in Weekly Review

Weekly Review #69: Launch Festival, 5 elements of great products, and Chinese growth hacks

I attended Jason Calancanis’ LAUNCH festival this week and met a lot of interesting companies. You can click through to their websites through the Launch link, but some that spring to mind are Unoceros (get paid for the data you don’t use), Quotadeck (gamifies professional networking), YouDare, (makes your bucket list social), Huckle (public location based chat rooms), and Fiskkit (fact checks the news).

The speakers were more prestigious than interesting IMHO, but I enjoyed Linkedin CEO Jeff Weiner‘s take on the 5 necessary components of a good product. He also noted that Linkedin’s current mission is essentially ‘appifying the site’ in order to make it more mobile-friendly, because he notices that our phones are quickly becoming the control panel for life.

  • It does one thing really well, instead of many things kind of well. (ex Headspace with meditation)
  • It’s simple, intuitive, and anticipates customer’s needs (ex Waze with knowing where you’re trying to go)
  • It exceeds your expectations. (ex stellar customer experience that you remember for years) If you exceed expectations, then customers will forgive you more easily when you fail to meet some expectations due to mistakes or accidents. (Just like they forgive friends!)
  • It resonates emotionally. (ex Tesla is known as ‘driving the future’, even though they never marketed that, that’s just what it feels like)
  • It changes your life for the better. (Think about the world before Lyft and Uber. Prehistoric!)

The only other talk that stands out other than Gil Penchina‘s dynamite answer to why he’s an angel rather than a VC “I prefer young people breaking things to old people preventing things” was Tucker Max‘s, who talked about entering tech as a famous person.

  • He tries to write about things he knows uniquely that are valuable, which isn’t tech stuff because other people know that stuff better than he does – ‘Why write a crappy version of what Paul Graham already covered?’
  • Nobody finishes bestsellers – as statistics show, being a bestselling author doesn’t mean everyone reads your books. Tucker’s books were unique in that people finished them, because they are episodal entertainment rather than narratives or nonfiction
  • There’s a difference between being a writer, and saying things people care about. He shoots for the latter.

Back online, the story of how Russian billionaire Yuri Milner entered Silicon Valley is a great read, as is this Techcrunch article worried that tech mainstream is embracing mavericks in name only, while the true dissidents are forgotten. Speaking of dissidents, here’s 8 ways the US crushed youth resistance, which explains why the 60s ended, basically. (TL;DR – college debt and the internet)

The story of how an offhand tweet ruined Justine Secco’s life is a scary anecdote about net bullying, and Gary Vaynerchuk reaffirms the obvious – in networking, you eventually want something from them. So start by giving as much as possible.

Lastly, the story of how Wechat and Alipay piggybacked a Chinese tradition to gain millions of users is one of the cleverest growth hacks I’ve ever seen. On Chinese New Year you give loved ones red letters filled with money. These services let you do the same with virtual red letters filled with real digital money – but the people who ‘open’ the message first get more than those who open it later. So it’s essentially a huge racket to get users more hooked on the app and using it more often, all on their dime. That’s an evil genius move if I ever saw one.