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The influence of the Chief Product Officer continues to rise as the business community adopts more organizational strategies from the tech world. By combining a strong product sensibility with commercial expertise and data-driven insights, the CPO is ultimately responsible for the “why” of a product. We found 12 dynamic CPOs who are redefining the importance of this emerging role.
The influence of the Chief Product Officer continues to rise as the business community adopts more organizational strategies from the tech world. By combining a strong product sensibility with commercial expertise and data-driven insights, the CPO is ultimately responsible for the “why” of a product. They work with engineers, designers, and marketers to conceptualize, develop, build, and distribute products that deliver the best possible experience for customers while also serving the overall vision of the company. A skilled CPO is able to cross-collaborate between teams to grow a scalable portfolio that creates buzz, solves problems, and generates profit. We found 12 dynamic product leaders who are redefining the importance of this emerging role.
Chief is a private network built to strengthen senior women leaders in their journey into the C-suite. The New York-based club launched in 2019, and connects high-ranking women across industries while fostering community. CPO Nikki Kuritsky brings more than 11 years of experience developing and executing digital product strategy for Shutterstock, Christie’s, and MTV. Kuritsky’s leadership skills are considerable and varied: Her core strengths include adapting product strategy to business vision, new market analysis, and building high performing, cross-functional teams. All that is key to Chief’s ability to attract new members (the brand has a waitlist over 5k long) and create spaces for women to leverage their power.
Cloud-native operational database memSQL was founded in 2011, and was designed to offer organizations lightning-fast analysis and query performance. The platform—which boasts customers including Uber, Comcast, and several major banks—aims to help businesses of all sizes optimize their data to make decisions in real time. “Big data doesn’t have to come from big companies,” says Jordan Tigani, who became memSQL’s CPO in June. Tigani started his career at Microsoft, then worked as an engineer at various startups before moving to Google, where he founded the BigQuery team. At memSQL, he and his team are building SingleStore, which will combine the analytics performance of a column store with the low-latency of a row store. “MemSQL’s technical expertise in building high-performance versions of both storage types enabled us to build a single version that works across a broad range of use cases,” says Tigani. The task at hand is considered by many to be impossible, but Tigani is known for his stellar track record as an engineer and product leader capable of driving innovation and accelerating revenue growth.
In a sea of dating apps, Hinge , which launched in 2011, is unique in promoting itself as the social discovery network “designed to be deleted.” The brand wants to get people offline and into in-person dates as quickly as possible, a strategy that required a quick pivot to a virtual “Date from Home” tool last spring. Tim MacGougan is well-versed in bringing engineering and marketing teams together to solve problems—all while evaluating the unpredictable shifts in how people interact when looking for love. He’s spent almost seven years at Hinge, and previously held titles including VP of Product and Product Manager. Prior to that, he worked at Bonobos, starting with the customer service team. MacGougan will likely rely on his valuable customer insights background as Hinge balances dating app fatigue with the desire to form new, socially distanced connections.
Luminary set out to become the “Netflix of podcasts” after launching in 2019. The company operates on a paid subscription model, with podcasts hosted by bold-faced names and award-winning creators. Jeff Saunders joined Luminary shortly after it launched, replacing co-founder Joe Purzycki. He served as a CEO, COO, CIO, and EVP for various large and small businesses, and brings 25 years of diverse experience to his current position. Previously, Saunders spent nearly three years as the VP of product and technology at Jet.com (now Walmart), and led digital production and services at Citi. This puts Saunders in an ideal position to stretch Luminary’s efforts. The company is currently competing with Spotify for both podcast subscribers and access to popular content producers.
The Wing is a network of work and community spaces designed for women, founded in 2016. The club launched in New York and quickly expanded across the country as well as London; membership now spans over 12k diverse women from a variety of backgrounds and professions. Nickey Skarstad joined The Wing as VP of Product in 2019 after stints as a product lead at Airbnb and seven years at Etsy, where she was the Director of Project Management. Her familiarity with tools that foster meaningful connections between customers, hosts, and makers is essential to The Wing: After closing its spaces this spring due to COVID-19, the brand acted quickly to boost digital offerings on its app, where members can communicate when they’re not able to be together in one room.
Petal is a new credit card company, launched in 2016, that wants to help more people qualify for safe, affordable credit. It does so by analyzing customers’ complete financial records, using bank statements in addition to credit scores. Roy Simkhay started at Petal in June as VP of Product. He has a wide range of experience at digital-first companies including Microsoft and Hulu, where he led the streamer’s launch, owning content syndication and advertising products. In the wake of the pandemic, many banks have scaled back their consumer lending, but Petal offers a no-fee credit line, catered to people who are new to credit. As Simkhay settles into his role, he’ll lead Petal’s product team as it leverages an accessible, alternative approach to credit scoring, with terms that are tailored to each customer’s finances.
