Leadership Edge with Robin Daniels, CMO at Matterport
For my leadership series, I had the amazing opportunity to sit down and interview Robin Daniels, CMO at Matterport, the world leader in immersive 3D technology, offering a platform for prosumers and professionals to easily capture, edit and share 3D models of physical spaces.
Robin has held executive leadership roles in high-growth companies, including WeWork, Salesforce, LinkedIn, Box, Veritas, and Vera.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Sure! It all started when I was in my teens, and I had to help make ends meet. I didn’t grow up in a particularly well-off family, and I always had to hustle and had a lot of different jobs. Two of those jobs really stood out to me.
The first job was as a hotel concierge. At that time, if you are a concierge, it is your job to help people who come into your space and give them an experience that is not only helpful but exceeding their expectations, all while acting as an ambassador for your hotel. This is a great parallel to being an ambassador for a company or for a brand. From that job, I learned how important it was to combine both human interaction and influence, how you can actually make someone’s life better by giving them the information or knowledge that they needed but didn’t have.
The second job was at a movie theater. You have a set of movies, and some are obviously more popular than others, and if a movie is sold out, your job is to try to sell the less popular movies. It was a great experience to learn how to generate demand through your excitement, enthusiasm, and storytelling. You really get to learn how to hone your skills of how to market a product.
It wasn’t until much later in life, when I was at school, that I realized I wanted a path that was both creative, business-oriented, and also incorporated the technical components that I loved. I studied marketing in college but had a love for the technical aspects of computing, and my first job out of college was a B2B company in Copenhagen, Denmark. When I moved to Silicon Valley at 21, I got a job in a B2B tech company at the height of the dot-com era, and it just snowballed from here. I’ve always been attracted to companies that are B2B in nature but have a strong sense of going to market like a consumer company. I’ve worked at Box, LinkedIn, and WeWork, and all of their marketing is around their purpose; very fun, very quirky, and with a very human feel.
Can you share a story about a mistake you’ve made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
One of the biggest mistakes that I’ve made in my career is choosing a company based on the offer, rather than following my heart and my passion.
I worked at a company for about four and a half years called Veritas. I became really good friends with a coworker, and he left to join a startup company, became a CMO, and invited me to join him as head of product marketing. I joined because we were friends and I liked him, instead of loving the company or what they did. It wasn’t a bad experience, but my heart wasn’t fully into it. I didn’t particularly love what the company did, and that’s hard in marketing. It’s very hard to be fully engaged in your daily mission and daily work unless you really love what it is you are marketing.
Marketing should be the ultimate cheerleader and ambassador, and unless you are a raving fan of what the product is, it’s hard to muster excitement and energy. So, a key lesson here is that the team matters most of all, but in marketing, it is also very important to love what you are marketing and selling.
The other lesson I’ve learned is to take a chance on someone. It’s something I’ve tried to carry with me, especially the last decade as I’ve moved into senior positions.
As a leader, it’s important to pass it on to the next generation and take a chance on someone. There are so many people out there who have the right passion and energy and intellect and grit, but on paper, they don’t have the top pedigree. Everybody needs somebody to believe in them, and everybody needs somebody to give them a chance. Oftentimes, when you take a chance on raw talent and grit, those people really surprise you with the amazing work they do.
A rising tide lifts all boats, so if you can do that one person at a time, then it’s a beautiful thing.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
One of the things I love the most about Matterport is that we are making every space more accessible and more valuable. So, what does that mean? Let me unpack that a bit.
Our goal is to turn every building and space into a digital twin, or a digital copy if you will. We do this so that we can bring the world closer to everybody and unlock the value inherent in every space. So, as an example, if you grew up in Silicon Valley, and you want to visit the Louvre in Paris, you can do that without ever having to travel. It gives equal access to knowledge, inspiration, and history.
It can also lead to more empathy and compassion. If you are growing up in a wealthy penthouse in NYC, and you don’t know what it’s like to grow up in a lot of hardships, you could visit a refugee camp in the Gaza strip through Matterport technology. It can bring in more empathy and understanding, and hopefully, brings a bit more of the global connectedness and community. Today, our technology has captured close to 5 million spaces around the world.
That’s what I love Matterport—we’re going to turn every building into a digital representation. It’s great for virtual viewings of homes, for visiting museums, galleries, schools, and office space. Everyone can get equal access to knowledge and information and experience. And it just makes the world and people much smarter and much more empathetic. So, that’s a beautiful thing.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I joined Matterport at the end of March last year when we were already in a pandemic.
When the pandemic hit, we wanted to help the world, and we realized that this was our moment. People are home, businesses are shut down, and they don’t know how to keep it growing in the new normal. How can we help?
We’ve always had this vision to launch a product that can turn every space into a 3D model. So, we released Matterport for iPhone, and it was such a tailwind for us because suddenly everyone can get access to this new technology, and we had more people sign up in the first week of release than we had in the first eight years of being in business.
Honestly, it wasn’t perfect. It was what we call an early release. But it was amazing. We are able to help people who are locked down in isolation become closer to each other by sharing the spaces they inhabit. Suddenly, we had thousands of people using Matterport to share with their friends and family and add a bit more humanity. We helped businesses find new ways to grow in the digital world.
One of the most popular new users of our iPhone technology is a small store in Chile. The shop closed down because of Covid, so they got on Matterport and used it to create a virtual retail experience, and put that immersive experience on their website for their customers.
What are your “3 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
That’s a great question.
One, it’s all about the people. I’ve had many jobs in my 20 years in Silicon Valley, and the thing you always miss the most, and the thing you carry with you forever, are the people you’ve met along the way. So, invest in people, invest in friendships. It doesn’t happen without effort.
Two, be brave and take a chance on something. If you want to see momentum in your life and career – especially your career—you have to lean in, decide what you want to do, decide how you want to do it, and decide what terms you want. And at some point, you have to really give a job and give it your all and do it right. However, there is a balance. Arianna Huffington, who I admire a lot, is very open about how she created an amazing company, but she had a breakdown because she was driving herself too hard and working so much. I don’t think you have to get to this point, but you do have to lean in, you have to stand out, and you have to go above and beyond what is expected of you.
And lastly, have fun. If you were to measure your happiness and fun from a number between 1 and 10, it’s very hard to reach the 10. But try to be in the 7, the 8, or 9. There will always be tough days. But have joy in your life, have fun, laugh. So, be mindful of how you feel and trust your gut and follow it.
Where do you see the future of tech post COVID?
What a broad topic! Where do we start? We are going to see a surge in the tools that bring people closer together, whether it’s innovation in virtual reality or video conference, in collaboration tools, or tools that allow people to work more closely together remotely.
Matterport is one of the tools that allow people and companies to create a digital twin, and it brings people and companies together from different parts of the world to help unlock the value in every space. And it’s a beautiful thing. We’re going to see an amazing way of blending real-life experience with virtual viewing, an ability to bring people together from all over the world, and a surge of collaboration and community-focused technologies.
What do you want the readers to know?
Yes, download Matterport. It’s free for everyone. You can download it, scan a space, and share it with your friends and family, or even use it to grow your business.