Meet the Product 50 Winner: Adam Nash

In this inaugural installment of our Product 50 interview series, get to know the winner of the Best Social Good Product Leader category: Adam Nash of Daffy.

May 22, 2024
Image of Noorisingh Saini
Noorisingh Saini
Global Content Marketing Manager, Amplitude
Product 50 Winner: Adam Nash

Recently, we announced this year’s Product 50 class, a list of the world’s best and brightest product and growth leaders. Over the next several months, we’ll publish interviews with our winners exploring their career paths, inspirations, and challenges, as well as their insights into the trends shaping the digital product landscape.

Our first installment of the Product 50 interview series features Adam Nash, co-founder and CEO of, a fast-growing platform and community for charitable giving. Adam has also served as an executive, angel investor, and advisor to some of Silicon Valley's most successful technology companies.

Adam, welcome! To start, tell us about your career path. How did you get to where you are today?

I describe product as this interesting juxtaposition between design, engineering, and business sensibilities—it is a very interdisciplinary role. My career, in some ways, reflects that. I got a degree in computer science and started as a software engineer with an emphasis on human-computer interaction and systems, so I’ve always been passionate about design.

My first job was inadvertently at Apple. I thought I was joining Next, but during my interview process, Apple acquired Next. It turns out that a big company wasn't a great fit for me, so I jumped to a startup and transitioned from engineering to design. I was initially in charge of interface design but eventually moved to product.

I didn't love what I saw in the valley in the ’90s—it was a bit too much of a show versus building product. I ended up going to business school, which led me to venture capital roles and eventually product roles at a long list of companies, including eBay, LinkedIn, and Wealthfront, where I was CEO.

In some ways, my career path is very typical in product, at least in Silicon Valley. Starting as an engineer, you focus on the problems of “How do I make this product better, faster?” and “How do I architect it for scale?” Then you realize, what's the point of making this product run in 30 milliseconds if it takes the user 30 minutes to figure out how to use it? That pulled me into design to answer the golden question: How do you make a really great product?

Give us some insights into your day-to-day work.

As a founder, my day-to-day responsibilities are somewhat unpredictable. We launched our product two years ago. It's young enough that we're still doing many things for the first time but mature enough to have hundreds of thousands of users. We grew over 400% last year with more than $105 million in charitable contributions. That's very exciting for me because it means we have a lot of people using the product as intended, and we're learning a lot about how to make it even better.

As a founder, you wear many hats, but you can never lose sight of your customers. I still respond to individual customers at times. When you have a new product or service, it’s important to understand what people are doing with it otherwise you tend to live in the future. That's one of the classic product responsibilities—the ability to think backward from the future and figure out what you should do right now.

Can you tell us what you’re working on or excited about now?

Daffy launched more than two years ago to help people be more generous more often. We’ve raised well over a hundred million dollars for charity. In that process, you learn a lot about what parts of your design make sense—and what parts don't. For the first time in our short company history, we looked at re-architecting our product design and recently launched an end-to-end redesign.

The image reveals the redesign of Daffy

From an engineering standpoint, if you don’t take the time to re-architect, you end up with endless code building. This also holds true with design, architecture, and user interfaces. If you don't take time to rethink your product design, it starts spiraling features—and that doesn’t help your team or your customers.

What challenges keep you up at night?

Great product leaders think backward from the future they want. They think about what they can do today to make the future they want to happen more likely. What keeps me up at night is when I back into the present from the future and realize that we don't have that much time. It's realizing that that future is not guaranteed—and that you are accountable for it. To me, product leadership is all about accountability and responsibility. It’s not about whether you designed that product correctly from a user experience standpoint or built it correctly from a technical standpoint. It’s about whether that product is successful in the market—and many things have to happen for that to be true.

I’d say artificial intelligence and large language models. As a product leader, I'm very excited about them. I think of that engine going back decades, with computers and Moore's Law and Metcalfe's Law. Things that weren’t possible are now possible, and things that were too expensive to do are now almost free—and that’s part of the reason that the product design process is never done.

The industry has also shifted, and we’ve been through a very tough tech market. But as a product leader, I always think about the opportunity. This is an amazing time for startup founders to build new products, partially because there aren't a thousand copycats out there and partially because there's a lot of great talent looking for their next role. It’s a very exciting time to be building and designing new things.

How does data or digital analytics play a role in your work?

It plays a large role, but it's very different working on a product that has been around for years and has many people using it versus something you're doing for the first time. One of the most challenging decisions for product leaders is when to use judgment and when to use data. In the early part of the cycle and for new products, some product leaders make the mistake of over-relying on data that may not be indicative of anything. Referencing Geoffrey Moore’s Crossing the Chasm, if you use data from the late majority to design an early product, you don't hit the market that wants it. A lot more judgment is necessary for early products—you’re still testing a hypothesis, but the data is usually more intuitive or qualitative.

At the same time, product leaders also miss out if they don’t look at the data enough as their product scales. Every initial product or feature had a hypothesis behind it. Once you gain a critical mass of users, you get customers voting with clicks—they're telling you what they do. Many founders make the mistake of sticking too long with their original hypotheses when the data no longer reflects that theory. I always encourage product leaders to consume data where they can. I try to look for hypotheses and theories where one source of data gives you the inspiration for hypotheses, and then another source of data confirms or invalidates it.

What advice do you have for aspiring product and growth leaders?

The best advice I would give any product leader is to just do the work. Invest yourself in your product and be the owner. The biggest mental flip for product leaders is accountability and responsibility for the results.

And then, have some patience. There’s an old joke for economists: “There’s theory, and then there’s practice. What’s the difference? In theory, there is no difference, and in practice, there is.” I tell product leaders there’s no substitute for shipping a lot of products and features. You can’t learn everything you need to know from reading blog posts and listening to podcasts. You have to do it. You’re going to win some times and lose others, but what you learn from the products and features that don’t work is just as important as learning from the ones that do.

What do you like to do outside of work that keeps you inspired?

I’m an active angel investor with investments in over 130 companies. The reason investing is so inspiring to me is because we're all very limited, even people who are at the top of their game. The world is a big place, and we can’t be experts at everything. There are so many amazing products, businesses, and companies to be built that I couldn’t do. As an angel investor, I provide support and advice where I can, but it’s also a way for me to get exposure to other products, features, or ways of doing things that I wouldn’t normally do.

One of my most successful angel investments was in Figma. When I met Dylan Field, the company’s co-founder and CEO, he was an intern at LinkedIn looking for advice for his new company. Watching Dylan has taught me so much about what’s possible, what works, and what doesn’t work. That learning inspires me. As long as you’re learning and growing, you always have the energy to do more.

Learn more about this year’s Product 50 winners—the most innovative people in product and growth around the world.

About the Author
Image of Noorisingh Saini
Noorisingh Saini
Global Content Marketing Manager, Amplitude
Noorisingh Saini is a data-driven content marketing manager and Amplitude power user. Previously, she managed all customer identity content at Okta. Noorisingh graduated from Yale University with a degree in Cognitive Science, specializing in Emotions, Consumer Behavior, and Behavioral Decision Making.