#99: One Secret To Our Strategy At Drift

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This is a podcast episode titled, #99: One Secret To Our Strategy At Drift. The summary for this episode is: If you liked this episode, we bet that you’ll love our blog content. blog.drift.com/#subscribe Subscribe to never miss a post & join the 20,000+ other pros committed to getting better every day. ----- Elias is back and we're going behind the scenes on one of our secrets at Drift: shipping one big product every single month, forever. At first software was eating the world. But now speed is going to eat software. PS: For SW episode 100 (!!) we want YOUR questions. Leave a question for us here: https://www.drift.com/#sw100

DG: Hey everybody, it's DG. Before we get into this episode, episode number 99 with Elias Torres, he's back in the mix. I just wanted to tell you about something that we wanted to do. So episode number 99, that's what's happening right now. Episode number 100 is next, and we wanted to do something different. Seeking Wisdom is all about our community and our listeners, and so we thought it'd be fun to open it up to you. What's on your mind? What questions do you have? What can we tell you? What do you want to know about DC and his rants? We want to put everything on the table. Questions about product, sales, marketing, reading, career growth, workouts, whatever you want to talk about. That's what we want to make Seeking Wisdom, episode 100, all about. All about the listeners. And so I thought we would get a bunch of questions over the next couple of weeks and then sit down and just do Q&A, go through everybody's questions, pull out the best ones and do a whole dedicated episode. So, that'll be Seeking Wisdom episode 100. Now, in order to submit your question, it's the easiest thing you'll ever have to do. Go to drift. com/#, like you hashtag, and just do SW100. I'm going to put the link in the notes here so it's really easy, and it'll be all over the internet, so you can't miss it. Go to drift. com/# SW100. Steve Jobs would hate me for this URL right now but I promise you it's super easy once you get there and we'll put it in the show notes. So, let's get into this episode with Elias, where he breaks down the most important secret in our strategy to break free from the competition. Here we go. It's live. It's live. It's live.

DC: Easy bro.

DG: I also want to have the music. We have to get the music in here.

DC: DG's voice is louder than yours.

DG: It is?

DC: Yeah.

Elias Torres: Let's turn it up. crosstalk.

DG: The lower you talk into this one it's nicer.

Elias Torres: Oh yeah? Oh yeah?

DG: See? You got to be into her. What about you?

Elias Torres: How do I do it?

DG: Yeah that's good.

DC: All right. ET's, Elias Torres E T is back for his second episode on Seeking Wisdom, first ever, second guest ever. I don't know how I feel about that. I'm still processing. We don't know if this is going live.

Elias Torres: Yeah. This might not go live.

DG: Yeah, no. It's already on the schedule.

DC: Oh, it's already on the schedule. What about if he's not any good?

DG: Well, you guys just got one out of your system for the internal podcast, so we should be all right.

DC: We have an internal podcast called Inside Drift where we drop

Elias Torres: You just leaked it? The internal podcast.

DC: People can't know we have an internal podcast? Crosstalk.

Elias Torres: They can't access it.

DG: I guess they want, oh, I guess they know now, done. Ship.

Elias Torres: This is how it goes here.

DC: Ship. All right. What are we talking about? DG?

DG: So this last month we just launched something called Drift ABM and we did some

Elias Torres: What is ABM, what?

DG: Drift Account Based marketing, ABM. That's what we launched. You could check it out. Now, we don't promote drift on the show where you can go check it out. And when we did it, we actually started to, this is the first month we kind of let the world know that we're going to launch something. We've had this history, almost two years now, of launching something every single month. But this was the first month that we kind of told the world like," Hey, we got something new coming". And I think what we realized is there's something in here, this is the new way that products get built. And then, Elias sent this amazing essay to us via Slack this morning about what this says about why we entered our market with a million competitors, why there's so much noise and, and ultimately living this customer driven thing. And I think that's what we want to talk about today. We want to talk about the new model for building products today. It's not about shipping daily, actually. It's not about that. It's not about shipping yearly on the other end of the spectrum. It's about these big monthly releases. And that's what we're going to talk about today and what it means. I think you had some really good stuff here in here about what this means from the future. We'll talk about in a second, but I'm going to give you some credit. You said

DC: Never give Elias credit.

DG: He had two lines that made me go" Oh my goodness."

Elias Torres: Is that good? Two lines.

DG: Yeah.

DC: I don't know.

Elias Torres: That's pretty good.

