Announcing our first AMA: Wade Foster will answer your questions on December 4th!

  • 25 November 2019
  • 37 replies
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Userlevel 7
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We want to bring you closer to the team at Zapier and as part of that we will facilitate AMA's (Ask Me Anything's) that allow you to put your questions to the folks that work here!

Our first AMA is coming up, and it's a big one: CEO and Co-founder of Zapier Wade Foster will be answering your questions on December 4th!

How it works

Post your questions to Wade as comments in this thread between now and Wednesday, December 4th. Wade will jump in on Wednesday morning (PST) and will spend around an hour answering the questions.

The questions can be about absolutely anything: how the company got started, our plans for the future, what it's like being the CEO of a fully remote company, anything!


So that we can make the most of this opportunity, have a few requests for you:

  1. Please, keep things civil.
  2. Read through any comments below to avoid repeating questions.
  3. If you like a question that someone has asked, give it a vote!



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37 replies

Userlevel 7
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Yay! 😀

"Where do you see Zapier 5 years from now? What will be new? What will be different? What would you and the team like to be doing better than you are now?"


Userlevel 4
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* How do you view the competition.

* Would you ever revisit taking on outside capital? why/why not? Followup: Does Zapier have an exit strategy?

* What are biggest challenges of fully remote team?

*What is biggest challenge in working with different saas providers? how have those relationships evolved over time?



Userlevel 7
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If you want it to be pronounced liked "happier" then why isn't it spelled Zappier?

😅


Userlevel 7
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What is Zapier's vision about the Experts or other 3rd party service providers selling help/support for Zapier customers?


Userlevel 5
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Here's a question set surrounding target market and feature-focus:

  1. What is the primary target market of Zapier? Does it skew more toward those who aren't overly technical (don't understand what an API is) and likely haven't automated before?
  2. If the focus is on less technical users, how do you plan on keeping power-users happy (Zapier Experts) with power-user features when there are competitors that are more focused on this (e.g. drag-and-drop editor, array handling, looping, etc.)
  3. Can we expect for more power-user features in the near future like step/path duplication and drag/drop reordering of actions?


Userlevel 5
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The two companies that I look up to most are Zapier and Help Scout when it comes to remote work:

  1. Do you believe that anyone can be a remote worker? Or does it take a specific skillset/mindset/self-driven philosophy that not everyone is built for?
  2. If the above requires a specific mindset, what are the key traits that you look for when hiring new employees for your team?
  3. Is the future of work/companies fully distributed? Or will this continue to just be a small % of the market and industry-specific?
  4. What tools do you leverage to keep your team on the same page while being fully distributed? (Documentation/Communication)


Userlevel 5
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As a CEO of a successful company:

  1. What does your day-to-day look like (what have you found to be the best use of your time on a daily basis)?
  2. When was the last time you built a zap and what was it for?
  3. Tell us about a Zap that you have built over the years that you are proud of.
  4. Do you ever feel stagnant or stuck in your comfort zone? What do you do to get out of a rut?
  5. What gives you the most enjoyment out of life and your job?
  6. What tools do you use to keep you on-top of your game? (Project Management, Assistant, Meditation?)


Userlevel 5
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Miscellaneous and fun questions:

  1. If you could rebuild Zapier from the ground-up in any language on any framework that exists now, what would you build it on? (Maybe more of a role for the CTO, but I know you are also technical)
  2. What hobbies do you have?
  3. What is a book that you have read the past year that has made a substantial impact on your life (personal growth or business)?
  4. What are your top 3 favorite podcasts surrounding business/personal growth?
  5. What is your favorite city to visit in the US and why?


Userlevel 3

Regarding Programming:

Forgive me if any of this is common knowledge, I'm on the newer side of the Zapier community.

  • Is Zapier what you envisioned early on when you started it, or was it the result of a pivot (or several?)
  • I understand you're technically inclined. What software stack is Zapier built on? What software stack(s)/web technologies/frameworks are you excited about now?
  • If you were to start a new company today (anything at all regardless of the current state of the internet or economy and completely separate from Zapier), what would it be?
  • Do you think that the future of automation will evolve away from custom code and more towards pre-packaged automations (similar to how WordPress and other CMS platforms made web development more accessible through templates and plugins)?
  • What is your favorite TV show?


Userlevel 7
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@Danvers - Better tell Wade to clear his schedule... these are all so good 😅


Userlevel 1

How do you define a Zapier expert? How can i know if i'm a Zapier expert? knowin that i didn't have the certification yet



Userlevel 7
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  1. The past year has seen many web apps increasing prices fairly aggressively, making a full app stack costly for small businesses. This could push customers towards apps that offer more native integrations and also one-stop shops like Zoho. Do you see this as a threat to Zapier's future?
  2. Is an IPO one day in the future a remote possibility?


Userlevel 7
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Hi @Suhaib - just to give a practical answer to your question, if you go here - https://zapier.com/experts/program - you can find our more info about the Expert program and apply to get certified.


