Stack Overflow CEO on what the $1.8B Prosus deal means for its mission to empower technologists, developers to script the future

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Prashanth Chandrasekar, CEO of Stack Overflow, talks about the journey of building global product for the programmer and developer community and outlines its expansion plans, as well as its partnership with Times Bridge to take its SaaS product for technologists to Indian startups and enterprises.
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New York-based Stack Overflow, a leading knowledge-sharing SaaS platform for technologists and developers, recently entered into an agreement to be acquired by global consumer internet group and tech investor Prosus for approximately $1.8 billion. As a part of this deal, Stack Overflow is looking to expand and accelerate its impact across the globe to empower the developers and technologists community, with a focus on growing the reach of its SaaS collaboration product Stack Overflow for Teams to reach global enterprises.

“We are excited to be joining the Prosus family, which catapults us into a new phase of growth and allows us to expand and accelerate Stack Overflow’s impact around the world. Prosus’s expertise growing and nurturing communities, especially in a global context, will make our public platform even more invaluable in helping developers and technologists learn and grow,” said, Prashanth Chandrasekar, Chief Executive Officer of Stack Overflow.

Image Credit: Stack Overflow Blog

Founded in 2008 by Jeff Atwood and Joel Spolsky, Stack Overflow provides a public platform for developers and technologists to learn, share knowledge, get answers to their coding questions and be a part of the community. It also offers an asynchronous knowledge management and collaboration product, Stack Overflow for Teams, to help companies undergo digitisation and ensure smooth work from home experience.

After 13 years, Stack Overflow is today one of the most loved products among technologists around the world.

Prashanth tells YourStory, he believes that the company’s ‘logic, algorithms, and gamification’ played a huge role in its success.

Indeed, Stack Overflow, whose acquisition by Prosus is expected to be closed by the third quarter of 2021, has deep engagement within its tech-focused community, with over 85 percent of its learning-focused community visiting the platform every week to access more than 52 million questions and answers. In fact, every 14 seconds, a new question is asked on Stack Overflow, and the platform has helped developers and technologists visiting the site more than 50 billion times since it was launched in 2008.

In an interaction with YourStory CEO and Founder Shradha Sharma, Stack Overflow CEO Prashanth talks about the journey of building a global product for technologists to learn, share, and build, and outlines the company's expansion plans.

“Started back in 2008, founders along with the community created this phenomenal system. People could really come up and help their fellow developers around the world and the impact that they are making now is gratifying to each one of us in some way,” he adds.

Stack Overflow: Things done differently

While most tech companies and startups typically begin their journey by focusing on building great products that cater to customer problems, then work on creating their brand and finally look at building a community, Stack Overflow did the complete opposite, explains Prashanth.

“We started with building the community. That allowed us to enable brand recognition. Everybody knows about Stack Overflow because the information is free and accessible for every part of the process where they might have issues. About 85 percent of the world’s developers go to Stack Overflow on a weekly basis. It has become a core part of people’s workflow,” he says.

Prashanth, who joined the company in 2019 as the CEO, shares that the company is now on its “product journey” and building a long-term sustainable and recurring revenue-based SaaS business that is an extension of the free public platform being provided by the company.

More than a month ago, the company launched a freemium model for its SaaS product, Stack Overflow for Teams, which was launched in 2017. That freemium model recorded close to 14,000 signups within the first four weeks of launch.

Overall, Stack Overflow sees 100 million monthly visitors and over 200,000 monthly signups from across the world. And this growth, Prashanth adds, has come from its unique model of capitalising on the power of community and open source.

“Our journey has been literally opposite of what companies generally go through, and we believe that we will see more and more companies move this way because of the power of community and open source,” he says.

Prashanth Chandrasekar, Chief Executive Officer of Stack Overflow. [Image Credit: Stack Overflow]

Unlocking the power of technologists

Going forward, Stack Overflow is on a mission to empower technologists and developers around the world to work more efficiently and faster, Prashanth says.

That means a focus on markets like India, which after the US, makes up the second-largest community of technologists and developers served by the company. “India is in the second position in terms of visitors for Stack Overflow. It is absolutely a core part of who we serve and what we do,” Prashanth says.

Admittedly, at the core of its mission is its SaaS product offering, Stack Overflow for Teams, which enables technology and developer-focused teams to collaborate efficiently in a remote working environment.

“If you think about Microsoft Teams and Slack, what it does well is to enable real-time conversations. This needs to happen, but for developers and engineers, it could be a death knell for them to be constantly being pinged on as it can distract them when writing codes, which is an intensive process. That’s why Stack Overflow Teams has been created because it allows people to communicate asynchronously with their team,” he explains.

With its focus on taking its SaaS products to enterprises across the globe, including in India, the company recently launched a partnership with Times Bridge in December 2020 to take its SaaS product locally to Indian startups, enterprises, and technologists. Businesses can, for example, use the product to offer a repository of technical information and queries that can be accessed by employees anywhere, anytime.

“There are about 100 million technologists in the world and that is the market we typically serve and our use cases are focused on that. Beyond this, we have knowledge workers where we see 20 percent of our use cases. So there are people who want to use it in finance, legal organisations, places where you need to have knowledge that is accessible,” Prashanth says.

Listen to the entire conversation here

Edited by Tenzin Pema