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Josh Elman joined Greylock Partners in 2011 and invests in entrepreneurs building new consumer products and services. He specializes in designing, building, and scaling consumer products, having been part of multiple companies that have grown to more than 100 million users.

Before joining Greylock, Josh spent 15 years in product and engineering roles at leading companies in social, commerce, and media. Josh was the product lead for growth and relevance at Twitter, growing Twitter’s active user base by nearly 10x. Prior to Twitter, Josh worked on the platform at Facebook and led the launch of Facebook Connect. Josh was an early employee at LinkedIn and helped establish early models for user growth and launched v1 of LinkedIn Jobs. Josh also held roles leading product management for Zazzle, and product and engineering for RealJukebox and RealPlayer at RealNetworks.

Josh currently serves on the boards of Medium, Meerkat, Operator, and Super. Josh also works closely with Greylock's investments in Nextdoor and Whosay. Josh led Greylock’s investment in SmartThings, which was acquired by Samsung in 2014.

Josh holds a BS in Symbolic Systems with a focus on Human-Computer Interaction from Stanford University.

You can follow him on Twitter: @joshlelman

He will be live on Dec 10 from 930 AM PT for one and a half hours during which he will answer as many questions as possible.

  • DD

    Deandre Durr

    almost 4 years ago #

    Josh...

    Your resume is so impressive I don't even know what questions to ask you.

    So if you don't mind, I am not going to ask the typical growth tactics. I am more interested in how your brain thinks.

    Let's say you are on your death bed, and you cannot pass down money or assets to your children.
    Instead you can only give them two frameworks to grow both their professional and personal lives.

    What are the two frameworks?

    • JE

      Josh Elman

      almost 4 years ago #

      I like this question - thank you for asking it!

      The advice I try to live by and that I often give others is:

      (1) be good to the people around you. They will be around you a long time and you want to hope they will be good to you too. (And get rid of the ones who aren't).

      (2) It wouldn't be work if someone wasn't paying you to do it. But still you will be much happier and have more fun working on things you love. So always try to go to the products and companies you want to work on, not the ones that ask you to work for them and offer you a lot of money. My wife calls this "make calls instead of take calls"

  • MB

    Morgan Brown

    almost 4 years ago #

    Boom! This will be awesome.

  • YS

    yassin shaar

    almost 4 years ago #

    @josh elman thank you for doing and really looking forward to all your answers.

    I have 2 questions for you...

    #1 question is around building growth models...

    When you're getting started with a company how do you go about building a growth model? Do you do any testing to validate your assumptions? How do you technically map it all out and then communicate it to the whole team?

    I've been reading a lot around growth models, but I haven't found a lot of solid frameworks & step by step process to building growth models. A lot of info on the what, but very little on the how.

    #2 question is around running tests with small sample size...

    When you're working on activation & retention and you have very small sample size, experiments usually take a looong time to reach statistical significance. Therefore, there's usually a tradeoff between running one test at a time to learn about what actually moves the needle and running multiple tests at time (without being too concerned about learning) in hopes you'll accelerate growth.

    How do you navigate such situations? Would you rather run one test at a time & capture the learning (even though it may take 5+ weeks to reach stat significance)? or run multiple tests at a time to accelerate growth?

    Thank you and looking forward to your responses :)

    • JE

      Josh Elman

      almost 4 years ago #

      Hi Yassin! Building a growth model is tricky to do at the beginning since you have to start with a theory of how it can work.

      What I like to think about is:
      (a) Purpose: what is the core purpose of the product
      (b) Users: who will care about that core purpose
      (c) Inception: how can I get people to hear about this product for this purpose
      (d) Adoption: what does someone need to do to get the product to fulfill this purpose for them (sometimes find friends, download an app, sometimes add bank account, etc)
      (e) Habit: what cycle should the person start using the product and how can we get them to adopt the habit

      Your growth framework is basically a funnel from "never heard of the product" --> "habit" and whatever steps you want to outline along the way. The other piece I like to think about is the "hook" and what is the reason that someone will go from inception to adoption, and whether that is the same as the core purpose.

