Capital And Success

In a post early last week I asserted this:

Access to capital and raising a boatload of it is rarely the thing that wins the market.

And then later in the week I saw this tweet

And then this one

These tweets are about the competition between our portfolio company DuckDuckGo and another search engine called Blekko.

Blekko has raised $60mm to date and DuckDuckGo has raised $3mm (and never spent it).

In that post last week, I also asserted this:

Product execution, network effects, go to market strategies, and a few other things are what allows companies to win the market

It is what you build, how you go to market with it, and how you monetize it that will determine your success. By all means raise money, from USV if at all possible, but don’t fool yourself into thinking that raising money is the secret to success. It is decidedly not.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. David Semeria

    Money may not be the secret to startup success, but not having any is a bummer all the same.

    1. JamesHRH

      VCs are a lot like banks.The best investments don’t need the $$$ because the founder would find a way to be successful without it.

      1. David Semeria

        Banks (when not in mass hysteria mode) generally don’t lend money in the absence of collateral or cast-iron cash flows.A VC requires neither of these.

        1. JLM

          .When you can absolutely prove to a bank that you can survive WITHOUT the money, they will lend you some.When you cannot survive WITHOUT their money, they will not return your phone call.The death of community banking is one of the casualties of the American recession. It is never coming back.This is one of the biggest negatives about the American job creation fiasco. No community banking.JLM.

          1. JimHirshfield

            Crowd-funding replace it?

          2. LE

            Crowd funding would have to provide a benefit to the “investor” more than a bank typically makes which is the spread between what the money costs them and what they collect in interest less admin costs.On the surface it seems like something people would do not strictly because it makes sense but because it plays on some other emotion where they feel like they are involved and have some connection to the business they are investing in. Or there is some speculative (<– note) upside that they kid themselves into believing is there.

          3. JimHirshfield

            “… they feel like they are involved and have some connection to the business…”Well, that’s exactly the point @JLM:disqus was making in that local banks had that kind of connection…now they don’t. And as such, the reason I brought up crowd-funding. So, thanks for underscoring my point. ๐Ÿ˜‰

          4. LE

            Not the same thing actually. A person investing their own money in the local coffee shop that they visit is definitely not the same as the banker at the local bank (who goes to church with “Jim” the owner and attends those stupid rotary meetings) making an investment.On behalf of the bank. Where he has to answer to someone. And has lucite awards on his desk for “top producer”.This is more like Gotham Gal making an investment in a business that she frequents where she knows the owner. [1]Perhaps a bit of psychic income for Joanne which the banker doesn’t care about. Anymore than the the local funeral director is really “sorry for your loss”. Or at Ford where “your safety and your satisfaction is our number one concern!!”.[1] (Than it is the local banker. )

          5. JimHirshfield

            Blah, blah, blah[1]…I never said it was the same thing…blah, blah, blah[2][1] ’cause you react better to longer more wordy posts, I think.[2] …with more footnotes.

          6. JamesHRH

            I knew that punny Jim had a sandpapery side!

          7. JimHirshfield

            I’ll take that as a compliment. Thx.

          8. JamesHRH

            ABsolutely – Sandpaper is a big time, old school hockey compliment. When you are looking for gritโ€ฆโ€ฆ.For reasons I will never understand, the modern hockey jargon equivalent is greasy. Headshaker.

          9. JLM

            .Not right now. Too early to say.Crowdfunding is more of an equity play rather than a debt instrument. The changes to the Reg D provisions have some promise but the degree of difficulty on a million dollar deal is still very high.Crowdfunding is going to be a very different business when the first failures hit the fan.JLM.

          10. JimHirshfield

            I don’t have examples, but Shirley there have been many crod-funded failures. I read a tech blog post about Kickstarter campaigns that get funded and then the products never get built…can’t remember where I read that.

          11. jason wright

            me too

          12. Supratim Dasgupta

            That happens a lot of time. Kickstarter is now becoming a fertile ground for scamsters with tall claims of technology. U just need to pay a freelancer few hundred bucks to create a cool video.

          13. JimHirshfield

            That’s something they have to crack down on…not sure how.

          14. Supratim Dasgupta

            They wont be able to .This is what happens to companies that are too focussed on growth but not execution. Surely they must have discussed something as critical as this during the idea formation but would have shrugged it off as ‘ we will figure it out later’ . One of investments on kickstarter has delayed product launch by more than 9 months now.

          15. awaldstein

            Watching this closely, especially what is happening with Circle Up and even more so, Ag Funder.Certified investors. Real projects. Some really substantial raises.Still the wild west here but interests me.

          16. JLM

            .Right up your alley as you are a sophisticated consumer of capital and a trustworthy guy.JLM.

