Oh Snap!

Posted: May 18th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Investing, Product, snapchat | No Comments »
Snap’s first earnings as a public company are in and there is a consensus! Snap’s first earnings are terrible and the company is a disaster. Or is it? Do we care about the opinions on Wall Street trying to earn a quick buck? Or click-bait journalists looking for impressions? Those investing in $SNAP must have patience, and if you do, there is a lot to be happy about in this earnings report.

Snap missed DAU and Growth Numbers!

What did Snap miss? Expectations set by bozos on Wall Street? Evan and the leadership team didn’t set guidance on revenue or DAU growth. Analysts on Wall Street made numbers up based on little precedent. Snap didn’t miss a thing.
 
Snap’s user base grew 36% yoy to 166 million. Quarter over quarter, Snap grew 5%. This is consistent with quarter-over-quarter growth from Q3 to Q4. Instagram Stories may have slowed down growth but Snap is growing at a healthy pace.

Snap missed Earnings with a whopping $2.2 billion loss!

Again, this is Wall Street expectations. $2 billion of the $2.2 billion loss was due to a one-time impact of stock compensation. I’m much more concerned with ongoing costs.
 
The flip side is Snap grew revenue yoy 286%. ARPU tripled yoy to 90 cents per user globally. North America monetization is at $1.81 a user and they’ve only scratched the surface. For comparison, Facebook is approaching $20 in ARPU. It’s encouraging to know there may be a long ways to go before we see a slowdown in ARPU growth with Snap.

Evan is selfish!

Another common theme is Evan is selfish. The $750mm bonus is evidence A. It’s quite the opposite in my book. Evan has turned down offers to sell Snap and could have been a billionaire years ago. Instead, Evan has shown an ability to delay gratification and plan for the long-term. This is why investors of Snap should be patient. Others in Evan’s shoes may resort to growth hacks to appease Wall Street. Evan keeps the big picture in mind. Evan dismisses short term thinking that doom companies in the long run.

Bottom Line

Expecting ~10% DAU growth and profitability from Snap this quarter was unreasonable. Evan is playing the long game with Snap and part of that approach is not optimizing for the short term. Snap is a product company investing money into R&D to grow and monetize. Instagram may have copied the story format but Snap is more than that. Snap is a different context to its users. Snap will morph in ways we can’t imagine. You’ll need patience if you want to buy and hold $SNAP but with that patience will come great reward.

Sketchin’ a Howard Stern App

Posted: April 21st, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Design, Product | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Product Manager Venn Diagram

As part of my never ending quest to be a better product person, I’ve been making mockups. After taking a Learn Sketch course I was itching to apply what I learned to a real-world problem. As a Howard Stern fan I’ve found the Sirius iOS User Experience frustrating. I crave a less cluttered, easier-to-use app designed for hardcore Howard Stern fans like myself.

A Solo Howard Stern App

Supporting the hundreds of Sirius channels brings a lot of UI baggage. Making a dedicated Howard App allowed me to get rid of numerous pages and the bottom bar.

Sirius

With one focus, the Home screen can be simple and clean. Search is at the top of the screen, below you may browse. The UI brings attention to a Live show since no content is better than Live content.

My Mockup

 

The Sirius UI for downloaded shows is good but has room for improvement. The thin fonts and pale colors are difficult to read and there are many colors in use.

My mockup has two colors with only the most relevant information for easy reading.

The Player

The Sirius player takes up a lot of real estate for the background photo and title of the show.

I shrunk the the amount of space for a photo and considered removing it completely. That space would not be a static photo of the logo but would allow for a multi-media experience. Photos relevant to the segment, like a photo of a guest, would work great.

Navigating the Shows

The Sirius app allows a week’s worth of shows available for “On Demand” download for a limited time.

I envision access to the entire Howard Stern content library available for download. Another goal of this app is to expose new listeners to a taste of Howard Stern content. All content should have a degree of shareability. Allowing a user to share clips of a show via SoundCloud as they do now is a great start. Sharing Phony Phone Calls and Song Parodies are a perfect way to give people a taste of Howard.

