Hi, I'm a partner at Redpoint. I invest in Series A and B SaaS companies. I write daily, data-driven blog posts about key questions facing startups. I co-authored the book, Winning with Data. Join more than 18,000 others receiving these blog posts by email.

Which of the Five Types of Data Science Does Your Startup Need?

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Startups, you are doing data science wrong. That’s the title of a post penned by Ryan Weald in GigaOm this week. Weald echoes DJ Patil’s idea: “product-focused data science is different than the current business intelligence style of data science.”

Weald points to a different model of data scientist, an engineer, not a statistician, who can perform queries and based upon some insights, improve the product with a few code changes and a push to git.

I like Weald’s post but ...

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The 3 Competitive Defenses of Enduring SaaS Companies

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A technology advantage isn’t enough to build an enduring enterprise SaaS company because at the core, all SaaS software share the same architecture. A relational database stores data and a web site presents the data. This is true for CRM (Salesforce), marketing automation (Marketo), email (Exchange), content management systems (Sharepoint) and so on.

Because SaaS apps use standard databases, engineers can easily transfer the data from one database to another. I’m greatly simplifying here because differences in architecture may exist, but in principle it’s simple ...

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The Single Best Content Marketing Channel for Your Startup

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The single best content marketing channel is email subscriptions powered by Twitter/social media distribution.

Thirty days ago, I began an experiment with this blog to determine whether email, Twitter or RSS would be the better content marketing channel. My goals with RSS, Twitter and email are two: first to maintain a relationship with a reader longer than a single website visit by creating a communication channel and second to use that marketing channel to drive re-engagement.

Below, I’ve analyzed the results and come across ...

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What Your Startup’s MRR Figure Is Hiding

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The three words roll off the tongue: monthly recurring revenue (MRR). What’s not to love about subscription models? Negative working capital, predictable revenue growth and an average of 13x market cap to annual revenue in the public markets, with some darlings reaching 50x multiples. The list goes on.

But the words recurring revenue belies one small detail. These recurring customers must renew their subscriptions, at which point another three word phrase is uttered: revenue-at-risk, the amount of MRR that might be lost to customers ...

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The Developer Economy: Power to the Coders

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During the past week, I’ve been tapping out letters on a 1921 Underwood portable typewriter that my wife gave me as a present. Sitting in front of it and watching the letter hammers pound ink onto paper reminded me that computer programming is still a very new field. Not 50 years ago, prehistoric programmers punched FORTRAN code on punch cards in this way.

In the past 10 to 15 years has computer programming entered mainstream culture and the number of developers has soared, popularized ...

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A Five Year Android User Switches To iOS

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On the day of Android’s five year launch anniversary and my fifth consecutive year of using exclusively Android devices, I switched to a yellow iPhone 5c.

Like a well worn pair of jeans, it’s easy to grow accustomed to a mobile phone OS. Changing into a new pair is always a little uncomfortable at first. In that same way, migrating from Android to I iOS, I discovered the quirks and kinks of each OS:

  • The iOS keyboard always shows uppercase letters, no matter if ...

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Using The Friend Paradox to Maximize Your Effectiveness at Startup Networking Events

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I’ll never forget the first large tech conference I attended after joining Redpoint. Held in the movie theater in downtown Redwood City, the TechCrunch conference attracted several hundred entrepreneurs, investors and journalists. Not one of whom I knew.

After a handful of conferences and a few awkward quick-name-badge-glance-then-say-hello conversations, I started to recognize faces and became friendly with the conference regulars.

Walking into a room and working it by building a network person by person is an essential part of entrepreneurship (and venture capital). That room ...

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Sexism, Statistics and Space: How Disruptive Startup Ideas Are Discovered

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In response to analyses published on this blog, a handful of readers have raised the idea of Simpson’s Paradox to me. Because I wasn’t familiar with it, I’ve been researching it and last week, I came across VUDLab’s beautiful website which uses a sexism-in-admission lawsuit against Berkeley to demonstrate the idea.

In 1973, the University of California-Berkeley was sued for sex discrimination. The numbers looked pretty incriminating: the graduate schools had just accepted 44% of ...

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Which Half of Your Startup’s Emails Are Wasted?

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We know by heart that half of our marketing dollars are spent improperly. But what’s worse is most products waste half of their chances to deepen a relationship with their customers.

There are two different kinds of email within products: product marketing emails and transactional emails. The first of these marketers optimize continuously and the other is oft forgotten.

Product marketing emails include acquisition campaigns, lifecycle marketing, retention marketing, cross-selling, up-selling and content marketing. Tools like Marketo, Silverpop, MailChimp and others have solved this problem for marketing teams. ...

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How To Take Exceptional Notes and Be Productive with Paper

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As a PM at Google, I carried a laptop to every meeting I went to. I typed notes, jotted down action items, and distributed the minutes of almost each one of my meetings. I stayed organized and tracked my teams’ progress this way.

But, as I learned when I starting working at Redpoint, outside the rainbow bubble of the Googleplex very few people take notes on laptops during meetings. It’s just impolite. People wonder if you’re typing emails ...

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