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00:00 Intro Welcome to the Player Engage podcast where we dive into the biggest challenges, technologies, trends, and best practices for creating unforgettable player experiences. Player Engage is brought to you as a collaboration between Keyword Studios and HelpShift. Here is your host,

Josh From One Signal Speaking with Greg
Josh From One Signal Speaking with Greg

00:15 Greg Posner Greg Posner. Hey everybody, welcome to the Player Engage podcast. This is Greg and today we are meeting with Josh Wetzel from OneSignal. We dive into the career journey and insights of Josh Wetzel, a seasoned executive who had navigated diverse roles in sales, marketing, and business development. Instead of going to my normal intro, let’s just take a look at some of the companies that Josh has worked for and kind of get his insight on. So it starts off as being a history major at Denison University. From there, just a few of the companies that I immediately connect with since I was growing up and knew these companies, right? Director of Business Development at CNET, still a popular tech website out there. Director of Distribution at eBay, VP of Mobile and Emerging Media at Pubmatic, VP of Marketing Solutions at Bazaar Voice, and now CRO at OneSignal. So first off, Josh, very excited about you being here. We just had a great conversation about football, so maybe some of that will come up. But anything I missed about you, anything specific you’d like to share about yourself? No, Greg, that was awesome. I appreciate it. Before we actually really start, right, we at HelpShift have been partners with OneSignal for a while now, but can you give a quick elevator, maybe a minute pitch to our listeners on what is OneSignal and what are the services you’re providing?

01:23 Josh Wetzel Yeah, I’m happy to. OneSignal is the world’s most used customer engagement platform. Started off actually more than a decade ago as a mobile game studio, went through Y Combinator, had to build kind of mobile messaging, specifically push and app messaging to support their games, and then realized through the industry that there was a big need for that, pivoted to messaging rebranded. Actually, that’s how we became OneSignal around 2014, 2015, and have been providing a free product. So we grow rapidly. We’re now in one in every five mobile apps and have expanded over the last 70 years to include orchestration across multiple channels to build out a robust email product, support SMS, and support all the other channels through what we call web hooks. So you can trigger messages in WhatsApp or sending postcards to users, whatever it may be. And it’s been a great ride. I’ve been here five years. It’s an awesome product. We work with companies around the world. We have a customer in over 130 unique countries. I think we have users in almost every country that’s not embargoed by the United States. And it’s great to work and support businesses of all sizes. Really large businesses use us, but also a lot of small businesses and startups. And it’s great to hear all the innovation happening around the world as I travel and meet various OneSignal community members.

02:45 Greg Posner It’s a great place to be, right? Because, you know, I feel like in my mind, mobile had a big push with gaming in the beginning. It took gaming to that kind of next level to be able to communicate, to be able to push notifications. And I think it’s taken a longer while and we’re beyond this point now. But you see different sectors also now going into mobile very heavily, right? Fintechs there, CPG is there, retail is there, right? And looking at your client list, you really touch all those verticals, which are great. And I think more those companies are starting to realize we need to start messaging, we need to start proactively reaching out, we need to get in front of our users. So it really is a good place to be. And George, your CEO, I believe, also got his start in gaming. So do you see or have you seen parallels between gaming and kind of what you guys are doing at OneSignal?

03:29 Josh Wetzel Yeah, I mean, very much. You know, we started off in gaming. So that’s the core DNA of the business. And our other co-founder, Long, Long Vo was kind of part of the Street Fighter 2 reboot kind of founding team, founded Guy Interactive. So has a deep history as well in gaming. He’s on the art side. In fact, he has quite a few fans. In fact, he’ll do expositions or go to the Comic Con events. And so really, really fascinating career for him. But yeah, to answer your question, yeah, I would say that gaming is very much similar. And there’s certain industries, whether it’s gaming, whether it’s some other adult stuff that really helped drive innovation, because so many people use it. It’s a core part of entertainment. I think it was a couple years ago that gaming as an entire industry overtook movies and television in terms of revenue. And you see it now on TV, right? Like there’s beer ads, and then there’s like actual game ads, both for mobile games, also kind of the traditional like PC based games. It’s clearly driving us in the kind of AR VR next wave as well. But yeah, it’s definitely been it’s been helpful. And I think for me personally, you know, I grew up gaming, but I’m not a huge gamer now. It’s more the fact that we’ve just got this, this product that’s adopted by so many people, you know, we’re delivering 12 plus billion messages a day. And you get to an eye person get to engage with people, you know, doing fresh milk delivery service in India, as an example, because that’s a problem for people. And they’re using our platform to help keep people informed, people connected, knowing when stuff’s gonna be delivered. You know, that’s just one example. But it’s you know, you talk to these different business models that are solving different problems that you know, maybe us in the US have have no clue about. So it’s been great.

