This is part two in our miniseries about our research trip.
“Dude. It is Andrew McCollum. The co-founder of Facebook.”
This was around 10pm on September 29th, 2012 in a small San Francisco hotel room on 5th and Mission – the evening before our meeting with Andrew McCollum.
Ron and I had been on the road for a few weeks for our research tour. We were either travelling, doing back-to-back meetings, or planning meetings for the next day.
This evening was no different than any other evening. Ron and I were unwinding from a full day, while planning the next one. We were googling this Andrew-guy who had just replied to us:
“Sounds good. See you then.”
We could not believe it, and almost started laughing. Then we freaked out. This was the Facebook-Andrew, the Co-Founder of Facebook-Andrew.
Let us back up. About a month prior to this evening, we had begun our research trip. Our first set of interviews began in Copenhagen, then the rest of Scandinavia, London and Berlin and eventually NYC, Boston, Chicago and SF.
Our research trip interviews consisted of questions like how the team was doing ops, how often they deployed, how they tracked releases, what services did they use, how they collaborated on fixing issues and so on. And they always ended with: Do you know anyone we should meet?
Like the other questions, that last question helped us a lot. Each interview not only gave us increasing insight into established ops workflows (or lack of) but also a handful of solid introductions. Which is exactly how we got to meet Andrew.
A Berlin based CTO introduced us to an angel group in Boston who then gave us the introduction:
“You should meet Andrew in San Francisco. He is ex-Facebook and he would be interested in what you are doing.”
We assumed Andrew was a former Facebook employee who could potentially give us great advice, and maybe even join our upcoming angel round. We were introduced over email and I quickly reached out to set up a meeting, before we went on with our research trip.
Back in the SF hotel room, Ron and I were electrified. Andrew would be a great fit with his experience from Facebook’s early devops culture.
Next morning at 8:30 we met at Philz Coffee on Berry st. The place was packed so we decided to walk over to the Creamery.
With MacBooks and coffee on the table, we were ready to demo Opbeat. We discussed the importance of release tracking, breaking down silos, having data and workflows in the same place, overload of non-actionable notifications, lack of context etc. Andrew had a bunch of concrete feedback and good insights, but the most valuable feedback came in the form of a question; he asked if he could get access to Opbeat for his hobby projects.
That was basically the best feedback and validation we could ever get. And then, just a few minutes later, he agreed to do a convertible note.
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of talking and meeting people. Every meeting lead to us something very valuable. Sometimes it was feedback, sometimes investment, sometimes experience, but at all times, it helped form Opbeat.