Startup Quote: Vinod Khosla

by adam on May 30, 2013

khosla startup quote


Bitcoin Explained

by adam on April 10, 2013

4 Ways Instagram Hacked Early Growth

by adam on December 28, 2012

As an early user of instagram back in October of 2010, I have gotten to witness the fast rise of instagram from a nascent network of technology savvy photographers to a mass-consumer global phenomenon. What follows is my own personal take on the key product decisions that drove instagram’s early growth and helped catapult it to the number #1 mobile photo sharing app in record time.


1. Public by default – Instagram smartly chose very early on to have the default privacy state of user’s photos as public. This was a bold move at the time, considering that up until this point, most mobile photo apps did not surface photos to other users by default without explicitly asking for permission to do so. With this move, instagram allowed people to discover other people through their photos in the popular section, which was the main means of distribution and source of followers in the early days of the service.


2. Asymetric follow model – While they weren’t the first ones to use this model, and while it was obviously the right move in hindsight, modeling their follower model after twitter instead of after facebook was a key move by instagram to speed up the acceleration of growth of each users network, by allowing them to follow and be followed by people they might not know offline.


3. Using speed as a weapon – A key, but often overlooked driver of instagram’s early success and growth was in large part driven by the speed of the service, both real, and perceived. By using techniques like Loading Content Based On Importance, Not Order, Always ‘Pretending to work’ and Anticipating The User’s Every Move, Instagram was able to create a pleasurably quick experience around uploading and viewing photos that was far ahead of other competitors at the time.

Recently Instagram’s co-founder Mike Krieger lifted the curtain on three of their backend (and UI) tricks that give the Instagram user a feeling of responsiveness.


4. Cross-network posting – By deciding to play nice with other services like twitter and facebook, instagram was able to leverage the distribution of some very large existing platforms to help accelerate the growth of its service in the early days.


Perception vs Reality: How these 5 Startups are really growing

by adam on October 21, 2012

In many tech startups there often exist two different stories for how a company has gained it’s hard fought success. There is the story that gets told in the news media and distributed on sites like hackernews and techmeme, and then there is the un-told story that underlies the reality of how the company is actually growing.

Here are some examples of these two different stories:

Perception Reality
AirBNB kids-couch-surf-flickr-brandon-cripps

Collaborative consumption is driving new demand for previously un-used supply.

Land-lords are using airbnb as a channel to market their under-utilized or vacant rental properties. Source.
Twitter US-State-Department-Taps-Twitter-for-New-Age-Global-Relations

A democratizing force of good for the world where everyday people are given a global voice.

A navel-gazing wasteland of internet pundits and pseudo celebrities where fake accounts drive a large percentage of traffic. Source
YouSendit imgres

Yousendit is popularly known as file hosting business for all types of business’s to swap large files with each other.

What they don’t tell you in the press is that the service is used by pirates and pornographers to distribute illegal content., Ustream imgres-2

The popular myth behind startups and Ustream was that they were riding the wave of a new live broadcast revolution powered by UGC.

The reality was that both sites turned a blind eye early on to pirated content that was being live broadcast around the world, fueling growth in visitors seeking this content. Source.
Scribd scribd

Scribd launched publicly as a ‘youtube for documents’ and a way for author’s to self-publish their work, democratizing the publishing business.

The reality paints a different picture, of pirated content driving the lion’s share of pageviews, while other original content is left in the dust. Source.