More on Entrepreneurship
2 months ago
2000s Toys, Secrets, and Cycles
During the dot-com bust, I started my internet career. People used the internet intermittently to check email, plan travel, and do research. The average internet user spent 30 minutes online a day, compared to 7 today. To use the internet, you had to "log on" (most people still used dial-up), unlike today's always-on, high-speed mobile internet. In 2001, Amazon's market cap was $2.2B, 1/500th of what it is today. A study asked Americans if they'd adopt broadband, and most said no. They didn't see a need to speed up email, the most popular internet use. The National Academy of Sciences ranked the internet 13th among the 100 greatest inventions, below radio and phones. The internet was a cool invention, but it had limited uses and wasn't a good place to build a business.
A small but growing movement of developers and founders believed the internet could be more than a read-only medium, allowing anyone to create and publish. This is web 2. The runner up name was read-write web. (These terms were used in prominent publications and conferences.)
Web 2 concepts included letting users publish whatever they want ("user generated content" was a buzzword), social graphs, APIs and mashups (what we call composability today), and tagging over hierarchical navigation. Technical innovations occurred. A seemingly simple but important one was dynamically updating web pages without reloading. This is now how people expect web apps to work. Mobile devices that could access the web were niche (I was an avid Sidekick user).
The contrast between what smart founders and engineers discussed over dinner and on weekends and what the mainstream tech world took seriously during the week was striking. Enterprise security appliances, essentially preloaded servers with security software, were a popular trend. Many of the same people would talk about "serious" products at work, then talk about consumer internet products and web 2. It was tech's biggest news. Web 2 products were seen as toys, not real businesses. They were hobbies, not work-related.
There's a strong correlation between rich product design spaces and what smart people find interesting, which took me some time to learn and led to blog posts like "The next big thing will start out looking like a toy" Web 2's novel product design possibilities sparked dinner and weekend conversations. Imagine combining these features. What if you used this pattern elsewhere? What new product ideas are next? This excited people. "Serious stuff" like security appliances seemed more limited.
The small and passionate web 2 community also stood out. I attended the first New York Tech meetup in 2004. Everyone fit in Meetup's small conference room. Late at night, people demoed their software and chatted. I have old friends. Sometimes I get asked how I first met old friends like Fred Wilson and Alexis Ohanian. These topics didn't interest many people, especially on the east coast. We were friends. Real community. Alex Rampell, who now works with me at a16z, is someone I met in 2003 when a friend said, "Hey, I met someone else interested in consumer internet." Rare. People were focused and enthusiastic. Revolution seemed imminent. We knew a secret nobody else did.
My web 2 startup was called SiteAdvisor. When my co-founders and I started developing the idea in 2003, web security was out of control. Phishing and spyware were common on Internet Explorer PCs. SiteAdvisor was designed to warn users about security threats like phishing and spyware, and then, using web 2 concepts like user-generated reviews, add more subjective judgments (similar to what TrustPilot seems to do today). This staged approach was common at the time; I called it "Come for the tool, stay for the network." We built APIs, encouraged mashups, and did SEO marketing.
Yahoo's 2005 acquisitions of Flickr and Delicious boosted web 2 in 2005. By today's standards, the amounts were small, around $30M each, but it was a signal. Web 2 was assumed to be a fun hobby, a way to build cool stuff, but not a business. Yahoo was a savvy company that said it would make web 2 a priority.
As I recall, that's when web 2 started becoming mainstream tech. Early web 2 founders transitioned successfully. Other entrepreneurs built on the early enthusiasts' work. Competition shifted from ideation to execution. You had to decide if you wanted to be an idealistic indie bar band or a pragmatic stadium band.
Web 2 was booming in 2007 Facebook passed 10M users, Twitter grew and got VC funding, and Google bought YouTube. The 2008 financial crisis tested entrepreneurs' resolve. Smart people predicted another great depression as tech funding dried up.