      6 Share
      • JE

        Josh Elman

        almost 4 years ago #

        re tests with a small sample size:

        There is no great answer here. When you run lots of tests at the same time, you can't necessarily isolate each one's results. That said, if you have a great combination that can be useful if it is better. If you are really small that it is taking 5 weeks to get statistically significant results, I would mostly use anecdotes and talk to a lot of users to see if you sense instinctively that things are getting better. One thing you can learn here is whether your users use the same words to describe the product experience that you do (without your prompting). if so, then you know your tests are getting at least some users more addicted to the product. In the early stages of anything before you have data, you have to go on hunches and gut informed by data and anecdotes anyway.

        4 Share
  • RG

    Rahul Gulati

    almost 4 years ago #

    Hey Josh!

    Thanks for doing the AMA. Your presentation titled 'Let’s talk about Product Management' has been extremely useful.

    I have a couple of questions:

    1. Feature Prioritisation: What are 3 key things you feel a Product Manager must consider while prioritising new features or feature improvements?

    2. Given lack of coherent data or for that matter no data at all, how can one push features that are based on gut / intuition / leap of faith assumptions?

    3. Do you think it makes sense to have theme-based quarterly roadmaps? For example,

    In Q1, we will focus on making sure that our customers can use our SDK without requiring any code change (besides first-time setup).

    Or in next quarter we will focus on moving the needle for one metric, say retention percentage.

    Regards,
    Rahul

    • JE

      Josh Elman

      almost 4 years ago #

      Hi Rahul - thanks for the kind words on my presentaiton.

      1) Feature prioritization -- the key thing to think about are creating a hypothesis for the impact you believe each feature will have on your users and what behaviors/metrics you expect to see grow and change. The second thing is how difficult and risky the investment is for the team (how much time, how much chance it flops or can't even be built right). You want to do the highest impact things but overall keep your costs/investments of the team's time and risk within balance.

      2) Without coherent data -- well let's just be honest. Any time you are building something new there is never perfect data. What you have to have is well grounded hypotheses for why you believe something will have an impact. Be as informed and articulate about your hypothesis as possible. Most people just say "because I think so". It's much more powerful to say "We've identified these common behaviors of users and think they keep getting stuck at points A or B. We believe these new features will help users get past that and have this experience much faster and better".

      3) I like the idea of creating a narrative per quarter of what new things you hope to achieve. I like the idea you have about always framing it as "helping our customers can do X better/faster/etc" But you should never get too precious about a narrative or a quarterly theme if it gets in the way of choosing the highest impact things.

      • RG

        Rahul Gulati

        almost 4 years ago #

        Thanks, Josh, for answering all three of my Qs. In upcoming roadmap and feature prioritisation meetings, I'll consider these pointers, esp. #3 - it could be really helpful.

    • HQ

      Hila Qu

      almost 4 years ago #

      Here is a link to John's presentation: let's talk about product management

      https://growthhackers.com/slides/let-s-talk-about-product-management

  • BP

    Brian Parks

    almost 4 years ago #

    Hey Josh - Any tips on developing a culture of growth from the bottom-up at an organization? E.g., what's your one-liner for the goal of a growth team/growth experiments that you would pitch to an exec team? Or would you just say screw and start experimenting to lead with results as your firepower? Thanks!

    • JE

      Josh Elman

      almost 4 years ago #

      Hi Brian-

      For a growth team, I'd pitch "we want to create a team that prioritizes and builds features and campaigns simply in the order that we can have the highest impact on driving growth of our active user base". But results of having done the right methodology first can help.

      I think the best way to do this is to take any project you are working on or asked to evaluate and do three things:
      (1) have a baseline understanding of the data and usage in the area you are working
      (2) create and state a clear hypothesis of what impact you may be able to have on what you are setting out to build
      (3) after you ship and get a little data from users, create a report and analysis of what you learned and where you were both right and wrong on your hypothesis.

