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Sammy Abdullah

Sammy Abdullah

21 years ago

How to properly price SaaS

More on Entrepreneurship

Nik Nicholas

Nik Nicholas

2 months ago

A simple go-to-market formula

Poor distribution, not poor goods, is the main reason for failure” — Peter Thiel.

Here's an easy way to conceptualize "go-to-market" for your distribution plan.

One equation captures the concept:

Distribution = Ecosystem Participants + Incentives

Draw your customers' ecosystem. Set aside your goods and consider your consumer's environment. Who do they deal with daily? 

  1. First, list each participant. You want an exhaustive list, but here are some broad categories.

  • In-person media services

  • Websites

  • Events\Networks

  • Financial education and banking

  • Shops

  • Staff

  • Advertisers

  • Twitter influencers

  1. Draw influence arrows. Who's affected? I'm not just talking about Instagram selfie-posters. Who has access to your consumer and could promote your product if motivated?

The thicker the arrow, the stronger the relationship. Include more "influencers" if needed. Customer ecosystems are complex.

3. Incentivize ecosystem players. “Show me the incentive and I will show you the result.“, says Warren Buffet's business partner Charlie Munger.

Strong distribution strategies encourage others to promote your product to your target market by incentivizing the most prominent players. Incentives can be financial or non-financial.

Financial rewards

Usually, there's money. If you pay Facebook, they'll run your ad. Salespeople close deals for commission. Giving customers bonus credits will encourage referrals.

Most businesses underuse non-financial incentives.

Non-cash incentives

Motivate key influencers without spending money to expand quickly and cheaply. What can you give a client-connector for free?

Here are some ideas:

Are there any other features or services available?

Titles or status? Tinder paid college "ambassadors" for parties to promote its dating service.

Can I get early/free access? Facebook gave a select group of developers "exclusive" early access to their AR platform.

Are you a good host? Pharell performed at YPlan's New York launch party.

Distribution? Apple's iPod earphones are white so others can see them.

Have an interesting story? PR rewards journalists by giving them a compelling story to boost page views.

Prioritize distribution.

More time spent on distribution means more room in your product design and business plan. Once you've identified the key players in your customer's ecosystem, talk to them.

Money isn't your only resource. Creative non-monetary incentives may be more effective and scalable. Give people something useful and easy to deliver.

Antonio Neto

Antonio Neto

2 months ago

What's up with tech?

Massive Layoffs, record low VC investment, debate over crash... why is it happening and what’s the endgame?

This article generalizes a diverse industry. For objectivity, specific tech company challenges like growing competition within named segments won't be considered. Please comment on the posts.

According to Layoffs.fyi, nearly 120.000 people have been fired from startups since March 2020. More than 700 startups have fired 1% to 100% of their workforce. "The tech market is crashing"

Venture capital investment dropped 19% QoQ in the first four months of 2022, a 2018 low. Since January 2022, Nasdaq has dropped 27%. Some believe the tech market is collapsing.

It's bad, but nothing has crashed yet. We're about to get super technical, so buckle up!

I've written a follow-up article about what's next. For a more optimistic view of the crisis' aftermath, see: Tech Diaspora and Silicon Valley crisis

What happened?

Insanity reigned. Last decade, everyone became a unicorn. Seed investments can be made without a product or team. While the "real world" economy suffered from the pandemic for three years, tech companies enjoyed the "new normal."

COVID sped up technology adoption on several fronts, but this "new normal" wasn't so new after many restrictions were lifted. Worse, it lived with disrupted logistics chains, high oil prices, and WW3. The consumer market has felt the industry's boom for almost 3 years. Inflation, unemployment, mental distress...what looked like a fast economic recovery now looks like unfulfilled promises.

People rethink everything they eat. Paying a Netflix subscription instead of buying beef is moronic if you can watch it for free on your cousin’s account. No matter how great your real estate app's UI is, buying a house can wait until mortgage rates drop. PLGProduct Led Growth (PLG) isn't the go-to strategy when consumers have more basic expense priorities.

Exponential growth and investment

Until recently, tech companies believed that non-exponential revenue growth was fatal. Exponential growth entails doing more with less. From Salim Ismail words:

An Exponential Organization (ExO) has 10x the impact of its peers.

Many tech companies' theories are far from reality.

Investors have funded (sometimes non-exponential) growth. Scale-driven companies throw people at problems until they're solved. Need an entire closing team because you’ve just bought a TV prime time add? Sure. Want gold-weight engineers to colorize buttons? Why not?

Tech companies don't need cash flow to do it; they can just show revenue growth and get funding. Even though it's hard to get funding, this was the market's momentum until recently.