Hims & Hers wants to make it easier for people to access and enjoy self-care products that carry stigmas. Hims, the men’s line, launched in 2017 with sexual wellness products and hair loss treatments. The brand now offers erectile dysfunction medication and birth control pills for its sister line, Hers. Michael Broom spent almost nine years at Zynga before becoming Senior Director of Product for Hims & Hers in 2019. He also consulted at various startups and Fortune 500 companies, including a top-five pharmaceutical company. Broom’s track record building customer-centric, data-driven products merges perfectly with Hims & Hers’ plans to expand in the mental health category (it recently launched a telehealth platform), and become a one-stop shop for affordable, DTC wellness solutions. The company is ranked as one of the fastest-growing DTC brands in history, and is currently sold at Target, with plans to continually release new products.
When The Citizenry launched in 2014, it set out to celebrate the people behind products: The socially-conscious DTC brand sells eco-friendly, sustainable home goods by partnering with master artisans all over the world. Haley Seidel started at the company in 2015 as a freelance product designer, and was quickly promoted to Director of Product Design. Previously, she spent five years at G-III Apparel Group, where she designed outerwear for Karl Lagerfeld, Andrew Marc, and Cole Haan. In her current role, Seidel works closely with the talented makers who create exclusive collections for The Citizenry. In many cases, designs are directly inspired by the artisans themselves, and it’s up to Seidel to infuse each piece with modern elements while preserving the integrity of ancient crafts. Each of the new collections Seidel brings to market furthers the brand’s mission to reinvent how people shop for artisanal goods, and to uplift thousands of people with sustainable, humane work.
GIPHY is a GIF search engine and database, founded in 2013, that allows users to discover and share GIFs across platforms, including iMessage, Twitter, and, most recently, Facebook. (The social media giant acquired GIPHY in May.) Dan Burke, GIPHY’s Director of Product, started at the company as a Senior Product Manager in 2018, where he specialized in defining the brand’s API strategy. In his new role, Burke applies his problem-solving skills to GIPHY’s overall vision, operationalizes integration engineering, and creates a roadmap for future developer products.
TaskRabbit began in 2008 as an on-demand platform that paired local demand for odd-jobs and errands with available part-time workers. The company was sold in 2017 to IKEA, and the two-sided marketplace now matches millions of customers seeking assistance with furniture assembly, moving, and more with over 60,000 taskers across the United States and the United Kingdom. Sarah Fried Rose took over as TaskRabbit’s CPO in 2019, and soon after, her title expanded to include President. Rose leads the brand’s experience and innovation strategy, driving the vision and execution of TaskRabbit’s network. Her ability to build and deliver an exceptional experience for both taskers and clients was forged during her time as COO at UrbanSitter, where she created, scaled, and delivered a trusted online marketplace for childcare. She also led product and growth for a number of companies at the intersection of commerce, content, and community, including ModCloth and Polyvore.
Ellevest is a female-focused digital investing platform that launched in 2016 to help women meet their financial goals in life. The company currently supports more than 90,000 customers, and CPO Alexandria Stried leads efforts to ensure Ellevest makes investing approachable and achievable for all women. Stried spent almost seven years as a Director of Product Manager at Weight Watchers, where she worked to help people change their eating habits. This focus on behavior change tactics is intrinsic to Ellevest, where Stried is developing aggressive strategies that drive product evolution. Her responsibilities include supervising the product management as well as the CX and financial planning team to guarantee the success of new and ongoing products. In June, Ellevest announced an expansion into banking, as well as a membership plan offering coaching, workshops, personalized investment plans, and a no-fee debit card.
InVision started in 2011 as a simple prototyping tool, and has since expanded into a fully collaborative prototyping and design suite used by more than 7 million people at tens of thousands of companies, including American Express, Netflix, Slack, and Ikea. The company is currently focused on providing teams with everything they need to build faster, iterate more quickly, and deliver brand consistency at scale. Eleanor Morgan became Chief Product Officer in February, and in August, InVision introduced a new, more flexible Design System Manager. Morgan heads the product management and design teams, and is fluent in building customer-centric organizations at companies including Casper and IDEO. An accomplished product and design leader, Morgan’s mission-driven ethos will set a new course for InVision as the brand continues to streamline design processes—and help more companies to create innovative new products that people will love.
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