          17. pointsnfigures

            If they don’t limit crowdfunding for fear of fraud

          18. JimHirshfield

            who’s they?anywho, that train’s left the station.

          19. LE

            Not only will there be fraud there will be a large amount of people who have no business investing in businesses. For multiple reasons one being the lemming effect will mean people will inevitably follow the lead of others they consider more knowledgeable. That’s in addition to the people who will simply do stupid things all on their own. Then there are the people who will squander money for the same reason that people gamble. For the fun and because they are gamblers.Do you ever spend time trying to buy things from gamblers? I do quite frequently. Worse type of person to deal with. Totally non rational in their dealings. The intermittent reinforcement of the crowdfunding casino will play into this big time. The slot machine noise (since your own deals will take a long time to play out) will be from how you hear about other people making money by investing in startups.Happens right now with everyone and their uncle wanting to do angel investing. Right? Or with Kickstarter.

          20. LE

            Collateral and signing personally and the bank having recourse goes a long way though.

          21. JLM

            .Banks won’t even loan you your own money on deposit any more.I long for the days when you could throw your PFS over the transom, get the docs by courier, sign them and have the money in your account the same day.Business got done. Jobs were created.Now you have to offer collateral, have two alternative means of payment and be funding a two hand dunk shot while standing on a step ladder to get a loan.Banks are not very highly leveraged any more. Where once upon a time a loan to assets ratio was 85%, now it is much less and the business environment is suffering.JLM.

          22. LE

            Agree I’m stuck in the 80’s which is the last time I had to ask the bank for a business loan.

          23. JamesHRH

            When you have metrics that would make even the least experienced, most cynical VC invest, then VCs call you.

          24. PhilipSugar

            We agree completely. As late as the mid nineties if you had a business and could prove you had cash flows community banks would lend you money.The bank I had Delaware National Bank would lend money. Three acquisitions later they became PNC. Same for Commerce which turned into TD, Wilmington Trust into M&T and I forget the name that turned into Wells Fargo.So no small banks. All big ones with the same attitude

          25. ShanaC

            why do the big banks not want to lend money to cash flow positive businesses

          26. PhilipSugar

            Why do you think?

          27. pointsnfigures

            thank Mr Dodd, and Mr. Frank for killing community banking.

          28. markslater

            i totally agree with this. the entire notion of going to “visit with your bank manager” is now extinct.

      2. awaldstein

        Simply not true.You need capital to grow. This is a matter of degrees not absolutes.

        1. Richard

          Biggest distinction between digital and tangilbe goods. Most businesses in the tangible goods space fail due to lack of free cash flow.

          1. awaldstein

            Traditionally and common sense wise, very true.But there is a new type of company, like Uber, that are basically logistics iwith a heavy dose of smart branding. I haven’t looked at their books obviously but they are raising tons of capital for something besides just cashing out–no?

          2. Richard

            They are betting that they can purchase monopoly power, costs of customer and driver acquisitions presumably.

          3. awaldstein

            Love to sit down with that financial plan and a bottle of wine.

          4. LE

            but they are raising tons of capital for something besides just cashing out–no?Think of the legal and/or lobbying costs they must have. (Haven’t checked, that’s a guess.)

        2. JamesHRH

          Its a true statement, just not a complete one.

        3. FlavioGomes

          Yes, but that capital doesn’t have to come from VC or Banks.May not apply to a B2C model, but enterprise startups could sometimes be best served thinking that customers are the best investors. The amount of energy pitching to VC’s could be redirected to pitching Founder run established businesses. Persuading, for some upfront build capital for a discount at delivery.

      3. fredwilson

        that was certainly true of Indeed, DDG, Kickstarter, Zynga, and a few of our other most successful investments. But it was not true of Twitter and Tumblr. Etsy needed some capital but not a lot. it would be interesting for us to correlate bootstrapability with investment success in our portfolio

        1. Richard

          Does Twitter really need 3K employees.

          1. fredwilson

            i don’t know. i’m not close to the company any morethe salesforce is a big part of that. they are generating revenue in the billions now.

        2. JamesHRH

          That’s cool to know.I know that you are not into signalling, but someone like @domainregistry:disqus can carry the ball on the merits of making your funding campaign inbound, rather than outbound (that’s his expertise, IMO).

        3. LE

          I don’t think on a small data set the correlation should really matter. When the outcome needs to be “big win”.For example I’ve noticed that a large amount of the girls that I dated (as well as two that I was engaged to and one that I married) have parents where both are, or were, teachers in the public school system. In one case both in the same school system which is not where I even live!In two cases the girls had father’s who ran small businesses.In one case the father was ex FAA crash investigator. I think that about covers it for longer term relationships.Now if I had dated 1000 women or was Wilt Chamberlain that would be significant info. But the total data set here is perhaps less than 10. With the hope for 1 big win (marriage).So should I really draw any conclusions from this information?

