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Exit Interview by Patrick Donegan – Newsletter #34

By: Patrick Donegan

For some time, I’ve been looking for one “source” that curates modern takes on HR Tech, perspectives from the people who build it, and its impact on enterprise — something that’s tailor-made by professionals for decision-makers.

I never found it — so I decided to build it.

Every week, I’ll be sharing fresh insights on tech platforms, design, data, and the future of work — straight to your inbox.

My Thoughts

Last week, nearly 1,000 current and former Activision Blizzard employees signed a letter supporting a labor lawsuit against the company, citing an insulting and inadequate response to reports of widespread gender-based discrimination and sexual harassment. The initial California state lawsuit has already led to two major departures, and CEO Bobby Kotick has promised to continue cleaning house, but it may not be enough to salvage the company’s reputation, nor its work.

A company culture doesn’t accidentally get to this point; it is permitted to get to this point. Activision Blizzard’s leadership critically failed to empathize with and support female employees – to the point where it’s threatened the business. This should be a wake-up call for every single game developer: immediately and proactively evaluate your work culture, root out toxic management, and hire (and support) female talent in leadership roles. It’s better to make the difficult choices now before the consequences of inaction force your hand and irreparably damage your reputation.

Tech Innovation at Work

Snap — the parent company of Snapchat 📸😎— just bought Vertebrae, a company that lets brands create and manage 3D versions of their goods. They declined to say how much the acquisition cost. But taken together with Snap’s other shopping-related acquisitions and features, including Fit Analytics and Screenshop, it’s clear that the company is betting on AR as the future of shopping. 💳🛍️📱  Eventually, users will be able to scan almost anything and turn it into a virtual object. Snap and Gucci recently partnered to let users virtually try on a limited edition shoe, and this is likely to be the beginning of many similar collaborations. 

We all know how the restaurant industry has been hard-hit by the pandemic. 🍜🍷 According to the National Restaurant Association, the food service industry sales fell by $240 billion in 2020 from a projected $899 billion, and more than 110,000 eating and drinking establishments closed last year nationwide (and that doesn’t include what’s shuttered in 2021). But many restaurants have managed to survive and are on the rebound. Here are just some of the ways they pivoted:

  1. Create custom product lines, delivered via e-commerce, to supplement dine-in revenues. 👩‍💻🚚
  2. Collaborate on product lines. Collaborations with other restauranteurs or brands can help makeup for any shortfall. 
  3. Pivot to media. Cookbooks are now quicker to print, especially with home cooks embracing books by cafes and restaurants, not just famous chefs.  📘🍰
  4. Assemble at home meal-kits that are great for Instagram. 🍱🔥
  5. Offer touch-free payments and a safe customer experience.  🍪📱

Work-Bench’s NYC Enterprise Index ranks New York’s leading enterprise software companies “building disruptive and innovative new solutions for the Fortune 500’s most challenging problems.” 🍎🔥💡It’s a good snapshot of the growth of and pipeline for venture backed companies in the city, the industries they serve, and the types of companies rising to the top.  Here’s an overview: 


Nanit —the company behind the only smart baby monitor that connects parents to their baby’s health and development 📱🍼👶— has been ranked by Deloitte as the 19th out of 500 of the fastest-growing technology, media, life sciences, and energy tech companies in North America. It’s also the only one in the top 20 with a female CEO — Sarah Dorsett. 💪👏👩‍💼 She talked to Forbes about raising $25 million in Series C funding, driving sales, and the coming launch of Nanit Community — a forum for connecting users. The smart baby monitor market is expected to grow from U.S. $989.38 million in 2020 to U.S. $1,815.31 million by 2028. It’s estimated to grow at a CAGR of 8.0% from 2021 to 2028.

The Changing Workplace

Here’s something to note about the management consulting talent market. Nearly 2-in-3 consulting firms say they’re short-staffed, and 1-in-5 are turning down work as a result, according to a survey from Source Global Research. 📊🤔💼Meanwhile, business is booming for consulting firms as a result of the pandemic. Marsh & McLennan, which owns consultants Mercer and Oliver Wyman as well as its namesake risk and insurance business, reported a 12% quarterly gain in consulting revenue, beating analysts’ estimates. Another reason is that quality consultants have left the industry amidst the pandemic. Many were motivated by a career change or by changes in working practices (remote work and the demand for travel has made consulting less attractive than it used to be). 💸✈️💅

HubSpot’s chief customer officer Yamini Rangan has an interesting take on the traditional marketing funnel. Instead of looking at it as a funnel, she proposes recasting the model as a flywheel. 🤔🎡🐣She puts it this way: “In a flywheel model, winning the customer isn’t the end of the customer journey, it’s the beginning. The quality of the end-to-end experience — marketing, sales, and customer success/service — determines whether customers churn or become advocates for your brand. A delightful customer experience will transform more customers into advocates and open the door for cross-selling, spinning the flywheel faster. A friction-filled experience will bring the whole thing grinding to a halt.” The four disciplines that help drive  a delightful customer experience are aligned teams, aligned strategy, aligned systems, and aligned incentives. But aligning your teams is the tricky part — you can read more about it here


All About Data

Driving customer acquisition is a challenging process — their engineers have provided a helpful look at how Lyft set up their marketing automation platform. 🚗🎠It walks through how the marketing funnel for Lyft works, and how the process is automated and built as architecture. Here’s how their architecture breaks down:


Since software is automating operations across industries, it’s no surprise that DevOps is everywhere. ☁️👨‍💻↗️ Here’s a good visualization from Chief Martec of how DevOps is expanding. He proposes that we should start to understand it as “Big Ops” — a seismic shift in Ops across industries analogous to the way “Big Data” referred to the large volume of data flowing through organizations. As he puts it: “if Big Data was about a data lake, Big Ops is more about an interactive data water park.”


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Patrick Donegan Chief Strategy Officer

Patrick Donegan

Chief Strategy Officer

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