DG: "Speed is going to eat software." I love that one

DC: Get that on a t- shirt.

DG: I love that. All right. So ET, what's up? What got you so fired up this morning?

DC: I know, he's got notes over here.

DG: ...that you wrote in his engineer. I don't know if, shout out to anybody who works with engineers out there, when they type messages in Slack, they only use the block.

Elias Torres: It's called Monospace font.

DC: Yeah, Monospace font. It's unreadable by humans.

Elias Torres: I guess it's going to be a techie podcast, but first, you know what? I want to send a shout out to Jocko Willink first thing, because the first thing is,

DC: He hasn't been on the show though yet.

DG: Oh, we got Skype now though, in the studio.

DC: Okay, we'll get him on.

Elias Torres: The reason is because I was able to write this essay, because I get up early. Last time I was here, there was a challenge.

DC: What was the challenge? If he could actually make it to wake up at four 30 in the morning?

DG: He does. I've seen it.

DC: How long has it been?

Elias Torres: Well, it's like June, July. I have gotten up almost every single day at 4: 44, every day, seven days a week. crosstalk Check my Instagram.

DG: Unbelievable.

DC: I didn't believe it. I'm glad. I didn't bet money. Cause I would have lost money right there.

Elias Torres: You want to bet anything else now? Because I'm the most disciplined person in this room.

DG: So this has come full circle so that wasn't all hype.

Elias Torres: DG, how many times do you even work out anymore?

DG: A lot.

Elias Torres: You do? Okay, that's fine.

DG: I'm back now.

Elias Torres: You're back. Okay.

DG: I flipped the schedule. I get up at 4: 30 now I go to the 5: 30 class and I'm home before Annie wakes up. That's my new schedule cause I don't see her at night. So I see her in the morning. I get up at 4: 30. I go to the 5: 30 class. I'm in home with a coffee for Leah at 6: 40. Nobody's up yet. It's the best time of the day.

DC: Perfect. All right, let's get to this.

Elias Torres: So we're talking about speed eating software. You know, you heard the saying before" Software is eating the world", and now what I'm realizing is that it'd a lot of ideas converging, right? We are talking to so many people out there. The other day you tweeted about...

DG: I said people ask us, there's so much noise in this space. I said people ask us all the time," Oh, Facebook launched messenger for business. Oh, this company launched this, this company launched this, what's your response is going to be, how you guys going to respond?" And I said, our response is we only care about two things: we only care about our customers and we only care about going fast. Our two things are speed and customers. That's what we think about the most.

Elias Torres: Absolutely. And what happens is that there are thousands of competitors out there. And it's the same for everybody. A part of this essay came about, because we're going to publish next week, is that a friend of mine, that company I've invested in, I went to give a talk to the team and he was asking for advice. Like," How do we ship software quicker? How do we do this? How do we balance the needs of the customer versus shipping new product to grow the company?" And I said, well, let me tell you what we've been doing for the past two years at Drift and what we have been developing to the point that Armand called it marketable moment. When he came in January,

DG: We had been doing it. We had been doing it since the beginning, I remember the Slack launch. We've been like," Hey, what's the thing going to be this month?" And then when Armand came, he said," The playbook we used to have at LogMeIn was," which he called it something, and I think that's when it went to a new level of," Hey, this thing has a name now." Okay.

Elias Torres: It keeps iterating, it keeps evolving. And the definition of a marketable moment is that we are making a promise to our customers, that we're going to ship a new product that is available to the customers publicly every month for life.

DG: Not a bug fix.

Elias Torres: Not a bug fix, is we're shipping a new product. And how is this different? This is different because every other company, the oldest competitors that you're talking about, they end up usually releasing software once a year. They have a big conference, all the big companies, they have a conference and what they do is that they save all the work, all the products that they've been developing. And they announce... Why would you want to bring all your customers to a conference and have already told them everything that you built?

DG: And most of the time, you don't even get to touch it. They have a conference to announce it, and then they have another event to actually

Speaker 4: Well, that's something that's a separate problem. First you wait, because you're releasing everything at that conference. But what's happening now is that so many competitors are announcing stuff at different times in their conferences, and so what you ended up doing as a company is that, I was talking to a guy yesterday from telling me about a company in the West Coast, that he says," But now companies are announcing stuff they haven't even built.". Think about that, DC.

DC: I don't believe in that. Against my religion.

