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Braze is a customer engagement platform that connects people to the brands they love. We use technology to empower companies to create brilliant customer experiences.

Braze is committed to creating a space where complex ideas become approachable, and our goal is to bring an honest, yet playful, voice to the conversation.

Jul 23, 2019

Braze founders, Bill Magnuson and Jon Hyman, recount the beginnings of Braze. From fast times at Bridgewater to top honors at TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon, hear about the humble beginnings that soon evolved into best-in-class customer engagement platform.

 

 

 

TRANSCRIPT:

[0:00:17]

PJ: Hello again. Welcome back to Braze for Impact your martech industry discuss digest. So thrilled today to have two esteemed guests with me. You know them as the founders of Braze, CEO, Bill Magnuson and CTO-

 

[0:00:32]

Jon Hyman: Jon Hyman.

 

[0:00:32]

PJ: There he is to my right. Jon, Bill, welcome.

 

[0:00:36]

Bill Magnuson: Thanks for having us.

 

[0:00:36]

Jon Hyman: Thank you PJ.

 

[0:00:38]

PJ: And so you know why we're here, right? We want to hear the story. We want the uncut, behind the music for Braze, formerly Appboy.

 

[0:00:48]

Bill Magnuson: We first met in Westport, Connecticut working for a company called Bridgewater Associates. They have been notorious more recently for a lot of things about their culture. You know that I would encourage our listeners to go and read about either in Dealbreaker if you like a good story or in the New York Times, if you want a slightly more journalistic integrity, if you will. But, when I joined Bridgewater after finishing up my master's degree, I joined up and I was actually on Jon's team, he was my team lead when we got started.

 

[0:01:19]

Jon Hyman: Yeah, actually had to give Bill a great project of going through all of the services that we owned on Internet Explorer 6 and seeing if they could work under Internet Explorer 8.

 

[0:01:30]

Bill Magnuson: Yeah, I think it was about 235 different projects and I didn't know how any of them were supposed to work. My directions were just try and figure out how each one of them works and see if any of them don't work when you go into a more modern browser. And this was, I think, still years behind cutting edge.

 

[0:01:47]

PJ: Gotcha. Jon, was Bill hard to manage?

 

[0:01:51]

Jon Hyman: No, he actually was really good. I did try to save him from the despair of a couple of those different projects, but Bill was like, "I can do it, just give it to me," and he then quickly outgrew my team onto his own team and started running product for Greenfield Development that we had at Bridgewater, while I stuck with what we called at the time sustained engineering, which was just managing the 80 plus technology assets that our department had managed.

 

[0:02:19]

Bill Magnuson: Yeah. So fast forward about a year and a half and Jon starts to get a wandering eye a little bit and decides early on in 2011 that he's going to leave and strike out.

 

[0:02:32]

Jon Hyman: Yeah. Basically at the point for me, I had been programming since I was young, programmed all through high school and college. That was how I paid for my tuition and beer and pizza money and there was a lot of good creativity in that. And at Bridgewater I essentially felt that I was both far away from what I'll call is, like a win, I wanted to just kind of celebrate the success of something. There was a huge financial institution, I didn't have any delusions of grandeur that as a 25-year old kid I would impact their bottom line, but I wanted to be able to just celebrate a win with the team. Didn't think I was getting that. And at the same time, I felt that the new tech world was evolving. We had the cloud starting to come out mobile and was explosive. I actually was one of those people who left work in the middle of the day to go stand in line to get the first Android phone that Sprint ever carried, which was really fun. So, I was really excited about it and I thought that I was not going to learn those technologies at Bridgewater. I wasn't doing something that was creative. And so, at that point I just decided that I wanted to either start some kind of tech company or join a small tech company and just be a little bit closer to the product itself.

 

[0:03:45]

Bill Magnuson: At that point I had been at Bridgewater for less than a year. And prior to Bridgewater I was actually at Google and I was a fortunate enough to be able to do this hybrid thing where I got my master's degree and continued working on working for Google at the same time. And the work that I was doing at Google was with the Android team and it was right as Android was launching. And so I had been exposed to mobile in its earliest innings and just had enormous conviction that it was going to fundamentally change the world. And so, Jon left and I had only been there for 10 or 11 months at the time, which was a little bit early to be making a jump, especially on my first real job after getting fully out of school and leaving grad school. But we kept in touch and Jon started working on some really cool stuff working with cool teams, just kind of exploring out in the New York City tech area. And fast forward a couple months later and Jon gives me a call and, I think Wednesday before the TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon, he had had a partner that he was supposed to be doing the programming competition with that had to cancel at the last minute. And he was like, "Hey, what are you doing this weekend?" I was like, "I'm going up to Vermont with my girlfriend. We've got this really romantic weekend planned." And he was like, "You want to cancel all those plans and do a programming competition with me in the city?" And I was like, "Of course." And so-

 

[0:05:06]

Jon Hyman: I still have that draw.