      Being a team that approaches everything you build this way should help increase your respect with execs and you will be asked to take on larger tasks. And hopefully can shift the culture to expect everyone to build products this way.

      • BP

        Brian Parks

        almost 4 years ago #

        Thanks Josh - very helpful. We have a hybrid data/growth team I'm working to build, currently me working with other operating teams in a very data-focused manner. We're working out the kinks as we begin to formalize our product management as well. Appreciate the actionable insight.

  • HQ

    Hila Qu

    almost 4 years ago #

    Hi Josh,

    So excited to have you on the AMA.

    From you experience at Twitter, FB, Linkedin, can you talk about how do you approach around creating a growth model?

    More specifically, how do you solve the prioritization issue and decide where to focus first?

    Really interested in your way of thinking, methodology, but any insight (strategy/tactics/process) is appreciated.

    • JE

      Josh Elman

      almost 4 years ago #

      When you are building your growth model, you want to have a framework for:

      Identifying your target users:
      (a) who are the users you want to get into your product (b) where do they congregate and pay attention online and in the real world (c) who do they pay attention to

      Getting in front of them:
      (a) pick some channels that will get in front of them. Viral, SEO, advertising, massive word of mouth campaigns, etc.
      (b) see which bring in the right people and understand conversion by channel and by user group as best you can

      Activating your users
      (a) what do they do in the first session to get sticky
      (b) what can you do in the first week to bring them back to do more or try more
      (c) how can you improve your activation system so they get going faster and better

      That's pretty rough but hopefully directionally right.

      • JE

        Josh Elman

        almost 4 years ago #

        In terms of prioritization, you just have to pick (with gut but informed by data) where you think you can build something that will have the most impact above all other things. You can only do one thing at a time so always take the biggest shot and go for it. That said, sometimes you have to balance high beta things that may or may not work at all with things you have more confidence that will work even if potentially not as big impact. That way you keep making changes that improve growth little by little.

        Sometimes this is invest in a new channel, sometimes it's to invest in better virality, sometimes it's to improve your activation cycle. I tend to see teams switch back and forth between these when prioritizing since they fix what is *most* broken or *most potential* at any one time and once you invest in one of these areas it's better off than the others for the time being.

      • HQ

        Hila Qu

        almost 4 years ago #

        "how can you improve your activation system so they get going faster and better", this is so true.

        As a user, I definitely used apps and softwares that allow me to experience the core benefit very quickly, but that's not easy when you are creating a product/experience. Any tips/framework on that?

  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    almost 4 years ago #

    Hey Josh - psyched to have you on!

    a. On the road to 10x-ing Twitters growth, was there a particular growth experiment or learning that stands out that you could share?

    b. What was the "relevance" bit in the "product lead for growth and relevance at Twitter" descriptor all about and what was its significance/impact towards overall growth?

    Thanks!

    • JE

      Josh Elman

      almost 4 years ago #

      Hi Anuj-

      Probably the biggest changes we made to Twitter were understanding that we could help users learn they needed to follow things on Twitter to have a good experience, and to provide them interesting things to follow. Our revised onboarding focused around following, and then building a user recommendations system to suggest new accounts to follow had a big impact on driving growth.

      For "relevance", I was leading areas beyond just traditional growth including some of our trends, our tweet ranking projects, and our user relevance and user suggestions.

  • SE

    Sean Ellis

    almost 4 years ago #

    Hi Josh, thanks for doing this AMA.

    Which of your growth roles was most difficult? Why do you think it was difficult and what did you do to overcome the challenges?

    • JE

      Josh Elman

      almost 4 years ago #

      The fun part of the various jobs I've had is they were all really different. So difficult to compare. The two I did that were most growth focused were at LinkedIn when we were very small and trying to get the network to grow more virally. I learned a ton about iterative testing on invitations and activation->invitation loops. It was difficult because Friendster was growing much faster, and we had to convince professionals to make a profile which at the time was like an online resume. No one wanted to put a resume online since they weren't looking for jobs. So lots to overcome.