Elias Torres: And so what's happening is that companies are building this debt because they're creating this rhythm, that the whole company is basically working and saying," Oh, we just finished our conference, we take a month off, we come back, let's plan the product for next year for the next year's conference." And what happens, the cadence is," we're going to ship something the following year." How can you possibly keep up with competitors and listen to the customer?

DC: Digging, digging, deeper, digging, deeper, digging deeper. And that used to work in the old world, but not in the new world. That doesn't work anymore. And so we're trying to build this model for," What does the next generation of company look like?" A company built around the customer experience and that customer experience, I wrote this thing recently, which is, which is a tweet, but I learned that's the full length,

DG: But tweets are longer now though. So you're good.

DC: But this one was short.

Elias Torres: Do you have access to 280?

DC: I have access to 280. I'm verified, bro. Come on.

DG: I got it.

Elias Torres: Can you guys,

DG: All we do is tweet.

Elias Torres: I don't even tweet, I just retweet.

DC: What I wrote was the monopolies of the future will be built around the user experience. And so that's the most powerful thing. The companies who can build. But the hard thing about building something around the user experiences that tastes change over time. And so how do you build up your company to continue to iterate and develop new products that are built around that user experience and that deal with all of the new things that evolve every day.

DG: If you make your decision 11 months ago, you're like," This is what I'm building in September. There's nothing we can, we're stuck to it."

Elias Torres: I know this is not a, like, it's not a techie.

DG: No, honestly, I think that's the coolest part about Seeking Wisdom is that it can be more for anything, there's lessons.

Elias Torres: I worked at IBM and we shipped software there, the waterfall method, and it would take years to build software. It was horrendous. We would have to package software in a box. I never actually did this, but I've heard. And then

DC: Did you know it was horrendous at the time or was it.

Elias Torres: Of course, it was. I operated in a different group, but I did see what it takes, like a Lotus product to be packaged and shipped and teams that work in that QA.

DC: But he was a troublemaker then.

Elias Torres: I was a troublemaker always. And so then when I left and I was with David 2009 Performable, and this guy, Eric Reeves, lean startup, gave a talk here. He came to Boston, we had breakfast with him and he mentioned that at this company called InView, they had this webpage that if you hit this button, it would release the software to the servers. And he went around the whole world talking about this and he was transformational. And what I've done since then is everywhere I've been, every team has been focused on building enough software that any engineer can just push a button and deploy the latest software changes that they made to production for the customer. But what I've learned now, what I realized is that we had split. We were so focused on supporting engineers, getting code out there, but the rest of the company didn't have the ability to release together when you push that button. And so what happens is we ship software that was ready before, but product marketing wasn't caught up, support wasn't ready, sales wasn't ready, marketing wasn't ready. And they were working on a different timescale. And so what's changing here at Drift for us, and I think to me, this is what's going to happen with companies now. The winners are going to be doing similar to what we're doing now, which is ship something, the new definition of shipping software is: you ship something every month publicly for the customer. We're changing the name of the game here because I was listening to the podcast with Reid Hoffman about Peter Theo that in order to compete and in order to deal with all this competition, which is where we started at the beginning of the podcast, is to break free from them, by moving so fast, they can't keep up with you.

DC: Yep. Or to resegment a market, which we talk about a lot. But I think the important thing that we need to highlight here is when you say shipping a product, it's not the equivalent of shipping a feature, a line of code, or a little change in the product. Because we do that 100's of times a day, we're talking about shipping a product. Standalone product that is the equivalent of what a company ships and entire year, but doing that every single month and not only shipping it from a product standpoint, but shipping it in conjunction with marketing, in conjunction with sales, support, customer success, and having a game plan for every single one of those teams on how they are going to support that, and then how they're going to deploy that to their customer base or to their prospect base. It is a whole company coming together in one motion to support this.

Elias Torres: Sometimes you hear people talking about now it's impossible to disrupt Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, but this is what gives me hope that we are starting this company and that we have a shot at disrupting the bigger players. Because when you're a small company, when we started launching our first bot and everything, we was like 10 people, less than 10. And what happens is that when you have less than 10 to communicate across the whole company and be organized, is what? Is really easy.

DG: No, I remember that launch day, the first day we launched a bot, I remember intentionally shipped it without basically

Elias Torres: No, we announced it in inaudible and it wasn't live. And then David calls me and he says," Ship the fucking bot now." And it was crazy.

DC: Is that how he did it?

DG: That sounds about right, that sounds about right.

