#289 - George Huff, CEO Opal - on reinventing his SaaS business.

A story about taking a SaaS business from a period of downswing into solid momentum for the future.

This podcast interview focuses on product innovation that has the power for marketing teams to work better together. My guest is George Huff, CEO of Opal.

George has been a business/tech/design geek for a long time. That’s manifested in a career that started as a web designer and has culminated in him being the co-founder of a few really great companies.

In October 2011 he became the CEO of Opal, a platform Built for Marketers

Their mission: To enable marketing teams to spend less effort maintaining internal alignment and more time doing the work that matters.

George led Opal till July 2016 – stepped down as the CEO – to then take back the scepter in January 2021. 

And this inspired me, and hence I invited George to my podcast. We explore the 12 year journey of Opal and what have been the fundamental choices to grow the business to where it is today. We discuss the lessons he learned from stepping down as the CEO – seeing things from a different perspective – and what that meant when he took on the CEO role again halfway the pandemic. He also elaborates on the challenges he faced managing two innovation S-curves in the business. Last but not least he shares his secret to create a business people want to fight for.


Here’s one of his quotes

As a startup person, you had an initial jump, and your ego is like, ‘Yeah, we could do anything, we’re so great.’ The idea of a slowdown is not even in your mind at all. And so, there’s a lot of hubris that happens when you craft all these parts of your product, they are your darlings, and then you have to kill them in order to get to the ‘What’s next’. You’ve got to admit failure first.


During this interview, you will learn four things:

  1. The one thing George tests every time to know they’re making the right product strategy decisions 
  2. How the pandemic – and NOT being in the CEO seat gave him the clarity it was time to reinvent themselves.
  3. What George learned from managing the company through a period of two overlapping S-curves – and what he’d do differently next time.
  4. What signals to watch for to uncover ‘the rotten core’ problem and realize you’ve entered a dead-end road.


For more information about the guest from this week:


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About the author

Sales Pitch

Ton Dobbe is a former B2B software product marketer who's on a mission to save mission-driven SaaS CEOs from the stress of 'not enough' traction. He's the author of The Remarkable Effect, the host of the Tech-Entrepreneur on a Mission podcast, and writes a daily newsletter on the secrets to mastering predictable traction.