Many people struggled during the recession. 2008-2011 was a golden age for startups. By 2009, talented founders were flooding Apple's iPhone app store. Mobile apps were booming. Uber, Venmo, Snap, and Instagram were all founded between 2009 and 2011. Social media (which had replaced web 2), cloud computing (which enabled apps to scale server side), and smartphones converged. Even if social, cloud, and mobile improve linearly, the combination could improve exponentially.
This chart shows how I view product and financial cycles. Product and financial cycles evolve separately. The Nasdaq index is a proxy for the financial sentiment. Financial sentiment wildly fluctuates.
Next row shows iconic startup or product years. Bottom-row product cycles dictate timing. Product cycles are more predictable than financial cycles because they follow internal logic. In the incubation phase, enthusiasts build products for other enthusiasts on nights and weekends. When the right mix of technology, talent, and community knowledge arrives, products go mainstream. (I show the biggest tech cycles in the chart, but smaller ones happen, like web 2 in the 2000s and fintech and SaaS in the 2010s.)
Tech has changed since the 2000s. Few tech giants dominate the internet, exerting economic and cultural influence. In the 2000s, web 2 was ignored or dismissed as trivial. Entrenched interests respond aggressively to new movements that could threaten them. Creative patterns from the 2000s continue today, driven by enthusiasts who see possibilities where others don't. Know where to look. Crypto and web 3 are where I'd start.
Today's negative financial sentiment reminds me of 2008. If we face a prolonged downturn, we can learn from 2008 by preserving capital and focusing on the long term. Keep an eye on the product cycle. Smart people are interested in things with product potential. This becomes true. Toys become necessities. Hobbies become mainstream. Optimists build the future, not cynics.
Full article is available here
21 years ago
How to properly price SaaS
Price Intelligently put out amazing content on pricing your SaaS product. This blog's link to the whole report is worth reading. Our key takeaways are below.
Don't base prices on the competition. Competitor-based pricing has clear drawbacks. Their pricing approach is yours. Your company offers customers something unique. Otherwise, you wouldn't create it. This strategy is static, therefore you can't add value by raising prices without outpricing competitors. Look, but don't touch is the competitor-based moral. You want to know your competitors' prices so you're in the same ballpark, but they shouldn't guide your selections. Competitor-based pricing also drives down prices.
Value-based pricing wins. This is customer-based pricing. Value-based pricing looks outward, not inward or laterally at competitors. Your clients are the best source of pricing information. By valuing customer comments, you're focusing on buyers. They'll decide if your pricing and packaging are right. In addition to asking consumers about cost savings or revenue increases, look at data like number of users, usage per user, etc.
Value-based pricing increases prices. As you learn more about the client and your worth, you'll know when and how much to boost rates. Every 6 months, examine pricing.
Cloning top customers. You clone your consumers by learning as much as you can about them and then reaching out to comparable people or organizations. You can't accomplish this without knowing your customers. Segmenting and reproducing them requires as much detail as feasible. Offer pricing plans and feature packages for 4 personas. The top plan should state Contact Us. Your highest-value customers want more advice and support.
Question your 4 personas. What's the one item you can't live without? Which integrations matter most? Do you do analytics? Is support important or does your company self-solve? What's too cheap? What's too expensive?
Not everyone likes per-user pricing. SaaS organizations often default to per-user analytics. About 80% of companies utilizing per-user pricing should use an alternative value metric because their goods don't give more value with more users, so charging for them doesn't make sense.
At least 3:1 LTV/CAC. Break even on the customer within 2 years, and LTV to CAC is greater than 3:1. Because customer acquisition costs are paid upfront but SaaS revenues accrue over time, SaaS companies face an early financial shortfall while paying back the CAC.
ROI should be >20:1. Indeed. Ensure the customer's ROI is 20x the product's cost. Microsoft Office costs $80 a year, but consumers would pay much more to maintain it.
A/B Testing. A/B testing is guessing. When your pricing page varies based on assumptions, you'll upset customers. You don't have enough customers anyway. A/B testing optimizes landing pages, design decisions, and other site features when you know the problem but not pricing.
Don't discount. It cheapens the product, makes it permanent, and increases churn. By discounting, you're ruining your pricing analysis.
