Military Strategy Applied to Startups

OODA was a technique coined by John Boyd, one of the leading military thinkers of the last 100 years, based on the German’s Blitzkrieg-style warfare which prioritized speed and surprise over the traditional win, hold and grind attrition techniques of trench warfare. After @pmarca tweeted about the concept, I read one of the books on the topic called Certain to Win. Boyd’s thesis is that leaders of successful teams have to enable their organization to move rapidly, which means empowering people at all levels to make decisions.

The Technology that’s Taking Data Science by Storm

Given all the momentum of the NoSQL movement, it would be easy to write off SQL-based technologies as forgotten, or simply standing still. But there’s a tremendous amount of innovation occurring in SQL databases. Amazon’s Redshift, an elastic data-warehousing solution launched in late 2012 is the most salient example. Redshift’s ability to process huge volumes of data is breathtaking. When running Redshift on solid state drives (SSDs), one team at FlyData queried 1 terabyte of data in less than 10 seconds.

The Maximum Viable Churn Rate for a Startup

​ An entrepreneur asked me the question, what is the maximum viable churn for a startup? Within that question, a few others are embedded. How should a founder think about trading off efforts to grow revenue and mitigate churn? What is the impact of account growth on net churn? Startups must walk a tight-rope to balance growth, churn and cash. Below is the framework I use for working through maximum viable churn.

The Best Times of Year to Raise Capital for Your Startup

Aside from a startup’s internal considerations about the right time to raise money, founders should weigh the seasonality of the fund raising market when planning their raise. There’s a rule of thumb batted around the valley that the worst times to raise capital are in the dog-days of summer and after Thanksgiving. As it turns out, this aphorism is only a half-truth. Below is a chart of the dollars VCs have invested by month of year.

The Go-To-Market Challenges of B2D Companies

Last week, I spent some time at HeavyBit, the community for developer focused companies in SoMa, chatting with a few companies reaching scale. Across a handful of meetings, a recurring theme surfaced for these B2D (business-to-developer companies). How should their sales and marketing apparatuses be built? Do the field sales models of infrastructure companies or the inside sales models of software companies apply when the initial user is a developer?

How One Startup’s Engineering Team Cut their Engineering Release Times in Half

When I worked as an engineer, I loved crafting code and feeling the satisfaction of having built something each day. But there was one thing about coding I never grew to love, despite its importance: forecasting my coding time. Every two weeks, I trudged into a planning meeting that exposed my incompetent forecasting. During these meetings, each person in turn would review their commitments for the last two weeks and provide an update.

Using Data to Demystify Data Science

While the phrase data scientist may be growing exponentially in its usage, and the number of data scientists job requisitions following a similar trend, the definition of the term is hard to pin down precisely. I wasn’t sure I could define it well until I watched a talk by Hilary Mason, former chief scientist at Bitly, called Dirty Secrets of Data Science at a NYC meetup. During the presentation, she highlighted a chart created by the Data Community DC team that demystifies term data scientist.

What the Nest Acquisition Means for the Internet of Things

As recently as six months ago, it was easy to disregard the Internet of Things (IoT) as just a theoretical market that Cisco measured in the trillions, but whose potential never seemed to materialize. That’s all changing. The past year ushered in a new era for the Internet of Things for three reasons. First, venture capitalists invested nearly $1B of capital in the IoT in 2013, more than 3% of all VC investments by dollars.

Three Important Trends in the Startup Exit Market

Each year the National Venture Capital Association and Thomson Reuters release data characterizing the state of the startup market. I’ve analyzed the 2013 data and there are three important trends I observed. All in all, the startup exit market is quite healthy. Startup exit values are increasing more than 7% per year, on average. The number of exits is flat-to-down during the ten year period I studied. The public markets have opened to startups again, doubling their share of exits.

The Average Value of a Tech Company is Decreasing

On the heels of last week’s post about the Health of the Public Technology Market, Felix Salmon asked the thought-provoking question above. Despite the 68x growth in the value of technology market caps since 1980, are newer average technology companies worth less? Surprisingly, yes. The average public tech company value has falled by more than 2/3rds from $4.3B in the early 80s to $1.4B today, as measured in 2014 dollars.