Friday, June 06, 2014

Namo Media Acquired by Twitter!

I'm excited to announce that our startup, Namo Media, has been acquired by Twitter!

We will be joining the MoPub team at Twitter, where we will be working on making native mobile advertising easier and more profitable for developers.

It's been quite the ride, and I hope I'll have some time soon to write about how this came about and where I think the mobile ads space will be heading.

Read more here on the Namo Media blog and the Twitter blog.

Press coverage:  Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, Reuters, USA Today, Fast Company, AdExchanger, TechCrunch and more.

Monday, March 18, 2013

My New Startup: Namo Media

You may have been wondering what I've been up to since we sold DrawChat late last year.

The answer may not surprise you: I've been working on a new startup, Namo Media. I've teamed up with some fellow ex-Googlers, Nassar Stoertz and Tural Badirkhanli to work on a new solution for mobile advertising that's less disruptive and more elegant than those pesky banner ads you see today.

Today we're announcing our seed round, $1.875M in total from Google Ventures, Betaworks, Andreessen Horowitz, Trinity Ventures, along with some amazing angels: Kevin Scott, Seth Berman, Chung-Man Tam, Keith Coleman, Garrick Toubassi, Tikhon Bernstam, Michael Levit, Benjamin Ling, and Paul Buchheit.

You can learn more on the Namo Media homepage.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Every Step Costs You 20% of Users

In a consumer mobile app, every step you make a user perform before they get value out of your app will cost you 20% of users.

Here's typical consumer app funnel. It applies to apps that do messaging (like GroupMe or DrawChat), but also posting content (like any app that ends with "-gram" a la Instagram and Cinemagram):

Your exact numbers might vary. With DrawChat, we found that 90% of people that land on the App Store page will install the app. The next step is to actually open the app, but only 90% of of the people who download your app will actually open it - I'm guessing that people are stockpiling apps for the impending apocalypse.

Sign-up is a much bigger hurdle than the previous steps: DrawChat's signup verifies your number via SMS which will get you completion rates around 70%. A startup I've talked to has seen completion rates as low as 50% with forced Facebook logins, while another one allows signing up with different methods (username/password, Facebook, LinkedIn) claims completion rates of 90%. Exact specifics may vary depending on what permissions you ask for.

Depending on the length of your funnel, you end up with 20-30% of the original users actually contributing to your ecosystem by creating and sharing new content.

What to do? There's not really much you can do until users get to the point where they've opened your app. But once a user has signed up, make sure you take them by the hand along the funnel. Make signup simple and unobtrusive. Make content creation easy. Come up with the simplest possible sharing experience. Because of the shape of the graph, you need to get each user to share with 3-5 friends for your viral coefficient to go above 1.


Updates / Reactions

1. mikebo asked on the Hacker News entry for this post how I know the number of App Store page views - it's not something that Apple provides. Excellent question. The answer is a bit involved.

People that don't have DrawChat yet get invited with an SMS that contains a link to a page on our server. That page redirects you to the App Store. So we know how many people see our App Store listing. On the other side, Apple provides you daily download numbers, which you then compare to the "first app open" counts on Flurry, Localytics, or your analytics provider of choice. We can also differentiate people who came to DrawChat organically vs. through invites by seeing if they had an invite waiting after sign up.

2. Shenglong asked on Hacker News if it's not better to start users in an "Explore" type experience instead of asking them to sign up immediately. This can be beneficial, but on the other hand, having an sign-in-less "Explore" type experience may actually hurt your signup conversions. Users get a feel for the app, decide that they'll sign up later, close the app, and never come again. I might be hallucinating but I think Instagram used to have an "Explore" screen with interesting pics pre-signup, and in the latest versions they got rid of that. Does anyone have data on this?

3. udit99 suggests that the 90% download-to-open ratio is not due to people stockpiling apps, but rather "attention-span-slippage caused by slow app downloads." I believe it.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Timeline: Employee Headcount for Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft

It's good to keep an eye on headcount when comparing companies. The number of employees you have pretty much defines what you can do: How many products can you develop and maintain, and how many shrink-wrapped software boxes or click-through banners can you sell?

I went out and collected some statistics for the three major Internet players: Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft.

All of these companies have been in exponential growth mode since the year they started. It's surprising to me that Microsoft is more than 6 times bigger than Yahoo and 11 as big as than Google, at least in terms of employees.

Also, Microsoft has been around for ages and consumes much of the timeline. Here's a graph for just Google and Yahoo:

Google is growing much faster than Yahoo these days. Over the last two years, Google's average employee growth rate has been 100%, while Yahoo's was at 34%, and Microsoft's was at 10%. If the current growth rates continued,
  • Google would surpass Yahoo's headcount in 2007, and
  • Google would be bigger than Microsoft in 2010.
This seems a little too optimistic to be true: It will likely become harder and harder for Google to double its headcount every year. Microsoft grew 80% on average in the 1980s (49% percent if you don't consider 1981, when the company more than tripled in size). For the 1990s, its average yearly headcount growth dropped to 24%.

An easy way to grow fast is to acquire companies. All three players have bought plenty of smaller businesses along the way. For example, Yahoo grew by 1000+ employees when it acquired Overture in 2003, thereby increasing its headcount by more than one-third.

Lastly, let's have a look at how Wall Street values the employees of each company. With market caps as of 02/16/2005,
  • each Microsoft employee is worth $4.3 million,
  • each Yahoo employee is valued at $4.7 million,
  • and each Google employee is valued at $19 million.

Sources: Some of this data was hard to come by and I had to use different sources for the data points. You can find all references and underlying data in this Google Sheet.