Episode 03: Building Product with Ambarish Kenghe

Sid Talwar
25th December 2021

When Systrom was building Burbn (now Instagram), he kept going back to the drawing board because while he knew the product was fun, he kept asking – Was it useful? Did it solve a problem most people had in their lives?

They narrowed down to photos and then further asked - what are the main opportunities? What problem are they trying to solve?

It’s important to go back and ask these questions because the world moves quickly and habits change just as quickly, so you’ve got to get your minimum viable product bang on.

We learnt this and so much more on this episode with Ambarish Kenghe, the genius behind Google Pay. AK has been with Google for over a decade and with a small left turn out for a couple of years in between, he was at Google for the rest of the time. At Google, he was a Product Manager at Google TV where he co-founded a product called Chromecast and most recently has been responsible for Google Pay, which is probably the most ubiquitous payment platform in India today.




What are some of your favorite product launches in the last two years? Outside of your own.


Over the last few years, the one product that still continues to amaze me is the smart phone. I'm still getting over that shock. In the last decade, in 2010, I think that TV streaming devices have been profound and I’m still grappling with the kind of impact it has. A couple of things that I think are promising, I won't go into specific brand names and stuff, but a couple of product areas that are very, very interesting is one is, you know, all these sort of, you know, health tracking devices that you're seeing with different companies. But specifically sleep tracking and being able to understand your sleep patterns better. You know how REM sleep you had, how much deep sleep you had, and if you get a chance, I'll tell you why I get fascinated by that. So that's been sort of a big deal. The other set of devices that is very early set in the progress, but very interesting is devices that are starting to sort of read your mind like you're able communicate without having to type with just the thoughts in your mind. And those devices, I think, would become more interesting. And I'm not going as far to sort of Neuralink, which is very invasive, but that's interesting. But there are devices that are not as invasive and can actually read your thoughts. That’s quite fascinating.


What are some of the things that took you up back and made you say, Oh, wow, I didn't think that was going to work. Are there things you just underestimated the power of when they launched, but positively impacted you later?


When we launched Chromecast, we thought we had weeks of inventory and we sold out in hours and we knew.


" And that's the thing with products, you build it with your sweat and sometimes blood and you want them to be successful. But you're never sure, you can never fully estimate how well they'll do or how poorly they'll do "


And with Comcast, we're definitely surprised because it just like sold out before we could figure it out in the next few weeks. You're trying to get inventory. So that's one which was which was interesting. I think the other one are, Google Pay, you know, UPI has been very surprising. Again, I don't know, but they could do well. But this kind of trajectory, if somebody says they had expected, I think I'd say that I can't imagine you expecting that kind of logically. So both of those very, very surprising on how well they've done. And just taking going back to sort of my fascination with mobile phones. But how well that ecosystem has done, I think everybody predicted it'll sort of be a boom, create an amazing thing. But nobody created this sort of fundamental part of this kind of a fundamental shift that will just carry everywhere you go, including our bathrooms, at least. I don't think anybody imagined it this this big.


In fact, you know, the payment stack in India, I think, is it would be my answer to this question. I'll be honest, and which is why I kind of asked the question to begin with. It's I mean, we've been doing investing in this country for eight years, nine years now, and I don't think anything has had as big an impact on the country as much as how payments are being able to get done today. And when they launched, it just seemed like, you know, so much scoffing was happening about it. So I'm really excited to kind of get an insider's point of view on how things kind of developed, and I think we will. But I wanted to kind of start off by talking to you a little bit about Chromecast. Would it be fair to say Chromecast was your first large product management assignment? Google TV? Would that be something similar, or do you think this was your first time like getting out in the world with this?


I think, look, I mean, depending on which, you know, in terms of my personal sort of product assignment, depending on what you look at on a bunch of stuff at CISCO in the day. But I think if you look at product management gigs, Google TV was a pretty large, complicated product actually to launch. And so that was good for me. Yeah, a lot of my learning happened in 2010, like on Google TV, working with a bunch of folks and a lot of that learning and unlearning played into Chromecast. So Chromecast ended up being that product that I probably had more control over things of how they were design, how, how they could go.


on building products


So to take us through that a little bit, so you're you're going to start this off. You co-founded it right internally. And so there was nothing and you've come in, they want to do this. It's very different. It's very unusual. You're in charge of the product. Where do you start? What did you focus on first? How did you go about thinking through this?