DC: Don't tell people that.

DG: But as a result of that,... no, you can curse on here. I got the E on it... there was missing some stuff and we fixed it in real time." Oh, somebody expected it to do this." Okay, hold on one second.

Elias Torres: Around 11:00 AM it started actually working. And so that was then, now we're shipping a much higher quality software than than we have ever done it. And so what's happening here for me is that we, what I want to share, what I was doing with my friend, my colleagues yesterday, when I met with the company with the smaller team, was that when we first launched Drift, we had the CEO of a competitor of a larger company with more resources than we had, 10, 20 times our size. And they came and they said we were copying their product.

DG: Yes, what was your response to that?

DC: inaudible

Elias Torres: You know, we move on. And we said," We're going to release something the next month, the following month." And we continued doing the same. And what we're doing is we're changing the playing field where we're making our own game so we can win it. And now, what we see is the larger companies, they're copying us because we're moving much faster. And so what we're trying to do in advice to everybody, crosstalk each and every month, and so what we want is we want crosstalk all the smaller companies to think in this way, because that's how you... you can move so fast, you break free from the competition. They can't keep up with you.

DG: Yes. And I think the other side of this is the traditional crosstalk maybe engineering's feels like they can go fast, but then you run into the wall of the sales team or the marketing team. It doesn't have to be this month long training process for all these people, right? People are smart today. There's so many resources for them today. You can say," Here's what we're launching." It's all about communication." Here's what we're launching. Here's how it's going to work. Here's how it works with existing stuff." And I think because it's every month now people can move on faster. They know this isn't the only thing that they're going to get in order to market or sell. I think when you have that one big- ass release, everyone is on super, super, super stress mode because you're like, we can't up this landing page. We can't screw up this press release, right? Not that we would screw that up, but you make it like this is your one big moment.

DC: That's why we advocate here shipping as often as we do. Because you don't want to build up all of this into one big release. And then to only find out that there was a problem, or you miss something in the market, or you release the wrong thing.

DG: Just even just thinking about this. Now we learned things from this launch that we're then going to apply to the next launch in three weeks from now. We just learned. It's amazing.

DC: This week.

Elias Torres: I think you're talking about what we call in engineering software estimation.

DC: No, I don't know what that is.

Elias Torres: Is the art...

DC: When I was writing software, they didn't have that.

Elias Torres: Remember when we were at HubSpot and you would say we had no deadlines. Remember that?

DG: No roadmaps?

Elias Torres: No, no deadlines. There's another one. This is a different one.

DG: He loves deadlines.

Elias Torres: No, no, no, no, no, no, no. It's the recent thing. We were against deadlines. You don't understand, DG, in the software circles to try to come up and guess and calculate the date that something was going to be ready, is like, impossible, is a black art. There's

DC: It's like attribution modeling and marketing. It doesn't exist.

DG: Something everybody talks about a lot, but still 50 years later, nobody has figured out.

Elias Torres: You know what the answer is? Now we finally figure it out and partly, to me, I got this from Jocko, right? And no joke. It's like the only way to do something is to have a forcing function, to do have a deadline. And so what is our deadline? Every single month. That's it. Software estimation, problem solved in engineering. Guys this is a big announcement.

DC: So we flip it. Instead of saying," You sit down and estimate." We say," No, the forcing function is every month. Did you get in?"

Elias Torres: December fifth. December fifth.

DG: I tried, I tried. I said, I tried to move the day at a week this month and both of you said," Hell no."

Elias Torres: No.

DC: Like that? Did we just say," No, DG."

DG: Like you said it as quick as you just said it right now. But now in my head, I know I'm already looking at the rest of the year; Tuesday's December 5th, Tuesday, January 9th. I already know, crosstalk we're ready.

Elias Torres: So what happens when if in engineering we're stuck, but guess what? We're moving at a pace now that is so quickly that today, what did you see today? DG? You get a peak?

DC: Whoa, whoa, don't tell them.

DG: No, I'm not going to tell them.

DC: Don't say anything, be careful. You're in marketing, relax.

DG: I saw some next level stuff for December and I was just barely over what we just launched on Tuesday. And I'm all like, all right, I'm onto December.

Elias Torres: The team was ready to show the whole company what we have ready. And I was like, wait, wait, don't show anything yet. We got to show it to DG first and DG's mind was blown. crosstalk DC is calling me. And like," What did you show DG? Show me, show me."