05:16 Greg Posner Your portfolio, your background, right? All the places you’ve been are really seem to be taking place during peak times of those technologies. And I don’t know if that makes any sense, right? But you’re at CNET when technology is becoming popular, people are looking for places online to start reading it. You were at eBay, which we want to talk about eBay, everyone knows about eBay, Pubmatic, Bazaar, voice sharing your opinions and being able to help but one signal push messaging like, to take a step back, hey, I think that’s all awesome. But did you picture yourself here? Or what did you want to be when you were growing up? How do you end up being a history major at Denison to becoming

05:51 Josh Wetzel CRO? Yeah, that’s a great question. And you know, I think the first time I’ve ever been introduced in any form, or they you mentioned Denison. So look, first off, it starts off I was I was very lucky. I was born and raised in Palo Alto, California. I’m a sixth generation Northern Californian. So that was that is very fortunate. When I went away to college, I either wanted to be a lawyer or a psychologist. And I was a double major. And I only I only ended up minoring in psychology because I think during my junior or senior year, I got, I sort of realized that like, I didn’t want to go to the psychology route. Technology was taken off at the time. This was, or internet was taken off the time technology had been going on for decades and decades. And I graduated, I went to work at a law firm, actually lived in Los Angeles. Denison is based in Ohio, so a small liberal arts school, fantastic school, I got I got a lot of good liberal arts training, learned a lot. But when I got to law firm, I realized like, this is not a great lifestyle is very hierarchical, very have and have not. In fact, some of the most talented people who knew the most were what I were paralegals, basically, or legal secretaries, they were kind of at the lower end of the totem pole, and they were stuck. And the lowest level associate attorney who knew nothing was was higher up. And it just, there’s just something about the old experience, I realized like, this isn’t for me. And so I eventually left and made back home and got a job in software. And I was hooked. I took a job at this company called go live cyber studio, we were creating at the time the industry leading kind of most well liked and one of the most well used HTML editing software. So they call it whizzy wig editor. And about two months into my tenure, we got acquired by Adobe. And I kid you not, I remember thinking like, whoa, this is so easy and so fun. This is incredible. And this was I think, when was this fall of 98. So I think I think we announced the acquisition at Macworld in January of 99. And I actually got an offer to stay at Adobe. And but it was like some random job. And I remember walking the halls there and thinking, God, this company feels so old, like there’s offices. And there was like, it was just very cubicle. And I was very naive. I was young. But I, so I ended up helping start a company, learned a lot. And then I got in a company called my Simon, which was an early product search engine, we got acquired by CNET. And I, you know, a lot of this is just following your heart, having ambition, and then luck. I think you’ve got to be open about what you’re enjoying. You’ve got to really appreciate and be recognized, like where you’re having an impact and be aware of that. And I could go specific into jobs where I’m like, oh, this was great. But then, you know, you learn things along the way. And, and I think for me, it was very fortunate. Look, that fortune was at where I grew up, but it was also just taking advantage of opportunities. I got into that startup, we got acquired, that led to me helping start something which didn’t work out. By the way, I learned a valuable lesson there about fundraising, and then prototyping, and actually getting a product to, to market, which we didn’t actually ever get anything to market. So, and then my Simon was awesome. You know, CNET in those days was, was incredible. We were a top web site in terms of traffic. We were huge. I think we had, at one time we were like a couple thousand employees. I always worked on the shopping kind of product search side of that. So for me, I was a little bit, a little siloed. I wasn’t quite into the edit side, which was what CNET is kind of mostly known for now. But I, I, I stayed passionate. You know, one of the things I learned early on was be, be, be excited about the product. And when you’re not excited about the product, it’s time to do something different. And so that led me from CNET into, which then got acquired by eBay. That’s how I ended up at eBay. At eBay helped build a product there. I’ll actually, I’ll tell you one, one little tidbit of my career. And I think this is why I’m now a CRO, just to cut to the chase was I got married in 2003. And at that point in my life, I had a mentor, a guy named Chas Edwards, awesome guy. Went on to start Federated Media. He was previously CRO at one point of DIG. He was an executive at CNET back in the day. Just great guy. But he told me one day, he said, you and I talking to me, we’re basically, we don’t think of ourselves as sellers because we’re strategic. And so that’s why we’re in kind of BD marketing. He’s like, but we’re strategic sellers. And I remember thinking about that. I’m like, yeah, that’s exactly right. Like I’m strategic. I can’t be in sales. And I get married in 2003. He tells me this probably in like 2002, 2003, 2004, something around that. I go start a, I helped start a business unit within It was this distributed commerce thing. We’re taking all the lists, think AdSense for commerce. Basically, we built that and built a pretty big business there. So that’s where I got my kind of general management experience, scale the business. And it kind of propelled me in the next thing. But my wife sat me down one day and I think in like 2008, 2009, she said, you know, what are you passionate about and how are you working? And what are you doing? And I’m like, oh, I’m passionate about these businesses and scaling. And you got to go build these relationships and the relationships ultimately drive success with the product and so on. And I was like, you know, it’s like strategic kind of business development. And she’s like, well, that sounds like sales to me. And I realized at that moment that I had a block in me that I couldn’t, I’m not a seller. Sales is like over here. That’s not strategic. That’s not interesting. And it was a really unlock for me in the sense that no sales is critical. And actually I’m, everything I’m doing each and every day is about selling, right? I’m just selling in a unique way. I’m building relationships that distribute a product and grow revenue, or I’m selling, you know, the business. I’m selling myself. I’m selling the company on a potential, you know, a new hire. Anyhow, that was an unlock. And I think from that point on, I really recognized that, you know, to build a business, sales was the most critical part, at least of the value-ad impact I’m going to have, because I’m not an engineer and I’m not going to be driving product decisions. And so that really led me, I think from that point on, I knew that I always wanted to be in roles where I was helping impact, touching multiple functions, but definitely being focused from a sales standpoint in driving kind of overall revenue. And the rest is somewhat history. I think that, you know, the rest of the jobs really were just stops where I was passionate about the product and there was a good mutual understanding of what the vision was and where I could have an impact. And

