As long as beacons require an app, that you probably don't have, there's a fundamental chicken-and-egg problem. — Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) January 12, 2015 Benedict Evans had a good tweet earlier today and expressed my biggest concern about iBeacons – it’s a chicken and egg game. In order to trigger a notification to a consumer about an iBeacon, they have to have the corresponding app installed. That’s a tremendous chicken and egg problem from multiple angles: If an app exists for a location, many won’t have it downloaded I shop at many different stores on a regular basis, but I rarely have their apps installed – Whole Foods is a great example. A user’s home screen is valuable real estate and they’re likely to only have a ~20 apps on the home screen. Each retailer isn’t just competing with other retailers, they’re competing with Instagram and Snapchat. I don’t see…Continue Reading
I’m a big believer in the thesis that software is eating the world. One main driver is the fact that software is so much cheaper to produce and now there are billions, not millions of devices. Those factors don’t describe the core product change that is happening though. When people hear software is eating the world, they think that it means software is being created for every industry. That’s actually nothing new. You could look back to the 80s and find niche software for many industries.   What’s really happening is that we’re shifting from software being created for 3rd parties, but software being created for 1st party use by a startup that wants to replace incumbents on the Fortune 500.  It sounds crazy, but the hotel and taxi industries were upended in approximately five years.  What is a 3rd party software startup? 3rd party software is when you create a piece…Continue Reading
The perfect storm for electric powered everything is starting to come about in the same way the internet powered everything revolution came along. Tesla has proved that we can build an electric car, but it’s 2014 and they’re still the only real player in the game. Many other car manufacturers are dipping their toes, yet only .28% of cars are electric . We need not only more electric car companies, but more electric powered replacements for fuel. It’s not just creating more Tesla’s in the consumer auto industry, which is why Tesla open sourced their patents, but we need more Tesla’s for x. Here are some potential examples, even though there are dozens more: Tesla for boats Tesla for commercial trucks Tesla for generators Tesla for freight trucks Tesla for ATVs The green revolution never really came because we had many entrepreneurs working on pie in the sky ideas with…Continue Reading
David Sacks joined Zenefits this week as COO, which is a huge win for the company. David could have done anything he wanted from starting his own company, joining as CEO, becoming a VC,etc. With the announcement, it made me realize that there’s an increasing importance of having a COO at an early stage startup. Some of the time, the title will be “President”, but COO is usually the right term. Here’s why I think it’s becoming more important and how founders should look at it. What should a COO do at a startup? This is a question a lot of people ask and there has been a lot of discussion from smart people like Bijan at Spark and Mark Suster at Upfront . In my mind a COO runs the part of the organization that scales primarily via people and processes as opposed to the part of the organization…Continue Reading
I think this is one of the most important things a startup can do – be clever. Most ideas and startups aren’t that interesting when you get down to it. They just try to take a slightly better approach to solving the same problem. It’s not that those companies end up becoming bad businesses either, but they’re missing that special something. The best startups tend to have something really clever in their early days that make people do a double take. Airbnb? Let people turn their existing homes into a “hotel room” and extra income. Zenefits? Give people free software in order to get the rights to health insurance. Instacart? Deliver groceries on-demand by using existing retail as warehouses instead of building your own warehouse. The list goes on and on, but many of the best startups end up doing something very clever to become a breakout hit. It’s the…Continue Reading