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The Bad Product Fallacy: Don’t confuse “I don’t like it” with “That’s a bad product and it’ll fail”

Benedict Evans at a16z recently tweeted the following:

There’s so much truth in this tweet. And it resonates so much, I think it deserves a name:

The Bad Product Fallacy
Your personal use cases and opinion are a shitty predictor of a product’s future success.

I’ve been in the Bay Area for 10 years now, and nothing stings more than whiffing on the prediction of whether a product will be success. Getting this wrong can hurt the ego and sometimes the checkbook too – just ask the dozens of investors who’ve passed on Facebook, Google, Uber, and so on! Personally, I missed completely on Facebook’s potential, and that’s just one of many bad predictions over the years.

The Bad Product Fallacy happens because the trajectory of a product evolves quickly – it’s just software, after all – and a simple set of features can quick grow into a rich, complex platform over time.

Let’s look at some of the comment root causes of the Bad Product Fallacy:

It all starts with a toy
The first and most well-studied root cause of the Bad Product Fallacy is from the theory of disruptive innovation. Many products can look like toys before they become successful. Just take Instagram as an example – it was just a photo filters app at the beginning, and is now one of the largest media properties in the world. Or personal computers, which was initially meant for hobbyists since they were underpowered and weren’t useful for business applications.

This whole phenomenon – widely studied as disruptive innovation theory by Harvard’s Clayton Christensen – is nicely summarized in this blurb:

Disruptive technologies are dismissed as toys because when they are first launched they “undershoot” user needs. The first telephone could only carry voices a mile or two. The leading telco of the time, Western Union, passed on acquiring the phone because they didn’t see how it could possibly be useful to businesses and railroads – their primary customers.

– Chris Dixon, gp at a16z

Here’s now you know you might be falling for this trap: If you use a new product for the first time and say, “huh, is that all there is?” then you may just be whiffing. Or if you complain about a lack of features, even as the underlying technologies are being upgraded extremely rapidly.

Just wait a couple years- by then, the product will have improved so much that you’ll realize you got it all wrong.

Moore’s Law for everything
The inverse of disruptive innovation is that products can start out super premium, but then quickly fall in price to find success in a large, mainstream market. The iPhone is the classic example, but Tesla, Uber, and others are pulling this off too. Sometimes there’s a Moore’s Law kind of effect, where things are getting enormously better and cheaper over time.

Let’s look at the iPhone, the classic example. Steve Ballmer made a very bad prediction – when asked about the new device, he laughed! Not a threat! Instead, he explained why the iPhone would fail:

500 dollars? Fully subsidized? With a plan? I said that is the most expensive phone in the world. And it doesn’t appeal to business customers because it doesn’t have a keyboard. Which makes it not a very good email machine.

-Steve Ballmer, Microsoft on the iPhone

Funny, right? Hindsight is 20/20. Or speaking of phones, here’s another funny example, but about mobile phones in general:

In the early 1980s AT&T asked McKinsey to estimate how many cellular phones would be in use in the world at the turn of the century. The consultancy noted all the problems with the new devices—the handsets were absurdly heavy, the batteries kept running out, the coverage was patchy and the cost per minute was exorbitant—and concluded that the total market would be about 900,000. At the time this persuaded AT&T to pull out of the market, although it changed its mind later.

– The Economist, Oct 1999

But of course, mobile phones as a luxury was quickly fixed. By making the cost per minute cheap and fixing the other technical issues, the mobile phone has become the most ubiquitous computing device in the world.

Here’s how you know you’re about to commit this flavor of the Bad Product Fallacy: If you try a product and ask “Why would anyone pay so much for this?” then you need to think through what happens if the service/product becomes much, much cheaper. Or if it turns out that consumers don’t mind the price. Thinking through these trends can change the game.

I’ve myself missed here when looking at Uber in their early years. When Uber first came out, I thought, wow – why would anyone need an app to call a limo? This is a fancy person’s problem. But of course, if you can get the pricing down from a limo to a taxi, then cheaper to a taxi, and one day cheaper than owning a car – well that’s potentially a trillion dollar company. It turns out there’s some kind of Moore’s Law effect for the cost of transportation over time, and now I’m working there :)

S0me products start by selling stamps, coins, and comic books
Marketplaces have their own flavor of this fallacy because they often start with a vertical niche where buyers/sellers gather, and slowly need to grow to new verticals to be relevant. If these initial niches aren’t your jam, then you may miss on the marketplace’s potential, even if its on a trajectory to ultimately grow into areas that you’ll find useful too.