Userlevel 7
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Some more

  • What's your most career defining moment to date that isn't starting Zapier?
  • Do you have a particular leadership style? Have you studied any or had any sort of 'CEO-mentoring'?
  • How do you feel about competitor products like Integromat and Tray. Are there things you think they're doing well that you'd like Zapier to be doing?


Userlevel 5

Hi Zapier community!

Dialing in from 30,000 feet in the sky. Lets see how the internet holds up while answering some of these questions. :-)


Userlevel 5

@AndrewJDavison_Luhhu asked:

"Where do you see Zapier 5 years from now? What will be new? What will be different? What would you and the team like to be doing better than you are now?"

Our mission is to democratize automation by making it incredibly easy and universal. 

There are two big challenges to doing that right now:

1. It's still pretty hard for most people to do this type of work.

2. Discovering what you might use automation for requires creativity. 

We're working hard to make Zapier accessible for everyone. The ability to automate shouldn't be limited to an elite class. It should be something everyone gets to benefit from. Expect us to be working on those two problems for quite a long time.


Userlevel 5

@Openside asked:

How do you view the competition.

We think about competition in a similar way as Jeff Bezos. We're going to focus relentlessly on customer needs. As long as we pay attention to that we'll be skating towards where they puck is going, while competition will likely be skating towards where we've been. 

Would you ever revisit taking on outside capital? why/why not? Followup: Does Zapier have an exit strategy?

Capital is a tool to achieve your mission. If we ever felt like outside capital could meaningful change the approach to achieving our mission we'd consider it. Right now we're able to build and grow as fast as we feel comfortable.

No exit strategy. We intend to be in this for the long haul.

What are biggest challenges of fully remote team?

It requires discipline around communication. Everyone has to be willing to share early and often their progress. Going heads down and emerging weeks later doesn't create a very productive environment.

What is biggest challenge in working with different saas providers? how have those relationships evolved over time?

SaaS providers being different is the biggest challenge. If everyone had the same goals, same technology, same approach, same customers this would be easy. But everyone has different needs. So that means we have to be flexible in our approach to working with different vendors.


Userlevel 5

@AndrewJDavison_Luhhu asked:

If you want it to be pronounced liked "happier" then why isn't it spelled Zappier?

We're too clever here. :-)

We wanted API in the name since Zapier is built on APIs. We though Zaps were cool too. We found Zapier available for $9.99 and went for it. We couldn't afford Zappier.com at the time either. 


Userlevel 5

@PaulKortman asks:

What is Zapier's vision about the Experts or other 3rd party service providers selling help/support for Zapier customers?

We've learned a lot from some of our larger partners here. Vendors like Atlassian and HubSpot have over 10% of their total customer base working with agencies and other service providers to help them be more successful. 

We feel like experts and agencies can play a similar role helping our customers. We work across so many industries that it's impossible for us to have the domain knowledge to help in the way a potential expert can. My hope is that we can build up the program so that any customer who needs that extra help can get the type of service that will allow them to be successful. 


Userlevel 5

@alex asked:

1. What is the primary target market of Zapier? Does it skew more toward those who aren't overly technical (don't understand what an API is) and likely haven't automated before?

Our mission is to help make automation incredibly easy and universal. So we are working hard to simplify what it takes to create Zaps, make it easier to discover the use cases that might matter to you, and help decrease the level of domain knowledge it takes to do this kind of work. Automation shouldn't be for an elite class. It should be for everyone. 

2. If the focus is on less technical users, how do you plan on keeping power-users happy (Zapier Experts) with power-user features when there are competitors that are more focused on this (e.g. drag-and-drop editor, array handling, looping, etc.)

The good thing about focusing on a broad market like entry level users is that you can create a much bigger business. With a bigger business you can take those revenues and create more experiences that help different segments of people inclusive of power-users. 

And when you focus on a broad market, you're able to generate more power users over time and it makes it easier to serve their needs.

3. Can we expect for more power-user features in the near future like step/path duplication and drag/drop reordering of actions?

While I can't speak to specific features, we certainly have a team thinking about how our heaviest users can continue to grow on the platform. 


Userlevel 5

@alex asks:

1. What is the primary target market of Zapier? Does it skew more toward those who aren't overly technical (don't understand what an API is) and likely haven't automated before?

Our mission is to help make automation incredibly easy and universal. So we are working hard to simplify what it takes to create Zaps, make it easier to discover the use cases that might matter to you, and help decrease the level of domain knowledge it takes to do this kind of work. Automation shouldn't be for an elite class. It should be for everyone. 

2. If the focus is on less technical users, how do you plan on keeping power-users happy (Zapier Experts) with power-user features when there are competitors that are more focused on this (e.g. drag-and-drop editor, array handling, looping, etc.)

The good thing about focusing on a broad market like entry level users is that you can create a much bigger business. With a bigger business you can take those revenues and create more experiences that help different segments of people inclusive of power-users. 

And when you focus on a broad market, you're able to generate more power users over time and it makes it easy to serve them.

