It’s quite astonishing to think about just how much human knowledge exists, and just how diffuse its distribution is. It’s hard for any individual to tell. There are clues though. Knowledge is a major way that people create distinctions among one another, so it stands to reason that you can get a sense for how knowledge is distributed by looking at the distinctions people make amongst themselves. The knowledge of French and the knowledge of English creates a distinction between two rather large groups. The knowledge and application of ancient stories is another. The knowledge of how to shape a piece of wood, or stone, or glass used to be a pretty huge distinction. There are entire identities put in[…]

This is post is the fifth in a five part series on Capital, and You. Previously, I defined capital as potential power, and argued that the primary optimization objective of the venture capitalist is to acquire more capital. Further, the board is the embodiment of the Corporation, it is made up of people who represent the Venture Capitalist, the Founder(s), other shareholders, and by proxy, Capital, and it is obligated to behave in a manner that increases capital accumulation. If the Board and the Founder are aligned in the pursuit of increasing capital, great capital may be accumulated. If they are not, doom. This fifth and final post expands on the relationship between Capital and the Citizen. Should citizens of[…]

This is post is the fourth in a five part series on Capital, and You. Previously, I defined capital as potential power, and argued that the primary optimization objective of the venture capitalist is to acquire more capital. Further, the board is the embodiment of the Corporation, it is made up of people who represent the Venture Capitalist, the Founder(s), other shareholders, and by proxy, Capital, and it is obligated to behave in a manner that increases capital accumulation. This fourth post expands on the relationship between the Board and the Founder. Noam Wasserman, in his book, The Founder’s Dilemmas, makes the case that a Founder has one of two optimization objectives: to be a king or to be rich.[…]

This is post is the third in a five part series on Capital, and You. Previously, I defined capital as potential power, and argued that the primary optimization objective of the venture capitalist is to acquire more capital. This third post explains the relationship between the Board and the Venture Capitalist. The Board is the embodiment of the corporation. Put a bit more strongly, the board is the corporation. It’s the Board that discharges the power of capital. It exercises oversight. It is the body that all the employees are accountable to. It can fire anybody it wants –  including the CEO. It can hire anybody it wants, including the CEO. They approve or disallow compensation plans. They approve or[…]

This is post is the second in a five part series on Capital, and You. Previously, I defined capital as potential power. This second post attempts to explains the relationship between Capital and the Venture Capitalist. Capital and The Venture Capitalist The Venture Capitalist has one primary optimization objective and a handful of secondary, often self-imposed, constraints. The primary optimization objective of the Venture Capitalist to accumulate more capital. They may self-impose a constraint, like only accumulating capital in the financial services sector, or only by working with women entrepreneurs or by some other criteria. But their primary objective is accumulate more capital. Venture Capitalists engage in a set of activities in the quest to accumulate more capital. If a[…]

This is post is the first in a five part series on Capital, and You.It’s written for people who turn data into product and who may have some questions about why they’re seeing what they’re seeing and why they’re feeling what they’re feeling at a startup. The first post explains what is Capital. The second post attempts to explains the relationship between Capital and the Venture Capitalist. The third post explains the relationship between the Board and the Venture Capitalist. The fourth post expands the relationship between the Board and the Founder. And fifth post expands on the relationship between Capital and the Citizen. Capital And You: What Is Capital Capital is potential power. In order for capital to make[…]

You build three machines when you build a startup. Your ability to build these three machines is the Great Filter to your life in the business universe. This post is an effort to describe why some startups fail, why some are small, and why others grow big. The Great Filter The Great Filter refers to a concept that Robin Hanson came up with to explain why we don’t see any evidence of intelligent life in the Universe. One can get a better sense of different scenarios when one considers how many things need to be true for intelligence to emerge, and assigns probability to them. If it’s the case that the coincidences required for life to occur are exceptionally rare, then[…]

I was 28 and sleepless when I encountered a marketing version of the logistic function. It was beautiful. It’s one of those things you’re taught about in one context, and when you’re shown it from another angle, it expands your mind. It was like discovering Pi for the first time. I could use it to check the assumptions of a market penetration forecast, and substitute my own estimates for others. I felt empowered and delirious from being able to produce a solid forecast. It became a tool as useful as btau or the crosstab. There’s a part of that math, a variable called saturation, that worried me from the outset. Saturation is the maximum percentage of adoption that a market[…]

Jon Evans wrote a piece for Techcrunch entitled: After the end of the startup era. In it, Evans writes: We live in a new world now, and it favors the big, not the small. The pendulum has already begun to swing back. Big businesses and executives, rather than startups and entrepreneurs, will own the next decade; today’s graduates are much more likely to work for Mark Zuckerberg than follow in his footsteps. And, Because we’ve all lived through back-to-back massive worldwide hardware revolutions — the growth of the Internet, and the adoption of smartphones — we erroneously assume another one is around the corner, and once again, a few kids in a garage can write a little software to take[…]

What if Total Addressable Market can’t be estimated accurately? What then? What is Total Addressable Market (TAM)? Total Addressable Market, or TAM, is the number of buyers who are Willing To Pay (WTP) for a solution to a problem they have now, or are Willing To Pay (WTP) your firm instead of the firm they’re currently paying to solve a problem. Why is TAM important? TAM determines the life and death of a firm. The leading cause of startup failure, and perhaps all business failure in general, is the failure to penetrate and/or retain TAM (Including bureaucratic capture and rent-seeking). In this context, I’m concerned about the introduction of a new product into the market in an effort to generate both[…]