        4. sigmaalgebra

          Warning: Everything of interest inVC is new and exceptional. Next,can’t hope to see new and exceptionalby statistics from the past. Sorry ’bout that. There are other ways, e.g., again, what the US DoD used to approve the SR-71 — I doubt theyused any statistics about project correlations from the past. Instead,they were no doubt very interestedin a new engine from P&W from theirFlorida operation.

    2. awaldstein

      The gaping difference between bootstrapping in the broadest sense of the word and having a great runway of capital in the bank is clarity of thought and execution.I find and have for a long time that scrambling works but it clouds my long term thinking.I’ll take money in the bank and a smart execution as a better day any day.

      1. David Semeria

        I’m reminded of Warren Buffet’s decision regarding his kids’ inheritance:Enough to do anything, but not enough to do nothing.

        1. JLM

          .You are on a roll, my friend. New regimen of vitamins?Well played.JLM.

          1. David Semeria

            Nah, just slightly less busy at work than usual.

      2. jason wright

        it’s good to learn scrappy skills, but a agree with your view. lurching from one crisis to the next is no way to execute a strategy.

      3. Nick Grossman

        funny that both too much capital / runway, and not enough can both cloud your thinking

        1. awaldstein

          Honestly, too much has never for me. I’m a very pragmatic market maker.Not enough leave too many opportunities on the table as everything becomes short term. That to me has always been the enemy to creative thinking.

          1. JamesHRH

            Excess capital favours the highly critical versus the highly phlegmatic.

      4. Matt A. Myers

        Scrambling works only when you have clarity of thought and the ability to execute; it’s the procrastination killer, need.

        1. awaldstein

          I think that every advisor every 5 years should take $200K or so of their money, bootstrap a business and jump in the fray, do everything with nothing, raise seed and take a refresher course.I did and I’m both more nimble and toned and the best I’ve ever been at advising my clients.

    3. ShanaC

      Not having can kill you too

    4. JamesHRH

      The mistake people make is thinking that money will solve problems that money does not solve.

    5. Luis Garcia

      Exactly, real issue is between having investors or not having them at all. Not between raising 3M or 60M.

  2. pointsnfigures

    looked at their (Blekko) investor list. Impressive. Your blog is the first I have heard of it but admittedly I don’t actively look for search engines. DuckDuckGo had good marketing-and it also had luck happen when people realized that the NSA was spying on them, and the major tech companies were cooperating.We think and talk a lot about core tech in startups. We hunger for engineers. But, one of the most important aspects of starting a company is great targeted marketing. Marketing and Operations are the two most important majors in Business school today. I don’t believe marketing gets enough respect.

    1. JamesHRH

      3rd line of your post is the best one.The last one is the truest.Business = marketing + ops + dev + leadership.

    2. Amar

      I think this is a case of ‘the old is new again’ waiting to happen, B-schools trends are cyclical. Marketing and Operations were *the* majors in business schools during the automotive boom era and the first round of financial “innovation”/bond era. Then Clayton Christensen happened and Porter was re-discovered and Strategy became cool and it sort of morphed into Disruption and Innovation.Now Apple and Tesla are making people realize ‘Operations’ are wicked cool at scale and ‘Marketing’ is back in the cool kids table. With all this disruption and innovation related excitement, we forgot that consumers like a clear message of benefits and differentiation. I am sure we will call it something else like Marketing 3.7 but yeah it is essentially marketing.

    3. Donna Brewington White

      Still a lot of misconception about marketing out there. But with new types of marketing and tools emerging due to the internet, I think the appreciation may be growing. Marketing is becoming an earlier hire at startups than it once was. At least in my experience.

      1. JamesHRH

        My next startup will have a small SW team first and then immediately find someone who has the responsibilities that would carry the title Director of Adoption.

    4. LE

      Your blog is the first I have heard of it but admittedly I don’t actively look for search engines.Reason: Not enough hype. I don’t believe marketing gets enough respect.Part of the problem with teaching marketing in college is that you are teaching it to people who have never thought about marketing prior to taking that first course and then giving them a bunch of things to memorize that they can’t relate to.

    5. ShanaC

      totally doesn’t. it also is rapidly changing, and turning into something like finance.I just saw a lecture about an algorithm being used to investigate proteins involved in rare cancers. Same algorithm could be used in some very hard marketing problems. I’m not sure most marketers realize that though ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. JimHirshfield

    “…DuckDuckGo has raised $3mm (and never spent it).”How so? Ad revenue covers their costs and then some?

    1. fredwilson

      Yup. They didn’t really need to raise money but we are sure glad they did !

      1. JamesHRH

        Rationale for investment?Gabriel self funding essentially, right?