      Twitter was a very different challenge. We had a ton of people signing up for Twitter every day and then immediately bailing and not having any understanding of what it is for. Digging in to find the learnings on what people liked about twitter and what interests they had that we could match to Twitter was very different. Everyone had a perception of Twitter and that it wasn't for them, so It is one of the first companies that has had to change people's perception of the product at scale. I'm proud it got a lot bigger during my time there, but it's still a challenge the company faces today.

      5 Share
  • AG

    Ashley Greene

    almost 4 years ago #

    Hey Josh! Thanks for doing this. What's been your favourite method and/or stack for collecting qualitative feedback around core product value / use case? What are the top couple of questions (generally speaking!) that you've found to be the most insightful / helpful?

    • JE

      Josh Elman

      almost 4 years ago #

      Hi Ashley - I wrote a post on this: https://medium.com/@joshelman/four-questions-to-understanding-adoption-8fc499910e8a#.ayfva6f52

      I think calling users directly is a great way to do it. NPS scores and surveys help too, but really getting 10-20 conversations going with a diverse set of users will always teach you so much.

  • AL

    Arsene Lavaux

    almost 4 years ago #

    Hi Josh- Looking forward to your AMA tomorrow. Thanks for doing it!

    Here are a few questions for you:

    1) On a B2C social app, as many of the ones you have worked on, is it easier to get to product-market fit or to grow the user base 10x once you have achieved product-market fit?

    2) How do you see monetization of live streaming apps such as Meerkat and its competitors?

    3) If you had to choose only one growth lever between the art and the science of growth hacking, which one would you pick? Why?

    • JE

      Josh Elman

      almost 4 years ago #

      Hi Arsene!

      1) On a B2C social app - every 10x is hard. But it's clear that nothing is harder than finding that first set of features that gets a group or community of users addicted and becoming habitual users. It takes a lot of luck and learning just to get that going. Once you have that, it's still very hard to keep them engaged and grow to more communities. But one step at a time.

      2) Live streaming monetization -- I'm a big believer that monetization is pretty straightforward in consumer products if you get behaviors to scale. On live mobile spontaneous streaming, I think we still have a lot of work to do just to get the behaviors right and habitual. Meerkat and Periscope are excellent products but there isn't yet always content that is compelling to watch and engage with. If that happens, there will be plenty of ways to monetize -- live video is one of the best monetized media experiences anywhere (advertising, sponsorships, and subscriptions)

      3) if I could choose only one lever between art/science of growth hacking, I would focus on onboarding and activation. If you can figure out how to get people who are intrigued by your product to become active users at a much faster rate, then everything else you can do around growth becomes a LOT easier.

      • AL

        Arsene Lavaux

        almost 4 years ago #

        Merci Josh!

        This is great insight.

        A quick extra thought on 2). I am wondering if monetization can also happen in specific verticals based on a commerce transaction model?

  • BW

    Brand Winnie

    almost 4 years ago #

    Hey Josh thanks for doing the AMA!

    Couple of questions for you:

    1. What's the number one thing a pitching entrepreneur can do to screw up a pitch so that you don't end up investing?

    2. What was the most challenging design obstacle you faced at Twitter while working with the design team?

    • JE

      Josh Elman

      almost 4 years ago #

      Hi Brand!

      re (1) there are so many reasons that investors don't invest in a company they see ptich that it's kind of the default. So I'd flip this question - the way to have a pitch that has a chance to result in an investment is to paint a very compelling vision of the future, why in that vision there is space for a very meaningful company that will both provide a lot of value to the world and be a significant business that will be valued highly, and why your company (and you and your team) have the best opportunity to create a unique path to go *be* that company.

