Andrew Chen

Why are we so bad at predicting startup success? | @andrewchen

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Startups and bad predictions. One of my favorite reads this year was Nate Silver’s The Signal and the Noise which has the subtitle Why so many predictions

StartUP Product‘s insight:

Great read and videos:

Key takeaway in the last paragraph:

“Over my 5 years in Silicon Valley, the biggest lesson I’ve learned from trying to predict startups is calibration… careful with what you think you know versus what you don’t”

Worth noting:

  • Nate Silver’s The Signal and the Noise which has the subtitle “Why so many predictions fail, but some don’t.” It covers a ton of different topics, from weather to politics to gambling, and I couldn’t help but read it with a startup/tech point of view.
  • 10-15 startups a year generate 97% of the returns in tech, and each one seems like a crazy exception.
  • Ben Horowitz elaborates on the sobering stats, starting at the 38:00 minute mark:
  • To be a fox means to draw from a much broader set of data, to look at the problem from multiple perspectives, and to reach a conclusion that combines all of those datapoints.

Aligned with Andrew Chen’s insight, today, on the Global Product Management Talk with Chris Pacione of Luma Institute, we discussed the issue of remaining humble in order to enable innovation – (from the tweets):

“With closeness & domain knowledge comes false understanding – unfresh view, too comfortable, Want multi-disciplinary teams attacking problems – not just domain experts – other perspectives, bckgrounds have insights”

Listen to the full discussion:

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Social products win with utility, not invites

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About the author: Sangeet Paul Choudary analyzes business models for networked businesses at his blog Platform Thinking. He is based in Singapore,


Global Product Management Talk‘s insight:

*   “a new breed of networks is gaining ground with the content-first model. They provide users with tools to create a corpus of content, and then enable conversations around that content.”

—>This was my original premise for starting a Twitter Chat:

“Communities coalesce around knowledge.”

*   “Startups often fail to appreciate the gap between technology and value proposition.”

—>This article is product/technology/feature focused and fails to appreciate the perspective from the “user” experience and the job the user wants to get done – which is to have the content be relevant, in the moment, and provide value with the most ease, without requiring new habits or retooling.

* Social products that win will focus on enabling users to create content first and generate conversations around it.

—>Tools that enable conversations around content – and make it easier to contribute value without being hampered by the tool…Why I love, and my newest find – (with love to Google Wave afficianados)

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