🗺️ How to Prioritize a Roadmap
+ Bill.com, EcoCart, and Solana
Welcome to our 70 new subscribers since Wednesday. I am really excited to share four new pieces since the last newsletter.
For those who have been with me a while, my writing volume has increased from weekly to daily. So, the frequency of this newsletter is going to increase.
I will now be sending 2 newsletters a week: a mid-week, and a weekend briefing.
The upside of two newsletters a week is you can stay on top of all the latest trends in tech with me. The downside is that you will see more of me in your inbox. Most of you have expressed wanting that. You can always hit reply if you have feedback!
Onto the works. Thanks for reading 🙏. As always, we are looking to grow. So, please share with friends.
How to Prioritize a Roadmap
A Guide for Product Teams
As product leaders, we are constantly asked to share a roadmap of features we intend to build. As well intentioned as the product literati that argues against roadmaps are, after pit stops in product across 6 tech companies, I have generally always seen them produced. They provide clarity to customers, investors, and other stakeholders that want to see your engineering resources put to the best possible use.
What is stunningly lacking on the internet – yes, on the internet in December 2021 – is a coherent overview of how to build a prioritized roadmap. The best resource I could find is, perhaps predictably, from Lenny Rachitsky. The former Airbnb product lead turned newsletter author to more than 85,000 builders wrote, of all things, a legendary Twitter thread in 2019:
That is, for the purposes of the internet today, the canonical text. I’ll cite the next 20 best from the internet throughout this article, but Lenny’s 11 tweet thread, of all things, stands out as the best. So, I will use Lenny’s thread as a structure to go into all the details of prioritization, to create our own little Product Growth version of, “The Prioritization Bible.”
Which Blockchain Will Builders Choose? The Solana Deep Dive
If you had to pick a single cryptocurrency to highlight the blockchain innovation in 2021, Solana would be it. The $SOL token has gone from a market cap of $490 million on January 1st to $53 billion on December 11th. Year to date, it has more than 100x’d.
It went from one of the thousands of tokens to now the third largest crypto by market cap, if you exclude Binance’s BNB. This has made several early investors, like Multicoin Capital, and their LPs, like David Sacks, quite rich.
On top of that, you would be hard pressed to find a set of more engaged and charismatic founders than Raj Gokal and Anatoly Yakovenko. The two write frequently, and push code even more so, while actively participating in the broader blockchain community. You would certainly not be able to find co-founders of a $53B company who are more engaged than the two on Twitter.
Things move at lightning speed in Solana land. In the past few days, there was a fairly large controversy about the most unique aspect of Solana: Proof of History (PoH). Justin Bons reported that a DDoS attack was fundamentally enabled by PoH. He further stated that this constitutes a major vulnerability in the blockchain’s security.
Raj and Anatoly were immediately on the case, via Twitter. Anatoly started, with a tweet the next morning that summarized why it is not a security vulnerability. Like any proof of stake (PoS) network – Solana is PoH and PoS – the DDoS attack would need to hit >1/3rd weight of all the physical links in the network:
Justin Bons @Justin_Bons1/6) Solana was DDoS attacked again yesterday This attack exploited fundamental design flaws which are considered features by SOL As it sacrifices decentralization & security for speed While ignoring the consequences of that trade off Specifically Proof of History & Turbine:
Raj followed that up, and they also both retweeted a fairly persuasive thread from Tomáš Eminger of the Runaway Blockchain Fund. The controversy was quickly squashed.
Not every blockchain operates this way. This is a company that raised $314M its last round for its affinity with pi. Solana is a different type of company, team, and blockchain. Anatoly and Raj aim for Solana to be the builder’s choice layer 1 protocol: fast, with low transaction fees, and good UX for builders.
In a crowded field, with players from Ethereum to Cardano and Polkadot, it is the one that dominated 2021. This was, in part, because of its co-founders’ Twitter presences. But it was also because of so much more. So, let us dive in to understand: can Solana become the blockchain of choice amongst builders?
To get there, we’ll explore:
The Solana Story
Builders’ Other Options
The Interoperable Future
Along the way, we’ll give it the typical product growth treatment, to learn the best tips and tricks to build for web3.
How to be the Fastest Growing SaaS Company: The Bill.com Story
The Fastest Horse in the Race
When Jamin over at Clouded Judgment took a look at the latest quarterly results of all the public SaaS companies, one company’s revenue growth stood out as far above the rest:
That is quite a remarkable feat. In an industry filled with fast growers like Snowflake, SentinelOne, and Datadog, a backend fintech company came out on top.
So, we have to take a look at Bill.com:
What is its story?
How does it grow?
What lessons can we take away?
Hop in as we give Bill.com the product growth treatment.
EcoCart: Solving Climate Change With a Checkout Solution
The Tragedies That Await
Contemporary climates have already reached 1 centigrade above preindustrial levels. If this trend continues, tides will continue to rise. The first impact will be beachfront properties going under water. Miami beaches will retreat miles. Eventually, Bangladesh and the Maldives will be swallowed by the Ocean entirely. “Hot house earth,” with 3-4 centigrade further warming, is expected to trigger a series of events resulting in human extinction.
For well-read, science-believing folk, this is not new information. But, the climate change news simply has not gotten better from the last time you learned this. In a landmark article in BioScience this September, scientists found that critical parts of the Earth system – including the West Antarctic and Greenland Ice sheets, warm-water coral reefs, and the Amazon rainforest – are nearing, or have already crossed, critical tipping points.
As the charts above highlight, in recent years, we have actually seen an unprecedented surge in climate-related disasters:
Greenland and Antarctica showed new year-to-date all-time record low levels of ice mass.
Ocean heat content and sea levels set new records.
The Brazilian Amazon annual forest loss rate reached a 12-year high of 1.11 million hectares destroyed.
Carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide set new records for atmospheric concentration in 2020 and 2021.
All five of the hottest years on record have occurred since 2015.
With governments unwilling to act, the onus to address the potential existential threat to humanity has fallen on businesses and individuals.
If you’re too busy to read all four pieces this week, here’s each in a picture: