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Elena Verna Analyzes Airtable’s Shift to Enterprise and Slack’s Product Roadmap

Hosts: Brian Balfour & Fareed Mosavat

Topics: Airtable’s Shift To Enterprise, Slack’s new Features

Release Date: Sep 28, 2023

This week, Unsolicited Feedback welcomes Elena Verna - the OG of PLG, former SVP growth at Survey Monkey, and renowned PLG advisor to Miro, Amplitude and MongoDB. Now, she’s the Interim Head of Growth at Dropbox, and trust us, you’re not going to want to miss what she has to say as today’s trio:

🥅 Discuss what it takes to be a solopreneur expert (starts immediately)

🥊 Battle it out with AI-written PLG trivia (starts at 9:30)

🔥 Debate whether Airtable’s shift to enterprise is a disaster in the making (starts at 19:54)

🔎 Evaluate Slack’s move to multi-product-company with new workflow tools and AI features (59:06)

This uncovers a deeper conversation around the dangers of betting on a single growth loop.

Airtable's Shift to Enterprise

Airtable's CEO has announced a shift to enterprise, which has caused concern for Elena and Fareed. Why? The word "SHIFT."

🛫 Growth loops hit plateaus. When that happens, you need to layer other growth loops on top, not shift away from the plateaued loop. It seems from the announcement that this isn't a layering of enterprise on top of PLG, but rather a shift away from PLG.

🥾 It's likely that many enterprise wins were a result of Airtable's PLG motion. Without being inside the company, Elena and Fareed have observed patterns where companies recognize the value of enterprise clients they're closing, but fail to acknowledge the impact that PLG had on closing those clients.

🏁 A shift to Top-Down Sales is a dangerous shortcut. It requires a different set of skills and organizational culture to successfully empower top-down without a bottom-up motion. "The moment you lose that user love, and the moment that you lose that end-user focus, it gives you false hope because you are able to close a few more deals than you did before, but then the root of those deals starts to go down." ~ Elena

However, Brian wonders if there is ever a case in which it does make sense to truly ignore and abandon PLG in exchange for an Enterprise motion.

Slack’s Move to Multi-Product

Slack announces four new products, and everyone has a take:

  1. Sales Elevate, a deep integration with Salesforce tools
  2. Workflow Builder, enabling custom workflows
  3. Slack AI, channel recaps, threads summaries, etc.,
  4. Slack Lists, a task management interface

💥 While the concepts are exciting, Fareed worries it might be a repeat of the Zoom discussion from the Adam Fishman episode. But these are more focused releases, and it could be their best bet to capture more value.

✨ Elena is thrilled about going multi-product after years of a lack of innovation, but she's concerned about one thing - Slack's AI play. Slack is where human interaction happens now, the heartbeat of remote companies. If we replace too much with AI, will we lose the ability to truly connect with people?

🔮 This leads to a prediction for a larger pendulum swing. As AI scales, human-focused companies will win the Anti-AI trend. Could Slack be that winner or will it’s lean into AI have negative effects on it’s ability to foster genuine connections?

🤔 Finally, it seems like Slack is trying to become the all-encompassing, single-platform system of record for companies. Are Microsoft or Google already leading the way? Will fears of consolidated power create an opening for Slack? We'll see... 🤔

Next week, we’re sitting down with Joff Redfern, who is most recently chief product officer at Atlassian! Much to look forward to!