Revolution or Evolution – Did Apple give us a post-mobile future this week?


This post is by Correlated Causation from Correlated Causation

tl;dr Context for WWDC – the big tech players want to own your user experience and the evolution of the browser.

Heading into WWDC this week I’m eager to hear Apple’s vision for the future of mobile.  We’ve come a long way since the advent of the smartphone which moved us beyond the web page, browser, mouse and keyboard. The iPhone opened up an entirely new technology and business model but it has reached a saturation point. Benedict Evans and Mary Meeker highlight this slowing growth. The industry needs to evolve. Smartphones are on a replacement curve, not an adoption curve.

This has enormous implications for the big tech players and the startups we invest in. Discovery and engagement on mobile is harder than ever. Distribution and retention is tough. People don’t engage with new apps. The average user downloads zero apps per month. SurveyMonkey uses their panel data to demonstrate the difficulties of building a business on mobile.

To solve this broken model, Apple and Google are both moving interaction and context technologies down the stack into the operating system itself. This allows the platforms to hold on to the value of mobile innovation, having learned hard lessons from desktop web mistakes of the past where Netscape and Internet Explorer couldn’t keep their users. Simultaneously, Google and Facebook are moving interaction into messengers — in essence behaving as Google did when it captured much of the value in the desktop web. Apple has made initial steps into third-party services within an app interface with updates to Messages, Maps and more.

OS Evolution: What’s next

Discovery

Outside of the App Store, the major platforms (iOS and Android) haven’t innovated on the engagement and distribution model so we’re seeing services come up with alternatives. Ahead of WWDC, Apple pre-announced app store ads which felt inevitable, as Google rolled this functionality out last year. It remains to be seen how viable the paid channel will perform for broader app distribution. Will this eat into Facebook’s mobile app install revenue, which continues to gain share from Google?

Apple has opened Siri to third-parties. This will be a new channel where apps can be invisible. The OS can broker information to a internet service that can then act on a user’s behalf. Services like Viv and Vurb1, aspire to be an independent discovery solution.

Engagement

Both the Apple and Google platforms have a framework for deep linking into apps. This enables interactions that more closely resemble the desktop browser, but we’re only at the early stages of exploring what deep linking technology can really do. There is still a massive opportunity in bringing context and information from the smartphone into the consumer services realm (see Button1).

Rich notifications and 3D Touch widget for apps allow users to interact with services without opening an app at all. Two years ago, we saw Apple open up to third-party keyboards to interact with services within other apps. These keyboards, like Android launchers and the notification screen, represent a valuable strategic position that lets developers have a relationship with a user effectively at the OS level, across other apps.

Apps themselves are fundamentally changing. At Google IO, streaming apps were announced bringing us a step closer to a web of apps that lets us search and move between apps as easily as on the web. This could lower barriers to adoption and be good news for app developers.

App Evolution:

The modern browser will actually be within the killer application for the smartphone, messaging. While WeChat demonstrates one way this might unfold (Connie Chan has a great writeup), we are beginning to see messengers in the west move beyond just lightweight text communication. Facebook’s Messenger platform opened up for agents / chatbots and will continue to develop toward more generic UIs (think of it like a browser). Core Facebook is embracing media distribution and building an incredible video product attempting to capture distribution and consumption of all media.

In a page from Facebook, Apple is allowing third-party developers to have direct interaction with users in Messages. This will be a strong platform and might allow for direct service discovery and interaction in a native and frictionless way.

Snapchat’s path is one of the most interesting. From minimizing communication friction with disappearing photos, Snapchat has evolved into content distribution and consumption platform. From Stories to Discover, Snapchat went from personal media communication to mass media consumption and discovery. With the most recent app update, Discover, Snapchat is poised to become the hub for content and communication.

Platform Evolution:

Further fanning the growth of mobile, hardware components are dramatically cheaper due to economies of scale in the smartphone supply chain. Amazon’s Echo success is in part driven by these cost curves. Connected hardware represents a novel platform for internet services. Whether it be Echo, Google Home or others, service discovery and engagement is taking new form with voice interface in broader context.

Takeaway:

If I was back to my days developing and distributing mobile apps while reading these tea leaves, I’d be focused on creating the best possible service irrespective of context. An app is just one distribution channel, as is the mobile web. Novel channels are being developed and could be key for fast moving startups looking to disrupt the status quo. May the best mobile platforms win.