   

 

Search

With access to 40 years of content the user must have a good Search to find what they are looking for. I’ve moved Search to be front and center in home. The results have labels with the most relevant information. It’ll be key to create a search based on machine learning that will improve overtime.

New Features

The Howard Stern Alarm Clock, Auto-downloading new shows and playing Sirius on an Amazon Echo are features I’d use everyday. 

Inspiration for the Settings and Devices page came from Overcast and Spotify.

 

 

Note – I used Sketch to create the mockups. I choose Open Sans as the font and downloaded it from Google Fonts. The Twitter and Facebook icons are from IconMoon. I wrapped the designs with iPhone chrome using MockUPhone. I learned about these resources through an excellent designer, Julian Haddad, who I worked with at Social Tables

 


The Simplicity of Spectacles and AirPods

Posted: March 29th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: apple, Design, snapchat | Tags: , , | No Comments »

This isn’t 2007 or 2010 when the iPhone and iPad debuted but the Spectacles and AirPods have had a lot of hype. I had my doubts. I never liked Earpods, they’re uncomfortable and fall out of my ear. I didn’t immediately dig the style of the Spectacles. Despite those concerns, I had to buy both and try them for myself.

What Spectacles Do

Spectacles take up to 3 consecutive 10 second 720p videos. Click the button once to take a 10 second clip. Click again when the video is about to end to extend it twice, up to 30 seconds. Pairing Spectacles are a breeze – use the Spectacles to take a video of your Snapcode to pair. When not paired, Spectacles take snaps and sync later once paired.
 
Spectacles excel with physical activities. Riding a bike and beach volleyball are great examples. Times where a first-person point of view is compelling. Any two handed activity, like pouring a beer or driving a car, make great Spectacle snaps.

What AirPods Do

Like the Spectacles, pairing with AirPods is amazing. Take them out of the case near your phone and they immediately detect and pair. Going from phone to computer is seamless. The sound, microphone and fit are outstanding. I forget they are in my ear. They’ve lived up to the hype.

Cases

Both Spectacles and AirPods come with high quality cases that charge the devices. The Spectacles case is bulky and I find charging without easier. The AirPods case is excellent. Bye bye Wires! Carrying a small case is a subtle improvement that affects me every day.

Simplicity

Spectacles and AirPods are simple and limited. Unlike Google Glass before it, Spectacles do one thing and only one thing. Spectacles can not take photos. At first, this seems odd but Snap has learned from Google’s missteps. Snap may be limiting the ability to take photos to thwart the privacy concerns. The light allows someone to know when someone is recording but a photo would be harder to convey to others.
 
AirPods have only one gesture, a double tap, which you may set to contact Siri or play/pause. I miss not being able to adjust the volume with my headphones. This constraint has affected my behavior. After years of slow adoption, AirPods has increased my Siri usage.

Coolness

Both products have that X factor of coolness. Not very scientific but the products look and feel cool. People are curious about both and strangers will stop you to ask questions. In Venice the stops are more of an attack of how could I support Snap, who is “ruining” Venice. Spectacles, being smack dab on your face, get more questions than the AirPods. People express concern but are less freaked out about being recorded than I expected.
 
The Spectacles’ storefront on Venice is the epitome of cool. Facebook or Twitter isn’t pulling something off like this and wouldn’t think it’s worth it. Facebook once caught criticism for no longer being cool, as if that signaled doom. Companies don’t have to be cool to be successful but coolness can be a differentiator. Right now, Snap owns cool in the Mobile Entertainment space.

Bottom Line

Spectacles and AirPods are simple, cool and useful. I will use AirPods nearly every day making their $159 price tag cheap considering the value. Spectacles won’t get that amount of use, I prefer the aesthetics and feel of my New Wayfarer Ray Bans. Now that I live in Sunny LA, I’m sure I’ll wear them over 100 times this year. At $129, they’re worth it….as long as you don’t lose em!

Mobile Entertainment IPO Wars

Posted: February 6th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Snap has filed their S1. Let’s see where Snap is compared to the previous high profile social media IPOs.