“ All ideas have to start with some pain somewhere. I think, you know, some sort of a pain point has to be there”

And in this case, I think a couple of things, right? One is that I wanted to work on something new. And so you know, this idea was somewhat around at Google that you could be something like this, but nobody had productized it in this way. And nobody had built hardware at the scale, at least within Google at that time. And so the way I thought about it is if you look at it, go back now I'm taking you back all the way to 2011. And, you know, smart things were not sort of as ubiquitous, but, you know, HDMI enabled TVs were around. So there was a large number of TVs which had flat screen and HDMI input, but they were not smart to be able to stream things. And this, you know, I think the streaming providers were starting to come up, but they were not scaling. TV's were not really smart. So the first idea was like, could you make like non-smart TV smart? And that's sort of OK, it is a pain point that these TV's, you know, you can't really. And people were using all kinds of things like, I don't know if you if you remember S-Video cables, you know?  And then they connect to the TV like they were all kind of solutions that aren't and I've used the solution and it's very painful to do that. And you didn't want to do that. So that that pain point Sid, can you build something fundamentally better?

Second thing was that, you know, could you build something that is not very expensive because some of the other solutions that you could think of or even close to this were very expensive. You know, these devices could cost you hundreds of dollars and price points matter, and sometimes things don't take off because they're very high, high price points. So the idea was, could you build something that was within a certain price point?

And the third was a bit of my fascination that we should build a small device that can plug directly into the TV. And the thought was that could you sell it in check out aisles and also which was a real problem that you don't have space on your entertainment center. There were so many devices, like somebody had a gaming station and a cable box and an audio receiver and all these things, and you didn't have another space to keep a keep a box in there. And the last thing that we thought about is that not only did you not have space, you didn't have another plug point where you were because you had this expansion thing and you have all of those filled up. The idea was you could you could just get power from the TV. And those are all the things that that came together. The beauty of, I think, at least for me for Chromecast, was that I haven't really developed hardware before that, and I didn't know as much about hardware, about the development process, how much time it could take. And that was a huge advantage. You know, not knowing something you ask a lot of  why not?, you know, like, why can't you do it this way or that way? And I think we ended up breaking a lot of "rules" that allowed us to move fast and launch this product fast.


That's a really interesting. And you know, we've heard this a few different times where the lack of experience was actually a massive advantage. Can you give us an example of something that you know you guys did with Chromecast? And I assume the fact that you plug it into a USB versus having a box is one of those things that someone who understood hardware might not have done or might not have gone down that road. Are there things that you did with Chromecast that happened because of you and the team's lack of experience, perhaps with hardware?

AK Everything!

For example, building something that small that sat behind the TV.

1. I think the first question you would have as an intelligent person is could wifi ever reach it? Because TV will act like a shield, and it just kind of it is so close to sort of all this metal. And how would it even work? And this is doing video streaming. This is not like getting text. So how do you make something like that? That's number one. If I was expert, I would probably say, Look, this is a fool's errand. Don't do it.

2.  It's such a small device streaming video at a sort of HD rate... Heat is a real problem. Like your, you know, the CPU gets heated up and the CPU goes up to 105 degrees Celsius at times. And I don't know where it goes today. I've not been close to the Chromecast hardware, but you would think like such a smart device, like why do you want to build a small device like that? Because you can't put a heatsink in there like it's such a small device. So how are you going to think heat and make it work and last longer? That sort of another thing that if I had known better, I would not have gotten into

3.  The price point at which we are trying to sell it.  I mean, there was no other device that was at that price point in that time. And if I knew better, I would say, no, you can get to that price point because I would have started adding up what I knew and nothing would have added up. The equations weren't adding up, and initially they were not adding up for us either. Same with the timeline. This device was built in the fastest time anybody could think of the hardware being built. So over and over again we kept asking, Why can't you do? Certainly.

“ And the funny thing is that when you asked this question, when you say, “why not?” to someone who's very smart in that area, they feel that, you know, something that they don't know and they think harder and solve the problem for you”


And that was the most surprising thing for me that when you ask intelligent people in the industry, why not? They actually saw things that they thought they could.


