Tilman Eberle (VP Marketing at Doodle AG) talks to Samuel Hügli (CTO & Head of Ventures at Tamedia) and Gabriele Ottino (Managing Director at Doodle AG) about the future and the global expansion of Doodle. The aim is to break the 500 million user mark in the coming years while developing an attractive paid product.
Tilman: How important is Doodle to Tamedia, Switzerland’s biggest publishing house?
Samuel: Doodle is important to Tamedia on several levels. The tool is already being used by an enormous number of people – 200 million per year, to be precise. And Doodle is no longer just a leisure tool, which was its original purpose. Instead, it has become essential in many businesses.
“We believe Doodle has enormous growth potential.”
My assistant, for example, could no longer imagine life without Doodle, as it would take her so much longer to organize everything. And millions of professionals worldwide feel the same. Last but not least, Doodle is the only global brand in Tamedia’s portfolio.
All in all, we believe Doodle has enormous growth potential, particularly in terms of the number of users, new areas of application due to additional functions, and the overall value of the company.
Tilman: In what ways is Doodle’s international orientation evident?
Samuel: It starts with the team: Doodle has offices in Zurich, Berlin, and Tel Aviv. As a result, there is a multicultural climate within the company, which is something we fully support.
“Our product development team is like a think-tank.”
I believe the Doodle team is special, not least because we combine many different ways of thinking. We receive frequent feedback from Berlin and Tel Aviv, which provides us with insights that we would never have gained by ourselves. This is a huge benefit to us. Personally, I believe that our product development team is like an international think-tank. And that’s important. After all, our users are also based in different parts of the world.
In Switzerland, Doodle is known and used by almost the entire internet population. But there are now many more users abroad than in the domestic market. However, there are some big differences between the countries, and not just in terms of the number of users; for example, we believe the US market is much more receptive to professional paid services. These insights will also help us with the internationalization of Tamedia as a whole.
Tilman: What plans are in place for Doodle over the coming years?
Gabriele: We will gradually increase the number of features that Doodle offers, in particular for professional users. Consequently, the tool will meet more and more application requirements for daily office life. Doodle already offers appointment scheduling in small and large groups, as well as text polls. Furthermore, calendar integration makes it possible to synchronize appointments and invite participants directly from the calendar.
“Things will start to get really exciting in product development will become really exciting in the coming months.”
Premium Doodle offers reminder functions and branding for companies, MeetMe supports 1:1 meetings, and the intelligent chatbot Meekan assists Slack and Microsoft teams. All these areas will become really exciting in the coming months and years.
Samuel: At the same time, we are aiming for massive growth and have set ourselves the target of reaching 500 million people with the tool in the next few years. This will also see us invest heavily in a new Premium Doodle tier alongside the free offering. Doodle is in the midst of transformation: from a media platform funded by third parties via advertising to an SaaS platform paid for directly by users. But users of the free module needn’t worry: the basic functions of Doodle will always be free of charge.
“We want to reach more than 500 million people per year with Doodle in the next few years.”
Tilman: How does Tamedia support Doodle financially?
Samuel: We have recently agreed to invest in Doodle on the basis of an ambitious and strategic growth and development plan. This shows just how much faith we have in its potential. We’re looking forward to the results.
Tamedia is taking a calculated entrepreneurial risk here – one look at our overall portfolio clearly shows that we are trying to break new ground with Doodle.
Tilman: What will the developments mean for Doodle?
Samuel: Doodle will experience dynamic growth and development at all three locations. This will be followed by further exciting moves. We want to take this opportunity to show that the time is right for paid use of productivity tools. And we are not the only ones who think so: Monday, Atlassian, Dropbox and Evernote have gone down the same route.
“We are proud that every single person at Doodle is able to make a real contribution.”
Gabriele: We have also managed to fill some key positions in recent weeks: Jack is responsible for the product in the role of CPO, and Jens manages our engineering team as CTO. At the same time, we are expanding the data analytics and engineering teams considerably. We are fortunate to have so many top-quality candidates to choose from. And we are proud that people are able to make a real contribution at Doodle, instead of being just a small cog in a big corporate machine.
Tilman: How does this benefit Doodle users?
Gabriele: Users benefit from increasingly efficient functions for organizing meetings. Of particular importance are the modules based on artificial intelligence from our subsidiary Meekan in Israel, which can be used to schedule appointments much more quickly and easily. We call this ‘smart scheduling’. Users can choose between different solutions, all of which are geared towards making it easier to plan, create, and hold meetings.
“Calendar automation also opens up a vast array of possibilities for new applications!”
We, along with more than 10,000 users per day, use the Meekan solution for smart scheduling. It never ceases to amaze us how quickly and cleverly the bot finds the best time slot for a meeting. This opens up a vast array of possibilities for new applications, especially with regard to automated calendar management and the personalization of suggested time slots.
Samuel: The more than 200 million satisfied users – many of whom are real fans of Doodle – allow us to invest further in the development, design and support of Doodle and Meekan.
Tilman: Sam, you’re in charge of the Technology & Ventures division at Tamedia. Are there any plans to integrate other start-ups into the Tamedia portfolio?
Samuel: In Ventures, we’re always on the lookout for new start-ups. We want to support these companies with our expertise, our network and our financial resources. We are currently planning to invest in the fintech segment in particular.
“Alongside the existing areas, we are currently planning to invest in blockchain start-ups.”
In particular, the blockchain technology that is used at many of these start-ups offers us completely new possibilities as a media company in terms of content sales, licensing and even content packaging with other partners. We want to be on board early, in the hope that one or two of these seedlings will eventually grow into a big tree.