The IPO Numbers

 FacebookTwitterSnap
IPO Year201220132017
Age876
Daily Active Users (DAUs)526 million100 million161 million
Revenue$4 billion$317 million$404.5 million
Revenue Per User$5~$2.30$2.70
Rev Growth Rate yoy88%106%589%
Net income$1 billion($79.4 million)($515 million)
Operating income$1.76 billion($77.1 million)($520.4 million)
Money Raised$18.4 million$2.09 billion$3 billion - $4 billion
Company Valuation$104 billion$14.2 billion$20-$25 billion
Founder ownership Mark - 28.2%Ev - 12%
Jack - 4.7%
Evan - 22.2%
Bobby - 22.2%
Founder Valuation at IPO Mark - $19 billionJack - $439 millionEvan - $3.5 billion
Bobby - $3.5 billion

Snap is younger, growing quicker but losing more money than its predecessors. At IPO, Snap’s metric health is worse than Facebook’s but arguably better than Twitter’s.

Facebook had 5x the users and 10x the revenue of Snap. While Snap is losing money, Facebook’s Net Income was exactly $1 billion, showing that Facebook was not only healthy but in control of their margins.

At their respective IPOs, Snap and Twitter are less proven. They both show engaged users and revenue growth but have a ways to go before profitability. Twitter had slower growth and less users, revenue and revenue per user than Snap. That being said, Twitter lost less than Snap did the year prior to IPO and Twitter raised less at a lower valuation than Snap is seeking.

Two things that stick out in Snap’s metrics are the losses (lost more money than total revenue) and the revenue per user being nearly half of Facebook’s at IPO. Although Facebook has that sweet targeting information my hunch was Snap’s immersive video ads would command more per user.

To Buy or Not to Buy?

Will the competition, like Instagram Stories kill Snap? Social Media companies are more like TV Networks than a Search Engine. Search has been a winner-takes-all market. In the early days of TV Networks we had ABC, CBS and NBC. People were dubious when Fox entered, with their more raunchy entertainment but it turns out there was a large market for Fox to serve for decades to come. In retrospect, that was the beginning and there was room for hundreds of cable networks as well. Perhaps we’ll see something similar with these type of companies.

But what are these type of companies? Snap says it’s a camera company. In their essence, all three are ways people share, kill time and keep up to date (mainly) on their phones.

The macro trends are in Snap’s favor. Snap’s engagement and user numbers are shocking considering how long stories take to load with typical bandwidth. As bandwidth improves so does the user experience, likely making the ~25 minutes of daily use increase. Bandwidth issues may be to blame for Snap’s current low international growth and that will change with time.

If you’re going to invest in the Snap IPO you’re not doing so because of the metrics. You buy the Snap IPO because you believe in Evan. He’s shown his ability to delay gratification for the long term, turning down overtures that would make him richer than he could ever imagine. Evan has an eye for acquisitions – Looksery (selfie lenses) and Bitstrips, both of which are a big hit. Most importantly to me, as a “Product Guy”, Evan has shown excellent product vision, evolving an ephemeral messaging product into a social network with a photo editor, video editor, stories (with a business model to boot) and is now evolving into a camera company. What’s next?

Citations

  1. http://venturebeat.com/2012/02/01/facebook-s-1-zuckerberg-ownership/
  2. http://www.forbes.com/sites/ryanmac/2013/10/04/who-owns-twitter-a-look-at-jack-dorsey-evan-williams-and-the-companys-largest-shareholders/#30009e2d1428
  3. https://qz.com/131932/twitter-average-revenue-per-user/
  4. https://www.statista.com/statistics/234056/facebooks-average-advertising-revenue-per-user/
  5. https://www.cnet.com/news/key-numbers-to-know-before-twitters-ipo/
  6. http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702303448404577409923406193162
  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Facebook
  8. https://qz.com/145227/final-tally-twitters-ipo-was-bigger-than-googles-raising-2-1-billion/
  9. https://techcrunch.com/2017/02/02/ceo-evan-spiegels-snap-ownership-is-worth-about-3-5-billion/?ncid=rss
  10. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/09/13/twitter-ipo-follows-years-of-user-growth/
  11. http://www.investors.com/news/technology/snapchat-parent-snap-files-3-billion-ipo-has-158-million-users/
  12. http://money.cnn.com/2013/11/06/technology/social/twitter-ipo-price/

Peak Apple?

