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.

The culture of data science

In a triumph of statistics, Nate Silver predicted the outcome of every state in the Presidential election correctly. What makes this story so noteworthy isn’t that it proves data enables superior decision-making to human intuition. We know the math works.

Instead, Silver’s success highlights and challenges the prevailing culture, present in politics and in the workplace, that overvalues intuition and undervalues data.

Our analysis tools and our access to big data are forcing cultural change at the broadest scale. The latest field to face this upheaval is ...

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Radio Ga Ga

Must content platforms be reinvented every few years?

Left to its own devices, the mob will augment, accessorize, spam, degrade and noisify whatever they have access to, until it loses beauty and function and becomes something else.
Seth Godin

Given the noise and misinformation disseminated on Twitter both during the election and the Sandy disaster, I’ve been wondering how Godin’s thoughts apply to new information networks: blogs and feeds.

Sifting the feed in search of the truth

There is an undeniable early movement toward editorially ...

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The idea factory

This morning, I listened to an interview of Jon Gertner who has published a chronicle of Bell Labs called the Idea Factory. In his book and the interview, Gertner highlighted points about the Bell Labs that relate to Clay Christensen’s recent New York Times editorial, the Capitalist’s Dilemma.

Bell Labs was a house of magic - a place of prodigious invention and innovation. In a single year, Bell scientists and engineers the transistor, satellite communication and information theory (the theory that underpins all digital technologies). The advances ...

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Mobile OS trends in five charts

In May 2010, I bet a good friend of mine that Android would overtake iOS in total devices shipments in 12 months' time. My prediction was completely off the mark. In May 2011, iOS led cumulative shipments by more than 100%: 191M to 95M. It would take another 10 months for Android to equal Apple in March 2011 at about 325M each.

Race to one billion devices

But Android reached this milestone in a way I didn’t anticipate. I expected a clean division between the high and ...

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A great entrepreneur can come from anywhere

There’s a Pixar movie that captures the ethos of Silicon Valley’s entrepreneurship culture which it summarizes this way:

While not everyone can be a great chef, a great chef can come from anywhere

The magic of the valley is that there is no path, no formula, no stencil for how to be successful. There is no university one must attend, no incubator one must join, no technology one must master to be successful. Every entrepreneur has a different route to their successes.

But ...

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The challenges facing startups serving K-12 education

Ariel Diaz wrote an insightful post in PandoDaily yesterday outlining the state of affairs in online education. Ariel touched on the history of education, catalogued the problems of the status quo and pointed to a few innovative initiatives.

Most Edu Innovation is Post-Secondary

Reading the post and reflecting on the startups I’ve seen, I concluded most of the innovation in education has occurred in post-secondary education instead of K-12, despite the fact that the K-12 market is about 50% larger in dollar terms than the post-secondary market. ...

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Systems thinking for startups

Peter Senge has been called the most influential business strategists of the century and in my view Senge is the successor of Peter Drucker, the management visionary. Senge published a book in 1990 called The Fifth Discipline which I think every manager, founder and CEO should read.

Great companies transcend their great products. Not defined by one product, these companies adapt, innovate and reinvent. They learn continuously to succeed as their environment changes. Senge’s book teases apart the five essential components to building a learning organization.

At ...

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The future of search

The Verge profiled Google Now, Google’s newest search technology which uses “predictive” queries to show users the information they want to see, before users ask.

In a single app, the company has combined its latest technologies: voice search that understands speech like a human brain, knowledge of real-world entities, a (somewhat creepy) understanding of who and where you are, and most of all its expertise at ranking information. Google has taken all of that and turned it into an interesting and sometimes useful feature, but if ...

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What to look for when hiring a data scientist

Over the last six months, I’ve been delving deeply into R, linear regressions and machine learning. Part of the rationale has been to remember some of the concepts I learned in grad school studying signal processing.

But a more important driver has been the need to better understand how to qualify, evaluate and hire data scientists because data science is a massive competitive advantage. And many of the companies I work with are hiring data scientists.

Support Vector Machine Visualized

Finding the right person ...

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You want to start a company. Now what?

Last week, a close friend, who is a product manager/designer, told me he’s starting a company. He asked me where I thought the biggest opportunity lay given his skills and his passions. He’s incredibly capable and driven, but he hasn’t yet found the right place to apply his energy. My friend is in search of a problem to solve. He’s in the right place. After all:

“The essence of a startup lies in the process of discovering a problem shared by many people and trying to solve it.”.

So ...

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