care. And most technology companies don't. And I'm shocked by that. So think it's a steal huge opportunity.
Did you want to take this because I am. So we've brought this up a few times on this podcast, go for it. And we violently agree with you go for it. So I'll start like, there's a couple things strategically part of it is and again, I live in Silicon Valley, I've seen this, the product marketing view of the world, notice Product Marketing Product view of the world, like you were talking about product first right product team, then market. And so I think that view, then spills over into everything. And so the customer experience and Scott Doniger great friend has been on the show, we talk about this very much in depth, the product experience has to be part of the whole brand. We do something in our in our consulting practice, Richard called the brand activation wheel. And what we do for clients is the brand activation wheel is literally all the tangible points that in a b2b situation that customers touch in a b2c situation that consumers touch. So the customer experience or consumer experience got to be under the marketing umbrella. And I think too often in tech companies is viewed as a separate silo. So right off the bat, they've got it wrong. So that's a huge issue. And then and then what that's why I brought up the brand activation wheel. It's so important. You can go from loving a brand to then you have that personal experience of the personal bond of now having an awful experience. It goes to hate really quickly. I'm just going to tell a very quick story that summarizes it. As a lot of the branders know, I'm a Golden State Warriors season ticket holder, the warriors we love them. I've had the app for the Warriors. I'm going to add I told them I wouldn't I was eventually going to talk it on the podcast, the app sucks, okay, they have a ticket list. There's no paper tickets anymore. I'm fine with that. But their app is so bad. And they blame Ticketmaster. I know Ticketmaster, because they're an NBA partner. There's issues with that. But still Game Two, they told me all the apps work, it still didn't work. And here we are. And so the team I love all of a sudden, you can feel my vitriol like, I'm, I'm pissed off. And the last thing I should be that's a customer experience exactly what you're talking about. And I won't go into the issues I've had with with people who wouldn't answer me at first about this. And so there's no reason that I should have any animosity towards yours right now. And I do because of that personal experience and it's purely customer experience that they haven't done a good job. Shout out though to Melissa Beach, our ticket rep who's been great, but other than her it's been awful. So my my soliloquy on that couldn't do violently agree. This
This feels like it's kind of wrong for you, Larry.
It's crazy. I mean, it's I think that's we all have those experiences. Right? And it's, you know,
it's, it's so fixable. That's the point.
Yeah, well, it's also just, the math is so bad. It's the amount of effort that the board is what words of men have the amount the Golden State Warriors have invested in you to make you as passionate as you are? to undermine it to do what to save what, right by half of like, what are they saving by doing bad customer care like 1/10 of Klay Thompson's contract one And of course, it's irrelevant. It's irrelevant of money. It's not expensive thing to do. But I think you speak to it's an organizational dysfunction that most of these things are put off. Honestly, you know, customer care should probably report into marketing, right, as opposed to reporting into its own separate silo where it's like, oh, we're operations in our trial, we believe yes. Yeah, we're trying to we try to save and customer care the same way we try to save on cheap toilet paper and you know, soap in the bathroom. Right. Like, it's crazy.
I got some thoughts on this as well. And, Richard, this is definitely a what's not popping? Definitely what's not, Bob,
thanks for raising it.
Yeah, thank you. I'm gonna, I'm gonna put this in two different categories. Category One will be some sayings that I've heard, I won't get them exactly right. But category two is going to get into the why behind the what. So let's go category one. It when you hear things about, like a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. The same can be said of companies, and customer care. You can, that chain can only be as strong as your weakest link. And if your weakest link happens to be customer care, you've got a problem. That's one. And then number two is, there's some quote about the worst customer care experience is an opportunity to make it the best customer care experience. So a customer that's unhappy, you then do something, Larry, like you're talking about, Melissa, they haven't worked out the app thing, but if they had no you'd be singing their praises, right. So those are sayings. Now let me go to the, to the why behind the what so the what is, okay, what are these companies doing by not investing in Customer Care? So here's what I think the Y is. And you use tech, specifically, Richard, is because of the market. Many of these tech companies they are growing in a way that I call is horizontal, they're picking up new markets, it's a growth game. So they're in the US, then they're in North America, then they're in South America, then they're in Asia, Asia, then they're in Europe, so they keep picking up new ways to grow by horizontally spreading out. Now, there's this nasty little thing that's called cops. Okay, year over year, same deal. Not that it's a different growth game. I call that vertical growth. And so I submit Richard and Larry's that when these tech companies find themselves slowing down on the horizontal growth, and they have to grow vertically, at that point, I think they go, Oh, maybe we need to take better care of our customers, because those that are currently buying might buy more than that. And maybe our current customers that way we care for them, they will be cheaper for us to grow than trying to go pick up a new customer to in some market that we don't have the money to go invest in. So that's the why I believe they don't do it
was the deal of Avis. We try harder, right? Like we're number two, we try harder. And I remember I always told my team at UserVoice I was like, we will never work with the market leader. I said maybe never but like we almost never work with market leader. It's market leaders doesn't think they've got a they don't need to listen their customers. Market Leader, right? We always worked with the number 234 in the space who was like, Okay, what are we what can we do? It's different Oh, we can actually do fanatical customer care because leaders never do that. Right. Interesting. But yeah, it's the Avis we try harder sort of thing. Right and and you're 100% right on that when you when the things taking off like a rocket ship. You just you don't notice underneath all the people getting burned, right? So
no, no. Okay,
It really is. Okay, when things take off like a rocket ship, you don't notice people getting burned. That's good. That's good. I like that. I like I'm gonna remember that.
Yeah, what a great deal, man. Richard, you've been fabulous to
a lot of fun. Yeah, thank you for having me on.
