Aug
08
2019
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‘The Operators’: Experts from Airbnb and Carta on building and managing your company’s customer support

Welcome to this transcribed edition of The Operators. TechCrunch is beginning to publish podcasts from industry experts, with transcriptions available for Extra Crunch members so you can read the conversation wherever you are.

The Operators features insiders from companies like Airbnb, Brex, Docsend, Facebook, Google, Lyft, Carta, Slack, Uber, and WeWork sharing their stories and tips on how to break into fields like marketing and product management. They also share best practices for entrepreneurs on how to hire and manage experts from domains outside their own.

This week’s edition features Airbnb’s Global Product Director of Customer and Community Support Platform Products, Andy Yasutake, and Carta’s Head of Enterprise Relationship Management, Jared Thomas.

Airbnb, one of the most valuable private tech companies in the world, has millions of hosts who trust strangers (guests) to come into their homes and hundreds of millions of guests who trust strangers (hosts) to provide a roof over their head. Carta, a $1 Billion+ company formerly known as eShares, is the leading provider of cap table management and valuation software, with thousands of customers and almost a million individual shareholders as users. Customers and users entrust Carta to manage their investments, a very serious responsibility requiring trust and security.

In this episode, Andy and Jared share with Neil how companies like Airbnb, Carta, and LinkedIn think about customer service, how to get into and succeed in the field and tech generally, and how founders should think about hiring and managing the customer support. With their experiences at two of tech’s trusted companies, Airbnb and Carta, this episode is packed with broad perspectives and deep insights.

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Neil Devani and Tim Hsia created The Operators after seeing and hearing too many heady, philosophical podcasts about the future of tech, and not enough attention on the practical day-to-day work that makes it all happen.

Tim is the CEO & Founder of Media Mobilize, a media company and ad network, and a Venture Partner at Digital Garage. Tim is an early-stage investor in Workflow (acquired by Apple), Lime, FabFitFun, Oh My Green, Morning Brew, Girls Night In, The Hustle, Bright Cellars, and others.

Neil is an early-stage investor based in San Francisco with a focus on companies building stuff people need, solutions to very hard problems. Companies he’s invested in include Andela, Clearbit, Kudi, Recursion Pharmaceuticals, Solugen, and Vicarious Surgical.

If you’re interested in starting or accelerating your marketing career, or how to hire and manage this function, you can’t miss this episode!

The show:

The Operators brings experts with experience at companies like Airbnb, Brex, Docsend, Facebook, Google, Lyft, Carta, Slack, Uber, WeWork, etc. to share insider tips on how to break into fields like marketing and product management. They also share best practices for entrepreneurs on how to hire and manage experts from domains outside their own.

In this episode:

In Episode 5, we’re talking about customer service. Neil interviews Andy Yasutake, Airbnb’s Global Product Director of Customer and Community Support Platform Products, and Jared Thomas, Carta’s Head of Enterprise Relationship Management.


Neil Devani: Hello and welcome to the Operators, where we talk to entrepreneurs and executives from leading technology companies like Google, Facebook, Airbnb, and Carta about how to break into a new field, how to build a successful career, and how to hire and manage talent beyond your own expertise. We skip over the lofty prognostications from venture capitalists and storytime with founders to dig into the nuts and bolts of how it all works here from the people doing the real day to day work, the people who make it all happen, the people who know what it really takes. The Operators.

Today we are talking to two experts in customer service, one with hundreds of millions of individual paying customers and the other being the industry standard for managing equity investments. I’m your host, Neil Devani, and we’re coming to you today from Digital Garage in downtown San Francisco.

Joining me is Jared Thomas, head of Enterprise Relationship Management at Carta, a $1 billion-plus company after a recent round of financing led by Andreessen Horowitz. Carta, formerly known as eShares, is the leading provider of cap table management and valuation software with thousands of customers and almost a million individual shareholders as users. Customers and users trust Carta to manage their investments, a very serious responsibility requiring trust and security.