12:18 Greg Posner I’ve been fortunate to go to some places that have had some success long-term. It’s interesting. You said a ton there. There’s a lot of great stuff in there. And the one that sticks out most, the last one you said, right, is that every one of the companies in sales, right, you may not be in sales, but you’re working for that company, you’re selling that company. It goes back to the point that you made that you need to love what you do, right? If you’re in an industry that bores you, you’re not going to do a good job at selling it and representing the company. It’s about finding something you love and something you’re passionate about. And then it doesn’t feel like selling. I mean, I’m a sales engineer and they tried to put me as a sales rep for a few accounts and I just, I don’t like to go hunt, as they call, right? I’m not, I don’t want to go pressure my customers into buying it. I’d rather just organically talk to them about what we have, how I can help them, how anyone can help them, right? And I think when you just start talking honestly with someone, I think sales becomes so much easier and so much more impactful from the customer’s perspective because then they don’t feel like a sales rep. They really feel like it’s someone I can trust. And I think it’s an important relationship to be able to build is making sure that you can trust the person that you’re talking to, even if it’s a sales rep. Yep. 100%. You also mentioned earlier in the conversation that you kind of looked at it as in timing is important and what you do is important. I also think, sorry, you said luck. I do think timing is also important, right? Each one of those jobs that you mentioned, timing kind of worked out really well for you and knock on whether you can keep that good timing up and going from there. But when you kind of look back at your career, was technology always something that was something that excite you or was there some sort of maybe this pivotal moment that you realized was that, hey, I’m in sales? But was there a pivotal moment that you looked at that actually changed your course of your career outside of that CRO aspect, the sales aspect?

13:56 Josh Wetzel Yeah, I’m glad you asked that because actually that’s an important component of my story, which is I’ve always been enamored with what’s new. I’ve always been an early adopter. I signed up to buy a Tesla before I even knew what the car would look like or what it would cost and was shocked when I saw the initial pricing on the Model S. But I bought it because when I drove it for the first time, it was amazing. So even if I had to mortgage or sell out my kid’s college fund, I did it. No, but in all honesty, I’m constantly wearing three or four wearables. I live and breathe kind of what’s new and almost to the detriment of my family and friends. So I’ve always been passionate about technology and what innovation. I think as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more wise about what are the things that are actually accentuating life versus maybe holding us back and not to call out certain products, but whether they’re social oriented and they’re distracting us or whatnot. But I think that’s a big part of what drives me. And going back to the history thing, there isn’t probably a week that goes by where I don’t think about, hey, what a wonderful, how blessed am I that I’m working at a time in the history of the world where we’re going through this fundamental shift. This would be like when the wheel was created or the printing press. We’re going through a fundamental shift at how we communicate, how we connect and how we live our lives. Kids five, six, seven, 8,000 years from now, ideally, knock on wood that we’re still thriving and evolving are going to study this era. And so to be part of that for me from a historical perspective actually is a fascinating kind of driver above and beyond anything else. But yes, I think the net of it is I definitely have always enjoyed and been passionate about technology. I’ve been an early adopter at consumer electronics, but even like software and things of that nature. And then I really, I do appreciate that the historical context I think we’re all in. What is your favorite piece of technology you’ve purchased within the last year? Good question. I would say my favorite consumer thing, which it’s been longer than a year, is my aura ring. I’ve been wearing this for about two and a half years, but it’s been a game changer in terms of helping me think about sleep, helping me think about just my health in general, getting exercise, movement, where am I at mentally, both in terms of readiness, things like that. On the software side, like in the think B2B, that’s a great question. I was a very earlier adopter of Gong, relatively speaking, and we’ve gone very deep with that. I think maybe not the most advanced, I don’t know, but we use it in all sorts of ways, both from product feedback to obviously training, helping really understand where we are with customers. It’s a really cool product and I give them a ton of credit for how much they’ve evolved in the last, especially since we adopted them in, I think it was late 1990, or 1990, late in 2018, it must have been 2019. So I’m stretching a little bit. It’s been a little bit more than a year.

