the cadence: building successful saas companies



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338 words

David Sacks, GP at Craft Ventures, former COO of Paypal, and founder/CEO of Yammer, believes that the way to bring order to the chaos of start ups is through “The Cadence”. He gave a talk on the topic which he then converted into a blog post.

I’ve been thinking a lot about entropy lately and what I think this Cadence provides is a constant realignment to manage the entropy inherent to start ups.

Being product focused at this point, I was particularly drawn to what David had to say about the product cycle, where he introduced two concepts that resonated:

  1. Scoping is imperative for success
  2. Product management is about delivering value in a resource constrained environment

My favorite section as a result was these two paragraphs:

This review should ensure that every project that goes into development can be shipped within one quarter. The rule we had at Yammer is that projects would be assigned 2 to 10 engineers for 2 to 10 weeks. Similar to Jeff Bezos’ two-pizza rule, this meant that the absolute biggest strategic priority could get 10 engineers for 10 weeks. If the product couldn’t ship in that time, it needed to be shrunk down to something more MVP. This requirement improves the reliability of release dates and allows for user feedback before over-investing in a new product.

A good analogy for product management is filling a jar with rock, pebbles, and sand. The rocks are new products, pebbles are features, and the sand are small fixes. If you want to fit the most stuff in the jar, you put the rocks in first, then the pebbles, then the sand. If you put the sand in first, somehow there’s not enough room for the rocks. Product management is like that. It’s about resource planning — maximizing the amount of stuff that you can push through the system with a fixed amount of resources. You will actually fit more through your roadmap by planning the rocks on a quarterly cadence.

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