  1. Redpoint investment 2

Revolution or Evolution – Did Apple give us a post-mobile future this week?

tl;dr Context for WWDC – the big tech players want to own your user experience and the evolution of the browser.

Heading into WWDC this week I’m eager to hear Apple’s vision for the future of mobile.  We’ve come a long way since the advent of the smartphone which moved us beyond the web page, browser, mouse and keyboard. The iPhone opened up an entirely new technology and business model but it has reached a saturation point. Benedict Evans and Mary Meeker highlight this slowing growth. The industry needs to evolve. Smartphones are on a replacement curve, not an adoption curve.

This has enormous implications for the big tech players and the startups we invest in. Discovery and engagement on mobile is harder than ever. Distribution and retention is tough. People don’t engage with new apps. The average user downloads zero apps per month. SurveyMonkey uses their panel data to Continue reading “Revolution or Evolution – Did Apple give us a post-mobile future this week?”

Gboard — Google’s brilliant strategy to leapfrog Apple, Facebook and iOS messengers

Google’s new iOS keyboard seeks to own the key mobile use case — messaging.

gboard

Last week, Google launched the Gboard to stellar reviews. It’s a 3rd party iOS keyboard that allows for searching and sharing in context on the phone. It’s a brilliant strategy for ensuring that Google is central for information discovery. It has the potential to be more strategic than the default search deals Google has previously struck with iOS Spotlight and Safari. To top it off, after nearly a week of playing with it, I love it.

It’s a strong keyboard and has a slew of delightful features like emoji autocorrect [search pizza], predictive searches [text want to get a drink tonight], and of course the core search and share card metaphors.

Up until now, first class keyboards that have done well on Android have had a hard time replacing the primary keyboard on iOS. It’s not an easy Continue reading “Gboard — Google’s brilliant strategy to leapfrog Apple, Facebook and iOS messengers”

Seed Startups – Business Model Experiments

tl;dr Seed startups are business model experiments and should apply the scientific method.

In 2011, my co-founder and I set out to build PrimaTable. Our vision was to bring yield management to local businesses. Our belief was that mobile technology had the potential to unlock local inventory, providing value to both consumers and small businesses. Revenue management techniques, previously seen in travel and ads, would now be possible. While PrimaTable didn’t become a stand alone business, it was a successful seed. We rapidly tested our assumptions for the business and market. We iterated through a series of products and models.

There were a handful of testable hypotheses wrapped up into our vision. Our seed round was used to test these hypotheses, mitigating risk, as fast as possible. As a startup, we sought rapid growth and were predicated on the belief that smartphones represented a market dislocation that newly enabled Continue reading “Seed Startups – Business Model Experiments”

Seed Startups – Business Model Experiments

tl;dr Seed startups are business model experiments and should apply the scientific method.

In 2011, my co-founder and I set out to build PrimaTable. Our vision was to bring yield management to local businesses. Our belief was that mobile technology had the potential to unlock local inventory, providing value to both consumers and small businesses. Revenue management techniques, previously seen in travel and ads, would now be possible. While PrimaTable didn’t become a stand alone business, it was a successful seed. We rapidly tested our assumptions for the business and market. We iterated through a series of products and models.

There were a handful of testable hypotheses wrapped up into our vision. Our seed round was used to test these hypotheses, mitigating risk, as fast as possible. As a startup, we sought rapid growth and were predicated on the belief that smartphones represented a market dislocation that newly enabled Continue reading “Seed Startups – Business Model Experiments”

The Booking.com Marketplace Playbook


This post is by Correlated Causation from Correlated Causation

tl;dr Marketplaces extract value when they generate demand. The Booking.com low rake plus bidded auction model is the playbook modern marketplaces should follow.

Background

People know Booking.com as a behemoth in the travel industry but it wasn’t always the case. Priceline’s purchase of Booking.com in 2005 looks brilliant with Booking.com driving > 2/3 of PCLN’s revenue and accounting for a large portion of their $60B market cap.