Let’s move to Google Pay. You move back to Google.. are they pitching Google Pay to you, saying, Look, this is what's going on or is that how is that how you got enticed to come back?


It was a very organic sort of process there, you know, he and I kept talking back and forth for probably a couple of years. And I was very excited by overall, you know, how he approached product and how he works with people. And of course, you know, all of us excited by everything that Google's doing. And then he explained to me what was going on and the potential for what could happen. You know, when I joined Google Pay, it was fairly small, but he had that vision and I could see that that vision can pan out and this kind of scale can happen. And that just excited me to come back because the amount of impact I could create is what prompted me to come back.


How were you thinking through the idea of Google Pay, what is this now? Four years ago, I would say, right?


I wasn't there at the very beginning at Google Pay and I think I was starting to get a sense of what's going on. Google Pay launched in September of 2017, so it's about four years back. But I think the thought process has to start much, much before that. So the team that was working on this was quite a phenomenal team that had started working on it at least a couple of years before it actually launched, and they were very thoughtful about it and not not rushing into it. They were also communicating with other folks and helping build the ecosystem around it and make sure that something like UPI, you know, played their part in making that successful. The key thing that I found with this team was that they’re very mission driven, very focused, on making payments simple, inclusive and then creating a lot of sort of economic opportunity around all of us. And that that I think mission driven, passionate thing that people are not thinking of anything else is saying, Look, this thing, we have to make big. And that was quite cool. So that's one thing that that was very unique on how the team was thinking about.

The other way of looking at it is that you're, you know, we are transcending time and space and we make that payment because me and you don't have to be at the same place at the same time. When we made that digital payment, and that just enables a number of use cases that otherwise weren't possible, you know, something like, I have to pay somebody before they show up. I shouldn't have to visit them and make that payment. So, you know, all the all kinds of e-commerce use cases, lots of digital purchases, all of that is possible because, you know, everybody has the power to make digital payments. Having that kind vision, you know, early on, as we're talking about in the beginnings of Google Pay, the team had that vision and truly believed in it, which is sort of what has what has brought it this far.


Product philosophy


Talk to us a little bit about the philosophy that you follow and the focus on where when you're developing products, where you focus, where do you what do you think about after having so much experience in so many years behind you?


Yeah, I think especially when you come into an established team that is doing things, I think one of the biggest things that is important is having the trust in the team and respecting the team for what they've done. And that's very critical when you're trying to lead a team that is doing phenomenally well, it's a rocket ship. So you just want to make sure that you don't disturb things in ways that are not supposed to be disturbed. In fact, one dot that connects in my mind is that, you know, sometimes you say


“ a good guide is one who misguides the least ”


So the first the first focus is on not misguiding, you know, suddenly, don't try to change the world around you and not knowing what's happening. So the first important thing is understanding it and understanding it deeply as you're trying to lead. But I think where you pivoted your question in the middle, there was about just thinking about my product philosophy and a lot of it jives with other people that I work with who are super, super smart. But a few things that I look for is:

  1.  Understanding the problem that we are trying to solve. And is it really the problem, any problem that you're looking at, big or small? What is really the problem? Sometimes we end up solving the wrong problems. And my classic story on that one is the faster horses fallacy. If Henry Ford had gone back in the day and asked people what should he built - they would have said faster horses. Because that's what they knew, they didn't know there could be an automobile that could be built. And if he had built faster horses vs an automobile our lives would have been different. And the point is that he understood the problem more deeply, he said. It's not that we want faster horses. They want a faster way to travel, something that is easier to maintain, something that is cheaper. And that's what happened. So that's one very key aspect of my product philosophy and saying “ Look, can we not build faster horses and build look at problems that solve the pain point?”


  1. The second part that I think a lot about is getting the basics right. And in fact, I have more recently, somehow this came to my mind. And so more recently, I've talked to people about it.


“ Don't get into S.O.S = the shiny object syndrome. PM’s are not product managers but priority managers ”


So a lot of times, instead of getting into and focusing on the basics like we get into, Hey, you know, what can we develop a feature that looks great in a demo, but it doesn't really solve the real problem. So if you're doing the flying car, you know the seats. Yes, that important, but don't focus on the seats, don't focus on the pain. Don't focus on how it looks. It got to fly. If it doesn't fly, there's no point. So you in every product figured out what is it? What is this flying barge, right? And make sure that part is efficient. That's going to work. So that's very important. As you go around that, then you say, Look, what else do I add around it? And very critical in a lot of time/ It's getting the priorities right and getting this importance of less is more. That is very critical.

