Alexa Is Paperless (4)

Alexa Is Paperless (1)
Alexa Is Paperless (2)
Alexa Is Paperless (3)

Alexa says she is a very internal person. As in, she does not attend many events. She stays focused on her customers and her team, and that right there is more than a full time commitment. The media and pundits are lagging indicators. They are usually three months behind. It is so much more productive to get on the phone with a customer who might feel compelled to pick up the phone.

That attitude on her part reminded me of the CEO. He has that same attitude. He does not go to events. But he keeps a big, red telephone in the office. Everyone on his team, engineers included, especially engineers, get on the phone. Everyone does customer service.

I asked about the amazing gender ratio she has achieved for her team. It is 50-50. She says it was not a conscious decision. She just went about hiring the best people she could. Getting the gender ratio right is the most natural thing. It is people who get it wrong go out of the way to not recruit women. She just went about assembling developers and designers.

She has a niche product, very well defined, "an inch wide, a mile deep," as she puts it.

Deploying is key, she says. You end up in a totally different market than the one you thought you might be in. You end up with some really loud users. Getting feedback is key. You can't pull the curtains down and build the product. Early on she faced a loud desire for Holiday Cards.

There's etiquette that tends to gel around high touch connections over long periods of time, and you have to be mindful of that, but you don't want to take a paper product and translate it into a digital incarnation. That would not be enough. The richness and interactivity the digital medium allows for has to be harnessed. You want to reimagine the product, but you don't want to stray too much. There's data associated with the cards, you do want to make use of them. The users save money, they spend less than they might on paper cards, but they do spend money.

She would like to grow her team, but efficiency and culture are delicate things. You don't want to grow at their expense. Right now is in a sweet spot.

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