17:11 Greg Posner Gong’s been a big game changer on our end too. I mean, just being able to read a conversation, not having to listen to it. If you’re on a flight, you won’t pull something up easily and quickly. It’s easier to consume the insights as well as find those keywords that are important. We used to use Gong and I don’t know if we are still using it, but I did really enjoy using that tool. So I guess you talked about mentorship and I think this is an interesting one, because I feel like it’s an intimidating thing to ask someone to be your mentor, or it just happens naturally. Maybe I just don’t even know the answer to that. But how much of a role does that play in your career? Have you felt like you’ve mentored people or do you know you are mentoring people and do you see that as being important to your growth and success?

17:56 Josh Wetzel Yeah, that’s a great question. And I think mine have been much more organic. As I mentioned Chad’s earlier, there’s been other folks in my life who I, you just by being around them and listening and hearing how they operate or taking in feedback from them, even if they’re like your manager and they’re giving you reviews. I think it’s really important. It’s quite frankly why I think remote work long-term, particularly for people under 30, 35 even, is really bad because it’s hard to get that. It’s hard to see someone operate. It’s hard to get those informal cues. It’s hard to have those water cooler conversations. So I highly encourage people who are still earlier in their career, it’s one thing if you’re remote, but take the time to be in the office whenever you can, travel to the home office, get that exposure. So a couple of different components there. The other question I think was, and you brought up a great point, which is like, it’s hard. There’s not a formal way. Do I go ask somebody? I’ve never been someone who went and said, hey, can you be my mentor? But I think that’s actually, it’s a trait that I probably should have adopted earlier on. I think if you can advocate for yourself and someone may say, no, that’s the worst case. One of my mottos, by the way, in life, which I’ve not always lived by, particularly in this case, is the only way to guarantee failure or something is to not try. I can guarantee that you’re not going to succeed if you don’t even give an effort. So that’s the example where if you know somebody and you’re like, hey, I really like, they’ve been successful, or I think I can model some of these behaviors, ask them to be a mentor. And I think most times people are going to, if they’re not completely self-absorbed or just overwhelmed in life, they’re going to say yes. Have I mentored people? It’s a good question. I don’t know if I’ve ever had, I guess I have had a couple of people formally ask me and I tend to, I think of myself a little bit as a coach in some ways. One of my value adds is I bring a lot of energy. I want to be direct and provide people constant, and just provide them a forum to have open conversations. My perspective in terms of myself, but also for other people is, what are you trying to accomplish and what are the skills and necessary experiences you’re going to need to get to where you want to be? And then helping guide people there. So even in the interview process, one of my core focuses, anyone we interview at OneSignal is, what are your career aspirations? Where do you see yourself? What are your strengths? I’m actually trying to, my role in that process is trying to suss out, where is this person today? Where do they want to be in two to five years? So that I can understand, are they going to be a good fit today for what we need and what they’re good at? And are we going to be able to provide them a necessary trajectory to, you can never predict the future even in this world more than three to six months out. But realistically, when I think about where we’re evolving to, are we going to be able to help them achieve those experience goals? There’s been examples where they might be a great fit for right now, but we’re certainly not going to be able to necessarily meet their goals. And I don’t mean my goal is I want to come in as an individual contributor and I expect to manage in two years. It’s more refined than that. I’m really good at enterprise selling, just go back to this, or I’m really good at transactional and I want to evolve into a relationship consultative cell. I want to learn how to go from commercial inside to enterprise. To me, it’s like, okay, that’s great. I know in my current job, we’re going to have a lot of evolution there. We’re going to definitely help you there. We’re going to do a lot of training. I personally can lean in for you. If somebody’s like, hey, I want to be a transactional seller. And this is really basic. I mean, there are obviously different functions. It could be in marketing, like I want to get this exposure. And then I know that we’re not going to be doing a lot of that. It’s sort of having that frank conversation being like, this is where we’re at. I think if that’s truly your goal, it’s probably not going to be a good fit. So I believe strongly that that’s important. And I think quite frankly, I can’t speak for most people, but my sense is that people aren’t having enough of those types of conversations.

