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Democratizing Data is Product Management

Jeff Feng, Product Manager at Airbnb, shares how he launched “Data University” to empower employees to make data-informed decisions and how he got over a third of employees to attend a course.


Almost every company is working to use data to make better business and product decisions. The tools and technologies available today provide us with a firehose of data that we can use to better understand what users need and how to build a better user experience.

Airbnb is one of the best at using data science to make decisions. But the company wasn’t always so prolific.

Before Jeff launched Data University, there was a lack of data literacy outside of tech teams and employees weren’t using the data tools that were provided to them. Airbnb had a small team of data scientists to help, but it wasn’t a scalable solution.

Jeff worked to understand the needs of managers and employees and launched Data University, an internal education program for Airbnb employees. It’s grown to over 30 courses taught by over 40 instructors. ⅓ of all employees have attended a course and Airbnb has seen a 2x increase in internal data tool usage.

Many companies start internal universities, but don’t always get the level of attendance they need. In this episode, Jeff shares the grassroots techniques he used to generate interest and empower employees across the organization to make data-informed decisions.

Here are the highlights:

  • How Airbnb leverages data science to make decisions (5:35)
  • Jeff gives an overview of Data University and why they started it at Airbnb (9:20)
  • The product management strategies Jeff applied to developing Data University (14:30)
  • How Jeff got so many employees to attend courses (17:20)
  • The tools Airbnb has built to empower employees to make data-informed decisions (19:35)
  • The outcomes Jeff’s most proud of achieving with Data University (22:50)

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