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Why we are building Pulse

October 1st, 2021

As I recently shared I love reading old companies' blogs. It's an effective way to understand how things worked in the early days of the company. How the founders thought about the product they were building and the problem they were solving.

So in that spirit, I thought I'd share what drove our team to build Pulse and what you can learn from it if you're operating a startup.

The Origin 💧

We've spent most of our careers working and founding companies. We've been lucky enough to see these companies growing from single digits to double digits employees and going from just thousands of dollars to millions in ARR.

We spent most of our time between Italy and Switzerland but lots of our team members were in the US and all around the world. This forced us to lean into hybrid work, embracing remote practices early on and way before everyone talked about it.

When you’re a small company and employees fit into a single room (physically or virtually), everyone knows what everyone else is working on and it’s fairly easy to communicate effectively.

But at around 50 employees, this stops working. As your team grows in size and expands across geos and time zones, communication problems compound quickly.

New team, departments, and hierarchy create a feeling of compartmentalization and disconnection in the organization and a lack of transparency and alignment for some functions contribute to a general sense of chaos and disorganization.

We faced this problem multiple times and it's a very common one for most founders in the 50-250 employee range.

Crossing this chasm depends from company to company but if there's one thing that's true for all remote or hybrid organizations it's this: good written communication norms are the single and most effective way that you have as a founder to scale people and operations.

The best remote companies know how to write. Otherwise, remote companies are Zoom companies

Everyone says this all the time. It's because it's true.

Yet, we see everyday companies spread across continents stuck in Zoom and group chats all day.

This isn’t inherently a technology problem. We know that the company's culture, people, and social norm all play a critical role here, but it's also true that you’re not making your people’s life easier if they’re swimming upstream against the grain of how a tool was designed to be used.

We've seen companies either duct-taping existing tools like Slack, Google Groups, and wikis or (the bigger ones) building homegrown internal products to support communications, internal alignment and growth.

We believe there's a third way.

We're committed to building tools that can empower people to collaborate and communicate ideas more efficiently and cross-functionally, increase transparency across an organization, and strengthen company culture in a virtual setting.

That's what we're building with Pulse.

What's Pulse? ✨

Pulse is a tool that helps organizations communicate asynchronously and stay more effectively on the same page, no matter when and where.

On the surface, it looks like a simple message board for teams, but let me tell you here what makes Pulse truly different from most wikis and chat tools that you've used:

1. Makes your stuff easy to read and search 🔎

At the heart of Pulse, there are posts. The conceptual equivalent of an email. Posts can be shared for anything that needs to be memorialized. They're perfect for things such as company news, team-level updates, daily standups, focused discussions, product updates, internal newsletters, side projects. Fun stuff, important stuff.

Pulse helps your team move away from scattered group chats and siloed email inboxes.

We designed updates to be:

  1. Persistent – everything comes with a permalink that points to a one and only one update
  2. Referencable – type [[ to reference just about anything that has been written within your Pulse workspace. Connections between pulses are highlighted below the update. This allows everyone to keep things in context and understand the broader scope of every action.
  3. Searchable – everything can be through Pulse's global search. Refine by publish date, author or stream to filter for specific updates.

2. Less noise so that you can focus on what matters 🔇

One of the issues that companies have with wikis is that it's hard for people to find information. Wikis are great for storing data, but not so for retrieving it.

The fact that you wrote something somewhere in your knowledge base does not imply people find it and read it.

Pulse on the other side works with an Activity Feed. The once, central place that channels all you need to read and caught up with.

What's best? You can customize your Activity Feed by following different Streams so that you can better filter signals and see what matters most to you.

3. Create actions to keep people accountable 💎

Most people think the main difference between synchronous and asynchronous communication is about time: instant vs delayed. In reality, what makes asynchronous communication a much more different and powerful way to communication is that at its core is a mix of:

  • Well-defined expectations
  • Structured systems
  • Scaffolded processes

Does Pulse replace Slack? ➡️

No, Pulse doesn't replace Slack. It extends it.

Let explain how.

Chat systems are great but tend to get noisy. Especially as you go from one to double-digits employees. That's why Pulse integrates with them making your long-form content easy to find, search and read

Slack is great at real-time, highly directed communication. That makes it such a powerful tool for quick and casual conversations, but unsuited at announcements, general questions, documenting decisions, human emotion, or anything that needs to be referenced 10 minutes after it was posted.

On the other side, Pulse is great at asynchronous updates. In other words, any type of communication that's long-form, well-thought, and it's intended to have a longer life-span than more ephemeral chat messages.

Pulse integrates with Slack. By connecting the two, you get Slack notifications every time there's a new Pulse update.

What exactly can I use Pulse for?

Let me share with you some of the most common examples we see from our customers:

1. Share company or cross-team updates

Pulse is perfect for sharing well-thought, long-form updates. These internal updates can span from strategy memos about your company endeavors or the celebration of a new feature release to just internal blogs about what your team members accomplished this week.

  • Company weekly-updates
  • CEO updates
  • Team-wide updates
  • Strategy memos
  • News related to ongoing projects
  • Introduce new hires
  • Friday check-ins or daily check-ins
  • Sharing expertise

2. Discuss and memorialize decisions

Pulse's asynchronous nature makes it a powerful product for threaded self-paced discussions. Discussions in Pulse happen via comments, posted right below the update. People can hit "watch" on the pulse card to get notified for every new comment and stay more closely ahead of changes.

Pulse can help you keep track of important decisions so that they're permanently recorded, always accessible, and easy to read. To current employees and future ones.

3. Gather feedback

Pulse helps you share your work and gather feedback with ease from all your team members. Embed intractable code snippets, Figma mockups, Loom videos, and more.

Who is Pulse for?

If you're operating a fully distributed, hybrid team and you're in the 50 to 500 employees, you already know how key is internal alignment to your success. Pulse is a software solution designed to ensure you communicate better, stay more on the same page and operate faster.

How can I learn more?

If you're either in the 50 to 500 employees stage or you're operating a company that is approaching that threshold, we'd love to chat and let you try Pulse.

Shoot an email at hello@pulse.so.