Booking.com path to success is a fascinating story (see How Booking.com Conquered the World). It was started in 1996 with a revolutionary new agency model as an OTA. The agency model is much lower friction vs the previous standard merchant model driving Expedia and Travelocity’s success. Booking.com lowered the reserve rake from 25-30% to 12% and innovated on a more favorable cash flow for suppliers. This low friction model allowed Booking.com to acquire nearly every small hotel in Europe as there was no reason for a hotel not to join. This resulted in comprehensive selection for consumers and aligned incentives with hoteliers.

The difficulty with a high rake model is that you introduce a selection bias. Good suppliers that can sell well independently don’t need to participate in the market and cannibalize organic sales. This bias results in a poor consumer experience with only bad suppliers. You can see this effect in markets like Groupon, where participation is a signal for supplier quality in itself.

Auction

After achieving supplier ubiquity, Booking.com introduced a bidded marketplace where hoteliers bid on margin competing for placement (and production). There are a number of variants for these auctions for example Google AdWord’s modified GSP or the efficient VCG that aligns incentives. The theory should be to rank based on expected value created where the rank is inversely correlated with likelihood of conversion.

The auction works to maximize platform revenue and both supplier and user value. Suppliers are efficiently allocated bookings based on implied value based on bidding a greater margin. Suppliers that are of high quality and more likely to book will be ranked highly and accessible to consumers. Booking is evidence of consumer utility.

Model

By starting with a low rake, the marketplace can reach ubiquitous supplier adoption. An auction format then allows for market-drive pricing allowing suppliers that value an incremental booking to bid their utility. The increase in margin isn’t ascribed to unfair platform behavior but rather competition with other subscribers. The incentives are aligned between the marketplace and suppliers and allows for the marketplace to capture the value they create with their demand generation.

Examples

Looking at Etsy’s successful public offering or OpenTable’s acquisition, we see successful examples of very low rake marketplaces with revenue growth coming from demand generation products.

The Booking.com Marketplace Playbook

tl;dr Marketplaces extract value when they generate demand. The Booking.com low rake plus bidded auction model is the playbook modern marketplaces should follow.

Background

People know Booking.com as a behemoth in the travel industry but it wasn’t always the case. Priceline’s purchase of Booking.com in 2005 looks brilliant with Booking.com driving > 2/3 of PCLN’s revenue and accounting for a large portion of their $60B market cap.

Booking.com path to success is a fascinating story (see How Booking.com Conquered the World). It was started in 1996 with a revolutionary new agency model as an OTA. The agency model is much lower friction vs the previous standard merchant model driving Expedia and Travelocity’s success. Booking.com lowered the reserve rake from 25-30% to 12% and innovated on a more favorable cash flow for suppliers. This low friction model allowed Booking.com to acquire nearly Continue reading “The Booking.com Marketplace Playbook”

The Booking.com Marketplace Playbook

tl;dr Marketplaces extract value when they generate demand. The Booking.com low rake plus bidded auction model is the playbook modern marketplaces should follow.

Background

People know Booking.com as a behemoth in the travel industry but it wasn’t always the case. Priceline’s purchase of Booking.com in 2005 looks brilliant with Booking.com driving > 2/3 of PCLN’s revenue and accounting for a large portion of their $60B market cap.

Booking.com path to success is a fascinating story (see How Booking.com Conquered the World). It was started in 1996 with a revolutionary new agency model as an OTA. The agency model is much lower friction vs the previous standard merchant model driving Expedia and Travelocity’s success. Booking.com lowered the reserve rake from 25-30% to 12% and innovated on a more favorable cash flow for suppliers. This low friction model allowed Booking.com to acquire nearly Continue reading “The Booking.com Marketplace Playbook”

Dream On-Demand Marketplace

Here is an example presentation for an on demand marketplace.

Prior to the presentation introduce the founders. You want to build ethos with the audience. Highlight relevant experience to build credibility.

The goal of the pitch is draw an investor in further. You want to establish a large problem that your team is uniquely suited to fix.

  1. Intro

    This is the highest level what does your company do.

  2. Problem

    What is the problem and why does it exist?

  3. Solution

    What is your value proposition – how do you solve this problem faster, cheaper, better. Show is better than tell. Demo!

  4. Market

    How big is this problem? Is this market well suited to a new marketplace? Convey an overwhelming sense of your knowledge of the intricacies of your market.

  5. Unit Economics

    The business model. A marketplace lives and dies on this slide.

