Quora was initially populated by questions from the Quora founders. Then they would spend 2-3 hours researching the topic, distilling different ideas and writing a high-quality answer. Sometimes unscalable things can make things scalable!
The part of the screening process at Sequoia Capital is the question: ‘Which of the 7 deadly sins does your startup address?’
There is a great deal correlation between the video game addicts and the gym/workout superstars. Both are about the singular focus. The web startup ‘Fitocracy’ is occupying this niche: http://www.fitocracy.com/
Companies die from not being eaten by their competitors, but from self-inflicted wounds. They don’t have discipline. Their best people get frustrated. They chase all these shiny objects that aren’t core to the business. They become complacent because of early success.
Dropbox May Not Be LeBron James, but It Is Still in the Game
There are no obvious signs of distress at the lavish San Francisco headquarters of the cloud storage company Dropbox, where on any given day, its hallways bustle with upbeat, well-compensated tech workers enjoying the customary trappings of start-up life. Dropbox is not laying off workers or shrinking; it hired nearly 500 people last year, 75 since the start of this year, and it plans to soon move into a sprawling, custom-designed office building for which it has signed a long-term lease.
But that isn’t the image of Dropbox you’d encounter in the news media. Two years ago, the company raised a round of financing that valued it at $10 billion, making it one of the most highly prized start-ups of the tech boom. Now it faces a stock market that has turned unfriendly to initial public offerings of tech companies, not to mention stiff competition from publicly traded companies like Microsoft, Google and Box, the similarly named firm in a similar line of business.
So what’s really going on at Dropbox? Is it thriving or dying?
Neither one, yet. When you look inside the company, you find something that defies Silicon Valley’s typical straight-up or straight-down narrative: a complicated story of incremental and potentially accelerating success, but one clouded by outsize dreams of yesteryear.
It’s a fate that other Silicon Valley start-ups may be facing, especially with the dip in public and private markets for funding tech ventures. Dropbox’s problems have less to do with the strength of its current business than with a delay, so far, in realizing the towering expectations that once surrounded the company. The start-up is like the college basketball star who manages to turn pro but is still regarded with doubt because everyone has now realized he might never be the next LeBron James. What happens to a company once thought to be worth $10 billion when it turns out to be worth only $5 billion, or $2 billion?
According to Dropbox’s executives, nothing too terrible — it can just wait out the market freeze and perhaps grow into its $10 billion valuation. In other words, Dropbox can keep working and may yet turn into LeBron.
“Sentiment about companies goes in cycles,” Drew Houston, Dropbox’s co-founder and chief executive, told me in an email. “Google, Apple, Facebook all went through multiple rounds of this. First, you can do no wrong, then you can do no right. Then people are like, ‘Actually this is a pretty good company,’ and around it goes. So you have to ignore the noise and stay focused on building great products and making customers happy. The rest will take care of itself.”
At the moment, executives said, Dropbox isn’t in any urgent danger. If it were running out of money, it might be forced to raise funds at a lower value than its previous one — a dreaded “down round” — but executives and board members said the company had plenty of money in the bank and was generating enough from operations to fund an expansion into new products and services.
Other numbers are also promising, they said. More than 400 million people use the company’s service — a place to keep documents online, so they can easily be shared and synchronized among different people and different computers — and the service is adding 10 million users a month. Dropbox also has 150,000 business customers, who pay annual fees of about $150 for each employee, and those ranks are growing by about 25,000 businesses a quarter.
Insiders declined to specify Dropbox’s revenue and growth rate, other than to say there had been increases since its last funding round, when the company’s annual revenue was reported to be $400 million.
Executives also said employee retention and hiring have not been hurt by the recent news. I asked several tech recruiters if they had noticed a diminished interest in working for Dropbox; none had. In the last year, Dropbox has hired from Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter.
“Dropbox is growing on the same trajectory as the best software-as-a-service companies ever — like LinkedIn or Salesforce,” said Bryan Schreier, a Dropbox board member and a partner at the investment firm Sequoia Capital, which has invested in the company. “I don’t know how we couldn’t be thrilled with that kind of performance.”
