Introducing Linda Tong, Webflow’s Chief Operating Officer (COO).
Linda joins Webflow with a wealth of experience: She was previously General Manager at AppDynamics, VP of Product and Innovation for the National Football League, COO of Nextbit Systems, Chief Product Officer at Tapjoy, and a Product Marketing Manager (PMM) at Google where she helped launch Google Chrome and Android. Currently, she’s also on Prezi’s board of directors.
Get to know a bit more about Linda and why she’s excited about Webflow.
Why are you joining Webflow now?
Linda: I got to have a few conversations with Vlad about the vision and mission for the company. The mission of empowering everyone to build for the web resonated deeply with me. I’ve been a product leader my entire career, and while I have enough of a technical background to be dangerous, I never felt empowered to build myself. I’m someone who has always had ideas in my head but no way to execute.
With where Webflow is going, I see a world where I could act on those ideas and tap into that creative muscle. I love the idea of democratizing technology and unlocking innovation at scale for more people like me. This mission speaks to my soul, and I am so excited by the journey this team has been on and simply want to add more fuel to the fire.
The scope of COOs can be different at lots of companies, how do you define it?
Linda: So many people don’t understand the role of a COO, but I like to imagine it as the person responsible for the central infrastructure that allows the company to grow effectively and scale. I think about it as if the company were a skyscraper.
If we were to imagine Webflow as the Sears Tower aka Willis Tower (I’m from Chicago), it would need a strong foundation and infrastructure to support itself at that height and scale. The beams that hold up the building and the foundation upon which it is built are core to supporting the skyscraper at such incredible heights, while individual floors might vary with design layouts and purpose. For Webflow to go to the next level, I’m here to think about those common foundations that allow the business to achieve the next level of scale.
You’ve been part of so many incredible teams — what are some common challenges you’ve seen at growing, scaling organizations?
Linda: Typically, the number one challenge I see is communication. When you scale an organization, the number of people you need to communicate with and the clarity with which you need to articulate that information is so important. You can’t just say something once and hope people get it, you have to say it again and again, and say it in the right way. It’s not just the words — it’s the tone, the intent, and the detail behind those words that help people absorb them fully. It’s really important that we’re all saying the same thing, pointing in the same direction, and bringing our respective teams together so they understand what decisions we’re making and why.
What are you most excited to dive in and work on?
Linda: This place is really special, and I’m excited to start learning as much as I can about the Webflow culture and start living it. As we find methods to drive growth and evolve, this helps us do it with the secret sauce that’s made this place so great.
We also have some big decisions to make as a company: from how we approach our go-to-market strategy, potential opportunistic acquisitions, to what product areas we want to invest in, and how we might begin thinking about international expansion. There are some big bets we need to make.
Speaking of bets, we hear you play poker a lot — can you tell us a good poker story, or something you’ve learned from playing cards?
Linda: I love playing poker because of the strategy paired with bold moves that come with the territory. This is one of the only games out there where the best hand doesn't always win. Reading situations and making critical decisions is at the heart of it, and that's a big part of what has shaped me as a leader.
In my career, I’ve had to make hard decisions that were unpopular at the time but helped a business in the long run. Oftentimes I’ve put my entire career on the line with some of these decisions, and it’s poker that’s taught me to have conviction in these decisions.
Webflow’s mission of empowering people to create for the web has a line for team members about “leading impactful, fulfilling lives” — what does leading an impactful, fulfilling life mean to you?
Linda: I truly believe that we have a duty to foster diversity, equity, and inclusiveness inside of this company. Not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because we’ll drive better business outcomes as a result. Webflow does a good job on this compared to most companies, but as an industry, we have a long way to go. We have an opportunity at Webflow to lead by example, and I would like to see our approach create ripple effects throughout the industry.