Posted: January 25th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

It’s that time of the year…peak Apple Predictions! Consumer Reports didn’t recommend the Macbook for the first time ever. Less iPhone units shipped and revenue shrunk in 2016. The sky is falling! Apple is done!

Or is it? The products, leadership, cash on hand, potential and macro trends make me think the peak of Apple is a ways out (I define “peak Apple” as a peak in market cap).

Leadership

Cook is no Jobs but he’s done a hell of a job. The numbers are impressive. Since Cook took over, revenue is up 99% without sacrificing margins and over $185 billion in cash has been returned to shareholders. With Cook leading the company and Jony leading the products, leadership at Apple continues to be strong.

Peak iPhone?

Apple shipped 211 million iPhones in 2016, a dip from the 231 million iPhones shipped in 2015 but an impressive number. Apple shipped 169 million iPhones in 2014, making it’s jump to 231 million in 2015 a huge 37% increase. 2015’s shipments was helped by the penetration in China and the relatively newness of the larger iPhone screens. Although shipments dipped in 2016 the macro trends are in Apple’s favor.

There are approximately 2.1 billion smartphone users and 7 billion people in the world. The vast majority of people do not own a smartphone. It is estimated that smartphone users will grow to 2.9 billion by 2020. That’s 50% growth in 3 years for the overall market size for Apple to get a piece of.

The majority of new smartphone owners will not be able to afford an iPhone but there is one market where Apple’s chances looks promising – India. iPhone shipments were up 50% in India in 2016 and although the market is accustomed to paying less for a smartphone, as incomes rise so will interest in iPhones.

Unless the buying cycle changes to more than the current 2 year cycle or a competitor starts converting iPhone customers, I expect iPhone growth overtime to continue in line with smartphone user growth (a slower rate than it did in the previous decade).

Current Product Lineup

Apple’s revenue breakdown is 60% iPhone, 10% iPad, 10% Macs, 15% Services and 5% other products (like the Watch). I don’t expect much growth with the iPad but I believe it will be a healthy product line for years to come. The majority of startups use Macbooks and every college kid has one. As the overall PC industry declines Mac sales have stayed resilient. Will Mac sales ever make up the majority of PC shipments? It’s a long way to go, but that’s the bet I’m making.

The Watch and new AirPods are products an anti-peak Apple person can be excited about. At $269 a pop, the Watch isn’t cheap and yet Apple was able to sell $6 billion dollars worth its first year and shipped 25M units in less than two years. Once Watch becomes a standalone device and Apple gets the entry-level price point down to $150, we’ll see a huge boom in sales. For those questioning if Apple still has its je ne sais quoi, the AirPods by all accounts show that Apple can introduce best-in-class products.

Potential New Products

The biggest difference between Apple’s stock price compared to Google’s, Amazon’s or Facebook’s is that little of it is based on potential. Since Apple keeps their product roadmap close to their chest, Wall Street can’t justify lofty valuations based on a product coming any day now.

Apple makes computer widgets. Big computers, handheld computers, wrist-sized computers, etc. Apple designs processors and software. They do this better than any other company in the world and they have over $230 billion dollars in cash. Whether it’s a TV, a Car or a VR device, Apple has the means and know-how to crush any of these markets.

Bottom Line

We’re not at Peak Apple. iPhone shipments in 2017 will grow compared to 2016 due to growth in China and India. iPad and Macbook biz will remain steady. Watch will get cheaper and better. Apple will ship more Watch units for more revenue. Services will continue to grow as they enter the original content game. In the long term, Apple will use their $230 billion dollar war chest for a new product that will grow the business significantly. Tim Cook and Jony Ive will ensure Apple plays the long game and doesn’t optimize for short-term stock growth.

In other words, Apple’s death has been greatly exaggerated.

