The key takeaway from the Chamath Palihapitiya story on Facebook: What he wanted to do didn’t fit the traditional marketing or product development model, so they had it as a separate, permanent department in the org structure.
Facebook’s growth team has now numbered in the hundreds and has spawned other growth Mexico Phone Number team leaders like Uber’s Ed Baker and Fortune Front’s Andy John.
Pioneers in the “growth” industry are Facebook’s Chamath and Elliott Shmukler (Elliott), who, as I understand it, started the second largest growth team in history on linkedin. They recognized early on how software can open up new avenues for growth and have successfully created experiments that drive business-scale growth. They experimented with new techniques and quantitative strategies, with exponential growth effects.
But some critical questions: Is this growth model suitable for other industries? What gives every industry the opportunity to change? To answer these questions, we need to pay attention to what has changed in the software industry.
3. Four ways software is changing how companies grow
Four major changes in the market due to the proliferation of software have changed the way we market our products:
- Blurred lines between marketing and product
- Emergence of platforms and APIs
- Enhanced data collection capabilities
- Market expansion into technical and quantitative areas
1. The line between marketing and product is blurring
Let’s go back to thinking about physical products before we used software. The typical experience with a physical product is that you learn about it through some form of marketing (TV, publishing, radio, etc.), then you go to the store to buy the product and take it home to use it. Marketing and product experience are both fairly separate.
The two teams are (still in many places) separate.
But with the advent of software, a lot of things have changed, and we previously thought that the experience of marketing and product has long been indistinguishable from the eyes of consumers.
Take dropbox for example: one of its main ways to get more users is through their referral program. Is this marketing? While it’s the job of the marketer to acquire users, the invitation process exists in the product and requires constant improvement from the engineering staff. Or does this way of acquiring customers belong to the product development department? It lives inside the product, but its primary function is to acquire users, and users are the goals of different teams.
Whether it belongs to the marketing team or the product team is unclear.
This fuzzy line is accelerated and enlarged by the next big change.
2. The emergence of platforms and APIs
Each company is built on a larger existing platform. Companies can enter these pre-existing platforms in three ways:
- Buying – Advertising and Placing Media
- Collaboration – Leverage their distribution platform with other companies (eyeball effect)
- Build – Assemble platforms (i.e. facebook, twitter, Slack, etc.) through APIs, embeds, etc.
In the early 2000s, if you wanted to be on a popular platform (like Yahoo at the time), you would most likely partner or buy (through advertising). To move fast, you need to keep building APIs and open platforms that have become increasingly popular.
Today, it’s perfectly possible to put your product deeply on many platforms, like facebook or Slack, which not only help you acquire users, but also activate, retain, and monetize them.