  1. Last thing I'd say on the product philosophy is thinking about breaking the clutter. You know, you can build a great product, but if nobody knows about it, then then it's not helpful to you to figure out what is your go to market strategy? How would it how would people know about it? Will they hear it from other people? Or are you going to market in a certain level breaking manner or something else that you do so that more and more people can come to know about it and can benefit  from what you build.


Okay, so we're going to come back to that. I one of the things I definitely want to talk to you about is launching products, which is, I think  your go to market strategy. But can you talk to us a little bit about less is more and how that was, how Google Pay got influenced in that manner by, you know, by what you were doing?

I bring this up only because as much as this is a great philosophy within Google, this is not an Indian philosophy in India. More is more or less is not more. And so it's really, you know, I think we're also learning how things are done by watching a lot of times. And so I think this is something that's I think we need to learn more of just as a cultural thing.


Yeah, well, actually, if you go far back in the Indian philosophy, if you really go, you know,  the Indian Way, then less was less was always true. If I go into Hindi " Sai itna dijiye, Jami Kutumbh Samay(translated to give me just enough to take care of my family. I don't want more beyond that) So there was always about sort of simplicity But you know, again, with products, maybe we have changed. Google Pay itself always had that philosophy of being simple, and I just had to carry it forward. And it's hard. You know, one way that has been epitomized in Google Pay is that our UX was from the beginning, this entity based thing we always thought about, you know, solving the problem. When you try to pay someone, the first thing you are trying to do is not the amount, not how you will pay us. Its - who am I trying to pay? Who is the most important problem? And therefore it was entity based. And then you think about amount and then how you will pay and all of that stuff. So we fully focused on that and that resulted in it being simple.  And that wasn't my invention. It was it was already there. The key thing which was hard to do and I think we have tried to do is, as you add more and more use cases we had and bill payments and we charge this, you add merchant payments to that spot to it. So you start adding more and more things. How do you still keep it simple and throw away certain things as you go along? Because if you keep adding to keep just adding, it won't work.


“In general - 20 percent of the features are used 80 percent of the time or by 80 percent of the people. That 80/20 rule applies yo product ”


But we forget that and keep adding stuff, and then we add stuff and actually the product becomes lost because three things happen -  one is that it becomes too complicated so the user can figure out where to focus. And if you do eye tracking studies, you know in your labs or something, they don't know where to focus, so they don't know what to do. And therefore they're confused and they can't do anything. So by doing everything you've done, you've done nothing.

Second thing that happens is that the architecture itself for the product becomes complicated just technologically, and therefore you find more bugs and it's not going to work as smoothly. It may not work as fast and stuff like that. And the third thing is, when you really want to add that thing, that really makes a difference. Now you have a logjam because you have so many things in there that you can't easily add this new thing that would have made a huge difference to your product, but you just can't add it. So in general, always ask yourself, can you do without it? And one of the key things that I think about and a lot of time I'll push my product managers on it on when we talk about min viable product is, I would say, look, OK, fine.  so this is your viable product, right? ABCD - imagine you're launching tomorrow morning and B is not ready. Will you launch?  And if your answer is you will launch, then B is not your min viable product and you have to sort of think really hard about it and keep reducing versus continuing to keep at adding. A lot of times, you add, because you're not sure what will work and you have to take a bet by not taking that risk, you're taking the biggest risk.


on launching products and breaking the clutter


So let's say you say you want to add something and then you say, you ask yourself, Can I do without it? You say, No, I can't do without it and you launch, right? We, you know, one of the things that you said in one of the one of your interviews was that once you launch, you want, whether it's the merchants or the end users, you want to watch your users very carefully to see the use cases that they are doing to your product.  Now we've heard others say that as well. Can you walk us through what you're watching for? And also perhaps a couple of examples of things that Google Pay's case, at least you saw users doing that you didn't realize, you hadn't thought of, and it's become core to the experience.


To answer the first part of your question on what do you monitor, what you look for?