 

[0:05:07]

PJ: Really?

 

[0:05:08]

Jon Hyman: I can still cause people to quit, cancel their plans.

 

[0:05:10]

PJ: Bag that. What did you say? What did you get? What were your words to convince him to bag it?

 

[0:05:15]

Jon Hyman: "Bill, we're going to be working on this together." Glory.

 

[0:05:18]

Bill Magnuson: ... Yeah. And so the program that we built was called [Gilty] . I think it was perfect for the TechCrunch Disrupt audience, because it was a little bit subversive. It was a little bit mischievous. Gilt was very much an ascendant brand at the time. These flash sales were really exciting. And what it did was it took advantage of the fact that when a flash sale sold out on Gilt, it would not be sold out for everyone who would actually stay in members' carts. Because when you purchase something you had 10 minutes while it sat in the cart, to decide whether or not you were going to complete the transaction or not. So we built an ability for items that were placed in your car to get registered as auctions. And then if you came to the site and it was already in members' carts so you could actually bid on the items that were in people's carts. So there's a lot of consumer surplus there and you know, to be able to arbitrage that risk-free was pretty cool. And so we built this browser plugin that built an auction system on top of it. You could also imagine this had something like OpenTable. You go and there's no restaurant reservations left tonight but you've got a couple of them are up for bid and you'd be like, "Ah, I'd pay 15 bucks for that eight o'clock table time." And you can do that out of band. OpenTable would, of course, never sell you that. But imagine a third party plugin that could.

 

[0:06:27]

PJ: Wow.

 

[0:06:28]

Bill Magnuson: And so that was the project that we did and we ended up winning top honors for that at the Disrupt Hackathon. We actually ended up meeting an investor in a crosswalk as we were walking to the TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon to present, a couple of days later. And so we're walking to the conference and Jon was on the phone and I just started talking to the guy next to us in the crosswalk. He was an investor and he's actually the CEO of a company called Rubrik now, a guy named Bipul Sinha, and he spotted me on stage when we presented later that day and sent us an email that was like, "Hey, I don't know if you remember, I met you in a crosswalk. I know this guy living down in Texas who's thinking about starting something in the mobile space. I think you guys should connect and talk." And I got a hundred emails that looked exactly like that over the course of that week because Jon and I had had a video interview on TechCrunch and it was a hot tech blog at the time. And I just filed it away and went back to my job.

 

[0:07:24]

Jon Hyman: I didn't even know this whole ordeal had happened. I was actually on the phone, didn't even know Bill had a conversation and wasn't on that email that Bill later got. But, Bill came over for dinner and, then we were just talking about what had been going on in the last couple of weeks. And I was sharing the exciting things I was talking to people about in New York. And I asked him if he had seen any interesting opportunities and he was like, "No, not really." And I was like, well you should go through your inbox and see if there's anything that looks really good. And, what about the crosswalk investor in Texas? Was that just the first of many and that was it?

 

[0:07:58]

Bill Magnuson: I didn't have great work-life balance at the time, and I would include in the life part of life-balance, checking my personal email. And so it just kind of went into a big pile of a lot of outreach that we got after, the notoriety that we received from getting written up in tech crunch and such. And I just hadn't transacted on any of them. I just went right back to my day job the next day.

 

[0:08:20]

Jon Hyman: Bill then ends up just shooting me a text or talking to me a few days later, just being like, "Hey, come in to New York City, we're here, we'll get drinks with this guy." And I'm like, "What? What are we doing?" And he's like, "Yeah, I'm going to talk to some guy who wanted to start a company called Appboy. And he was gonna meet us for drinks and just come on." And I didn't really know anything about this. It turned out that Bipul Sinha was, as Bill mentioned, advisor to this guy, Mark [Ramazian 00:08:44], who lived in Houston, Texas. He's a CEO of an oil and gas company and he had created, actually a product called Appboy, which was a live website. And it was mobile app-related, but he wanted to kind of pivot into building an SDK that would help connect mobile app publishers, developers with their consumers and increase engagement, increase discovery and be a little more social with your mobile application.