      • JE

        Josh Elman

        almost 4 years ago #

        re (2) the most challenging design problems we had at Twitter I got to work on were around the home page. We spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to expose the value of Twitter and the meaningful reason why someone should use Twitter to the world. We also wanted to make it very easy to sign up for Twitter and go down the path where you would learn the product by using it. We created many designs that had more content and more searching on the home page, and we ended up realizing that less information and a signup box that took people down the path of getting started on the product had the best growth impact. Even though we kept thinking we could design something more compelling than just a sign up form.

  • ES

    Edward Stephens

    almost 4 years ago #

    Hey Josh,

    Thanks very much for the AMA!

    How transferable and repeatable have the lessons been that you've learned from growth at Twitter . E.g. have there been some immutable rules about 'relevance' that have helped you whilst serving on the board of Medium?

    Second question, this is a bit more broad-stroke.......what do you think the future holds for human-computer interaction and the start-up trends we expect to see on the back of it?

    • JE

      Josh Elman

      almost 4 years ago #

      I'm glad you asked about transferable and repeatable lessons.

      The first and most important lesson is there are no tactics or rules that can be taken from platform to platform, and certainly nothing 'immutable'. Every product is different and has a unique cadence and flow you want it to provide for users. And if I talk all about Facebook virality in 2015 it's much more about sharing content in the feed vs requests which were all the range in 2009 for example.

      What lessons I have taken is more of an approach -- (a) how do you dig in and ask questions about what users want to do / are doing with your product. (b) what creative ideas can you brainstorm about how to do that better and faster (c) what other platforms and tactics are fresh today that you can leverage to accelerate your growth.

      More broadly - we're now in a world where *everyone* is connected to the internet pretty much all the time. How can we use this to help each other in better ways? What experiences get built that leverage this?

      And of course a lot will change as we move into worlds like AR, and VR which are wholly different than a small glowing glass screen in front of us. It's gonna be fun, but I hope we don't turn into the matrix.

  • BS

    Bala S.

    almost 4 years ago #

    Hi Josh, Thx for the AMA.

    Q. How did you see growth levers evolve post IPO?

    • JE

      Josh Elman

      almost 4 years ago #

      I didn't work at FB or Twitter post IPO so I can't comment from inside experience. But I would say that the hardest part about being a public company is to set expectations with investors and analysts and then live up to those expectations and exceed them. This means you want some ability to forecast growth and retention numbers, and figure out how what you will be launching can increase that. Not having a deep understanding of your growth model nor ability to accurately forecast can be a bigger challenge when you are reporting quarterly to wall street than when you are a private company. Regardless, it's good to have that understanding and get better at predicting how much you will grow and then challenging yourself to build things that will exceed your expectations.

  • SP

    Sergej Pelda

    almost 4 years ago #

    Hi Josh, having worked at several major platforms who deal with automated bots and click farms do you think enough is being done to stem the influence these have on overall numbers and advertising revenue?

    Or is it a grey area these majors would rather not highlight due to it being similar to the war on drugs?

    • JE

      Josh Elman

      almost 4 years ago #

      Hi Sergej-

      I think there is always some noise at the bottom of bots / click farms. Fraud and crime are unfortunately can be a problem in the world regardless of the business - online or not. I think the companies do their best to prevent and eradicate it, but it is kind of a cat and mouse game. I believe they don't have much impact on numbers or revenue to make a meaningful difference.

  • JC

    João Costa

    almost 4 years ago #

    hi, Josh. it's important to have traction? If you are in an early stage with an mvp, and only thing you have is a strong idea, a team that can deliver and a well identified problem/solution, is that something that VC can have interest?

    • JE

      Josh Elman

      almost 4 years ago #

      Hi Joao!

      so if you are building a product and want to see it grow to a great business, you will want to find a path towards traction. There are great early stage investors that like companies at the pre launch / mvp stage as well as excellent accelerator programs that help you get through that. Most VCs who want to lead series A and B rounds (like me at Greylock) like to see the product growing in the hands of users, or a very clear plan to get there.

  • SP

    Stephen Palmer

    almost 4 years ago #

    Hi Josh, big fan of yours!

