Monthly Archives: August 2016

Valuing Company at $25 Billion

Photo-sharing app Snapchat’s parent is working on an initial public offering that could value the company at $25 billion or more, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing several people familiar with the matter.

Snap Inc., which operates the app that lets users send videos and messages that disappear in seconds, is looking to sell shares as early as late March, the Journal reported.

An IPO valued at $25 billion would be significantly higher than Snapchat’s most recent valuation of $17.81 billion, based on a $1.81 billion financing round in May.

It would also represent the largest IPO by a technology company since Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. went public in 2014.

Snapchat had been talking to investment bankers about an IPO towards the end of this year or early in 2017, technology website The Information reported last month.

“We aren’t commenting on rumors or speculation about any financing plans,” the company said in an emailed statement on Thursday.

Reports on Snap Inc.’s IPO come at a time when shares of technology companies such as Square Inc. and Box Inc. that went public over the last two years are trading below their private market valuation.

Snapchat’s valuation has grown in the last few years as the company added advertising and sponsored contents to its messaging service.

The company has told investors to expect $1 billion in advertising revenue in 2017, according to sources familiar with the matter.

The company received $3.1 million in advertising revenue for the first 11 months of 2014, according to financial documents leaked last year.

Snapchat is expected to have 58.6 million users in the United States by the end of 2016 and that number is expected to jump 13.6 percent to 66.6 million by next year, according to research firm eMarketer.

Expand While Your House Is on Fire

Building a business or product offering is comparable to building a house. First you lay the foundation, then the rough carpentry, roofing, plumbing, electrical, HVAC, drywall, flooring and finishings, in that order. God forbid you try to install the plumbing after the drywall has gone up, otherwise you will have to rip it all down and start again, at double the cost. And, unless an architect has provided the builder with a clear blue print on what is being built, chaos will surely follow.

But, that only talks about the initial construction. Unlike a house, a good business or product offering is fluid in its design and is constantly trying to improve, to keep up with its competitors and its customers’ needs. Think of it as evolving from version 1.0 to version 2.0 over time, captured by the mantra: continue to innovate or die a slow death. But, the worst thing you can do, is try to build features of version 2.0 on top of flaws embedded in version 1.0. That is the equivalent of building a house of cards, where the whole thing can topple over with one wrong move.

And if it were on fire?

You wouldn’t continue construction of an addition to your house, if the kitchen was on fire, would you? Of course not. First you would extinguish the fire, repair your kitchen and then get back to building your addition. The same holds true for your business or your product line. But, more often than not, I see businesses keep plowing money into new features and functionalities of their product offering, without paying any attention to whether or not the core product is stable and meeting the needs of its stakeholders. Below are a couple case studies I have seen with my clients that help better illustrate this.

Case study #1: Version 1.0 keeps breaking.

Nothing will upset a customer or an employee more than a product that doesn’t work as advertised. Especially, if you don’t own up to your mistakes and have a clear plan on how you are going to get it fixed, and fast! If you are promising to solve pain points for your users, but the system keeps breaking, all you are doing is creating more pain. This most likely means, there goes your repeat sale or your frustrated employee right out the door. If your house is on fire, put it out! The new addition will just have to be delayed, or you risk the whole house burning to the ground.

Case study #2: Version 1.0 is not selling or meeting needs.

A house on fire might also mean the product works fine, but the users just don’t like it. Maybe it is simply not selling or competitive in the market, or has a complicated user interface. Perhaps an expectation of how the product would work was mismanaged, as communicated during the sales process. Or, features or reports that are most important to the users’ needs lack depth or fall short. Again, time to stop construction. You need constant feedback from your internal and external users that everything is meeting their expectations, otherwise you need to fix it, which is best achieved with a tight partnership between your product developers and your sales team. You can try to put lipstick on a pig, but at the end of the day, it is still a pig destined for the slaughter house.

