The Enterprise Newsletter

Innovating with Developers, the Playlist

a16z editorial

Posted February 4, 2021

This first appeared in the monthly a16z enterprise newsletter. Subscribe to stay on top of the latest in enterprise and B2B.

Behind the innovation and adoption of the most important enterprise technologies is often a community of developers who love a product enough to use it, tell others about it, and, even, contribute to it. But how do you engage and get the most out of developers? We put together a playlist of the best a16z podcasts — new and notable as well as hits from our archive.

New and notable: On developers as creatives


Key shifts in IT — from on-prem to cloud & SaaS, to the API economy and others — have made developers more than just people who can write code to spec. Developers are also now the buyers, influencers, and actually, a creative class: They want to solve problems, and can assume a strategic role not just at every high-performing tech company, but at every company. Especially as every company is a technology company.

So how best to manage and motivate developers, if they are critical to innovation? This popular episode of the a16z podcast (now with transcript) was the first interview with Jeff Lawson about his new book, Ask Your Developer: How to Harness the Power of Software Developers and Win in the 21st Century. Lawson shares how everyone can build a developer-centric company, get faster/better at innovation, and evolve their organization structure especially as they scale to do so.

With Jeff Lawson (Twilio), David Ulevitch (a16z), and Sonal Chokshi (a16z)

For a developer, documentation is the ultimate marketing… -Jeff Lawson, Twilio

Company culture, change, and DevOps


From the old claim that “IT doesn’t matter,” and the question of whether tech truly drives organizational performance, we’ve been consumed with figuring out how to measure — and predict — the output and outcomes, the performance and productivity of software. But it’s not useful to talk about what happens in one isolated team or successful company; we need to be able to make it happen at any company — of any size, industry vertical, or architecture/tech stack. Can DevOps break the false dichotomy of performance vs. speed? How does (and doesn’t) it fit into other key shifts such as agile, lean startups, microservices, more?

With Nicole Forsgren (DevOps Research and Assessment), Jez Humble (DevOps Research and Assessment), and Sonal Chokshi (a16z)

Measuring and managing developer communities


Okay, so we know developer communities are important — but how do we measure the success of community initiatives, and even things like events or swag, given how indirect and long-cycle so much of it is? Where should developer relations sit in an organization: product, sales, or engineering? How do you reconcile developer as customer vs. developer as community member? And what’s the difference between evangelism and advocacy? All this and more in this episode, based on a workshop we hosted for our portfolio.

With Amir Shevat (former Twitch, Slack) and Mikeal Rogers (Protocol Lab)

Turning developers into superfans


How do you create a platform that people not only want to use, but want to tell their friends about? One that goes beyond just being useful and actually connects deeply with the user? And in a world of remote work, where do the differences between in-person vs. distributed communities come in? This podcast, originally recorded at our last summit event, delves into how to build communities of open-source developers; how to engage early users; and how to turn those early adopters into advocates, superfans, and more.

With Chris Dixon (a16z) and Tom Preston-Werner (GitHub)

Selling to developers


Developers are more than just influencers inside the enterprise. They’re buyers, too — and that’s a huge shift from before, when only IT and other departments had that kind of purchasing power. So what’s different about selling and marketing to developers? And do you still need traditional sales? (Short answer: yes!)

With Martin Casado, Peter Levine, and Sonal Chokshi (a16z)

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