Inside Product Management: David Breger of LinkedIn
This article was originally published on Startup Product on 8/29/14.
David Breger is the Tablet Mobile Product Lead at LinkedIn and a mentor at 500 Startups. Mobile now accounts for 43% of LinkedIn’s visits and will soon make up the majority. Previously, he created endorsements which is the fastest growing product in LinkedIn history.
I reached out to David to learn more about Product Management at leading companies. I was lucky enough to interview him about his top goals and toughest challenges.
What are your top goals?
Our top goal is to bring the power of LinkedIn wherever you need it. People move between devices throughout the day. They use their desktops at work, mobile phones go with people throughout the day, and tablets are used most between 6 and 11 at home. I unlock the power of the tablet by understanding how people use it differently than other devices. For example, it can be weird to search for jobs during the day using your work computer, but many scan through interesting jobs at home using their tablets. Some key metrics I monitor are how often people use LinkedIn to apply for a job or reading posts that other members or our Influencers wrote, and how long they stay engaged with longer sessions.
What are your biggest challenges?
Mobile changes really fast, much faster than web. How many web apps can you think of that haven’t changed much in the past 4 years? On the other hand, when iOS 7 came out everyone expected apps with the new style right away. It used to be that you shipped software once and now there is new release every month. There is also a proliferation of devices. The iPad just came out when I started and now we have tons of Android devices, watches, and even Google Glass. It’s a challenge to achieve feature parity across platforms. It’d be even harder for a startup with fewer people and resources.
How do you decide which features make the cut?
Picking features for each platform is a bit of an art. We have to ask ourselves questions like “How fast is it growing? What can we do better on that platform over the current web experience? Will users be happy or content with a given choice?” When we launched our iPad app we started with the basic functionality our members needed and then we grew from there. Our head of product splits development into three buckets: core, strategic, and venture. For example, our content play started out as venture, then became strategic as it started working and became more important to the business, and now it’s part of our core to be a publishing platform of record. Our tablet app started out as venture and has now moved up.
What other interesting challenges are you working on?
Another one is that people can have a given version of the app forever without upgrading. We want to be able to experiment and test new things, but you can’t easily revert something on mobile. That’s why we do lots of A/B testing. In fact, our XLNT Platform allows us to run many tests in parallel. When we’re confident that a given version is the best, then we can lock it in.
What are you most proud of?
I’m really happy how quickly the company has shifted to “get” mobile. This transition has involved designers, sales, marketers, etc. and everyone has to know what that means. Our iPad app is evolving nicely since the interaction, navigation, and presentation are all unique to the tablet platform. I’m also really proud about the huge adoption of the endorsement product that I helped create. It’s been our fastest growing product ever, and has generated some really great insights.
What do you like most about working at LinkedIn?
It’s exciting that my work impacts hundreds of millions of people. We’ve gained a lot of penetration in the professional market, and we’re serving as a source of identity that almost everyone uses. We’ve become a standard and are an important part of people’s lives. There’s so much innovation in across areas like monetization, features, and we’re growing really fast. Additionally, there’s a great sense of ownership. There’s not that many PMs at LinkedIn compared to the number of engineers and others so I get to be responsible for a lot. I have the privilege of working with really great people, and that makes it a great place to work.