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Eitan Levy

Eitan Levy

1 year ago

The Top 8 Growth Hacking Techniques for Startups

More on Entrepreneurship/Creators

DC Palter

DC Palter

1 year ago

How Will You Generate $100 Million in Revenue? The Startup Business Plan

A top-down company plan facilitates decision-making and impresses investors.

Photo by Andy Hermawan on Unsplash

A startup business plan starts with the product, the target customers, how to reach them, and how to grow the business.

Bottom-up is terrific unless venture investors fund it.

If it can prove how it can exceed $100M in sales, investors will invest. If not, the business may be wonderful, but it's not venture capital-investable.

As a rule, venture investors only fund firms that expect to reach $100M within 5 years.

Investors get nothing until an acquisition or IPO. To make up for 90% of failed investments and still generate 20% annual returns, portfolio successes must exit with a 25x return. A $20M-valued company must be acquired for $500M or more.

This requires $100M in sales (or being on a nearly vertical trajectory to get there). The company has 5 years to attain that milestone and create the requisite ROI.

This motivates venture investors (venture funds and angel investors) to hunt for $100M firms within 5 years. When you pitch investors, you outline how you'll achieve that aim.

I'm wary of pitches after seeing a million hockey sticks predicting $5M to $100M in year 5 that never materialized. Doubtful.

Startups fail because they don't have enough clients, not because they don't produce a great product. That jump from $5M to $100M never happens. The company reaches $5M or $10M, growing at 10% or 20% per year.  That's great, but not enough for a $500 million deal.

Once it becomes clear the company won’t reach orbit, investors write it off as a loss. When a corporation runs out of money, it's shut down or sold in a fire sale. The company can survive if expenses are trimmed to match revenues, but investors lose everything.

When I hear a pitch, I'm not looking for bright income projections but a viable plan to achieve them. Answer these questions in your pitch.

  • Is the market size sufficient to generate $100 million in revenue?

  • Will the initial beachhead market serve as a springboard to the larger market or as quicksand that hinders progress?

  • What marketing plan will bring in $100 million in revenue? Is the market diffuse and will cost millions of dollars in advertising, or is it one, focused market that can be tackled with a team of salespeople?

  • Will the business be able to bridge the gap from a small but fervent set of early adopters to a larger user base and avoid lock-in with their current solution?

  • Will the team be able to manage a $100 million company with hundreds of people, or will hypergrowth force the organization to collapse into chaos?

  • Once the company starts stealing market share from the industry giants, how will it deter copycats?

The requirement to reach $100M may be onerous, but it provides a context for difficult decisions: What should the product be? Where should we concentrate? who should we hire? Every strategic choice must consider how to reach $100M in 5 years.

Focusing on $100M streamlines investor pitches. Instead of explaining everything, focus on how you'll attain $100M.

As an investor, I know I'll lose my money if the startup doesn't reach this milestone, so the revenue prediction is the first thing I look at in a pitch deck.

Reaching the $100M goal needs to be the first thing the entrepreneur thinks about when putting together the business plan, the central story of the pitch, and the criteria for every important decision the company makes.

cdixon

cdixon

1 year 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

Scrum Ventures

Scrum Ventures

1 year ago

Trends from the Winter 2022 Demo Day at Y Combinators

Y Combinators Winter 2022 Demo Day continues the trend of more startups engaging in accelerator Demo Days. Our team evaluated almost 400 projects in Y Combinator's ninth year.

After Winter 2021 Demo Day, we noticed a hurry pushing shorter rounds, inflated valuations, and larger batches.

Despite the batch size, this event's behavior showed a return to normalcy. Our observations show that investors evaluate and fund businesses more carefully. Unlike previous years, more YC businesses gave investors with data rooms and thorough pitch decks in addition to valuation data before Demo Day.

Demo Day pitches were virtual and fast-paced, limiting unplanned meetings. Investors had more time and information to do their due research before meeting founders. Our staff has more time to study diverse areas and engage with interesting entrepreneurs and founders.

This was one of the most regionally diversified YC cohorts to date. This year's Winter Demo Day startups showed some interesting tendencies.

Trends and Industries to Watch Before Demo Day

Demo day events at any accelerator show how investment competition is influencing startups. As startups swiftly become scale-ups and big success stories in fintech, e-commerce, healthcare, and other competitive industries, entrepreneurs and early-stage investors feel pressure to scale quickly and turn a notion into actual innovation.