3 days ago
Bills are paid by your 9 to 5. 6 through 12 help you build money.
40 years pass. After 14 years of retirement, you die. Am I the only one who sees the problem?
I’m the Jedi master of escaping the rat race.
Not to impress. I know this works since I've tried it. Quitting a job to make money online is worse than Kim Kardashian's internet-burning advice.
Let me help you rethink the move from a career to online income to f*ck you money.
To understand why a job is a joke, do some life math.
Without a solid why, nothing makes sense.
The retirement age is 65. Our processed food consumption could shorten our 79-year average lifespan.
You spend 40 years working.
After 14 years of retirement, you die.
Am I alone in seeing the problem?
Life is too short to work a job forever, especially since most people hate theirs. After-hours skills are vital.
Money equals unrestricted power, f*ck you.
F*ck you money is the answer.
Jack Raines said it first. He says we can do anything with the money. Jack, a young rebel straight out of college, can travel and try new foods.
F*ck you money signifies not checking your bank account before buying.
F*ck you” money is pure, unadulterated freedom with no strings attached.
Jack claims you're rich when you rarely think about money.
This doesn't imply you can buy a Lamborghini. It indicates your costs, income, lifestyle, and bank account are balanced.
Jack established an online portfolio while working for UPS in Atlanta, Georgia. So he gained boundless power.
The portion that many erroneously believe
Yes, you need internet abilities to make money, but they're not different from 9-5 talents.
Sahil Lavingia, Gumroad's creator, explains.
A job is a way to get paid to learn.
Mistreat your boss 9-5. Drain his skills. Defuse him. Love and leave him (eventually).
Find another employment if yours is hazardous. Pick an easy job. Make sure nothing sneaks into your 6-12 time slot.
The dumb game that makes you a sheep
A 9-5 job requires many job interviews throughout life.
You email your résumé to employers and apply for jobs through advertisements. This game makes you a sheep.
You're competing globally. Work-from-home makes the competition tougher. If you're not the cheapest, employers won't hire you.
After-hours online talents (say, 6 pm-12 pm) change the game. This graphic explains it better:
Online talents boost after-hours opportunities.
You go from wanting to be picked to picking yourself. More chances equal more money. Your f*ck you fund gets the extra cash.
A novel method of learning is essential.
College costs six figures and takes a lifetime to repay.
Informal learning is distinct. 6-12pm:
Observe the carefully controlled Twitter newsfeed.
Make use of Teachable and Gumroad's online courses.
Watch instructional YouTube videos
Look through the top Substack newsletters.
Informal learning is more effective because it's not obvious. It's fun to follow your curiosity and hobbies.
The majority of people lack one attitude. It's simple to learn.
One big impediment stands in the way of f*ck you money and time independence. So often.
Too many people plan after 6-12 hours. Dreaming. Big-thinkers. Strategically. They fill their calendar with meetings.
This is after-hours masturb*tion.
Sahil Bloom reminded me that a bias towards action will determine if this approach works for you.
The key isn't knowing what to do from 6-12 a.m. Trust yourself and develop abilities as you go. It's for building the parachute after you jump.
Sounds risky. We've eliminated the risk by finishing this process after hours while you work 9-5.
With no risk, you can have an I-don't-care attitude and still be successful.
When you choose to move forward, this occurs.
Once you try 9-5/6-12, you'll tell someone.
Few of us hang out with problem-solvers.
It's how much of society operates. So they make reasons so they can feel better about not giving you money.
Matthew Kobach told me chasing f*ck you money is easier with like-minded folks.
Without f*ck you money friends, loneliness will take over and you'll think you've messed up when you just need to keep going.
Steal this easy guideline
Let's act. No more fluffing and caressing.
If you detest your 9-5 talents or don't think they'll work online, get new ones. If you're skilled enough, continue.
Easlo recommends these skills:
Designer for Figma
editor in Photoshop
Automation consultant for Zapier
Designer of Webflow
video editor Adobe
Ghostwriter for Twitter
Artist in Blender Studio
2. Develop the ability
Every night from 6-12, apply the skill.
