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Anti-scale effect in tech

Anti-scale effect in tech
Tonight I was talking with an exec at Google and I brought up the success of Instagr.am (they’ve gotten more than 500,000 downloads in just a few weeks) and asked him “why can’t Google do that?” I knew some of the answers. After all, I watched Microsoft get passed by by a whole group of startups (I was working at Microsoft as Flickr got bought by Yahoo, Skype got bought by eBay, etc etc). I told him a few of my theories, and he told me back what they are seeing internally. Turns out he was talking to me about these items because Google, internally, knows it has an innovation problem (look at Google Wave or Buzz for examples of how it is messed up) and is looking to remake its culture internally to help entrepreneurial projects take hold. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. So, how does a big company innovate? Another way? Sachin Agarwal, one of the founders of Posterous, echoes these comments in a post about what he learned working at Apple (Small teams rule). So, how about you? Related:  Strategy

The Strategy Trap “They were worried that I would get bogged down in wanting to do things, not just create strategy.”- David Polinchock / @lbbinc One of the topics covered during the #LikeMinds Summit this past weekend was precisely this: The chasm between strategy and execution, especially as businesses struggle to understand how to leverage, integrate and operationalize Social Communications (what you do with social media platforms) in the coming 6-24 months. Unfortunately, because the C-suite tends to look to itself when it comes to “strategic masterminding,” the focus too often shifts from execution at the customer level (the most important thing a business should be focusing on on) to… being the guy who came up with the game-changing strategy that will secure more funding and increase influence within the organization. When this happens, strategy becomes a product, and that’s bad. Strategy isn’t a product. Any idiot with a powerpoint deck can deliver a “Social” strategy: Um… yeah, except… no. 1. 2. 3.

How New Ideas Almost Killed Our Startup Odysseus resisting the Sirens Vinicius Vacanti is co-founder and CEO of Yipit. Next posts on how to acquire users for free and how to raise a Series A. Don’t miss them by subscribing via email or via twitter. On my three year startup journey that lead to Yipit, I had over 30 other completely unrelated ideas. To be clear, the “ideas” I’m referring to are the ones that have nothing to do with your current startup. In our case, Yipit had always been about organizing local information and we had been working on it for a while. Social version of delicious (summer of 2007)Tool to recommend the best version of the online video you were currently watching (spring 2008)140it.com: Bookmarklett that smartly shortens your tweet to less than 140 characters. I now think of these new ideas as the Sirens of the startup journey. The Temptation To understand why these new ideas can be so tempting, I refer you to the incredibly insightful startup transition cycle. The Danger The Solution

Why Startups Fail « vcdave An entrepreneur recently asked me why startups fail. Startups fail because they run out of money. You’re probably thinking, “Tell me something I don’t already know!” Read on and you’ll see that statement is deceptive in its simplicity This post is based both on my experience as an investor and as entrepreneur (when I’ve boot-strapped and venture-funded). They spend too much on sales and marketing before they’re ready. Other times, this occurs with entrepreneurs who are accustomed to having lots of resources. Sometimes even when the product is great, the sales process itself isn’t understood to a point where it can be scaled: who are you selling to, how much will they really spend, and what profile of sales person does the company need to hire who will succeed at selling that particular product. Spending on the sales and marketing operations means there is no return if customers don’t bite. The market outpaces the startup’s ability to execute. Take Company X (a composite).

Sean Parker On Why Myspace Lost To Facebook With reports of social network Myspace about to sell for ~$30 million, the tech world eagerly awaits the HBS study for why the service, which was bought in 2006 by Newscorp for $580 million and was at some point valued at $1.5 billion (a quote in a Business Week article referred to it as “one of the best acquisitions ever”) ultimately failed. For those that can’t wait for the inevitable GSB white papers, former Facebook President and Napster co-founder Sean Parker explained why Myspace succumbed to Facebook in an interview with Jimmy Fallon at the NExTWORK Conference in New York. While the entire interview is a delight to watch, the highlight is when Fallon starts asking Parker about whether Facebook is “it,” (“Is Facebook the end game?”) bringing up the failed Myspace for comparison. “It’s never the end game. Able to put being the possibility that it was victim of some artificial super intelligence aside, at minute 20:54 Fallon asks Parker, “Where did Myspace go wrong?”

