Piazza changes the way technical students learn and find jobs. Beginning as a question and answer platform to help students get unstuck in their classes, there are now over 500,000 top CS and STEM undergraduate, graduate and PhD students using Piazza for two to three hours per night to help each other with coursework. The launch of Piazza Careers connects its hugely engaged student base with companies searching for the best young technical talent.
Categories: Education
2009 2013 

Case Study

IN HER OWN WORDS: Founder/CEO, Pooja Sankar

Renting a COO

I’m a solo founder and first time CEO with a really young team. I wasn’t looking to fundraise when I first met with KV, but the model of “renting” Keith as a COO and the emphasis KV places on being hands-on were really appealing. Keith’s been a partner to me in how to think through decisions – like what products matter and how we price. He really plugs in at that level of detail. I feel like I can be myself with Keith. You can’t always look to a board member and say everything’s falling apart. With Keith, we lay out all the challenges and solve them together; we’re in it together. 

We lay out all the challenges and solve them together; we’re in it together.

Unconventional hiring insight

I was looking at my first product hire, and the one person who really stood out on my team was in an administrative role. She had applied to the company because the mission resonated with her and was willing to take any role to start. I asked Keith if this [promotion] sounded crazy, and he said, “That sounds right. The person doesn’t have to be senior or have a lot of experience – she just needs to have good judgment and know when to escalate…people who map to you because they know how you would make decisions.” In her first year, she built a working model of how I think and make decisions. It was an unconventional path, but she’s been running product for a year now, and she’s incredible. Keith deeply understood the context, the nuances and the people involved, and we found an actionable solution that matched the people on my team. 

The trajectory of the company would have been a lot different without KV.

Learning by osmosis

I meet bi-weekly with Keith. It was contingent on our taking money from KV – I needed to lock down that time. We get deep into the weeds. It’s rapid. The amount of insight and how far along he helps me move in a short amount of time is remarkable because of the nature and quality of our conversations. I can’t even imagine life before Keith. The trajectory of the company would have been a lot different without KV. I make good decisions when I’m surrounded by other smart people. I soak in others’ insights and intuitions. The frequency of our meetings and Keith’s experience help me develop as a CEO.