What Happened to Drift? | Echo Chamber

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Welcome to The Echo Chamber. Quick riffs and hot takes from around B2B Marketing. 

On today's show the guys discuss Drift's disappearance across LinkedIn and hypothesize what may have happened.  

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Conversations from the front lines of marketing. This is B two B growth. Welcome back to another episode of the Echo Chamber here on B two B growth. I'm joined today by our director of audience growth, Dan Sanchez, our head of community Benji Block. My name is James Carberry. I'm the founder of sweet fish and today we are talking about a brand that was once the darling of B two B marketing, really b two be in general. I think the brand is drift, and back in tween this was the only brand that it seemed like a B Two b marketer could talk about. I mean it was just the apple of everyone's eye and then all of a sudden one person left drift and it just seemed as though nobody was talking about drift anymore.

Uh. And so we we're obviously talking about Davi gearhart and I want to talk about what happened here. Is as I've been thinking about the Echo Chamber series and, you know, talking about things that B two B marketers are talking about on the Internet. I've heard podcast episodes about this or bring it up in conversations with people. What the heck happened to drift? Dan, you've got some thoughts here as we were talking about this, getting ready to to hit record. What's your take on this thing that happened where this brand was on the tip of everyone's tongue and now, all of a sudden, regardless of a great exit, nobody seems to be talking about him? I haven't heard them mention on Linkedin for a long time, since David Gearhart actually went back to work as their chief brand officer or something like that. That was the last time I heard drift mentioned. It had been a while before that. Um of course he's not working there anymore. He's doing his full time thing and honestly, I feel like this happens a lot with really...

...big tech companies that are like accelerating that fast. It takes so much momentum for a rocket ship to get to orbit, to just leave the gravitational poll that sucks it back down. I feel like it's the same with startups. That's why they talk about startups launching and use the rocketship analogy a lot, because it's true. It just takes so much momentum to get to the point where you know what you're probably gonna be okay without going is fast right. So it seems like there's a lot of hipe, pipe, pipe, pipe, pipe, and things are growing, things are getting and then you get acquired or you go public and it just kind of goes into cruise control for a while. You're still growing. I think the company is actually doing I'm sure they're doing quite well. I'm sure it's making tons of cash, but it doesn't need as much hype to do the growth. In fact, it probably needs to calm it down a little bit because that kind of growth can be a little dangerous sometimes in big companies like to play it safe. Slow and steady. Five to ten percent of growth a year is a lot of growth, but nothing that's gonna, like, cause any damage. You know,...

...they're much more about losing their they care way more about losing what they have versus gaining what they have. It's a safety game now that you're a big company, and that's where drift is now. It's a big company now. Yeah, I mean it's September of one. It looks like Vista Vista Equity Partners, but I think a majority, I don't know if it's a majority or minority stake. I think it was a majority steak and that put them at over a billion dollar valuation, which is wild to me that what was what was once known as a chatbot platform is now getting acquired at a billion dollar valuation. I don't know exactly the details on that deal, but I do think it's interesting, though. The thing that I want to point to here is something that we preach a lot on B two B growth, the power of activating your employees personal brands. And when Dave gearhart started at drift, I think he had on a podcast before that was like a local...

Boston podcast, and he had his and his CEO, a drift, D C, who is now, I think, chairman or I don't even think he's the CEO anymore. They just announced a new CEO maybe four or five months ago. But this dynamic between David cancel and Dave Gearhart, D C and D G, the way they positioned that relationship, I thought was brilliant, just kind of this like wise sage founder who had been through multiple exits. I think DC had sold a company to hub spot prior to that and I think he'd had a couple of exits even before that. So he was this this wise sage person investing in this young buck, this hungry, you know, marketer, Dave Gearhart, and so their show seeking wisdom really fleshed out that relationship and I remember being obsessed with that show and listening to it going this is so good. It was there talking about timeless wisdom. It...