 


Just Enough Design for B2B SaaS

Posted: December 25th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Design, Product, SaaS | Tags: , , | No Comments »

For decades, design in B2B software has been an afterthought. There are products making billions that were designed with no taste and no thought. Those who have been around the game for a while will tell you “Design in B2B software doesn’t matter!” and based on history, they have a leg to stand on. These design haters will go on to list successful companies that have what many would consider poorly designed software – Peoplesoft, Salesforce, Taleo, the list goes on.

Design in B2B SaaS matters less than Consumer

“Consumer Products” are bought and used by the same person. In the B2B world, this isn’t always the case. Since the Buyer may never use the product they are less likely to feel the pain of poor design than the end user. B2B software is more likely to have upfront costs – setup costs, integration costs, training costs, etc. These upfront costs immediately make the software more sticky, sunk costs be damned, the buyer will have a tough sell to their manager if they bail on a product after incurring the upfront costs.

Design matters more in B2B SaaS than it use to

The world is shifting, as people grow up using consumer-grade (better designed) software, expectations for design become higher. Even the buyers, who may never use the software, are becoming more critical of the appearance and this impacts their buying decision.

Furthermore, the SaaS model typically has lower upfront costs than on-premise B2B software. This lower cost decreases the buyer’s reluctance to switch if the end users complain. The low cost SaaS model makes it easier for a small team to adopt a product in an organization and let it spread from there.

Slack is the best example of this phenomenon. From a feature list standpoint, Slack is not much different than its IRC predecessors. Where Slack differentiates itself is through superior design – both aesthetic and usability. Slack’s free tier allows small teams to try it risk-free, and once they fall in love, it becomes viral within the organization.

Design & SaaS metrics

  • Close Rate & ASP. Looks matter. If your product looks “professional”, buyers are more likely to believe it’s a more expensive product and pay more.
  • Churn & NPS. Usability matters. It may look pretty but if it is difficult to use, the end users will complain and this increases the chance of churn
  • CRC (Customer Retention Cost). Intuitive software cuts down on training and long term support. Ideally, a user should learn the product without personal hand holding

When making a case for a design overhaul or adding more effort to your design process, these are the metrics that can be valuable when establishing your goals and measurable results.

Design & Market Factors

  • Buyer = End user. Design, particularly usability, will be more important to reduce churn.
  • Self-Serve SaaS products. Making your product intuitive becomes more important if you will not have a salesperson explaining its value or a Customer Success Manager training the end users.
  • Competition. The more competitors in your space the more likely design will become the differentiating factor. When I worked at Jibe, design became our core competency. Jibe provides a consumer-grade experience for applying to a job on a company’s career website. The incumbents – Taleo, Kenexa and SuccessFactors, are weak at this and Jibe is taking that opportunity and running with it.
  • Age of end-users – Older users, although generally less savvy, are more tolerant of poor design. They’re use to it. A younger user base is more likely to demand a well designed product.

For the past six years I’ve worked at venture-backed SaaS companies. In my experience, we don’t have time or money to design products in the thorough, methodic fashion many product people would like to. It’s tempting to read the latest design book and want to implement all of the suggestions but it’s not practical at an early-stage SaaS company. Does design matter in SaaS? Absolutely. Know your market, track you design efforts with measurable results and invest your time and money wisely.


Measurable Results for SaaS Products

Posted: November 15th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Product, SaaS | No Comments »

what-is-a-product-manager

Whether you’re doing OKRs, GSCs, KPIs or some other 3 letter process, a generally accepted good practice when building a product and company is to tie measurable results to goals. Try to keep these goals “SMART” – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-specific.

My manager, Derek Haller, spoke about the importance of using measurable results when Driving Business Outcomes during our last ProductTank Meetup. Derek and I work at a SaaS company, Social Tables, and we identified the main types of Measurable Results that are relevant to those managing a SaaS product.

Types of Measurable Results for SaaS products

  • Behavior (click paths, engagement)
  • Business (active users, conversion rate)
  • Financial (ASP, billings, time to close)
  • Performance (load time, uptime, crashes)
  • Operational Costs (storage, hosting)
  • Go To Market Costs (acquisition, programs)
  • Sentiment (NPS, surveys)
  • Environment (PR mentions, comments)

Goals may have a variety of types of measurable results. Depending on the stage of your company, some of these types, such as Operational Costs and Sentiment, may take a back seat to Business and Financial results.