Color, Now Down Two of Three Leaders, Looks Like A Lesson in Lean Startup Philosophy Just three and a half months after the company launched to the public, proximity-based photo sharing mega-startup Color has lost a second of its three high-profile initial team members, Michael Arrington reported this morning. Arrington said DJ Patil, who was LinkedIn's chief scientist until this Spring, has resigned. Co-founder Peter Pham, previously a leader at very successful startups Photobucket and Billshrink, left Color last month. The reasons why Color appears to be imploding can't be known for sure, but the whole thing looks like a lesson in the Lean Startup philosophy. Just after it launched, to widespread criticism because the user experience was so confusing and unfulfilling, we did an in-depth interview with CEO Bill Nguyen. Indeed the technology does sound very, very interesting. Lean Startup advocate Ries says that he had a similar experience with one of his startups, an avatar-based chat plug-in called IMVU. And now what have they got?

Five Things I Learned At MySpace That Could Help Google+ Editor’s note: This guest post is written by Tom Anderson, the former President, founder and first friend on MySpace. You can now find Tom on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ This is just a guess, but I’d bet money that Vic Gundotra and Bradley Horowitz probably feel like their heads are going to explode. At MySpace I tried to digest that “inbox” and “community” by myself, and that worked pretty well for a few years. Here’s a few things I’d do right now, if I were Google. 1) Start seriously courting the journalists, tastemakers, and celebrities that are using and/or pontificating about G+. Why? 2) Exhaustively think through the privacy issues and tie up any loose/ends that G+ has on this front. 3) Move Google’s top analysts (probably focused on monetization right now) onto the Google+ project to form a skunk works team. 4) Hire the best product executors & visionaries in the world, something that clearly has not been Google’s forte in the past. 5) There must be one ring to rule them all.

Staying Credulous: On Not Letting Being 40 Get In The Way I turned 40 in March. I didn’t think of it much, and I don’t plan on buying a convertible sports car or otherwise engaging in a mid life crisis. These age milestones just aren’t as meaningful for most men as they are for some women. But one thing I am very aware of is my growing skepticism of some of the crazy startup ideas I see. I have always been that guy, looking for the positive in any startup situation. There is some evidence that the most successful entrepreneurs are 40 or older. The companies that shape our culture – Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, etc. – are almost always started in a dorm room. It’s so easy to look at a startup and think of the ten startups before that tried to solve the same problem and failed. The wisdom that comes with experience seems like such a valuable asset to have. I sometimes feel that skepticism creeping into my thinking when I look at a new idea being presented by an eager and innocent young entrepreneur.

Startups, I want to challenge the concept of having a “Plan B” | Bobby Ghoshal by Bobby Ghoshal Certain things require a plan B, ex: rescue missions, wars, campaigning for an election, getting out of personal financial debt, science experiments etc. But i’m not convinced that startups can adequately plan for a “B” scenario. To be clear, I think having “tactical” plan B’s are important but having “strategic” plan B’s are a serious waste of time. If you don’t understand the difference between strategy and tactics, read about it here. The difference is, you can’t adequately plan for a B scenario when it comes to the big picture but you can and should have a plan B for the path that gets you to your end point. Plan B gives you an excuse not to commit to your decision because you give yourself a way out. Plan B will get you to rabbit-hole yourself into a plan C, D, E, F… so you end up focusing on planning for failures instead of focusing on whittling away at plan A until you break through it. Plan B could lead to you being impatient and not giving plan A a real shot at being successful.