        1. Mario Cantin

          Raise while you can. It’s an insurance policy…and a brilliant strategic move on both sides.

  4. JimHirshfield

    Can’t Buy Me Love โ™ฌโ™ฌโ™ฉโ™ฉโ™ช

  5. abhic

    This needed to be said.Besides the fact that Gabriel is a master operator and DDG is simply killing it vs even Bing (forget Blekko), people need to talk more about impact and less about their cap tables.

  6. JimHirshfield

    Some entrepreneurs can’t even get a seat at the table, as it were, without funding. I’m referring to all the talented aspiring entrepreneurs that don’t have visas to work here. So, this looks brilliant:Unshackled, a New Angel Fund, Forms to Back Immigrant Entrepreneurs…Whataya think?

  7. Twain Twain

    It’s not how much a startup raises. It’s the access to, availability and knowhow of people talent that the raise might help them with.It’s the whole smart money at play on both sides of the cash burn and capital raise dynamic.

  8. William Mougayar

    I think you have written about this movie before:How Much Money To Raise…Maximizing Runway Can Minimize Success…This is how the movie ends:”If you can get the plane to take off, the length of the runway matters less. If you can’t, there is no runway long enough for you.”

    1. Gregg Freishtat

      Thats a good one.

    2. awaldstein

      Scrambling for capital so so sucks William and you know this.Sure–money doesn’t buy markets or elections but capital to act smartly is a long way from worrying about making payroll regardless of traction in any sense of the word.

  9. andyswan

    Money is gas.Gas without working engine just make bright flash. You still go nowhere.

  10. Marian Knowles

    One could assume that USV may have provided excellent strategic advice to Duck Duck Go (and likely, DDG listened!) VCs invest their time and brainpower not just cash. How do you evaluate that part of the equation, that “fit” between VC and Company as an ingredient of success?

  11. Val Tsanev

    It is proven times and times again that there is inverse relationship between raising too much money and the success of a startup (Microsoft,HP and Dell etc. all bootstrapped companies)

    1. awaldstein

      The difference between bootstrapped and over capitalized is a huge door of ambiguity.

  12. Barry Nolan

    Why the difference in cost base? Because Blekko built their own index, v’s DDG use of search APIs?

    1. JimHirshfield

      Seems so

    2. falicon

      Gabe is one smart cookie…he knows how to build stuff that makes two bucks for every buck spent (that’s really what all his secret sauce and traction tests are all about). I think that’s what building a company is really all about…Blekko is trying to fight a nearly impossible, uphill, battle against giants…that costs a lot of money just to get in and stay in the battle…Gabe is playing a whole different game, using the giants to pull him out of battle field from the very start and make search about something completely different than technology.I don’t know that either will ultimately succeed…but I like Gabe’s chances better…it’s *almost always* better for the small guys to change the game ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Richard

    Mogdolini and Miller are familiar names for those who studied corporate finance. They state that the market value of a firmis not dependent on its capital structure. I always doubted the application of this theorm to startups. Fred just introduced more support for my doubts. Hmmm the Wilson and Weisberger theorm.

  14. JLM

    .Bit of simplistic worm like brain thinking here but “blekko” — who wants to say I am going to “blekko” something?The names alone are a huge differentiation. If you have ever played Duck Duck Goose then you know what I’m talking about.JLM.

  15. jason wright

    searching avc for the frequency of “duck duck go” would reveal a correlation with the path each blue line?

  16. jason wright

    $3mm never spent.just sitting in the DDG corporate account gathering dust, and no lien?

  17. LE

    Separate from any other point interesting to note that the operating costs in Paoli Pa (where duckduckgo is located?) are way less than in Redwood Shores CA (where Blekko is).That said there is a world more opportunity and connections you can make in SV vs. Paoli PA that is for sure.So the bigger story here is really what Gabe has done operating from, essentially, nowhere vs. a company located where all the action is. That fact means having an easier time making deals and connections. I believe Gabe lives in the Phoenixville PA area.I’d rather be where the action is and have less money (whether it be NYC or SV) than be anywhere else with 3 times the money. That I can tell you for sure. So Gabe has done a great job with two hands tied behind his back.Graphic attached for housing costs. Office space appears (from a quick check) to be 3 times as expensive in Redwood Shores vs. Paoli pa.

    1. JimHirshfield

      “I’d rather be where the action is and have less money (whether it be NYC or SV) than be anywhere else with 3 times the money.”You don’t live in either of those places AFAIK. ???