In general, I think the good product managers have experiments sitting inside all of their products and features.  So they will always sort of either have, you know, ABCDE arms or they had to be that they were test with because they would have been user studies. But, with millions of users using it. They won't believe those user studies. So that's one that they're just looking for this or that. And I tried giving you this kind of a treatment in the UX versus that. And what are you clicking more? What are you liking more? So that is just one just thinking about experimentation and watching that watching different options.

The second piece of it is that is as you're building things, you are rolling them out. You're not suddenly going and giving it to everyone. You say, Look, let me give it to one person, then let me get to 2 and get to 10, and you have to monitor it because sometimes what work looks at. One person doesn't really work at 10 percent, but also based on something that looks at 10 percent even at scale doesn't fully look 100 percent. So that having that kind of a sort of rollout and watching for that, that is very good. having your hypothesis around, you know, which which features you thought and how users behave and where they click a lot and having that data very clearly and then tweaking and saying, Look, I thought they were going to use this feature more. But they ended up using that more. And clearly, even though I'm trying to push my wear, let's give users what they want and measuring various aspects of it. I think that is that is very critical as well. In terms of user surprising you, I think they surprise you all the time because stuff that you think will work great sometimes doesn't work great. And then other things, other things just take off. For example, we had a feature of proximity payments where you could be next to each other and make a payment. Now people used that. But you know, with COVID and everything else that's happened, its not the thing people are using because they're not next to each other.


" So, sometimes what's surprising is also how the world changes because you can't control that. And therefore, as a product manager, you're very focused on how the world around you is changing, how the user's behavior is changing. Because not only can the world change like COVID did, but also when you get a new cohort, new set of users, you have to iterate for that. When there are inflection points where you've gone beyond the set of initial users, suddenly the new set of users may want slightly different things and maybe may be impacted by something else. So you continuously keep looking at that and looking at your data and create experiments, and that can then create the impact for the users" 


Metrics, metrics and more metrics


So I want to just come back to something you just you mentioned and about how to measure this as you look at a product and when you are deep into either post-launch or at any stage of rolling out a product, what are your key growth metrics that you measure for for success? What are you looking at?


So one of the most critical metrics that everybody uses and looks quite well is just looking at your monthly active users and saying Look, OK, how many how many monthly active users do you have that just I think it's a metric that has stood the test of time. I'm sure, you know, VCs look at that a lot across the board. Now then you start dissecting it and you say, look, it's not just about monthly, how many users are coming to you weekly, how many are coming to your daily because that tells you the frequency of usage. And then you start cutting it by, OK, you know what? What is your ratio of daily to weekly or daily to monthly? Because that then that starts telling you how much of your base is really like frequent users or not? So that overall sort of just gives you a very, very good sense of what is happening now.

When you go a bit further, you have to start thinking about retention. And there, you know, I like and I think other folks use that as well is the 'L curves' because there's always some drop. So essentially, what you are looking at is you're looking at weekly or monthly retention by cohorts and saying, Look, people join me on this day, people who signed up on this day - How many of them came back a month later and how many of them are still with us two months later? And you can do that on a weekly and monthly basis because if you see that changing by cohorts and say, look, earlier users were retaining more or new users are retaining more, did we change anything in the product? Is this anything changing about the environment or the users? So that's something to look at because those L curves can tell you a lot. Some other companies would look at, you know, something like a D-7 retention. A lot of gaming companies would do that. Then you say, Look, did they come back on the seventh day? And that tends to be an interesting metric because every day of the week matters. And therefore you say, look, people who joined on this day, are they coming back on the seventh day? The other metric that I've seen, which is also interesting for frequency is to think about "In the last 28 days, how many times was your product used? So if it was used 10 times, then that metric would say 10. So that's on the sort of retention and frequency. And then as you start thinking about, of course, monetization, you know, of course you have to start looking at your revenue ARR, but also in, of course, average revenue per user, average avenue per active user or per user in the base. I think you start cutting by different things. Those in general would cover it in the end. What I tell people is that these are sort of the basic metrics staples kind of thing that you could look at, you know, every day or so. But then, depending on your business, you would have a ton of other metrics like we would look at number of transactions a day, how much money is flowing through us. And, you know, tons and tons of these metric,

“ Decide based on your business, some of these metrics, will become staple and with all the other metrics - create them and put some sort of anomaly detection and say - if it moves too much, then somebody's going to look at it. ”

Some alert will be fired and somebody will look at it to understand why and at least understand why. Maybe we have to do something about or about it or nothing, but at least you have sort of these alerts that help you. And as the sort of business grows, you always find more and more metrics


You touched base on this a little bit earlier with your, you know, your go to market and breaking the clutter you've got to launch a product, right? What does it take to have a successful launch? You touched on it a little bit. I thought maybe you could go a little bit deeper on this because you've now launched many products. What does it take to launch a product successfully?