Practicing ghostwriting? Write someone's tweets for free. Do someone's website copy to learn copywriting. Get a website to the top of Google for a keyword to understand SEO.
Free practice is crucial. Your 9-5 pays the money, so work for free.
3. Take off stealthily like a badass
Another mistake. Sell to few. Don't be the best. Don't claim expertise.
Sell your new expertise to others behind you.
Using a digital good
By providing a service,
Point 1 also includes digital service examples. Digital products include eBooks, communities, courses, ad-supported podcasts, and templates. It's easy. Your 9-5 job involves one of these.
Take ideas from work.
Why? They'll steal your time for profit.
4. Iterate while feeling awful
First-time launches always fail. You'll feel terrible. Okay. Remember your 9-5?
Find improvements. Ask free and paying consumers what worked.
Multiple relaunches, each 1% better.
5. Discover more
Never stop learning. Improve your skill. Add a relevant skill. Learn copywriting if you write online.
After-hours students earn the most.
Repetition is key.
7. Make this one small change.
Consistently. The 6-12 momentum won't make you rich in 30 days; that's success p*rn.
Consistency helps wage slaves become f*ck you money. Most people can't switch between the two.
Putting everything together
It's easy. You're probably already doing some.
This formula explains why, how, and what to do. It's a 5th-grade-friendly blueprint. Good.
Reduce financial risk with your 9-to-5. Replace Netflix with 6-12 money-making talents.
Life is short; do whatever you want. Today.
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8 months ago
What is Terra? Your guide to the hot cryptocurrency
With cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ether, and Dogecoin gyrating in value over the past few months, many people are looking at so-called stablecoins like Terra to invest in because of their more predictable prices.
Terraform Labs, which oversees the Terra cryptocurrency project, has benefited from its rising popularity. The company said recently that investors like Arrington Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Pantera Capital have pledged $150 million to help it incubate various crypto projects that are connected to Terra.
Terraform Labs and its partners have built apps that operate on the company’s blockchain technology that helps keep a permanent and shared record of the firm’s crypto-related financial transactions.
Here’s what you need to know about Terra and the company behind it.
What is Terra?
Terra is a blockchain project developed by Terraform Labs that powers the startup’s cryptocurrencies and financial apps. These cryptocurrencies include the Terra U.S. Dollar, or UST, that is pegged to the U.S. dollar through an algorithm.
Terra is a stablecoin that is intended to reduce the volatility endemic to cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Some stablecoins, like Tether, are pegged to more conventional currencies, like the U.S. dollar, through cash and cash equivalents as opposed to an algorithm and associated reserve token.
To mint new UST tokens, a percentage of another digital token and reserve asset, Luna, is “burned.” If the demand for UST rises with more people using the currency, more Luna will be automatically burned and diverted to a community pool. That balancing act is supposed to help stabilize the price, to a degree.
“Luna directly benefits from the economic growth of the Terra economy, and it suffers from contractions of the Terra coin,” Terraform Labs CEO Do Kwon said.
Each time someone buys something—like an ice cream—using UST, that transaction generates a fee, similar to a credit card transaction. That fee is then distributed to people who own Luna tokens, similar to a stock dividend.
Who leads Terra?
The South Korean firm Terraform Labs was founded in 2018 by Daniel Shin and Kwon, who is now the company’s CEO. Kwon is a 29-year-old former Microsoft employee; Shin now heads the Chai online payment service, a Terra partner. Kwon said many Koreans have used the Chai service to buy goods like movie tickets using Terra cryptocurrency.
Terraform Labs does not make money from transactions using its crypto and instead relies on outside funding to operate, Kwon said. It has raised $57 million in funding from investors like HashKey Digital Asset Group, Divergence Digital Currency Fund, and Huobi Capital, according to deal-tracking service PitchBook. The amount raised is in addition to the latest $150 million funding commitment announced on July 16.
What are Terra’s plans?