      1. LE

        The “I’d” relates to me not to you or anyone else. Someone who is able to take advantage of opportunity. Likewise think for a second if you, as a budding comedian, were able to be in Chicago in and around the second city crowd. Do you think that would be an advantage vs. being in Lancaster PA? It would be.I did spend a bit of time in SV in the early 90’s btw. Yes it is different and yes there is more possibility to make connections and take advantage of opportunity. Same as in NYC.My daughter lives in Chelsea now. She wanted to live at home (with her mother) in the boring nothing going on suburbs. I told her “go to NYC if you can or SV” (and luckily she got a job in NYC). I even did a deal with a VP at Facebook and made it a condition that she get an interview there (and she came close to getting an offer but took another job first).In NYC (where she landed) the stories keep rolling in about the things she can do and even friends that want to visit her (because of where she is hey why not?). Chance encounters, last minute things going on ability to meet interesting people all of that.Now of course if you can’t take advantage of opportunity it’s different. You might as well be in Missouri. If you aren’t funny no benefit to being near 2nd City, right?

  18. SamT

    Several years ago I helped raise $6M+ of angel and strategic money for a media startup that really only needed $1.5-2.0M to get to its next milestone. It was one of the worst things that could have happened to us. It bloated our management team, diluted our focus on the critical success elements for our next milestone, and gave us a false sense of success that we hadn’t yet earned. The story ends with the business shutting down, selling off its limited assets, and investors getting ~20c back on their dollar. In hindsight, we should have cut ourselves off at $2.0M and forced the discipline that comes with it. An important lesson that is painfully clear in hindsight.

    1. JamesHRH

      I think it is Lou Gerstner’s book on IBM that summarizes the IBM malaise thusly:- there was so much money to fight over inside the walls of IBM (budgets, headcount, etc) that we had forgotten to fight for IBM outside of the walls.

  19. Avi Deitcher

    Just two words: Webvan & BetterPlace.

    1. Rob Underwood

      One word which I lived first hand: Pandesic

      1. Avi Deitcher

        $200MM? Really? I had no idea i was that much, just checked it.Was the set of joint owners a curse?

        1. Rob Underwood

          Yes, a curse in that they had different cultures and different priorities and one culture (Intel) tended to dominate the other (SAP).But the money was the root problem. I was on the internationalization team there focused on internationalizing and then localizing our product. But really we had no business trying to go international, especially into markets like Japan which was my area of focus, so early on. We should have focused only on the domestic US market and been concerned with international inasmuch as we could avoid bad choices from a technology perspective that would make later stage internationalization hard. As it was dealing with things like local Japanese shipping laws and taxes became a huge hassle for developers who had core development work to attend to.But because we had the money we had the means to do international. We have offices in London, Tokyo and a couple other places. Local staff. Lots of $$ spent.That choice, to do international, worked out fine for me — I got a key opportunity in my career. But it was a really bad call for the company in retrospect. With less money, we’d probably have been more deliberate on our decisions.

          1. Avi Deitcher

            Huh. I saw that in a business not long ago that tried to solve its growth problems by going international. Only difference was they didn’t really have the cash to do it, tried to do it anyways, then suffered the next year when they overspent going international *and* didn’t have the domestic growth.But was it just the cash? Or were the international cultures of both SAP and Intel key drivers?

          2. JamesHRH

            All crash and burn stories turn on a basic mistake: they mistook a product risk (lock ourselves out of foreign markets with bad tech choices) for a market risk (go forth and internationalize!).Money does not change you, it just amplifies youโ€ฆโ€ฆ..mistake looks huge when you have tons of $$$ and can pursue the mistake with, um, vigour.

  20. Joah Spearman

    Fred, this is one of my favorite posts you’ve done recently. Sometimes I think VC funding (not press) is the new vanity metric.

  21. Supratim Dasgupta

    One of the massive expenses of consumer startups is attracting new customers with referral discounts etc. There is a unhealthy practice of raising millions of dollars just to outcompete competition with these freebies. Once the VC money drys up, the company growth slows to a crawl. There is way less focus on execution and too much money is raised just to buy more customers with these freebies. A lot of times the same customer is just changing email addresses to create a new user identity. Startups know this but they will paint a growth story infront of VCs

  22. Scott Belsky

    Knowing a few of these companies that have succeeded based on sheer quality and effectiveness of product, they also share another trait more important than capital: resourcefulness. I’m guessing there are many stories lurking under these graphs…The ability to create and execute with whatever limited resources you have (money, time, energy, people) helps you survive the innevitable fits and starts in building companies.I have always believed that entrepreneurship is the business of resourcefulness, not resources.The constraints of early-stage business building are a forcing function for solid operations, healthy margins, and a self-awareness that big companies (and well-funded start-ups) often fail to achieve. These lessons are hard to gain any other way. Resources come and go, but resourcefulness is a muscle that kicks in throughout the lifecycle of any business. Without it, capital cannot be used efficiently.

    1. awaldstein

      Well said and true–to some degree.This idea that you are better to do it with less is something I don’t buy into although I’ve done it more than a few times.It is better to be pragmatic, opportunistic and execute smartly. Capital expenditure is the offshoot of that not the cause.

