SaaS Freemium/Free Trial Survey is Here

Earlier this year, I wrote about MadKudu’s analysis of free trials and asked if readers were interested in another benchmarking survey on the topic, and the response was overwhelming. Over the last few weeks, my colleague Patrick Chase, and I (along with help from many people in the community) have been busy putting the survey together. I’d like to thank Ryan Janssen for lending a hand.

If you’d like to participate, please fill out the survey here. Surveys are due November 2. It takes about 6 minutes complete. All the data collected is anonymized. Those participating will receive access to the raw, anonymized data. In a few more weeks, we’ll publish our findings on this blog.

We hope to illuminate trends in freemium/free-trial such as: the optimal length of a free trial; the increase in conversion rate of a trial lead touched by sales; the use of free trial Continue reading "SaaS Freemium/Free Trial Survey is Here"

Regulation As Sport; Regulation As Political Tool

I was pleased to see the above tweet by Paul Graham. I don’t know Paul at all. I respect what he has done with Y Combinator and other efforts in and around entrepreneurship. I hope that he and other people like him are quickly coming to the realization that the hearts and minds of regulators isn’t in the best interest of people, but in the best interest of the regulators.

His tweet is exactly why you got Brexit.  It’s not because of racism or nationalism.  It’s also one reason Trump was elected president.  Aggressive US regulators killed off whole sections of the American economy dooming people. Not only that, but parts of the government Continue reading "Regulation As Sport; Regulation As Political Tool"

Audio Of The Week: Nadia Boujarwah on Positively Gotham Gal

Nadia Boujarwah is the co-founder and CEO of our portfolio company Dia & Co

She dropped by the Gotham Gal’s offices last week and they recorded a conversation about starting an apparel business in the competitive online commerce sector.

Here it is:



USV TEAM POSTS:

Bethany Crystal — October 12, 2018
Frequent flier fangirl

Albert Wenger — October 12, 2018
Criticism Should be Welcome: Roubini Crypto Edition

Bethany Crystal — October 11, 2018
Tech talent transfusions

Platform Giants and Venture-Backed Startups

UPDATE: A quick note of clarity, since many readers are misinterpreting (ie, not fully reading) the analysis done here. The ideological nature of the topic means that people on both sides are being heated and, well, ideological. I urge people to note the Conclusions, where I talk at length about the intentional narrowness of this study and the many important questions remaining. My main objective was to call into question a report that says the major tech giants have no impact on venture capital markets, and using data to quickly demonstrate why that’s wrong. I’m making no statements about broader impacts—such as the movement of VC into adjacent areas or non-tech portions of VC, nor the impact of tech giant dominance on innovation. I note these issues clearly in the conclusion.

A friend recently pointed me to a July study by Oliver Wyman titled Assessing the Impact of Big Tech

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How Men Can Become Better Allies to Women

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Women’s conferences and employee resource groups (ERGs) are increasingly inviting men to attend. By creating events aimed at men, they hope to include men in discussions around gender equity in the workplace, and make organizational diversity efforts more successful.

The evidence shows that when men are deliberately engaged in gender inclusion programs, 96% of organizations see progress — compared to only 30% of organizations where men are not engaged. But today, too many organizations still miss the mark on gender equity efforts by focusing gender initiatives solely on changing women — from the way they network to the way the lead. Individualistic approaches to solving gender inequities overlook systemic structural causes and reinforce the perception that these are women’s issues — effectively telling men they don’t need to be involved. Without the avid support of men, often the most powerful stakeholders in most large corporations, significant progress toward

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Helping Health Care Workers Avoid Burnout

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To make progress against knotty problems, break them down — dissect the causes and analyze their impact on different groups. That analysis inevitably leads away from dubious “magic bullet” solutions and toward multiple, targeted interventions that are more likely to be effective. The measures and data to perform this type of analysis are now becoming available for burnout, a problem that is growing in all sectors, but is particularly challenging in health care.

To better understand the sources of burnout and resilience against it, we analyzed data for two characteristics associated with burnout for more than 80,000 health care personnel from 40 healthcare systems nationwide (approximately 19,000 nurses, 5,000 physicians and 60,000 non-nurse/MD personnel). The first of these characteristics, “activation,” is the extent to which a person is motivated by his or her work and feels it is meaningful. The second, “decompression,” is the degree to

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Stop Complaining About Your Colleagues Behind Their Backs

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In my coaching work with leaders and teams, I often ask my clients whether they engage in workplace gossip. More often than not, they respond, “of course not!” with a look on their faces that indicates that they are insulted to have been asked such a question.

But when I ask them whether they have ever participated in a “confirmation expedition” — whereby they 1) ask a colleague to confirm their own negative or challenging experience with a third colleague who is not present, or 2) welcome a similar line of confirmation inquiry from another colleague about a third colleague who is not present, most admit that this is, in fact, a regular part of their daily work life.

While leaders and teams might consider this behavior to be innocent “blowing off steam” or the more strategic “confirming performance data,” I consider it a form of workplace

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Startups Are More Vulnerable to Fraud. Here’s Why.

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In the wake of the Theranos scandal, some commentators have asked whether entrepreneurial companies are particularly inclined to deception and downright fraud. Startups are often focused on disrupting existing markets, occasionally bending the rules while doing so. Their employees need to overcome demanding challenges, including the need to draft processes and responsibilities from scratch. In short, countless firms face strong pressures and tempting incentives to deceive.

