Jellyfish is meeting hypergrowth challenges with technology
Founded over 15 years ago, Jellyfish is one of Google’s closest partners. The organisation offers creative marketing performance solutions for the platform world to help brands navigate, connect and harness the platforms that drive their growth through technology, media, creativity and data expertise.
“Over the last three years, the range of services and products we provide has grown massively,” says Benjamin Pipat, Jellyfish’s CSO of Technology Solutions. “By increasing our spectrum of expertise, we’ve been able to provide our clients with more services and bring them to new platforms they may never have even considered before.”
One such example is Jellyfish’s recent expansion with Google. Having bolstered its social media expertise via M&A, Jellyfish took over Google UK’s social presence, to massive success.
“Being able to expand and improve our clients’ digital performance is what M&A is all about for us,” notes Pipat.
This expansion has also led to stronger relationships with major players like Meta, Amazon and Salesforce, in areas such as Retail Media, Analytics and CRM.
As the Chief Solutions Officer of Technology Solutions at Jellyfish, Pipat leads a team of over a hundred engineers: “Our mission is to develop proprietary technology to enhance our talent’s ability to do what they do, better. People are our biggest asset, and we believe we can augment their potential with J+, our suite of technologies across Creative, Media, Data and Commerce. These cover analytics and workflow softwares, as well as bidding, monitoring and reporting solutions”.
Since 2019, Jellyfish has tripled in size, and such large growth drives change within an organisation; “In the past 2 years, we’ve worked with all teams globally to put technology at the core of everything we do at Jellyfish. We have an understanding of the value it can bring at different levels of the business. Having this mission at our core helps the organisation as a whole conduct its operations better and faster,” says Pipat.
Driving a global proprietary technology strategy
In 2020, Jellyfish had its biggest year in merger and acquisition (M&A) activity, integrating with a dozen new companies.
Pipat explains: “Most of these organisations were startups with strong proprietary technology and talented teams giving them an edge. Which is why they were a great fit for Jellyfish.”
But with such fast growth comes challenges. “When these companies joined the group, we ended up with a whole crew of engineers and product teams working on dozens of different technologies, with different tech stacks, methodologies and business models. We decided to create the Technology Solutions capability to globally align the Why, What and How of proprietary tech built at Jellyfish,” says Pipat.
“Our first step was to define our strategy, both in the short-term and in the future. We did so by defining our core principles, providing a guiding compass for all technology decisions.”
Those four core principles are:
1) Impact - Only building technology that will enhance outcomes
2) Enterprise-level - Only building technology that is enterprise-level to serve all teams and clients globally
3) Pragmatism - instead of competing with the likes of Google or Intercom, Jellyfish partners with them, working hand-in-hand to develop technology on top or across platforms
4) Passion - Being proud of the technology they build.
Building a unified tech brand
“Another challenge we faced was confusion from both internal and client teams on this long list of technologies which were now part of our roster”, says Pipat.
To drive further alignment and consistency, Jellyfish’s Brand Strategy, Marketing and Creative teams have joined forces to build and deploy a new branding for its many tech solutions.
“The outcome is our J+ brand which positions our tech products as additive to our ecosystem. It’s a big plus for us and a big plus for our clients, as well as a clear link to our value of ‘positivity’,” says Pipat. “This new branding and unified set of materials have been instrumental in enabling our Growth and Client teams to put technology at the centre of our narrative”.
J+ technologies are divided across 4 suites (J+Creative, J+Media, J+Data and J+Commerce) with strong ties to matching capabilities, and are now natively integrated into Jellyfish’s products.
Empowering global engineering teams
When it comes to M&A activity, integrating and aligning the joining businesses into a single uniform operation is a significant challenge for many.
“In my experience, organisations tend to underestimate the chaos often created by change, as well as the resistance they’re likely to meet. Trying to align everyone on everything doesn’t make sense.”
Ever the engineer, Pipat continues: “Like in mechanics, resistance generates heat, and heat is basically entropy. But if you apply the right amount of oil at the right place, you reduce friction and increase efficiency.”
The biggest challenge is to maintain engineering velocity and business relevance as the organisation grows.
“We approached this by ensuring our teams have both focus and accountability. Led by former technology founders, we adjusted the Spotify squad model, adding a duo of Tech and Product Leads to each squad. As a pair, they work hand-in-hand with the rest of the business and are accountable for the delivery and for the quality of the technology they build and deploy.”
“The other pillar we focus on is enabling our engineering teams to deliver enterprise-level software better and faster. One great example is our implementation of Gitlab CI across all squads, which enables our teams to put the core concepts of Continuous Delivery in action.”
Pipat explains that one of the toughest challenges has always been related to people. “Transitioning from being an engineer in a technology startup to being a part of a group of over 2,200 operating in 20 markets is difficult. The squad set up helped us preserve the passion for technology and agility within our teams, and like everything we do across Jellyfish, we do all we can to give our talent a platform to perform.”
Jellyfish and its partners
“We have always had a partner-centric approach,” explains Pipat. Having partnered with Google for over a decade, Jellyfish works with them all over the globe, with an expertise that runs so deep that Jellyfish routinely trains teams of Google employees on Google’s own products.
But the partnership isn’t just one-way. “We work hand in hand with Google’s product teams to ensure that the technology we’re building is complementary to their roadmaps.”
They’ve been working in a similar way with another of their big partners: Meta, having spent the last six months developing technology that monitors and optimises social commerce.
“We wouldn’t be where we are without our partners, that is something that we are very aware of,” Pipat states frankly. “We have a team that is specifically in charge of partnerships and we build our technology with a strong awareness of where these platforms are going. Working alongside our partners in this way helps to drive a competitive edge for our organisation in the future.”
Next 12 to 18 months for Jellyfish
Jellyfish’s J+ suite of technologies currently covers media automation and monitoring, Commerce and SEO analytics, creative workflows, dataprep and dataviz as well as a score of other tools.
Pipat adds: “Over the next 12 to 18 months, we will continue to enhance our set of technologies to make our teams do what they do better and faster. In parallel, we are bringing these technologies under a unified platform and building more bridges between these technologies and their datasets.”
“In the near future, organisations are going to require partners that offer cutting-edge services and technologies on each vertical that they address – I believe this will be a necessity going forward.”