Play by your own rules. — Work & Education In January of 2008 some friends and I launched PackRat, an early social game on Facebook. Eight months later, in August, we gave PackRat a cash-backed virtual currency. By December we were turning over $200,000 in monthly revenue. Not too shabby for a team of eight. About the same time we began exploring themes for other game-like experiences to build. A few ideas were basically PackRat re-skinned for a different audience. The first iPhone with GPS had just landed, so we were enthralled with the idea of mixing art, game-like incentives, and real-world locations to inspire people to go explore and share their favorite places and experiences. Of course, this idea was Gowalla. A week before launch I came across some interview with Dennis Crowley in which he described a new project that he and Naveen Selvadurai had been working on. A week later Gowalla and Foursquare would launch on the same day. At launch, both apps had their distinct moments of strength and weakness. (Our party was better.

Why Wesabe Lost to Mint - Marc Hedlund's Blog A number of people have asked and speculated about why the company I co-founded, Wesabe, shut down earlier this summer. Some of the claims or guesses about it are just factually wrong; others seem misinformed to me; others seem to have some truth. I thought I’d add my own opinion. In November 2006, Wesabe launched as a site to help people manage their personal finances. Even before we launched, we heard about other people working on similar ideas, and a slew of companies soon launched in our wake. That’s the history; now, some interpretation, with the completely obvious caveat that I am anything but an unbiased observer. With that in mind, here are what I believe are a number of myths about why Mint won and Wesabe lost: Mint launched first - I hear this surprisingly often; they didn’t. Those are what I see as the common beliefs about the outcome of our competition with Mint that I don’t believe were right. I am, of course, enormously sad that Wesabe lost and the company closed.

Paul Graham on Building Companies for Fast Growth Paul Graham's appetite for small talk is waning. "Are we starting yet? Is this the interview?" As co-founder of Y Combinator, the Silicon Valley tech accelerator, Graham has made a career of turning half-cooked business ideas into fast-growing companies in a matter of months. Among the 564 companies Y Combinator has funded over the past eight years are many runaway hits, including the cloud storage service Dropbox, the home-sharing start-up Airbnb, and the social-news site Reddit. The accelerator's modest headquarters in Mountain View, California, is furnished with relics from Graham's past, including a desk he bought back in the 1990s after co-founding Viaweb--a company that allowed anyone to build an online store--with Robert Morris and Trevor Blackwell. As a few entrepreneurs from the current Y Combinator class waited eagerly outside a conference room to meet with Graham, he spoke about the current start-up landscape and what it takes to build companies for fast growth. Like what?

How to Get Startup Ideas November 2012 The way to get startup ideas is not to try to think of startup ideas. It's to look for problems, preferably problems you have yourself. The very best startup ideas tend to have three things in common: they're something the founders themselves want, that they themselves can build, and that few others realize are worth doing. Problems Why is it so important to work on a problem you have? I made it myself. Why do so many founders build things no one wants? At YC we call these "made-up" or "sitcom" startup ideas. For example, a social network for pet owners. The danger of an idea like this is that when you run it by your friends with pets, they don't say "I would never use this." Well When a startup launches, there have to be at least some users who really need what they're making—not just people who could see themselves using it one day, but who want it urgently. Made-up startup ideas are usually of the first type. Nearly all good startup ideas are of the second type. Self School

The Games Startups Play | Anything's Possible Every startup plays two complementary games–the air game and the ground game. The air game is always more romantic. It is the emotional narrative of how your startup revolutionizes a market. It’s the aspirational hope that the company could become one of the great ones. The ground game is much uglier. In the startup world, early-stage companies are largely valued–at least for a while–on the air game, which tends to be way out ahead of the ground game. Though most companies are better at one game than the other, both are necessary for success. Companies that thrive on the ground game, but struggle to build buzz, face an equally uphill battle. The challenge is to be great at the air game–by building huge enthusiasm for the long-term potential–but never oversell the near-term ground game. A version of this post was originally published on Inc.com Like this: Like Loading...

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