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This is a fascinating company for many reasons. A social network for my five most important people hasn't been done. The ever evolving social attitudes to what data gets shared and how. The tie ins to other important services like home security. Its implications for commerce like buying take home food with DoorDash. Or implications for transportation needs of families, touching on companies like Uber and Lyft. It feels also like families has been an under-targeted group for tech products, and that wave is beginning in late 2013. Life360 has been there for 4+ years, and has millions of users already. How are Amazon, Google, Yahoo and Facebook going to play in the family space? Women control 80% of the retail dollar, and Moms are a big percentage of that.
3 months, 1 week ago on How Life360 overcame creepiness to replace the most common text message you send
Poshmark is the leader by a wide margin, both in size, engagement and transactions. Used fashion has been small historically mostly because there was no easy way to make it big. The same can be said of ride sharing (Lyft), or renting your home (AirBNB), and those verticals have been going through similar transformations with well designed digital marketplaces. Poshmark is the first there, and will likely capture most of the value of the vertical. At least that's what typically happens....
4 months, 3 weeks ago on Will Poshmark pull away from the pack in the secondhand clothing wars?
Great coverage, Michael. Alon, Adi, Liza and the rest of the team are indeed doing something remarkable. As the network effects of their platform increase, their central position in the industry will deepen, and the very work flow of the industry could begin to improve along with the Houzz platform. It's a great opportunity. Part of their speed seems to come from the rapid development team, and part seems to come from the massive support the company has received from Alfred Lin and Sequoia. Also interesting to note that Oren Zeev, the quiet early investor in Chegg, was also the first investor in Houzz. Congratulations to all involved!
6 months, 2 weeks ago on The numbers say Houzz has lit a fire under the home remodeling market
High class reporting, first rate analysis, and unique access to one of the most valuable companies in the US telling an important story no one has told before. David Marcus is the real deal, and so are you Sarah.
6 months, 4 weeks ago on If it’s not broke, break it: How David Marcus is dismantling PayPal to save it
Thank you, Kevin, and team, for this article and for standing up.
7 months, 2 weeks ago on How to slaughter a patent troll in 5 steps
Francisco, good stuff and very topical. As we speak, there are literally millions of people in government, industry, academia and the financial industries trying to figure out what they should "do" to produce the sort of wealth creation experienced in Silicon Valley in the last 40 years. Most of them need to produce tangible results they can point to in two sentences or less (example: "We launched an accelerator this year with 40 local business leaders as mentors and 20 companies have gone through the program."), to show they are busy and can justify their salaries, so their bosses can show to their boards that their staffs are busy and thereby justify their own salaries, so the board members can go to social events and talk about what their organizations are doing in two sentences or less so the people they are talking to can nod their heads and think quickly, "Yep, makes sense, sounds good." In short, what people try has to be 1) easy to describe, 2) tangible, and 3) making immediate sense to all sorts of people who know little about startups or innovation. Culture development is none of these things, and so it can't be on their "to do" list. And how would one "do" that anyway?
I think you're right in suggesting those thinking about recreating SV by building the tangible assets of the SV ecosystem are coming at it at the wrong level, and that perhaps what we see going on here may be one step below, as a cultural issue. But I'd suggest the focus should be even one step further down at the level of "personality." I think something is "cultural" only after it reaches the scale of many thousands of people.
In Europe, one finds a lot of people who have already bought in - 100% - to the "entrepreneurial lifestyle" the "culture of entrepreneurship." They've grown up reading TechCrunch, blogs of VC's and entrepreneurs, and now Pando, and watching videos of entrepreneurs. The Internet has allowed for the culture we have in SV to spread pretty effectively. But many of those entrepreneurs are failing for the same reasons many entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley have been failing despite living in the "right culture" -- their personality. Those whose thoughts aren't original enough, the ones that aren't honest enough with themselves and others, the ones that aren't ambitious enough, the ones that aren't bold enough, the ones who don't care to take vacation, the ones who don't share enough information with their competitors, the ones who don't pay it forward, etc. These could be considered cultural differences, but they go deeper than that, I think, to individuals' personalities.
David Hornik is not a product of the culture. Neither is Elon Musk. Neither is Evan Williams or Drew Houston. These are strong personalities who were born and raised all over the US or overseas. They didn't fit in anywhere else, and they were driven to come here because this was the highest collection of personalities like them in the world. All together, those 1000's of personalities create a culture, but it started much lower down than that. For these people coming from Israel or Denmark or Atlanta or Illinois - I'm sure you've seen it too -- there's often a sense of "coming home" and finally being among your people. The main reason they feel that way is certainly not because of the ecosystem and infrastructure (as you point out), and it's only partly due to the culture or cultural norms, per se. I would argue it's mostly because of the one-on-one conversations they have with people who are remarkably like them in personality. They can finally connect and be understood. They experience relief to meet other minds like theirs. I think that's where "Silicon Valley" actually exists.
I loved this article from July 3, 2013 http://www.technologyreview.com/news/516506/silicon-valley-cant-be-copied/ and I think Vivek nailed it, except he ruined the article at the very end where he contradicts the rest of the article by saying the "magic ingredient (is) smart people." It's not smart people. There are smart people everywhere. It's smart people with the right personality, that together, over time, with 1000's other like them, build a culture. Silicon Valley is not magical exceptionalism, and, in fact, over the next decade, another geography could produce something much more productive than today's Silicon Valley. But I would focus them on personalities of individuals to start. I think that's where it starts, and where it continues to live.
8 months ago on Spreading the entrepreneurial contagion
@Josh Tanger Josh, I'd be interested to know, what should content strategy actually be?
