I'm a partner at Redpoint. I write daily, data-driven blog posts about key questions facing startups. I co-authored the book, Winning with Data. Join more than 20,000 others receiving these blog posts by email.

The Part They Don’t Tell You About Startup Team Building

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At Google, the director of my team repeated a management mantra to us quite often. “Manage yourself out of a job; make yourself redundant”, she would say. “Empower your people and then get out of the way.” Our director was a terrific team builder.

Before Google, she founded a startup where she learned to build a company. When she told us her mantra, she was sharing her learnings with us.

Company builders sow the seeds of a team, cultivate each teammate, promote a leader from ...

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The Series A Is Overloaded

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There’s a concept in computer programming called operator overloading that neatly describes the current Series A investment market.

Overloading means using the same code for two very different purposes depending on inputs. For example, a programmer could redefine the + function so that instead of adding two numbers, the function would multiply the numbers if one of the numbers was negative. Overloading can create lots of confusion in programming because the same function name can return very different results.

The Series A market ...

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Analyzing Twitter Ad Performance for the Last 9 Months

I’ve been promoting my Twitter account since October 2012 in effort to better understand social media content marketing and to promote that great vanity metric, Twitter follower count.

At the outset, I promoted my account and links to blog posts. I prize followers more than one time visits to a blog, because the long term marketing relationship provides many chances to bring someone to my blog. Promoting links sends traffic to a single blog post, but doesn’t convert to followers with a very high rate.

I spent $10 per ...

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The Sales and Marketing Spend Strategies of Billion Dollar SaaS Companies

How much should your SaaS startup spend on sales and marketing? I’ve written about using unit economics and lead funnel performance to answer this question. Emulating the patterns of successful SaaS companies is another technique.

There are about 34 publicly traded SaaS companies that have published their revenue and sales & marketing expenses. Though their revenue growth rates are each unique, the sales and marketing spend patterns are quite similar.

The revenue ramps of public SaaS companies follow the familiar exponential growth path. ...

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Marketing’s Technical Liberation

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Product and engineering teams are inseparable and at the core of most startups. One degree removed, sales and customer support teams ply the voice of the customer to influence product and eng. Of the five teams in a startup, marketing teams tend to have the least influence because traditional product marketers must influence others to enact change.

Marketing works with product and engineering to update branding and communication within the product. Marketing collaborates with sales to refine the product positioning. Marketing relies on engineering to provide ...

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The Fundamental Challenge of Your Startup’s First Hire: Leading and Learning at the Same Time

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A team of founders who had just made their first their first hire asked me about culture and on boarding. How do they go about managing people? How do they maintain the values of the business?

The underlying question of successful management is: How can founders lead and learn at the same time?

I think a bastardized version Tolstoy’s well-worn refrain is apt:

Happy teams are all alike; every unhappy team is unhappy in its own way.

Anna Karenina on ...

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Choosing a Content Marketing Strategy for Your Startup

For bloggers and content marketers, choosing the right content syndication tools to distribute posts is critical to developing an audience. The author/marketer must balance four attributes: distribution, measurement, retention and brand.

Table 1: Balancing Syndication Tools Attributes

Channel Distribution Measurement Retention Brand
RSS Poor: only one subscriber Poor: volatile metrics Good but declining So so: controlled by RSS reader
Email ...

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Your Startup’s Three Horizons

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When I started at Redpoint in 2008, I wanted to find every way of analyzing companies I could. Consultants scrutinize the inner-workings of companies daily and create simple frameworks for explaining their operations. So I bugged a handful of friends with experience at the Big 3 consulting firms for their most used frameworks.

Recently I came across an old friend, a framework I studied then called McKinsey’s Three Horizons in The Lean Entrepreneur, an anthology of lean startup techniques and ...

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The Seed Investment Patterns of Billion Dollar Startups

Over the past few years, there has been a pronounced shift in the seed market. VCs now participate quite actively in the market. As a result, seed investment volumes have roughly doubled in the past year.

But is the seed strategy working for startups and VCs? Do hugely successful businesses raise seed capital? Do those businesses include VCs in their seed rounds? And most importantly, do the VCs follow on in the Series A?

To find the answer, I tabulated the early financing history for about 30 companies with ...

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The Founder’s Null Hypothesis

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Over breakfast, I caught up with a close friend, an entrepreneur who is exploring a number of ideas for his next venture. He and his co-founder want to test their way to success with the Lean Startup Model. But they have added a twist to the Lean Startup process I call the Founder’s Null Hypothesis. Here’s how it works:

First, this entrepreneur assumes each of his ideas will fail - the null hypothesis. Then, he and his co-founder write down a set of milestones ...

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