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Posts tagged with ‘startups’

However, to solve bigger problems, sometimes you need a longer horizon: a ten-year schedule for example, Levchin said. “At PayPal, we viewed the world in a four year horizon,” he said, “Because that is how the valley worked. Had we thought it as a 20-year old company, the whole thing would be different.” He believes that for some odd reason being a 10-to-15 year old technology company isn’t cool, but that thinking has to change in order to get bigger breakthroughs.

All in all, mobile service apps turn out to be a horrible place to close viral loops and win at the retention game. Only a handful of apps have succeeded mobile-first: Instagram, Tango, Shazam, maybe 2 or 3 others (Games drive short-term revenue but don’t get me started on that topic – sell a billion $0.99 games with 30% taken off the top by Apple/Google and you now have the equivalent revenue of a Call Of Duty opening weekend). Take Path, one of the most promising mobile-first startups. I don’t want to rag on them because I love the app, but it’s just a good example. Color would also work well. With 5-10 million downloads, Path has retained less than 200,000/users a day according to AppData. You can also check their download rank in the Social category and see that it has dropped from 5 to 94. That’s anywhere between 2 and 4% retention and a couple hundred downloads a day. Even if that’s wrong by 5x or 20x, it still doesn’t make sense as a business for many years. A boutique social network user is not exactly the type of person to click on an ad.

You have an entirely different onboarding story on the web. You can test easily, cheaply, and fast enough to make a difference on the web. You can fix a critical bug that crashes your app on load 15 minutes after discovery (See Circa). You can show 10 different landing pages and decide in real-time which one is working the best for a particular user. You can also close a viral loop: A user can click an email and immediately be using your app with you. You can’t put parameters on a download link and people don’t download apps from their computer to their phone. Without the barrier of a download + opening the app to try your product, you can prove value to the user immediately upon their first impression, as is with Google. In addition, the experience of signing up for a service is superior in every way. Typing is easier. Sign-up with OAuth is faster. Tab to the next field. Provide marketing alongside sign-up as encouragement. Auto-fill information is a feature in every browser. The open eco-system of the web and 20 years of innovation has solved many of the most difficult parts of onboarding. With mobile, that kind of innovation is lagging significantly behind because we create apps at the leisure of two companies, neither of which have a great incentive to help free app makers succeed.

- Vibhu Norby, Why We’re Pivoting from Mobile-first to Web-first

A very, very smart analysis of why web-first is better for the entrepreneur, the investor, and — ultimately — for the user.

What Will Matter In The Future? My talk from the recent Startupfest in Montreal.

From the description:

We have to have some idea of the world we are headed for sowhat we do will matter. It makes no sense to build a better mousetrap unless there will still be mice to trap. In this session, Stowe Boyd will explore some deep trends to help today’s startup entrepreneurs head in a profitable direction, like these:

  • It is the business of the future to be dangerous
  • Whatever the Web touches, it consumes
  • Technology is everything that was invented after you were thirteen
  • The next frontier will be the ruins of the unsustainable
  • The central economic imperative of the new economy is to amplify relationships.

Do not be the startup that simply chases problems.

Read more:

Silicon Valley’s dirty little secret is that the startup boom is mostly a disguised jobs fair that directly benefits the big corporations. Occasionally, an innovative startup makes it past this stage but it has to be so bad that no one wants it — not even for its team. It’s from among those ugly ducklings that the swans of the new age emerge: FB, Goog, Twitter, Yahoo! and others — no one wanted them at first, then they couldn’t get enough of them.

Form Letter Template For Acquired Startups

By panicsteve via Github

Dear soon-to-be-former user,

We’ve got some fantastic news! Well, it’s great news for us anyway. You, on
the other hand, are fucked.

We’ve just been acquired by:

[ ] Facebook
[ ] Google
[ ] Twitter
[ ] Other: _________________

As you are aware, we’ve always provided a free service, and have never even
tried offering a for-pay option. This means we’ve never had any income and
have been operating at a loss for our entire existence. Since any schoolchild
can see this is unsustainable, it should have been more-or-less obvious to you
from the get-go that we were either going to crap up the site with ads at a
few cents per-click, or that we’ve always intended to be an acquisition target.
You can do the math on that one.

Your personal data which, until just now, was critical to our core business
will be deleted:

[ ] Immediately
[ ] Within a week
[ ] Within 30 days

We are excited to continue our core mission of connecting people with
solutions at our new home. Please realize that this is so vague a statement
as to be completely meaningless. But we just made so much money that at the
moment we genuinely believe this horseshit. In reality, you will never hear
about us or anything we create ever again. We are probably going to end up,
like, implementing a new scrollbar for Google Reader or something.

Thanks so much for making our business so valuable and enticing to a much
larger company with more money than sense.

Now grab your data while you still can and get out of here,

Shiny happy management ninjas
Connecting people with solutions
" loves you!"

To pivot is, essentially, to fail gracefully. While the term has been in the start-up lexicon for decades, it is coming up more often in the current Internet boom, as entrepreneurs find that many investors are willing to keep the money flowing even if a start-up takes a hard left turn.

“Ideas are like lightning in a bottle, so if the company is small enough and didn’t seem to capture lightning on their first try, it makes sense to try again,” said Ben Horowitz, one of the founders of the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. “The art of the pivot is to do it fast and early. The older and bigger the business, the harder it is to change directions.”

Mr. Horowitz speaks from experience: A decade ago, he went through a pivot of Loudcloud, a publicly traded enterprise services firm that he founded with Marc Andreessen, into Opsware, a networking software company. “That was very public and very scary,” he said. “We dropped down to 35 cents on the Nasdaq, and although we went back up to $14, it took awhile. When you’re a small company, no one really notices if you make a big change.”

- Jenna Wortham, For Some Internet Start-Ups, a Failure Is Just the Beginning -

The use of the term ‘pivot’ in startupland is the corollary to the now commonplace notion that you may have to fail in order to learn a life lesson. While this has become conventional wisdom, startup founders are reluctant to admit their baby is ugly, or that massive success is not going to come with the next release. The adoption of pivoting is a great metaphorical headshift, and it’s one great example of ambient innovation: the startup scene has adopted, applied, and spread the concept of pivoting, and that has had major impacts on founders willingness to junk weak ideas.

(via underpaidgenius)

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