Lenny Rachitsky | Lenny’s Podcast – Casey Winters (Pinterest, Eventbrite, Airbnb, Tinder, Canva, Reddit, Grubhub)
Casey Winters is a longtime and legendary advisor and operator. He’s worked with companies like Airbnb, Faire, Canva, Whatnot, Thumbtack, Tinder, and Reddit, and until recently was the Chief Product Officer at Eventbrite, where he managed the PM, design, research, and growth marketing teams.
Before Eventbrite, he led the growth and product teams at Pinterest and Grubhub. In today’s episode, we discuss what Casey calls the “zero interest rate phenomenon” for product managers and how to avoid becoming one.
He provides valuable insights on thinking outside popular frameworks, shipping products efficiently, and avoiding overreliance on user research. We explore the three types of network effects, how to leverage them, and how to break someone else’s network effect.
The zero interest rate phenomenon product manager is someone who is so reliant on frameworks that they don’t actually think about the problem they’re trying to solve.
Stay in the game and keep your eyes open
- Product managers should take risks and not rely too heavily on frameworks or tools. Stay curious, leverage network effects, and stay on top of emerging technologies like GPT-4.
- As a CPO, it’s important to show that you care about all aspects of the company and constantly assess your team and product.
- Transparency, risk-taking, and user research are crucial for successful product management. Prioritize areas of uncertainty and high leverage for results, and don’t focus too much on following the right way. Balance frameworks and creativity for growth.
Successful product managers
- Product managers today must prepare to rely on their own abilities to make swift and innovative decisions, as the current resource-rich environment will soon shift. Seek companies where experimentation and quick learning are encouraged.
- Successful businesses need to balance strategic research with shipping and customer feedback to improve as designers and create impact for customers and the business.
- When hiring project managers, it is important to assess their ability to problem-solve quickly and make good decisions for the company and customers. Avoid relying too heavily on scripted interviews and be wary of using AI in the current product management cycle.
GPT-4 can help with PM tasks, but use with caution. Founders should trust their intuition and maintain control until the team can make better decisions. Understand situational leadership and adjust accordingly.
Founders need to trust and empower their employees as the company grows. Employees have valuable expertise that can surpass the founder’s, and knowing when to delegate tasks is crucial to prevent bottlenecks and promote company growth.
Give your input
Respect the founder’s vision, but don’t hesitate to present your ideas with a strong case. Understand the CEO’s preferred feedback and trust in their vision, even if it may seem suboptimal.
Businesses can use restaurant authority to drive adoption of their products, leading to network effects that improve the product for existing users and entice more customers to join. Network effects can be direct, cross-side, or data-driven.
A strong network
Network effects can provide a strong competitive advantage, but being complacent and failing to innovate can lead to a loss of market share and profitability in marketplaces. Comprehensive inventory alone may not be sufficient, as competitors with expanded selection and delivery networks can disrupt even established players.
To survive during existential threats, businesses should take calculated risks, not underestimate disruptors, and be open to acquisitions to stay ahead of competitors.
When to use a SaaS tool
Startups can thrive in the food delivery market by creating new supplies, offering engaging experiences, and competing in the pickup use-case. Developing white-label models has its challenges but can lead to multi-million dollar revenue businesses.
Start with building the marketplace for easier access to cross-side network effects. Later, adding a SaaS tool can enhance functionality but building a marketplace on top of a SaaS tool can be risky and difficult to replicate.
A successful marketplace
To create a successful marketplace, have a strong value proposition for suppliers that brings in business, and provide a reason for customers to transact with multiple suppliers. Learn from successful examples like Substack.
Consumer subscription startups face difficulty due to unpredictable consumer behavior and retention rates, requiring high retention rates for sustainability. Successful businesses achieve scale through economies of scale, network effects, or bespoke growth loops instead of relying on paid acquisition.
The best way to leverage network effects is to understand what type of network effect you have. You have to know if it’s direct, indirect, or two-sided, and how it affects your value proposition and growth strategy.
The best way to influence founders is to speak their language. You have to understand their vision, their goals, and their motivations, and show them how your ideas align with them.