...wasn't specific marketing things. It was a little bit higher level than that, but the banter between the two of them, the way they discussed a topic, I just thought it was incredible. It seemed like you were genuinely a fly on the wall of two really smart people's conversations and I loved it and I think through that podcast, combined with D G's ability to know every single month. I've heard him now talk about this. I think I heard him talk about it on Chris Walker's show the other day. He was talking about how every month they would come up with like a marketing moment and they would figure out, like what splash are we going to make this month, and it was either like hey, we're we're going to dream force this month and so let's make a big deal about how we are organizing a workout morning, like we're organizing a workout the morning of like the second day of the conference, and so we're just gonna make a huge deal about how hey like,...

...you can work out by yourself or you can come work out with drift, and it was just I think, I don't know that they had to pay anything to do it. They didn't have to, you know, spend the hundred thousand dollars for a booth that you have to typically spend a dream force. They probably did that also. I don't know because I wasn't there, but I just remember everybody losing their minds about drift sponsoring a workout and I was like that's that's clever, like that's an interesting way to engage your target buyers at a conference that you know everybody's gonna be at, everybody's gonna be talking about, and that he would just do that every single month and it was creative and it was different and it wasn't the same old stuff. It wasn't like they figured out that webinars worked and they just beat webinars to death. They were trying new, fresh creative things month after month after month, and because of that Dave grew an incredibly massive personal brand. I think he's got well over a hundred thousand followers on linkedin now, probably closer to a hundred forty thousand followers on Linkedin. When we did our original research we asked...

...who is the marketer that's influencing you the most? Dave Gerhart, I think it was Dave Gerhart. Seth Goden and Chris Walker were kind of at the tippity top of the list. So Dave gearhart built an incredible brand for himself. Segue that really intelligent way. I think in the building D G MG, which is now exit five, a community for B two B marketers and if the I mean I'm looking at the numbers, he charges ten bucks a month to be a part of that community. I think he's got three thousand, over three thousand people. I mean that's a's a great way to make thirty grand a month. Plus the advisor positions that he now has. I think he's advising Alice and a few other brands, so those are probably ten thousand dollar month positions. Yeah, metadata some of some of the best Bob Brands in the game right now. Not Surprising that they're being advised by Dave Gerhart, kind of the King of brand. I did think it was interesting. I think Dan you mentioned like he went back to drift for a hot second and he was their chief brand officer. I don't know what exactly went down there. I would imagine when you're personal brand is netting you fifties,...

...sixties seventy grand a month, it's probably pretty tough to go back to being an employee somewhere, especially, you know, drift, being at a different season of the season of growth. So I don't know the details of what happened there. B Two B growth will be right back. There are a lot of questions on marketers minds right now, and analyzing the latest trends can be a full time job in itself. Can an a R filter really improved brand awareness? Why are streaming ads so loud? What do viewers really think about shoppable ads? Marketing Group does the hard work for you, dropping a quick to read free newsletter in your inbox every weekday, covering essential topics, from influencers and advertising to social media and more. Marketing Group never misses a beat. Get The answers you've been looking for, along with the ones you haven't even thought of yet upgrade your game alongside a growing community of over two hundred and sixty five thousand and marketing professionals. Check it out by clicking the...

...link in our show notes right now. It's probably pretty tough to go back to being an employee somewhere, especially, you know, drift being at a different season of the season of growth. So I don't know the details of what happened there. That's a big part of it and it's kind of like the seasons of growth to me, because Dave's still living in. He's got all these new marketing ideas, but he's still living off of seeking wisdom in some ways, because the book founder brand just came out like last year and he's he's giving the playbook away for what they did then and that is also informed what he's doing with exit five. So in my mind, like you just have seasons as this thing scales. They were creating the category of conversational marketing. They had a conference, like hyper growth conference. They were doing a lot of things then that worked really well and then it continued to evolve or change, I would say, where it's like it seems like it's just...

