John Collison, the Co-Founder of Stripe, Ben Uretsky, the CEO of DigitalOcean, and Chris Wanstrath, the Co-Founder and CEO of Github joined TechCrunch’s Matthew Panzarino on day to of TechCrunch Disrupt New York. This panel, entitled “Rise Of The Developer Tools,” was one of the best discussions so far.
One of the overarching themes of this discussion was the enterprise. The size and scope of enterprise software makes it difficult and time consuming to implement changes. Rolling software out across 10,000 hotels, the example Collison used, takes an incredible amount of time. Companies are always looking for ways to cut down deployment time, so it is only a natural progression that they shift to dev-friendly tools. Further, in massive companies, it is often the case that CTOs and high-ranking engineers/developers are not coding on a daily basis and have a hard time seeing the full picture. As a result, Uretsky argued, developer tools are becoming the new enterprise tools.
On Sales and Selling
From this broad, macro-level discussion, the panel shifted towards the sales cycle of developer tools. Selling these tools – GitHub, DigitalOcean, and Stripe – is an incredibly nuanced process. Selling to individuals is the easy part. Naturally, developers gravitate towards what works. Uretsky argued that on the individual level, it is not about selling at all. Rather it is about using the platform and listening to users. The feedback loop is one of the most important factors for individuals. Having an open, constructive dialogue with users is paramount. Further, being open and transparent is crucial. Own mistakes, and take steps to rectify them.
The sales cycle and value proposition changes when SMBs and enterprise companies are the target. The priorities of SMBs and enterprise customers are completely different than those of individual developers. Feedback and listening to the customer is still paramount, but it will be much different in this context. Collison made an excellent point about selling to SMBs and enterprise customers. It is crucial to treat each segment differently, Collison argued, and be cognizant of the difference in priorities for each segment. While white papers and case studies are of little consequence to the individual user, these resources are incredibly important for management at large companies. Collison made another great point in the discussion. “There is no secret sauce,” he noted, “speak the language of the people you are working with.”
The Value of Dialogue and Community
Throughout all of the different discussions within the panel talk, the overarching theme was community. Whether selling your product or exploring new features or rectifying a problem, maintaining a relationship with users is of utmost importance. Wanstrath stressed this point, arguing that relationships are huge. When you make a mistake, Wanstrath continued, own them. It may hurt in the short term, but by being open and out in front of mistakes, you build a human relationship with users.
Transparency and accountability was also a major point stressed by Collison. Sharing as much information as possible with the users, Collison argued, allows the users to understand when problems arise. Hell, if you are completely open a user could even point out where the mistake is. The ultimate goal is building a useful tool, that users gravitate towards and love using.