 

[0:09:12]

PJ: So, what was it doing without that? What was Appboy ...

 

[0:09:15]

Bill Magnuson: There's a funny, unofficial history of Appboy that goes back years before this. There was a social network that he had built for mobile app developers. So every mobile app would have its own landing page and you could have a community of fans around it and the developer would be able to communicate with them. And, funny thing about it is in hindsight it seems a little ridiculous, right, to have a website to be an index for mobile apps and have that be a social network. But that's what appboy.com was. And you can actually go find, the BBC named one of the best sites on the internet. Or, one of the best sites, excuse me, on the worldwide web back in 2010 or something. Which doesn't ... It's an interesting choice by the BBC, but we always hawk that as our own press in the early days.

 

[0:09:56]

PJ: Oh yeah.

 

[0:09:56]

Bill Magnuson: But, he had shut that down, because it was a side project that he had been working on while running the oil and natural gas company, and was ready to take another look at it. And, I had all this excitement about mobile from my time at Google and my time being a part of it. We all were at this stage in our life where we wanted to go and strike out and do something. And so, I remember reading a lot of things afterward that were, when you find your co-founder, when you decide that you're going to start a company together, it's a lot like a marriage. You got to make sure that you vet people heavily and you need to date beforehand and you everything else. And, I had a phone call, actually the first phone call I had with Mark, I forgot about it. It was hard to access your personal calendar, your personal email while at Bridgewater. So I just got a phone call from him and while I was driving home from work and I literally turned it on speaker phone and was holding my phone against the steering wheel while I was driving home because I didn't have a headset with me in the car or what have you. And that was the first call. And then we exchanged a few emails and we had dinner in New York one night, dinner and drinks. And we all just decided to quit our jobs and move to New York and start up Appboy.

 

[0:11:02]

PJ: How old were you guys at this point when you have that dinner?

 

[0:11:05]

Bill Magnuson: I was 23.

 

[0:11:07]

Jon Hyman: I was 25.

 

[0:11:09]

PJ: Wow.

 

[0:11:09]

Bill Magnuson: I think Mark was 28-ish. So yeah, we definitely didn't follow that advice of heavily vetting each other. But, we connected really well. We were all excited about working in the same space. We all saw, I think the massive potential in the mobile ecosystem that wasn't really being realized. There were a lot of apps, there was a lot of money going into mobile apps. There was a lot of excitement around it, but no one was really building sustainable businesses in mobile. And similarly, the existing sustainable businesses, the enterprise, had not really figured it out yet. They hadn't figured out how their products and services would evolve and change in response to this new mobile technology coming to the world. But we had strong conviction that massive businesses would be built, that traditional businesses would be disrupted. And so what we wanted to was really take advantage of, what was unique about the capabilities of mobile that's going to change the way that people do business. And so when you really look at that common thread all the way through our product from the very beginning it was, we're in a new world where technology has changed the rules of how humans interact with each other, how they interact with brands, their relationship with technology. It's also given us, as people on the controls, a capability that we didn't have before because we can communicate directly to people. We can do it with massive server infrastructure. We can deliver messages across a lot of different contexts and places that we can really understand people better and then we can communicate with them. And so we just kind of started from there. It was like, all right, if we want to really turn a mobile app into a business and we want to do that by building great customer relationships and a great way to build relationships is to talk to people. Right? And that's the starting point. And I think that we really benefited actually from a kind of ignorance of the broader marketing technology space at the time. Because, mobile apps also didn't have marketing teams in 2011. They were typically just product teams. They were launching into the app stores and the magic of the distribution mechanisms to the app stores allowed them to be successful without real marketing or customer engagement strategies. And so, we built just for that business purpose without a specific set of competitors in mind or without some sort of preexisting capabilities that we benchmarked ourselves against. We really just wanted to generically solve that problem of understanding people as they're interacting with a primarily mobile app experience at the time. But just understanding how they're trying to interact with a product or a service and then communicate with them along the way.

 

[0:13:31]

PJ: So that philosophy, that's been intact pretty much since the beginning. That hasn't shifted much. But what is the first version look like practically when you guys started spinning it up?

