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Startups feel like a race against the clock, because they are. The trick is to extend a startup's runway (or as one of my investors put it, "oxygen in the the scuba tank") long enough to become successful. This means creating the right team, finding product/market fit, executing flawlessly, and either becoming profitable or raising enough money to keep oxygen in the tank until you do (or until you get acquired trying).
One thing I've firmly come to believe after doing several startups is that a startup doesn't die until its founder(s) give up. By that I mean, there's always one more thing that the founding team can do to eek a bit more oxygen from the tank, even when things look hopeless. But when a founder gives up, there can still be money in the bank and it won't matter; the startup is done. It kind of feels like the tail wagging the dog, in a way -- startups succeed from pure, raw determination of the founders as they race against time.
What got me thinking about writing this post, though, is an awesome blog post I read about putting time in perspective. So often in startups it can feel like time's running out that it's refreshing to think about time on a grander scale. Here's an infographic from that article that really does put things into perspective. A great quote from that article is:
Vision Mobile just created a fantastic report called "State of the Developer Nation." Here are some highlights and thoughts:
There's no question that apps are here to stay (and that was a big question, even just 24 months ago). Over half of all phones sold worldwide are now smartphones:
With lots of app growth already and doubling in the next 24 months:
I never thought I'd say this, and I'm not sure how I feel about myself for saying it, but it's an exciting time to be in advertising.
There's a famous quote attributed to John Wanamaker, a pioneer in marketing from the late 1800's that goes:
Indeed, it's almost certainly way more than half. But the lack of quantifiability has always been the elephant in the room, even now, 150 years later.
A crazy story is unfolding in Silicon Valley right now: RadiumOne CEO Gurbaksh Chahal was fired by his board after he pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors of battery and domestic violence against his then-girlfriend, who he accused of having sex for money and allegedly assaulted. He says it was just an argument. She called 911.
But while that is crazy, that's not the really crazy part to me: Watching the reactions of those of us in the blogosphere who don't know all the facts of the case is the really crazy part.
With so many contradictions out in public, someone must be lying, and those contradictions are whipping social media into a frenzy. Here are a few examples:
• On his blog, Chahal says there was no abuse, just a "normal argument." The police say they have a video of him assaulting his then-girlfriend 117 times in 30 minutes, that she was taken to the hospital and that, according to BizJournals, the officer testified that the girlfriend told him "that Chahal grabbed her by the hair, threw her on the bed, hit her many times about the head with his palm, threw her back on the floor and also spit in her face and rubbed it in to her face and chest" and, according to TechCrunch, that she suffered a hematoma after the attack.
• On his blog, Chahal says the supposed security video footage wasn't used in court because "If anything, it actually made the SFPD look bad because they violently assaulted me as I opened my door despite my being fully cooperative.". According to Re/Code, the video -- if it exists-- could not be presented in court because it was seized from his home security system without his consent. The police argued they were afraid he would erase it; the judge didn't accept that argument, so it was thrown out.
UPDATE: I've posted lots of updates since I originally wrote this blog 2 years ago. If you want to go deeper down the rabbit hole, check out this post comparing Betterment vs. Wealthfront ETFs and this one on Peer to Peer lending.
My wife Sue and I have been mulling over how to most effectively deploy cash in the current economic climate to generate decent returns without taking outsize risks. We've honed in on six main strategies, which I outline below in descending order of risk.
Since everyone has a varying amount of cash to invest, I'm going to specifically call out ways to deploy small amounts of cash in some of these strategies, as I want this post to be really actionable for anyone. The most important part is to just get started, and the biggest barrier to doing that is you thinking "I don't have any money to invest." So get yourself out of that mindset and jump into the world of being an investor, even if it's just with $25 (yes it's possible, below), $100, or $1,000 or $10,000, or whatever. I also recommend putting money aside every month to invest; that's a great way to get started.