SsaaS

SsaaS, Stock Software as a Service, is a company I just made it up :). We make software for Stock Advisors to analyze a stock. Below are the Objects and Key Results for SsaaS –

Objective

Successfully Launch MVP Stock Analysis Tool with a Free Two-week Trial Period

Key Results

  • Establish ASP of $5,000 / year (Financial)
  • Receive press coverage in 5 publications, including TechCrunch (Environment)
  • Net Promoter Score > 50. (Sentiment)
  • Engagement: 75% of users analyze > 5 stocks. (Behavior)

Time Frame – Q1

Objective

Sunset Two-week Trial Period and Launch Freemium Product

Key Results

  • Deliver 1000 new Product Qualified Leads (Go To Market Costs
  • Reach 500,000 Daily Active Users (Business) 
  • Improve user sign up by 10% (Behavior)

Time Frame – April

Objective

Launch Product Rewrite and Sunset old Product

Key Results

  • Cut down hosting costs by 30% (Operational Costs)
  • Achieve 99.7% uptime (Performance)
  • Decrease support inquiries by 10% (Operational Costs)

Time Frame – Q2

Timeboxed Results

It’s nice to set key results and work backwards to figure out when you can achieve those results but some organizations prefer to set OKRs on a timed basis (usually quarterly). Some goals take longer to hit the more traditional key results (i.e. engagement and revenue). For example, if you are embarking on a six month product rewrite that will not have active users in the first quarter you must come up with other ways to validate your product/decisions along the way. You may accomplish this through internal validation and surveys.

Objective

Validate New Stock Comparison Product

Key Results

  • 75% of current customers confirm the features on the road map would meet their needs (Sentiment)
  • 5 prospects have signed letters of intent to purchase (Financial)
  • 90% of the Sales team believes the product is sellable (Sentiment)

Time Frame – Q3

Always Be Learning

Finally, when setting measurable results, it’s effective to have goals and results that are focused on learning. Create a hypotheses to help validate your vision and develop experiments around that hypothesis.

Objective

Determine if Stock Advisors want to display a portfolio publicly

Key Results

  • 75% of Stock Advisors surveyed confirm they would like to have their portfolios displayed (Sentiment)
  • 50% of Stock Advisors provided with embeddable portfolios use them on their corporate website (Behavior)

Time Frame – December


Sharing with Collaboration Products

Posted: September 21st, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
Sharing is caring

Sharing is caring

Sharing is caring. As a Product Manager of a collaboration app you must consider friction, security, virality and the overall user experience. I’ve analyzed the top dogs when it comes to collaboration apps these days – Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, Asana and Trello to see how each handles the following workflows.

Workflows

Sharing with Existing Users

  • Send Email to existing user email
  • If logged in, the user goes directly into the item (document, event, etc)
  • If not logged in, prompt the user to log in
  • If clicked on the link while logged into a different account, inform the user that account doesn’t have access and allow them to sign in from the account with access

Access Denied

Sharing with Existing Users is for the most part standard among all collaboration apps. One difference in the approaches analyzed is the notion of “Accepting” the invitation. The majority of the collaboration apps automatically give access to the user and the user will see the new item when they log in while others required the user to accept the item before they could access it.

Sharing with Non Users

  • Share with an email address that is not associated with this account
    • Prompt the user that this user does not have an account. Warn the user of any security concerns this may arise Google Share New Account Warning
      • Send Email to new user     Asana New User Email
  • If the user has another account and is signed into that account, you have a couple of options
    1. Allow the user to merge accounts Trello Account Merge
    2. Inform the user the account doesn’t have access and allow them to sign in from another account Access Denied
    3. Prompt the user to log in to the account it was shared with or accept the item to the account being used. Dropbox Accept
  • If the user would like to sign up, put them through registration 
    1. Quick Registration (Just email and password, no confirmation or profile gathering) Easy Registration
    2. Full Registration asana-profile
  • After Registration there are two main options
    1. Put the user directly into the item
    2. Put the user through a tutorial

Sharing with non-users has more trades offs to consider and therefore more variation among those analyzed.