...much less of a public approach and I don't know like, because we're very public by nature as well. We're looking on linkedin like where's drift now, and they like it seems like there was just a strategy shift where it's like, okay, Dave would have built it this way and now whoever's like got the reins is is not doing it the same way. I like, I could be missing something, but that's where I see it. It's like if you're getting a billion dollar valuation and you're able to do that, there's other good things happening, but it's not the things that we're working four years ago, three years ago, two years ago for you. So yeah, it's fascinating to me. I wonder if if I was in this game, you know, back when salesforce was on its rise and you know the big logo of like what was it? Um Uh, not software or soft the anti software logo, anti software. They were villainizing software because they were really advocating for everything being in the cloud. I wasn't in the game back then. I don't know when salesforce started. I think it was in the early two...

...thousand's. I was still like a freshman in high school. But I wonder if I would have, if I would have thought the same thing, like Oh, what happened to salesforce? Well, salesforce is a freaking behemoth. I don't ever see salesforce talked about on Linkedin. I don't really see people on twitter talking about salesforce. Doesn't mean that salesforces and and exceptionally successful. When we ask what brand do you have the most affinity towards, everyone is saying salesforce. That is like it is still the top answer. And then most of them are like, it's probably because I used it the longest. They keep adding features and while there's been some drift from their original but like, people love salesforce. They absolutely love salesforce. They've built a strong community. That's wild to me because me as a millennial, my millennial kind of uh, I don't know. I look at salesforce and I see it as this like the eight hundred pound guerrilla that is super expensive and you've got to hire a six figure consultant to come in and even show you how how it...

...freaking works because it's so complex and it can do so many different things. So, I mean we're a hubspot shop here. Hubspot just feels like it's more user friendly and like. But I've honestly, I've only used how to use sales source one time and it was that a nonprofit that I worked out several years ago and it was just the most complicated thing I've ever tried to use, and I'm relatively savvy when it comes to figuring out the how the Internet works. And Uh, I could not, I could not make that tool do what I what I wanted it to do. But anyway, all that to say, I wonder if that's how we're gonna be talking about drift as they can, you know, probably continue to grow. I mean this equity groups not valuing the company and a billion dollars with their investment if they don't have plans to continue to grow this thing. So so it's fun to talk about right like what what really worked for them to get over that Hump and to create the kind of momentum that a brand needs to have that moment in the sun to create the customer base that can allow you to UN build...

...an enduring company. That's something that most companies will never be able to do. I mean, we're literally talking about drift next to salesforce, a giant in our space. So I think what they pulled off is wild. Maybe one day we'll be able to do something close to that with sweet fish, I would hope. But yeah, any, any closing thoughts as we wind this down. Dan or Dan or Benji, I think for most of the people listening are probably working in B two B companies that are in the scale up stage right or maybe just starting, but most of them are probably in the we've had product market fit and they're trying to do what drift did, which is what drift is known for. Is what they did in their scale up stage. They had product market fit and it was about creating enough brand affinity that it could scale and have great word of mouth going on, not just from the marketing but of course the product. I don't know, it's all of our aspirations. We all want to be able to replicate what they did and it's wicked hard, but it's a good playbook to look at. Yep, well said. Awesome. Alright. Well, if you want to...

...hear more of these echo chamber episodes, reach out to Dan Bingi or myself on Linkedin. We would love to hear from you your feedback. Uh, certainly informs the kind of content we're trying to create here on B two B growth as we try to become the go to media property for B two B marketers. UH, make sure to leave a rating wherever you're listening to the show, whether spotify, apple, podcast tap the number of stars you think the show deserves. We love you a ton and we'll talk to you soon. B Two B growth is brought to you by the team at sweet fish media. Here at sweet fish we produce podcasts for some of the most innovative brands in the world, and we help them turn those podcasts into micro videos, linkedin content, blog posts and more. We're on a mission to produce every leader's favorite show. Want more information, visit sweet fish media DOT com. MMMMM,.

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