Product School

Balancing Tasks and Surviving Product Management by Uber PM

Roy Cobby

Roy Cobby

January 09, 2023 - 4 min read

Updated: January 24, 2024 - 4 min read

rocks balancing on the beach

In order for a product to be successful, it needs to be desired by customers, feasible to create using the right technologies and support a viable business model. However, achieving balance across these three areas is often easier said than done.

In this presentation, Patrick discusses various examples to highlight what is needed to build a successful product. He also arrives at a stable conclusion that a PM needs to fulfil the largest competencies of his team.

Patrick Tsao: An Uber Growth Driver

phone with the uber app

Patrick Tsao worked as a Product Manager at Uber where he increased the driver first-trip rate by 44%, championed and shipped official partnership with WhatsApp, and drove strategy, roadmap, feature work, and GDPR compliance for Uber’s internal CRM system. He previously worked as a PM in Redfin and Player Services Staff Australia. Patrick has a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, and a Master’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Washington.

bridge foundations

Balancing Tasks as a Product Manager: The Foundations

Finding balance in Product Management involves finding balance in its three most important aspects – human values, business and technology. Building products that cater to the customer’s needs, ensuring that the business is viable and identifying technologies that are feasible are the key factors in striking the right balance in Product Management.

Patrick gives the example of the iPhone when it was launched and mentions why it became so successful.

  • The UX was natural and easy to use thereby catering to the customer’s needs.

  • The technology was feasible because of the use of a multi-touch adaptive keyboard.

  • The business was viable because of Apple’s premium positioning and creating leapfrog products.

three coloured pens

Successful products balance the needs of the user, technology and business. Patrick encourages people to think of Product Management as not just a role but a set of job functions mentioned below:

  1. Human Values:

    Human values focuses mainly on the customer. It is about understanding the needs of the customer with effective user research, designing the UX to cater to their needs, and then focusing on the marketing and PR branding to promote the product.

  2. Business:

    Coming up with an efficient strategy is crucial if you want to make money from your product. You have to build a viable business model that will bring you money in the long run. You should also think about Unit Economics Financials where you are aware of the money you’re gaining/losing per unit.

  3. Technology:

    This includes focusing on the development cycle, maintenance, reliability and scalability of the product.

tennis racket on court

However, the real question is where does a PM fit in all of these?

Patrick gives an example of building a tennis court and how having Roger Federer on his team will make his job much easier since Federer knows everything about Tennis, has a lot of money and understands the best experiences to offer to the customer. Thus, having relevant people on your team who are the best in their domains and know what they’re doing, can help you build a successful product.

But if you have the best folks on your team who are experts in what they do, what is your role as a PM?

Patrick highlights certain gaps that can be fulfilled by the PM alone. Considering the previous example of building a Tennis court, your teammates might not know a thing about hospitality operations or project management. That’s where you step in.

As a PM, you need to think about the architecture and interior design for the court, construction and facilities management, and probably getting an app built for booking the court. This way, a PM can identify the gaps that are not fulfilled by his teammates and work on them to build a successful product.

This post was adapted from content summarized by Varsha Jayaraj

Updated: January 24, 2024

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