  23. djglasco

    I find it amazing how few entrepreneurs understand your last paragraph when trying to start a business (it is even more important outside of places like Silicon Valley, Boston, and NY). Most want to raise money and bet on a market. I will be using your words when talking with them, which are more pithy than mine.

  24. Josh Maher

    Curious about your thoughts on valuation vs. exit probability. The amount of capital is tough to compare due to stage, model, and so on.

  25. sigmaalgebra

    USV is happy with DDG not spending the $3 million?If they didn’t want to spend it, then why did they raise it?I can think of various reasons a start-up might raise some equity and not spend it, but what were the DDGreasons?Ballpark, what do the Delaware C corporation, legal and accounting fees, and BoD overheadcost in $/year and CEO hours/year over, say,just a Sub-chapter S or LLC without equityfunding?If they didn’t spend the $3 million, then likelythey are cash flow positive.

  26. Adam N

    It’s just like a salary, too much doesn’t improve productivity, but too little destroys value because you can’t be smart. In the case of investment, one can’t get the tools and people needed to test the hypothesis.Christopher Columbus didn’t need 1,000 ships, but he needed more than a rowboat. After having spent 18 months with only $100k for a team of 3 and not being able to get more capital here in Kenya – I see very clearly that too much may be bad, but too little is bad too – especially when there’s so much money to otherwise be made with $500k-$2MM investments here.

  27. queuemanagement

    Not enough leave too many opportunities on the table as everything becomes short term. That to me has always been the enemy to creative thinking.

  28. RC

    just switched to duckduckgo after seeing this post and learning more about it. it is a great product.

  29. ุฌู…ุงู„_11

    ู„ุง ุงุชู…ูƒุงู† ู…ู† ุงู„ูู‡ู…

  30. Matt A. Myers

    That’s why I’ve been keeping to myself, working on product and outreach. It’s going well. Helps having a co-founder too who I live, work, and do yoga with – she’s my girlfriend too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  31. Greg Berry

    I forgot about Blekko (but love DDG). So I went to Blekko’s site today (11/24/14)… apparently Blekko thinks it’s early September. What are they doing over there?

  32. David Semeria

    Peace to you too

  33. JimHirshfield

    Hype is bad sauce

  34. LE

    duckduckgo is the better of the “bad” names that’s for sure.blekko is not only hard to type (and subject to typos) but it means “crap” and has a negative connotation.

  35. falicon

    DDG is, and was built on, mostly hype though…and I say that as a fan of what they’ve been able to do so far (I even bounce all of to DDG now that I’ve stopped supporting it directly).

  36. JimHirshfield

    If that was hype, it’s a different kind of hype, IMHO. I’m talking about the crazy valuations and “darling” of the press kinda bad hype.

  37. JimHirshfield

    Yeah, that’s the ticket.

  38. falicon

    Fair enough – it’s *absolutely* a different type of hype then what you were talking about then.Dig into the ‘tech’ behind DDG and what has driven 99% of their adoption and you’ll see it’s a company that was/is mostly hype-driven. Not a bad thing, but *I* believe a reality none-the-less.

  39. falicon

    I guess it depends on what you qualify as ‘hype’ then.DDG is a hybrid app with a thin layer of ‘tech’ built on top of many other APIs…most of their growth/usage is based on a marketing angle of ‘not tracked’ and almost zero percent about ‘best results’ (or some other secret sauce).In my book if you’re ‘secret sauce’ is mostly tied to your marketing, then you are a company built mostly on hype.That’s not a bad thing — and honestly I envy Gabe for his chops when it comes to traction (BTW – just read his book on the subject as well; some good and telling nuggets in there too) — but I think it’s a reality.

  40. awaldstein

    Hype and marketing are not the same thing.

  41. JimHirshfield

    I was waiting for you on that one. Knew that comment was coming!

  42. LE

    However marketing can and does involved hype. And hype is a part of marketing.Apple does great marketing but they also have quite a bit of hype as well.The definition of hype:”extravagant or intensive publicity or promotion.””promote or publicize (a product or idea) intensively, often exaggerating its importance or benefits.”

  43. JamesHRH

    Hype happens when your marketing gets unbalanced.

  44. pointsnfigures

    Marketing makes you sticky

  45. awaldstein

    +1000 on this.Hype is just BS in my book. Marketing is about connecting, about understanding the handshake between what you sell and what the consumer feels they buy, about brand.About articulating value and providing frictionless ways for it to be expressed and acted upon.