    Are you concerned about the lack of diversity in technology, and if so, what are you doing to make it more diverse?

  • AR

    Assael Ramirez

    almost 4 years ago #

    @Joshelman So excited to have you on, thank you for taking time to do an AMA.

    A few questions for you with some context around our project...

    Our Business:
    we offer revolving Lines of Credit/Working Capital to Small to Medium Sized Businesses.

    Customer Acquisition Project
    Project Purpose: New Vertical Targeting

    Old Approach:
    -reaching out to CFO’s, CEO’s and other financial decisions makers inside these SMB’s through Outbound channels.

    New Approach (our test):
    -taking the NAICS codes of our current portfolio(current clients) & determining what SIC codes we have WON/CLOSED clients in.
    -Then, taking those SIC codes and targeting new clients is those verticals through LinkedIn advertisements & Landing Pages.

    Questions for you!....

    #1. Do we test multiple inbound channels across our SICs (rather than just LinkedIn)?
    #2. How do get comfortable with our test in terms of significance?
    #3. Should we just pick a # acquired / % converted, that feels significant to us given that we don’t have the resources to drive large amount volume of traffic?

    Constraints
    -our sample size and budget are tiny!

    Thank you and looking forward to your thoughts! Cheers!

  • AS

    Arush Sehgal

    almost 4 years ago #

    Having used Operator for many things now, even if they fix all the UX problems, how are they going to scale human knowledge, which is arguably the most valuable part of the service, and even then, do you think a large market will pay for this otherwise freely available knowledge?

    • JE

      Josh Elman

      almost 4 years ago #

      I'm glad you have tried it! What do you think they can do better in the user experience?

      If people love this experience and love shopping and spending $$ this way, there will be a lot of ways to scale this on both the user and the business/revenue side that don't require the company hiring a huge force.

      • AS

        Arush Sehgal

        almost 4 years ago #

        Fair enough, I can see that.
        Things they can fix -

        Pre-order UX - a single blurry image is never enough for me to make a purchase. I had to google the stuff myself because when i asked for more images, it either took too long, or they said there were none. Similarly, if I like one of the suggestions i want to see all the colors and similar options. Again, asking the rep took way too long, and since they had given me the brand name and image, it was much easier to google it myself. I ended up making a lot of purchases myself because of this even though the rep found it for me. I needed Operator because i didn't know my search terms, but once the rep gave me them, not only did I not need Operator, it was actually more of a hassle to go through a 3rd party than simply search Google myself. I had the same problem with Fetch.

        Post-order UX - obviously order status, shipping status etc should be more like an ecommerce store instead of having to ask someone what the shipping status is. Tapping on an order should take me to the product, not to an arbitrary spot in the chat history, especially if discussions about that particular product are sprinkled randomly throughout history. i was incorrectly charged due to an error, now i have to wait and return the item myself, and then wait for Operator to be refunded before i can be refunded, and i have to keep chasing them about it.

        I consider the post-order-ux issues basic because they are all solvable with enough engineering effort, but I'm not sure how they're gonna solve the fact that it's easier to google and shop myself (on web and mobile) than go through a rep to make purchases.

  • JK

    Jonathan Kim

    almost 4 years ago #

    If you could tell a Series A+ company to focus on one area of growth (onboarding, retention, acquisition, virality, etc.), what would it be?

    • JE

      Josh Elman

      almost 4 years ago #

      I would tell them to find ways to get an entire community or group of people to become primary users of their product (eg they use this product more than any others for a given task/behavior). Once you have that, I'd love to see a team that understands how to get more communities/groups to that same state. It can be any combination of the things you list as the right mix to do this. And it always starts with a great product.

  • RK

    Richard Kuwahara

    almost 4 years ago #

    Hi Josh, thanks for taking time out for the AMA.

    For a B2B SaaS, do you have an approximate revenue per account that makes it worthwhile to scale an inside sales team? Is there a general rule of thumb, or is it more dependent on CAC, margins, etc.