 

[0:13:41]

Bill Magnuson: Yeah, so the first version, it had a lot of the messaging types that we have today. So we had a slide-up message, which we would call an in-app message slider today that only came up from the bottom. But that was an ephemeral in-product experience. I call this the Appboy as a proper noun phase of the company, because we had this idea that people would click on something called Appboy, and then it would, within an app, and it would bring up a interface that would be familiar to you in multiple apps that you were using. And that interface would include your user profile. It would include a news feed which was a card stream, we called it a mini blog inside your app. Although nowadays we can just call it a news feed and people know what that means. It had customer support in it and it had app recommendations. And so that was what we today have as the Content Cards feature, which is this kind of persistent card-based messaging that's personalized and delivered to you inside the application. And then we also had email and push that we would deliver. But the email and push was hard-coded at the time to go with you through your journey of using an application. So you would use it the first time and it would be like, "Hey, congrats for using this app for the first time, here's a badge, you're an App Newbie." And then as you would use other sorts of features, we would tell you about things inside the app that could be programmed or we would give you badges for using it. You could recommend it to your friends. I would call it hard-coded as an engineer. It was like a more hard-coded experience, but it was really communicating across all those different channels. It was building up a user profile over time based on the things that the user is doing, and also things that they would tell us in their own user profile. And then utilizing that to personalize the whole experience. So, all those foundational building blocks were there.

 

[0:15:19]

Jon Hyman: Well the user profile actually I think is a fairly novel idea at the time for mobile. Because when we look at app analytics providers back when we were in 2011, it's extremely device-centric. And the fact that we were thinking about user profiles, it was social. You even had friends, you could connect Facebook to it. That was a new idea and that actually really then led up to our benefit of us being able to now have that 360-degree user profile across devices, platforms and channels and online and offline. Because we started with it literally from day one that we were viewing the people who use your product, not the devices that use your product. In fact, the first version of the user segmentation engine was just the user directory. We wanted to show publishers here are the people who downloaded your app this week. Here's everyone who's made a purchase, and actually show the people, not just the device statistics there. And so I think that was a different light and different way of looking at the data then that now you just see, not only is just being so obvious, but that everyone's just driving towards because we're trying to engage people for who they are and have good brand [inaudible] and you can't do that when you just look at device to device.

 

[0:16:31]

PJ: And so as you guys were building this team, what was the first crew?

 

[0:16:37]

Bill Magnuson: So the early crew was primarily engineering, we had to get the product built and out the door. We originally built for IOS only, so the vision was obviously to eventually be across all different platforms, but IOS was kind of the dominant place that brands were starting to make money at the time. Because if you go all the way back to 2011 you also have to remember that things like in-app purchases and digital goods were these scary, crazy things. And people were like, "Why would I ever spend $2 on something that's not real?" And, we kind of evolved with all of those cultural changes over time because it really took apps to coming businesses. But yeah, the early team was primarily engineering. I was actually the CTO when we started and Jon was CIO and it was such a luxury to have two technical co-founders to really get that early product built and get things out the door. And so I, you know, worked on the dashboard and the SDKs and Jon worked on the API's and the back end and the infrastructure and you know, together we, we built out teams to, you know, help increase velocity. And we got that first product out the door as an SDK that would integrate in your app and there'd be a button that you would press either the app boy logo or the lightning bolt logo and it would kind of pull up the user profile at the newsfeed and everything. And, and you know, we didn't do a very good job of building the, the MVP, you know, and kind of being lean about it. We really had a fully featured system when we did that first launch. But I think that that has really benefited us over time because we, we've seen a lot of the architectural, I think mistakes or limitations that exist in a lot of the other people that operate in the space. And I think the fact that we forced ourselves to figure out how to communicate with people in a lot of different ways and we figured out how to understand people as Jon Mentions as humans, not just as devices made that initial version of the product a lot harder, but it meant that our foundation was more flexible and stronger.

 

[0:18:31]

PJ: Did you guys have trouble getting companies to integrate that native SDK early on because maybe it might not have been, you're in their code that probably wasn't very, normal.