Also joining us is Andy Yasutake, the Global Product Director of Customer and Community Support Platform Products at Airbnb, one of the most valuable private tech startups today. Airbnb has millions of hosts who are trusting strangers to come into their homes and hundreds of millions of guests who are trusting someone to provide a roof over their head. The number of cases and types of cases that Andy and his team have to think about and manage boggle the mind. Jared and Andy, thank you for joining us.

Andy Yasutake: Thank you for having us.

Jared Thomas: Thank you so much.

Devani: To start, Andy, can you share your background and how you got to where you are today?

Yasutake: Sure. I’m originally from southern California. I was born and raised in LA. I went to USC for undergrad, University of Southern California, and I actually studied psychology and information systems.

Late-90s, the dot com was going on, I’d always been kind of interested in tech, went into management consulting at interstate consulting that became Accenture, and was in consulting for over 10 years and always worked on large systems of implementation of technology projects around customers. So customer service, sales transformation, anything around CRM, as kind of a foundation, but it was always very technical, but really loved the psychology part of it, the people side.

And so I was always on multiple consulting projects and one of the consulting projects with actually here in the Bay Area. I eventually moved up here 10 years ago and joined eBay, and at eBay I was the director of product for the customer services organization as well. And was there for five years.

I left for Linkedin, so another rocket ship that was growing and was the senior director of technology solutions and operations where I had all the kind of business enabling functions as well as the technology, and now have been at Airbnb for about four months. So I’m back to kind of my, my biggest passion around products and in the customer support and community experience and customer service world.

Jul
22
2019
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Announcing the agenda for TC Sessions: Enterprise | San Francisco, September 5

TechCrunch Sessions is back! On September 5, we’re taking on the ferociously competitive field of enterprise software, and thrilled to announce our packed agenda, overflowing with some of the biggest names and most exciting startups in the enterprise industry. And you’re in luck, because $249 early-bird tickets are still on sale — make sure you book yours so you can enjoy all the agenda has to offer.

Throughout the day, you can expect to hear from industry experts and partake in discussions about the potential of new technologies like quantum computing and AI, how to deal with the onslaught of security threats, investing in early-stage startups and plenty more

We’ll be joined by some of the biggest names and the smartest and most prescient people in the industry, including Bill McDermott at SAP, Scott Farquhar at Atlassian, Julie Larson-Green at Qualtrics, Wendy Nather at Duo Security, Aaron Levie at Box and Andrew Ng at Landing AI.

Our agenda showcases some of the powerhouses in the space, but also plenty of smaller teams that are building and debunking fundamental technologies in the industry. We still have a few tricks up our sleeves and will be adding some new names to the agenda over the next month, so keep your eyes open. In the meantime, check out these agenda highlights:

AGENDA

Investing with an Eye to the Future
Jason Green (Emergence Capital), Maha Ibrahim (Canaan Partners) and Rebecca Lynn (Canvas Ventures)
9:35 AM – 10:00 AM

In an ever-changing technological landscape, it’s not easy for VCs to know what’s coming next and how to place their bets. Yet, it’s the job of investors to peer around the corner and find the next big thing, whether that’s in AI, serverless, blockchain, edge computing or other emerging technologies. Our panel will look at the challenges of enterprise investing, what they look for in enterprise startups and how they decide where to put their money.


Talking Shop
Scott Farquhar (Atlassian)
10:00 AM – 10:20 AM

With tools like Jira, Bitbucket and Confluence, few companies influence how developers work as much as Atlassian. The company’s co-founder and co-CEO Scott Farquhar will join us to talk about growing his company, how it is bringing its tools to enterprises and what the future of software development in and for the enterprise will look like.


Q&A with Investors 
10:20 AM – 10:50 AM

Your chance to ask questions of some of the greatest investors in enterprise.


