Disclosure 1: I work in the vacation rental industry. While my company specializes in regional, recreational vacation homes, not metro rentals – there is an obvious conflict.
Disclosure 2: This is an opinion piece. This post is just my opinion along with some evidence to support it. Judge for yourself.
Yesterday AirBnB announced that they raised $100M at a $1B valuation. This is a huge, huge accomplishment – but a lot of entrepreneurs are probably asking how they did it. Was it their awesome design? Excellent idea? Was it their uncanny business acumen? Just dumb luck?
My Answer: Craigslist Spam!
I believe AirBnB used multiple gmail accounts to spam craigslist and grow their site to a one billion dollar valuation.
As both a father and an entrepreneur, I can say with confidence there’s a lot of parallels between raising a kid and starting a company. Both take a lot of time and dedication, you invest a lot of yourself in both, and for both you need to know when to let go of the reins.
Like with a child, you pour your blood, sweat and, tears into making sure it’s the best it can be. However, you need to realize you can’t do everything on your own. Just as when there’s a time you’ll need to drop your kid off at school, there may come a time in a startup when you need to bring in a new CEO to augment the company’s growth and help scale.
In 2007, it was becoming apparent that NativeX could benefit from a new CEO. Since forming in 2000, the company had grown to about 60 people but it was clear that our growth had begun to plateau. The majority of our employees were young guns- most being under 25 years old.
At this time, I had won an arm wrestling contest with my two other founders so I was acting CEO. However, most of the founding team had drifted from the center and were gravitating to other roles such as product engineering and customer relations. It was about that time I recommended to the founding team that we look to bring on a CEO- we hired Andy Johnson to fill the role that year.
Introducing a new Mini Multi-Offer ad format “Triad.” Triad combines the latest mobile video ad technology with NativeX’s industry leading selection of native advertising formats to give users the choice of which ads to engage with. Triad joins the NativeX Discovery Suite to give developers the right ad format to optimize strategic placements in their apps for a more native experience with higher impact.
In the tech community, it’s becoming apparent that there are five powerhouses, or “horsemen,” that will shape the future of technology: Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Samsung.
One common thread between these companies is that they’ve all cited the importance of mobile in their strategies. One of the most vital components of having a strong mobile strategy is creating a thriving developer ecosystem—no matter how great your platform is, if there are no good apps it’s probably not going to fare well.
That’s why it’s a little surprising these magnates of mobile are falling short in some areas where they could be helping developers to create a stronger app ecosystem. Here are six ways that the horsemen can help change that.
I don’t spend a lot of time as a founder thinking about the government’s role in creating a thriving entrepreneurial community. I had the opportunity yesterday to participate in a panel moderated by Steve Grove, in charge of Community Partnerships for Google+ along with the Mayor of Minneapolis R.T. Rybak and two others to ask the Mayor questions and to share ideas on building stronger community support for entrepreneurship.
My colleague Trevor McCalmont wrote a great post for game developers looking to improve their analytics-
“As a games analyst for W3i, I have the unique experience of going through a plethora of analytic instrumentations. I have witnessed nearly every analytics provider’s capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. More importantly, I have seen how many game developers choose to implement event tracking and common places where they go wrong.
1) Know What You Want from Your Analytics Provider
There are many analytics providers in the mobile space, and they all offer different products. There are free services with a limited tool set, and companies that charge monthly fees but provide a more robust product. Understand what each provider is capable of and take advantage of those features during implementation. For example, if you want the capability to A/B test elements of a game, you’re going to have to pay. On the flipside, A/B testing can provide tremendous revenue increases.
Let’s say Game A earns $30,000 in revenue per month. If you create two tests that generate 3% revenue increases, that service has already increased revenue a little over $1,800/month and that can be a permanent change for every month moving forward. The effect of A/B testing is theoretically cumulative, so a few positive tests each month increases your knowledge of what works in your game, and furthermore it could quickly snowball into huge revenue increases.”
[Originally posted on TechCrunch February 9th 2013]
In the mobile world, companies often live and die by metrics: “How are your monthly active users doing? What’s going on with your user retention? How many total downloads do you have?”
These kinds of metrics, which can have widely different implications, can make or break developers. Especially with the Silicon Valley mindset, driven by success stories like Instagram and Socialcam, that says “get users today, make money off them tomorrow.” With this mentality, user metrics often play a larger role than financial figures for some companies.
But what do they all mean? In mobile, daily active users (DAUs) is frequently the standard by which game and app developers are judged. However, the industry doesn’t really have a concrete definition of what a DAU is. Some analytics providers, such as Flurry, use a rolling average, where a user is considered active if they’ve opened the app at least once in the past seven days. Another part of the mobile market considers someone an active user if they’ve used the app on a particular day. To truly define success, the industry needs to settle on what an active user actually is.
Ever since the first angry bird destroyed the first pig’s castle, the world has been drawing parallels between mobile gaming and its console and PC forerunners.
While mobile gaming is often viewed as more accessible and easier to play, people are quick to point out that the games may not be as deep and involving as console and PC games. 2013 could be the year all that changes. In 2012, mobile gaming progressed by leaps and bounds. This is due in part to mobile hardware advances, but also due to greater smartphone adoption with many now carrying the equivalent of a gaming system around in their pockets. In 2013, we’ll see even greater maturation of mobile gaming as the industry continues to make more money and attract more serious attention from big-hitters like EA and Disney.
With this growth will come some important changes. At W3i we work with hundreds of developers and have already begun to see some of these trends occurring. Here are my seven predictions for the mobile gaming market in 2013.
Tipatat Chennavasin, the co-founder and CEO of GameFace.me, recently wrote a very insightful blog post about how they improved the daily downloads for their PuppetFace iOS app from a low of 50 downloads per day to over 2,800 per day.
How did GameFace.me accomplish such a large increase in app traffic? They renamed the title of their app to “PuppetFace: Gangnam Style” and also added social functionality.
PuppetFace: Gangnam Style is a great example of how optimizing your App Store title and reworking your app’s viral functionality can drive a measurable increase in app traffic.
“Owners of new products or new businesses really need to guard themselves against over investing themselves in a certain concept. Otherwise they run the risk of really burning too much energy on something that has no real opportunity to succeed.”
When entrepreneurs focus solely on their idea and get too attached, they lose sight of what customers want. If you’re constantly working on perfecting your idea or product, you become disconnected from customers because there’s no time to check in with them for validation that you’re actually meeting their needs.