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Foursquare’s Noah Weiss on The App Split and Becoming a Product VP That Founders Can Trust

Really like the last bit re interdisciplinary skill set make good PMs – jack of all trades.

Hunter Walk

Foursquare’s VP of Product Noah Weiss is a friend from my Google days. They made a bold choice last year to split the Foursquare experience into two apps, one focused on local discovery and the other on social check-in. It was – and continues to be – debated widely. Foursquare’s been an easy company to root for but one which is working its way through the evolution from darling startup to larger company. I asked Noah to reflect a bit on the role of product management and the app split…

Hunter Walk: How would you compare Foursquare’s style of product management vs Google?

Noah Weiss: I think the type of product managers we hire are very similar: technical, data-driven, strong product insights/strategy. People who are productivity nuts, great writers, and team-builders.

The biggest differences comes from scope and time horizon. At Google, a typical project at this point is something like the…

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Compartmentalize

I was sitting in film wanting to fall asleep, because that’s what any college junior wants to do at 6am in the morning, when our new football coach dropped a word of wisdom on my knuckle headed team of college athletes.

He said (and I don’t quote this direct because I don’t really remember), “You have a lot of responsibility now in a lot of different things, in order to achieve your goals in every area, academics, athletics, extra-curricular, you need to compartmentalize your efforts. That means when you’re at practice, you’re at practice, not thinking about your Chemistry problem-set… etc…”

Well, life was a little bit easier in college: wake, practice, class, lift, study, socialize, and still get 8 hours of sleep. My day had an establish structure, thanks to an awesome institution that kept my efforts directed. I didn’t really need to make a concerted effort to compartmentalize. Just do the things you HAVE to do, go to class, go to practice, and while you’re there focus.

Now, things are tad more difficult. Despite having successfully made the leap from student-athlete to finance professional at a wall st. bank, my next step into entrepreneurialism has been met with about a year of procrastination under the assumption that an ideal job would fall in my lap because I went to Yale and worked at a bank, I couldn’t have been more incorrect. I’ve wanted to go from a corporate employee to an independently wealthy entrepreneur without doing the right work. We’ll, a year later and still working at the same bank, I’ve decided to apply some of the nuggets of wisdom I’ve picked up in my 24 years on this planet to build structure in my life and action change. 

My compartments:

Start-up

Brain Juice 

New York

Finance

Life 

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