Innovation Break: Deliver Innovation to the Enterprise
DJ Paoni (
SAP), Sanjay Poonen (VMware) and Shruti Tournatory (Sapphire Ventures)
10:20 AM – 10:40 AM

For startups, the appeal of enterprise clients is not surprising — signing even one or two customers can make an entire business, and it can take just a few hundred to build a $1 billion unicorn company. But while corporate counterparts increasingly look to the startup community for partnership opportunities, making the jump to enterprise sales is far more complicated than scaling up the strategy startups already use to sell to SMBs or consumers. Hear from leaders who have experienced successes and pitfalls through the process as they address how startups can adapt their strategy with the needs of the enterprise in mind. Sponsored by SAP.


Coming Soon!
10:40 AM – 11:00 AM


Box’s Enterprise Journey
Aaron Levie (Box)
11:15 AM – 11:35 AM

Box started life as a consumer file-storage company and transformed early on into a successful enterprise SaaS company, focused on content management in the cloud. Levie will talk about what it’s like to travel the entire startup journey — and what the future holds for data platforms.


Bringing the Cloud to the Enterprise
George Brady (Capital One), Byron Deeter (Bessemer Venture Partners) and a speaker to be announced
11:35 AM – 12:00 PM

Cloud computing may now seem like the default, but that’s far from true for most enterprises, which often still have tons of legacy software that runs in their own data centers. What does it mean to be all-in on the cloud, which is what Capital One recently accomplished. We’ll talk about how companies can make the move to the cloud easier, what not to do and how to develop a cloud strategy with an eye to the future.


Keeping the Enterprise Secure
Martin Casado (Andreessen Horowitz), Wendy Nather (Duo Security) and a speaker to be announced
1:00 PM – 1:25 PM

Enterprises face a litany of threats from both inside and outside the firewall. Now more than ever, companies — especially startups — have to put security first. From preventing data from leaking to keeping bad actors out of your network, enterprises have it tough. How can you secure the enterprise without slowing growth? We’ll discuss the role of a modern CSO and how to move fast… without breaking things.


Keeping an Enterprise Behemoth on Course
Bill McDermott (SAP)

1:25 PM – 1:45 PM

With over $166 billion is market cap, Germany-based SAP is one of the most valuable tech companies in the world today. Bill McDermott took the leadership in 2014, becoming the first American to hold this position. Since then, he has quickly grown the company, in part thanks to a number of $1 billion-plus acquisitions. We’ll talk to him about his approach to these acquisitions, his strategy for growing the company in a quickly changing market and the state of enterprise software in general.


How Kubernetes Changed Everything
Brendan Burns (Microsoft), Tim Hockin (Google Cloud), Craig McLuckie (VMware)
and Aparna Sinha (Google)
1:45 PM – 2:15 PM

You can’t go to an enterprise conference and not talk about Kubernetes, the incredibly popular open-source container orchestration project that was incubated at Google. For this panel, we brought together three of the founding members of the Kubernetes team and the current director of product management for the project at Google to talk about the past, present and future of the project and how it has changed how enterprises think about moving to the cloud and developing software.


Innovation Break: Data: Who Owns It
(SAP)

2:15 PM – 2:35 PM

Enterprises have historically competed by being closed entities, keeping a closed architecture and innovating internally. When applying this closed approach to the hottest new commodity, data, it simply does not work anymore. But as enterprises, startups and public institutions open themselves up, how open is too open? Hear from leaders who explore data ownership and the questions that need to be answered before the data floodgates are opened. Sponsored by SAP.


AI Stakes its Place in the Enterprise
Bindu Reddy (Reality Engines), Jocelyn Goldfein (Zetta Venture Partners)
and a speaker to be announced
2:35 PM – 3:00 PM

AI is becoming table stakes for enterprise software as companies increasingly build AI into their tools to help process data faster or make more efficient use of resources. Our panel will talk about the growing role of AI in enterprise for companies big and small.


Q&A with Founders
3:00 PM – 3:30 PM

Your chance to ask questions of some of the greatest startup minds in enterprise technology.


The Trials and Tribulations of Experience Management
Julie Larson-Green (Qualtrics), Peter Reinhardt (Segment) and a speaker to be announced
3:15 PM – 3:40 PM

As companies gather more data about their customers, it should theoretically improve the customer experience, buy myriad challenges face companies as they try to pull together information from a variety of vendors across disparate systems, both in the cloud and on prem. How do you pull together a coherent picture of your customers, while respecting their privacy and overcoming the technical challenges? We’ll ask a team of experts to find out.


