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 16,000 others receiving these blog posts by email. Subscribe.

A Formula For Innovation

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One of my favorite courses in engineering grad school was Marketing which was taught by a brilliant quirky professor. On the first day of class, our professor wrote on the board this equation:

Innovation = Invention + Go To Market

Addressing a group of engineers who prided themselves on their technical skills, this professor of marketing tried to instill in us that invention alone isn’t enough to create innovation.

The invention has to be coupled with a way of understanding the customer, speaking ...

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Piecing Together A Quilted Social Network: Does M&A Work for Social Nets?

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In the past 12 months, we’ve seen at least three major acquisitions of social networks by larger social networks. Facebook acquires Instagram. Google acquires Waze. Yahoo acquires Tumblr. And we are likely to see quite a few more given the dramatic growth of mobile messaging clients and social networks of all different kinds.

While each of these acquisitions has their own particular motivations, underpinning all three is user engagement. Engagement means activity which translates to advertising dollars. Additionally, it is not unreasonable to suspect that all ...

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The Return of Venture Backed Hardware

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Recently, hardware companies have been popping up in all kinds of places. Nest is building the next thermostat. Sonos sells seamless and beautiful soun systems. Thalmic Labs and Leap Motion are innovating in alternate forms of computing control. Electric Imp is building the platform-as-a-service to connect devices to the web via Wifi and so on.

Hardware investments are blossoming because software is reinvigorating the market. Hardware companies face deeper logistical challenges, greater likelihood of margin erosion, and more complex go-to-market strategies than their software cousins. But ...

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The Library in Building 42

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In the center of Google’s campus lie a cluster of four buildings: 40, 41, 42 and 43. Contained within building 42 was the epicenter of product management: Jonathan Rosenberg’s office. Immediately next to his office stood a collection of three bookcases containing a library of different books on various topics that JR curated.

I used to pass that library every day on my way to meetings and each time I walked past, I would pause to see which new volumes had arrived.

Edward Tufte might ...

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The Most Effective Price Discovery Question for Your Startup

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Pricing is one of the most challenging decisions for any startup. One of the simplest ways of discovering customer willingness to pay is simply to ask them.

At first blush, that might seem a reasonable and effective solution, it is prone to wild inaccuracy. Absolute pricing judgments are hard without reference points. For example:

How much would you be willing to pay for a new iPhone?

It’s a very challenging question to answer in the abstract. It all depends on what the phone ...

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Why PRISM May Herald a New Golden Age for P2P

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Over the past 15 years, we’ve seen a wholesale migration of software development on the web towards cloud away from client/server models. The cloud offers many benefits: seamless upgrades, synchronization of data across different devices and lesser hardware requirements.

But the cloud centralizes all the data. All of our Dropbox files, Google documents, and emails are held within one or few companies' servers - which provides easy access for hackers and government.

It’s unclear whether or not the PRISM affair will dramatically change the American public’s ...

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The Bewildered User at the Center of the Legal Firestorm

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Reading TechMeme and HackerNews this morning, you’ll find more stories about legal issues relating to technology than stories about innovation: the PRISM affair, the DoJ’s suit against Apple for anticompetitive ebook pricing, Samsung’s win of a sales injunction banning iPhones and iPads, Chinese hacking of US assets, patent trolling and reform and so on.

It’s frustrating. But this isn’t a trend that will reverse its course.

In the center of this firestorm is the user and his data, bewildered by the scale and magnitude ...

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The Most Under-Appreciated Startup Team Member

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The reason most startups go out of business is they run out of money. The CEO bears the responsibility for raising money, managing those assets and growing the business into profitability and ultimate sustainability.

But the CEO shouldn’t bear this load alone. To help defray that critical responsibility, the CEO ought to have a consigliere, an advisor who helps plan, allocate resources, and illuminate the trade-offs between decisions. That consigliere is the head of finance and the most under-appreciated startup team member.

In my experience, there ...

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The Dawn of the Voice-to-Text Era

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We all type quite a bit. I’ve never measured how many words each day I type but I imagine it’s probably a few thousand each week between my laptop and my mobile phone and across emails and blog posts. And no one can deny the toll this takes on our wrists.

In the past week, I’ve been suffering from some carpal tunnel pain particularly as I’ve been coding more. Coding often requires all kinds of odd key combinations because of the varying syntaxes of CSS, ...

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Why You Should Be Measuring Time To Utility For Your Product

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Do you measure your product’s time to utility? If not, you should.

The best products reward users as quickly as possible after installation and account creation. But it’s easy to forget about this and as a result, watch conversion rates from download/install-to-active fall.

CRM products have the longest time to utility of most software products. The end user, a salesperson, logs into a blank Salesforce installation. She must type in a bunch of data about a customer. If the customer account closes, great. But it’s not ...

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