I think it only takes one thing - ownership.  think what I've seen, the best people who do it well is they feel they have such a sense of ownership about it that they're cross-checking like every little thing and making sure everything is in the right place because there are so many things that can break in any product, launch any of the smallest of the product launch you take that that ownership mindset.

“ A lot of people say the product managers should have a growth mindset. I say, look, they should have an ownership mindset ”

Everything else will fall into place. But you know what it takes to launch a product, of course, that that's a very, very long list of things. You know, having the ownership mindset very important. But in the end, I think a few things and I've touched on some of these is. One is that getting the priorities right and figuring out, look, first of all, do you have the MVP? Do you have the viable product? It's very hard to. It's not straightforward to say, look, whether you have the viable product or not, this is where judgment comes in and product management. A lot of times people will say it is not a science. You always see articles that sys its art of product management because a lot of judgment is involved. So you have to judge whether you have the viable product and and not too much more, because you  could add a lot of things to make sure you absolutely have them in a viable product. But if you add too much, then that creates less possibility of a success. That's one second is making sure your basics work.. like if you've got a flying car, just make sure that it flies. 

So figure out the MVP, figure out your basics, and then figure out what is your way of getting to the consumers, how when you reach the consumers, is it that you want to get on TV and do an advert or are you going to do performance marketing or are you going to do word of mouth and references where you say, Look, I'll start a product and then people will refer and maybe you have to pay them for referrals or you create some ither scarcity thing where we say, Look, you know, we're only 100 people can use this product and everybody can invite only five more people. These are all things that people have tried. You need to figure out two things. One is what would work for a product of your kind. And two very important is what do you believe as a product manager? What do you think will work and what do you think you can make work, if you truly believe in that? A lot of times I've seen if you find tweaks, you find different ways in which you make it work. But that last piece is really important and it has become more important in the last 20 years. Back in, you know, when the, you know, the app stores were just coming up in  Android Play Store or the App Store on iOS, you would not have as many apps if you had an app. Everybody would try it out and say, Hey, you know, I've got a phone, what do I try? I got this new app now. Now it's impossible to break that clutter, so you have to find new ways of doing that. For example, with Google Pay and Google Pay launched via scratch cards, we didn't spend as much money on commercial marketing and this the scratch card construct was much more efficient and effective. So you have to find that for your product.


When you launched Google Pay. How did you break the clutter? What did you do?


Initially, going back to Teez right, the clutter breaking thing was -  that it was very simple design. It had sort of the scratch cards, of course, you know, the security and the fraud protection, everything else that Google brings, that all was there. So that sort of broke the initial clutter and grew it as we sort of rebranded it  Google Pay and grew that product from thereon. We've done a few things - we added more use cases, but also one of the things that's been very successful is the sort of, you know, constructs that we create on the platform. For example, that World Cup was happening last year in 2019, summer or something. We we had a game called Teez shocks, which, you know, just became very, very popular. I think six, you know, it was played, I think, 600 million times, which we know in a matter of few weeks. If you look at December, we had this travel thing where COVID was there, but you could visit different cities and that that became very popular. So that's that's one way that we have sort of we have created a lot of growth. The second -  you know, we've added a sort of bunch of, you know, features that have added to the growth and we're creating that sort of merchant consumer flywheel where you can, you know, we can add more merchants as well as our competitors and partners that are adding more merchants and that created more places to play and pay and that has been expanding the network. We also redesigned the app because as we realized, we said, Look, this is, you know, this is this is what so far and now for the next game or the next level of users and scale, you need to redesign it because that again goes back to continuously monitoring what's working and what's not working. And even as we speak right, I mean, I think we've got a sort of newer design coming where we'll tweak a few more things and bring something else up there. So it's a continuous process. But yes, the growth constructs that we have done continuously, the new features we've added and just redesigned a bunch of things that's made a big difference. And that's where things are in product - There are specific inflection points that make a make a big difference. It's not about doing 100 things

on hiring 


I wanted to just touch based on hiring for a product role. I've always found this even with the our portfolio companies become product is a very generalized term product managers. And if you're not a product manager, hiring for this role is complicated interviewing for this role is complicated and understanding what  experience is valuable. What experience might not be, what experience should we be looking for are all things that have to be learned over time. Unlike, let's say, hiring someone in the accounts department, let's say, for example, talk to us a little bit about how you hire for  product, what you look for and where you found very cool talent.