Too much eagerness can lead founders to focus on market growth and team experience instead of solid concepts, technical expertise, and market validation. Last year, YC Winter Demo Day funding cycles ended too quickly and valuations were unrealistically high.

Scrum Ventures observed a longer funding cycle this year compared to last year's Demo Day. While that seems promising, many factors could be contributing to change, including:

  • Market patterns are changing and the economy is becoming worse.

  • the industries that investors are thinking about.

  • Individual differences between each event batch and the particular businesses and entrepreneurs taking part

The Winter 2022 Batch's Trends

Each year, we also wish to examine trends among early-stage firms and YC event participants. More international startups than ever were anticipated to present at Demo Day.

Less than 50% of demo day startups were from the U.S. For the S21 batch, firms from outside the US were most likely in Latin America or Europe, however this year's batch saw a large surge in startups situated in Asia and Africa.

YC Startup Directory

163 out of 399 startups were B2B software and services companies. Financial, healthcare, and consumer startups were common.

Our team doesn't plan to attend every pitch or speak with every startup's founders or team members. Let's look at cleantech, Web3, and health and wellness startup trends.

Our Opinions Following Conversations with 87 Startups at Demo Day

In the lead-up to Demo Day, we spoke with 87 of the 125 startups going. Compared to B2C enterprises, B2B startups had higher average valuations. A few outliers with high valuations pushed B2B and B2C means above the YC-wide mean and median.

Many of these startups develop business and technology solutions we've previously covered. We've seen API, EdTech, creative platforms, and cybersecurity remain strong and increase each year.

While these persistent tendencies influenced the startups Scrum Ventures looked at and the founders we interacted with on Demo Day, new trends required more research and preparation. Let's examine cleantech, Web3, and health and wellness startups.

Hardware and software that is green

Cleantech enterprises demand varying amounts of funding for hardware and software. Although the same overarching trend is fueling the growth of firms in this category, each subgroup has its own strategy and technique for investigation and identifying successful investments.

Many cleantech startups we spoke to during the YC event are focused on helping industrial operations decrease or recycle carbon emissions.

  • Carbon Crusher: Creating carbon negative roads

  • Phase Biolabs: Turning carbon emissions into carbon negative products and carbon neutral e-fuels

  • Seabound: Capturing carbon dioxide emissions from ships

  • Fleetzero: Creating electric cargo ships

  • Impossible Mining: Sustainable seabed mining

  • Beyond Aero: Creating zero-emission private aircraft

  • Verdn: Helping businesses automatically embed environmental pledges for product and service offerings, boost customer engagement

  • AeonCharge: Allowing electric vehicle (EV) drivers to more easily locate and pay for EV charging stations

  • Phoenix Hydrogen: Offering a hydrogen marketplace and a connected hydrogen hub platform to connect supply and demand for hydrogen fuel and simplify hub planning and partner program expansion

  • Aklimate: Allowing businesses to measure and reduce their supply chain’s environmental impact

  • Pina Earth: Certifying and tracking the progress of businesses’ forestry projects

  • AirMyne: Developing machines that can reverse emissions by removing carbon dioxide from the air

  • Unravel Carbon: Software for enterprises to track and reduce their carbon emissions

Web3: NFTs, the metaverse, and cryptocurrency

Web3 technologies handle a wide range of business issues. This category includes companies employing blockchain technology to disrupt entertainment, finance, cybersecurity, and software development.

Many of these startups overlap with YC's FinTech trend. Despite this, B2C and B2B enterprises were evenly represented in Web3. We examined:

  • Stablegains: Offering consistent interest on cash balance from the decentralized finance (DeFi) market

  • LiquiFi: Simplifying token management with automated vesting contracts, tax reporting, and scheduling. For companies, investors, and finance & accounting

  • NFTScoring: An NFT trading platform

  • CypherD Wallet: A multichain wallet for crypto and NFTs with a non-custodial crypto debit card that instantly converts coins to USD

  • Remi Labs: Allowing businesses to more easily create NFT collections that serve as access to products, memberships, events, and more

  • Cashmere: A crypto wallet for Web3 startups to collaboratively manage funds

  • Chaingrep: An API that makes blockchain data human-readable and tokens searchable