22:18 Greg Posner And so it’s why you end up in jobs that don’t work out long term. I think there’s also kind of this unknown of what I want to do when I grow up. Do you want to be a sales engineer your whole life? Do you want to be a director of BD your entire life? I have a lot of friends that teach and they don’t necessarily love being in that anymore. And they’re like, oh, I have no skills that translate anywhere else. And that’s not the case. It’s understanding how they translate to this other languages or verticals. And I think just because you are a transactional seller today doesn’t mean in the next 10 years, that’s what you want to be doing. And I don’t think people know what they want to be doing. And that’s part of the reason why I was excited to actually start doing this podcast is to understand the stories of how you got from one

23:00 Josh Wetzel place to the next. So I think that’s a smart question to be asking people, but I’d be surprised if everyone actually had a true answer of where they want to go. Well, I usually give a preamble with people too. I say, look, I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up either, but you get a better and better, you can paint a clear and clearer picture as you evolve. And so I think for me, I kind of have a really good sense of exactly where I’m adding value and where I want to continue to add value going forward. But when you’re 25, I certainly didn’t know. Like I said earlier, I would never have touched a sales job back then, even though that was, I had a mental block. So I had to grow through that. But I mean, for you, you’re a sales engineer. What do you want to do? Like when you think out five, 10 years, you know, you see yourself in software still, and you want

23:47 Greg Posner to be in the go to market side. You want to be in product. So I always liked being a sales engineer. Before I was a sales engineer, I was an account manager or an account manager. Like I was on post sales. So we worked for a financial company that would get yelled at when our systems were down, because it was interrupting their market hours. Then I went to pre sales and I realized, hey, people don’t yell at you in the pre sales side of things. That’s fantastic. It’s a great place to be. I was also an introvert at the time. So I was very shy, wasn’t quiet. Like I was afraid to approach people and talk to people. What I learned now being a sales engineer is I like telling stories. I like understanding what your, when we became partners, right, I was a pivotal part of that because I kind of built out this whole story of how one signal helps you work together. And it excited me. Like not for the, hopefully no one in my company hears this, but not for the ability for me to start selling one signal helps you. But this is a cool solution that we can start telling people that, yo, we have this problem that we’ve identified in the market and we can start solving and then going to listen to the customer. So I’ve learned that like storytelling. And then when they start understanding that they said, Hey, maybe you want to start this podcast. And I love what I’m doing right now. And it’s a lot of work and it’s a lot of going out there. But this is what I’ve learned. I like to do with moment, especially in gaming. I’ve been a gamer my whole life. So it’s kind of like I woke up one day and it was like a, oh, shit moment. Like I work for a gaming company all of a sudden we got acquired by keyword studios. That’s awesome. Like, yep. And now how can I take advantage of this? Right. And then you learn in your next moves, but when you kind of the blind leading the blind, sometimes you don’t know what you want to do. And maybe that role doesn’t exist, but if you can find value there and create value in there, it doesn’t make sense. So, yep, it makes sense. It makes sense. When we talk about one signal, right, there’s a very clear comparison to the gaming industry as of today with the freemium model. You guys do have a free tier of access, which is fantastic. It’s a great way to get started. Great way to influence the SDK from your side. It’s a great place to be because you know who’s using the tool and you can start understanding how to build out a pipeline with that. Right. But what are the challenges you guys have encountered by offering this freemium model and kind of how do you maintain a high level

25:54 Josh Wetzel user experience? I don’t know if there are any challenges with the free model. I think it’s been awesome. Our mission is to democratize customer engagement. We truly want to be able to provide world-class tools to everybody, whether you’re starting out a new app or you’re in a pizza shop and you want to be able to engage with people through digital channels. So I see it as it’s been wonderful in every facet. I would say that in terms of how we think about the commercial side of the business is we want to add incremental value. We want to be able to provide advanced functionality so that businesses that have the wherewithal, they have the resources, can truly use powerful features to be able to create ongoing automated customer journeys. So think onboarding, someone comes and downloads the app or comes to the website. How do you drive them through the experience so that they’re having the impact that you want them to have and they’re having positive interaction with your service? Re-engagement, think about the life cycle of driving someone to pay for a subscription or to come back to the service. So I think for us, it’s always been, we love the free offering. We tout it. We want people to start using the product and then we’ve differentiated on providing awesome product above and beyond that to meet the needs of legitimate kind of SMB businesses, mid-market and even a ton of enterprises. We work with a ton of media companies, large fintech companies, sports league, a lot that we are dominant in sports leagues because we deliver really fast notifications and really robust kind of technical tools they can integrate deeply into the CMS and whatnot or their apps or whatnot. So yeah, for us, I think we’ve really embraced it and it’s been part of the core of our success is we don’t sit there and say, oh, the free product stealing, share or whatnot. For us, it’s a tremendous place to source leads from and it’s a great place. Anytime we’re having a conversation with a large customer, we’re like, hey, start off, just download the SDK, implement it. It’s going to take you, I kid you not, 15 minutes. I’ve done it myself in Android app and I’m not technical. Yeah, get it going, test it out, play around. It’s easy. You can start building subscriber base if you’re not using a tool or if you’re using some basic thing like a Firebase. It’s going to give you more advanced functionality immediately and let’s talk through the functionality in your use cases and understand where you’re trying to get to and it opens up a much broader conversation. And quite frankly, the people we compete with, they don’t offer that and quite frankly, they hate when there’s a POC because they know that their products are really difficult to implement. They take a lot more time to set up properly and get going. So it’s a point of differentiation and