The classic example of this is eBay: Bessemer Ventures had the chance to invest, but at the time, the marketplace had a lot of collectibles. Here was their evaluation:

“Stamps? Coins? Comic books? You’ve GOT to be kidding,” thought Cowan. “No-brainer pass.”

– Bessemer Venture Partners, Anti-Portfolio page

Of course, eBay went on to add many new verticals, from cars to electronics to much more, eventually returning 700X to their original investors.

The tricky thing here is that you may not want to buy products that are in the marketplace’s initial verticals, which means the product won’t serve your use cases or you won’t love it. However, if you wait a couple years, the marketplace may eventually grow into product categories that you care about.

Social networks and content platforms need density, penetration, to become useful
Finally, let’s look at social/communication/UGC networks which have their own issues. These platforms can be super tricky because similar to marketplaces, they need time to mature as the networks form.

The often cited 1/9/90 rule for digital communities fundamentally drives this dynamic:

The 1% rule states that the number of people who create content on the Internet represents approximately 1% of the people actually viewing that content. For example, for every person who posts on a forum, generally about 99 other people are viewing that forum but not posting. (Wikipedia)

This means that, similar to marketplaces, you need the right balance of content creators and consumers in every vertical of content to have a functioning network. If a social communications product like Snapchat is only useful when you have >5 friends using it, you’ll inherently misunderstand it if the core market is teens and not 40 year old venture capitalists. If you tried using the Internet back in 1990, you may have decided that it’d never work since it’s all academic researchers.

Today, you may be skeptical about VR because it’s mostly games and the apps you’d really like to use haven’t been developed yet. But just wait, it might all click once the right dynamic of content creators, consumers, developers, and other constituents are at the table.

Similar to marketplaces, social networks, communications tools, and user-generated content platforms need critical masses of both creators and consumers to make things work. Sometimes this starts with a niche – like college students or San Francisco techies. But if a product can nail an initial vertical and start hitting up other ones, it may be on its way to mainstream success. Don’t judge too early!

Avoiding the Bad Product Fallacy
In the end, we all love to use our own personal judgement to quickly say yes or no to products. But the Bad Product Fallacy says our own opinions are terrible predictors of success, because tech is changing so quickly.

So instead, I leave you with a couple questions to ask when you are looking at a new product:

  • If it looks like a toy, what happens if it’s successful with its initial audience and then starts to add a lot more features?
  • If it looks like a luxury, what happens if it becomes much cheaper? Or much better, at the same price?
  • If it’s a marketplace that doesn’t sell anything you’d buy, what happens when it starts stocking products and services you find valauble?
  • If none of your friends use a social product, what happens when they win a niche and ultimately all your friends are using it too?

It’s hard to ask these questions, since they mostly imply nonlinear trajectories in product innovation. However, technology rarely progresses in a straight line – they grow exponentially, whether in utility, price/performance, or in network effect. Ask yourself the above questions to stay centered, and if you use it to find the next Uber or Facebook, give me (and Ben!) a holler :)

PS. Get new updates/analysis on tech and startups

I write a high-quality, weekly newsletter covering what's happening in Silicon Valley, focused on startups, marketing, and mobile.

What’s next in growth?

[I recently gave the keynote at the largest startup conference in Australia, StartCon. Many awesome growth folks were there, including Elena Verna at SurveyMonkey, Nate Moch at Zillow, Sean Ellis at GrowthHackers, etc. My talk is below, with links to my talk, preso PDF, etc at the bottom. If you want to see all the conference talks, they’re here. 25% off code: WHATSNEXT. Thanks! -A]

In tech, we’re always thinking about the future.

This is why it’s no surprise that one of the most common questions I get is: What’s next in growth? As practitioners in growth, marketing, entrepreneurship, and tech, we’re looking for the edge that’ll give our products a chance to succeed in an extremely competitive and dynamic environment.

The answer to this isn’t simple – there isn’t an obvious closed form solution, so I won’t try to give a “tips and tricks” kind of answer. Instead, let’s talk about how to systematically answer this in a way that’ll be relevant today as well as 10 years from now.

First, we have to zoom out.

Technology, products, growth, and marketing don’t exist in a vacuum. There’ve been many products, and lots of smart folks thinking about this problem for a long time. If we look back at what’s come before us, we can try connecting the dots to see if we can spot any patterns.

