Edu Giansante

Head of Community at Persona

My Story

Edu Giansante

Head of Community

Experience: 15 years

Colour: Yellow

Book: The Art of Possibility

Pets: Danone, he’s a half-beagle, half-human I’m pretty sure, and Lola the frenchie bulldog. They’re my little babies. We built a campervan to travel around Europe with them for a few months and it was the best experience ever.

You'll make it happen, so it comes from attitude more than a tool or plan.

How did you start into community management? What was your career path across the years?

My best work as a community builder was arguably the one done without any skills or even knowing I was a community builder.

I started in 2008 when I moved to Ireland from Brazil. My first community-related activity was to organize a small mailing list (that turned into a 8000 members list where people would help each other and chit chat), up to meetups that were being organized by our members all over in Brazil (I neven been to them because I was living in Ireland already). I then got a job at Zynga in 2010 and that was my first ‘corporate’ community role. I was responsible for creating a gamification program in-product to support our players at scale. This turned into a multi-million dollar savings project for Zynga and I was recognized with an award. That led me to an interview and job offer at Dropbox in 2014. I started the Dropbox community from scratch, by thinking about what it means to be part of the Dropbox community (we were huge already with 300 or 400 million users at the time). I was responsible for everything from setting up our Khoros (Lithium at the time) platform, create privacy and policy terms, build our super user program, create an integrated feedback loop with our product team and whatnot. 4 years at Dropbox and I decided to move to something different: VMware. I was leading the supportability efforts under the self-serve team. B2B world, Enterprise level deals, completely different beast! Learned a lot in my 2 years there but decided to go back to a smaller company within the big companies. This time I joined Wix and was leading communities globally for them, reporting directly to the CMO. Wix went through a massive growth during the pandemic and I started to build a guild to lead communities to our different audiences: Partners, end users, merchants and SEO experts. After close to 2 years I got a call from a former Dropbox team member who had joined a startup in San Francisco and were looking for a head of community. Sounded super promising! Team, product, all!

Fast forward to 2023 and here I am, in San Francisco, working for Persona. I couldn’t be happier! The startup life is awesome and challenging, and it’s exciting to be working very close to product.”

What have been the main challenges of your career?

Every role in every team had its challenges. Being it a hypergrowth and having to think about many things at the same time, up to a challenging market or a very niche audience.Back in the days the lack of access to other community managers made it hard to know what was good / bad / best practices.

Now with so many communities of community managers, tools, access, it’s the analysis paralysis case. Am I missing something? :)”

What has helped you develop yourself as a community professional?

Everything – from dealing with people from all natures and backgrounds, to thinking pragmatically about the abstract. Having to back my gut feelings with data, having to negotiate deals and bad hires. I keep learning every day!

What's your favourite community platform?

That’s like saying what’s my favorite food! I love sushi and burgers. I also love Slack, Facebook groups, Common Room and Khoros. Each tool serves a different need, at a different stage, company size and requirements, and calling out one specific tool will not make justice. 

What is “community” for you?

A group of individuals that are connected through common interests, goals or rituals.

What's one single strategy that you may suggest to increase value for the people in your community?

Organize small pods to connect them at a deeper level. Either IRL with meetups or virtually

What would you recommend to those just starting into community management?

Like I did when I started, I had no idea that I was building a community with over 1 million Brazilian expats. I had no plan, no money and no platform. Jack Ma said this in 2013, while speaking at a conference at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Long story short, if you don’t have these, you’ll figure things out.

You’ll make it happen, so it comes from attitude more than a tool or plan.

Our notes: You can also join The Hub for Community Leaders right here!