Innovation Break: Identifying Overhyped Technology Trends
James Allworth (
Cloudflare), George Mathew (Kespry) and Max Wessel (SAP)
3:40 PM – 4:00 PM

For innovation-focused businesses, deciding which technology trends are worth immediate investment, which trends are worth keeping on the radar and which are simply buzzworthy can be a challenging gray area to navigate and may ultimately make or break the future of a business. Hear from these innovation juggernauts as they provide their divergent perspectives on today’s hottest trends, including Blockchain, 5G, AI, VR and more. Sponsored by SAP.


Fireside Chat
Andrew Ng (Landing AI)
4:00 PM – 4:20 PM

Few technologists have been more central to the development of AI in the enterprise than Andrew Ng . With Landing AI and the backing of many top venture firms, Ng has the foundation to develop and launch the AI companies he thinks will be winners. We will talk about where Ng expects to see AI’s biggest impacts across the enterprise.


The Quantum Enterprise
Jim Clarke (Intel), Jay Gambetta (IBM)
and Krysta Svore (Microsoft)
4:20 PM – 4:45 PM

While we’re still a few years away from having quantum computers that will fulfill the full promise of this technology, many companies are already starting to experiment with what’s available today. We’ll talk about what startups and enterprises should know about quantum computing today to prepare for tomorrow.


Overcoming the Data Glut
Benoit Dageville (Snowflake), Ali Ghodsi (Databricks) and a speaker to be announced
4:45 PM – 5:10 PM

There is certainly no shortage of data in the enterprise these days. The question is how do you process it and put it in shape to understand it and make better decisions? Our panel will discuss the challenges of data management and visualization in a shifting technological landscape where the term “big data” doesn’t begin to do the growing volume justice.


Early-bird tickets are on sale now for just $249. That’s a $100 savings before prices go up — book yours today.

Students, save big with our super discounted $75 ticket when you book here.

Are you a startup? Book a demo table package for just $2,000 (includes 4 tickets) — book here.

Jul
15
2019
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48-hour, buy-one-get-one free — TC Sessions: Enterprise 2019

Every startupper we’ve ever met loves a great deal, and so do we. That’s why we’re celebrating Prime day with a 48-hour flash sale on tickets to TC Sessions: Enterprise 2019, which takes place September 5 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.

We’re talking a classic BOGO — buy-one-get-one — deal that starts today and ends tomorrow, July 16, at 11:59 p.m. (PT). Buy one early-bird ticket ($249) and you get a second ticket for free. But this BOGO goes bye-bye in just 48 hours, so don’t wait. Buy your TC Sessions: Enterprise tickets now and save.

Get ready to join more than 1,000 attendees for a day-long, intensive experience exploring the enterprise colossus — a tech category that generates hundreds of new startups, along with a steady stream of multibillion-dollar acquisitions, every year.

What can you expect at TC Sessions: Enterprise? For starters, you’ll hear TechCrunch editors interview enterprise software leaders, including tech titans, rising founders and boundary-breaking VCs.

One such titan, George Brady — Capital One’s executive VP in charge of tech operations — will join us to discuss how the financial institution left legacy hardware and software behind to embrace the cloud. Quite a journey in such a highly regulated industry.

Our growing speaker roster features other enterprise heavy-hitters, including Aaron Levie, Box co-founder and CEO; Aparna Sinha, Google’s director of product management for Kubernetes and Anthos; Jim Clarke, Intel’s director of quantum hardware; and Scott Farquhar, co-founder and co-CEO of Atlassian.

Looking for in-depth information on technical enterprise topics? You’ll find them in our workshops and breakout sessions. Check out the exhibiting early-stage enterprise startups focused on disrupting, well, everything. Enjoy receptions and world-class networking with other founders, investors and technologists actively building the next generation of enterprise services.