Terraform Labs plans to use Terra’s blockchain and its associated cryptocurrencies—including one pegged to the Korean won—to create a digital financial system independent of major banks and fintech-app makers. So far, its main source of growth has been in Korea, where people have bought goods at stores, like coffee, using the Chai payment app that’s built on Terra’s blockchain. Kwon said the company’s associated Mirror trading app is experiencing growth in China and Thailand.
Meanwhile, Kwon said Terraform Labs would use its latest $150 million in funding to invest in groups that build financial apps on Terra’s blockchain. He likened the scouting and investing in other groups as akin to a “Y Combinator demo day type of situation,” a reference to the popular startup pitch event organized by early-stage investor Y Combinator.
The combination of all these Terra-specific financial apps shows that Terraform Labs is “almost creating a kind of bank,” said Ryan Watkins, a senior research analyst at cryptocurrency consultancy Messari.
In addition to cryptocurrencies, Terraform Labs has a number of other projects including the Anchor app, a high-yield savings account for holders of the group’s digital coins. Meanwhile, people can use the firm’s associated Mirror app to create synthetic financial assets that mimic more conventional ones, like “tokenized” representations of corporate stocks. These synthetic assets are supposed to be helpful to people like “a small retail trader in Thailand” who can more easily buy shares and “get some exposure to the upside” of stocks that they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to obtain, Kwon said. But some critics have said the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission may eventually crack down on synthetic stocks, which are currently unregulated.
What do critics say?
Terra still has a long way to go to catch up to bigger cryptocurrency projects like Ethereum.
Most financial transactions involving Terra-related cryptocurrencies have originated in Korea, where its founders are based. Although Terra is becoming more popular in Korea thanks to rising interest in its partner Chai, it’s too early to say whether Terra-related currencies will gain traction in other countries.
Terra’s blockchain runs on a “limited number of nodes,” said Messari’s Watkins, referring to the computers that help keep the system running. That helps reduce latency that may otherwise slow processing of financial transactions, he said.
But the tradeoff is that Terra is less “decentralized” than other blockchain platforms like Ethereum, which is powered by thousands of interconnected computing nodes worldwide. That could make Terra less appealing to some blockchain purists.
3 months ago
6 Rules to build a successful NFT Community in 2022
Too much NFT, Discord, and shitposting.
How do you choose?
How do you recruit more members to join your NFT project?
In 2021, a successful NFT project required:
Twitter and Discord bot-filled
Goal was quick cash.
2022 and the years after will change that.
These are 6 Rules for a Strong NFT Community in 2022:
THINK LONG TERM
This relates to roadmap planning. Hype and dumb luck may drive NFT projects (ahem, goblins) but rarely will your project soar.
Instead, consider sustainability.
Plan your roadmap based on your team's abilities.
Do what you're already doing, but with NFTs, make it bigger and better.
You shouldn't copy a project's roadmap just because it was profitable.
This will lead to over-promising, team burnout, and an RUG NFT project.
Building a great community starts with giving.
Why are musicians popular?
Because they offer entertainment for everyone, a random person becomes a fan, and more fans become a cult.
That's how you should approach your community.
A great team helps.
An NFT project could have 3 or 2 people.
Credibility trumps team size.
Make sure your team can answer community questions, resolve issues, and constantly attend to them.
Don't overwork and burn out.
Your community will be able to recognize that you are trying too hard and give up on the project.
BUILD A GREAT PRODUCT
Bored Ape Yacht Club altered the NFT space.
Cryptopunks transformed NFTs.
Many others did, including Okay Bears.
What made them that way?
Because they answered a key question.
What is my NFT supposed to be?
Before planning art, this question must be answered.
NFTs can't be just jpegs.
What does it represent?
Is it a Metaverse-ready project?
What blockchain are you going to be using and why?
Set some ground rules for yourself. This helps your project's direction.
These questions will help you and your team set a direction for blockchain, NFT, and Web3 technology.
EDUCATE ON WEB3
The more the team learns about Web3 technology, the more they can offer their community.
Think tokens, metaverse, cross-chain interoperability and more.
BUILD A GREAT COMMUNITY
Several projects mistreat their communities.
They treat their community like "customers" and try to sell them NFT.
