Notes 📝, Pictures 📷 and More💡from Developer Relations Conference 🥑

At the end of March I attended the Evans Data Developer Relations Conference in San Mateo. Overall it was a great conference 🥑. I took notes and pictures and want to share them with you here. Just a heads up, these are my notes mostly in bulleted list format, of things that I think I heard and most are not complete sentences 🤷🏽‍♂️

Session: The Trifecta of Greater Good: Developer Advocacy in Practice via Code, Content, and Community.
Name: Willie Tejada
Company: IBM


  • IBM Chief Developer Advocate Willie Tejada shared IBM’s approach to Developer Advocacy using the Code, Content and Community practice
    • Code
      • Large collection of Code Patterns
      • A Code Pattern is
        • 360-degree of the solution
        • Code on GitHub
        • Architecture/flow diagram
        • Video, tutorial
      • Helping developers solve problems quickly
    • Content
      • Large collection of tutorial, blogs, how-to’s, videos
    • Community
      • In-person events, community events and community support
        • Working with organizations such as Women Who Code
  • On marketing to developers
    • It’s not true that developers don’t want to be marketed to, they are simply very very educated “consumers”
    • Willie then gave an example of buying an espresso machine (such as Nespresso)
      • People will spend a disproportional amount of time learning about the machine and how it works. When they go to the store to buy it, if the sales person knows less than the buyer the buyer will be frustrated. We don’t like when we go to buy something and we know more about the product than the person selling it to us
  • Everyone can have Code/Content/Community strategy
  • For a very long time there were to main platform Java vs. .Net. Now it’s a single platform based on K8s
  • How do we engage a larger developer community, outside of enterprises
  • Call for Code
    • Invite 22 million developers to solve disaster preparedness problems
    • Engage developers outside IBM’s core (enterprise dev.)
      • Startups
      • Schools/universities
    • Ask them to help with solutions to help with disaster preparedness

Session: Zen and the Art of Understanding Developers
Name: Dan Shaw
Company: PayPal

  • Dan Shaw from PayPal talked about the art of understanding developers.
  • He shared how developers rose to power in the 90’s and 2000’s


  • He shared PayPal core values
  • As most people know about PayPal and its developer program, PayPal went from Evangelism to Advocacy. On one hand, they advocate on behalf of the developer community, on the other hand, they advocate on behalf of PayPal developer services and APIs.

Session: How to fight for your budget
Name: Jim Jaquet
Company: SAP


  • We tend to make things complicated
  • In reality, DevRel is not that difficult


  • Web + in-person events == success!
  • Once people get hooked / like your product –> add depth
  • SAP has more than 800 tutorials
  • What is measured:
    • Usual web stats
    • Visitors to app space at events
    • Completed tutorials
    • Tutorials steps where errors are made
    • Time spent doing tutorials
  • Tips for DevRel budget
    • Start small, pattern internally, build on success
      • You can do a lot with a small budget and resources
    • Online presence offers affordable reach
      • Couple with in-person events
    • Make your product concepts concrete
      • Developers hate marketing fluff, slideware
    • Numbers will persuade management and finance folks
      • Data will deflect objections
  • Courses at events
    • Create an account < 5 min.
    • Build an app < 20 min.
  • You couldn’t write a tutorial if you had to “buy” something on the platform to complete the tutorial

Session: 5 Ways to Scale up Developer Support & Engagement
Name: Grace Francisco, Avinash Harsh
Company: Roblox, Weavr AI

  • Do you know your developer audience?
  • Go where developers are


  • Nurture community
    • Identify champions within the community
    • Reward and recognize
    • Engage them where they are
  • Self-serve Content
    • Tutorials
    • Developer site
    • Best practices, API, reference
    • Inspiring dev. stories
    • How to you make sure your eng. team creates new content – content gets updated
  • Types of content
    • API reference
    • Guides
    • Tutorials
    • Best practices
    • Content from 3rd party
  • Enable local communities
    • Content
    • Guidance
    • Hackathons
    • Meetups
    • Pizza fund
  • Putting it all together
    • Know your audience
    • Nurture online communities
    • Champions
    • Self-serving content
    • Go there where they are

A system called: SING

  • Sources
    • What sources to target
    • Every industry is diff
  • Segmentation
    • What are your most important developers
  • Influencers
    • What are your influencers personal
    • Personas of your community champion
  • Internal Evangelism
    • Who are the main stake holders
    • How do we align with programs to the company’s goals
  • New content
    • How will you generate new content
    • How will you make it a consistent pipeline
  • Gamification
    • What can you offer Devs
    • Badges & Rewards
    • In-house leaderboard
  • Global strategy
    • Best developers could be anywhere
    • Localization for the main page

A system called: RAP

  • Reply & Respond
    • Reply to every possible mail/post
    • Respond to the most commented thread
  • Recognize
    • Everyone one contributing for you
  • Repurpose
    • Repurpose your event/meetup
    • Online content to video to blog post
  • Retweet
    • The most powerful form of getting noticed?
  • Ask
    • Ask intelligent questions
    • Devs to have strong urge to answer
  • Attribute
    • Attribute due credits
    • Internal & external contributions
  • Analysts
    • Brief the analysts —> briefing is free
  • Amplify
    • Amplify engineering tasks
  • Partner
    • Partner with other communities
  • Promote
    • Tool listing
    • Online meetups
    • Lunch & Learn
  • Preserve
    • Learn, tweak, improve
    • Don’t give up – it takes time but rewards are amazing