    Right now, we have high margins, but low ARPU (for a B2B), with no automation for onboarding. But going for scale, I think we have to either get self-service going, or see how much we can increase ARPU and still stay competitive in the marketplace.

    • JE

      Josh Elman

      almost 4 years ago #

      Hi Richard! I focus mostly on direct b2c consumer products so I don't have a ton of experience on B2B. But on Growth Hackers, folks like @seanellis and @hnshah are go to experts for a question like this.

  • JM

    Jason Meresman

    almost 4 years ago #

    Hi Josh - thanks for today's AMA.

    How many KPIs did you and your team typically include on your Dashboard to evaluate how you were doing? Was it a single metric or was it several?

    • JE

      Josh Elman

      almost 4 years ago #

      Hi Jason!

      in general we had 3-4 different metrics we tracked closely. But there is always a primary -- in our case at Twitter we defined it as "core users" -- those users we believed were committed to our product and used it multiple times per week and every week. I also like it when metrics create a little bit of tension - like "revenue vs user growth". If you just optimized for revenue, you may hurt and eventually kill growth and ultimately revenue over time. But it still has to be a priority.

  • DB

    Dan Ban

    almost 4 years ago #

    Hello Josh ,

    I know your in the tech business but do you know anybody or anything that would invest
    seed capital in childrens rock'n'roll , music , dance and animation TV series?
    I have a large following on youtube with my music Bubblerock music videos but want
    to take this broadcast TV.

    Rock On ,
    Dan

  • MB

    Morgan Brown

    almost 4 years ago #

    Hey Josh,

    I wanted to get your take on mobile growth and monetization. I've seen you comment online a bit on both how Dubsmash grows and also on how Snapchat has decided to monetize, and I think those are two companies that are both really thinking about the mobile space in a much different way that most people.

    How do you think about growth for mobile and more specifically, what do you think most people miss when thinking about it?

    How do you think it's evolving?

    • JE

      Josh Elman

      almost 4 years ago #

      Mobile growth is getting harder - everyone has had phones for a few years now and the home screens are getting crowded. So to break out now I'm seeing many people target teens getting their first phones or who get less locked into a suite of apps. I'm also seeing people target core utilities that can become a habit like uber or instacart rather than social communication apps. Those often take more PR or direct marketing though to get to some scale.

      Re monetization - most people still miss the fact that in a few years we are going to be spending hours more watching small screens than big screens or paper or even desktop computers. So everything that used to work to monetize there is going to shift. The power of video and especially full screen vertical video like Snapchat is that it is interesting and immersive on our phones so ads work really well to at least make an impression there. Banners and fringe ads that were distracting on a web page won't work on mobile. It feels early but I'm seeing signs that the understanding is coming with the tough reality check next...

      • MB

        Morgan Brown

        almost 4 years ago #

        Awesome, thanks for sharing your insights. I agree that it's a completely different problem space and often under-appreciated.

  • AK

    Anuneet Kumar

    almost 4 years ago #

    Hey Josh! Thank you for your time here!

    Do you have any recommendation for books that talk about building/ executing early growth strategies for strartups that you particularly liked?

    • JE

      Josh Elman

      almost 4 years ago #

      I don't have a great book recommendation, but I do encourage you to go read early blog posts and articles about companies you can find on the web to learn how they talked to users when they were small. Early Twitter and Facebook blog posts for example show a very different perspective than how we think of the companies today and it's great to learn

  • MR

    Michael Robertson

    almost 4 years ago #

    What's the most clever current consumer marketing strategy you're seeing deployed?

    • JE

      Josh Elman

      almost 4 years ago #

      The experience that is working best right now is content marketing around the topic that subtly promotes the product. I've seen this around concerts, tickets, travel, and more.

  • JL

    Jose Llorens

    almost 4 years ago #

    What do you foresee being the tipping point for mobile video? Don't believe there's been a ah-ha moment yet. The next SocialCam or Viddy?

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