  • Courtyard: A platform for securely storing physical assets and creating 3D representations as NFTs

  • Arda: “Banking as a Service for DeFi,” an API that FinTech companies can use to embed DeFi products into their platforms

  • earnJARVIS: A premium cryptocurrency management platform, allowing users to create long-term portfolios

  • Mysterious: Creating community-specific experiences for Web3 Discords

  • Winter: An embeddable widget that allows businesses to sell NFTs to users purchasing with a credit card or bank transaction

  • SimpleHash: An API for NFT data that provides compatibility across blockchains, standardized metadata, accurate transaction info, and simple integration

  • Lifecast: Tools that address motion sickness issues for 3D VR video

  • Gym Class: Virtual reality (VR) multiplayer basketball video game

  • WorldQL: An asset API that allows NFT creators to specify multiple in-game interpretations of their assets, increasing their value

  • Bonsai Desk: A software development kit (SDK) for 3D analytics

  • Campfire: Supporting virtual social experiences for remote teams

  • Unai: A virtual headset and Visual World experience

  • Vimmerse: Allowing creators to more easily create immersive 3D experiences

Fitness and health

Scrum Ventures encountered fewer health and wellness startup founders than Web3 and Cleantech. The types of challenges these organizations solve are still diverse. Several of these companies are part of a push toward customization in healthcare, an area of biotech set for growth for companies with strong portfolios and experienced leadership.

Here are several startups we considered:

  • Syrona Health: Personalized healthcare for women in the workplace

  • Anja Health: Personalized umbilical cord blood banking and stem cell preservation

  • Alfie: A weight loss program focused on men’s health that coordinates medical care, coaching, and “community-based competition” to help users lose an average of 15% body weight

  • Ankr Health: An artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled telehealth platform that provides personalized side effect education for cancer patients and data collection for their care teams

  • Koko — A personalized sleep program to improve at-home sleep analysis and training

  • Condition-specific telehealth platforms and programs:

  • Reviving Mind: Chronic care management covered by insurance and supporting holistic, community-oriented health care

  • Equipt Health: At-home delivery of prescription medical equipment to help manage chronic conditions like obstructive sleep apnea

  • LunaJoy: Holistic women’s healthcare management for mental health therapy, counseling, and medication

12 Startups from YC's Winter 2022 Demo Day to Watch

Bobidi: 10x faster AI model improvement

Artificial intelligence (AI) models have become a significant tool for firms to improve how well and rapidly they process data. Bobidi helps AI-reliant firms evaluate their models, boosting data insights in less time and reducing data analysis expenditures. The business has created a gamified community that offers a bug bounty for AI, incentivizing community members to test and find weaknesses in clients' AI models.

Magna: DeFi investment management and token vesting

Magna delivers rapid, secure token vesting so consumers may turn DeFi investments into primitives. Carta for Web3 allows enterprises to effortlessly distribute tokens to staff or investors. The Magna team hopes to allow corporations use locked tokens as collateral for loans, facilitate secondary liquidity so investors can sell shares on a public exchange, and power additional DeFi applications.

Perl Street: Funding for infrastructure

This Fintech firm intends to help hardware entrepreneurs get financing by [democratizing] structured finance, unleashing billions for sustainable infrastructure and next-generation hardware solutions. This network has helped hardware entrepreneurs achieve more than $140 million in finance, helping companies working on energy storage devices, EVs, and creating power infrastructure.

CypherD: Multichain cryptocurrency wallet

CypherD seeks to provide a multichain crypto wallet so general customers can explore Web3 products without knowledge hurdles. The startup's beta app lets consumers access crypto from EVM blockchains. The founders have crypto, financial, and startup experience.

Unravel Carbon: Enterprise carbon tracking and offsetting

Unravel Carbon's AI-powered decarbonization technology tracks companies' carbon emissions. Singapore-based startup focuses on Asia. The software can use any company's financial data to trace the supply chain and calculate carbon tracking, which is used to make regulatory disclosures and suggest carbon offsets.

LunaJoy: Precision mental health for women

LunaJoy helped women obtain mental health support throughout life. The platform combines data science to create a tailored experience, allowing women to access psychotherapy, medication management, genetic testing, and health coaching.