3. Can we expect for more power-user features in the near future like step/path duplication and drag/drop reordering of actions?

While I can't speak to specific features, we certainly have a team thinking about how our heaviest users can continue to grow on the platform. 


Userlevel 5

@alex asks:

1. Do you believe that anyone can be a remote worker? Or does it take a specific skillset/mindset/self-driven philosophy that not everyone is built for?

While not everyone is cut out for it, more people are capable of it than give themselves credit for. The things that make you good at most jobs will make you good as a remote worker. Things like being a self-starter, a good communicator, taking feedback well, creative thinking, and treating people with empathy and kindness all make you great as a remote worker. They also mean you're a good worker too.

2. If the above requires a specific mindset, what are the key traits that you look for when hiring new employees for your team?

Our core values our a big part of what we evaluate beyond domain expertise. 

Culture and Values at Zapier 3. Is the future of work/companies fully distributed? Or will this continue to just be a small % of the market and industry-specific?

We firmly believe it's the future. It won't be a mass transition over night. But certainly more and more jobs will move this direction even those you might not traditionally think of. 

Consider what the world might look like when you can operate medical or construction equipment remotely? Almost any job can be done from a desktop.

4. What tools do you leverage to keep your team on the same page while being fully distributed? (Documentation/Communication)

Our three big tools are Slack, Async (an internal tool we built for ourselves), and Zoom.


Userlevel 5

@alex asks:

1. What does your day-to-day look like (what have you found to be the best use of your time on a daily basis)?

I tend to spend Monday and Tuesday taking care of managerial tasks like 1:1s, staff meeting, and skip-levels. The rest of the week is typically spent on longer-term problems or the highest priority things. A huge amount of time goes into recruiting as well. I've probably spent somewhere between 25-50% of my time recruiting in the last 2 years.

2. When was the last time you built a zap and what was it for?

I built a Zap a few weeks ago that lets the team tweet from my account. I setup a Google Form that asks for all the relevant details. Then it sends my a Slack DM with a pre-generated link to Tweet those details. Once I review it, I click Tweet. 

3. Tell us about a Zap that you have built over the years that you are proud of.

One of the more sophisticated Zaps we have is the one that runs our exec meeting. Every week it generates a Google Doc for the meeting. The Doc pulls in key metrics from Looker over the last week and sets up template questions for the exec team to answer before the meeting. Then the Zap posts the doc into our Slack channel so folks can start working on it.

4. Do you ever feel stagnant or stuck in your comfort zone? What do you do to get out of a rut?

Definitely! A few things tends to help: talking to customers, talking to folks inside the company I don't get to speed a lot of time with, talking to successful people in other domains like music or comedy or sports. 

5. What gives you the most enjoyment out of life and your job?

Spending time with my family is tops for me personally. 

For Zapier nothing makes me happier than hearing from customers that Zapier has made an impact on their work.

6. What tools do you use to keep you on-top of your game? (Project Management, Assistant, Meditation?)

Simple Note, Slack, Email, Calendar, Zoom, and Google Docs are my most commonly used apps on a daily basis. Then making sure to get some exercise in every day goes a long way.


Userlevel 5

@alex asks:

1. If you could rebuild Zapier from the ground-up in any language on any framework that exists now, what would you build it on? (Maybe more of a role for the CTO, but I know you are also technical)

Whatever my co-founder Bryan wants. :-)

2. What hobbies do you have?

I play a lot of racquetball. 

3. What is a book that you have read the past year that has made a substantial impact on your life (personal growth or business)?

I often find myself thinking about Shoe Dog which is about the founding of Nike. Also Outsiders which is about 8 unconventional CEOs.

4. What are your top 3 favorite podcasts surrounding business/personal growth?

Not much of a podcast person. I have been listening to Reply All quite a bit though.

5. What is your favorite city to visit in the US and why?

NYC hands down. So much energy. So much history.


Userlevel 5

@Bob asks:

1. Is Zapier what you envisioned early on when you started it, or was it the result of a pivot (or several?)

We were fortunate. The original idea for Zapier is more or less what it is today. We've expanded the scope. But the core is very clearly what we dreamed of 8 years ago.

2. I understand you're technically inclined. What software stack is Zapier built on? What software stack(s)/web technologies/frameworks are you excited about now?

We're python, django, javascript, AWS, mysql, and a whole host of other technologies. 

3. If you were to start a new company today (anything at all regardless of the current state of the internet or economy and completely separate from Zapier), what would it be?

I have ideas around team communication I'd be curious to explore. I'm also fairly certain I could build something that could help with hiring better than existing tools on the market.

4. Do you think that the future of automation will evolve away from custom code and more towards pre-packaged automations (similar to how WordPress and other CMS platforms made web development more accessible through templates and plugins)?

Absolutely. The more accessible automation becomes the better. There will always be a play for custom stuff. But simpler, pre-packaged products tend to have way more mass appeal. 

5. What is your favorite TV show?

Tough one! Parks and Rec probably gets the nod.