I’ve been reading “Once You’re Lucky. Twice You’re Good.” by Sarah Lacy for the last few days and I’m really enjoying it. It gives a useful overview of the whole Web 2.0 scene, but mostly I just find it an entertaining read. It’s amazing how many influential Web 2.0 companies were connected to PayPal alums. Slide, YouTube and Yelp were all directly connected, and Facebook has early investors that were alums.
The book highlights the value of the Silicon Valley ecosystem for starting new companies. Without the help of startup vets, Lacy indicates that many talented founders would likely have been ousted from their CEO position by VCs. Who knows if companies like Facebook would be at their current nosebleed valuations if a seasoned exec were running things? The passion and vision of a founder often count for more than the experience of a replacement CEO. Other times this isn’t the case. Obviously when VCs push for a replacement, they firmly believe it is the best approach for the long-term success of the company. But sometimes they’re wrong.
Reading about these successful companies has been both inspirational and educational. It led me to begin an analysis of the fastest growing startups over the last few years and try to reverse engineer the source of their growth. I’ve been verifying strong growth rates by looking at each company’s Google search trendline and their Alexa chart. Caution: Sometimes Alexa doesn’t capture the real growth of a company because their pages are https or they are distributing a local application. In this case, Google trends is a better indicator of user growth.
Most of the highly successful companies have relied on a key viral driver – either viral invites or a self replicating viral presence (think widgets). I’m hoping to identify new growth drivers around which I can enhance my marketing skills. I tend to find the shelf-life of many successful online marketing programs is limited, so it’s important to continuously refresh my knowledge. I’ll post my findings soon.