Riskiest: Angel Investing
Unless you've been living in a cave, you've probably heard that WhatsApp was purchased by Facebook for $16 billion in cash plus $3 billion in RSUs.
But what you may not know is that originally, WhatsApp was not solving a problem that people had. In fact, originally, WhatsApp was completely ignored.
It's a great lesson for startups: WhatsApp kept at it and iterated from zero traction, to the fastest growing messaging platform of all time (in fact, some might say the fastest growing platform as calculated by monthly active users of all time). Here's what that growth looks like:
But the original concept for WhatsApp was more of a status update app. This Forbes article articulates it well:
Based on your recommendation of First Round's "Review" blog, I've been reading all the posts. AWESOME one today on how Pandora managed an engineering resource crunch to get to where they are today!
“This is incredible, because someone very smart at one point thought, ‘We would be absolutely stupid not to do this thing.’ But really, when viewed in context of all the opportunities for the business, half of the things people thought were important immediately fall away," says Conrad.
I've been blogging about mobile for six years. Including things like whether native would beat HTML5, why Facebook switched back to native from HTML5, Native vs. Web, the rise of apps, the evolving definition of ‘app’, how Fortune 1000 CEOs are going to be fired for missing the Mobile Crush, how apps have a strong distribution channel, about NPR, Nat Geo, USA Today, Washington Post & others talking about mobile strategy back in 2010, how mobile is way more than a 2nd screen, how mobile data connections will replace wifi, the future of media on mobile, the mobile engagement challenge that nobody's talking about (yet) and how there are two types of engagement to optimize for, the basics of mobile, the future of mobile advertising, mobile events like WWDC 2010, a 45 min screencast back in 2010 with some big thinking about small phones, how mobile influences social strategies, what the iPad means for media, Sprint vs. AT&T speed comparison (spoiler alert: AT&T wins by a landslide), using mobile to lifehack a check deposit from 2000 miles away, mini apps, how mobile enables the interest graph, why we founded + sold AppMakr and Socialize (and the infrastructure required to run it), Android’s growth, SDK adoption tips (and tricks), as well as what mobile might look like in the future, including a review on Google Glass, hacking Glass, Tile, the Internet of Things, and what APIs mean for mobile. So needless to say, I’m deep into mobile.
But what I just read in the First Round Review (I talk more about FRR here) just blew my mind. They write:
Bam. Mind blown. Just like that. Native wins. At least for now.
Up until the 1980's we basically all lived in an analog world. Record players, cassette decks, cars, telephones, cameras -- these were all analog. The only digital interaction most of us had was with clunky big-box computers that started appearing in some homes.
Then, by the late 1990's, many of us had started to dip our toes into the digital world, with CDs, digital cameras, cellphones, GPS units, laptops and of course, the early Internet.
But even today, we still lead largely analog lives, and the digital universe is an interloper within it. I call our generation the "digital tweener" period. And especially if you're 30 or older, the idea of the world moving to become more deeply digital isn't an especially comfortable feeling. Not only that, but it can be hard to imagine why we would want it to be more digital. Well, here are just a few examples of some of the data that's generally not being captured in your life today, but could be -- and at some point likely will be:
Some VCs write great blogs. A few that come to mind are Fred Wilson, Chris Dixon and especially, Ben Horowitz. But I'm usually not impressed with the quality of blogging that VCs do as a firm, which is too bad since VCs expend lots of energy courting top entrepreneurs.
First Round has cracked this code with their "Review" series of articles -- well, publication, really --, and has become the best VC-produced content for entrepreneurs I've found. Their content is exactly what both novice and seasoned entrepreneurs often need guidance on, including topics like:
What's interesting is that this isn't even their blog, which is located here and is much more of a traditional not-as-interesting VC blog. First Round has created a separate publication called the First Round Review, with longer form, way better produced content. Think of it as a "VC as a Publisher" model. And it really works. Very impressive, and it's something other companies -- including startups -- can consider doing for their target audiences if they're willing to make the investment required to produce high quality, targeted content.