A systematic approach to all things Internet and how we, as information hunters, interact across the Web via data, insights and ideas. More →
The value capture in the private markets has also led some hedge funds and other major non-private-market investors to become late-stage VCs. Many of these investors lack the skills, focus, experience and temperament to make great, patient, long-term, private-market investors. Trying to shoe-horn a hedge-fund mentality into venture capital markets cannot portend a happy outcome. Marc Andreessen captured some of this sentiment in his recent “10 Ways to Damage Your High-Growth Tech Startup” Tweetstorm.
Don’t invest in “pedigreed” founders, with startups in hot sectors, that have lots of “social proof”, located in the Bay Area. Everyone wants to invest in those companies. So, as we saw in Angel Gate, valuations in these deals go way up. Instead, invest in a wide range of founders, in a wide range of sectors, before their startups have much social proof, across the entire US. Undoubtedly, these startups have a lower chance of succeeding.
The first part of our modest insight was to face the fact that, at the seed stage, most of the value is option value not enterprise value. Any approach based on trying to work backwards from some hypothetical future enterprise value will be either incredibly expensive or little more than a guess.
We can now begin to see that the new style of management is not a fad. The knowledge-based part of the economy demands flat hierarchies, mission orientation, above all a sense of direction. Not five-year plans. We can also fathom the mystery of what I’ve alluded to as re-everything. Much of this “re- everything” predilection—in the bulk- processing world—is a fancy label for streamlining, computerizing, downsizing. However, in the increasing-returns world, especially in high tech, re-everything has become necessary because every time the quest changes the company needs to change. It needs to reinvent its purpose, its goals, its way of doing things. In short, it needs to adapt. And adaptation never stops. In fact, in the increasing-returns environment I’ve just sketched, standard optimization makes little sense. You cannot optimize in the casino of increasing-returns games. You can be smart. You can be cunning. You can position. You can observe. But when the games themselves are not even fully defined, you cannot optimize. What you can do is adapt. Adaptation, in the proactive sense, means watching for the next wave that is coming, figuring out what shape it will take, and positioning the company to take advantage of it. Adaptation is what drives increasing-returns businesses, not optimization.
The ultimate hack is unlocking data to create a service experience that is about me, the customer, not what the chef and manager dreamed up before opening for business. The more you know about what I want in the moment I want it, the more orders you’ll get from me. A huge opportunity for your bottom line. I’m not suggesting overhauling your menu for each customer every day. I am thinking about all the ways you interact with a customer- the email newsletter, social media, how well you understand my order history to remind me of what I love about you. Maybe the food too. Find me where I am online and let me order- don’t force me to come to you.
When founders are starting out, partnership inquiries sound really exciting. In theory, a successful partnership with a larger company could help your company get more customers. What you realize, though, is that partnerships are rarely a real thing. When you work with another company, either they are your customer or you are their customer. Anything other than that usually just eats up time and energy.
The way that my team initially looked at this question is: if it’s interesting for a local, it’s going to be really, really interesting for a traveler. That means that it’s local and interesting and unique and that’s what travelers want. If it’s good enough for a local, it’s going to be good enough for a traveler.