Trello uses usernames instead of email addresses as their log in. This allows them to associate multiple email addresses to one account which allows them to give the user the option to add an email to an existing account. This approach maintains security and a good user experience.

Accepting the invitation to a different account than was shared was only observed with Dropbox. Dropbox allows you to do this when the item is shared with an email address that doesn’t have an account but forces you to log in to the account it was shared with if the email does have an account. This is an example of balancing security and user experience.

How much friction you put a user through when accessing a shared item is a tough decision with tradeoffs. The user may be in a situation where they need to access the shared item quickly and experiencing friction during sign up may leave a bad taste in their mouth. On the other hand, there are compelling reasons to add some friction to the process. Collecting contact information can allow a sales team to follow up with the new user. Putting the user through a tutorial may allow the user to understand the application better and have an overall better experience. Prompting a user to invite others into the app may allow that user to get more value from the app while also serving as a viral hook.

Conclusion

There are lot of options with sharing and no straightforward formula to figure out what option is best. Is security most important? Is allowing users to quickly access the item more important? Is capturing lead information critical? These are questions you can ask yourself when deciding on your options. As always, tracking your user behavior and A/B testing is your friend. Monitor your users and conduct tests to answer the following questions – Are users bailing during sign up? Are users using the app once to access the item shared but never come back? Is marketing/sales having trouble reaching out to the new user to convert them into a paying customer?

Happy Sharing!


Why I Invest in Facebook

Posted: July 19th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

I’ve posted a lot on this blog about Facebook and when it comes to their business, I’m fanboy. Other than Apple, Facebook is the second highest (tied with Google) on my investing rubric.

Investment Rubric

Stock My Love Leadership PE Cash Potential Macro view Total
FB 8 10 4 8 8 9 31.3
AAPL 10 9 10 10 7 8 36.1
AMZN 7 9 1 3 8 10 26.4
TWTR 7 9 1 5 9 9 27.2
GOOG 8 8 8 8 7 8 31.3
BRK.B 5 10 8 8 5 7 28
CMG 10 8 5 3 7 7 29.2
UA 8 9 4 2 7 7 27
SIRI 7 6 6 2 5 5 22.6
TEAM 8 9 1 8 8 9 28.4

Cash

Annual Cash

Facebook has nearly $5 billion in cash along with $21 billion of overall assets, a growing position year over year. Facebook has enough cash in the bank to weather a bad year or two and enough cash, along with an attractive stock to own, to make acquisitions such as Instagram and WhatsApp.

PE

As of this writing, Facebook’s PE is 74.33. I give FB a low score of 4 for this high PE. That being said, considering FB’s growth last year (23% earnings growth, 43% revenue growth) they’re growing into that valuation reasonably quickly (although the price has appreciated nearly a quickly as the growth).

Potential

Facebook’s user base and the information about their users puts it into a fascinatingly strong position. There are many categories Facebook could dominate if they chose to, such as events.

The upside within the Big Blue App is enormous but the potential with their other products is an attractive icing to the cake. Instagram, WhatsApp and Oculus are growing and still a ways away from achieving their true potential. We may think of Facebook not as a Social Network, but as a Virtual Reality company someday.

Macro View

More internet users are coming on board every day. 46% of the current population is on the internet, plenty of room to grow. Internet users grow 7.5% yearly.

Online advertising, where Facebook makes its money, continues to grow as well. Online advertising accounted for 28% of all advertising and is growing 13% per year.

Leadership

Mark Zuckerberg has the ability to see a clear vision of the future and execute to get there. It appears Mark still owns voting control. Mark has shown the ability over and over again to delay gratification and think in the long term. As a buy and hold investor, this gives me great confidence that our interests are aligned.

My Love

I use Facebook every day. It’s typically the first app I open when I wake up in the morning. I use WhatsApp to communicate with my cousins around the world and I use Instagram nearly daily. I’m a fan of their products.