But if Dropbox can still thrill its backers, it has also accumulated a chorus of skeptics. The company is one of several looking to ride two tidal waves now sweeping the business world — the trend toward business software that doesn’t stink, known as the “consumerization of information technology,” and the rising willingness of companies to store their most precious data on online servers, or in the cloud.
Dropbox’s issue is that its products for business customers are relatively new compared with those of its rival Box, which was founded before Dropbox and began focusing on business users earlier. Dropbox is behind Box in attracting the most lucrative segment of the market — the largest companies who will pay the most to get their data online.
Adding to this is the complication that Box, which has had to spend hundreds of millions of dollars building out a sales team to go after large companies, has been pummeled by investors for its persistent losses. The stock market now values Box at about $1.3 billion, about half of its value when it went public in January 2015.
Dropbox argues that the comparison with Box doesn’t take into account the differences in the two companies’ business models. Sure, Dropbox is developing its sales team and expanding its product offerings for businesses. But Dennis Woodside, Dropbox’s chief operating officer, said that its broad brand recognition makes the sales process more efficient — and thus cheaper — than Box’s. When Dropbox visits a company’s chief information officer on a sales call, it has something Box struggles to show — a large base of the company’s employees who are already using its service.
“We fish in a pond that’s used to our product,” Mr. Woodside said. In the last quarter, Dropbox signed up 13 large companies with more than 1,000 users each, he said, three times as many as in the same period last year.
Mr. Schreier of Sequoia Capital said Dropbox’s potential for profit was more attractive than Box’s, and argued that when Dropbox eventually goes public, investors will recognize that difference.
Aaron Levie, Box’s chief executive, disputed this assertion. “Our differentiation and maturity in the enterprise market is what wins those customers,” he said. A large and costly sales team also makes a difference, Mr. Levie argued, which is why he seemed to scoff at the notion of Dropbox as a competitor. “We’re mostly competing with Microsoft in the enterprise, not Dropbox,” he said.
Because one company is public and one is private, and because they operate so differently, it is difficult to say whether Box or Dropbox — not to mention Google or Microsoft — will ultimately run away with the enterprise cloud services business. Analysts say that at the moment, the market is big enough, and wide open enough, for all of these companies to thrive.
The murkier issue is not whether Dropbox can build a good business, but whether it can ever become the $10 billion goose that investors had once seen it as. Reports of Dropbox’s demise are premature. But so are reports of its comeback.
Correction: February 3, 2016
An earlier version of this column misstated the fees Dropbox charges its business customers. The fees are about $150 annually for each of the business’s employees, not for each business.
Training8m Corporate Technologies Pty Ltd, Australia Seeking Investors for Maiden IPO offer from Training8m Corporate Technologies Pty Ltd, Australia Equity Capital Proposed: Total Deal Size $ 750 M Working Capital: $ 225 M Minimum Investment: $ 75 M Deal: Immediate with a clear exit strategy Location: Head Quartered in Gold Coast, Australia We now open or Investment offer…
Months ago I had been using Whatsapp and thought it was good but not great. One key thing missing was knowing whether the person saw your message or not, like it does on BBM. Soon Kik launched and had the promise of blowing Whatsapp out of the water. Shoot, it was founded by key guys from the BBM team, good sign right?
Well, I tried the Kik after it launched with that heavy, and I mean very heavy, press coverage. What happened? Kik didn’t work that great, especially with the initial load on their system, so I decided to go back to Whatsapp. Simply put, it lost the bake off.
Bear with me as this story continues. While Whatsapp was missing the “read” message feature that Kik launched with, I decide to write in Whatsapp and tell them they won the bake off against Kik (congrats!) but was curious when they might update their app with the “read” feature that Kik had. I happened to get a response from Whatsapp hours later.
Their response: “What’s Kik?”. I figured…hmm, can’t be good if you don’t know you have a new competitor with heavy backing and coverage and huge initial growth but okay. Maybe it’s asking too much but I’d at least expect them to know about it but Whatsapp wasn’t funded by anyone and seemed to be just humming along.
