Earlier this week, I chatted with a friend of mine who has founded an incredibly successful business, which he and his co-founder have been scaling impressively. I asked him about his biggest learning over the past few years. He said before having started his company and having built the team, he perceived management as a Band-Aid, as a fix for something wrong in the organizational design, communication or day-to-day operations of the company. Over time, he has come to believe that manangement is the only way of growing his startup."
At the bottom of this blog, there's an inocuous sharing bar with links to share this post on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, HackerNews and subscribe by email and RSS. 1.5% of visitors click on one of these buttons. Despite the similarity of the buttons and the clicks, the value they generate as sharing tools varies dramatically.
Steven Blank wrote yesterday about a novel way of depicting a startup's competitive landscape in a pitch deck, called a petal diagram. While the petal diagram is a great way of describing an ecosystem or a go-to-market strategy, I don't think it's a great way to show a competitive landscape because petal diagrams don't communicate the startup's unique way of competing in the market.
Constrained by a limited budget, startup founders must decide how to balance growing their engineering teams with their sales and marketing teams. To help inform those decisions, I've benchmarked the relative sizes of the sales and engineering teams of the 36 publicly-traded SaaS companies from founding to IPO, typically 7 years later.
In almost every industry, startups and venture capital included, content marketing has become an essential tool for growth. Over the past four years, I’ve developed infrastructure, analyses and processes to help this blog grow from just a few visitors per month to tens of thousands today. After developing this infrastructure, three conclusions I've reached about content marketing initiatives are:
Twitter is the first form of communication that changes depending on who is using it. Like the telephone, the fax, email, Twitter enables all types of communications: friendly banter, customer support requests, news syndication and public service announcements to name a few. But Twitter imposes a three new wrinkles that set it apart as a new form of communication.
I've always wanted to read a newspaper like The Daily Prophet from Harry Potter, a daily with animated images and with articles that respond to the reader. Last week, the Guardian, the world's third-most widely read paper, published NSA Files: Decoded which explores the many different points of view on the NSA's information collection efforts. As you scroll down, senators and attorneys and experts begin briefing you. Interactive data charts invite you to explore trends and embedded documents beg you to dig deeper.
For the average 2013 venture backed tech IPO, half of the startup's enterprise value is explained by its growth rate, while none of it is explained by profitability. For equity investors in 2013, growth trumps all other considerations. Of the 25 IPOs I surveyed, both pending and completed, only 20% are profitable. On average, these startups operate at about -20% net income margins but are growing at 162% annually. The market has spoken and startups have responded.
iGoogle is dead. Mobile killed it. In 2008, iGoogle represented 20% of traffic to Google. Seven years later, the mobile phone is the home screen of choice for a billion people. The typical mobile phone user checks their phone 110 times per day. I suspect iGoogle's most avid users visited about 10 times daily. By that math, mobile home screens generate an order of magnitude more engagement. If Google or any company wants to provide the home screen to those billion people, that home screen must be a mobile app.
Quietly mentioned in yesterday's press conference about Google's Android update is a new feature that will change the way people use their mobile phones, search deep-linking. With KitKat, Google is applying its world-class crawling and search technology to the content and data within mobile applications.