28:52 Greg Posner strength for us. I’m trying to figure out if I want to word this question, but during the pandemic, the whole culture of the world changed for a couple of years there. I think from the one single perspective, you prioritize the customer experience rather than truly going rather than doing geographic expansion. But I was wondering how you saw your usage change during the COVID era. I assume it would probably go up, but I’m curious on how that changed

29:22 Josh Wetzel and if it did at all, the direction the company was going. Yeah. So I would say we did grow substantially both in terms of usage. So a number of people signed up for the product and usage expanded pretty rapidly, particularly in second half of 2020 and then early 2021. And for obvious reasons, people were locked at home. If I was a barber shop or I had a pizza joint, you’re like, okay, how do I connect with customers? How do I build? I’ve got time. I need to use digital because everyone’s on their phones or their computers. So we saw a pretty rapid expansion there. We also focused, I think, in 2021 and 2022 have been big years of actually building out teams in other parts of the world. We realized by 2020, we knew this already, but we saw that there was a lot of usage and quite frankly, our customer base was growing rapidly in Europe as an example. So we started building a team in the UK in late 20, really 21. And then this past year, year and a half in Asia, we started building a team in Singapore. So I think the pandemic definitely grew the base significantly. On an absolute basis, we grew much faster in 20 and 21 than we had in any previous year, but also ushered in difficulty, right? There was a lot of small businesses or medium-sized businesses that were using us and for certain use cases, those businesses collapsed. So if you’re thinking about anything, if you’re e-commerce, you were growing like crazy, maybe food delivery grew really fast, mobile games grew because you were stuck at home and people were using them. Although we’re now starting to see a little bit of that impact where people are now back to their regular lives. They don’t have as much time to play a mobile game on their couch. And so I think they’re still growing because the absolute base is growing, but it wasn’t like up into the right rocket ship stuff that they saw in 21, 22. So we feel all those impacts, but by and large, we’re still, back to my historical comment about technology, I still feel like if you’re going to use a baseball analogy, right, or some sports analogy, I would say we’re still kind of like at the halftime of digitization of our lives. So we still aren’t quite there. We’ve made a huge progress and some people might say, no, no, we’re like, we’re in the eighth inning of this or we’re in the third or fourth quarter. But I disagree. If you just look at cars and transportation, we’re still at the very early stages of this transition from maybe even car ownership and then how do you, transportation in general and think about the apps you use around all of these physical utilities. They’re just pretty rudimentary. I mean, Uber and Lyft are kind of more at the, they’re further ahead. But I think if you just look at the municipalities, we actually work with a ton of these large municipalities where I look at their apps and I’m just like, this is not a great experience. For example, we work with a school district in the largest US city that’s close to you. And I think they use the product for free, actually a pretty large scale. We work with transportation commission, they might have the initials MTA. And I look at these apps and they’re fine, but they’re, it’s still very early for them. They’re not cutting edge. Apple’s not putting them up as editor’s choice because they’re just not there yet. So I still have a lot of belief that we’re still kind of rounding that quarter. And I think the younger people, people under 30, they live their lives on their phone. They’re really proficient. But I think you look at people that are over 40, 45, 50, and particularly that aren’t in like urban areas where they’re born and raised on technology, I think we’re still, we’re still early there. And maybe it’s just a time thing. Like when people that are 30 or 50, at that point, the vast majority of the population is going to be really proficient with it. And so all companies will have adopted it. But I still think we’re sort of in that phase. So anyhow, I kind of went off off kilter on the question, but it’s an important part, I think of where we are as a society ultimately and the adoption. And by the way, I didn’t even touch on geographic. Like you go to Asia and they’re kind of almost, they’re almost over email, right? Like a lot of people just don’t use email. They use it a little bit for business, but they’re not using it for personal at all. Whereas in the US, we’re still stuck where a lot of people still use email for personal and definitely use it extensively for business. So it’s an interesting dichotomy. In fact, we work with the companies there where, you know, they laugh at us. We’re like, well, who do you use for email? They’re like, we don’t use email. Whereas in the US, email is the core workhorse communication channel for your consumer

34:02 Greg Posner base. So I’m assuming they’re ahead. I don’t know. Maybe we were stuck here in Spam land. It’s just all different, right? I mean, when you go overseas, they’re using WhatsApp more than they’re SMS. We’re stuck in SMS world here in the States. It’s different, right? There’s no right or wrong. It’s what’s being adopted and how it’s being adopted. And I agree with you about technology. And if you look at the whole generative AI type of things, right? People might have thought, hey, we were doing as much as we can with the internet right now. All of a sudden this opens up a new world of possibilities of what am I going to do? How am I going to do my day job? How am I going to make it simpler? Right. And I feel like this is a new plateau where we can start to build and develop new products we’ve never seen before. We have the metaverse, which I’m questioning in my entire life. What is it? I don’t know if you guys are looking at anything like that. I know we’ve been researching it and kind of doing some stuff with it, but it’s whole new frontiers that are opening up and are they going to be something? Are they not going to be something? It’s going to

