Two critical components in a start-up or any business are creating culture and productivity with your team. Joining us to share their experiences and sagacity is a roundtable of CTOs from the tech field: Robert Swisher of biproxi, Brant Cooper of Moves The Needle and Michael Young, technology management consultant.
Today we talk about engineering culture, product management, and KPIs. We also discuss the crucial question: how do you measure productivity? While no one has the final, definitive answer, everyone weighs in with perceptive knowledge. Join us to hear it on this edition of CTO Studio.
In this episode, you’ll hear:
- When is a good time to bring in a CTO? (6:50)
- How does product management fit into technical due diligence? (10:05)
- How do you structure your teams to fuel product innovation? (20:35)
- Why focusing on a person’s potential is more powerful than focusing on their mistake. (37:55)
- Why is it so much harder to measure technology team productivity than other teams like sales and marketing? (48:30)
- And so much more!
We begin with talking to Michael Young: Michael’s been in the tech world for over 25 years, and has been a chief architect or CTO for about 18 of those years including the very successful Redfin and Classy. Now he’s putting that knowledge to use as a technical due diligence and technology management consultant.
Today he works on the other side helping private equity and investors through the due diligence process, much of which is translating the technology from bits and bites into its value in the business world. He’s basically a bridge between investors and financers and the people in tech.
Michael and his team mostly focus on business SaaS so mostly what he sees are people who look at business problems and come up with well-optimized systems as solutions. It might be a new platform for dentist offices to interact with customers. His investors also tend to zig when others are zagging, so he hasn’t worked on a business deal in Silicon Valley.
Of those deals he has worked on, how many have been with the CTO versus with the whole founding team? He explains the purpose of technical due diligence is really to focus on the technical team.
By and large they are talking to the CTO, but often times there is no CTO. In those instances, who he and his team speak with can vary. It might be the CEO who is very technical or a COO who is running the engineering team. Or they might talk with the technical leads or senior developer/engineer because there really is no executive with technical knowledge.
Which raises the question: when is a good time to bring in a CTO? Michael says the earlier the better. But he has seen companies that reach several million in revenue without one and their business looks good. Somehow they figured out how to get to that point without a CTO. And investors don’t see this as a downside because their businesses have real revenue and good cash flow so they can see the value in the business itself.