DG: I saw him in the elevator on the way up. And I was like, should I? I don't know if I should tell him or not, but I was like," I saw something. It was fire. I don't know if I could tell you, but it's fire."

DC: "It's next level."

Elias Torres: Had to tell him.

DG: Sorry.

Elias Torres: Anyway. So I think that that's really, this is something that we want to share with all the little people.

DC: We are the little people.

Elias Torres: We are the little people.

DG: I want to read something that you wrote, you said," Speed is going to eat software. We will brag less about shipping daily to production and we'll realize we don't have time to code like before. We'll need to build software with whatever combination of libraries, services, or even crowdsource solution we could find, as long as we deliver it to our customers routinely and on time."

Elias Torres: People want things instantaneously.

DG: And they don't care if it doesn't do exactly that thing, or there's maybe one piece that's off, right? It's the momentum. And also, especially in the SaaS world, this is so powerful because it's that feeling like you bought something once and we're going to continue to deliver value every single month. Right?

Elias Torres: My friend was telling me that our company, one of their customers, Churn, because they didn't have a feature. Right. And so what happens is say," We'll come back, we like your product. We'll come back when you have built it." And so, if you don't ship continuously in this fashion, a new company comes, builds, solves for that feature. And your customer will move to the competition. But if you're continually moving and you ingrain this into the DNA of your company. You know who inspires me? Amazon. When Jeff Bezos says...

DC: Whoa, wait, wait, wait, I thought you were going to say me.

Elias Torres: No, no, I like Bezos better.

DG: He's similar.

Elias Torres: He's similar. But the problem is...

DC: I don't know if this is good or bad, but DG and Elias and some other people have been pointing out similarities that I have to Jeff Bezos. And I don't know if, to take that, you write in, in the reviews and let me know if that's a compliment or the opposite.

DG: Look, all I'm going to say is, I know everybody's seen that photo of Bezos with the aviators on and the vest and the white shirt, crosstalk I'm saying though, but if that's the path, not the worst thing. crosstalk Not the worst thing.

DC: It looks good. He looks good.

Elias Torres: It looks good.

DG: A little darker version of Bezos. There's nothing wrong with that.

Elias Torres: You go to the big tangent there. But did you read the part in The Everything Store where we're Bezos sends an email? Forwards an email from a customer to people on the team.

DG: And the whole team crosstalk just goes bananas.

Elias Torres: The whole team has to stop everything they're doing because, but you know what? The difference between Bezos and inaudible crosstalk Bezos puts a question mark. They call it the Sev question mark or something. It's not like a Sev one through six is like Sev something else.

DC: So question mark and what do I do?

Elias Torres: You just forward it, you don't even put the question mark. It's even worse because you're like," What does this mean?" Anyways,

DG: I have a filter. My inbox, it only comes if he sends it twice. crosstalk I told you that it's like lead scoring.

Elias Torres: And then what happens is

DC: You hear what I put up with here?

Elias Torres: But Amazon, what they do is that, from what I read, right, is that they think of themselves like they're still a startup. They have to move from one. They have to share, they have to go resolve everything. It's in their DNA, smaller teams, two pizza teams. And so that's what's making me think and inspiring me that we can keep up this model... no matter what our size is.

DC: Amen. Let's do it.

DG: Yeah, and if anything, the technology is only going to continue to get better. There's going to be more problems to solve. There's going to be plenty of stuff for us to do.

Elias Torres: Absolutely. So ship or you will be dead.

DG: Speed is going to eat software.

Elias Torres: Speed is going to eat software.

DG: That's what you said. We're out.

DC: All right, so we're out. Don't forget to leave a six star review, open up that podcast app, leave a six star review. Let us know if Elias should be allowed on the podcast again. I'm erring towards no, but if you guys want him to be on the podcast, we will put him back on the podcast. Again, a little shout out to DG. And he's still with this little baby unit that he has. He's a little bit slower than usual. He's getting better, though. Pray for him and maybe there'll be hope. Six stars only, peace.

DG: Peace.


If you liked this episode, we bet that you’ll love our blog content. blog.drift.com/#subscribe Subscribe to never miss a post & join the 20,000+ other pros committed to getting better every day. ----- Elias is back and we're going behind the scenes on one of our secrets at Drift: shipping one big product every single month, forever. At first software was eating the world. But now speed is going to eat software. PS: For SW episode 100 (!!) we want YOUR questions. Leave a question for us here: https://www.drift.com/#sw100