The graph at the beginning of this section shows how industry heavyweights burned money until 2020, despite being far from their market-share seed stage. Being big and being sturdy are different things, and a lot of the tech startups out there are paper tigers. Without investor money, they have no foundation.

A little bit about interest rates

Inflation-driven high interest rates are said to be causing tough times. Investors would rather leave money in the bank than spend it (I myself said it some days ago). It’s not wrong, but it’s also not that simple.

The USA central bank (FED) is a good proxy of global economics. Dollar treasury bonds are the safest investment in the world. Buying U.S. debt, the only country that can print dollars, guarantees payment.

The graph above shows that FED interest rates are low and 10+ year bond yields are near 2018 levels. Nobody was firing at 2018. What’s with that then?

Full explanation is too technical for this article, so I'll just summarize: Bond yields rise due to lack of demand or market expectations of longer-lasting inflation. Safe assets aren't a "easy money" tactic for investors. If that were true, we'd have seen the current scenario before.

Long-term investors are protecting their capital from inflation.

Not a crash, a landing

I bombarded you with info... Let's review:

  • Consumption is down, hurting revenue.

  • Tech companies of all ages have been hiring to grow revenue at the expense of profit.

  • Investors expect inflation to last longer, reducing future investment gains.

Inflation puts pressure on a wheel that was rolling full speed not long ago. Investment spurs hiring, growth, and more investment. Worried investors and consumers reduce the cycle, and hiring follows.

Long-term investors back startups. When the invested company goes public or is sold, it's ok to burn money. What happens when the payoff gets further away? What if all that money sinks? Investors want immediate returns.

Why isn't the market crashing? Technology is not losing capital. It’s expecting change. The market realizes it threw moderation out the window and is reversing course. Profitability is back on the menu.

People solve problems and make money, but they also cost money. Huge cost for the tech industry. Engineers, Product Managers, and Designers earn up to 100% more than similar roles. Businesses must be careful about who they keep and in what positions to avoid wasting money.

What the future holds

From here on, it's all speculation. I found many great articles while researching this piece. Some are cited, others aren't (like this and this). We're in an adjustment period that may or may not last long.

Big companies aren't laying off many workers. Netflix firing 100 people makes headlines, but it's only 1% of their workforce. The biggest seem to prefer not hiring over firing.

Smaller startups beyond the seeding stage may be hardest hit. Without structure or product maturity, many will die.

I expect layoffs to continue for some time, even at Meta or Amazon. I don't see any industry names falling like they did during the .com crisis, but the market will shrink.

If you are currently employed, think twice before moving out and where to.
If you've been fired, hurry, there are still many opportunities.
If you're considering a tech career, wait.
If you're starting a business, I respect you. Good luck.

Mircea Iosif

Mircea Iosif

29 days ago

How To Start An Online Business That Will Be Profitable Without Investing A Lot Of Time

Don't know how to start an online business? Here's a guide. By following these recommendations, you can build a lucrative and profitable online business.

What Are Online Businesses Used For?

Most online businesses are websites. A self-created, self-managed website. You may sell things and services online.

To establish an internet business, you must locate a host and set up accounts with numerous companies. Once your accounts are set up, you may start publishing content and selling products or services.

How to Make Money from Your Online Business

Advertising and marketing are the best ways to make money online. You must develop strategies to contact new customers and generate leads. Make sure your website is search engine optimized so people can find you online.

Top 5 Online Business Tips for Startups:

1. Know your target audience's needs.

2. Make your website as appealing as possible.

3. Generate leads and sales with marketing.

4. Track your progress and learn from your mistakes to improve.

5. Be prepared to expand into new markets or regions.

How to Launch a Successful Online Business Without Putting in a Lot of Work

Build with a solid business model to start a profitable online business. By using these tips, you can start your online business without paying much.

First, develop a user-friendly website. You can use an internet marketing platform or create your own website. Once your website is live, optimize it for search engines and add relevant content.

Second, sell online. This can be done through ads or direct sales to website visitors. Finally, use social media to advertise your internet business. By accomplishing these things, you'll draw visitors to your website and make money.

When launching a business, invest long-term. This involves knowing your goals and how you'll pay for them. Volatility can have several effects on your business. If you offer things online, you may need to examine if the market is ready for them.

Invest wisely

Investing all your money in one endeavor can lead to too much risk and little ROI. Diversify your investments to take advantage of all available chances. So, your investments won't encounter unexpected price swings and you'll be immune to economic upheavals.

Financial news updates

When launching or running a thriving online business, financial news is crucial. By knowing current trends and upcoming developments, you can keep your business lucrative.

Keeping up with financial news can also help you avoid potential traps that could harm your bottom line. If you don't know about new legislation that could affect your industry, potential customers may choose another store when they learn about your business's problems.