Posh: Automated EV battery recycling

Posh attempts to solve one of the EV industry's largest logistical difficulties. Millions of EV batteries will need to be decommissioned in the next decade, and their precious metals and residual capacity will go unused for some time. Posh offers automated, scalable lithium battery disassembly, making EV battery recycling more viable.

Unai: VR headset with 5x higher resolution

Unai stands apart from metaverse companies. Its VR headgear has five times the resolution of existing options and emphasizes human expression and interaction in a remote world. Maxim Perumal's method of latency reduction powers current VR headsets.

Palitronica: Physical infrastructure cybersecurity

Palitronica blends cutting-edge hardware and software to produce networked electronic systems that support crucial physical and supply chain infrastructure. The startup's objective is to build solutions that defend national security and key infrastructure from cybersecurity threats.

Reality Defender: Deepfake detection

Reality Defender alerts firms to bogus users and changed audio, video, and image files. Reality Deference's API and web app score material in real time to prevent fraud, improve content moderation, and detect deception.

Micro Meat: Infrastructure for the manufacture of cell-cultured meat

MicroMeat promotes sustainable meat production. The company has created technologies to scale up bioreactor-grown meat muscle tissue from animal cells. Their goal is to scale up cultured meat manufacturing so cultivated meat products can be brought to market feasibly and swiftly, boosting worldwide meat consumption.

Fleetzero: Electric cargo ships

This startup's battery technology will make cargo ships more sustainable and profitable. Fleetzero's electric cargo ships have five times larger profit margins than fossil fuel ships. Fleetzeros' founder has marine engineering, ship operations, and enterprise sales and business experience.

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Blake Montgomery

1 year ago

Explaining Twitter Files

Elon Musk, Matt Taibbi, the 'Twitter Files,' and Hunter Biden's laptop: what gives?

Explaining Twitter Files

Matt Taibbi released "The Twitter Files," a batch of emails sent by Twitter executives discussing the company's decision to stop an October 2020 New York Post story online.

What's on Twitter? New York Post and Fox News call them "bombshell" documents. Or, as a Post columnist admitted, are they "not the smoking gun"? Onward!

What started this?

The New York Post published an exclusive, potentially explosive story in October 2020: Biden's Secret Emails: Ukrainian executive thanks Hunter Biden for'meeting' veep dad. The story purported to report the contents of a laptop brought to the tabloid by a Delaware computer repair shop owner who said it belonged to President Biden's second son, Hunter Biden. Emails and files on the laptop allegedly showed how Hunter peddled influence with Ukranian businessmen and included a "raunchy 12-minute video" of Hunter smoking crack and having sex.

Twitter banned links to the Post story after it was published, calling it "hacked material." The Post's Twitter account was suspended for multiple days.

Why? Yoel Roth, Twitter's former head of trust and safety, said the company couldn't verify the story, implying they didn't trust the Post.

Twitter's stated purpose rarely includes verifying news stories. This seemed like intentional political interference. This story was hard to verify because the people who claimed to have found the laptop wouldn't give it to other newspapers. (Much of the story, including Hunter's business dealings in Ukraine and China, was later confirmed.)

Roth: "It looked like a hack and leak."

So what are the “Twitter Files?”

Twitter's decision to bury the story became a political scandal, and new CEO Elon Musk promised an explanation. The Twitter Files, named after Facebook leaks.

Musk promised exclusive details of "what really happened" with Hunter Biden late Friday afternoon. The tweet was punctuated with a popcorn emoji.

Explaining Twitter Files

Three hours later, journalist Matt Taibbi tweeted more than three dozen tweets based on internal Twitter documents that revealed "a Frankensteinian tale of a human-built mechanism grown out of its designer's control."

Musk sees this release as a way to shape Twitter's public perception and internal culture in his image. We don't know if the CEO gave Taibbi the documents. Musk hyped the document dump before and during publication, but Taibbi cited "internal sources."

Taibbi shares email screenshots showing Twitter execs discussing the Post story and blocking its distribution. Taibbi says the emails show Twitter's "extraordinary steps" to bury the story.

Twitter communications chief Brandon Borrman has the most damning quote in the Files. Can we say this is policy? The story seemed unbelievable. It seemed like a hack... or not? Could Twitter, which ex-CEO Dick Costolo called "the free speech wing of the free speech party," censor a news story?

