Episode 4
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Episode 4
Listen Hard, Change Fast with Mailchimp CTO Eric Muntz

Listen Hard, Change Fast with Mailchimp CTO Eric Muntz

Our CEO, Mathilde Collin, sat down with Mailchimp's CTO, Eric Muntz, to talk about Mailchimp's COVID response, their transition to working remotely, and the company's commitment to customer experience.

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Mathilde Collin Hi, everyone, I'm Mathilde Collin, I'm the co-founder and CEO of Front. Over the years, I've tried to share my journey as a leader along the way, everything I've learned has been by talking to people that are more experienced than me and all wiser than me. And this is what I'll be doing today. I'm here with Mailchimp Chief Technology Officer Eric Muntz to talk about how MailChimp is adapting during this time. As a company, they've implemented a lot of changes in order for their customers to thrive. And today we will talk about what business leaders can do to help support one of the hardest hit sectors of the economy, which is small businesses. So I'm excited to learn as much as possible from Eric today. Eric, thank you so much for jumping in.

Eric Muntz Absolutely. Thanks for having me and thanks for the great intro. I'm not sure I'd say more wise or anything like that, but we'll see. Hopefully hopefully folks can learn something.  

Mathilde Collin We'll see at the end of this interview. So maybe for people who don't know you, we can just start with an introduction of who you are. What do you do at Mailchimp? 

Eric Muntz Yeah, so as you noted I'm the CTO, which means I run all of technology here, so today it's about three hundred and seventy or so folks in engineering. It also includes corporate it and it runs everything across our technology stocks. So everything deep in the back end, infrastructure wise, all the servers and network and security and all of that to the sort of middle tier of our frameworks and our support for product development. And then our product development team, including back end and front end engineers, mobile engineers and all that. And mostly what I do, everyone says, well, what does that actually mean that you do day to day? And mostly what I'm doing day to day is working with other business leaders to help drive our business forward with the lens of technology. 

Mathilde Collin And the story of us being connected is I actually reach out to Ben Chestnut, who's the CEO of Mailchimp. And I said, I want to talk about how companies are adapting, how leaders are adapting to this. He said Eric is the best person to go about it so we can jump right in and maybe we can start with the culture of Mailchimp. You have a great culture. People are seemingly are happy to go to work every day. I would love to know what the company has done differently so that despite everything that's going on, you ensure employees that are happy to go to work every day. 

Eric Muntz I mean, it's not been easy. I think it hasn't been easy for anyone in the world. And we had a pretty good starting point.

Eric Muntz We started out with a good culture, a culture of really caring about our people and really listening and deeply understanding what's going on. We're also pretty distributed and the majority of that distributed workforce is in engineering. So we have offices in Oakland, Brooklyn, as well as Atlanta where we're headquartered, where we're sort of known to be headquartered. And then we have folks all across the country. And so it sort of hit and the pandemic hit and these epicenters in different ways. So the first thing we had to do was learn to meet people where they were and realize that folks in Brooklyn or Oakland were maybe in different places than folks in Atlanta or folks who were already working from home in, say, Colorado or wherever else. We're in different places and get really good at listening and talking with our employees and understanding what it was they needed. Some of the other things we did was really updated our sick time and made sure we extended benefits and mental health policies and policies and all of that to account for parents who are now colleagues, teachers, caregivers, like everything you can imagine under the sun. But really, it's all about finding ways to empathize with all the different aspects of employees you've got around and really listening and trying to meet people where they are. 

Mathilde Collin Yeah, that makes sense. How have you done it in terms of communication? Have you done anything differently? 

Eric Muntz We haven't really done too much because we were already pretty heavily Slack based and Zoom based. So we've been we've been sticking with that. 

Eric Muntz The I'd say the things we've been doing mostly differently are and depends on team the teams doing engineering, engineering, leadership team. Someone presented a great idea that hey, maybe and we have a channel called Ins and Outs, which is just like where announcements come out for all the engineering to watch for. Maybe every day someone from this small leadership team, which is about six or seven people, to just post something, just, hey, here's a thing. Maybe you missed an update from the company. Here's maybe something going on with the customer. Here's something, an update with initiative or like, hey, here's what I've dealt with this week just yet. I've had a really rough week. I miss going out to eat tacos and my kids are having a hard time with school from home. So we're we're buying Legos for the kids and just posting daily updates. And that's not something that we did prior to the pandemic. And I think at this point now it's something we will probably do forever because it's just connected us in a really special and unique way. 

Mathilde Collin That makes sense. Talking about the thing that will stick post-Covid, as you said, I'm sure everyone acknowledges very much right now. 

Mathilde Collin And it's the same at Front. What's what part of this new role do you think will remain in the post pandemic world for MailChimp? 

Eric Muntz Yeah, that is a great question and I don't actually know the answer yet. 

Eric Muntz I think it's still too new to to really know what's going to stick and what's not. You know, we are as I said, engineering's already pretty distributed. So there's a lot of things that we will probably just take forward like that announcement and how we do town halls being one hundred percent zoom based. Another fun thing we did there is every time we do a town hall now, we reserved the last few minutes for what we call. Kids and people just go and grab the kids and their dogs or cats or whatever, and we get to just kind of roll around and see everybody's everybody's new coworkers at home. I will say the they're members of the executive team who maybe weren't as open to work from home or anything like that before they saw it, but they weren't living it the way technology sort of had to and are like, oh, OK, I can see this, I can see how this works. And so maybe there are some changes. I don't I don't expect us to go and shift the pendulum all the way to the other direction. And now we're one of the the full time, 100 percent remote work from home companies right now. I do think some I do think some things will stick. I think the biggest thing as we were talking about this with the executive team, as I said, that, you know, the the thing that's really hard is being in the middle. And so if you're all in the office and you're all together in a room, that's one way to have a meeting. And then if you're all remote and you're all on Zoomer, hang out or whatever, it's another way to have a meeting that those two tend to work. Yeah, like subtyping room. And for people on video, right. Is the not really work so well? Yes. And I think people are really feeling that and really internalizing that now today. Yes. Some of that will change. Right. Where maybe even if we're in the office, we'll do doing all of the meeting. But everyone's just in there, in their offices, on their on their laptops. 

Mathilde Collin All right. So one thing that I really wanted to talk about was the customer focus that team has always had and even more during the pandemic. So you can tell us a bit more about what Mailchimp has implemented. But just from reading online, I think you've introduced some price relief. You introduce some free accounts to the service, to organizations to providing that kind of free for five years and more so. 

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