A Conversation with Brad Freitag - Podcast

http://firesidefilemaker.podbean.com published an interview with Claris CEO Brad Freitag.


That one was quite interesting.

I just wished I had written somewhere our impression from Brad touring the conferences a few years ago. We had the feeling right away that this guy wants to be come the new CEO.


FireSide podcast hosts and their podcast are amazing. Very authentic and honest. Strongly recommend to listen to Richard Carlton being on there most recently as well.

Richard Carlton talking you feel the dedication and love for FM from all user level perspectives.


Now that I listened to it, I can say this is something we all should listen to. I'm not going to give away anything. Go listen to it for yourselves.

On a side note, with this, added to the 2021 Vision and the participation of both Britta and Andy at a recent FMDiSC event also available on youtube, Claris has given us a lot of content about what is going on. This is great, and I hope they stay on that trend.


problem here: English only. A couple of years ago, there was local 'Claris' office...

In my small world, people talk! In their native languages.

So many times I had to call the FileMaker Magazin (Hamburg) to get information more clear - but that's not their job..

I was told in The Wedge in 2016 that Brad was the future CEO


@FileKraft would you mind sharing how you relate this video to the above. I feel compelled to reply, but without context, I can only make assumptions about the point you are trying to make.

Can you please elaborate? That would be much appreciated.

my point is that I hope that Steve Jobs isn't right about Sales and Marketing running a tech company.
thanks for asking @Bobino

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Well, I would argue that even Apple is not really led by people that are "product driven". Apple sure has great products, but their Sales and Marketing is second to none.

I'm not going to say that Steve was all about Sales and Marketing. Here is what I think really mattered, and I would say you need those things of any leader:

  • He cared. He wanted to make a difference, not just be one more offering in a sea of options. Apple customers do not opt in a product, they opt in a lifestyle.
  • He had a vision and was able to communicate it. People were inspired by that vision. This is what sets leaders apart.

So sales vs product is not really what I pay attention to, despite what Steve Job himself said in this specific case. Great companies do not have those dualities of X vs Y, rather, X & Y come together to make everyone's contribution even greater than what it would be by itself.

We know the FileMaker product to be a great product. I'm not too concerned about that part of things. It is good and will keep getting better. But not all good products end up winning the market. You can look at Beta vs VHS and countless other examples. Good brands are winning markets.

Things need to change for FileMaker to go from a "best kept secret" to something that gets more traction in the market, and if that has not yet happened with the great product we already have, I would dare suggest that getting more market adoption is not going to happen by making any kind of change to the product itself. There are changes that are deserved and will be welcomed, but I do not think they will be so influential in terms of market adoption.

There are a lot of things I hear right now that are refreshing to hear, and I feel like a lot of it "lines up" with one another, that is also good news.

So I guess my answer is no, Steve Jobs is not right. Also, we should note that he talks about companies that either have a simple product (Pepsi Co) and companies who held a monopoly on a market (Xerox) and were complacent about their own situation. I can also guarantee that people handling the logistics of a company like Pepsi can have just as much influence, if not more, than the people involved in sales. When you ship so many drinks in a day, small changes can weigh a ton given the scale it is applied to. Steve Jobs' real warning is about companies that have no incentive to innovate. The leaders who stop to push their company further to increase the value given to customers. Can anyone really say Claris has been holding back on making changes that add value to customers? I don't think so.

Claris is clearly not in either of those situations (simple product or market monopoly holding back).

Bluckbuster LLC aka Bluckbuster Video, after first refusing a partnership with Netflix (year 2000), later saw that it was a significant threat (2004). At the base of it, Blockbuster was not charmed by the subscription revenue model, because it earned so much from late fees it was charging its customers. So in 2004 the CEO wanted to catch up and do 2 two things: discontinue late fees and launch their own digital platform. His board eventually saw this as something too costly, fired him and the new guy (a lieutenant serving under the original CEO) backpedaled all of that. Blockbuster would only survive that 5 more years before filing for bankruptcy. They could have rivaled, challenged and possibly kill Netflix by leveraging all they had and implementing things at the right time. The problem was not about being led by sales or product, but rather, just like what Steve Jobs was pointing to, a lack of vision. (See this article for more on that story.)

In a somewhat distant past, we were given almost nothing aside from the developer's conference: no roadmap, even less of a vision.

In the recent past, we were given product roadmaps and from those, we had to guess where the company what headed, what was the vision and were things lining up or not.

Now, we are told what the vision is and what actions are planned that will make that closer to reality.