  6. Traction

    Show progress and momentum. Up and to the right!

  7. Go To Market

    You’ve established this is a big market and a real problem but how scalable is your solution?

  8. Competition

    Competition can validate a market. Demonstrate your unique value proposition.

  9. Team

    Highlight founders’ background and experience. Why are you uniquely suited to succeed here?

  10. Ask

    Summarize existing financing and investors, how much you are looking for and what will you accomplish with this capital.

  11. Appendix.

    The best pitches anticipate questions that an investor leaning in might have. The two I always care about are:

    1. Greater detail on the product and tech
    2. Customer cohort data

Code and Data

Here is a R script for simulating a simple marketplace and generating these graphs.

Dream On-Demand Marketplace

Here is an example presentation for an on demand marketplace.

Prior to the presentation introduce the founders. You want to build ethos with the audience. Highlight relevant experience to build credibility.

The goal of the pitch is draw an investor in further. You want to establish a large problem that your team is uniquely suited to fix.

  1. Intro

    This is the highest level what does your company do.

  2. Problem

    What is the problem and why does it exist?

  3. Solution

    What is your value proposition – how do you solve this problem faster, cheaper, better. Show is better than tell. Demo!

  4. Market

    How big is this problem? Is this market well suited to a new marketplace? Convey an overwhelming sense of your knowledge of the intricacies of your market.

  5. Unit Economics

    The business model. A marketplace lives and dies on this slide.

  6. Traction

    Show progress and momentum. Up and to the Continue reading “Dream On-Demand Marketplace”

Dream On-Demand Marketplace

Here is an example presentation for an on demand marketplace.

Prior to the presentation introduce the founders. You want to build ethos with the audience. Highlight relevant experience to build credibility.

The goal of the pitch is draw an investor in further. You want to establish a large problem that your team is uniquely suited to fix.

  1. Intro

    This is the highest level what does your company do.

  2. Problem

    What is the problem and why does it exist?

  3. Solution

    What is your value proposition – how do you solve this problem faster, cheaper, better. Show is better than tell. Demo!

  4. Market

    How big is this problem? Is this market well suited to a new marketplace? Convey an overwhelming sense of your knowledge of the intricacies of your market.

  5. Unit Economics

    The business model. A marketplace lives and dies on this slide.

  6. Traction

    Show progress and momentum. Up and to the Continue reading “Dream On-Demand Marketplace”

Startup Risk and Valuation

tl;dr Startup risk allows for the potential for reward. Valuation only increases on mitigation of risk.

“Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”

Albert Einstein

Startup are valued based on the overall market opportunity discounted by the risk associated with achieving a successful outcome. Therefore, valuation increases as the market increases or as risk is mitigated.

Successful companies level up. The team, product, business and process improve. The common successful venture backed path can look like a series of risks that are mitigated.

Stages:

  1. Seed – product market fit
  2. Series A – build team and business
  3. Series B – scale the business
  4. Series C – profitability
  5. IPO – liquidity

These phases are made up of a variety of risks that vary across companies and markets.

Let’s take a look at risks that exist, examples where the risk determined an outcome and the questions VCs ask.

Risks:

  • Execution / team riskGoogle Video vs. YouTube – the incumbent with the benefit of vastly superior resources fell to better execution. Is this team uniquely able to execute on the opportunity?
  • Technology riskOnLive. ultimately failed due to the inability to create a desktop visualization technology with low enough latency. Can the right product be built?
  • Business model riskWebVan in 1999, Exec recently. At scale, will the unit economics support the proposed business?
  • Financing riskEverpix and Canvas. How much capital is required to get to a positive outcome? Will this be a category that can easily find follow on capital?
  • Market timing riskFriendster vs. Facebook. Too early and too late is just as bad as being wrong. Why now?
  • Market adoption riskPlancast. Will the market resonate with the product? Will the company suffer from a lack of product market fit, startup competition, or strong incumbents?
  • Market size riskMochi Media. Is the market large enough to sustain growth and have a material impact on the fund?
  • Scalability riskSonar. Growth is the only thing that matters. For enterprise is there a repeatable sales process, for consumer are there distribution channels with sufficient volume to create a big business?
  • Legal riskAereo and Outbox. Are there IP, copyright, or other legal risks that have a material impact on the business?