But are they also more likely to be deceived themselves? After all, they have to forge business relations with potential customers, suppliers, and investors, all of whom are considerably more powerful and sophisticated than the startup. Recently, our team interviewed 40 founders and venture capitalists and conducted two experiments to uncover whether startups, compared to more mature firms, are more likely to be the victims of fraud.

In our experiments, performed with Christian Schlereth at WHU – Otto Beisheim School

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Help Your Team Understand What Data Is and Isn’t Good For

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Leaders today increasingly turn to big data and advanced analytics in hopes of solving their most pressing problems, whether it’s a drop-off of repeat customers, a shift in consumption patterns, or an attempt to reach new markets. The prevailing thought is that more data is better, especially given advancements in tools and technologies such as artificial intelligence and predictive analytics.

But when it comes to uncovering the motivations and rationale behind individual behaviors within a social system, data can only do so much. It can guide the discovery of a problem, but it won’t determine the solution. In other words, data analytics can tell you what is happening, but it will rarely tell you why. To effectively bring together the what and the why — a problem and its cause, in order to find a probable solution — leaders need to combine the advanced capabilities of big

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The Expanse

As the weekend approaches, I sense the need in the universe for some people to find a new TV show to binge watch.

If you fit in this category and haven’t yet watched The Expanse, give it a try. If you are a BSG fan and haven’t seen it yet, start tonight. If you like sci-fi, drama, space opera, global political intrigue, underdogs, detective noir, the risk of mass extinction, and believable human history a few hundred years in the future, this one is for you.

There’s a ton of setup, so you need to hang in there for the first five or so episodes. As the friend who referred me to it stated, it’s “Boring boring PROTOMOLECULE…” You get there quickly enough.

There are three seasons, and Amazon just picked up the fourth, so there is a lot to catch up on along with a future. And, after reflecting

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How Peer Coaching Can Make Work Less Lonely

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A near-constant stream of business and scientific news reminds us that 50% of Americans are lonely. Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy’s powerful HBR article notes that half of CEOs suffer from loneliness. In addition to its personal toll, there is also an economic cost: workplace loneliness causes burnout, affects job satisfaction, and lowers both performance and retention. It also increases health care costs.

The Causes of Loneliness at Work

Loneliness is a subjective feeling of isolation. Number of coworker interactions and whether or not you work remotely are not causal factors. What matters is the quality and meaningfulness of relationships. It’s common for employees to feel lonely while surrounded by colleagues with whom they don’t genuinely connect. Indeed, do your colleagues see the real you or just a carefully managed, work-safe persona — a brilliant disguise? If the latter, then you’re likely to suffering some degree

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Criticism Should be Welcome: Roubini Crypto Edition

Nouriel Roubini has done the crypto ecosystem a great service by pulling together pretty much all issues and criticisms in a single document. While he is prone to hyperbole (not unlike some people in crypto) and plays fast and loose with technical issues, everyone who cares about crypto should read the testimony in its entirety. Longterm success will require overcoming all of these objections. While I believe that is doable (at least in principle), it will not be easy and it will take a long time. The last thing anyone in crypto should be doing right now is dismissing Roubini as a crank or resorting to other ad-hominem attacks, instead of engaging at the level of substance. Bonus if you make it to the end of the document: an evisceration of permissioned blockchains (again, over the top but entertaining and as the rest providing important objections).

How to Decide Which Data Science Projects to Pursue

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In 2018, every organization has a data strategy. But what makes a great one?

We all know what failure looks like. Resources are invested, teams are formed, time goes by — but nothing comes of it. No one can necessarily say why; it’s always Someone Else’s Fault.

It’s harder to tell the difference between a modest success and excellence. Indeed, in data science they can they look very similar for perhaps a year.  After several years, though, an excellent strategy will yield orders of magnitude more valuable results.

Both mediocre and excellent strategies begin with a series of experiments and investments leading to data projects. After a few years, some of these projects work out and are on their way to production.

In the mediocre strategy, one or two of these projects may even have a clear ROI for the business. Typically, these projects will be some kind

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How Netflix Expanded to 190 Countries in 7 Years

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Netflix’s global growth is a big factor in the company’s success. By 2017 it was operating in over 190 countries, and today close to 73 million of its some 130 million subscribers are outside the U.S. In the second quarter of 2018, its international streaming revenues exceeded domestic streaming revenues for the first time. This is a remarkable achievement for a company that was only in the U.S. before 2010, and in only 50 countries by 2015.

Other U.S. internet companies have scaled internationally, of course (Facebook and Google are two obvious examples). But Netflix’s globalization strategy, and many of the challenges it’s had to overcome, are unique. Netflix must secure content deals region by region, and sometimes country by country. It also must face a diverse set of national regulatory restrictions, such as those that limit what content can be made available

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VC investment in European startups plunged 21% in Q3 2018


As Silicon Valley and China see VC funding accelerate, Europe seems to be slipping into a lower gear. According to the latest quarterly numbers from Dow Jones VentureSource, the amount of funding raised by startups in Europe and the number of deals all slid sharply in the three months ending in September. The 3Q’18 Europe Venture Capital repo…Read More

Podcast With Four Star Wealth

I did a podcast with my friend Brian Kasal the other day. He runs Four Star Wealth in Chicago. He was a member of Hyde Park Angels. I recruited him early in the game.  We are co-investors in Ycharts, and he is a customer.  He is also a customer of another one of my angel investments, Riskalyze.

Hope you enjoy it.  I am traveling from San Francisco back to Chicago today.