The first thing we spot when we zoom out is that the pace of innovation has been speeding up:

Here’s a graph of various technologies and how fast they’ve been adopted over the last hundred years. It used to be that products like the telephone or electricity took on order of 50 years to go from 0% of the US population to 90%. In the last recent cycles, things have been going much faster – the internet, cellphones, and the computer have all hit massive penetration within just 10 years. Amazing.

This also means that strategies for growing your products are becoming even more competitive, dynamic, and tricky.

Today, we’re going to look at three common techniques for growth:

  • Getting customers to refer friends
  • Spreading viral content
  • Bootstrapping marketplaces

Let’s look at what these problems looked like 100+ years ago, and how we’re thinking about them now. I think we can learn a lot by connecting the dots.

We’ll start with customer referrals:

OK- classic move. How do we get customers to refer their friends? Some of the biggest and most successful products grow this way.

You might think of it conceptually like this:

From a fundamental path, it’s all about building a tree – getting one person to refer many friends, of which a small percentage will go on to refer the next generation of friends, and so on.

The idea here is that if we can make this happen in a chain, then we get a viral loop, which grows and grows awareness for your products.

No matter what kind of marketplace, the questions you have to answer – in any configuration here – are quite simple.

We need to figure out why you refer people. Is it monetary? Is it because the product gains in utility as more people join? Is it because you want to galvanize a collective response – like voting on a poll?

Who do you invite? Is a small network of close friends and family? Or is it a wide group, like a YouTube video where you want millions of views from people you may not even know?

What channel do the invites happen in? Is it real life word of mouth? Or do you ask people to import their email addressbooks? Or is it through a new platform like messaging/SMS on mobile?

And finally, is this referral process successful – exponential?

We have to answer these questions for any new referral system in a digital product, but what’s surprising is, folks had to answer this question in the past as well, for anything they want to spread between friends.

Here’s a simple example: Chain letters.

Here’s an example of one of the oldest chain letters. It promised something pretty simple – if you send this to a bunch of your friends, and include some money to the folks on the list, while simultaneously adding yourself to the beneficiaries list, then you’ll get rich.

The call to action is even super specific: Within 3 days, make 5 copies, and send to 5 of your friends. Doesn’t that remind you a little bit of Facebook’s “7 friends in 10 days” internal guidance, in fact? :)

The point here is that they had to answer all the questions. You invite people to make money. The channel is email. You invite friends you want to be prosperous.

Ultimately, how different is this kind of call to action to the referral programs we see in tech products?

For Airbnb, you invite your friends so that both of you can get $35 in travel credit.

Sure, there’s major advancements. First, there’s an awesome product behind this loop, not just an unsustainable chain letter :)

Also, there’s Messenger and Facebook integration. You can invite your Gmail, Yahoo, and Outlook contacts so they tap into a massive social graph via the various platforms. Airbnb also uses a personalized link so that they can track attribution and personalize the landing pages and flows for the invitees.

Much more sophisticated in some ways, but the basics are similar to what existed 100 years ago.

Same with Dropbox, where you can give and get space. Same with many other referral programs.

The behaviors that cause people to do this are the same as what existed in the past – there’s a personal incentive for the sender, but also an incentive for the recipient. There’s a clear call to action, and a channel these messages travel upon. We can do so much more these days by integrating into platforms, and by tracking, and our sophistication in metrics like viral factor and cohort analysis, but the same general trust is there.

Next, let’s talk about spreading viral content:

Imagine this: The world gets a disruptive new technology, democratizing publishing. All of a sudden, it’s much easier for people to publish whatever content they want. The cost to publish media goes way down. A big boom proliferates, with many new kinds of media being created. Some of it is fancy, some of it is drivel. This drives societal change across many dimensions.

Is this the social media revolution in tech from the last 10 years?

No, this is the penny press revolution from 150 years ago.

Turns out, 150 years ago, we dealt with many of the same forces that affect us today in social media.

The newspaper industry went from hand-crafted to steam-powered printing. The daily press became accessible to everyone, as you could buy papers for 1 cent rather than 6 cents, spawning a brand new industry including papers like The New York Daily Times, which eventually became The New York Times.

But we’re not going to talk about the NYT, we’re going to talk about one of their cross-town rivals, The Sun of New York.

Let’s give a flavor of how they were defining news at the time:

This is great, right? News for everyone. Much cheaper. Spread all that information – it wants to be free!

Sounds amazing in theory, but we also quickly faced a problem: Fake news.

In 1895, a 6-part essay series was published in The Sun, talking about how astronomers had discovered life on the Moon. It includes vivid descriptions of an entire civilization – with buildings, amazing animals, and winged humans living in sophisticated cities.

