3 Types of Product Managers: Builders, Tuners, Innovators

As the product management role has become far more popular here in Silicon Valley and at technology firms in general, we’ve started to see specialization in the role begin to emerge. While these specific product roles rarely have differentiated titles or formal separate requirements, savvy hiring managers are certainly looking for product managers with specific skill-sets and passion areas depending on the specific product stage and challenges they are solving for.

I’ve had the opportunity to serve in many distinct product roles as well as lead hiring for such roles as well. So I wanted to share my view of 3 high-level product management roles that exist in the field, which I affectionately call builders, tuners, and innovators.

3 Observations on Microsoft's Acquisition of LinkedIn


We all woke up this morning to incredible news on Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn for $26.2B, or $196 per share, a 50% premium over the previous LinkedIn stock price. While many have already remarked on this bold move by Satya Nadella and what this could mean for both Microsoft and LinkedIn’s respective businesses, I wanted to share three observations on larger trends this embodies across our industry.

Product Management Career Ladders at 8 Top Technology Firms

Slides: Product Management Career Ladders

One of the areas I often mentor product managers on are the career paths available to them within the profession. Since there isn’t a lot of discussion about this out there, I wanted to share what the career ladders look like for product managers at 8 top technology firms as well as some of the key dimensions upon which advancement in the profession occur.

Product organizations tend to be a small proportion of technology firm’s overall R&D teams, with ratios of up to 1 product manager to 10 engineers as common. Given this, companies tend not to focus on developing the same formalized career ladders compared to their engineering counterparts except at the largest tech firms who have achieved the scale of hundreds of product managers within their organization. The 8 technology firms whose career ladders I’ve showcased below have all achieved this scale and have thus invested in career ladders for their respective product organizations.

Video: The Art of Product Management

Video: The Art of Product Management
Slides: The Art of Product Management

Recently Karl Ulrich asked me to give my talk on the Art of Product Management at a Wharton Entrepreneurs Workshop. They recorded the video and I wanted to share it here as well.

Product managers drive the vision, strategy, design, and execution of their product. While one can often quickly comprehend the basic responsibilities of the role, mastering each of these dimensions is truly an art form that one is constantly honing.

In the last decade as a product manager here in Silicon Valley I've learned an incredible number of important lessons on how to be better at this role. In this presentation I share my lessons learned on the art behind each of these four dimensions of product management. I cover role models that exemplify each dimension, best practices on excelling at that dimension's discipline, and countless examples from valley companies that exemplify these traits.

Video: The Hunt for Product/Market Fit

Video: The Hunt for Product/Market Fit
Slides: The Hunt for Product/Market Fit

Last month I was asked to come by Pivotal Labs to share my learnings on finding product/market fit. The team recorded the video and I wanted to share that here for those interested.

The hunt for finding product/market fit in an early-stage startup is an elusive one, often fraught with chaos, and certainly never easy. However learning to leverage a cycle of defining, validating, and iterating on each of your most critical product/market fit hypotheses is a sure-fire way to bring some predictability to the process and provide guidance on whether your team is getting closer or farther from the ultimate goal.