Providing Whitelists and giveaways aren't your only community-building options.
Consider them family and friends, not wallets.
Consider them fans.
These are some tips to start your NFT project.
30 days ago
Here's what to expect from NASA Artemis 1 and why it's significant.
NASA's Artemis 1 mission will help return people to the Moon after a half-century break. The mission is a shakedown cruise for NASA's Space Launch System and Orion Crew Capsule.
The spaceship will visit the Moon, deploy satellites, and enter orbit. NASA wants to practice operating the spacecraft, test the conditions people will face on the Moon, and ensure a safe return to Earth.
We asked Jack Burns, a space scientist at the University of Colorado Boulder and former member of NASA's Presidential Transition Team, to describe the mission, explain what the Artemis program promises for space exploration, and reflect on how the space program has changed in the half-century since humans last set foot on the moon.
What distinguishes Artemis 1 from other rockets?
Artemis 1 is the Space Launch System's first launch. NASA calls this a "heavy-lift" vehicle. It will be more powerful than Apollo's Saturn V, which transported people to the Moon in the 1960s and 1970s.
It's a new sort of rocket system with two strap-on solid rocket boosters from the space shuttle. It's a mix of the shuttle and Saturn V.
The Orion Crew Capsule will be tested extensively. It'll spend a month in the high-radiation Moon environment. It will also test the heat shield, which protects the capsule and its occupants at 25,000 mph. The heat shield must work well because this is the fastest capsule descent since Apollo.
This mission will also carry miniature Moon-orbiting satellites. These will undertake vital precursor science, including as examining further into permanently shadowed craters where scientists suspect there is water and measuring the radiation environment to see long-term human consequences.
Artemis 1 will launch, fly to the Moon, place satellites, orbit it, return to Earth, and splash down in the ocean. NASA.
What's Artemis's goal? What launches are next?
The mission is a first step toward Artemis 3, which will lead to the first human Moon missions since 1972. Artemis 1 is unmanned.
Artemis 2 will have astronauts a few years later. Like Apollo 8, it will be an orbital mission that circles the Moon and returns. The astronauts will orbit the Moon longer and test everything with a crew.
Eventually, Artemis 3 will meet with the SpaceX Starship on the Moon's surface and transfer people. Orion will stay in orbit while the lunar Starship lands astronauts. They'll go to the Moon's south pole to investigate the water ice there.
Artemis is reminiscent of Apollo. What's changed in 50 years?
Kennedy wanted to beat the Soviets to the Moon with Apollo. The administration didn't care much about space flight or the Moon, but the goal would place America first in space and technology.
You live and die by the sword if you do that. When the U.S. reached the Moon, it was over. Russia lost. We planted flags and did science experiments. Richard Nixon canceled the program after Apollo 11 because the political goals were attained.
Large rocket with two boosters between two gates
NASA's new Space Launch System is brought to a launchpad. NASA
50 years later... It's quite different. We're not trying to beat the Russians, Chinese, or anyone else, but to begin sustainable space exploration.
Artemis has many goals. It includes harnessing in-situ resources like water ice and lunar soil to make food, fuel, and building materials.
SpaceX is part of this first journey to the Moon's surface, therefore the initiative is also helping to develop a lunar and space economy. NASA doesn't own the Starship but is buying seats for astronauts. SpaceX will employ Starship to transport cargo, private astronauts, and foreign astronauts.
Fifty years of technology advancement has made getting to the Moon cheaper and more practical, and computer technology allows for more advanced tests. 50 years of technological progress have changed everything. Anyone with enough money can send a spacecraft to the Moon, but not humans.
Commercial Lunar Payload Services engages commercial companies to develop uncrewed Moon landers. We're sending a radio telescope to the Moon in January. Even 10 years ago, that was impossible.
Since humans last visited the Moon 50 years ago, technology has improved greatly.
What other changes does Artemis have in store?
The government says Artemis 3 will have at least one woman and likely a person of color.
I'm looking forward to seeing more diversity so young kids can say, "Hey, there's an astronaut that looks like me. I can do this. I can be part of the space program.”