Volatility ahead

You should expect volatility in the financial sector. Without a plan for coping with volatility, you could run into difficulty. If your organization relies on client input, you may not be able to exploit customer behavior shifts.

Your company could go bankrupt if you don't understand how fickle the stock market can be. By preparing for volatility, you can ensure your organization survives difficult times and market crashes.

Conclusion

Many internet businesses can be profitable. Start quickly with a few straightforward steps. Diversify your investments, follow financial news, and be prepared for volatility to develop a successful business.

Thanks for reading!

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nft now

nft now

4 months ago

Instagram NFTs Are Here… How does this affect artists?

Instagram (IG) is officially joining NFT. With the debut of new in-app NFT functionalities, influential producers can interact with blockchain tech on the social media platform.

Meta unveiled intentions for an Instagram NFT marketplace in March, but these latest capabilities focus more on content sharing than commerce. And why shouldn’t they? IG's entry into the NFT market is overdue, given that Twitter and Discord are NFT hotspots.

The NFT marketplace/Web3 social media race has continued to expand, with the expected Coinbase NFT Beta now live and blazing a trail through the NFT ecosystem.

IG's focus is on visual art. It's unlike any NFT marketplace or platform. IG NFTs and artists: what's the deal? Let’s take a look.

What are Instagram’s NFT features anyways?

As said, not everyone has Instagram's new features. 16 artists, NFT makers, and collectors can now post NFTs on IG by integrating third-party digital wallets (like Rainbow or MetaMask) in-app. IG doesn't charge to publish or share digital collectibles.

NFTs displayed on the app have a "shimmer" aesthetic effect. NFT posts also have a "digital collectable" badge that lists metadata such as the creator and/or owner, the platform it was created on, a brief description, and a blockchain identification.

Meta's social media NFTs have launched on Instagram, but the company is also preparing to roll out digital collectibles on Facebook, with more on the way for IG. Currently, only Ethereum and Polygon are supported, but Flow and Solana will be added soon.

How will artists use these new features?

Artists are publishing NFTs they developed or own on IG by linking third-party digital wallets. These features have no NFT trading aspects built-in, but are aimed to let authors share NFTs with IG audiences.

Creators, like IG-native aerial/street photographer Natalie Amrossi (@misshattan), are discovering novel uses for IG NFTs.

Amrossi chose to not only upload his own NFTs but also encourage other artists in the field. "That's the beauty of connecting your wallet and sharing NFTs. It's not just what you make, but also what you accumulate."

Amrossi has been producing and posting Instagram art for years. With IG's NFT features, she can understand Instagram's importance in supporting artists.

Web2 offered Amrossi the tools to become an artist and make a life. "Before 'influencer' existed, I was just making art. Instagram helped me reach so many individuals and brands, giving me a living.

Even artists without millions of viewers are encouraged to share NFTs on IG. Wilson, a relatively new name in the NFT space, seems to have already gone above and beyond the scope of these new IG features. By releasing "Losing My Mind" via IG NFT posts, she has evaded the lack of IG NFT commerce by using her network to market her multi-piece collection.

"'Losing My Mind' is a long-running photo series. Wilson was preparing to release it as NFTs before IG approached him, so it was a perfect match.

Wilson says the series is about Black feminine figures and media depiction. Respectable effort, given POC artists have been underrepresented in NFT so far.

“Over the past year, I've had mental health concerns that made my emotions so severe it was impossible to function in daily life, therefore that prompted this photo series. Every Wednesday and Friday for three weeks, I'll release a new Meta photo for sale.

Wilson hopes these new IG capabilities will help develop a connection between the NFT community and other internet subcultures that thrive on Instagram.

“NFTs can look scary as an outsider, but seeing them on your daily IG feed makes it less foreign,” adds Wilson. I think Instagram might become a hub for NFT aficionados, making them more accessible to artists and collectors.

What does it all mean for the NFT space?

Meta's NFT and metaverse activities will continue to impact Instagram's NFT ecosystem. Many think it will be for the better, as IG NFT frauds are another problem hurting the NFT industry.

IG's new NFT features seem similar to Twitter's PFP NFT verifications, but Instagram's tools should help cut down on scams as users can now verify the creation and ownership of whole NFT collections included in IG posts.

Given the number of visual artists and NFT creators on IG, it might become another hub for NFT fans, as Wilson noted. If this happens, it raises questions about Instagram success. Will artists be incentivized to distribute NFTs? Or will those with a large fanbase dominate?

Elise Swopes (@swopes) believes these new features should benefit smaller artists. Swopes was one of the first profiles placed to Instagram's original suggested user list in 2012.

