Meet Daniel Zaltsman


Meet Daniel Zaltsman

How did you first get into DevRel?

I didn’t know it at the time, but I was getting my foot in the door when I took Avi Flombaum’s Rails class way before he went on to found Flatiron School. That class in 2012 was my first introduction to web development and the developer community.

Why does your company do DevRel?

DigitalOcean is a values-driven company. Everything we do, including DevRel, is informed by those values. Two of the values that have been in place since we were founded are:

  • Community is bigger than just us and
  • Love is at our core.

From the get-go we have been standing on the shoulders of giants that came before us. Linux servers, cloud written in Perl, front-end with Rails—we were a product of long-standing communities. While the stack has vastly changed, our ethos hasn’t. We will never stop listening to, learning from, and engaging with developers.

How does DevRel work at your company?

We also stand on the shoulders of those who built Developer Relations before us. Companies like Twilio, New Relic, and SendGrid solidified the 3Cs (code, content, community) as an effective way of engaging developer audiences. We do this with a special focus on our product verticals with Developer Advocates focused on the specific verticals of IaaS, Serverless, and Kubernetes. We measure input and output metrics and optimize based on what we learn.

And what role do you play in your company’s DevRel?

As with many managers at DigitalOcean, I am a player and coach. I’m currently working on an Ambassador program as well as a Customer Advisory Board. My highest priority, however, is being there for my team and ensuring that they do the best work of their careers while they’re here. That’s a managing lesson I learned from Dizzy Smith,a brilliant Engineering leader everyone can learn from.

What’s your DevRel philosophy?

I’m still formulating my DevRel philosophy but I’ll share a DO and DON’T for DevRel informed by my current philosophy.

  • Do treat people like you would want to be treated and teach people like you would want to be taught.
  • Don’t just hire Developer Advocates based on their Twitter or GitHub follower counts—I’ll just leave it at that.

What challenges do you see for DevRel right now?

Virtual event fatigue is definitely a challenge right now as well as the challenge associated with travelling in a world where COVID is still very much still ravaging global communities. Also, I hope we think more about environmental impact when we do get back on the road. I think making DevRel more equitable and inclusive is always a challenge since we sit in a broader tech ecosystem that is still slow to evolve in levelling the playing field, but that’s just another reason I’m proud to be at DigitalOcean where diversity, equity and inclusion aren’t just buzzwords.

What are you hopeful about in DevRel?

That community will prevail—and not community the buzzword, but actually people who meet each other in spaces where they have common values. A community which leads to the betterment for them and those that come after. I’m a very positive person so this one was easy.

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