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.

Design’s New Frontier: The IRL Era

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When the neologism was popularized in 2004 by Tim O'Reilly, the words Web 2.0 captured a desire for the web to become interactive. It was a description of a movement towards social media and engaging users on the web. But more than an idea, it carried a design aesthetic which focused on the user, user experience and engagement. After all, users wouldn’t participate on a hostile site.

We’re no longer in the Web 2.0 age - look no further than the Google Trends data to prove ...

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Out of My Depth

intellij.png “What’s the difference between a string and a String?” I asked on the first day of my engineering internship at a startup. That comment drew some sighs from the other engineers in the cube. The pit in my stomach confirmed what I already knew - I was out of my depth.

I had never programmed in Java before that day. And there I was, a Java engineering intern at this startup. Over the next few months, I imbibed as much as I could about object oriented ...

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The Twitter Game, Google’s Bin and Other Force Multipliers

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When I started at Google, I began working in the AdSense Online Sales and Operations team. The demand for AdSense was overwhelming and we received tens of thousands of website applications each day asking to be granted permission to run Google’s ad product on their websites.

Sometimes, automated approval systems would reject an application based upon strong spam or fraud signals. But thousands of applications each day demanded additional human judgement. So a team of us worked “the Bin.”

The Bin was an approval tool that ...

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Activity Based Pricing: When Is It The Right Choice for Your Startup?

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Pricing is taxation. A pricing plan taxes some element of a product’s use. For a startup, choosing what to tax and how to tax it can be one of the most perplexing decisions because the tradeoffs between usage and revenue aren’t always clear.

Activity based pricing or usage based pricing is one of the more common pricing plans in utility computing and software these days. Need to spin up another server immediately? Did another user sign up to use this software? No problem - we ...

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The Android-First Social Network

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Do social networks have a killer distribution or engagement advantage on Android that cannot be replicated on iOS because of Android’s openness? Will we see an Android-first social network of real scale in the near future?

I think it’s a real possibility. Open platforms enable faster experimentation and more innovation than closed ones. New engagement models can be created, tested and refined much more easily on Android than iOS and Facebook’s newest mobile product could be that first example, despite its initial struggles.

Chat ...

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Mastering Feedback Loops in Startups

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Feedback loops are essential components of every person’s role within a startup. The most recent and celebrated feedback loop is the viral coefficient or k-factor which Facebook applications optimize to grow their user bases. The [k-factor](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K-factor_(marketing), a borrowed concept from the study of biological viruses, measures the rate at which an application spreads through the network.

But feedback loops don’t solely exist within marketing. For product teams, there is consumer feedback and user engagement metrics. For engineering teams, there’s technical performance. For sales teams, there ...

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The Defining Characteristics of Successful SMB SaaS Startups

At first glance, SMB SaaS companies, those who sell Software-as-a-Service to small to medium businesses, may seem like any other software company. But they are quite a different breed.

Successful SMB SaaS companies have reinvented their businesses eschewing the expensive enterprise sales model in favor of end-user centric marketing, support and product development. These businesses often look more like consumer startups than enterprise startups. It’s all because of the nature of the market.

Market Dynamics

SMB SaaS companies sell to a highly fragmented market. See the table below comparing the ...

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The Two Key Ingredients in Great Connected Consumer Products

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We’ve all had a great idea for a product that would solve a pain we feel directly. It used to be impossible to convey that insight to anyone who might be in a position to act upon it. But that’s all changing because of the Internet.

Of late, it’s becoming increasingly easier for consumers to share their ideas for great products and bring them to market. One great example of this is a company called Quirky which solicits ideas from a community of people ...

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Founders, Equip Your Champions

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As a founder, you’re always selling. You’re selling yourself, your team, your product, your company. But your pitch is likely missing one of two key components.

A pitch needs to accomplish two goals to be effective. Most pitches solve the first, but omit the second. First, the pitch must convince the audience who might be investors, employees, recruits, or customers of some premise. Second, the pitch has to equip your champions, now convinced of your argument, to sell on your behalf.

No enterprise software is ever ...

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Here’s to the Grinders

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Sitting on a bench overlooking the South Beach marina, I asked an entrepreneur how he had been since he founded his company. He replied with a conundrum:

Looking back I can’t believe it’s only been a year but if I think about every day, it’s taken forever.

That’s a really succinct way of communicating how it feels to grind. Cementing each brick, each hire, each line of code, each product feature seems like just an incremental step, just another day. But taking ...

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