STARTUPS

Sam Altman’s CS183B – Lecture 6 – Alex Schultz

Lecture 6 was by Alex Schultz – a very good talk on Growth.

Salient points

  1. Self intro: Paid for college doing online marketing, directions marketing. I started with SEO in the 1990s. I created a paper airplane site, and had a monopoly in the small niche market of paper airplanes. When you want to start a startup also see how big the market could be. (In the long term, it wasn’t great.) But what that taught me was how to do SEO. And back in those days it was Alta Vista, and the way to do SEO was to have white text, on a white background, five pages below the fold, and you would rank top of Alta Vista if you just said planes 20 or 30 times in that text. And that was how you won SEO in the 1990s. It was a really, really easy skill to learn.
  2. Retention is the single most important thing for growth and retention comes from having a great idea and a great product to back up that idea, and great product market fit. The way we look at, whether a product has great retention or not, is whether or not the users who install it, actually stay on it long-term, when you normalize on a cohort basis, and I think that’s a really good methodology for looking at your product and say ‘okay the first 100, the first 1,000, the first 10,000 people I get on this, will they be retained in the long-run
  3. Every different company when it thinks about growth, needs a different North star; however, when you are operating for growth it is critical that you have that North star, and you define as a leader. That one metric that drives the company and a person who drives it.
  4. For Facebook the magic moment, is that moment when you see your friend’s face, and everything we do on growth, if you look at the Linkedin registration flow, you look at the Twitter registration flow, or you look at what WhatsApp does when you sign up, the number one thing all these services look to do, is show you the people you want to follow, connect to, send messages to, as quickly as possible, because in this vertical, this is what matters. When you think about Airbnb or eBay, it’s about finding that unique item, that PEZ dispenser or broken laser pointer, that you really really cared about and want to get ahold of. Like when you see that collectible that you are missing, that is the real magic moment on eBay. When you look on Airbnb and you find that first listing, that cool house you can stay in, and when you go through the door, that’s a magic moment
  5. Operating for growth, what you really need to think about, is what is the North star of your company: What is that one metric, where if everyone in your company is thinking about it and driving their product towards that metric and their actions towards moving that metric up, you know in the long-run your company will be successful.
  6. Make sure you have deliverability. Focus on notifications and triggered based emails, SMS, and Push Notifications.( A bunch of theory on SEO methods)

    Conclusion:

    “A good plan, violently executed today, is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.”

    BTW PG said Startup = Growth – so lets keep that in mind all the time shall we.

    Btw I highly recommend Genius and thank them for the lecture annotations. A lot of these posts are filtered from there- very helpful.

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