34:57 Josh Wetzel be an interesting conversation over the next couple of years. Yeah. I mean, it’s funny. I think there’s innovations and adjustments based on true technology breakthroughs. And then there’s like innovation technology that’s actually just managing us through the inefficiencies of existing technologies, utilities. So you touched on WhatsApp. WhatsApp is a great example where WhatsApp doesn’t exist. If everybody has a American telecom mindset where it’s like, text is just free. It’s part of your plan. There’s no real money there, but you go throughout the world and actually it’s a huge moneymaker. So they overcharge for it. So WhatsApp took off. Right. Now there’s a security privacy component, but I don’t know if most consumers care about that. I think that’s a pretty small, and the US is becoming more so and Europeans obviously skew a little bit more on that. But I think if you’re in Asia and South America, I still think it’s as huge. Maybe I’m wrong. But then you have the technology breakthroughs that are fundamentally shifting stuff. And I think AI falls under that. It’s still very early to know exactly what this is going to do, but it’s clear that a lot of tactical work is being made more efficient. And I think some jobs will evolve dramatically in the relatively near term and then even more so in the long term. And then you’ve touched on VRAR. I think when I look at it, to me, AR is a no-brainer. And in fact, we work with, again, in sports, I’ve seen some demos of stuff that’s either live now or is coming live. That’s amazing. You can be at a game, overlay a player. You can see historically where they hit the ball or it could be in football, how they proceed on certain plays. You can bring out historical data. You can supplement the experience dramatically. And I think we’re starting to see that again also in virtual where I might be on my couch watching the game, but I can overlay a bunch of stats that are really pertinent to me, whether it be a fantasy football context or just a deep fan viewership context. I think all that stuff is the augmented reality stuff is really powerful. And Apple gets that and it’s putting a ton of effort there. I struggle with the truly VR experience because it is so, in the IRL world, it’s like the opposite. It’s actually pushing further into this world where it’s just weird. I think it will be there. I think for certain use cases like games and even the ability to actually be courtside at an NBA game or on the sideline in an NFL game, but actually not be there. Those use cases are amazing. I think where it takes off though is when you have this AR-VR combo where you and I could be watching a Jets game together. You’re where you are, I’m where I’m at, but we’re actually on the sideline chatting together. And then it becomes a social experience between us being pals while we’re watching the game live, feeling like we’re there, but we’re not. I think that’s where that stuff really takes off. But that’s why I’m a big fan of AR because I think AR takes advantage of the technology and the innovation that’s happening and enhances the experience,

38:07 Greg Posner enhances the real life experience. Yeah, I agree with you. I like your example with the game, being at the game. I have a Quest. I don’t use it that often, but after watching the Apple Vision Pro thing, I was like, if I’m sitting on a flight, if I didn’t look like an idiot or whatever, wearing a giant thing on my face, that would be such a cool experience and a great place to use it. But I agree with you on the AR aspect. I think everything makes much more sense in AR. It just needs to become a form factor that is much more concealed than it is today. And I also have this argument with someone, but if VR didn’t take off during the pandemic when people couldn’t leave their house, I think we’re entering an era where people are looking to leave their house. And I feel like AR was still, or VR was still expensive at 300 bucks for the Quest, but it’s also not that bad at 300 bucks for the Quest. So if it didn’t take off yet, it still needs some more stuff. But I feel like that was a great opportunity for it and I just missed. But that’s my own personal

39:05 Josh Wetzel feelings. I agree. I agree. I’m dubious on that. Again, except for maybe gaming and entertainment, specific things, but that’s not something you’re going to do all the time. Whereas AR, you could see a world where, I mean, it might be really weird, but you might have, you walk around New York City right now, actually four years ago, you walk around New York City, it blew my mind how many people had the white AirPods in. Everywhere, everyone had them in. And it made sense because everyone’s commuting, they’re walking, they want to be having conversations, listening to podcasts, music, whatever. I could see a world in five, six years where a significant portion of the population in places like New York City, you’re walking around with the, you know, the Vision Pro or whatever, you know, that point it’ll be like the Vision SE or something, because it’ll be a cheaper version. But I think that, I think it makes sense. It might feel weird at first, but you’ll get used to it. And it’s not like you’re unengaging. Because when I walk around the city in New York City, it’s not like I’m saying hi to everybody. Like, hey, how’s your day? How’s your day? Jets look good yesterday. That doesn’t happen. So yeah, I think it’s a better form factor. The quests are funny. I mean, right? Like you can’t see through them, you’re not engaging. So, but who knows? I mean, I could be completely wrong. I’m pretty enamored with the Vision Pro. I think the use case, the connection to Disney and all the content and to be able to have this like immersive experience. I think they’re going right at the AR and when they do VR, it’s like pretty cool, high value content. So I think that’s quite frankly, where Meta has missed a little bit is going after really high end content, like bringing in the big IP holders to create some interesting content. It’s just a heck of a price tag to stomach for a technology. You’re not sure if you’re actually going to use it, but I get it. It’s a V1. It’s what it’s going to be. I’m an early adopter and I’m not clear I will buy V1. At this point, I would not buy it, but I think it’s not coming out for another six, seven months. But I’m very curious, but I definitely want to demo it and I could see it being like the car where I’m just like, oh, this is amazing. I have to have it. So

41:18 Greg Posner Did you have those Snapchat glasses back in the day?