Yeah, I mean, it's like I say, it's tricky hiring in general is hard because it's very hard to test people in an interview because, you know, in that setting and how they behave in that setting could be very different from how they behave in real life when they have to actually do things. But you know, you'll be positively as well as negatively surprised.

" Oh, I have very simple things that I look for - I definitely try to find markers for ownership"

say, look, are you a real owner  and will you sort of feel the ownership and the weight of ownership that makes the biggest difference? The second piece that I look for is the ability to learn and unlearn in the way I test - I generally ask very few questions on the past how they did something in the past, because that's very I find that that's interesting, but somewhat easier to describe. But when you throw new problems in them, in a lot of times, I throw problems with them that I'm grappling with and I'm considering, should I go this way or that way? And that gives me an insight into sort of how they solve problems and how they're learning a new area, They have to get more data, or sometimes they can ask me questions to understand that area. And that tells me like, how quickly can  they ask the right questions, learn.

“ And unlearning is as critical or almost more critical. Because when you have these strong held beliefs that you don't want to move, they can sometimes drag you down”

And so I try to challenge people on things and say, Look, what is this or that and try to see the things that they truly believe are during the course of the conversation? Look, I think this is the right thing to do. And you try to really challenge them and see how they  think about that and do they see the other aspects, the other side of the coin into it so that learning and learning is really important? The last point is about passion. You want to see emotion and passion because it's not. This is a hard job, and I almost think of it as a way of life. You know, you everything around you starts bothering as a product manager, you say, Look, why is this? Why is this thing upside down? Why is this table in this place? And then we have to prioritize. But having that passion to start with this is important. So I definitely look for that. Those are the three things that I look for.

But one thing I do after every interview that I do and everybody interviewing me knows this is that I close my eyes and say, Can I imagine reporting to this person? Am I inspired enough? Did they tell me things that I don't know? Are there things that I learn from them? And if I can say yes to that, then it's easier - then that works for me because that means, you know, you can get somebody who you can trust, who you who you can leave alone and they can create great products.


I want to bring back what you said at the very beginning of this podcast and end on that note. But you're excited about the how products are going to be using, not your voice and not your typing skills, but your mind - how are they going to do that without being invasive? And where does this go?


I have to dig it up, but I think somebody at M.I.T. had done this helmet which could tweet words and that was not invasive but I've been very impressed by this book Why we Sleep and in there he talks about how in the last five or six years, the technology has improved so that they can actually measure what's going inside your mind, somewhat like, what kind of signals are happening? You know, they talk about the sleep spindles, other things that are happening inside your mind. And it seems that they're able to they're able to get some waves. I don't know whether they're safe or not but you should be able to sort pf understand some of these waves, you know, based on the electrical signals inside your brain. And that my guess is allows you to train these devices and say, Look, when you see this kind of a wave, then it means this. This wave means A, this means  B, and then it could get more and more complicated. In fact, that book, you know, but it does this why we book it talked about how they could sort of train people and show them images and measure their impulse. And you I could show you image of a car, image of a 3D image of a diamond. Stuff like that. And then when you're sleeping, if you dreamt about it, I would just wake you up and say, Hey, were are you thinking about a car? And they got it right most of the time So it seems it's starting to get there. The reason it excites me is because, both, you know, this is again, a very tricky area, you know, all kinds of sort of ethical and other questions. So I don't want to get into that. But just from a pure technology and excitement perspective, it's like crazy how limiting, you know, inputting into a computer is and how limiting it is to be able to take time to read or listen to thing or watch it versus being able to get it right away. So I'm pretty excited. No one knows 10 - 20 years from now. There'll be stuff that if we are talking again, I say, Look, we talked about that and now it's here!