Fund Raising on Risk Mitigation:

I’ve often had friends ask when to raise their first round of financing. The answer depends on the level of risk associated with the project. In many cases, former engineers and product managers with strong track records of building and shipping successful products do not need to build a MVP to generate investment interest. For Continue reading “Startup Risk and Valuation”

How to raise venture capital


This post is by Correlated Causation from Correlated Causation

How to raise venture capital

OpenTable – Opportunity


When I co-founded PrimaTable, a restaurant marketplace startup, I had prior experience within Google’s Adwords and YouTube’s media marketplace. Taking the plunge, I tried to systematically learn about marketplaces from as many public company as possible. Unfortunately, many marketplace companies don’t report on the essential operational metrics (unit economics, CAC, LTV, liquidity, geographic density …) and require crude assumptions to decompose their performance. OpenTable was my closest comparable and reports nearly a complete set of supply side unit economics going back to 2006. Let’s take a look at their business.

History

Founded in 1998, OpenTable is a two-sided local marketplace connecting diners with restaurants. OpenTable started as a restaurant electronic reservation book (ERB). To grow their marketplace, OpenTable focused on single side utility, adding value to restaurants focused on customer service with a CRM and table management system. OpenTable focused on liquidity in a local geography prior to broader expansion. After the aggregation of a comprehensive list of restaurants in a metropolitan area, OpenTable.com provides value to consumers by facilitating the discovery of reservation availability.

Acquired by Priceline in July of 2014 for $2.6B, OpenTable takes reservations currently has over 32K restaurants internationally and has seated over 665 million dinners.

In this post, I’ll dig into OpenTable’s business with a focus on opportunities Priceline can capture. Priceline has stated a focus on three strategic areas (SAs) post-acquisition:

  1. International expansion
  2. Demand generation
  3. Marketplace innovation, especially in mobile

OpenTable’s business model is very similar to Priceline’s, in demand generation, supply aggregation and operational needs. Like hotels and airlines in the travel industry, restaurants have a high fixed cost and low variable cost (35%). To maximize profit, restaurants want to be at 100% occupancy and have significant margin to spend to acquire customers. Unlike Priceline, OpenTable has a much more frequent but lower margin and volume transaction.

Stage

OpenTable has grown to nearly $200M in revenue. The fastest growing portion of their revenue is reservation performance marketing product. SA #2 post-acquisition will be to focus on the marketing products further increasing the growth within performance marketing.

Revenue by Type.

Network effects

The beauty of marketplace businesses is – at liquidity there are strong network effects. Year over year growth in diners has consistently outpaced that of restaurants (outside of the Top Table acquisition in 2010). This is due to the increased value that each incremental user of OpenTable has due to the comprehensive coverage of supply. As OpenTable focuses on SA #3 marketplace innovation, expect revenue growth to begin to outpace even diner growth. OpenTable can offer additional value to both consumers and restaurants by creating a more efficient market.

Year over Year Growth.

Unit Economics

Restaurant Acquisition

Continue reading “OpenTable – Opportunity”

Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”

Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

My son was born a month ago. It has been one of the most amazing experiences, nothing short of miraculous. One night while soothing him back to sleep, I reflected on how different a world he will face when he starts his family. The amount of innovation that has happened over the course of my lifetime is staggering. The cumulative nature of discovery, each invention building upon a growing base of knowledge, dictates that this innovation only continues to accelerate. From our seat in Silicon Valley, acceleration is readily apparent.

In the last 30 years, we’ve seen the mass adoption of personal computers, a global internet, and smartphones. Long the domain of only science fiction, technologies like 3d printing, virtual reality, connected devices, quantified self, consumer robotics, and self-driving cars are on the immediate horizon. A series of simultaneous parallel inventions served to create the modern information technology economy. Exponential growth of compute power (Moore’s law), storage capacity (Kryder’s law), and data transmission (Butters’ and Nielsen’s have driven unfathomable hardware advancement. The lasting effect of these inventions is still playing out.

Previous leaps in efficiency during the Industrial Revolution centered around augmenting physical processes and were limited by fuel and mechanical innovation. More so than anytime before, the technical innovation today serves to enable further innovation (whether explicitly with computer aided design, or implicitly changing how we learn). Information technology augments mental processes and allows the transformation of every facet of our world.

