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 Data Biases Challenge Your Startup?

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Steve Sinofsky, executive at Microsoft for 24 years penned an insightful post on the five data biases plaguing product decisions. It can be easy for any founder, product manager, marketer or engineer accept a data point at face value as the rationale behind a decision.

But understanding the nuances and biases of the data, questioning the data, is often just as important as the result. The corollary point argued in his post is data isn’t strategy - data can’t be blindly used to inform ...

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Measuring Dark Social Using Google Analytics

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In social media, like the real world, there’s quite a lot of gossip going on behind your back. At least on the Internet, you can measure it.

Dubbed dark social, this “invisible” sharing brings 40% of the visitors to my blog and similar amounts of traffic to other content sites. The Atlantic Monthly, which receives 5M monthly uniques, reports 60% of traffic from dark social

Like its distant cousin dark energy, dark social is a massive and to date little understood force despite its ...

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A Startup’s Guide to Outsourcing

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During the life of a startup, the question of outsourcing can arise frequently whether for PR, marketing, product design, sales or engineering.

Outsourcing can be very attractive: consultants bring new points of view, relevant experience and (potentially) immediate results. Of course, consultants charge high fees and after their contract expires they leave with their knowledge and insights in tow.

Founders may be challenged when deciding when and what to outsource. To simplify the decision, reflect on your startup’s key competencies needed to win ...

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Social Proof: The Most Formidable Force Driving Content

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In a world of socially curated news, there is no place for RSS. I wrote last year:

Social streams solve the problem most RSS readers faced: the inbox with 1000+ items to read and no way to sift through them.

Socially curated news syndicated through social networks (Facebook, Twitter) and content networks (LinkedIn, Quibb, HackerNews) solves the relevance problem that RSS never could address.

Brian Shih, former Google Reader PM, wrote an excellent, passionate post-mortem on the product on ...

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Why Branding Is the Next Essential Startup Competency

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How much is the most valuable brand in the world, Coca-Cola worth? $77.8B. That’s 45% of the company’s market cap.

Often times, winners create advantages in a market through brands. These brands evoke emotions within consumers: feelings of trust (Visa), of aspiration (Nike), of adventure (RedBull). And if the brand is strong enough, it replaces the generic term: tissues/Kleenex, internet search/Google, glass cleaner/Windex.

In Silicon Valley, we tend to believe that better products win markets. It’s atypical to overhear a conversation at Blue ...

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Machine Learning in Consumer Products

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I believe machine learning will drive the next big wave of innovation in consumer web services. The very same technologies that power Google’s search and Netflix video recommendation engine will become far more common and useful, perhaps even predominant in the consumer web.

Every great consumer product has a little bit of magic. Apple employs static software and hardware design to anticipate user needs - to create that magic.

Compared to user experience design and forethought, intelligence, when it works, is far more compelling and ...

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Strikes and Gutters

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Among my friends in college, a frequent response to the question, “How’s it going?” was “Strikes and gutters.” In other words, really well and really poorly - at the same time.

Five years into the venture business, I think that expression is much better suited to the day-to-day swings a startup experiences than the life of a college student.

It’s hard to imagine these two diametric feelings at the same time, but for entrepreneurs it’s a daily occurrence. Launch a new great product feature ...

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How To Measure the Success of a Blog

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I often wonder about how to measure the success of this blog. While there are many tools to measure page views and visitors, the absolute number of readers is probably the worst measure because it’s a false idol. Feedburner subscribers, retweets, time on site aren’t much better because they don’t measure the true performance of a blog - what fraction of an audience the blog reaches.

In order for content marketing and blogs to be effective, the writing must have a target audience in ...

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Crafting a Pricing Plan to Maximize Freemium Growth

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The three tier feature based pricing model is so common it’s almost a cliché. For some businesses it works well. But as Kenny van Zant explained to me, feature based pricing can slow growth in freemium businesses in two ways: first, feature based pricing creates incentives within a company to offer a subpar product and consequently creates unnecessary friction in the adoption process slowing growth. Both of these challenges arise when the pricing model is applied to end users, instead of ...

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Crawling - The Most Underrated Hack

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It’s been a little while since I traded code with anyone. But a few weeks ago, one of our entrepreneurs-in-residence, Javier, who joined Redpoint from VMWare, told me about a Ruby gem called Mechanize that makes it really easy to crawl websites, particularly those with username/password logins.

In about 30 minutes I had a working LinkedIn crawler built, pulling the names of new followers, new LinkedIn connections and LinkedIn status updates. All of that information is useful for me. But I just can’t ...

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