End of an Era: Moving on from Marketo

By | October 9, 2009

I joined Marketo in December 2006 as the first non-founder and began a wonderful journey that has lasted 3 years.   I learned a tremendous amount from the people here on a cornucopia of topics and I will miss them.  I have accepted a new position at another company (I’ll post that later).

Some UX highlights of my tenure at Marketo:

  • Reinvention of a workflow engine. Most systems used Visio flowchart diagrams to model how workflow was supposed to go.  I turned that procedural model on its head and used a more object oriented approach.  The Smart Campaign model was a vast improvement over the previous model and customers have loved it.  (Except one.  You know who you are!)
  • Reinvention of landing page editors. All landing page editors used templates that hard coded the layout.  They made huge assumptions about how the page was supposed to look.  I turned this on its head as well and used absolute positioning to make the experience alot more like PowerPoint.  Drag and drop and move elements pixel by pixel.  Customers loved this feature and it remains (2 years and going) to be the best way to design a landing page.
  • Reinvention of a segmentation tool.  All systems have the ability to segment people in one form or another.  Usually, it’s drop down boxes.  Using inspiration from Minority Report with Tom Cruise,  I created a new UI for segmentation that is fun and tactile.  It is not just functional.  It’s literally fun to use.  This is my most precious achievement at Marketo.   Customers, when they first see this tool, with its attention to detail and unique interaction design literally say, “Whatever happens next, I just want you to know this just paid for itself for the whole year!”  This is the unexpected WOW factor.
  • Success.Marketo.com.  Schloss did most of the work here, but I will take credit anyway.  The community site is robust with tons of great information.  Man, it’s hard to build a community from scratch, but we did it.  It’s thriving.  The system is built on Helpstream, which was a great platform to build on.
  • ExtJS.  Early in the process, I wanted to have effects and capabilities that would have been very hard to produce such as menus, rounded corners, transparency, drag and drop, trees, etc. I  found this small open source package called YUI-ext 0.33 alpha.  We adopted it and it completely revolutionized our ability to deliver great interactivity at a fraction of the manpower.  We skipped 1.0 and then re-designed the skin using 2.0.  Now it’s Ext (dropped the YUI) with their 3.0 version.  I am so happy we chose ExtJS and the application has benefited from it.  ExtJS was even nice enough to invite me to give a keynote speech during their first conference.  They owe me video of that speech still.
  • 250+ thrilled customers. I can’t believe this one.  No one was expecting this kind of success.  We tapped into a pent up longing for better software and the sales team had something that was in high demand.  It truly was a team effort.  Everyone was pointing in the right direction.  I am ecstatic thinking about my role in helping the company succeed.
  • My first original iconography. I love these icons and worked incredibly hard to make them.  They are pretty small, but they are my first and I will remember them forever.  The little guy with his hair on fire is called the Best Bet Buddy.
  • Munchkin. Our web tracking JavaScript was actually pretty easy to build because we embedded jQuery inside it.  I thought that was especially clever.  However, the real UX win was the name Munchkin.  It stood for “miniature urchin”. (Like Google Analytics)  However, the name implied many frames of reference.  Small, Fun, Friendly, Harmless.  Exactly the feeling we wanted people to feel about it.  UX is about emotions.  How do people feel?  One word, Munchkin, nailed it for this UX.  It was perfect.  I also love using the word Bork.  I said, “It’s sort of a bug, but mainly it’s just work.  It’s a Bork”.
  • Control-Alt-Shift-M. I love easter eggs.  This one is awesome. You need FF3.5 or Chrome/Safari to use it.  I don’t want to ruin the surprise, but it turns the entire Marketing Automation world on its head.

My favorite moment actually came just a few weeks ago at the Marketo User Summit.  A man came up to me and said, “Are you responsible for putting the flowers on the login screen?”  I said that I was.  He replied with a smile, “Only you guys could get away with that”.  What I interpreted that was that he thought we were fearless and cool and awesome and that we could wear a ballerina tutu and get away with it.  We were studs.  I took personal pride in helping craft that personality through the application design and my influence in the company.

I’ll miss the people most of all.  People who are brilliant, fun, energetic, hard working, funny, insightful and just so damn good at what they do.  There are at least half a dozen people here who are “the best I have ever seen” at what they do.  (You know who you are!)  There is more that I can mention, but this post is way too long already.

I have loved my time at Marketo.  Feel free to send me notes if you are a Marketo customer (Contact me link on the right).  I am still at work for 2 more weeks from the date of this post.

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