As a huge fan of science fiction I recognize I’m no Hari Seldon. Here are some thoughts about what the next 10 years may bring, looking at startups founded today.

Information Revolution

Information is being digitized, organized and made universally accessible. To quote the film Serenity, “You can’t stop the signal, Mal.” With the rise of connected devices and cheap sensors, data is increasing exponentially. Anything that can, will be quantified. Once quantified, it will be analyzed and understood. Put another way, every physical thing will become smart. Everything will be connected, measured and responsive.

The information revolution that is currently happening in this rapid digitization is what powers much of the modern innovation. As Google Research Director Peter Norvig says, the combination of rapidly increasing data and new methods to process this data means new and better models yielding increased information, relevance and personalization. Already, services are moving from comprehensiveness (10 Continue reading “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!”

I, for one, embrace our new robot overlords

tl;dr Technology creates efficiency and leverage. The rise in automation serves to empower the workforce just as machinery, electricity, and computing did previously.

At a wedding reception dinner recently, I engaged in a fascinating conversation with a good friend. The conversation was spurred by the report that Uber will replace drivers with self-driving cars. The debate was whether the self-driving cars will destroy taxi driver jobs. Here is the gist of my argument.

Recall that Luddites were first born in the Industrial Revolution’s as “textile artisans who protested against newly developed labour-saving machinery”. The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies, written by Erik Brynjolfsson an MIT economist, paints an interesting perspective for modern Luddites. Technology universally improves economic standard of living. The net effect can be difficult to understand, as the first order will be an automation of manual jobs.

Brynjolfsson argues that the key to growth and prosperity is to “race with the machines”. He presents many examples where continued progress with digital technologies fundamentally improves society. Technology creates wealth in the way Paul Graham defines it – “stuff we want: food, clothes, houses, cars, gadgets, travel to interesting places, and so on.”

But like the Industrial Revolution, which took generations to improve the steam engine, it will take time for industry to embrace new digital technology. Remember Time magazine declared the personal computer its “Machine of the Year” in 1982. For anyone interested, Professor Brynjolfsson’s TED Talk, The key to growth? Race with the machines is a provocative response to Robert Gordon’s The Death of Innovation and the end of Growth.

In Kevin Kelly’s 2012 Wired article, Better than Human: Why Robots Will – And Must – Take Our Jobs, highlighted the same premise. Embracing the technological changes and leveraging new abilities will create unimagined jobs much in the same way the Industrial Revolution transformed society.

Similarly, Marc Andreessen recently had a flurry of “robots eat the jobs” tweetstorms. His argument, as Milton Friedman, human wants and needs are infinite – driving ever increasing demand, automation and technology leverage is fundamentally good – driving costs down for everyone, and finally humans will always be able to do things that technology cant.

Technology creates efficiency and leverage. Just as a loom enabled a textile worker to create higher quality goods, faster, modern technology platforms create leverage for individuals. Open source technology, public cloud infrastructure like AWS, established distribution channels like app stores, web search and ad networks enable a small team of engineers to create new companies for increasingly less capital. Automated technology will continue to serve as a force for greater efficiency and leverage whether it is Amazon’s Continue reading “I, for one, embrace our new robot overlords”

Deep Links – Mobile Acquisition Unlocked

tl;dr Deep links provide the ability for apps to better address discovery and engagement

I was lucky to share a panel with John Milinovich CEO of URX and Itamar Weisbrod CEO of Deeplinks.me at the grow.co’s Mobile Acquisition Unlocked conference yesterday. Here is a quick look at my view of the panel.

John had a great framework for describing the stages of deep linking.

  1. enablement – engineering your app to respond to the correct routes.
  2. publishing routes – allowing for an interconnected web of apps.
  3. use cases – utilizing deep links, first in existing marketing channels (email, push, re-engagement …)

Deep links (either one of Charles Hudson’s 3 ways deep linking could play out) are an enabling technology. I’m not overly concerned about the specific implementation. I hope that iOS 8 and Apple’s recent interactive notifications, app extensions and widgets herald a more open app to app interaction.

The use cases for deep linking are many and varied. Marketer 101: more targeted, specific messages with simpler transactions yield higher ROI campaigns. This is true in emails, push notifications, shared links, ads and beyond. Can you imagine if while searching for [deep linking] on Google you were taken to wikipedia.org and not directly to the content? Deep links are a step in the right direction.

