From Mark Saldana
Joining the tech world might seem like a mysterious process, but I can assure that you don’t need magical powers, luck, or a blessing from Mark Zuckerberg to join a startup. Back in 2009, I was a completely non-technical recent grad (English Major, LOL) who didn’t know ANYTHING about startups. Somehow, I still managed to convince a now well-known file-sharing startup to hire me. If you don’t code or design, you probably won’t have the luxury of turning down offers from startups that are throwing themselves at you. But don’t let that discourage you; there are still plenty of ways to get a awesome startup to give you a chance. Here’s how:
From Steve Blank
Since 2005 startup accelerators have provided cohorts of startups with mentoring, pitch practice and product focus. However, accelerator Demo Days are a combination of graduation ceremony and pitch contest, with the uncomfortable feel of a swimsuit competition. Other than “I’ll know it when I see it”, there’s no formal way for an investor attending Demo Day to assess project maturity or quantify risks. Other than measuring engineering progress, there’s no standard language to communicate progress.
Corporations running internal incubators face many of the same selection issues as startup investors, plus they must grapple with the issues of integrating new ideas into existing P&L-driven functions or business units.
From Sam Altman
There’s a lot written about what you should do when you raise money, but there hasn’t been as much written about the common mistakes founders make. Here is a list of mistakes I often see:
• Over-optimizing the process
A lot of founders try to get way too fancy with tricks that they think will help them raise money. It’s actually quite simple; if you have a good company, you will probably be able to raise money. You’re better off working to make you company better than working on fundraising jiu jitsu.
From WSJ Accelerators
If you are still thinking that mobile app and web development are a niche or future priority, you need to adapt to today’s reality, and fast. According to Pew Internet, 31% of American mobile Internet users say that’s the primary way they access the web.
We’ve now reached that critical inflection point where more people access the Internet from mobile devices than computers.
As with any platform shift, today’s mobile revolution means major implications and big opportunities for businesses. The problem is that too many companies have underestimated the radical change that mobile brings about. They think of mobile as simply an extension of the Web, rather than an entirely new platform, and they look at the smartphone as just a smaller computer with a lot less memory and processing power.
From Angela Tran Kingyens
A few weeks ago when Boris wrote about overcoming decision paralysis, I shared a comment that I make important decisions by evaluating my choices based on how they align with my core values. For years now, I have been encouraging nearly everyone that I meet to take some time to reflect on his or her values for this exact purpose (among many others).
People often talk about the importance of leading a value-driven life or business, but what exactly are values? They are at the core of our happiness, the source of our inspiration, and foundation of our close relationships. They serve as our compass and guide our decision-making. They shape our character both in our personal lives and at work.
From Fast Company
When Gabriel Weinberg launched a search engine in 2008, plenty of people thought he was insane. How could DuckDuckGo, a tiny, Philadelphia-based startup, go up against Google? One way, he wagered, was by respecting user privacy. Six years later, we’re living in the post-Snowden era, and the idea doesn’t seem so crazy.
In fact, DuckDuckGo is exploding.
Looking at a chart of DuckDuckGo’s daily search queries, the milestones are obvious. A $3 million investment from Union Square Ventures in 2011. Just prior to that, a San Francisco billboard campaign. Inclusion in Time‘s 50 Best Websites of 2011. Each of these things moved the traffic needle for DuckDuckGo, but none of them came close to sparking anything like the massive spike in queries the company saw last July. That’s when Edward Snowden first revealed the NSA’s extensive digital surveillance program to the world. The little blue line on the chart hasn’t stopped climbing north since.
From Tomasz Tunguz
Great entrepreneurs can come from anywhere. But do the locations of startups affect their ability to raise follow on capital? Do seed stage companies in the Bay Area face lower likelihoods of raising a Series A because of more competition? Or is it that New York based startups, because of a smaller ecosystem, face more difficulty?
Using Crunchbase data, I charted the financing follow-on rates across the 12 US cities in which at least 10 seeds, 3 Series As and 3 Series Bs have occured in the Crunchbase data set from 2005-2014. The first two charts below contrast the success rates of post-seed startups raising an A having raised a seed and raising a B having raised an A. The third chart shows the success rates of raising a B having raised a seed round.
From Sam Altman
Yesterday at lunch a friend asked me what tech trend he should pay attention to but was probably ignoring.
Without thinking much I said “artificial intelligence”, but having thought about that a bit more, I think it’s probably right.
To be clear, AI (under the common scientific definition) likely won’t work. You can say that about any new technology, and it’s a generally correct statement. But I think most people are far too pessimistic about its chances – AI has not worked for so long that it’s acquired a bad reputation. CS professors mention it with a smirk. Neural networks failed the first time around, the logic goes, and so they won’t work this time either.
