PM learnings from Legos, pitstop crews and battleships

Krishnan Raghupathi
5 min readSep 19, 2020

3 insights on how being a PM at a large company is different.

A large number of head-shaped lego blocks (representing lots of employees in a large company)
Photo by Hello I'm Nik 🎞 on Unsplash

There’s no dearth of content out there about what being a product manager is like, or even about how being a PM at a large company is different from being a PM at a startup. A lot of it focuses on the differences between the two in terms of pace, structure, and resourcing: great advice if you’re seeking to make a switch between the two either way. But how different are these roles over long time spans?

I’ve spent over 12 years now as a PM at Microsoft (not that unusual), and I’ve been fortunate to work on both large teams serving tens of millions of customers, and small startup-like teams bootstrapping a community from scratch.

Reflecting over the last decade, I’ve found 3 rather subtle, non-obvious differences between the two, and more importantly, in the role’s outcomes between startups and large companies. Working at a large firm means:

  1. Building giant Lego cities (vs working in a pitstop crew)
  2. Riding serendipity (vs blocking all distractions)
  3. Combating or leveraging inertia.

#1 Legos vs Pitstop



Krishnan Raghupathi

Product Manager, Meta. Notes on building products, life in large organizations, science fiction and travel. All opinions are my own.