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.

Data on the “seedpocalypse”

Call it what you like. The Series A Crunch or Silicon Valley’s Financial Cliff, there’s a lot of talk about the challenge seed stage companies facing insurmountable odds raising Series A investment - PandoDaily’s analysis pegs the odds at 20% based on anecdotal data.

The three horsemen of the seedpocalypse

In the past 3 years, the three major trends influencing the seed market are:

  1. The decreasing cost of starting a company is balanced by growing labor costs. Seed companies must still raise Series As to scale.
  2. ...

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VC consumer investment trends by sector and stage

Yesterday, I showed the increasing share of venture capital investments consumer companies represent. But examining the trends at a category level may mask patterns by consumer category and also by stage.

So, I’ve created two charts: the first is a bar chart of consumer investment by segment and the second is a heatmap of of sector and stage. I categorized the consumer investments by 10 leading firms over the past 18 months into six buckets of my choosing.

Consumer services and ecommerce represent 70% dollars invested

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The cognitive burden of unbundling

Department stores. Computer software. And even education. Products and services are being broken into their atomic units and optimized for price, selection, features and, most importantly, customer satisfaction. This is an inexorable trend that cannot and should not be stopped.

Roger Ehrenberg in a post called “The Great Unbundling”

This unbundling is happening. But I’m not convinced it’s every consumer’s desire to consume media or purchase clothing a la carte. Or that this is the end state of commerce. Instead, the future is a ...

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VC investment trends in the consumer web

Fred Wilson’s perspectives on trends in consumer web investment created a big brouhaha over the weekend. Commenting on a WSJ article, Wilson offered his confirmatory observations that follow-on investments in the consumer web have become more challenging as momentum investors have shifted toward enterprise.

Over the past 18 months, valuations of later stage consumer internet companies have ballooned into the hundreds of millions propelled by enormous user growth. For many of these startups, revenue hasn’t been able to keep pace with rising serving costs. It’s not surprising ...

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A Startup’s Two Financial Plans: the Board Plan and the Stretch Plan

Last week I wrote about the importance of a financial plan for startups at every stage. It’s a challenge to balance the predictability the board requests and the ambition the company wants.

Often, as startups grow, they adopt two plans: a board plan and a company plan. By creating two plans and presenting each to the right audience, founders can communicate and motivate their teams effectively.

The board plan is the more conservative of the two. Typically, the founding/management team has a high degree ...

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Financial planning for startups

Over lunch last week, I asked a Redpoint entrepreneur, who had recently sold his company, how his board could have been more helpful to him. His answer surprised me.

He wished the company had built a financial/operational plan sooner.

Building an financial plan is challenging and it is often perceived as a waste of time because the plan can be so inaccurate. Lots of entrepreneurs tell me their plans are just WAGs - wild assed guesses. And to some degree they are.

But, in the words of this ...

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Segmenting customer pipelines

When building a freemium SaaS company or an ecommerce company or any product that requires users to move through a funnel towards an objective, it’s important to track this funnel to understand where the funnel can be improved.

But tracking one funnel may not be enough. The aggregated funnel may be masking conversion differences across customers segments. For example, at Expensify conversion rates to paid vary quite a bit across customer size. But the total conversion-to-paid rate hides these nuances.

It’s critical to understand each segment well. For each, ...

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Great products are like ducks

Great products are like ducks. They are calm above the water but paddling furiously below the water. An entrepreneur told me this quip last week and I think it had great wisdom in it.

In other words great products are graceful. They make something complex look effortless.

Great athletes are the same. So are great dancers. And even great entrepreneurs.

The secret within this aphorism is that success is a grind. It is hard work.

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The stewards of vision and culture

Vinod Khosla penned a great overview of the three phases of a company this weekend. He identifies the hub and spoke phase, the organized chaos phase, the functional management phase.

Once a founder has experienced each of these phases, it’s easy to identify the them in retrospect. But companies don’t transition from one phase to another in discrete steps. Instead, they morph and evolve fluidly into these phases.

Throughout this metamorphosis, two things must remain constant to keep the startup functional: the vision/mission of the company and ...

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Partnerships for startups: key deal terms

Yesterday’s post on distribution partnerships for startups elicited a few comments and questions about other important elements startups should consider when contemplating partnerships. I’ve listed a few other major partnership elements below.

Qualifying the Partnership

Quality of inbound traffic - As part of measuring the cost/benefit of a partnership, it’s critical to understand quality of traffic/customers from a distribution partnership, as @jamesreinhart pointed out. Ideally, a startup should collect data on the performance of a distribution channel before entering into a long-term agreement with a partner. Conversion ...

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