Why Employees & Business Model are Critical to Growth with Michael Litt

Jan 14, 2020 8:10:44 AM
Author: Kieran Flanagan

Two critical components of growth? Employees and Business model.

That's why we hung out with Michael Litt on this episode of the GrowthTLDR, CEO and Co-founder of the awesome Vidyard.

Vidyard has grown to 200 employees and recently launched a freemium version of its product. We talk to Mike about:

- What the transition was like from founder to CEO and the things he had to fall in love with as a CEO.

- The scalable framework Vidyard uses to measure employees by performance and alignment to values, and how it helps the company as it grows.

- Why did Mike decide to bet Vidyards' future on product-led growth?

Happy Growing!

[3:30] - Mike talks us through his current lifestyle goals, staying within 2100 calories per day, and sleeping 8 hours a night.

[5:45] - Mike gives us the history of how he founded Vidyard. They've grown to 200 employees. Most of the headcount growth came in the past five years. They grew paid customers by 50% in 2019 alone.

[10:55] - Mike discovered as he transitioned from being a founder to CEO of a 200 person company, the skillsets needed to do those things are quite different. As a founder, you're often the person doing the thing, and fixing the problem. As a CEO, your job is to help the people you've hired to do those things and scale them.

[13:40] - As a CEO, you have to fall in love with all aspects of the role.

i. Mike talks about the importance of compensation. It's a tool in a CEO's toolbox to help his employees bring the best versions of themselves to work.

ii. Mike is naturally an introvert, and the role of CEO requires you to regularly speak with the company, get them passionate about the mission, be transparent about the challenges.

[16:50]- One of the things Mike feels was a massive benefit to Vidyard was building a framework to categorize how useful and beneficial someone is to the company. They run it bi-annually, and it plots everyone on a chart using their performance and value alignment.

- Performance: is based on the individual performance of their role.

- Value alignment: is how well they're exhibiting the values Vidyard wants to see from employees.

Mike gives an example of how he recently used the framework to retain an employee who had an offer from another company.

[22:45] - For people who are exhibiting values, but are underperforming, Mike sees that as a coaching opportunity. For people who are over-performing, but disrupting values, Mike would see that as an opportunity to remove them from the business.

[24:50] - We debate if there is any point that a person could perform to that you'd be willing to put up with them disrupting company values.

[26:20] - A CEO's job is to plan long-term. Mike is thinking about Vidyard in 2026. When looking long-term, it's better to protect company values, regardless of a person's performance. Someone with high performance, but who is disrupting company values, could have a lot of short-term impacts, but cause long-term problems.

[29:00] - Mike talks about how he scaled Vidyard initially via outbound prospecting. He thinks you can scale a B2B business to 9M in ARR just doing that alone. After that, you need to find some unfair advantage to grow. Vidyards came in the form of an integration with Eloqua. Mike talks about how his next wave of growth is going to by adopting a product-led approach.

[34:40] - Mike talks about how Vidyards business has changed as a result of launching a freemium version of their product. They've started to see examples of a new sales motion where employees start adopting their product and then make a case to their manager for the paid version.

[40:00] - The decision to launch a free version of your product is a tough one. Mike walks us through how he made that decision at Vidyard. They first tested freemium by launching a free chrome extension. That experience helped them to have more conviction that free would be their next chapter of growth, and the unfair advantage they would have vs. competitors.

– Michael on  LinkedIn / Twitter
– Kieran on Twitter / LinkedIn / Medium
– Scott on Twitter / Linked / Medium

Topics: Growth, Podcast, Founder

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