The Sun claimed that these stories were so compelling it dramatically increased their circulation.

They didn’t retract the story for weeks!

We may laugh at this – but then surely we must also laugh at ourselves.

After all, we’ve created the next next level printing press: The Internet. Combined with social media and blogging platforms like WordPress, we’re suddenly in an environment where we went from 6 cents to publish a paper to 1 cent and now down to 0.0001 cents.

And with that, we’ve created fake news:

The Great Moon Hoax of 1835 isn’t much different than the various hoaxes and fake news of 2016. Not great.

This is an example of how technology has enabled successive generations of viral media content that’s of questionable truthiness. And even as we ponder what we’ve created recently, we have to start thinking about what technologies like VR might ultimately let us create. And how far photo and video manipulation will go, given the continued democratization of those technologies.

OK, the last growth topic we’re going to talk about is bootstrapping marketplaces:

This is an important and very old topic because humans have been trading since time immortal.

In fact, there’s evidence from prehistoric periods that there’s been long distance trade for over 150,000 years. Amazing!

So let’s dig into marketplaces:

This is a diagram is showing a two-sided marketplace, where you have buyers and sellers meeting together to exchange goods.

No matter what the marketplace looks like, you have to answer a couple simple questions:

One side will always be constrained. Usually, it’s the supply side that’s hard to get, and as long as you have folks with goods/services, you can find buyers. After you understand that dynamic, you also have to figure out how to grow buyers and how to grow sellers. Both sides of the market are typically pretty hard.

Then there’s the middle piece, which is to help both sides find, price, and transact. If you just help do one step in the process but not the whole thing, this causes problems since the experience will be disjointed. That’s why it was natural for eBay to buy Paypal.

The central growth problem with marketplaces is, how do you get them spun up? They are wonderful businesses once the marketplace network effect is going. There’s strategies to solve that now, but as you might have guessed, we had pretty sophisticated tools to solve this back in the day.

Let’s start this story with grocery stores:

Back in the day, local grocers were one major side of the marketplace that needed to be bootstrapped. If they didn’t carry your goods, you couldn’t get them in front of your customers. So how do you solve this? One of my favorite books is called My Life in Advertising by Claude Hopkins, written 100 years ago, talks about how they tackled this problem in a very clever way.

The first move was to invent the coupon:

Now, the coupon creates many important incentives. Obviously, it creates demand because then customers want to buy a product and try it out. The more nuanced effect is that it also stimulates the middlemen, the grocery stores, to carry the goods. The reason is that before you run a huge coupon marketing campaign, you can go to all the grocers and telegraph what’s going to happen

Here’s what to do: Just say, “a bunch of customers are coming to your stores for this new product, and if they don’t find it, they’re going to go to your competitors to find it instead.” Voila! By using money to generate some short-term momentum, it creates a Prisoner’s Dilemma for grocers to carry your goods. Then if your product is good, and customers keep coming back, then grocers will want to keep stocking, and your bootstrap problem is solved.

Now this is clever, but how clever is Kickstarter?

Isn’t Kickstarter and the various crowdfunding platforms really doing the same thing?

They help creators publish their products, drumming up demand, and with all the pre-orders, they’re able to convince a whole slew of ecosystem partners to help them: investors, manufacturers, retail partners, etc. The analogy is even more spot-on when you consider that they often give discounts to early backers of every product. In a way, this is just a coupon on something that doesn’t exist yet, to help bootstrap a market that would otherwise exist.

OK, so I hope you are enjoying all of these stories.

Truthfully, there are a ton of examples.

We can go on and on with examples like this. I also have some great notes on content marketing from 100 years ago – what else is the Michellin Guide for? And of press stunts. And may other examples.

After all, we’ve been at this game for a while.

The reason is that we’ve been convincing folks to buy stuff for a long, long time. Remember, humans have been trading with each other for 150,000+ years! Pretty sure that the first prehistoric cave-dwelling ancestor that could advertise their wares to their nearby communities got a major edge. And likely was the first to invent word-of-mouth marketing alongside fire!

But I want to make a broader point here:

Technology changes, but people stay the same. Human beings and our brains have been unchanged for a long time, which is why behavioral economics is so interesting – we’re susceptible to the same techniques whether it was delivered to our caveman brains or our modern brains.

