Wayne Chang @PulsoConf: “The best companies don’t engineer solutions, they engineer emotions”

There’s a difference when you just solve the fundamental problem vs. creating an emotional journey. The real work is how you build the whole experience.


PulsoConf has arrived. The event kicked off this morning in Guadalajara with Wayne Chang, Founder of Crashlytics and General Manager at Twitter, in a talk entitled Engineering Emotions.

He told the story of how he’s got to where he’s at as fast as he’s gotten there, stating, Everything I do starts with distribution.” What matters about the product is that it spreads and grows fast.

Chang based his perspective on his latest experience, Crashlytics, which solves crash reporting for mobile apps (admittedly not the sexiest idea). The approach has required agility, not only to beat out Apple in solving the issue but also to spread the world. “We knew that the key to this was massive distribution as quickly as possible,” he remarked.

About nine months after the product was built, Twitter approached Crashlytics regarding an acquisition, offering a number the Crashlytics team, at the time, deemed too low. The company’s trajectory continued to grow, validating their assumption about distribution and multiplying the tool’s value:

Our code and the stuff that we were building were in hundreds of millions of devices – and that was just Apple.

Crashlytics raised two rounds of funding, first one million dollars, then four million. By the time they were acquired, they hadn’t used all of the money and actually ended up returning much of it to investors. Talk about fast – and enormous – success.

Chang offered up his take on one of the most crucial elements of the company’s success:

The key to building great products that allow you to really focus is choosing problems that are really constrained.

Crashlytics offers up distilled information on error reports, beating out other SDKs (software development kits) with solutions that don’t exactly foster stellar experiences for developers. This is where Chang’s philosophy of engineering emotions comes in:

The best companies don’t engineer solutions, they engineer emotions.

Engineering emotions is a way to build a product and communicate with customers. It’s not about manipulation but instead addresses the question of humanizing the company, ensuring the best possible relationship possible. It also means understanding that consumers feel a wide range of emotions, thus moving beyond the typical triad of happy, mad and sad.

“If you do it right, the marketing does itself,” Chang affirmed. We build for tweets – we build to get as many people talking about us as possible.”

Accomplishing that implies figuring out how to engineer the right emotions to impact sales. Chang outlined three basic steps:

  1. Recognizing the emotion the person’s feeling
  2. Deciding if that’s what you want them to feel
  3. If not, figuring out how to push them towards the emotion you want them to feel

The goal? In Chang’s words, “reaching the delta of wow.” He concluded:

There’s a difference when you just solve the fundamental problem vs. creating an emotional journey. We look at ourselves more as how we can build the best developer experience vs. how we can solve the problem. The real work is how you build the whole experience.