Swopes says she wants IG to be a magnet for discovery and understands the value of NFT artists and producers.

"I'd love to see IG become a focus of discovery for everyone, not just the Beeples and Apes and PFPs. That's terrific for them, but [IG NFT features] are more about using new technology to promote emerging artists, Swopes added.

“Especially music artists. It's everywhere. Dancers, writers, painters, sculptors, musicians. My element isn't just for digital artists; it can be anything. I'm delighted to witness people's creativity."

Swopes, Wilson, and Amrossi all believe IG's new features can help smaller artists. It remains to be seen how these new features will effect the NFT ecosystem once unlocked for the rest of the IG NFT community, but we will likely see more social media NFT integrations in the months and years ahead.

Read the full article here

Jonathan Vanian

Jonathan Vanian

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.

Chritiaan Hetzner

2 months ago

Mystery of the $1 billion'meme stock' that went to $400 billion in days

Who is AMTD Digital?

An unknown Hong Kong corporation joined the global megacaps worth over $500 billion on Tuesday.

The American Depository Share (ADS) with the ticker code HKD gapped at the open, soaring 25% over the previous closing price as trading began, before hitting an intraday high of $2,555.

At its peak, its market cap was almost $450 billion, more than Facebook parent Meta or Alibaba.

Yahoo Finance reported a daily volume of 350,500 shares, the lowest since the ADS began trading and much below the average of 1.2 million.

Despite losing a fifth of its value on Wednesday, it's still worth more than Toyota, Nike, McDonald's, or Walt Disney.

The company sold 16 million shares at $7.80 each in mid-July, giving it a $1 billion market valuation.

Why the boom?

That market cap seems unjustified.

According to SEC reports, its income-generating assets barely topped $400 million in March. Fortune's emails and calls went unanswered.

Website discloses little about company model. Its one-minute business presentation film uses a Star Wars–like design to sell the company as a "one-stop digital solutions platform in Asia"

The SEC prospectus explains.

AMTD Digital sells a "SpiderNet Ecosystems Solutions" kind of club membership that connects enterprises. This is the bulk of its $25 million annual revenue in April 2021.

Pretax profits have been higher than top line over the past three years due to fair value accounting gains on Appier, DayDayCook, WeDoctor, and five Asian fintechs.

AMTD Group, the company's parent, specializes in investment banking, hotel services, luxury education, and media and entertainment. AMTD IDEA, a $14 billion subsidiary, is also traded on the NYSE.

“Significant volatility”

Why AMTD Digital listed in the U.S. is unknown, as it informed investors in its share offering prospectus that could delist under SEC guidelines.

Beijing's red tape prevents the Sarbanes-Oxley Board from inspecting its Chinese auditor.

This frustrates Chinese stock investors. If the U.S. and China can't achieve a deal, 261 Chinese companies worth $1.3 trillion might be delisted.

Calvin Choi left UBS to become AMTD Group's CEO.

His capitalist background and status as a Young Global Leader with the World Economic Forum don't stop him from praising China's Communist party or celebrating the "glory and dream of the Great Rejuvenation of the Chinese nation" a century after its creation.

Despite having an executive vice chairman with a record of battling corruption and ties to Carrie Lam, Beijing's previous proconsul in Hong Kong, Choi is apparently being targeted for a two-year industry ban by the city's securities regulator after an investor accused Choi of malfeasance.

Some CMIG-funded initiatives produced money, but he didn't give us the proceeds, a corporate official told China's Caixin in October 2020. We don't know if he misappropriated or lost some money.

A seismic anomaly

In fundamental analysis, where companies are valued based on future cash flows, AMTD Digital's mind-boggling market cap is a statistical aberration that should occur once every hundred years.

AMTD Digital doesn't know why it's so valuable. In a thank-you letter to new shareholders, it said it was confused by the stock's performance.

Since its IPO, the company has seen significant ADS price volatility and active trading volume, it said Tuesday. "To our knowledge, there have been no important circumstances, events, or other matters since the IPO date."

Permabears awoke after the jump. Jim Chanos asked if "we're all going to ignore the $400 billion meme stock in the room," while Nate Anderson called AMTD Group "sketchy."

It happened the same day SEC Chair Gary Gensler praised the 20th anniversary of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, aimed to restore trust in America's financial markets after the Enron and WorldCom accounting fraud scandals.

The run-up revived unpleasant memories of Robinhood's decision to limit retail investors' ability to buy GameStop, regarded as a measure to protect hedge funds invested in the meme company.

Why wasn't HKD's buy button removed? Because retail wasn't behind it?" tweeted Gensler on Tuesday. "Real stock fraud. "You're worthless."