And by the way, there’s a lot of techniques:

There’s so many marketing techniques that have been invented over time, and why they worked back in the day, work today, and will always work. While the platforms may have been different, many of these ideas were invented over 100 years ago. Even more, it’s obvious that these techniques will be relevant even 100 years from now! Or even 1000 years from now! Until we upload our brains to the cloud, we’ll still fundamentally refer friends for the same reasons, and find the same salacious articles compelling. Fake news will always work. :(

So when people ask “What’s next in growth?” they are often expecting an answer about technology when we should really be talking about people.

I can say with full certainty that growth opportunities will come from taking classic strategies – the stuff that’s been around for 100 years – that are fundamentally anchored on human behavior, and anchoring them on new platforms while executing well.

When it comes to new technologies, we’re talking about IoT. Wearables. Video. VR/AR. Smart TV. Autonomy. And much more…




And what a time to work on this problem. After all, technology is increasing faster and faster!

The rapid pace of technology adoption means that more and more platforms will be coming our way. And with each new platform, new opportunities will arise if we apply classic strategies and execute well.

So hats off to everyone betting their careers on VR/AR, drones, and all the new platforms coming out! It’ll take times, but there will be winners there.

In the end, if you find yourself still asking about what’s next, here’s some closing thoughts.

My challenge to everyone in the industry is simple. First, explore what’s come before us. Study the classics.

Ignore all the random noise out there in the world – all the tips and tricks that seem fun, but are actually the potato chips for our brains and careers. They taste good, can fill us up, but make us feel gross and aren’t nutritious.

Instead my guidance is simple:

 

If you think about new platforms, where they are in their maturity cycle, and are early when it counts, that’s great.

Much of the success of social products are due to them being first to email virality. And many of the winners within mobile were early to the smartphone platforms, which have now started to ossify.

Once you figure out the platforms, here’s where tactics can count. Execute thoughtfully and iteratively, so that you are learning about your product and platform. If you are prepared, and have mastered the tactics of the trade, then this is when you can shine.

This is the realm of A/B testing, funnel optimization, viral loop construction, building viral content, and creating sticky products. When you combine this with a new platform that’s all fresh powder, the results can be explosive.

And I want to also give a warning about growth hacks:

Nothing in this industry is ever easy. Tips and tricks aren’t enough. We have to think strategically and execute very well, over years and years to be successful.

What’s next in growth? It’s what’s come before, but combined with a dash of new tech :)

So again, the future of growth will combine a few factors:

  • Classic strategies that are all about people
  • New platforms that present big new opportunities
  • Combined with iterative, thoughtful execution

We can learn from the past, because the things that worked 100 years ago, or even 1000 years ago, still work today.

Here’s another quick example:

After all, technology changes, but people stay the same.

Thank you! :)

Finally, as promised, here’s a video of this talk and here’s a PDF to download. The video is just under 30 minutes, so it’s a quick watch. If you want to learn more about the conference go here: Startcon. Thanks to Cheryl and Matt for having me there!

PS. Get new updates/analysis on tech and startups

I write a high-quality, weekly newsletter covering what's happening in Silicon Valley, focused on startups, marketing, and mobile.

10 years in the Bay Area – what I’ve learned

January 2007
Ten years ago this week, I took a long, cloudy drive from Seattle to Silicon Valley on Highway 1 to start a new job and new life. I was barely 24 years old, in a hurry to change the world, and eager to begin my first day at MDV, a Silicon Valley venture firm, as their new Entrepreneur-in-Residence. It was 2007, and the iPhone hadn’t been released yet, YCombinator was just getting started, and MySpace was still bigger than Facebook. And who’s this Obama guy that folks are talking about?

That was a long time ago :)

A decade later, the world is incredibly different. And I’m different too, because the Bay Area has profoundly and fundamentally changed me. Along the way, there’s been good decisions and plenty of bad. I want to share some high-level observations/thoughts, focused on mostly career/professional stuff but a little bit of personal too.

Let’s dedicate this essay to all the new folks starting out in the Bay Area. Welcome!

People are the secret sauce
First, what makes the Bay Area special for tech is the people. I barely knew anyone when I first arrived here, so I had a simple goal in 2007:

Meet 5 new people per day, every day.

It helped that working at a venture firm is all about networking, so I picked aggressive goal! I started by emailing my tech friends to intro me to smart people working on cool products. Upon grabbing coffee with them, I followed up to ask for more intros, and more. I kept this insane pace for 6 months, which created an incredible introduction to the SF tech community.

Years later, while I’m nowhere near this volume anymore, I’m still going! This is one of the most fantastic ways to learn. Most importantly, while this started out as a work thing, many of the folks I met in 2007 are now close friends.

