Building The Machine Podcast Episode 2: Alex MacCaw, CEO of Clearbit


Last year I had the pleasure of meeting Alex MacCaw, CEO of Clearbit who has been building one of the more interesting data companies, and is definitely a Quiet Giant. We sat down for an interview about Building The Machine and I am excited to share it below.

They call themselves a “marketing data engine for all your customer interactions” on the homepage, but it is really so much more. I have seen many teams use their incredible APIs to power use cases to understand their customers better, help with onboarding, and enrich data sources in some very interesting ways.

Clearbit contributed to my quiet giant thesis last year after I sat down with Brett Goldstein, who is a senior PM there, and introduced me to Alex and I knew he had to be on the show. Alex has built an incredible team in San Francisco and has a huge focus on the leadership and management of his company.

Enjoy the show – feedback welcomed.

Show notes for Alex MacCaw & Eric Friedman interview diving deep into Clearbit and how he is Building The Machine.

Show notes for Alex MacCaw & Eric Friedman interview diving deep into Clearbit and how he is Building The Machine.

  • How the leadership and 1:1s run via Notion
  • Origin of the company and how the team was formed – now at 100 (SF + distributed across US)
  • Understanding the leadership team + structure + going remote so early
  • What tools, services, and software stack are used inside Clearbit?
    • Diving deep into Asana, Slack, Zoom, and Notion amongst others.
    • How do they choose tools that multiple people use vs. personal tools?
  • What the early days of 5 people vs. 100 people today what are the challenges of doubling in size of the team?
  • Where do things breakdown with the team and at what size?
  • The role of executive coaching with a founder
  • When OKRs were implemented?
  • How impeccable agreements work and how the WHO and WHEN of a professional contract works within Clearbit – this is a way to track accountability and negotiating deliverables and how they are tracked within the firm.
  • How the internal “intranet” works and how things are organized.
  • AOR vs OKR
  • Tactical takeaways or almost any manager or IC

My personal show notes and feedback

  • I genuinely think this is one of the best episodes ever for the idea of Building The Machine – it really goes deep into the systems and tools used and I think there are a lot of actionable takeaways.
  • I think my opening wasn’t great – good push to myself for the future
  • This episode is about an hour which I was told is long for a podcast, but it is jam packed with solid nuggets and I think its worth it.

Subscribe to Building The Machine via your favorite podcasting service here and of course let me know if you have any feedback.

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