I know many can have some disappointments from a vision based webinar when they are coming with expectations that are more "technical" or "product" oriented. But for myself, I see this as a BIG improvement in their communication.

I'll be happy too if they want to add other videos that are showing us what is cooking in the kitchen. But in terms of relevance and importance, I'm much happier with knowing what they are aiming for (or at). My reason for that is this: I can then provide feedback about my own perception of if things really line up or not and can hold them accountable for hitting the target. If all I'm told is "now we are adding this to the product", what does it line up to? Where is accountability?

The only case where we saw some vision being shared in the recent past was about the Workplace Innovation Platform innitiative. I think, despite it being a good description, that the initiative was not the right one. I'm sure they got a ton of feedback about the same. Now they adapt. I like the new vision.


hope you are right - for me it sounded more like a Marketing / Sales Powerpoint presentation (referring to the podcast) - being a CEO I expect bringing a vision across and being visionary requires technical competence IMHO. As a FM professional developer you are betting your existence on the product and this sets your expectations super high at least in my case .. therefor my best wishes for the platform to thrive!


As you say, let's all hope I am right.

I'm not sure why you say the podcast sounded like something from a PowerPoint presentation to you. Clearly, the questions were not designed for this to be an "easy ride". We hear the people asking questions having concerns, our concerns, and be very direct about it, not confrontational but flirting with that in some cases. I felt like Brad gave answers that were honest and showed a good deal of humility. It did not seem rehearsed or to be the kind of answers we blame politicians for (answering a question while avoiding providing an actual answer seems to just be part of politicians brand I guess).

If Steve Jobs is your measure for that, we all know that of the Jobs/Wozniak duo, Wozniak was the gearhead of the two, not Jobs. I'm sure he was able technically speaking, but I don't think his vision stemmed from that. More generally, I think anyone can be a visionary, being technical is neither a requirement nor does it provide an "edge" over other less technical visionaries.

What is truly rare are visionaries who manage to rally people to their cause and execute and deliver on what the vision is.

I said I like the vision, but nothing is won yet. Implementation is where everything either "floats or sinks".

I'm not painting everything in pink. There are things that have been pretty "bumpy". For one thing, I was not happy when the Workplace Innovation Platform initiative was introduced. I am much happier now.

I would like to challenge that and say that we are betting our existence on the BRAND. Not the product. And this is what makes the vision so important.

Again, with Beta and VHS, let's say you are selling and servicing VCRs back in the day. By choosing to partner with the best of the two, Beta, you tell yourself you will have happier customers, fewer returns, fewer repairs to perform... all good things we want for a good business, but Beta, despite being a good product is not the winning brand. VHS is, and partnering with that brand back then was a better move because it simply had more market adoption. Despite not being as good a product as Beta, VHS was more than good enough for consumers, and they choose that BRAND over Beta, it was better for them in their eye.

Yes my expectations are super high also. Again, high expectations for the product, but much higher for the brand itself. I can play my hand with a product that has its quirks, I cannot stay the course with a failing brand. The product is part of the brand and influences it, but the brand is larger than the product. Actually, we know some bad products that have a thriving brand, and I'm sure people making a living in that space don't have too many problems about the product flaws (as long as it is not tarnishing the brand).

Yes indeed!


Fully agree with the importance of the brand. There are many ways of getting brand marketing wrong, and only few ways of getting it right. Traps and pitfalls all along the road...
Members of the existing developer community surely do not need to be convinced of FileMaker’s virtues and qualities, they are.
More in-depth technical information, developers can consult, will receive a warm welcome.
And I really do hope that the marketing for the gullible-approach is now a thing of the past.

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@Torsten — I’m relatively new to FM; can you please elaborate on this comment?

@steverichter, I accidentally posted my answer here:

Apologies for the inconvenience.

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I thought it was great to hear Brad on the podcast. I liked that it wasn’t totally scripted, although they did mention something about giving him the questions in advance.
It was fun to hear the direct questions that Michael gave him. He handled it well. Curious to see what is coming in those areas that he could not announce, but hinted at.


My favorite part was where Brad said we were a cult. I always wanted to be in a cult! :rofl:



Thanks for your comment. We did give Brad the questions in advance just in case we were going to ask something that he couldn't, or wouldn't, talk about but none of our questions were rejected and we thought he was very open and forthright in his answers. Michael Rocharde- co-host


@mrocharde Thanks for brining your own perspective to this. Glad to see you just joined fmSoup! If you have any question about the site, make sure to reach out.