 

[0:18:43]

Bill Magnuson: Well actually at the time it was actually pretty common for apps to just have an outrageous number of SDKs, like a dozen or 15 or something, and just kind of smash them all in. And it was definitely the wild west. We now deal with that legacy a little bit in that a lot of the smaller companies at the time, we started to run into this pretty quickly, is that one of those 15 SDKs was not a good citizen in your application. And so then people started to get a little bit nervous about it. But, in the early days it was just, you built apps, and you tossed a whole bunch in and people were willing to really experiment and try things out quite a bit. I think that trying to build any business though, it was easy to get people to sign up and be interested. It was harder to get them to integrate. It was even harder to get them to pay. And so that was a progression that we certainly had to go through. And it took a couple of years, I think, before we had our first real annual enterprise customer.

 

[0:19:37]

Jon Hyman: I think that some of the challenges we also had was just the initial product of being an app inside an app or a social network, was fairly hard to explain and hard for people to understand. Like Bill was just saying that you would tap the Appboy icon or lightning bolt icon and you'd go into Appboy, and I remember we used to demo the application and we'd be like, "So, you're in your app and then you click this button and now you're in Appboy." And people would be like, "What? Now I'm in an app inside an app but, can I white-label this so it's not Appboy and it's just my app?" And I think that was really a hard sell for some companies, but also at the time a lot of the apps that we were talking to, or possible customers, weren't real businesses. They were just people who had a huge number of downloads in the app store. This in 2011, you'd have someone who built a flashlight app and it was one person and they had a tremendous number of downloads. We had a very big early customer, this was probably around 2012 or 2013, that had 40 to 50 million monthly active users. It was one developer who built a photo collage app when you used to be able to stitch together different photos into a collage and put it on Facebook, and he just wouldn't pay for anything because he was like, "I'm just one guy. I'm not running a business. I'm just, I sell these digital frames." And he'd make some money but isn't a brand. And I think that was one of the challenges we were up against was the app store was just so immature that you weren't having people think about the only businesses. Brands were just having something as an app available for people in the download. It wasn't the way they really thought to run their strategy.

 

[0:21:18]

Bill Magnuson: And, we really realized that, I referred to it earlier as the Appboy is a proper noun phase, what we needed to do eventually was, we started to unbundle that feature set so that it could really get integrated into the first-party experience. So, the user profile went into the background and the news feed got integrated into an activity feed or some sort of other updates or what have you into the native experience. Seeing that message was always over the top and it wasn't really problematic from that perspective. And we actually ended up cutting a number of features over time. And one of the things that was a really, I think critical signal on that as Jon mentioned, is we would demo it and people would say, "Oh, can I replace that Appboy logo or that lightning bolt logo with my own?" And it seems like a natural white-labeling request, but if you actually think about the customer experience, you go into the Yelp app as an example, and then there's a Yelp logo in the Yelp app that you're supposed to click on, right? Like that feature request didn't make any sense. And so if you take a step back from that, it's like, "Oh, this person's not asking for something dumb. This is just evidence that what we're trying to offer and the way that they're conceptualizing it doesn't make any sense, writ large. And so, we had to really go back and rethink about how do we integrate into the product experience and how do we take this feature set where the feature set makes sense, but it's just not integrating and in the right way.

 

[0:22:37]

PJ: So people were using Appboy on smartphones. Is that what you're saying?

 

[0:22:42]

Bill Magnuson: Well so, Appboy was like ... So did you ever use OpenFeint back in the day?

 

[0:22:47]

PJ: No.

 

[0:22:47]

Bill Magnuson: Or imagine going into a game and having a gamer profile, right? Where you go into the gamer or profile and then there's, "Here's some news for you and here's some stuff you can edit about your profile."

 

[0:22:56]

PJ: That I understand.

 

[0:22:57]

Bill Magnuson: It was like that. Right? But we wanted to make it generalizable across all different applications. And so that was just something that, at the time, a lot of the way that the app store was developing and the way that a lot of apps we're developing, something like that made sense in 2011 for a lot of those apps and the feature set made sense for businesses. But as apps actually started to develop into businesses, we had to modify that.

 

[0:23:21]

PJ: Mm-hmm. That makes sense. Any early days debacles that you guys had to deal with in the first few years? Like big, big, fire drills that you guys had to run in terms of technical?

