Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Product Management, Failing, Venture Capital, Culture, Analytics, HR – Weekend Reading Sept 29 2013
This weekend’s Roundup #12 from Startup Management is a manual selection from the hundreds of weekly articles being curated. Previous issues are available here. There are 21 links in this edition. Forward to a friend, so they can sign-up and benefit too.
In this issue, I’m tightening the curation screws even further, by focusing on the best articles that contain original content, lessons learned, an in-depth dive into an issue, or anything I feel is really important. These are the articles that will probably make it into the permanent Library of topics, and they are the ones that are advancing the state of our knowledge when it comes to growing, managing or scaling startups.
Have you tried SUM on Flipboard? You don’t need the App. And it looks great on a smartphone or web. 688 articles and counting. I add about 10-15 articles per day.
Memory Lane, Circa 1998
In 1998, Business 2.0 printed the 10 Driving Principles of the New Economy. I revisited them on the 15-year anniversary, with a 2013 Reality Check, in Lessons From 15 Years Ago. You will be surprised to see what has changed and what hasn’t. The network effect’s value was predicted in 1998, but there were 7 themes that were missed.
Big Co. vs. Startup
In How Great Entrepreneurs Think, Leigh Buchanan summarized a fascinating study of 245 U.S. entrepreneurs by business school professor Saras Sarasvathy. The key insight is that master entrepreneurs think in “effectual reasoning”, whereas corporate executives use “causal reasoning”. Tom Eisemann of Harvard Business School has a well researched post, Advice for MBAs Seeking Startup Jobs. It is based on interviewing 26 HBS MBA alumni running VC-backed startups in New York and San Francisco. Two Must Read pieces.
Peter Levine interviewed Dick Costolo who reveals how he changed the Twitter culture, and gives tidbits on his leadership style, in Lessons in Leadership in More than 140 Characters: A Fireside Chat with Dick Costolo.
How Open Should a Startup CEO be with Staff? Is a great question that Mark Suster asks and answers. Not so open is the verdict, in the following 3 areas: M&A, Runway of cash, and Dilution/Valuation. Inspiring Entrepreneurs: Ted Livingston’s rollercoaster ride as CEO of hit messaging startup Kik is exactly like the title says. It’s a fascinating re-count of what really happened at Kik, and where they are currently going.
Rand Fishkin has an excellent post on why the recent Google changes in keyword transparency are to be taken seriously, how to mitigate that risk, and ultimately overcome The First Existential Threat to SEO.
Mark Saldana at 500 Startups says there are 4 Marketing Channels You’re Not Using (But Should be): Podcasts, Quora, LinkedIn Groups, and Webinars. It’s mostly for B2Bs though. And Mackenzie Fogelson reminds us to avoid letting the tail wag the dog, in Setting Goals (Not Tools) as the Foundation of Your Marketing.
In Product Feedback (It’s not About You), Ian Cackett’s advice is to “listen to all feedback, but only act upon it in aggregate”. In How to build great products, Slava Akhmechet says to use the three bucket model for categorizing features: “gamechanger, showstopper, and distraction.”
In Friends Don’t Let Friends Have a Lazy VC/CEO Relationship, Bilal Zuberi has a long list of do’s and don’t to better manage the vc/entrepreneur relationship. Raj Setty lists 7 ways well-meaning advisors hurt first-time entrepreneurs. Two of them, “being nice to you”, and “reciting sound bytes”. And Hunter Walk has 3 reasons why VCs Should Give Honest Feedback & Why They Often Don’t. “Giving feedback is difficult”, he says.
In-depth failure case studies are few and far in-between. This is a good one by Rip Empson,Why Startups Fail: A Postmortem for Flud, The Social Newsreader. In my opinion, Flud was too late to enter the market, and the product was not differentiated enough.
Ryan Sarver, ex-Twitter platform manager has a new post, What is a Platform? He makes the very good point that “an API does not a Platform make”, and he stresses that “a platform needs to have strong networks.” And he acknowledges that Twitter’s early platform had weak network effects. Important reading if you are aiming to build a platform.
Keen IO has released 6 interviews with CTOs from their series, 17 CTOs Share their Greatest Fears. Not surprisingly, culture and hiring are top of mind.
Fred Wilson is interviewed at the Data Driven NYC Meetup. Two themes emerge: 1) big data for healthcare to solve big issues, and 2) Bitcoin, as the programmable money, native payment system for the Internet. Dave McClure updated his 30 slides on Slideshare: Changes in Venture Capital + Building 500 Startups. The pirate’s hat is gone, but the presentation is packed and well organized.
In an interview, Why Culture Matters, Boris Wertz observed that “most tech companies are centered and built around similar cultures and values, e.g. valuing a great product over an aggressive sales force.”
In Off the Chart: An Interview with Riley Newman, Head of Analytics at Airbnb, Riley gives several examples of how Airbnb applies the power of data science from operations, to marketing, to product, to growth hacking, and customer support.
In How to hire, Sam Altman wrote a long post, with some good tactical advice. This was my favorite, “Have people audition for roles instead of interviewing for them.”
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