Session: Influencers aren’t just for Instagram
Name: Jenny Burcio
Company: Docker


  • Did you attend the conference because someone told you?
  • Do you read Amazon reviews?
  • Did you watch a Netflix movie?
  • Passionate users are your advocates you don’t pay!
  • Your first influencers
    • Do you know how is your first person? If you don’t, then you’re not ready
    • What value do they drive?
    • Where do they hangout?
    • That person:
      • Answers questions on forum
      • Very active on stack overflow
      • Talks at meetups
  • Where they can add value:
  • Captain metrics — this allows to scale as we couldn’t be everywhere
    • # of talks
    • # of conferences
    • # of blogs & books
    • # of workshops
  • Influencers benefits
    • Free product license
    • Exclusive events
    • Insider access
    • Branded swag
    • Connections
    • Learning
    • Recognition
  • Implement your program
    • Finding influencers
      • Meetups
    • Accepting influencers
      • Committee to review influencers
    • Membership lifecycle
      • Accepting people several times a year
      • Mostly accept at DockerCon
      • Remain in the program as long as you meet requirements
    • Expectations
      • Communicate what is expected upfront
      • Make sure they are aware of KPIs, if any
      • Example from DockerCon – someone created an in-browser tool —> play with Docker
    • Communication channels
      • Email
      • Share documents
      • Tool for real time communication
  • Time to scale
    • Great opportunity for good things to happen
    • Get them all in one room and great things can happen when they are all in the same room
    • Ask them what they want
  • Share impact
    • Want to understand what impact they make
    • Share the wins with the group
    • Shoutouts on Twitter
  • Build internal support – don’t be the gatekeeper
  • Captains have access across the company
  • They earned respect – give them access to the company
  • Recognize the that contribute to your program


Session: DevRel: Are we all doing it wrong?
Name: Adam Seligman
Company: Google

  • How did we get here?
  • When did DevRel start?
    • None of this is new… companies where doing DevRel before


  • It’s possible DevRel peak was a few years ago
  • Software got easier
  • APIs made easier
  • Growth hacking — the actual title is DevRel (but sub-title is Growth hacking)
  • When you report to your manger, do you spend a lot of time about goodwill?

  • Toolbelt of DevRel has gotten very advanced
    • We used to have old-school tools and now we have power tools
    • Dev marketing contributes to noise
  • Relatively limited pool of developers
  • Zero-sum game competing for developers attention
  • Are we happy where we are?
  • We are all trying to hack Hacker News


  • We are 21-22 million developers but the number is not going up
  • We are not making more supply
  • Are we trying to grow their skills or just hoping they will use our products?


  • Fully trained working


  • They don’t use your technology in isolation —> help them get their next job


  • Twilio doesn’t exist in isolation
  • Work together on solutions
  • Focused on point solutions —> focus on outcomes
  • I have talked why it’s a good idea to partner with other companies here

Session: The Era of Authenticity
Name: Jeff Sandquist
Company: Microsoft

Microsoft’s approach to Developer Relations

  • Start with great content
    • Great docs, tutorials
  • Go where they are
    • Events
    • Reach new people
    • Connect with the community
  • Bring customers inside
    • Start working with them

Start with great content

  • First place: documentation
  • The authentic path of a developer
    • Starts at Google (searching)
    • Become an educated consumer
      • You are more educated about the car than the salesman
      • Jeff Bezos: “advertising is the cost of a shitty product”
  • Great content – make accessible by search
  • Developers who consume docs —> 3.2pt lift in sign-ups
    • Earned, authentic
  • Twilio set a standard how documentation should be done

Go where developers are


  • MS is in all of these communities
  • Every company right now becoming a developer company
  • Microsoft Developer Advocates are from some of the best companies

Bring your customers inside

  • Channel 9 (like United Airlines) —> now a YouTube channel
  • Show vulnerability
  • Say “hey, our product doesn’t work”
  • How to connect authentically with the community
  • How to hire great developers

Session: Scaling Developer Evangelism
Name: Siddhartha Agarwal
Company: Oracle


  • Over 95% of developers have some purchasing power
  • If we didn’t win the hearts and minds of developers, we would lose
  • Oracle is used to doing very large deals but you don’t do these deals on the clou
  • 50K ARR, 75 ARR are the future of the pipeline


How do we make developers successful?

  • Generate interest
    • Email
    • Ads
    • Offer (on the web site)
  • Drive consideration – workshops
    • Email
    • Ads
    • Offer
  • Drive preference – event
    • Email
    • Ads
    • Offers
  • Reinforce Value
    • Oracle Code Innovate
  • Our goal was education, our goal wasn’t to sell cloud services

Session: Delivering value to your Developer Community
Name: Scot Burnell
Company: Ford


  • Created the first Automotive Developer program
    • Ford Dev
    • 25,000 community members
    • 200 content launches
  • Developers are extremely self-sufficient
  • 94% of developers have turned to at least 1 webinar in the last year
  • Partner and mentor with incubators & accelerators
  • Help them and they will help you
  • Community
    • Believe you –> when they trust you

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2 responses to “Notes 📝, Pictures 📷 and More💡from Developer Relations Conference 🥑”

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