But artificial general intelligence might work, and if it does, it will be the biggest development in technology ever.
From Satya Patel
At Homebrew, Hunter and I are very focused on “Why” a founder has chosen to start a company and what motivates him or her to attack the specific problem or opportunity he or she sees. But also important is the “how”, the approach the entrepreneur has taken to address the opportunity. Often, when we starting talking about the “how”, we hear about a lot of different ideas being considered and experiments being run in an effort to find product/market fit. But at the seed stage, entrepreneurs often focus only on what they’re doing without being equally attentive to what they’re learning. “Being busy” by itself does not equate to building a company. You should be learning with every step so that you can find a scalable model of success.
Focusing on the key questions and how best to answer them
To create an organization that learns and doesn’t just do, I’m a big advocate of the scientific method approach to building product (and companies more generally). The scientific method is a simple framework that can help startups focus, experiment, learn and iterate quickly and effectively. Below is a description of that method along with a simplified example of an experiment we ran at Twitter (not the actual data).
From Benedict Evans
Facebook just bought WhatsApp, paying $16bn in cash and stock and $3bn in RSUs. WhatsApp has 450m active users, of which 72% are active every day. It has just 32 engineers. And its users share 500m photos a day, which is almost certainly more than Facebook.
This is interesting in all sorts of ways – it illustrates most of the key trends in consumer tech today in one deal.
First, it shows the continued determination of Facebook to be the ‘next’ Facebook. It’s striking to compare the aggressive reaction to disruption shown by Google, Facebook and other leading web companies today with how some of their predecessors a decade ago stumbled and lost their way.
Second, the winner-takes-all dynamics of social on the desktop web do not appear to apply on mobile, and if there are winner-takes-all dynamics for mobile social it’s not yet clear what they are. There are four main aspects to this:
From Rob Go
Since I posted my Seed VC Decision Tree, one of the most frequent requests I’ve gotten is to define what makes an “awesome founder”. I’ve hesitated to define this because I think evaluating founders is very subjective and I hate to make anyone think I have a particular checklist or profile of founder that I’m looking for. Since starting NextView, I’ve worked with founders of a wide variety of backgrounds, experience, and attributes. Many of these founders share some common characteristics, but if you put them all in the room, I think you’d be surprised at their differences as well.
But, I try to respond to my readers as best as I can, so here’s my best attempt. I think there are many dozens of attributes that awesome founders have, but here are the four that I find to be nearly universal:
Adrian Perica is a very busy man. Over the past 18 months, the mergers and acquisitions chief at Apple has been scouring the globe looking for deals, snatching up everything from search engines and data analytics to mapping software and motion tracking chips.
Such a buying spree has ignited fierce speculation in tech circles and on Wall Street about Apple’s future ambitions, especially as smartphone and tablet sales start to slow. Most of that speculation has centered on wearable technology or perhaps a souped-up upgrade of Apple TV.
But Apple is thinking bigger. Much bigger.
A source tells The Chronicle that Perica met with Tesla CEO Elon Musk in Cupertino last spring around the same time analysts suggested Apple acquire the electric car giant.
From Buffer Blog
In 2010, Dave Brailsford faced a tough job.
No British cyclist had ever won the Tour de France, but as the new General Manager and Performance Director for Team Sky (Great Britain’s professional cycling team), that’s what Brailsford was asked to do.
His approach was simple.
Brailsford believed in a concept that he referred to as the “aggregation of marginal gains.” He explained it as the “1 percent margin for improvement in everything you do.” His belief was that if you improved every area related to cycling by just 1 percent, then those small gains would add up to remarkable improvement.
They started by optimizing the things you might expect: the nutrition of riders, their weekly training program, the ergonomics of the bike seat, and the weight of the tires.
But Brailsford and his team didn’t stop there. They searched for 1 percent improvements in tiny areas that were overlooked by almost everyone else: discovering the pillow that offered the best sleep and taking it with them to hotels, testing for the most effective type of massage gel, and teaching riders the best way to wash their hands to avoid infection. They searched for 1 percent improvements everywhere.
“Don’t be evil” has been Google’s unofficial motto for a long time, but in recent years it’s questionable whether they’ve lived up to the slogan. So we asked you what you
. Here are your best arguments.
Not Evil: As a Big Company, They’re Always Going to Offend Someone
One thing many of you pointed out is that Google’s come under more scrutiny about the evil banner because they’ve gotten a lot bigger since they made that original motto. Our own Andy Orin put it well:
As a company’s size and influence grows and their decisions affect millions of people, it can be a mistake to characterize them as evil because they did something you didn’t like. They are a profit-driven business of course, and not an altruistic NGO working plainly for world betterment, and so everything they do is tied to making a buck. Anyway, as far as evil corporations go, Google is not very evil!