Gravitywell Meets: Sanity
In this series, Hugo chats with some of the tech world’s most exciting startups and services. First up is Knut Melvær, Head of Developer Relations for the Oslo-birthed, Bay Area-based unified content platform, Sanity.
Hey Knut, a pleasure to meet you. So, why should a tech startup take notice of Sanity?
In the startup world, there's always the danger of survivor bias. But I do think we have managed to do some things that worked out (and learned from the things that didn't). I think if you look into what we have done, then there's much to learn from being product-led, spending time on building culture, and investing time and effort into building a community. And yes, content will be essential for your go-to-market, so you should probably use us for that as well.
Well, I’m sold! How many are on the team and when did you start?
That number keeps increasing! I believe we just passed 80 people (we're still hiring for more!). That's about 5 times more from when I started working for Sanity in May 2018.
That’s some serious growth. What would you say has been the biggest milestone in Sanity's journey so far?
I suspect you could get different answers from who in the team you asked, but for me, it was joining Heavybit and establishing a real US presence and a close relationship with the DevTools space. We have achieved some amazing milestones in terms of rounds and numbers since then, but I think that moment took us from being a small ambitious tech startup in Oslo, Norway, to a household startup name in the Bay Area.
What's it like being one of tech's 'new kids on the block'?
Hmm, I wonder if we're feeling more like old kids on a new block? The founders of Sanity have worked with technology from the beginning of the personal computer, and they made a popular social network in Norway while Facebook was still only for University students. But to be fair, as a product we're still young. I think we notice it most because we challenge the status quo of how most people build and work with content in digital experiences. Sanity is the first platform that really unlocks structured content, but we have a lot to do when it comes to educating and showing how much value it unlocks.
Ahh, yes. The (relatively) innocent days of Facebook. What software does the team use day-to-day?
Slack is our virtual workspace. You'll also find us in GitHub, Shortcut (formerly known as Clubhouse), Notion, Google Workspace, and Zoom. For hiring we currently use Greenhouse, and Culture Amp for employee experience. Of course, we use Sanity for many different things (support, logging, intranet, etc).
Nice, we’re Slack-ers too. What’s the best thing about working at Sanity?
Of course, it's the amazing people and the culture we build together. I think it comes from having a real product that solves actual problems, from the deep care about excellence that you'll find in pretty much every discipline in this company, and a sweet combination of kindness and silliness (e.g. we have a 3-month running joke about potatoes in our water-cooler channel, don't ask).
Ha! So, how does Sanity make money?
We sell highly valuable software services to enterprise clients with awesome support and onboarding.
Why would somebody choose Sanity over another headless CMS?
Because "choosing a headless CMS" isn't really what you should be doing in the first place. Most headless CMSs and legacy CMSs with tacked-on APIs are still trying to solve the web-publishing problems from the early 2000s. "Making a website" isn't really the problem you should be solving anymore.
You should be thinking about how you can treat your content as data, save your developers from being pigeon-holed into a solution that works against them, and give your content editors a delightful tool that lets them work in a way that makes sense for your product and workflows. Sanity happens to be the best platform out there for exactly that because those are the problems it seeks to solve. We're thinking deeply about these things, it's more than just forms on a database.
That makes a lot of sense. What new trends are you excited about in the tech world?
I'm approaching the "everything new is old" age, but I think the emerging abstractions that let you put more compute on edge networks are pretty interesting. It's an example of things that used to be hard and time-consuming becoming accessible for folks that are learning and getting into tech. I like that marketing in the DevTools space is increasingly about teaching, advocating, and education. Lowering the threshold to becoming makers of technology and making it more inclusive is probably the healthiest trend we can have at the moment.
Finally, Oslo or San Francisco?
Why not both?
A huge thank you to Knut for being interviewed. Want to know more about Sanity? Check them out.