 

[0:23:33]

Bill Magnuson: Yeah, there were, we could go through a couple of those. I think one of the things I laugh at the most from our earliest office was that we actually were in office space, that we were squatting in, long story. But we were in the offices of a now bankrupt real estate company. And it was in the Starrett-Lehigh building, which is a big building with a lot of fashion companies in it over in 2011, and there was no reasonable internet into the building. But, this was the early days of WiMAX and we had line of sight to some WiMAX towers. We were like, alright, let's try out WiMAX. And so we got these WiMAX modems. And the modems for early WiMAX, we obviously didn't realize this but, they didn't support both charging them and running them for long periods of time, at the same time. They were built to be high bandwidth, but not to actually be used for the use case we were using it for. So we had it up on a ladder, hanging off of this rope from the top of a ladder-

 

[0:24:30]

PJ: That is not safe.

 

[0:24:30]

Bill Magnuson: ... So that it was pointed directly at the antenna on top of a building somewhere else in Manhattan. And then had a fan running on it with the battery cover off the back because the battery would overheat if you had it running with the charger and running all day. And that was our Internet connection for the office.

 

[0:24:45]

PJ: What a rig.

 

[0:24:46]

Bill Magnuson: Yeah.

 

[0:24:47]

PJ: Holy cow.

 

[0:24:48]

Bill Magnuson: When we moved out of that office, we actually-

 

[0:24:53]

PJ: But you were squatting?

 

[0:24:54]

Bill Magnuson: ... We were squatting. So we were there for five or six months rent-free, beautiful office.

 

[0:24:59]

PJ: But, they knew you were there or somebody knew you were there?

 

[0:25:01]

Jon Hyman: Yes, essentially it was Mark-

 

[0:25:02]

Bill Magnuson: They knew we were there. [crosstalk 00:25:03].

 

[0:25:03]

Jon Hyman: ... Mark's family had essentially acquired this property that they didn't need and the lease was running up in a couple of months and they said that they could give it to us. It was actually this huge 3,500 square foot office that had literal offices, Bill and I each had a 15 by 15-foot office. You could close the door and-

 

[0:25:23]

Bill Magnuson: Two of them had windows and so that was where we set everyone up to work. And then the other two didn't. And those were actually where we set up the air mattresses because Jon and I were living in Connecticut at the time, and it was a lot easier to just sleep at the office. We had extra offices.

 

[0:25:36]

PJ: Oh, been there.

 

[0:25:37]

Bill Magnuson: There was actually one morning where I woke up, one of our employees had gotten there early. It was just the two of us in the office, but I had still been sleeping in the office and he came over and he knocked on the door and he was like, "Hey, they're evacuating the building right now because there's a gas leak." And I was like, "Oh, man." And he's like, "I don't know what the deal is but the alarm's not going off in our space. But I saw the blinking lights out in the hallway and I went out and I found out what was going on." And, I've gone over that in my head before where if he had not been there, I would've just kept sleeping and I would have woke up in this building that had been completely evacuated due to a gas leak and I probably would have just opened my laptop and gone to work without even realizing that anything was amiss.

 

[0:26:21]

Jon Hyman: Yeah, I remember that we got out of there and, Mark, I don't think was in town then.

 

[0:26:26]

Bill Magnuson: Yeah. He hadn't moved up to New York yet. It was the first few weeks.

 

[0:26:29]

Jon Hyman: We had told him what happened and it was just a shock. We also were in that building when an earthquake struck.

 

[0:26:35]

Bill Magnuson: Yeah. Which was the next week. And I remember the whole building evacuated again and everyone was really worried that there had been a gas explosion because it was only one week after the gas leak, and the earthquake evacuated this whole building. And the Starrett-Lehigh building, I think it's the second or third most square footage of any office building in the city because it's an entire massive block on the West Side. And so the whole building evacuated and there were just 10,000 people wandering around on the sidewalks outside the building.

 

[0:27:02]

PJ: Well I'm glad you guys survived that.

 

[0:27:04]

Bill Magnuson: Yeah.

 

[0:27:04]

PJ: That sounded like the biggest debacle to-date.

 

[0:27:07]

Bill Magnuson: I guess. Yeah. We didn't have the product launched at that point yet so that we didn't really have the opportunity for technology debacles. It was really more of a facilities. [crosstalk 00:27:12].

 

[0:27:15]

Jon Hyman: Yeah it was like six weeks in, basically.

 

[0:27:18]

PJ: So what about channel agnosticism? Was that something that was even a thing or a thought back then? Because from what I've heard is, the way that we are built, we're future proofing for multiple channels and things that maybe we can't even conceptualize yet.

