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 startup hardware M&A market will be vibrant in 2013

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Hardware competition is cut-throat. Walking through the halls of CES, every Android phone is identical. LG has copied each Samsung model. Because of the competition, tablet prices are plummeting - I saw a $49 7inch tablet (and some were giving Nexus 7s away for free with subscription. Not constrained to large competitors, startups like FitBit and Jawbone launched competing (and nearly identical) products within weeks of each other: the FitBit Flex and the Jawbone Up Even newer segments ...

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A CEO’s epitaph

There is no prouder boast, but also no better prescription, for executive leadership than the words Andrew Carnegie, the father of the U.S. steel industry, chose for his own tombstone: “Here lies a man who knew how to bring into his service men better than he was himself.”

Amen.

This epitaph captures succinctly so much of leadership: the ability to articulate a vision and convince others of the importance of that mission; the self awareness of knowing one’s strengths and weaknesses; the desire to be the dumbest guy in ...

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Observations of the LinkedIn Influencer program

In December, I was lucky enough to be asked to become part of the LinkedIn influencer program. I jumped at the opportunity to bring my writing to a broader audience. And the experience has been eye-opening.

The influencer program asks a few hundred LinkedIn members to write periodic blog posts which are highlighted on the home page and in email marketing campaigns. LinkedIn staffed a fantastic editorial team who assists writers with content creation and editing, but most importantly, content marketing.

The editorial team delivers relevant content to ...

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The new marketers

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In the last 12 years, marketing has been reinvented. No segment has benefitted more from this transformation than startups who have both created the new marketing and leveraged its skills to transform industries. These new marketers creating this wave have been so effective they can delay or even obviate the need for outside sales teams.

Historically marketing has been pseudoscience - an undisciplined hand-wavy concoction of story telling and a “throw stuff on the wall and see what sticks” mentality protected by unmeasurable results ...

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To Sell is Human

Daniel Pink, former speechwriter for Al Gore, has written an unconventional book on sales called To Sell is Human. In this well researched book, Pink observes a few surprising evolutions in society and their impact on sales.

The hard sell is dead. Enabled by the internet, prospective buyers know more about a product than a salesperson. This is true for cars as much as enterprise software. As a result, the salesperson no longer leverages an information asymmetry to sell a product. Instead, the salesperson must negotiate from the very ...

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We should be living in the future already

We should be living in the future already. I should be controlling my home lights from my phone. My coffee machine should reorder coffee from Amazon automatically and my washing machine should schedule its own maintenance.

This kind of future demands that machines act with human intelligence. I’m asking my coffee machine to think like me, so that I don’t have to.

But we aren’t living in this world yet because it requires the synchronized deployment of three of the most advanced technologies developed in ...

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Fundamentals of communication

Communication is essential to the success of every startup. Startup teams collaborate in product and engineering conversations, in general management, and in recruiting. Externally, startups sell customers using marketing and sales. Startups also pitch investors during fundraising conversations.

Clearly, great communication makes demands of the audience. But effective communication is challenging.

One of my favorite communication tools is a framework created by management guru Peter Drucker of three fundamentals: perception, expectation and clear demand.

Perception means understanding the audience: their worldview, the language they use, their motivations and their ...

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Year in review: Best of 2012

About three years ago, I started journaling my startup education by blogging. In retrospect, blogging has been one of the most rewarding activities for me as an investor. Blogging helps me some observe changes in the start-up ecosystem, communicate trends primarily through data while strengthening and building relationships. It’s been more gratifying than I could have hoped.

Over the past year, quite a bit has happened on this blog. I’ve tried to write a post every working day on both tactical topics for startups like fundraising and management and macro/strategic ...

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Tablets: the third platform

It’s easy to call a tablet a larger a mobile phone. Or a replacement for a notebook or ultrabook. But to dismiss tablets as scaled clones of their bigger and smaller brothers is a mistake.

Tablets are the third type of device: the one with the most revenue potential for ecommerce and developers alike. Tablets drive greater volumes of traffic, that convert to paid at better rates, and drive better qualified and less expensive leads through advertising.

Despite the fact that tablet penetration is less than half of ...

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The myth of the generalist

When I started working at Google, I heard the word generalist over and over. “We only hire generalists,” I was told. Eight years later this mantra is pretty common. I hear it often both referring to the desired characteristics of new hires and also the aspirations of a team - “we want to be a team of generalists”.

At the time, I understood the word generalist to mean someone really good at a lot of things. In computer science, it might mean an engineer who is great at Javascript, ...

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