Many on the right say the Twitter Files prove the company acted at the behest of Democrats. Both parties had these tools, writes Taibbi. In 2020, both the Trump White House and Biden campaign made requests. He says the system for reporting tweets for deletion is unbalanced because Twitter employees' political donations favor Democrats. Perhaps. These donations may have helped Democrats connect with Twitter staff, but it's also possible they didn't. No emails in Taibbi's cache show these alleged illicit relations or any actions Twitter employees took as a result.

Even Musk's supporters were surprised by the drop. Miranda Devine of the New York Post told Tucker Carlson the documents weren't "the smoking gun we'd hoped for." Sebastian Gorka said on Truth Social, "So far, I'm deeply underwhelmed." DC Democrats collude with Palo Alto Democrats. Whoop!” The Washington Free Beacon's Joe Simonson said the Twitter files are "underwhelming." Twitter was staffed by Democrats who did their bidding. (Why?)

If "The Twitter Files" matter, why?

These emails led Twitter to suppress the Hunter Biden laptop story has real news value. It's rare for a large and valuable company like Twitter to address wrongdoing so thoroughly. Emails resemble FOIA documents. They describe internal drama at a company with government-level power. Katie Notopoulos tweeted, "Any news outlet would've loved this scoop!" It's not a'scandal' as teased."

Twitter's new owner calls it "the de facto public town square," implying public accountability. Like a government agency. Though it's exciting to receive once-hidden documents in response to a FOIA, they may be boring and tell you nothing new. Like Twitter files. We learned how Twitter blocked the Post's story, but not why. Before these documents were released, we knew Twitter had suppressed the story and who was involved.

These people were disciplined and left Twitter. Musk fired Vijaya Gadde, the former CLO who reportedly played a "key role" in the decision. Roth quit over Musk's "dictatorship." Musk arrived after Borrman left. Jack Dorsey, then-CEO, has left. Did those who digitally quarantined the Post's story favor Joe Biden and the Democrats? Republican Party opposition and Trump hatred? New York Post distaste? According to our documents, no. Was there political and press interference? True. We knew.

Taibbi interviewed anonymous ex-Twitter employees about the decision; all expressed shock and outrage. One source said, "Everyone knew this was fucked." Since Taibbi doesn't quote that expletive, we can assume the leaked emails contained few or no sensational quotes. These executives said little to support nefarious claims.

Outlets more invested in the Hunter Biden story than Gizmodo seem vexed by the release and muted headlines. The New York Post, which has never shied away from a blaring headline in its 221-year history, owns the story of Hunter Biden's laptop. Two Friday-night Post alerts about Musk's actions were restrained. Elon Musk will drop Twitter files on NY Post-Hunter Biden laptop censorship today. Elon Musk's Twitter dropped Post censorship details from Biden's laptop. Fox News' Apple News push alert read, "Elon Musk drops Twitter censorship documents."

Bombshell, bombshell, bombshell… what, exactly, is the bombshell? Maybe we've heard this story too much and are missing the big picture. Maybe these documents detail a well-documented decision.

The Post explains why on its website. "Hunter Biden laptop bombshell: Twitter invented reason to censor Post's reporting," its headline says.

Twitter's ad hoc decision to moderate a tabloid's content is not surprising. The social network had done this for years as it battled toxic users—violent white nationalists, virulent transphobes, harassers and bullies of all political stripes, etc. No matter how much Musk crows, the company never had content moderation under control. Buzzfeed's 2016 investigation showed how Twitter has struggled with abusive posters since 2006. Jack Dorsey and his executives improvised, like Musk.

Did the US government interfere with the ex-social VP's media company? That's shocking, a bombshell. Musk said Friday, "Twitter suppressing free speech by itself is not a 1st amendment violation, but acting under government orders with no judicial review is." Indeed! Taibbi believed this. August 2022: "The laptop is secondary." Zeynep Tufecki, a Columbia professor and New York Times columnist, says the FBI is cutting true story distribution. Taibbi retracted the claim Friday night: "I've seen no evidence of government involvement in the laptop story."

What’s the bottom line?