  46. falicon

    Marketing as a whole is a different beast – agree.However:1. The conversation and focus around DDG is 100% ‘contrived’ and intentional. It’s not a deceptive or negative version of hype, but it *absolutely* is hype.2. Hype is a form or a subset of marketing — usually a negative one, but not always. DDG is the rare case where they (currently) have good hype.3. At the end of the day, I label things as ‘hyped’ when they are standing on something that the rug can be pulled out from under them on.In the case of DDG, I’m of the strong opinion that they simply CAN NOT exist without a Google powering search they way they do (so they position themselves as competing with Google, but in reality that is hype and they are in fact powered by google [very indirectly]). So, at least with their current approach, I believe it’s impossible for them to own the search market (because they *need* someone else to power their actual search).They can of course use the hype as a starting block to build from (which they have done) and can eventually put something substantial behind their system (either through building or acquiring) so that it’s not mostly hype…but I remain stedfast that as of right now, they are still *mostly* a company built on and operating on hype. And again – that’s not a bad thing in this case. It’s working. But you can’t convince *me* the emperor has clothes on…

  47. JamesHRH

    If you hype yourself you are a huckster.If someone hypes you, they are a shill (payroll or not).Those are not positive nouns.

  48. LE

    What does it matter what the definition of “marketing” is anyway? In the end if you are interested in growing your company and making money you do what you have to do.

  49. awaldstein

    In the Waldonics Dictionary, Hype is just noise and BS honestly.

  50. falicon

    I would give copies of that book out at the holidays…if only I could find it still in print somewhere ๐Ÿ˜‰

  51. JimHirshfield

    Hooked on Waldonicsยฎ

  52. LE

    Hype is just noise and BS honestly.I say, use whatever tools you can to get you to the finish line. There is no valor in being understated unless you are just so great the world doesn’t care. Fact is that is a rare occurrence. Use whatever tools are at your disposal.You know one of the reasons that Philly sucks (relative to NYC) has to do with the whole “Quaker” thing about being low key, not bragging, salt of the earth bullshit. (I went to a Quaker high school btw so I can confirm the way they think..) They wouldn’t build a building taller than the height of Billy Penn (on city hall) until 1990.…Atop Philadelphia City Hall stands a statue of William Penn, the city founder and original proprietor of the then-British colony of Pennsylvania (meaning “Penn’s Woods”).[3] For years, a “gentlemen’s agreement” stated that the Philadelphia Art Commission would approve no building in the city which would rise above this statue.[4] This ended in March 1987, when a modern steel and-glass skyscraper, One Liberty Place, opened three blocks away. One Liberty Place is taller than City Hall by 397 feet (121 m), rising 945 feet (288 m) in height compared to the height of Penn’s hat on City Hall, 547 feet (167 m). Its sister skyscraper, Two Liberty Place, at 848 ft (258 m), followed in 1990.

  53. falicon

    :-)A. Where do DDG search results *actually* come from? They don’t have a massive server farm of indexed data…follow the paper trail and I’ll put cold hard cash down on it ending up *inside* Google somewhere (shortcut: Where do Yahoo search results actually come from these days? I believe DDG still relies heavily on the Yahoo! Boss Search API)1. I just mean they specifically picked a statement/focus they thought they could build traction around. They don’t (really) index and Google does…but that’s not what they focus the story on…contrived doesn’t mean ‘bad’, it means ‘focused’ in this case.2. Done well hype is a self-feeding, perpetual motion machine. If you own the machine, that’s a *good* thing. If you are a happy user inside the machine, that’s a *good* thing. If you are the last one in, the one that has to clean up, or the one that has to pay the bill it’s a *bad* thing. Most of us caught in the hype of a thing get a good deal (see Twitter, Facebook, Apple, etc.)3. What’s the *real* defensible thing DDG has/does? That’s what concerns me about their long term (but again, I have faith that Gabe can do what *most* of the rest of us can not and so he has a better chance than most to ‘figure it out’).p.s. You are too kind…I’m *known* for not making much sense in most circles ๐Ÿ˜‰

  54. Donna Brewington White

    Nice to have some things you can count on, isn’t it.

  55. falicon

    Small correction — it appears that Yahoo! Boss is actually mostly powered by Bing right now (they seem to flop every few years)…so they *are* sep. from Google at the moment (for their primary results; who knows about the other APIs they pull in from).So sorry – please replace above for mentioned *Google* statements with *Microsoft* for now…in about a year or two, when Yahoo flops again, you can put the *google* bit back ๐Ÿ™‚

  56. LE

    A. Where do DDG search results *actually* come from? They don’t have a massive server farm of indexed data…Exactly. Blekko is way different of a business than ddg.Old article:…Blekko actually slurps pages (afaik btw.) and has apparently editors who decide quality issues.…Queries related to personal health are limited to a prescreened list of 76 sites that Blekko editors have determined to be trustworthy, excluding many sites that rank highly in Google searches

  57. JimHirshfield

    Ha! For sure.

