Stack Overflow's new CEO Prashanth Chandrasekar says that most people know it as the mega-popular free website that software pros and amateurs alike use to get answers for even their trickiest questions about programming.
With over 50 million monthly unique visitors and over 255 million monthly visits, and 11 million registered users, it's practically ubiquitous — and lucrative, with the company claiming an annualized revenue run rate of $80 million, a measure of how much revenue it projects to generate in the next 12 months if current conditions hold.
What many people don't know is that Stack Overflow also has paid, premium products, like Teams, Talents, or Ads, meant for corporate buyers. Chandrasekar says that it's his immediate ambition to spread the word on that front — taking the success of the main site, and using it to build out its revenue-generating business products.
"The exciting part is that I feel like it's a diamond in the rough. We're only scratching the potential of the company," Chandrasekar told Business Insider. "There are only a few companies that are able to bring that level of the community together. It's clearly very prevalent."
Stack Overflow announced Chandrasekar as its new CEO on September 24th, six months after co-founder Joel Spolsky announced he was stepping down from the role and looking for a replacement. Spolsky remains on board as chairman.
With Stack Overflow so firmly established, Chandrasekar says that the company has already solved some of the hard parts with its renewed focus on its business products — the brand is well known, and users already love it. To Chandrasekar, it's the key to not only growing the company, but making its revenue more predictable.
"It's not any other company trying to make its way," Chandrasekar said. "It already has high impact. There's a tremendous amount of growth possibility."
The company has raised a total of $70 million to date, according to PitchBook, from investors including Andreessen Horowitz, Spark Capital, and Bezos Expeditions (Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' investment fund). To fuel its grand ambitions, Chandrasekar says that Stack Overflow will likely raise another round of funding next year.
"A lot of the growth that the company has generated so far, a lot of that work has been on the hard work and hustle of the team," Chandrasekar said. "That needs to be evolved into a lot more of a machine, a go-to-market engine that's predictable. You need an approach to product market fit."
'All my engineering teams were using it'
Chandrasekar's own roots in technology go back to childhood. He grew up in Bangalore, which is known as the Silicon Valley of India. He says he was always surrounded by developers, and he was introduced to computers early on.
When he was 17, Chandrasekar decided he wanted to study in another country. He ended up going to the University of Maine, moving from one of the largest cities in India to a town with a population of 10,000. He then worked in consulting before studying management at Harvard Business School and working on merger and acquisition deals at Barclays.
Directly before Stack Overflow, Chandrasekar spent seven years at Rackspace, a cloud computing company based in Texas, where he held several roles and led the group focusing on Amazon Web Services consulting services. During this time, he was first exposed to Stack Overflow, where his teams often used it.
"All my engineering teams were using it as the default place for answers to questions," Chandrasekar said. "I looked at it as such a compelling mission and such a high impact mission. The mission and the scope and the scale were what drove me to the company."
Chandrasekar heard about the opportunity to lead Stack Overflow through his network. Now, as CEO, Chandrasekar says his goal is to meet all 300 of Stack Overflow employees, known as Stackers, and talk to them about their thoughts on the future of the business.
As for Stack Overflow itself, he says his favorite questions are the ones where the community shares their thoughts on the best way to tackle thorny issues like cybersecurity. He also enjoys perusing the Space Exploration page on Stack Exchange, the site's extended network of non-programming-related Q&A sites.
"There are fascinating questions about what are the limitations of physics that keep us from going to certain parts of the universe," Chandrasekar said. "You'd be surprised about the level of knowledge our user base carries."
Community is 'very much part of our DNA'
Chandrasekar joined Stack Overflow to scale the business — not just as a forum for developers to ask and answer questions, but also as a serious enterprise services company. Chandrasekar says that while most companies he talks to have "tremendous amount of awareness" of Stack Overflow, they are not aware of Teams, Talents, or Ads.
He sees big opportunity for Stack Overflow Talent, which helps companies recruit and hire developers, and Ads, which is its relatively traditional advertising business. He also singles out Teams, which allows companies to functionally build their own versions of Stack Overflow for internal use and share knowledge, as a particularly big opportunity.
"The opportunity around Teams is very, very important," Chandrasekar said. "Currently we have literally thousands of companies using this product. Each has tens of thousands of developers using this product. The product market fit seems to be really really high."
At the same time, Chandrasekar said, Stack Overflow doesn't plan to take away any resources from the core site, so beloved by its large community of developers.
"The main thing I will tell you, ultimately this company is all about the community we have," Chandrasekar said. "If we did not have our community, we would not exist. It's very much part of our DNA."