TC Sessions: Enterprise 2019 takes place September 5, and we pack a lot of value into a single day. Double your ROI and take advantage of our 48-hour BOGO sale. Buy your ticket before July 16 at 11:59 p.m. (PT) and get another ticket free. That’s two tickets for one early-bird price. And if that’s not enough value, get this: we’ll register you for a free Expo-only pass to Disrupt SF 2019 for every TC Sessions: Enterprise ticket you purchase (mic drop).

Interested in sponsoring TC Sessions: Enterprise? Fill out this form and a member of our sales team will contact you.

Jul
01
2019
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We’ll talk even more Kubernetes at TC Sessions: Enterprise with Microsoft’s Brendan Burns and Google’s Tim Hockin

You can’t go to an enterprise conference these days without talking containers — and specifically the Kubernetes container management system. It’s no surprise then, that we’ll do the same at our inaugural TC Sessions: Enterprise event on September 5 in San Francisco. As we already announced last week, Kubernetes co-founder Craig McLuckie and Aparna Sinha, Google’s director of product management for Kubernetes, will join us to talk about the past, present and future of containers in the enterprise.

In addition, we can now announce that two other Kubernetes co-founders will join us: Google principal software engineer Tim Hockin, who currently works on Kubernetes and the Google Container Engine, and Microsoft distinguished engineer Brendan Burns, who was the lead engineer for Kubernetes during his time at Google.

With this, we’ll have three of the four Kubernetes co-founders onstage to talk about the five-year-old project.

Before joining the Kuberntes efforts, Hockin worked on internal Google projects like Borg and Omega, as well as the Linux kernel. On the Kubernetes project, he worked on core features and early design decisions involving networking, storage, node, multi-cluster, resource isolation and cluster sharing.

While his colleagues Craig McLuckie and Joe Beda decided to parlay their work on Kubernetes into a startup, Heptio, which they then successfully sold to VMware for about $550 million, Burns took a different route and joined the Microsoft Azure team three years ago.

I can’t think of a better group of experts to talk about the role that Kubernetes is playing in reshaping how enterprise build software.

If you want a bit of a preview, here is my conversation with McLuckie, Hockin and Microsoft’s Gabe Monroy about the history of the Kubernetes project.

Early-Bird tickets are now on sale for $249; students can grab a ticket for just $75. Book your tickets here before prices go up.

Jun
20
2019
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Transitioning from engineering to product with Adobe’s Anjul Bhambhri

Many roles inside of startups and tech companies are clear: marketers market, salespeople sell, engineers engineer. Then there are the roles like “product manager” that seem obvious on the surface (product managers “product,” right?) but in reality are very fuzzy roles that can be highly variable across different companies.

A few weeks ago, TechCrunch editor Jordan Crook interviewed J Crowley, who is head of product for Airbnb Lux and was formerly at Foursquare. Crowley came up in the consumer product world without a technical background, and he spoke to overcoming some of his own insecurities to become a leading product thinker in the Valley.

This week, I wanted to offer another perspective on product from Anjul Bhambhri, who is Vice President, Platform Engineering at Adobe, where she and her team conceived Adobe’s new Experience Platform for real-time customer experience management.

Across Bhambhri’s more than two decade career straddling the line between software engineering and product, she has worked on deeply technical, enterprise projects at Sybase and Informix as startups, big data infrastructure at IBM, and now at Adobe.

We discuss the challenges and opportunities of moving from an engineering career into product (and management more generally) as well as the ways she thinks about building compelling products that are sold B2B.

This conversation has been condensed and edited for clarity

Scaling out product after product

Danny Crichton: Anjul, thanks for joining us. One of the major initiatives that we’ve been doing as part of Extra Crunch is to interview experts in their fields, talking about how they go about doing their job, and how you think about the decisions that come up on a day-to-day basis in the work that you do. So to start, I would love to talk a little about your background.

Anjul Bhambhri: Very nice to meet you, and happy to share my journey, Danny. I have been in the software industry now for really almost 30 years. I’m an electrical engineer, and basically, my entire career has been in data, databases, and big data analytics.

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