41:22 Josh Wetzel I never did. I’m a little bit older, so I was all about the social and I definitely was using Snapchat early, but I was never a big Snapchat user. For me, it was just checking it out.

41:33 Greg Posner I bought them to sell them because it was a good idea. But that was a great form factor. I know did nothing as near as the Vision Pro will do or Quest does, but they were just sunglasses. So if we can start to get down to form factors like that, that you don’t look like you’re a

41:49 Josh Wetzel robot walking around. I feel like that’s where AR starts to take off, but I’m excited about the future of AR. There’s probably some form factor where it’s not even connected, but it’s a virtual battery with all the computer and everything in the battery pack. And then you’re wearing some

42:03 Greg Posner cool looking glasses slash goggles. So there’s something there. If you’re cheating in school, just throw some contacts in. Contacts are hooked up to something back there. That was my dream when

42:12 Josh Wetzel I was younger. That’s definitely coming. And I think that’s, I feel bad for, teachers are going through a massive shift right now. I don’t know that many teachers in my life, but the ones I do, everything’s going to in-person, test papers, everything’s got to be done because

42:29 Greg Posner it’s just so easy to cheat now. It is. It’s part of life though, learning how to adapt and how to overcome. And I remember taking exchange tests back in the day that gets exchange certified. And they’re like, oh, you can’t use the internet. My exchange server goes down. I’m Googling, how do I fix this? I’m not going to be the expert that just knows exactly what to be doing, but you got to learn. I know we’re almost at time. I have one last question really for you is, you said you’re an early adopter. That’s awesome. Love it. How do you stay current with today’s industry and trends? You have particular resources that you trust, that you read every day. What are

43:06 Josh Wetzel your strategies you find that work? Yeah. I mean, I’ve always, I’m consuming either through audio or reading nonstop. And I try to mix it between fiction, keep my brain from being jumbled, and then business leadership technology, things like recently I’ve read Chip Wars, Invisible Women is a fascinating book talking about how the world has been designed basically around the male form factor. And it’s kind of a bias that maybe we knew hundreds of years ago, but we just haven’t revisited. But specifically, I look at things like tech meme every day because it aggregates and highlights the most interesting stories. And it’s got a basic algorithm and some manual overlay. I use Apple News and have subscription to that. So I’m reading Wall Street Journal subscription, New York Times. I’m reading that every day. Information’s interesting, although it’s very baseball inside Silicon Valley. It’s a little bit almost too inside the big tech companies. And but yeah, I’m just consuming. I’m a fan of the industry. I kind of want to be, what’s going on? How are things going on? How’s the evolution? It’s interesting, in 2020, or sorry, in 2000, it was like, it was a pretty small industry. And I don’t think I fully appreciate that. By 2010, it was like, oh, I’m kind of an experienced hack at this and know everybody, but I really didn’t. And now it’s become mainstream. And so many people work in, quote unquote, tech around the world. As I traveled other major cities for work and get exposed to tech meetups and whatnot, it’s, it boggles my mind how many people are in, quote unquote, in tech and how big some of these companies that I saw early. I mean, Apple’s obviously been a long-term titan and they have a lot of employees. But even just like the Googles and the Facebooks, where I sort of knew some of the earliest people and was there when they were small, it blows my mind how big these companies are. And dare I say, maybe a little bloated. But there’s just a lot of people now. And so I think

45:10 Greg Posner I just, keeping up with it and understanding that and being aware. Yeah. All said. I mean, I remember those early days at Silicon Valley and all the startups, it was, everyone got rich very quickly if you were in on it and then everyone wanted to be a part of it. So then you got the sprawl now, Josh, I really appreciated this conversation. I think it was awesome. I had fun with it. I really appreciate you coming on. So anything else you just want to share or plug while you’re here? No, Greg, I appreciate it as well. Thank you for the conversation. Love working with you guys and appreciate being part of the podcast. Yeah. And Josh, OneSignal is an awesome tool for anyone listening. It’s a great way to get notifications out to your users that are using it, or maybe have disengaged for a while. You can reach out to them and get to know them again. We’ll have tons of information about OneSignal on our site. So you can check it out. We’ll link to it. And Josh, again, thank you for coming on today. And I hope you have a great rest of your day. You too. Thank you, Greg.

Greg Posner

Avid gamer with a passion for storytelling. My goal is to unpack the narratives of customers, partners and others to better understand how industry-leaders tackle today's challenges.

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