Pendo CEO: The ‘era of product’ is only just beginning

Written by Todd Olson  | 

5 min

 

As we close out the year — and the decade — it’s exciting to look back and reflect on the changes we’ve seen, and, in some cases, helped drive.

Pendo was founded in this decade on the idea that product matters. (Fun fact: we had billboards with this very term throughout the Bay Area for months). Looking back, Pendo was founded early in the ‘era of product,’ and the decade has come to a close with product-led businesses like Zoom, Slack and Fastly accelerating past their peers. Product matters — to the teams that build them, to the investors who fund them, and, most importantly, to the customers who rely on them. Product-led businesses are outpacing their traditional peers.

What’s more exciting is that “being product-led” isn’t reserved for technology or software businesses. Today, every company is, in some way, a software business and each has the opportunity to adopt a product-led mindset. At Pendomonium this fall, my favorite week of the year, we shared stories from companies like LabCorp and Predictive Index who’ve transformed their customer experience by employing product-led principles. And these are just a few of the many stories out there. I recently visited a large higher education customer who shared many examples of how communicating with students in-product drove retention and helped expand their relationships. I hear these stories all the time — and it’s gratifying.

In every new hire orientation class, I say that every great company rides a wave to its success. This trend is the wave that Pendo’s riding (and giving rise to), and it’s a big one! This is the thesis that’s driving the continued demand to invest in Pendo. Our recent $100m round was a highlight of the year and it reflects confidence in both the huge market opportunity and our ability to execute. This new financing gives us the fuel we need to fully realize the opportunity in front of us, which, simply put, is helping each of you seize the advantages enjoyed by product-led companies.

One of the challenges we consistently hear from companies on the path to becoming product led is “who owns this internally.” Honestly, our answers have ranged in the past, and we’ve seen a diversity of suggestions, from product manager to user experience to product marketing. In 2019, a new role emerged and seems to be one of the best answers we’ve found — product operations (or product ops for short). Product ops is the organizational “conductor” of the product-led initiatives, working cross-functionally with the other aforementioned roles (among others) to help transform the business and the customer experience. Our product ops e-book is a great resource to explain this further, but you should expect more from us in 2020.

So what else is in store for us in 2020?

Those external to the company may not realize that 2019 was actually more about the future than the present. Despite all the accolades we received in 2019 for performance, much of the company was focused on preparing for the years beyond. We began the year by opening our first international go-to-market presence in London (we already had a development center in Tel Aviv). It’s been a good opening year, but we have big expansion plans for the future.

We also launched Pendo Adopt — an offering focused on the “buyers” and “owners” of software versus the “creators” and “builders” that have been our primary personas. Throughout the year, we experimented with the business model and are signing up a growing number of OEM partners. This model empowers software providers to offer their own white-labelled version of Pendo for their customers to help measure and improve adoption.

In May, we acquired Receptive.io and launched it as Pendo Feedback. Pendo Feedback extends Pendo’s Product Cloud with deeper capabilities around helping product teams better prioritize work. Pendo Feedback actually creates a bridge between customers (via Salesforce and Zendesk integrations) and engineering teams (via a Jira integration). This connection helps engineering teams better understand the ‘why’ behind their work and enables customers to get more transparency about the status of their requests.

We also launched Data Explorer, a powerful new analytics capability that adds a ton of flexibility to how Pendo customers discover, visualize and act on user insights as part of one unified experience inside Pendo. It’s something you need to see for yourself to fully appreciate and is the future of analytics within the Pendo interface.

Lastly, we unveiled a reenergized mobile offering bringing “collect everything” retroactive analytics to mobile teams. Now companies can help improve the product experience across screens and devices–which is probably how users interact with your products.

Each of these initiatives launched in 2019, yet, again, we took a future posture this year. The impact is expected far beyond this year. 2020 will be about capitalizing on the promise of these exciting investments and continuing to solve for and serve our customers and scale the business to new heights.

I couldn’t be more excited and encouraged by what the future holds for Pendo. Thanks to our partners, customers, and almost 400 Pendozers for all your support on this product-led journey.