I'm still not sure what's at stake in the Hunter Biden scandal after dozens of New York Post articles, hundreds of hours of Fox News airtime, and thousands of tweets. Briefly: Joe Biden's son left his laptop with a questionable repairman. FBI confiscated it? The repairman made a copy and gave it to Rudy Giuliani's lawyer. The Post got it from Steve Bannon. On that laptop were videos of Hunter Biden smoking crack, cavorting with prostitutes, and emails about introducing his father to a Ukrainian businessman for $50,000 a month. Joe Biden urged Ukraine to fire a prosecutor investigating the company. What? The story seems to be about Biden family business dealings, right?

The discussion has moved past that point anyway. Now, the story is the censorship of it. Adrienne Rich wrote in "Diving Into the Wreck" that she came for "the wreck and not the story of the wreck" No matter how far we go, Hunter Biden's laptop is done. Now, the crash's story matters.

I'm dizzy. Katherine Miller of BuzzFeed wrote, "I know who I believe, and you probably do, too. To believe one is to disbelieve the other, which implicates us in the decision; we're stuck." I'm stuck. Hunter Biden's laptop is a political fabrication. You choose. I've decided.

This could change. Twitter Files drama continues. Taibbi said, "Much more to come." I'm dizzy.

Joseph Mavericks

Joseph Mavericks

1 year ago

5 books my CEO read to make $30M

Offices without books are like bodies without souls.

After 10 years, my CEO sold his company for $30 million. I've shared many of his lessons on medium. You could ask him anything at his always-open office. He also said we could use his office for meetings while he was away. When I used his office for work, I was always struck by how many books he had.

Books are useful in almost every aspect of learning. Building a business, improving family relationships, learning a new language, a new skill... Books teach, guide, and structure. Whether fiction or nonfiction, books inspire, give ideas, and develop critical thinking skills.

My CEO prefers non-fiction and attends a Friday book club. This article discusses 5 books I found in his office that impacted my life/business. My CEO sold his company for $30 million, but I've built a steady business through blogging and video making.

I recall events and lessons I learned from my CEO and how they relate to each book, and I explain how I applied the book's lessons to my business and life.

Note: This post has no affiliate links.

1. The One Thing — Gary Keller

Gary Keller, a real estate agent, wanted more customers. So he and his team brainstormed ways to get more customers. They decided to write a bestseller about work and productivity. The more people who saw the book, the more customers they'd get.

Gary Keller focused on writing the best book on productivity, work, and efficiency for months. His business experience. Keller's business grew after the book's release.

The author summarizes the book in one question.

"What's the one thing that will make everything else easier or unnecessary?"

When I started my blog and business alongside my 9–5, I quickly identified my one thing: writing. My business relied on it, so it had to be great. Without writing, there was no content, traffic, or business.

My CEO focused on funding when he started his business. Even in his final years, he spent a lot of time on the phone with investors, either to get more money or to explain what he was doing with it. My CEO's top concern was money, and the other super important factors were handled by separate teams.

  • Product tech and design

  • Incredible customer support team

  • Excellent promotion team

  • Profitable sales team

My CEO didn't always focus on one thing and ignore the rest. He was on all of those teams when I started my job. He'd start his day in tech, have lunch with marketing, and then work in sales. He was in his office on the phone at night.

He eventually realized his errors. Investors told him he couldn't do everything for the company. If needed, he had to change internally. He learned to let go, mind his own business, and focus for the next four years. Then he sold for $30 million.

The bigger your project/company/idea, the more you'll need to delegate to stay laser-focused. I started something new every few months for 10 years before realizing this. So much to do makes it easy to avoid progress. Once you identify the most important aspect of your project and enlist others' help, you'll be successful.

2. Eat That Frog — Brian Tracy

The author quote sums up book's essence:

Mark Twain said that if you eat a live frog in the morning, it's probably the worst thing that will happen to you all day. Your "frog" is the biggest, most important task you're most likely to procrastinate on.

"Frog" and "One Thing" are both about focusing on what's most important. Eat That Frog recommends doing the most important task first thing in the morning.

I shared my CEO's calendar in an article 10 months ago. Like this:

CEO's average week (some information crossed out for confidentiality)

Notice anything about 8am-8:45am? Almost every day is the same (except Friday). My CEO started his day with a management check-in for 2 reasons:

  • Checking in with all managers is cognitively demanding, and my CEO is a morning person.

  • In a young startup where everyone is busy, the morning management check-in was crucial. After 10 am, you couldn't gather all managers.

