Heresy, the dictionary definition

A couple of weeks ago I sent a brief note to all my contacts on LinkedIn to inform them I was leaving Stack Overflow and starting a new company — Heresy.

The email read:

You are receiving this because we are connected on LinkedIn.
As you may have heard, I recently left Stack Overflow after a wonderful four and a half years. I’m proud to have played a part in such a meteoric growth story, and will be cheering the team on from the sidelines as they continue to go from strength to strength.
I joined Stack as its first European employee and have often joked that if I got cut, I’d probably bleed orange and grey (the official Stack Overflow brand colours). There is probably only one thing I feel more passionate about than Stack’s mission and that is “fixing sales”. It is a big and ambitious goal, but one that I am confident we’ll be able to tackle with my new company Heresy.
As Heresy begins to grow, we will be looking for talent, partners and people who share our vision. So, if you’re interested in disrupting the sales industry, please get in touch.

During the 48 hours that followed, I received over 300 emails from friends and professional contacts. The messages ranged from people wishing me good luck with the new venture, to offers to help with or fund the business. The one line that almost every single email had in common was — “I love the name!”.

So where did the name Heresy come from?

A couple of months ago I met Neil Rimer from Index Ventures for breakfast to discuss the new startup I was thinking about. We spoke about the problems I see in the sales industry — poisonous work environment, lack of collaboration and sharing, low team morale and high turnover rates, and the challenges they present to sales management. I then told Neil about the rather unconventional approach I had introduced at Stack to ensure we did not have to deal with any of that — namely to build, scale and run the sales team as an agile development team.

Neil sits on Stack Overflow’s board and was obviously well aware of our sales results, so I did not have to tell him how well that had worked. He did however make one remark — “This sounds super interesting, but I guess running Sales as Engineering would be an absolute heresy for most old school salespeople”. BOOM! There it was — Heresy!

I bought the domain as soon as we finished breakfast.