8 months, 3 weeks ago on Content marketing gets its magazine moment
Hamish, this is an important trend. Scripted in San Francisco has become the largest Content Marketing marketplace http://scripted.com http://techcrunch.com/2013/06/04/scripted-funding-redpoint-crosslink/
Very funny, Bryan! Closer to reality than anyone wants to admit about how valuations are arrived at....
11 months, 2 weeks ago on How much was GoodReads worth? My calculation says $3 billion
Kevin, thoughtful piece, well articulated. As the one of the three original investor in GoodReads, I can tell you that this discussion came up a lot during the merger process. Otis's vision to transform how we read is still in play, and Amazon wants that to happen, too. Sometimes good intentions are squashed unintentionally, but it feels like Amazon has the right approach. If it didn't, I suspect deal wouldn't have happened. Amazon's motivations are many but they include building more great products on the cutting edge, continuing to own the brand of books in consumers minds, adding more social to the reading experience, and bringing a passionate community closer to them. They are a strong and passionate company on a mission. The GR team had a similar mission, and network effect going. My bet right now is it's going to work out great for the GR community and for Kindle users.
11 months, 2 weeks ago on Amazon bought Goodreads, but it won’t break it
Jiff Inc. in Palo Alto is building just such a platform. Aetna's CarePass is another.
1 year ago on The ROI on social healthcare platforms
I don't think we'd want LP's investing directly into startups... they would choose less accurately than current VC's, not being close enough to the ground or studied enough in markets or technologies make the right calls. What would be more effective would be a more distributed way for LP's to invest behind people are are studied enough, whether they are institutional VC's or not. A more transparent, fluid, distributed market, vs the concentrated and somewhat ponderous market we have today. It's coming soon, and we're going to like it. :-)
1 year, 1 month ago on Warning VCs: The Internet is coming for you
Francisco, love your writing. This post falls in the category of "we should all make a cultural change, and then thing will be better." Not my favorite category. To move it out of that category, maybe the next step is to ask what environmental conditions might be causing that goal shift?... or are people just more lazy and selfish than they used to be in the good old days. Maybe product cycles have shortened significantly, increasing uncertainty and shifting the general calculus on the sell vs carry-on decision. Maybe there are a lot more companies targeting these markets (by an order of magnitude or more), which also increases the uncertainty. Maybe the same number of big companies are being created per time period, but there are just many more small exits being created too, so it looks like a shift to short term thinking, but isn't. Maybe the amounts of money being slung around are so life changing for the entrepreneur, compared to 30 years ago, the calculus to sell is irresistible. I don't know, but I'd love to hear you write about your insights at that level.
1 year, 1 month ago on Silicon Valley greed in the long and short term
Michael, Poshmark is the leader in this space by a long shot. https://poshmark.com http://www.crunchbase.com/company/poshmark
1 year, 4 months ago on Recycled Bride founder launches Tradesy to monetizes the rest of women’s closets
Great article, Sarah. You and Michael Carney are doing a great job of walking through the perhaps thorny and emotional discussion of what makes a tech ecosystem work or not. We can all feel the positive energy and momentum coming from LA and NYC... and on the one hand, there's something to be said for just cheering it on. What's to be gained from limiting confidence, belief and enthusiasm? On the other hand, there are certain realities that should probably be discussed. I see you trying to strike that balance. Clearly, there will be more geographies coming up that will face similar patterns and challenges... parts of Europe and Asia for instance ... so these discussions will continue (and repeat) for many years to come.
1 year, 4 months ago on Sure, being in a tech hub matters, but there’s scant benefit to being the poster-child
Great article, Hamish. A classic Pando piece.
1 year, 4 months ago on Foxy Nate Silver and why old-media hedgehogs could soon be old news
I would bet that Pinterest has a high "N factor", meaning a Novelty Factor. It's an excellent new interface, but I can see 40% of the people using it today tiring of it within 24 months. What Yahoo needs is a company with a true network effect -- without a high N Factor -- so it survives acquisition. Maybe one that, like YouTube, is needing a longer runway to reach its potential. I haven't thought about it much, but Square might be a good candidate. $4B. Maybe also grab Yelp, for another $2B. Perhaps, going after local and transactions puts Yahoo in position to grab the long tail of ad dollars in addition to the fat part of the tail it gets now. Local is still to be cracked, and with mobile taking over, it's going to be cracked in the next 36 months. Having those two network effect businesses plus Yahoo's existing products for local businesses, email groups, etc could make them the go-to company that many thought Groupon would be. Just a thought.
1 year, 6 months ago on With $4.5B to Spend, Marissa Mayer Should Forget the Small Deals and Find a PayPal or a YouTube
Farhad, I have to hand it to you. You grasp and articulate the situation better than anyone I've read. Samsung's execution was excellent given the circumstances. They're still in the game, and now get a chance to innovate on their own. Just as Google did http://oogalabs.wordpress.com/2007/07/30/love-to-the-innovators-part-1-infoseek-bill-gross-and-yahoo/ and just as FB did http://oogalabs.wordpress.com/2007/09/07/love-to-the-innovators-2-incircle-invented-facebook-didnt-they/
1 year, 6 months ago on Copying Works: How Samsung’s Decision to Mimic Apple Paid Off in Spades
Nice post, Francisco. Those interested in this line of thinking should check out John Seely Brown's lectures and writings on the subject. http://www.johnseelybrown.com/ If you're REALLy interested, you can contact me about it and we should talk it through.
1 year, 6 months ago on Replanting the Roots of Education
Sam and Liam are great entrepreneurs, and they've hit a vein with this product. They are definitely an important team to watch in the education space. And they're good guys...
1 year, 6 months ago on ClassDojo Raises $1.6M, Announces Upcoming iPhone and iPad Apps