It's been been great fun. We're gonna go to the show close now to the learnings. D Shall I start off with the learnings Would you please my brother, okay, so I've got Richard dropped some jewels as I'll steal my, my boy DCS phrase, a ton, but I'm going to cut it down to five, which I think are awesome. So number one, if you run a brand, you're a custodian of a brand in some form or fashion. You if you can help people feel that they're really part of something like Microsoft did with Richard as a 17 year old. That is an emotional connection. And you win and it feels like Richard didn't try to replicate that and at every point he's been at which I love. That's number one, too. Number two, find your tribe. And just like people, just like Richard did in Boston, finding his, his his people, his tribe, as he put it, that was a sliding doors moment. But that's so important in life and in your career. So that's number two. Number three, love this. Richard Hughes. We said it a few times, but I don't think we can say it enough. It you have this wonderful strategic placement of having this order. Have it looking at when you're looking at a founding a business, look at the market first, then your team and then product in that order. Number four, D genuine Zig whenever, whenever everyone else is zagging. I love that. And then the last one D, I just love this about Richard. He's so grounded, and feel like he's very contemplative and strategic and is looking at 360 degrees for everything that he does. I think that's an integral part of Richard success, and something that everyone should take as part of what they do both in their life, as well as their career. So those are my five
don'ts, Larry Superdome, I've got to at least one that connects to what you said. So Richard, you said you've listened to a couple of podcasts. So you, you may have noticed that the end that I attempt to play a bit of a, I don't know, Zoom therapist on on this podcast, and sometimes Richard, when I'm talking to folks who they really are, what their gifts really are, reveal themselves to me and others. It doesn't. So I don't force it, I get into what Larry says the flow. But in this conversation we've had there has something, something about you has been revealed to me. And it's been consistent throughout our podcast. So I'm going to attempt to capture this and lay it out. You said as a child, that you were into Sega, when others were into Nintendo, you described yourself as a contrarian. And I would, I would dare say that at the time you were into Sega. Nintendo was the hot brand. Okay. The hot brand, the hot tech, the hot games, Sega was not so much and you did not care. Okay, you did not care. Larry talked about you saying Zig, while others zag. So there's like the over here and then others may be over here. I'm gonna go this other way. You also mentioned a couple of like, they will they will almost throw away comments, but not really. You talked about customer care and you use an analogue of a rocket ship, it might be taken off, but people underneath me that care about who's getting burned. You talked about your team and fathom how much you appreciate the team at fathom, and how they can work anywhere. And relationship building is important to you relationship. You have your team and others and you talked about the fact that you prefer that then having bridges be burned. Okay, so let's think about this now. The burning rocket and then okay, now, let me let me now start to try to bring this thing home. You sent a cold, cold email to the folks that Kiko alright. And they said, okay, kid, if you're so smart. Why don't you come in here and do this. So what happened there is you sent a cold email, and they asked you to come in and give them some heat. Cold heat. The guys that Kiko. You said they were in the Y Combinator, and that you could fly a paper airplane and over to the folks that read it literally the same room. Kiko code, read it hot. Now, let's take the guys Akiko, Justin and the guys that Kiko, they do Kiko they didn't do Justin TV. They do Twitch Kiko code Twitch hat. Right. Twitch. I, you talked about many of your friends now who were young ends around that time. They are now investors, VCs and you you mentioned an analogue of they're in the game, and they're more in the press box. You however, went back into the Y Combinator, this time with your own company because you wanted to be closer to the game. Press box in relation to the game code. You own the field hat. Okay. Fathom your spasm, you and zoom culture before you estar Fathom zoom culture is pretty cold. But with the pandemic, it gets hot. Now, you started skiing as an adult, eight years ago, nine years ago when it comes to ski. Your ass was cold. Right? Okay, now you're hot, you're going 60 miles an hour. All right? You this week, we're in Denver, fucking Colorado, where it's cold. And today you are in Miami where it is hot. Here's where I'm going, brother, I mentioned this wolf pack. You have run with a wolf pack. And you have been a lone wolf. I believe Richard White part of your gift on this planet is the ability to hold cold and hot together
to, to to traverse these two seemingly polar opposites, but leverage them for something good. Here is why I believe you have been able to leverage that successfully in your career. Because the heat and the warmth gives you comfort, and code can be invigorating. And if you have too much of either it's not good. But when you have a balance of both, you can build magical, powerful, memorable things. And that Richard White, I believe is part of the gift you are providing to the planet.
Well, we're just gonna send the invoice for that. I've had a I've had a number of years of therapy, but that's that's really good. That's really good. I owe you a good steak dinner here at some point.
Man brother. I mean as late as you
I really humbled by that. I appreciate that.
Hey, Richard DC, is he plays a therapist on Zoom like none other
so I believe it I believe it's like when you it bring you up on the on the show with the guy who can read your mind your the hypnotize you like I don't believe that. I'm sold. Where do I Where do I sign up? That's awesome.
Man. Well, we close anything else you want to share that you've learned?
No, this has been a fantastic experience. You know, I've done a number of podcasts. I don't think I've learned as much about myself and doing a podcast as I did on this one. And also from y'all and so again, just really humbled to be here. Really appreciate you taking the time and inviting me on
my man. Oh, man.
That's a wrap man. That's that's uh, yeah, this was so much fun. We had a blast with you. We're gonna go to the show close now. Thanks for listening to bridge bits and bytes recorded virtually on Zoom and a production of kz su Stanford 90.1 FM radio and worldwide kz su DataWorks. The executive producers of Jeff Shirley, Darrell, DC, carbon, myself, Larry Taman, Haley carbon, Jade Kate and Tom bureau.
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