company January 27, 2021

Building momentum in our transition to a product led SaaS company

We're excited to share our latest results and our plans for the future.

I’ve just wrapped my first calendar year with Stack Overflow, through which I’ve experienced the excitement and energy of a full fourth quarter, typically the busiest and most important period for the business. 2020 was a year full of challenges unlike anything we’ve seen in a century, and I’m proud to say that we met the challenge at hand.

Despite the global headwinds, we saw impressive growth in our Stack Overflow for Teams Enterprise and Advertising businesses. Our Stack Overflow for Teams Enterprise business experienced our strongest quarter in the history of the company in new customer additions and new annual recurring revenue. Advertising had its best growth year in the history of the company and its best quarter ever. Talent, which was heavily impacted by the shock of the pandemic, stabilized in the last two quarters of the year, positioning itself well for a rebound when the economy begins to more fully reopen. 

Stack Overflow for Teams continues to broaden its customer base and forged new partnerships with the tech sector. As an example, Box, a customer that I elaborate on below, brought on Stack Overflow for Teams to improve collaboration in the “new normal” of remote, asynchronous work. And some of the world’s largest banks and telecom companies signaled their belief in the value of our product by significantly expanding their investment in their private instance of Stack Overflow.

Line chart showing the steady growth of Stack Overflow for Teams Business users - from zero in May 2019 to nearly 20,000  in January 2021.
Stack Overflow for Teams ‘Business’ tier user growth.

We are thrilled that our Stack Overflow for Teams product continues to drive developer and technologist productivity through rapid sharing of key internal information. Customers using Stack Overflow for Teams tell us how it’s reducing the time it takes to onboard new developers and technologists – for some by as much as 40% – and giving time back to all the people who support the new hires. Q&A is also a powerful tool for everyday productivity, and several customers have told us that their support engineers see 20-30% reduction in help tickets, allowing them to focus more on solving the root cause of the issues people are asking about. 

Customers have seen a 40% reduction in the time it takes to onboard new developers

I make it a point to speak to our enterprise customers on a weekly basis and I’m energized by the excitement CIOs exhibit around the acceleration of their plans in today’s fever pitched technology environment. Developer productivity in a distributed work environment, cloud transformation, DevOps, cloud security, and big data are top of mind for technology executives. There is a wealth of knowledge on these topics across Stack Overflow’s public platform, and we have seen interest in these sites continue to expand. On average, monthly signups in 2020 consistently increased by at least 20% over the year prior. Knowledge on these same topics is populating instances of Stack Overflow for Teams and driving productivity within companies all over the world.

To illustrate what’s happening with our tools, let me share a little more about our story with Box. The company went public in 2015 and has around 2,000 employees and several hundred engineers. It provides modern cloud capabilities with enterprise grade security and compliance to companies like AstraZeneca, Nationwide Insurance, Morgan Stanley, and GE.

A Teams customer saw a 20-30% reduction in help tickets, allowing their support engineers to focus

In 2019, Eddie Flaisler, the company’s head of enterprise engineering, decided there was a challenge Box needed to address. “The biggest issue we had as an engineering organization was knowledge transfer and searchability of knowledge. I think it is very common in engineering organizations that you find people have a lot of institutional knowledge, a lot of things that they keep in their head. Either it is not documented anywhere, or it is in a collection of Box notes, Google docs, Confluence pages, just all over the place.”

Over the last year and a half, 650 users at Box have provided over 900 answers which have been searched and viewed thousands of times on their Stack Overflow for Teams instance. “Stack Overflow is heavily used at Box as the interface for engineering teams, in terms of how other teams, be it support, product, or marketing, can communicate with them,” explains Flaisler. 

It was important that employees be able to get answers to technical questions, but engineers also needed time for focused work. Avoiding context switching was key. “If you have a question, if you have some clarification that you need, instead of overwhelming everyone on Slack or an email, there’s a queue. Questions are created, somebody is monitoring the questions and responding, and this has improved productivity across the board.”

New products and processes

Starting with this blog post and going forward each quarter, we’ll be making a slight shift to the content. Community members have shared their feedback, and asked for more detail on what Stack Overflow is doing in regards to the public site, moderation, and user experience. We want to deliver that, so we are planning a new series of posts written by Teresa Dietrich, our chief product & technology officer, who thinks deeply about these topics every day. My quarterly blog posts will focus more on what’s happening with our company, our paid products and overall business. Here are several of those updates.

This month we released For You, a new personalization feature for Teams that involved collaboration across Product, Engineering, and Marketing in order to launch successfully. This feature helps customers rapidly share solutions within their organizations by keeping information fresh and prompting users to engage in building a knowledge community.

We have lowered the barrier to entry for Stack Overflow for Teams, offering customers the ability to sign up for our Basic or Business tier through a self-serve portal we launched last quarter. That led to a more than five fold increase in interest for these products in December. That same month, Stack Overflow for Teams was also presented with a Stratus award for outstanding product in the cloud collaboration category. We continue to invest in and innovate on this product, for example launching version 3 of our popular Slack integration earlier this week.

In December of 2020, we announced a new partnership with Times Bridge of India. They became an investor in our latest funding round and are working with us to expand our Stack Overflow for Teams product to the fast-growing SaaS market in India, which is expanding around 30% a year. We join a great group of Times Bridge partners, including Coursera, Airbnb and Uber, and we’re excited to begin working with entrepreneurs and innovators across this region.

In December, we also soft-launched our new process for employers with ad hoc hiring needs (companies hiring five or fewer roles, for initially shorter than six months, and with no need for more complex hiring and branding products). The new process consisted of a streamlined purchase flow for these customers that should get them on the platform and hiring fast. After a successful pilot, we began a phased launch in the United States in January. 

Crafting a Strong Culture

Stack Overflow has always focused on our culture and we are thrilled to be recognized by Built In in their Best Places to Work rankings across four different categories! Over the December break, we were also recognized as one of the Best Work-From-Home companies by PowerToFly, a women-led recruitment platform.

I want to give a big thank you to our people team for their work, which made these awards possible. I also want to give a warm welcome to Debbie Shotwell, who joins our senior leadership team as the new Chief People Officer. As we enter Stack Overflow’s next phase of growth, Debbie will partner closely with me and our leadership team to lead the company’s people strategy. Debbie, who was previously Chief People Officer at Saba Software, has 20 years of experience delivering business transformation and creating innovative cultures aligned with the rapidly changing needs of the workforce. We continue to bring on top talent from the SaaS industry and have lots of open roles.

What Comes Next

Looking forward, we have some exciting announcements planned for the first half of this year. We are envisioning ways for companies to better support their tools and technologies through our public platform, driving value for the creators, but also for the consumers, who will have an easier time finding high quality answers to their questions.

We are also excited to find new ways to get Stack Overflow for Teams into the hands of more customers with a wider variety of use cases. What began as a product used solely by engineering teams has expanded to include product, product marketing, data science, product design and customer success. We want to create a version that would provide immediate value to the tens of millions of developers and technologists who visit our public sites each month. Stay tuned for some exciting news here in the coming weeks.

With the rollout of vaccination campaigns underway in many parts of the world, I am hopeful that we are turning a corner towards a brighter, healthier 2021. Remote work will continue to be the norm for most technical workers through the next several quarters, and we believe that a fundamental shift has occurred during the last year, with many companies having a far greater percentage of remote workers for the long term. Stack Overflow was created to help people from across the globe share knowledge, improve their productivity, be more agile, and drive the speed of innovation. Our mission matches the moment, and I’m excited for Stack Overflow to continue empowering developers and technologists with the tools and information they need to succeed.

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