Taking a product centric view to user acquisition, great UX, inherent viral channels, platform distribution, referral programs, and drip marketing often have a higher leverage effect on a user base than pure paid marketing. Deep links can improve nearly every aspect of an apps growth strategy.

My main takeaways from the overall MAU conf are 1) Facebook is still the best and largest scale mobile acquisition channel. While marketers are excited about Twitter, YouTube, native ads and a series of vendors, FB remains the de facto leader in both installs and re engagement. Which brings us to 2) 2014 is the year of re-engagement. Marketers repeatedly highlight vendors like TapCommerce, ActionX and Kahuna as new high ROI channels.

It is still clear mobile discovery and engagement are still fundamentally broken (as I’ve previously written about). Deep links provide the low level infrastructure to allow companies to begin to address discovery and engagement.

Willful Delusion – Startups and the Stockdale Paradox


This post is by Correlated Causation from Correlated Causation

tl;dr Willful delusion – rational optimism is necessary for startups.

Early when I was starting PrimaTable, a friend and mentor told me about the Stockdale Paradox. Described in Jim Collin’s Good to Great, the paradox is named after Vice Admiral Jim Stockdale, an American naval officer held captive for eight years in the Vietnam War.

Stockdale’s Paradox

When asked about about how he coped with captivity and regular torture, Admiral Stockdale responded:

“I never lost faith in the end of the story, I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which, in retrospect, I would not trade.”

When asked who didn’t make it home from Vietnam, Stockdale replied:

“Oh, that’s easy, the optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, ‘We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.”

Collin’s coined the Stockdale paradox as Stockdale’s summary:

“You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end — which you can never afford to lose — with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

Startups

Creating a new product is hard, creating a new company is even harder. There are countless reasons why any given company doesn’t exist. Startup growth is a process of managing and mitigating risk.

In order to make the leap from Peter Thiel’s Zero to One, a founder must believe the technology is different, the market is different, her team is different, the business model is different and so on. This belief has been called a Reality Distortion Field but without balancing the ability to confront the brutal facts a startup often faces can lead a founder astray. Weathering the difficult challenges of a startup, requires the ability to see and navigate issues or Tom Tunguz’s Ruthlessness and Grit.

Like Stockdale’s paradox, starting a company and surviving requires a willful delusion. Delusion supporting optimism in face of that risk. Willfulness allows the management of risk through rational assessment. While a founder needs to be a rational, convincing and brilliant operator, at the same time, she must ignore the mountain of evidence that this company shouldn’t exist.

Willful Delusion – Startups and the Stockdale Paradox

tl;dr Willful delusion – rational optimism is necessary for startups.

Early when I was starting PrimaTable, a friend and mentor told me about the Stockdale Paradox. Described in Jim Collin’s Good to Great, the paradox is named after Vice Admiral Jim Stockdale, an American naval officer held captive for eight years in the Vietnam War.

Stockdale’s Paradox

When asked about about how he coped with captivity and regular torture, Admiral Stockdale responded:

“I never lost faith in the end of the story, I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which, in retrospect, I would not trade.”

When asked who didn’t make it home from Vietnam, Stockdale replied:

“Oh, that’s easy, the optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, ‘We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.”

Collin’s coined the Stockdale paradox as Stockdale’s summary:

“You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end — which you can never afford to lose — with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

Startups

Creating a new product is hard, creating a new company is even harder. There are countless reasons why any given company doesn’t exist. Startup growth is a process of managing and mitigating risk.

In order to make the leap from Peter Thiel’s Zero to One, a founder must believe the technology is different, the market is different, her team is different, the business model is different and so on. This belief has been called a Reality Distortion Field but without balancing the ability to confront the brutal facts a startup often faces can lead a founder astray. Weathering the difficult challenges of a startup, requires the ability to see and navigate issues or Tom Tunguz’s Ruthlessness and Grit.

Like Stockdale’s paradox, starting a company and surviving requires a willful delusion. Delusion supporting optimism in face of that risk. Willfulness allows the management of risk through rational assessment. While a founder needs to be a rational, convincing and brilliant operator, at the same time, she must ignore the mountain of evidence that this company shouldn’t exist.