Change Ahead – and I am really excited about it!

Change.  Checking LinkedIn you’ll see I’ve embraced change through what is heading toward my 2nd complete decade in product management leadership.  Change is occurring yet again, as this Friday I will move from big company (Yahoo!) back to start-up – StockTwits.

Yahoo! Finance was an amazing experience, and the team will carry on, as all good teams do.  It will take significant disruption to topple this global financial Internet franchise, which I led and grew for the past five years — with the help of stellar Product, Engineering, and Editorial teams.

All this being said, games change quickly on the internet.  Who knows what Google Finance has in store? Even as incredibly small as their audience is today.  Where will LinkedIn take their version of a company profile?  How will things change as user/investor habits quickly move from a desktop to tablet?  As of this coming Friday April 1st, it will be up to the team at Y! to carry it forward without me.  Just as I did for the ancestors who walked there before me.

The early days of my Valley journey (long before Yahoo!, and back when we used to say, “I didn’t get your email.” — because we really didn’t!) saw me take my first product role building neural networks that powered OCR to on government passports at Caere.  I am forever thankful to the mentors who found me, and trusted me from that point forward to deliver products for our future organizations.

After Caere, I joined my mentors at SCM Microsystems.  ”SCM what?”, you are asking. SCM had a legitimate 1997 IPO – second to the likes of @Home.  Many of the colleagues and friends from SCM, are still in my circle today.  From there I played on a team that failed, and eventually wound itself down — Photoloft.   Photoloft was the first online photo sharing site, started by Jack Marshall.

A series of subsequent ventures continued to team me more.  I found I didn’t fit with certain founders (actually twice) at certain opportunities, and when that became apparent I pressed the Eject button.  I liked Microsoft, so went to work their.  Smartest most aggressive personalities I ever battled with across conference room tables.  Left MS because I was tempted away by one of my mentors to do a turn around in the security space following that – ActivCard.

I’ve been “on the list” when downsizing came about in the past – worked to save myself and ended up with a more senior role than I had when I was ready to be cut.  On the flip side, I’ve been in rooms where we created “the list” for others who were going to be “impacted” — what a horrible process that is.  Especially when you are taking jobs, and seeing spending occur in other parts of an org that if stopped could save the very jobs you were cutting.  I’ve tried to get jobs at places, and been turned down.  I worked at Siemens once.  Traveled to a point where I received personal business cards with home email addresses from two separate pilots.  (If you have a family, it’s not something to brag about.)   Pause on Siemens for a sec.  It was 350,000+ freaking employees!!  Greater population than St. Louis, or Pittsburgh, and even Miami!  Talk about testing your ability to get things done.

There were more.  There were wins, and there were “learnings.”  Lots of both.  Been a part of some really great teams.  All made me who I am today – thank you. Some really great people, and some overrated people.

Now this is my last week at Yahoo!  Bittersweet.  Last week as the head of product for the largest financial website in the world.  More visitors in some months than Walmart.com. Yahoo! Finance, a site which I helped to grow to over 45M users a month.  I think Yahoo! itself is finally finding its footing.  Finally!  May the force be with them.  My sights are now turning to helping build the biggest financial idea network in the world — StockTwits.

5StepsAhead.com is a journal/publication/blog for me, and all the users of StockTwits, to engage around a discussion for this idea network.  StockTwits is big, getting bigger. and going to be huge.  Looking forward to building it with all of you!

David Putnam
Sr. Director, Products @ Yahoo Finance
Soon to be VP Products @ StockTwits
Author 5StepsAhead.com
twitter: @david_putnam

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