Top 12 Product Management Insights From 2019
It’s that time of year when we look back at the top product management insights from the last 12 months, and pair them up with a cavalcade of highs and lows from pop culture. Allons-y!
Low: We kick off the year with Hulu’s Fyre Fraud and Netflix’s Fyre — a pair of documentaries that debut within days of each other and let everyone re-live Ja Rule’s luxury music festival that took a Lord of the Flies twist.
High: Walk the Moon releases the music video for Timebomb, a song which instantly makes its way into the top 10 of my alt-rock playlist.
Product: Roman Pichler challenges us to re-think our approach to rewriting existing products, moving from joyless necessity to opportunity to create more value.
Low: Netflix announces the end of The Punisher and Jessica Jones, signaling the end of the road for the Marvel/Netflix relationship that started in 2013. At least we still have Cloak & Dagger on Freeform and Runaways on Hulu.
High: Rudy the Bulldog destroys the agility course at the Westminster dog show to the amazement of dog owners across the globe.
Product: Justin Bauer provides a brief history of Amplitude’s north star product metric and how it’s evolving over time (and how yours should, too).
Low: Allegations arise that Full House‘s Lori Laughlin — along with 50 others! — used bribery and fraud to secure college admission for their kids.
High: Netflix announces the release date for Neon Genesis Evangelion’s arrival on the streaming service (June 21), and anime fans rejoice.
Product: Product Board tweets out a great collection of product management frameworks, models & methodologies.
Also: Disney closes the $71 billion deal with Fox to create a media company of unparalleled scale.
Low: Fire erupts at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, causing its iconic spire to collapse. (But – good news – in the wake of the incident, almost $1 billion is donated to restore Notre Dame!)
High: Avengers: Endgame shatters records with its $1.2 billion box office opening.
Product: Yazan Sehwail provides examples, best practices, and statistics on improving customer onboarding for SaaS products.
Also: The first trailer for the new Sonic the Hedgehog movie horrifies people everywhere. The teeth! Too. Many. Teeth.
Low: May begins sadly with the death of actor Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca in the Star Wars franchise.
High: The 92nd Scripps National Spelling Bee ends with an unprecedented 8-way tie when the organizers run out of challenging words.
Product: Teresa Torres underscores that continuous customer discovery really is for everyone with an unexpected case study.
Low: Kamala Harris launches a surprise attack on former Vice President Joe Biden in the Democratic debates.
High: Bloodstained: Ritual Of The Night provides the “Metroidvania” experience gamers had been hoping for since the Kickstarter announcement many moons ago.
Product: Shaun Verma explains how PMs at B2B SaaS companies can get the most of their top-line revenue metrics.
Low: A jury unanimously finds that Katy Perry copied the beat of her 2013 hit Dark Horse from a Christian rap song by Marcus Gray.
High: Jason Statham wins social media’s “Bottle Cap Challenge“.
Product: Josh Seiden explains what it means for product managers to be focused on outcomes rather than outputs.
Also: The Walking Dead comic book abruptly ends.
Also also: The debut trailer for Cats leaves people speechless.
Low: CNN host Chris Cuomo threatens to throw a heckler down a flight of stairs in a profanity-laced viral video.
High: YouTuber Danny Gonzalez debuts his music video for Help Let Me Go. My son listens to it for about 24 hours. Four months later, I’m still quoting (and often singing) the song daily.
Product: CEO Melissa Perri offers advice to senior product managers who want to make the leap to the c-suite.
Oh, and by the way: Help, let me go, stop kidnapping me.
Low: A Facebook meme sends people into the Nevada desert to find aliens.
High: Video emerges of Keanu Reeves learning to ride a horse, and his joy and excitement temporarily calms a nation.
Product: Scott Baldwin provides practical advice to product managers in leadership roles about developing the next generation of PMs.
Also: To commemorate the sad news of Friends leaving Netflix at the end of 2019, Chris Holfelder sings a melancholy, minor-key version of the theme song. Comments immediately start requesting Smelly Cat next.
Low: After two seasons, Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger is canceled by Disney-owned cable network Freeform. At least we still have Runaways on Hulu.
High: Teen Titans Go! Vs. Teen Titans debuts #instantclassic.
Amazing: Brandt Jean demonstrates a level of grace that most people find shocking. His mother balances that grace with a call for justice.
Product: C. Todd Lombardo breaks down modern product research.
Low: Popular mommy blogger apologizes for creating a fake account on a gossip site and using it to troll fellow influencers as well as her own husband.
High: The redesigned movie version of Sonic the Hedgehog – which took fan feedback into account – debuts online to rave reviews.
Product: Jonathan Forman, head of the product management community for the UK’s Government Digital Service, explains the skills product leaders need.
Also: ‘Runaways’ to End After Season 3 on Hulu
Low: Disney announces that Marvel TV will be shut down as a separate entity and folded into Marvel Studios.
High: Baby Yoda takes the world by storm.
Drunk: Tom Holland reveals he helped resolve the conflict between Sony and Disney over Spider-man while buzzed at a pub quiz night.
Product: Deep Nishar summarizes the essence of the best product managers: “[They] have the heart of a designer, the brain of an engineer, and the speech of a diplomat”.
RIP: Puppeteer Caroll Spinney, who voiced and operated the Sesame Street characters Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch for nearly 50 years, and Roxette lead vocalist Marie Fredrikkson.
What Were Your Favorite Stories From 2019?
Looking back, Marvel TV was a big through-line for me, which I didn’t expect… But then again, I didn’t expect to be singing Help Let Me Go four months after the fact, either.
What were your favorite highs and lows?