Well not anymore. Whatsapp recently raised $8 million in funding from Sequoia among others. 8 million! And they didn’t even know who Kik was! Am I expecting too much from a startup or is it kinda worrisome that their response to my question was so…blank?
What a marketer needs now is a system of technology that manages the creation and distribution of all this content with centralized oversight. The marketer moves from someone that once only moved content to audiences, to someone that needs to move content through the whole organization. In this new world the marketer has the ability to touch sales, HR and almost any department that puts social and mobile at the center of their activities.
Cisco acquires Meraki: how 3 guys from MIT transformed the networking industry
Quick: when was the last time you plugged in an Ethernet cable? If you have trouble answering that question, you’re one of the reasons why Cisco has agreed to acquire Meraki.
Six years ago Sanjit, John and Hans saw our Wi-Fi world before many others. Meraki offered smaller wireless ISPs a complete package to roll-out wireless networks without a lot of time, money or expertise. It gave upstart ISPs a way to enter new markets and disrupt existing ones. The benefits were obvious: the ability to scale without wires, low cost of entry, ease of use, and network analysis tools to help operators maximize revenue from their small networks.
I’ll always remember meeting the guys for the first time. We were introduced by Rajeev Motwani, Larry & Sergey’s thesis advisor at Stanford. They were a bunch of MIT PhDs who had built a very proprietary solution as part of their own thesis called RoofNet. They were clearly world-class, super smart and personable. I bought their product to test it out. It was so easy to use, I set up a wireless network myself in minutes. You just plugged in the box and it worked. That’s all we needed to see. Chris Sacca, who was at Google at the time, was equally enthusiastic. Google bought 1,000 routers and invested as well.
Google Ventures, Sequoia Capital, and Salesforce.com announced the Series D financing round of $32 million in Cambridge, MA-based marketing software company HubSpot. Hubspot’s existing investors General Catalyst, Matrix Partners, and Scale Venture Partners are also participating.
India’s local search engine, Justdial has raised another $18 million from Singapore based private equity firm, Nalanda Capital. Nalanda Capital has been on the investors list for JustDial for quite a while now and the latest investment has increased its share in Justdial to 7.58%, up by 2% according to stock market reports. Justdial, one of the biggest databases of local B2B and B2C contacts, was…
Sometimes it’s never too late to join a crowded market. Just ask Paul English and Steve Hafner, who today announced an agreement to sell Kayak to Priceline for about $1.8 billion.
Today, Kayak’s promise of ‘One and Done’ is well known as befits a company that fielded 600 million travel queries in the first half of 2012 and whose mobile app has been downloaded nearly 17 million times.
However, the world looked different in 2004 when Paul and Steve decided to start a company in an industry teeming with competitors such as Expedia, Orbitz, Hotwire, Priceline, Travelocity, LastMinute.com and plenty of others. These sites, plus thousands of hotel and airline sites, which all furnished their own confusing and biased results, is what fueled the frustration that gave Kayak a chance. It’s hard to remember but before Kayak it could take thirty minutes to book a flight or reserve a room.
2014 was a pivotal year for Indonesia’s tech scene. Tech in Asia readers were innundated with news about SoftBank and Sequoia Capital’s record-breaking investment in Tokopedia, along with on-going scoops about Jakarta’s hackers protecting the presidential election with the public online vote counter Kawal Pemilu. On the other hand, the government blocked Vimeo, Imgur, and Reddit, while also removing information technology studies from the local academic curriculum (then putting it back). Indonesia’s Bakrie Group invested US$25 million into Silicon Valley-based social network Path, while local media KapanLagi and Fimela merged to form the largest online media network in Indonesia. But what about the bootstrapping startups that have been slogging away day-in and day-out this year? Surely they deserve some credit for not just surviving, but thriving in 2014. So, in no particular order, here are 10 bootstrapping startups in Indonesia that have gained notable traction or just have awesome ideas.