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A picture of your brain on business jargon.

My esteemed nerd-whispering colleague recently penned a piece demystifying telecom jargon. In that spirit, I’m here today as the business-to-nerd whisperer. I’m particularly well-suited to this role as I’ve been an enterprise software developer and a PO/TPM for a couple of different B2B products. Amazingly, until September, I’d never worked on a B2C product with 2.5 million DAU!

Woof. I’ve already hit four TLAs (whoops, make that five— Three Letter Acronyms), and I’ve barely started.

I’m going to explain some of the terms I’ve brought with me to TextNow, as well as some that I’ve had to get used to hearing on a daily basis. Some were more familiar to me than others, of course, but when people are tossing these terms around like confetti at a parade things can get sideways real quick. Without further ado:

PO: Product Owner

This is a Scrum-specific term, and refers to the person who owns the product backlog for a Scrum team. It’s kind of an “embedded in the team” product manager, in some respects. So… what’s a product manager? That’s a whole other story.

TPM: Technical (Product|Program) Manager

I’ve held two different “TPM” titles at two different companies. Generally speaking, either version of TPM means that you’re both a nerd whisperer and business whisperer, and you spend most of your energy making sure everyone’s working on the right things. How do you know what the right things are? That’s where the product manager part comes in — you need someone who is responsible for identifying and understanding problems in the market, who can help vet, validate, prioritize, and measure the success of solutions to those problems.

As Shakespeare famously said: 2 B2B or not 2 B2B.

B2B/B2C: Business to Business/Business to Consumer

Building products for business customers is a little bit different than building products and selling them directly to consumers. For one thing, in consumer products, your buyer & your user are (in most cases) the same person. With B2C, you’re also missing two entire teams within a company who can provide feedback from customers and prospective customers — an enterprise sales team and some form of customer success team. These teams are partially replaced by conversion metrics, churn rates, app store rankings and user reviews. The type of information a product manager needs to get from their consumer customers is the same as enterprise customers, but the sources and techniques for gathering that information can be a bit different.

An important component of KPIs are being able to write them backwards on a pane of glass.

KPI: Key Performance Indicators

What are you using to tell if you’re moving in the right direction? KPIs could be tied to things like revenue, cost of goods, daily active users, scrum team velocity… the sky’s the limit. (Speaking of skies, the concept of a North Star Metric (NSM!) has recently gained popularity in lieu of tracking a laundry list of KPIs.)

OKR: Objectives and Key Results

This is another way of measuring performance that has recently gained popularity. Christina Wodtke has written a couple of great books on this subject — one of which you can find for free, here. Boiling it down: an objective is where you’re going, and the key results are how you track whether you’re moving toward that objective.

NPS: Net Promoter Score

A widely used and controversial metric that, fundamentally, tells you whether people are likely to recommend your product. You ask your users one question and give them choices from 0 to 10:

How likely are you to recommend TextNow to a friend or family member?

9s and 10s are considered “promoters”. 7s and 8s are passive, and everything else is a detractor.

COGS: Cost of Goods Sold

What it says on the tin: the cost of the products or services that you’re selling. This is a thing you need to be conscious of, no matter what type of product you’re selling. For us, it includes everything from the cost of a device, to shipping, to SIM cards, to the bandwidth our customers use.

SaaS: Software as a Service

This term gets thrown around a lot, but it more or less means that it’s software that you don’t buy, install, and maintain yourself. It runs on someone else’s computer, and they’re responsible for keeping it up-to-date. Kinda. More or less.

This isn’t how app development works, but it’s also not NOT how it DOESN’T work.

Bonus Words From App Development

Then there’s some terms that were mostly new to me when I started working for TextNow. I was familiar with the basic concepts, but hadn’t ever contributed to a product that relied so heavily on the success of the concepts behind these terms.

DAU: Daily Active Users

There are a lot of different ways to define active users, depending on the product. For us, it means people who are sending or receiving calls or messages within our app. For context, we recently hit something like 2.7 million daily active users. In technical terms, that’s what’s known as “a lot”.

ARPDAU: Average Revenue per DAU

The first time I heard the word “arp-dow”, I thought maybe it was someone’s name. This is a term that gets thrown around constantly, because it’s a critical number. If you’ve got one team responsible for increasing the number daily active users, and another responsible for optimizing the average revenue per daily active users, then by making sure they’re both successful you can’t help but grow overall revenue (assuming COGS stays steady).

CPM: Cost Per iMpression?

Nope. Not impression. Mille=Thousand! A single impression is recorded when an ad is shown and counted. Advertisers pay a certain amount for 1,000 impressions, and that’s the CPM. The amount you get for impressions depends on a lot of factors, including the type of ad (size, shape, position, timing), the type of audience you have… and things like CTR and CVR.

They say a picture can be worth a thousand words. Or, in this case, three.

CTR: Click Through Rate

Another price is paid based on your clicks, which are measured with a click-through rate. A Click is recorded when a user actually taps on the ad to get more information about the product or service. (Or when they do it accidentally when trying to dismiss the ad between moves on Words With Friends.) The CTR is the number of clicks the ad receives, divided by the number of times it was shown.

That brings us to our next TLA. You get one price for a user seeing an ad, a little bit more for a user clicking on an ad, and much much more when a user converts.

CVR: ConVersion Rate

A conversion rate is calculated based on how many people who see an ad actually acquire or use a product or service. Since this obviously actually generates revenue for the company selling the product or service, it’s worth a lot more to them than just an impression.

ASO: App Store Optimization

You’ve probably heard of SEO, aka search engine optimization. ASO is a reference to a set of techniques that are used to optimize an app’s ranking in an app store (like the Apple App Store, or the Google Play Store). This is the other side of advertising — rather than tracking impressions, clicks, and conversions on the ads displayed within TextNow, here we’re trying to get more people to see, install, and use the TextNow app. A better ranking leads to more impressions, more impressions lead to more clicks, and more clicks lead to more conversions. And once we’ve got conversions, we can work on retention and engagement, by demonstrating the value that we’re providing.

Bonus telecom words

And finally, I’m switching gears, cheating a bit, and venturing into Mr. Cogliano’s territory with some telecom-specific terms that are so ubiquitous that we missed them in the previous post. (Editor’s note: When Kristina says “we”, she means me.)

SIP: Session Initiation Protocol

This is basically a handshake that happens at the beginning of an IP-based voice call. It’s a little unique in the telecom industry, because it was created by people who had roots in the internet community — not telecommunications. This protocol is one of the fundamental building blocks to Voice over IP telephony.

SIM: Subscriber Identification Module

You know that little card with an integrated circuit that you get when you get a new cellphone plan? That identifies your phone as a subscriber to your provider’s network.


Just for fun, I’ll throw in another couple that have come up recently in our #gym channel: WOD — Workout of the Day and METCON — Metabolic Conditioning. Our group fitness trainer is putting us through the wringer this month. You might say he’s a real SOB.

Editor’s note: bloviated; bloviating — intransitive verb meaning to speak or write verbosely and windily.

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