Dilemma Made a Slack-lash

Slack is a powerful communication tool and one of the most celebrated tech companies of the past couple of years with 2.7 million daily users and a $3.8 billion valuation. So it has been interesting to witness the so-called “Slacklash” — a small but rising tide of exhausted users vowing not to use the service again.

Where once the messaging platform was called “the thing that keeps us all together”, there is now a website chronicling the backlash, The Atlantic has reported about the growing number of complaints and, of course, there is a hashtag to capture #Slacklash tweets.

Why is a tool with so much promise and enthusiasm being turned on so quickly by an increasing segment of its early adopters? Sure, it may just be 7:00 Silicon Valley Time but a major reason in my estimation is the inevitable ineffectiveness of communication platforms — what I call The Communicator’s Dilemma.

The who and what of communication.

Regardless of the medium, communication between humans has two main dimensions:

  1. Who are you communicating with
  2. What are you communicating about.

Each of these dimensions runs along a spectrum:

  • From your close friends and colleagues to anyone in the world (who)
  • From specific to general topics (what), as depicted in the below graph.

Marketing Goals On Easy Tips

download-17Whether you’re a solo marketer, startup or multinational enterprise, you’ll find it’s nearly an insurmountable feat to manage your social media without the help of some third-party tools.

It’s these tools that make it possible for you to reach marketing goals, track results and engage more efficiently across a multitude of platforms. And, more and more, they’re a necessary step, given that 52 percent of online adults now use two or more social media sites, and the average social media user maintains five accounts.

The good news is, when you’re getting started, is that there are plenty of mobile apps and web-based tools to choose from; they range from specialized to multipurpose.

Below, I’ve compiled a list of my top five most recommended social tools for managing your marketing campaigns and making scaling your online marketing efforts that much easier.

1. Hootsuite

Hootsuite is considered to  a leader when it comes to managing social media. The platform offers everything you need to monitor social chatter and manage content publishing and multiple accounts. It also offers detailed reporting and collaboration features.

Each of your accounts can be displayed side by side in multiple streams for quick monitoring. This is especially helpful when big trending topics and conversations are taking place across all of your social channels. That listening ability is a big part of social engagement, and Hootsuite makes it easy.

“I use social media as an idea generator, trend mapper, and strategic compass for all of our online business ventures,” says Paul Barron, founder of Digital CoCo.

Hootsuite is available in a free plan as well as via multiple paid-plan options, and can be used on a desktop web environment or via mobile app.

2. Flickr with Creative Commons search

This is a go-to source for great stock photos for any kind of social promotional purposes, content marketing, branding and more. It’s ideal for blogs and presentations. With its advanced search feature, you can browse photos that have been made specifically available under Flickr with Creative Commons licensing, which allows you to use photos with attribution.

Visuals are an important part of social and content marketing. When people hear information, they’re likely to remember only 10 percent of it, according to data collected and analyzed by John Medina in his book Brain Rules. But if a relevant image is paired with the same information, that retention rate jumps to 65 percent — even three days later.

For slightly higher-grade photos, I recommend purchasing images from Shutterstock.

3. Bit.ly

Bit.ly is the dominant URL shortener, and in my opinion it’s the best choice for the function it offers as well as its value-added benefits. Bit.ly’s tracking and analytics are on point, though I recommend utilizing a shortener whenever possible. The “+” feature is a nice perk, as well: By adding the “+” to the end of any bit.ly URL, you can see how many times it has been clicked on and who clicked on it.

It’s a great way to check in on trending topics, find influencers and even keep an eye on your competitors if they’re using the service, as well.

Because creating unique bit.ly links is so easy, the tool is also a great way to do A/B testing, on real-time social networks like Twitter.

4. TubeMogul

Video is a big part of social engagement; that’s why sites like Facebook have upgraded their services to incorporate native video-uploading as well as live streaming. Twitter has done the same thing since its acquisition of Vine back in 2012, and Periscope in 2015. Video provides a means to engage your audience with fun, entertaining content — content that drives social shares.