Juan M delivered an unpleasant message to the community yesterday detailing how SE plans to move forward after the dismissal of Shog and Robert. Here's an excerpt from the post:

We’re seeking to align the company so that it can continue growing in 2020 and we continue to be committed in investing in the community and ensuring that it has a seat at the table as we keep moving forward. These changes are a part of that process.

  • What does SE think they need to do to grow in 2020?

  • How does the removal of Shog and Robert fall into this plan?

  • What other steps could potentially come next in this plan?

  • 8
    What, and especially from whom are you expecting to get a concise, non speculative and resilient answer here? Unless the persons who are really in charge would be willing to give statements about their decisions at this site, your question ist completely useless. Jan 17, 2020 at 18:24
  • 30
    @πάνταῥεῖ From SE administration. Just because they aren't answering, doesn't mean I'm going to stop asking questions.
    – moltarze
    Jan 17, 2020 at 18:25
  • 20
    And for those of you who want to close this as opinion based - all three of the questions in the body of this post have exact answers that can be provided to us by SE administration. Sure, we might not get the answers, but that doesn't make the questions opinionated.
    – moltarze
    Jan 17, 2020 at 18:27
  • Come over here to discuss 1st please: chat.meta.stackexchange.com/rooms/89/tavern-on-the-meta Jan 17, 2020 at 18:34
  • I liked the original title better, for what it's worth (although for me, at least, it's not worth getting into an edit war over). Jan 17, 2020 at 18:41
  • Aren't questions 1 and 3 basically asking the same thing? Unless 3 means after 2020? Jan 17, 2020 at 18:43
  • @aparente001 the original title was more personal, I liked it better too, although I suppose for everyone's sake it's better to leave it more neutral. Like you said, not worth an edit war.
    – moltarze
    Jan 17, 2020 at 18:43
  • @FrédéricHamidi I guess they sort of are, but I'll leave them for now.
    – moltarze
    Jan 17, 2020 at 18:44
  • 2
    It would nice for there to be a bullet before the ones you've mentioned: How does SE define "grow?" More members? More content? More page views? Or more profit?
    – dwizum
    Jan 17, 2020 at 18:51
  • 3
    Nitpicking a bit here, but isn't Inc. company a pleonasm?
    – JJJ
    Jan 17, 2020 at 18:52
  • 9
    You are forgetting one important question: What the heck does "align the company" even mean? Jan 17, 2020 at 21:04
  • @Jaydles I guess "SEI" is for "Stack Exchange Inc.", but the new title is definitely clearer IMO
    – MEE
    Jan 17, 2020 at 21:29
  • 2
    So far, the CM team for public Q&A has been reduced, so any plan would have to involve an element of achieving more with less. This is ambitious and might fail. The growth may be negative in the end or maybe not. Let's see. Jan 17, 2020 at 22:14

3 Answers 3


George Stocker (on Twitter) has a long thread about this and the community issues.

basically Joel talks with Jason Calcanis about his leaving from Stack Overflow (recorded in April 2019), and what it will take to get Stack Overflow public. He says that over and over.

If you listen for another minute, you'll get to who Joel+The Board of Directors of @StackOverflow want as CEO: this is his characterization: https://youtu.be/zMfxd9y0cMY?t=1005 "You need to get psychopath-Silicon-Valley-executives who are just in it for themselves and their stock options"

And in that above link, Joel also talks about the genesis of the current moment: https://youtu.be/zMfxd9y0cMY?t=1570 The company is focused on Enterprise and Teams and it happened because of a party Joel went to and met someone from Credit Suisse

So revenue being shoved to 700m, all those tweets contain youtube links to Joel interviews.

You might think he's wrong, but its an insightful thread of tweets. Bottom line: even SO and all the other sites do not matter, nor does the community, all that does is getting a lot of revenue selling the SE software.

  • 5
    It's absolutely fine to concentrate on selling software, but why do they have to double down on the public Q&A since last year? Didn't make it more profitable, I would guess. If it wasn't important anyway, they could as well just have it be as it is. The risk of users going somewhere else was never bigger. But then, maybe they don't really care about this risk, after all it's not the main thing. Jan 17, 2020 at 23:25
  • 2
    @Trilarion I think it's worth noting that two of their products (Teams and Enterprise) are Q&A, just like Stack Overflow. Based on my past experience it would be natural to assume that their sales folks use flagship public Q&A (SO) to demo for prospective customers, that's why it's important to make it look attractive (from the perspective of sales team). This by the way could explain increased changes to SO sidebar like recent restrictions on featured posts and prior removal of HMP
    – gnat
    Jan 18, 2020 at 7:20
  • 1
    At youtu.be/zMfxd9y0cMY?t=1284 he says they make $44 million from their Jobs business last year -- that sounds like a lot, doesn't it? I don't understand why they'd want much more than that, even (or how much more).
    – ChrisW
    Jan 19, 2020 at 0:40
  • Plus apparently $28 million for Teams, and $16 million from selling Ads (mostly for Azure, he said).
    – ChrisW
    Jan 19, 2020 at 0:48
  • 1
    @ChrisW its those MBA types, never content with a really profitable business, they have to destroy it and the goodwill and the humanity in order to make even more money.
    – gbjbaanb
    Jan 19, 2020 at 14:03
  • @gbjbaanb There are big companies like SE, and even bigger ones like Apple and Google, I guess. Perhaps they want Q&A to become as popular as email or chat, or something like that.
    – ChrisW
    Jan 19, 2020 at 14:09

Pretty clear SO no longer cares about what anyone thinks. It's just pure money.

  • What does SE think they need to do to grow in 2020?

Expand their revenue. Cut their costs.

  • How does the removal of Shog and Robert fall into this plan?

Less cost.

  • What other steps could potentially come next in this plan?

More cost removal (thinner team, less exchanges, less data centers). More advertising. More marketing for Enterprise features such as Teams and Jobs.

  • On "no longer", well... this is necessarily what happens when you raise (so much) venture capital, isn't it? Cf. meta.stackexchange.com/q/79435/248268
    – Nemo
    Jan 18, 2020 at 12:46
  • And the public image is no longer a concern (newbies on Stack Overflow, recent events notwithstanding)? Jan 18, 2020 at 21:33
  • If or given that the revenue is $75 million or more what's the point of removing anyone? Any one person's salary is a drop the bucket, relatively -- so I guess (though perhaps it isn't kind to speculate in public) that Shog and Robert left for other reasons.
    – ChrisW
    Jan 19, 2020 at 1:20
  • @ChrisW - Their annual revenue isn't $75 million, but regardless of that, the reason is that often these types of cash grabs involve allocating someone else's salary or something else's budge to the person in charge. It is slimy business 101, just never thought I would see it here.
    – Travis J
    Jan 19, 2020 at 1:45
  • 1
    "$75 million (last year)" is what I inferred from Joel's interview.
    – ChrisW
    Jan 19, 2020 at 1:46
  • 1
    Yes here he says "we're at $70 million" (and describes this as a heavy growth phase).
    – ChrisW
    Jan 19, 2020 at 2:20
  • @ChrisW - I have seen that interview before, although I didn't think that was sustained revenue. Either way, there is no good way to justify removing integral parts of what makes the community work here. It certainly looks like someone inside is consolidating budget to increase their personal earnings though.
    – Travis J
    Jan 19, 2020 at 19:24

What is Stack Overflow's plan for continued growth as a company in 2020?

Growth Plan: Operation Russian Roulette

  1. Repeatedly identify and execute strategies intended to spectacularly damage the organisation.

  2. If a trigger pull results only in temporarily disabling tinnitus, pull trigger again and see what happens.

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