My Concerns

Time spent on Facebook per day (~40 minutes / day) is high. Will people fatigue? Will Snapchat, Twitter and yet-to-be-named startups chip away at this time spent? Will another Social Network overtake Facebook someday?

They’re betting a lot of money on messaging – Messenger and WhatsApp. Can they win this war? Can they monetize communication like AT&T and others have in the past?

When I’ll Sell

I’d sell if Zuckerberg left but I thought I’d sell Apple when Steve Jobs died but I haven’t. Zuckerberg leaving would make me think long and hard about their prospects.

I’d sell if they started to stretch themselves too thin. Although I invest in companies who do a lot (Google, Apple, Amazon) I love Facebook’s relatively focused product line.


My Investing Rubric

Posted: May 19th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Dilbert-Future-Returns

WARNING – Shitty investment advice ahead. Proceed at your own risk!

It’s 2016 and all of the practical advice on investing is to sit back and invest in index funds, ETFs like $SPY. Maybe you’re even more savvy/lazy and use a service like Betterment. Yet here I am, still unable to resist the allure of picking a stock.

Maybe it’s the ego, maybe it’s the rush you get when a stock you pick doubles, maybe it’s more extrinsic — the exercise of evaluating these companies will (hopefully) make me a better Product Manager and a better entrepreneur someday. Either way, it’s a hobby of mine and it’s something I enjoy whether I make money or not (but def trying to make that $$$$). Don’t do what I do, stick to the ETFs. But…here is how I go about evaluating a stock.

As Product Managers tend to do I’ve developed a rubric. The criteria of the rubric are heavily influenced by the greats – Warren Buffett, Charlie Munger, Ben Graham and Peter Lynch.

Criteria

I invest on 10 year time frames. I’m not concerned about how well the stock will do tomorrow, or next year, but where will it be 10 years from now. Keeping that in mind, I break down each stock from six different perspectives.

How much Cash does the company have in the bank? If they hit a rough patch do they have the cash to get through it? Do they have cash for R&D, for acquisitions?

What’s the Macro View of the company? What trends in the world will affect this company both positively and negatively?

What’s the company’s Potential? They’re making money doing X but what other opportunities do they have to make money in other ways?

What’s the current Price/Earnings ratio? Is the stock, based on its price, already expected to grow like a weed? Is the price cheap compared to earnings and therefore the growth expectations modest?

How’s Leadership? Particularly the CEO. Have they shown the ability to delay gratification? Are they committed to building a long lasting company? Visionary?

My Love. The most important criteria of them all with my investing. How much do I love the product? And not just any product by the company, but the product that is making the lion share of their revenue and profit. This is where I hope to leverage any information asymmetry I may have. Picking individual stocks that will beat the S&P 500 is tough and a big reason for that is because Wall Street is very good at understanding many of the other criteria I listed above. My taste has to be the differentiator.

The Equation

My Love + (Leadership .8) +( PE.7) + (Cash .3) + (Potential *.7) + (Macro View .5)

My love for the product is the most important to me and therefore I give it the most weight within the rubric.

The Individual Stocks I Own and Their Rubric Score

Stock My Love Leadership PE Cash Potential Macro view Total
FB 8 10 4 8 8 9 31.3
AAPL 10 9 10 10 7 8 36.1
AMZN 7 9 1 3 8 10 26.4
TWTR 7 9 1 5 9 9 27.2
GOOG 8 8 8 8 7 8 31.3
BRK.B 5 10 8 8 5 7 28
CMG 10 8 5 3 7 7 29.2
UA 8 9 4 2 7 7 27
SIRI 7 6 6 2 5 5 22.6
TEAM 8 9 1 8 8 9 28.4

Each criteria is on a 1-10 scale. A perfect score, after the weights, would be a 40. A score of 25 and above is what I consider to invest in.

With $SIRI, the outlier, I only invested $500 and I did it because it was unbelievably cheap at the time and I’m a big Howard Stern fan. It’s my biggest percentage gain investment to date but I consider it to be a lucky investment.

In the next couple of weeks I’m going write a breakdown of how I came to the numbers in the rubric for $FB, $AAPL, $TWTR and $TEAM.