 

[0:27:34]

Bill Magnuson: Yeah, well I alluded to this earlier, but this idea that our initial product launch had messaging which was push by its nature. So we had push notifications in email. One of those two is in the context of the product, which is push notifications. The other one is outside and is addressed in a different way. And then we also had messaging which was completely inside the product experience, both ephemeral, which was the slide-up and then persistent, which was the card stream. And so when you look at that, push by it's nature, pull by its nature, ephemeral, persistent in the product experience and out of the product experience, you've basically covered all the dimensions of messaging. And so when we look at new ways of communicating with people across new message channels, either as we develop support for existing ones or as new ones come into play, we've already got an archetype of messaging in the system which looks like that. And that's really important because it means that all of the other features that we've built further up the stack, things around user targeting or content personalization or orchestration across channels, they all were built from the very beginning, taking into account that the way that you communicate with someone could go across any one of these dimensions. And I think that one of the things that you see in a lot of platforms that start out as a single channel or as a single set of channels, is that when they tried to expand into other places, they'll find parts of their feature set that aren't compatible with, for instance, pulling down a personalized stream of messages when it was architected to just send a campaign out to someone. And as a result, when we look at message expansion, we end up with this consistent and predictable experience for customers who are used to all the sophistication further up in the product where you're doing your user targeting or your classification, you're personalizing things, you're orchestrating across channels. Those are all going to work in intuitive ways as we add new channels. And we're going to get the advantage of all of that sophistication that we've built even as we add things that are completely new. And so that I think has both, it's future-proofed us and it's also really helped our customers push their own boundaries. Because I think that a really big part of what caused a lot of messaging to end up siloed inside of companies, a big part of that is a learning curve and a skillset. And, the technology being siloed certainly matters. But when you can use a platform like Braze and you can come on board to it and you can learn how to send push notifications with it and, 90% of that knowledge is transferable to sending email. And then of that you can then transfer that into sending SMS or into delivering messages inside the app. That ends up becoming a really good mechanism for teams rapidly build ROI and spread it across all these different ways of communicating.

 

[0:30:08]

PJ: Well guys, we're almost at time here, but I got to say, and I should've opened with it, happy eighth anniversary of Braze. It's been about eight years. Congratulations to you both.

 

[0:30:17]

Bill Magnuson: Thanks.

 

[0:30:18]

Jon Hyman: Thank you.

 

[0:30:18]

PJ: Huge deal. I just want to know before we close out, what are you most excited about in your ninth year of this company?

 

[0:30:26]

Jon Hyman: For me, I'm really excited about just continued growth in our company, both with our people and the types of businesses that we work with. I'm really excited that Braze is just so plugged into the fabric of the digital world. We engage more than 1.7 billion monthly active users now and we do that for financial apps or lifestyle apps, retail and eCommerce, huge consumer brands. And I'm really excited as we continue to go up that brand chain and work with the best companies in the world. What that's going to mean for our business, but also we have such a tremendous amount of talent here supporting those. The people that work on different teams here, whether you're on the sales side, the engineering side, success, support, marketing, there's so much great dedication and real passion. People who are very sharp, smart, and I'm just excited to continue to grow the company with that kind of caliber of talent.

 

[0:31:21]

Bill Magnuson: The thing that I really like about being a technologist and being at a technology company is being able to solve new problems with new capabilities. And so when I look into our next year, we've got new teams that we've been building out. We've got existing teams that have gotten much larger. We've put a huge amount of investment into new capabilities, whether that's new tools, technology, skills, acumen, partners, whatever it is. Those things all multiply and compound together. And I feel even here in our ninth year, we're still vastly accelerating our capabilities, our execution velocity, the way that we reach out in the market, the impact that we've had. And so when I look forward, it's rapid growth as usual. I think, as we look at the last couple of years, we really hit this inflection point as the problem that we had been really soldiering on, working on for six years really started to become a massive priority for businesses of all kinds. And we've really enjoyed, I think a acceleration and inflection point in our growth, and we're still in the early innings of that. And when we look into the next year, I'm just really excited about what the team's going to accomplish.

 

[0:32:27]

PJ: Guys, this just hasn't been enough time for me. So I'm thinking I got to get you guys back on the podcast in a few months time, and we can maybe tell more of the story. All right?

 

[0:32:35]

Jon Hyman: Sounds good.

 

[0:32:35]

PJ: Jon Hyman, Bill Magnuson, thank you guys so much for coming on, making the time for us. And thank you guys for listening. Take care.

[0:32:42]