Friday, September 27, 2019 [Tweets] [Favorites]

New Stack Overflow CEO

Ingrid Lunden (in 2017, via Hacker News):

TechCrunch has learned and confirmed that the startup has conducted a substantial number of layoffs across the company as it looks to steer the business more towards its core Q&A products and away from areas that were seeing less demand. As part of this, the company is also closing its offices in Denver.


A source that contacted TechCrunch claimed that the number of people affected worked out to about 20 percent of Stack Overflow’s 300 employees, or 60 people.


As some of the jobs affected pointed to staff in the company’s recruitment business Careers, our source said that the company was “looking to pivot away” from this business, but Stack Overflow has confirmed this is not the case in a second statement it issued after the first one.

Joel Spolsky (Hacker News):

Last March, I shared that we were starting to look for a new CEO for Stack Overflow. We were looking for that rare combination of someone who could foster the community while accelerating the growth of our businesses, especially Teams, where we are starting to close many huge deals and becoming a hyper-growth enterprise software company very quickly.


At Rackspace, Prashanth [Chandrasekar] really proved his mettle, creating from scratch a completely new business unit inside the company, the Global Managed Public Clouds Business. This group serves companies around the world who need help running on AWS, Azure, Google, and so on. Under his leadership, Rackspace successfully pivoted from a leading managed hosting company to a cloud services company. And he did this while working with developers both inside Rackspace and outside, so he understands our vision of “writing the script for the future” better than anyone I’ve met.


[Too] bad they’re on the hyper-growth train now as well, but I guess their investors want to get some money back. I’d preferred seeing them grow slow and stable, because I feel that focusing solely on growth often leads to decisions not in the interest of the users.


They have def given up their regular users in this point. Ads thing shared here is one item recently. Also think they can re license my content without asking.

Mad Scientist (via Hacker News):

The trigger for this issue was a report that one of the ads on SO was trying to start an audio context in the browser. One of the answers shows that the main purpose of the suspect script is to fingerprint the browser. I looked a bit at that script myself, and that ad contains a ~80 kB minified Javascript file that really looks like the only purpose of it is to query all kinds of obscure details about the environment, and I can’t see any other purpose for this except tracking users without the restrictions cookies or other systems impose.


This is still there on the original post and not retracted. The later meta post by SE paints an entirely different picture. It is evasive and in my opinion missing the point entirely. The Stack Exchange response claims that no PII is collected, which is really not what this is about. Fingerpinting is about being able to track a user across sites without the browser security getting in the way, identifying the user is a separate process. You don’t have to collect PII to fingerprint users, but it’s still a very invasive thing to do with a drastic effect on the privacy of users.


it seems clear that SO Jobs didn’t work, but enterprise sales is the key, just based on what they emphasized in the announcement. Using the SaaS website as a loss leader advertisement for the shrinkwrap software is an interesting model


Maybe Stack Overflow Jobs would work better if they’d publicly state what their job ad pricing is and if they’d improve the user experience (e.g. there is no way to get a nice looking printable version of the developer story).


So the new CEO is MBA and doesn’t even seem to have profile on StackOverflow. This tell me he has little clue how this complex community hangs on balance and what makes it tick. It’s also painful to see that we have now one of the largest website for developers run by guy who isn’t a developer.


I can’t help but reminded of Jobs bringing in Scully with enthusiasm to do “business things”. I have admired Joel’s writing and wisdom for years but this somehow feels wrong given they could have chose almost anyone from their vast highly dedicated user base who understands the complex dynamics in SO community. Do we expect full blown value destroying commercialization of SO from now on?


I predict Microsoft will acquire SO in the next 5 years.



Too bad it’s still a code dumpster fire

Seems like a good match for Microsoft... I could see them integrating the question/answer format into their Office365/SharePoint offerings for businesses.

> So the new CEO is MBA and doesn’t even seem to have profile on StackOverflow

Why is this a bad thing? They've hired a business expert to handle the business stuff at a tech company.

Imagine the other way round, if redditors on r/finance complained that the CTO only had a tech-degree, and no background in finance, and therefore would do a horrible job as they couldn't learn about or be trusted with budgets....

Technologically stack-overflow is doing fine: massive uptime in the presence of huge demand and constant growth. Business-wise it's evidently doing poorly. A shortage of tech-experts isn't the issue.

@Bryan It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but there’s a long history of tech companies bringing in CEOs that don’t really understand or appreciate their own products. And this person is going to set the vision/strategy and manage the key people. I mean, just look at what having a CEO from Compaq has done to the Mac.

Sören Nils Kuklau

Why is this a bad thing? They’ve hired a business expert to handle the business stuff at a tech company.

Imagine the other way round, if redditors on r/finance complained that the CTO only had a tech-degree, and no background in finance, and therefore would do a horrible job as they couldn’t learn about or be trusted with budgets….

This analogy doesn’t quite work though, because while a CTO is clearly the tech guy, and a CFO and COO are clearly business-oriented, the focus of a CEO is not set in stone in the same way.

As Michael says, there’s a case to be made that a CEO should also have a good understanding of the product line-up as it is, and where they want to take it. It doesn’t guarantee success, but among other things, it gives the employees and customers something to believe in.

> They've hired a business expert to handle the business stuff at a tech company.

At a successful consumer-facing company, "business" is a service provider like IT. Product people are the ones guiding the direction of the company, not business people. The finance or business side is setting guardrails for where the company can go, and is offering support and insight, but it isn't setting the direction.

One of the reasons for this is that the kind of work a company like Stack Overflow does requires a lot of non-obvious long-term investment. Making sure a large software product remains viable not just next year, but next decade, is difficult and painful. I've seen this kind of thing happening, when a company had a tough spot, business people came in, made it all better in the short run, but as a side-effect, ensured that the company had no long-term future.

> if redditors on r/finance complained that the CTO only had a tech-degree

This analogy would work if we were talking about the CFO here, but we're not. We're talking about the CEO. If you're creating a software product, you need a software person as your CEO.

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