Think long-term
Everyone you meet here will likely still be here in 10 years. This changes the professional dynamic so that we can all help each other, build relationships, and give real time/effort, without feeling like things have to be transactional. It starts to make sense to invest in activities that pay off in years or decades, not months.

My writing has also been a microcosm of this, where in the first few months, there was a grand total of maybe a few dozen readers – mostly friends and family, forcibly subscribed! It’s been a slow/steady ramp that’s taken thousands of hours of effort and many years to grow into a real following. So for the folks who are struggling to build audiences for your newsletters or blogs, keep going! It’s worth it.

Vuja De
The more years of experience you accumulate in tech, the easier it gets to become negative and closed off to new ideas. It’s easy to say “No, that’s never going to work” because experience usually generalizes towards everything failing!

And yet every couple years, there’s a new cycle – social, smartphones, ridesharing – that’s counterintuitive and huge, and blows away prior assumptions. I’ve written about why I doubted Facebook could be a billion dollar business, and why I was wrong. In my years in the Bay Area, that’s one of that’s just one out of many wrong calls :)

It takes real effort to stay open-minded, even as you learn more and get comfortable in your own expertise. The IDEO folks sometimes talk of “vuja de,” a twist on the familiar term:

Deja vu is when you see something new, but feel like you’ve already seen it before.

Vuja de is when you’ve seen something a million times, but see it like it’s the first time.

It takes a lot of openness and humility to try and understand weird new companies/categories, especially when there’s bad historical datapoints. Like how search engines were a terrible business until Google. Same with social networks. Or how mobile was always the next new thing, but actually perpetual vaporware, until the iPhone.

Missed chances
The longer you live in the Bay Area, the more missed chances you’ll have. I met the Facebook founding team when they were 11 people, and thought for a split second that I should try to get a job there, before deciding it could never be big. Hilariously wrong. I have friends who could’ve invested in Uber’s seed round back when it was valued at $4M, but passed because it was “just a taxi app” – oops. An early Googler told me about a guy who joined as one of the first ten employees, but quit on his first day, forgoing $1B of stock, because the founders’ mannerisms annoyed him.

These missed chances will weirdly haunt you, even when you know better.

Startup romanticism
From the outside looking in, I thought that doing a startup was a magical, rare experience that you only got a few shots at in your life. Kind of a romantic notion that I held on to for many years. But once you’re in the Bay Area for a few years, what you quickly realize is that starting a company and getting investors funding you, actually isn’t rare at all. It’s commonplace, because actually mediocre startups and tech companies are plentiful! And it’s unfortunately very easy to start a mediocre startup of your own.

Bill Gossman, a long-time mentor who’s lived in both SF and Seattle, gave me some advice early on:

Don’t think that Silicon Valley has better entrepreneurs. They don’t. But they have more people trying. They have more crappy companies and mediocre entrepreneurs, but also they have more great companies and people too.

For me, this meant my first years in the Bay Area were spent on trying to get the “rare” chance of building a startup. Over time, I came to believe that the rare thing is actually building the Amazon, Google, Facebook, Uber-type companies that come around only every 5-10 years.

Last year, I decided to jump onto the rocketship of a great company rather than continuing with the mediocre. This is a core reason I’m at Uber these days – to have a special experience that I’ll remember, years from now.

To another ten years!
Finally, I want to thank everyone who’s been reading for the past few years. As I mention above, writing has been an enormously fulfilling thing. I’m hugely appreciative for you to have come on the journey – thank you for reading and for your comments/feedback over the years.

Here’s to a happy new year and a few more decades in the Bay Area for me :)

PS. Get new updates/analysis on tech and startups

I write a high-quality, weekly newsletter covering what's happening in Silicon Valley, focused on startups, marketing, and mobile.

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Why messaging apps are so addictive (Guest Post)

IAC’s HowAboutWe co-founder: How to Avoid Delusional Thinking in Start-up Growth Strategy (Guest Post)

Mobile retention benchmarks for 2014 vs 2013 show a 50% drop in D1 retention (Guest post)

New data on push notifications show up to 40% CTRs, the best perform 4X better than the worst (Guest post)

Why Android desperately needs a billion dollar success story: The best new apps are all going iPhone-first

Early Traction: How to go from zero to 150,000 email subscribers (Guest Post)

New data shows up to 60% of users opt-out of push notifications (Guest Post)

Why aren’t App Constellations working? (Guest Post)

There’s only a few ways to scale user growth, and here’s the list

Lessons learned adding messaging to a notes app (Guest Post)

Retention is King (Guest Post)