Building a Performant Customer Success Organization

Customer Success is a relatively new discipline in the Software-as-a-Service world. Consequently, there are many unanswered questions about how best to build and manage great Customer Success teams for SaaS companies. Because the financial impact of a great CS team is compounded monthly and can meaningfully increase the growth and decrease the cash needs of SaaS startups, it's critical for CS leaders to get it right. Last night, I attended a dinner with many heads of Customer Success from prominent valley SaaS companies. We spoke for quite a while about the best way to structure and motivate Customer Success teams to balance customer care and account growth. One VP of Customer Success described an innovative approach to managing this balancing act.

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How to Retain Your Startup's Best Employees

One of the most important changes is the workplace in the last 20 years is the notion that most employees are free agents. We are hired and fired and resign at will. It's a markedly different era than the career salarymen of IBM's heyday who remained with the company for decades from college graduation through retirement. In this highly-competitive talent market, where every employee is a free agent, hiring and retaining talent has become a key strategic advantage.So, which are the best tools to create a vibrant and attractive working environment?

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What Q2 Tech Earnings Reports Say About the State of the Technology Market

I've never paid much attention to earnings reports in the past. But as I've been analyzing the tech industry more and more, and the stock market has begun to surpass record highs, I've been wondering whether the persistent bull market in tech is sustainable. Or at the very least, whether the companies pushing the industry forward are able to understand the environment and their businesses well enough to meet the commitments they make to public market investors.

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The Best Advice I've Ever Received

"Advice is one person's experience generalized", an entrepreneur told me once. "It's a single point of view with all kinds of survivorship and attribution bias. Advice can be a terribly dangerous thing, because it can be used as a shortcut for thinking." When I asked how he responded to requests for advice, because as a successful entrepreneur he was often solicited for it, he replied that he first shared the structure and the framework he used to look at the problem. Only after discussing that did he reveal the details about he and his team had arrived at a decision.

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How Much is Your Business Worth?

How much is my business worth? It's a question every entrepreneur, founder and business owner asks themselves. This is particularly true during acquisition conversations with a prospective buyer. Because most companies are privately held, the acquisition details of the roughly 10,000 businesses who sell themselves for less than $500M each year in the US remain hidden. There are enormous forces at play in the M&A market that indicate M&A activity will increase substantially in the next few years. Consequently, every business leader ought to develop and maintain a good understanding of their business' market value.

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The Coming Wave of Venture Capital and What It Means for Your Startup

Through the first six months of 2014, VCs have raised about as much as all of 2013. If this pace of fund raising continues, 2014 would mark the biggest year for VCs since 2001, when the industry raised about $38B. This new money hasn't yet hit the startup fundraising market in earnest, as the chart above shows. The second quarter of 2014 is the sixteenth largest by capital deployed sinced 1995, making it a top quartile quarter, but to break into the top five, that figure would need to triple. Nevertheless, we will see a spike in the next six months as firms begin investing from new funds. Which startup sectors should expect to benefit from this surfeit of capital?

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Lessons from Interviews of Pre-Eminent VCs in 2000

In 2008, when I started working at Redpoint I knew very little about how the venture business worked, and before I started at the firm, I wanted to prepare by learning as much as I could about the industry. Unfortunately, not much was written about VC at the time. In fact, I found only two books: a textbook on private equity and venture capital by HBS professor Joshua Lerner, and an out-of-print collection of 32 VC interviews called "Done Deals," published in September 2000. I bought a second-hand copy on Amazon and read it cover to cover.

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How to Maximize Your Organic Twitter Content Marketing Efforts

Last week, Twitter released a feature enabling users to download organic tweet data. Naturally, I put my data through its paces to see if I could find any best practices for this blog. Here are the conclusions along with the code to replicate them for your user base, which are tested to 95% confidence.

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The Next Era in SaaS

Vik Singh wrote a great post in VentureBeat last week titled "Why Salesforce Needed to Buy RelateIQ" in which he talks about a new era in SaaS, the Predictive Era, the era of intelligent software. We've just seen one of the first acquisitions in the category with RelateIQ*, but I believe we will see many, many more for a few reasons. First and most importantly, prediction provides competitive differentiation in an increasingly competitive market.

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One of the Greatest Opportunities to Learn

Listening is hard, as my friend once said, because you run the risk of having to change the way you see the world. That line stopped me cold when I was reading In the Light of What We Know because it's so true. To set aside the way we've thought about an idea in the past and consider it as if it were a totally new concept is what a Buddhist might call Beginner's Mind. It means taking the time to reflect and consider new perspectives. Consequently, listening is one of the greatest opportunities to learn.

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