When I started my blog, writing was my passion. I'm a morning person, so I woke up at 6 am and started writing by 6:30 am every day for a year. This allowed me to publish 3 articles a week for 52 weeks to build my blog and audience. After 2 years, I'm not stopping.

3. Deep Work — Cal Newport

Deep work is focusing on a cognitively demanding task without distractions (like a morning management meeting). It helps you master complex information quickly and produce better results faster. In a competitive world 10 or 20 years ago, focus wasn't a huge advantage. Smartphones, emails, and social media made focus a rare, valuable skill.

Most people can't focus anymore. Screens light up, notifications buzz, emails arrive, Instagram feeds... Many people don't realize they're interrupted because it's become part of their normal workflow.

Cal Newport mentions Bill Gates' "Think Weeks" in Deep Work.

Microsoft CEO Bill Gates would isolate himself (often in a lakeside cottage) twice a year to read and think big thoughts.

Inside Bill's Brain on Netflix shows Newport's lakeside cottage. I've always wanted a lakeside cabin to work in. My CEO bought a lakehouse after selling his company, but now he's retired.

As a company grows, you can focus less on it. In a previous section, I said investors told my CEO to get back to basics and stop micromanaging. My CEO's commitment and ability to get work done helped save the company. His deep work and new frameworks helped us survive the corona crisis (more on this later).

The ability to deep work will be a huge competitive advantage in the next century. Those who learn to work deeply will likely be successful while everyone else is glued to their screens, Bluetooth-synced to their watches, and playing Candy Crush on their tablets.

4. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People — Stephen R. Covey

It took me a while to start reading this book because it seemed like another shallow self-help bible. I kept finding this book when researching self-improvement. I tried it because it was everywhere.

Stephen Covey taught me 2 years ago to have a personal mission statement.

A 7 Habits mission statement describes the life you want to lead, the character traits you want to embody, and the impact you want to have on others. shortform.com

I've had many lunches with my CEO and talked about Vipassana meditation and Sunday forest runs, but I've never seen his mission statement. I'm sure his family is important, though. In the above calendar screenshot, you can see he always included family events (in green) so we could all see those time slots. We couldn't book him then. Although he never spent as much time with his family as he wanted, he always made sure to be on time for his kid's birthday rather than a conference call.

My CEO emphasized his company's mission. Your mission statement should answer 3 questions.

  • What does your company do?

  • How does it do it?

  • Why does your company do it?

As a graphic designer, I had to create mission-statement posters. My CEO hung posters in each office.

5. Measure What Matters — John Doerr

This book is about Andrew Grove's OKR strategy, developed in 1968. When he joined Google's early investors board, he introduced it to Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Google still uses OKR.

Objective Key Results

  • Objective: It explains your goals and desired outcome. When one goal is reached, another replaces it. OKR objectives aren't technical, measured, or numerical. They must be clear.

  • Key Result should be precise, technical, and measurable, unlike the Objective. It shows if the Goal is being worked on. Time-bound results are quarterly or yearly.

Our company almost sank several times. Sales goals were missed, management failed, and bad decisions were made. On a Monday, our CEO announced we'd implement OKR to revamp our processes.

This was a year before the pandemic, and I'm certain we wouldn't have sold millions or survived without this change. This book impacted the company the most, not just management but all levels. Organization and transparency improved. We reached realistic goals. Happy investors. We used the online tool Gtmhub to implement OKR across the organization.

My CEO's company went from near bankruptcy to being acquired for $30 million in 2 years after implementing OKR.


I hope you enjoyed this booklist. Here's a recap of the 5 books and the lessons I learned from each.

  1. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People — Stephen R. Covey

Have a mission statement that outlines your goals, character traits, and impact on others.

  1. Deep Work — Cal Newport

Focus is a rare skill; master it. Deep workers will succeed in our hyper-connected, distracted world.

  1. The One Thing — Gary Keller

What can you do that will make everything else easier or unnecessary? Once you've identified it, focus on it.

  1. Eat That Frog — Brian Tracy

Identify your most important task the night before and do it first thing in the morning. You'll have a lighter day.

  1. Measure What Matters — John Doerr

On a timeline, divide each long-term goal into chunks. Divide those slices into daily tasks (your goals). Time-bound results are quarterly or yearly. Objectives aren't measured or numbered.

Thanks for reading. Enjoy the ride!

Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart

1 year ago

Has anyone noticed what an absolute shitshow LinkedIn is?

After viewing its insanity, I had to leave this platform.

Photo by Greg Bulla on Unsplash

I joined LinkedIn recently. That's how I aim to increase my readership and gain recognition. LinkedIn's premise appealed to me: a Facebook-like platform for professional networking.

I don't use Facebook since it's full of propaganda. It seems like a professional, apolitical space, right?

I expected people to:

  • be more formal and respectful than on Facebook.

  • Talk about the inclusiveness of the workplace. Studies consistently demonstrate that inclusive, progressive workplaces outperform those that adhere to established practices.

  • Talk about business in their industry. Yep. I wanted to read articles with advice on how to write better and reach a wider audience.

Oh, sh*t. I hadn't anticipated that.

Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

After posting and reading about inclusivity and pro-choice, I was startled by how many professionals acted unprofessionally. I've seen:

  • Men have approached me in the DMs in a really aggressive manner. Yikes. huge yikes Not at all professional.

  • I've heard pro-choice women referred to as infant killers by many people. If I were the CEO of a company and I witnessed one of my employees acting that poorly, I would immediately fire them.

  • Many posts are anti-LGBTQIA+, as I've noticed. a lot, like, a lot. Some are subtly stating that the world doesn't need to know, while others are openly making fun of transgender persons like myself.

  • Several medical professionals were posting explicitly racist comments. Even if you are as white as a sheet like me, you should be alarmed by this. Who's to guarantee a patient who is black won't unintentionally die?

  • I won't even get into how many men in STEM I observed pushing for the exclusion of women from their fields. I shouldn't be surprised considering the majority of those men I've encountered have a passionate dislike for women, but goddamn, dude.

Many people appear entirely too at ease displaying their bigotry on their professional profiles.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

As a white female, I'm always shocked by people's open hostility. Professional environments are very important.

I don't know if this is still true (people seem too politicized to care), but if I heard many of these statements in person, I'd suppose they feel ashamed. Really.

Are you not ashamed of being so mean? Are you so weak that competing with others terrifies you? Isn't this embarrassing?

LinkedIn isn't great at censoring offensive comments. These people aren't getting warnings. So they were safe while others were unsafe.

The CEO in me would want to know if I had placed a bigot on my staff.

Photo by Romain V on Unsplash

I always wondered if people's employers knew about their online behavior. If they know how horrible they appear, they don't care.

As a manager, I was picky about hiring. Obviously. In most industries, it costs $1,000 or more to hire a full-time employee, so be sure it pays off.

Companies that embrace diversity and tolerance (and are intolerant of intolerance) are more profitable, likely to recruit top personnel, and successful.

People avoid businesses that alienate them. That's why I don't eat at Chic-Fil-A and why folks avoid MyPillow. Being inclusive is good business.

CEOs are harmed by online bigots. Image is an issue. If you're a business owner, you can fire staff who don't help you.

On the one hand, I'm delighted it makes it simpler to identify those with whom not to do business.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Don’t get me wrong. I'm glad I know who to avoid when hiring, getting references, or searching for a job. When people are bad, it saves me time.

What's up with professionalism?

Really. I need to know. I've crossed the boundary between acceptable and unacceptable behavior, but never on a professional platform. I got in trouble for not wearing bras even though it's not part of my gender expression.

If I behaved like that at my last two office jobs, my supervisors would have fired me immediately. Some of the behavior I've seen is so outrageous, I can't believe these people have employment. Some are even leaders.

Like…how? Is hatred now normalized?

Please pay attention whether you're seeking for a job or even simply a side gig.

Photo by Greg Bulla on Unsplash

Do not add to the tragedy that LinkedIn comments can be, or at least don't make uninformed comments. Even if you weren't banned, the site may still bite you.

Recruiters can and do look at your activity. Your writing goes on your résumé. The wrong comment might lose you a job.

Recruiters and CEOs might reject candidates whose principles contradict with their corporate culture. Bigotry will get you banned from many companies, especially if others report you.

If you want a high-paying job, avoid being a LinkedIn asshole. People care even if you think no one does. Before speaking, ponder. Is this how you want to be perceived?

Better advice:

If your politics might turn off an employer, stop posting about them online and ask yourself why you hold such objectionable ideas.