  58. LE

    At banks, everybody is a Vice President.

  59. JamesHRH

    That is like saying my Newfoundland dog is nothing like a Northern Saskatchewan Timberwolf.Financial services is the root genome of both sectors, which means the following is true in both sectors:- #s talk; bullshit walks.- Jackals abound.- fools & their gold are soon parted.- princes are rare.

  60. Josh Maher

    Thank goodness!

  61. JimHirshfield

    Except for the Assistant Vice Presidents and the Deputy Assistant Vice Presidents.

  62. LE

    Banks actually do very well with that fresh carpeting and those titles. They are able to get people to work for less money than the local warehouse could because of all of that BS.By the way who can ever forget the assistant to the assistant manager in Fast Times at Ridgemont high. (Judge Reinhold).

  63. awaldstein

    This is not marketing as I practice or define it LE.And not certainly how I view Apple’s go to market strategies and brand marketing.

  64. LE

    This is not marketing as I practice or define it LE.Marketing is an art and analog not a science. Different people have different things that they feel comfortable with and works for them.Hard to believe though (if I understand what you mean by “not certainly how I view Apple’s go to market strategies and brand marketing.”) you don’t associate Apple with “hype” (which is not to say they don’t have good products same as saying Trump hypes but he actually has nice buildings..)

  65. JamesHRH

    Apple is a great example of the Larry Bird school of marketing:’It ain’t braggin’ if you back it up.’ –

  66. JamesHRH

    that is very, very good.

  67. falicon

    It matters that they don’t index…If they just did it different, that wouldn’t matter…but what is a ‘search engine’ that doesn’t index? Is yahoo a search engine (they don’t really index anymore either)? So they are on top of yahoo, yahoo is on top of bing…where does the ‘search engine’ actually sit and the ‘hype’ begin?Is a bread distributor a baker?It’s not that they don’t provide value, and these days they are even doing *some* baking, but the hype is really around the fact that they position themselves as a ‘search engine’.

  68. awaldstein

    Brands loved by customers make you part of the family.

  69. falicon

    By this argument all I should care about in my bread is how it tastes…I shouldn’t care what’s in it, who or how it gets made, or if it’s actually any good for me or not…I should just care about the taste?And for the record…Wonder bread is hyped…gluten free bread is contrived…does it matter? You can build things people love through hype and/or contrived means…but it doesn’t change that they are results of those approaches.I think we are on the same side and just debating semantics…I suspect you will win that debate with the general public, but I’ll *still* feel like I secretly won it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  70. falicon

    Oh yeah and for the record, I fully acknowledge that I’m only personally offended by the label of ‘search engine’ because I’m one of the few people who has done the hard work of actually building one (more than once really).Otherwise I wouldn’t debate the semantics around this so much with those that I generally think smarter and wiser than I…

  71. LE

    Well deception is deception and that’s a non starter.However exaggeration and overstatement are acceptable. Not everyone is comfortable with doing that of course. I can tell you that people that I laughed at who did quite a bit of “exaggeration and overstatement” did quite well. In fact watching over the years part of the problem is being to smart to think that anyone actually believes that type of shit.[1] But they do. That’s the thing that you are up against.[1] I have roughly correlated this with parental intelligence in addition to parental honesty. So in other words if a person is smarter than their parents and/or their parents never call them out on what they say or do they would tend to be the type of person who is quite comfortable with believing (quite accurately) that people are stupid enough to believe their BS. I actually started to look at famous con men one day and found that most of them came from parents who weren’t let’s just say “brain surgeons”. Or (say in the case of Madoff) cheats themselves. (Just read that somewhere..)

  72. falicon

    Only if we get to use loaves of bread as swords…and make it a fund raiser for a good cause ๐Ÿ™‚

  73. Anne Libby

    “No shoes, no shirt, no service. Read it, learn it, live it.”

  74. LE

    One of the very first roles for Penn, Whitaker and Nicholas Cage (among others).Not sure I knew it at the time but the “beautiful girl in the car” who laughed at Brad was Nancy Wilson of Heart.

  75. JamesHRH

    No, its like saying that meat eaters have the same tastes: in the FinServ phylum, they have a taste for asymmetrical risk / reward profiles.

  76. JamesHRH

    Names don’t have all the upside that laypersons attribute to them.They do have all the downside though. Blekko is terrific example.

  77. JamesHRH

    I can see why Fred is such a fan.Hope its not too cold in Lancaster. We left your vicinity – barely, Sarnia Ontario – for Calgary this summer. My lovely wife misses the humidity.

  78. Anne Libby

    I want to watch this again. The second time I saw it, when I was an adult, it was much better than I remembered it being.

  79. ุฌู…ุงู„_11

    arbi yas