Jeremy Crane (VP Product @ HubSpot) sent me the Bloomberg Business Jealously List 2015. It is the list of pieces that Bloomberg’s staff wish they had written. I loved the idea so much I decided to do my own version around growth. Here are the four pieces of content in 2015 that I liked so much I wish I had written them myself.
(These are in no particular order)
If you don’t know James Currier, you should. He and his partner (Stan Chudnovsky) have been at the center of building marketplaces and networks for over 10 years. GoodReads, WonderHill, Lyft, AngelList, and DoorDash are just a few.
James wrote an epic post about the next major opportunity which he calls Market Networks (I tend to agree with him). He believes in it so much he created NFX Guild to help startups take advantage of the opportunity.
Social Capital was founded by Chamath Palihapitiya the first VP Growth at Facebook. He hired an internal growth team at Social Capital that helps evaluate deals and support their portfolio companies. They wrote a five part series on the diligence they do for investments diving into user growth accounting, revenue growth accounting, cohorts, and engagement and quality of revenue.
David Skok is the king of content around building a SaaS company. He is a pretty damn good VC as well. David did an update of a complete breakdown of metrics you should track, understand, and optimize if you are running a SaaS business. Read, re-read, then re-read again until these metrics have burned a hole in your brain.
At first glance this post looks like it is just about Elon Musk. What it is really about is first principles thinking. What is first principles thinking? In Elon’s own words...
“I think generally people’s thinking process is too bound by convention or analogy to prior experiences. It’s rare that people try to think of something on a first principles basis. They’ll say, “We’ll do that because it’s always been done that way.” Or they’ll not do it because “Well, nobody’s ever done that, so it must not be good.” But that’s just a ridiculous way to think. You have to build up the reasoning from the ground up—“from the first principles” is the phrase that’s used in physics. You look at the fundamentals and construct your reasoning from that, and then you see if you have a conclusion that works or doesn’t work, and it may or may not be different from what people have done in the past."
What the hell does this have to do with growth? Everything. I would argue that most teams out there are reasoning by analogy to form their growth strategies. They look at what others are doing and adopt “best practices” with out questioning. Inspiration is good, but when it turns to prescription it is bad news. The truly breakout growth companies reason by first principles. They understand the core foundational pieces of their customers, product, and channels and build their strategies reasoning up from those basic building blocks. They are constantly challenging those building blocks and refining them over time with an experimental and rigorous process.
Here are some other really solid reads from 2015...
From members of the Pinterest growth team...Casey Winters on Building A Marketing/Growth Team, Benefits/Perils of A/B Testing, and Scaling Up. John Egan on Growth Metrics at Pinterest, When Features Drive Growth.