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In the early days of a startup, every business component, from what to pay employees to new product features seems critical.  But what are the most important measures of success for a startup?

This week, I shared an article on the topic with the Wall Street Journal.  In my experience, I’ve have found that the most important aspect for success is relentless focus on establishing a repeatable customer acquisition process. This provides the essential foundation on top of which the team can scale the business in a highly efficient, rapid and predictable way.

You can read the full article – Focus on Repeatability –  on the Wall Street Journal by visiting this link: http://blogs.wsj.com/accelerators/2013/10/01/peter-nieh-focus-on-repeatability/

 

Follow Lightspeed on Twitter @lightspeedvp

 

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Only occasionally do you meet people who can look past what everyone else is doing and see through to an essential truth. Something that is obvious once they say it, but completely unclear beforehand. The founders of Snapchat, Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy, are two such people.

Bobby Murphy (left) and Evan Spiegel (right)

We reached out to Evan in February of 2012 because we had been hearing about Snapchat from a local highschool student. She said that the three apps everyone at school had on their phones were Angry Birds, Instagram and Snapchat. In Feb of 2012, we had heard of the first two, but not the third, so we wanted to learn more. Evan came in and told us the Snapchat story. But he didn’t talk about complex concepts like ephemeral messaging. Instead he made a simple observation.

For the course of human history, when two friends talked, it was not recorded. That allowed them to be free with each other; silly, angry, sad, happy, exited, whatever, but in-the-moment, real, authentic. That is how friendships are built. And because there was no record of any of it, they could go forward with their friendship, and not always have to look backwards at what was said before.

But somehow, over the last 10 years, like a frog in a pot of boiling water, we all got used to that changing. Between email, IM, SMS, Friendster, Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, somewhere along the line, the norm became that the vast majority of your communication with your friends was recorded. In many instances, they were not only recorded, but public and available for anyone to see, forever. And that changed us, it changed the way we communicate with our friends. We became guarded, we managed our social network profiles to make ourselves look good all the time. We became less in-the-moment, less real, less authentic. And the quality of our relationships and friendships suffered for it.

Snapchat is not about some new thing, “ephemeral messaging”. It is about returning to the old, comfortable norms, that what is said between friends is history and gone forever. And it brought back the in-the-moment, real, authentic communications between real friends.

Usually, one such insight is enough for one company. But today, Snapchat launched Snapchat Stories, behind a second insight that is just as deep.

Once upon a time, when people told stories, they started at the beginning, they proceeded through the middle, and they finished at the end. That is still how people tell stories today when they talk to each other in person. But again, like a frog in boiling water, we got used to that changing too, on social media. Whether it is Facebook or Instagram or Twitter, we became used to reverse chronological order. We read stories from the end, then scrolled down to the middle, and finally got to the beginning. Snapchat Stories brings us back to the natural order of things. Each day we can see our friends stories, from beginning, to middle, to end, from the last 24 hours. You can get a good sense of what a Story might be like (if you were a cool band gambling on tortoise racing in Chinatown!) from the 25 second mark here:

Evan and Bobby and the team have been working on this for over a year. It’s a big idea. It makes sense. And I think it will be just as successful as Snapchat. We are very happy to be investors in the company.

 

 

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The past few years have been an incredibly exciting time to be an enterprise investor. We have seen the rise of the cloud, the shift away from PCs to new mobile computing platforms, and the emergence of Big Data and Analytics as a core enabler of business agility. With these trends as a backdrop, we are in the early innings of a massive redirection of enterprise IT budgets towards new technologies and architectures.

At Lightspeed we have been investing thematically in each of these trends, having led early investments in cloud companies like AppDynamics and Mulesoft, in Big Data Companies like DataStax and MapR Technologies, and in enterprise mobile companies like Rapsphere (acquired by AppSense) and Push Computing. What excites us the most about these trends is that together they are driving massive change in the way that enterprises have to think about their IT infrastructure.

One particularly interesting (to us!) side effect of enterprise cloud and mobile adoption has been the creation of a new set of security challenges. As application consumption has moved from behind the protected firewall to outside a company’s trusted perimeter (due to employees adopting SaaS and mobile applications), enterprises have lost visibility and control over their users’ actions. This creates not only a security headache, but also a compliance and auditability nightmare.

A quick background: In the legacy (pre-cloud) world, enterprise applications resided in a company datacenter and were accessed from PCs that were primarily on-premise. In this environment, IT managers could manage, monitor, and secure enterprise data by creating a secure perimeter inside the company’s four walls. All application actions were monitored and all internet traffic was funneled through an on-premise firewall appliance that watched for malicious files and bad employee behavior. This was the status quo for many years, and spawned the well-established $6B market for network security devices.

However, with the rapid adoption of both mobile BYOD (bring your own device) and SaaS application consumption, the world has changed. In this new world, employees, not the CIO, choose their applications, and these applications reside either directly on a mobile device or in the cloud. The result is the need for a new type of security paradigm – one that recognizes that employees are increasingly mobile, that they want to use non-IT approved applications, and that the cloud is here to stay. A typical reaction to this trend has been to either block cloud applications or to impose strict restrictions on which applications can be used. Unfortunately, this policy causes unnecessary friction between employees and IT.

There is a better way – and Netskope has built the right platform that works for both employees and enterprise IT. Netskope discovers cloud apps, provides complete visibility and actionable analytics on usage, and gives IT policy-based control over employee behavior. With Netskope, employees get their favorite apps and CIOs get peace of mind.

This new solution requires a team with extensive expertise in building world-class, enterprise-grade networking, security, and Big Data solutions. We are very excited to partner with Sanjay Beri, founder and CEO of Netskope. Sanjay was most recently the youngest to make VP at Juniper and is a fellow Canadian (although he’s a Maple Leafs fan which is unforgivable). Since founding Netskope, Sanjay has assembled an impressive cross-functional team of industry veterans. To name a few: Ravi Ithal was an early engineer at Palo Alto Networks (PANW), where he architected their database and analytics systems. Krishna Narayaswami was most recently a Sr. Distinguished Engineer of security at Juniper, where he specialized in behavioral analytics. And, Steve Malmskog has solved some of the world’s hardest networking scaling problems as the chief architect at Payfone and previously as a Distinguished Engineer at Juniper. All told, Netskope has assembled an impressive team of 50, including 10 Distinguished Engineers and Principal Architects from some of the most innovative security, networking, and analytics companies in the world.

Today, Netskope launched their company. At Lightspeed, we’re excited about our partnership with the Netskope team as they rethink security for the mobile and cloud era. For more information about Netskope’s launch, visit www.netskope.com.

 

You can also follow me on Twitter at @arifj and @lightspeedvp.

 

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Numerify announces $8 million in Series A financing to revolutionize business analytics in the cloud. Founded by the pioneers of the business intelligence industry from MicroStrategy, Hyperion and Oracle, the company aims to arm every decision maker with meaningful numbers …

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Last year I recapped a few episodes of season 4 of Sharktank from a VC’s point of view. A few people have asked me to do the same, at least for the Season 5 premier. So here goes! (You …

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There’s nothing better as a Venture Capitalist than to meet an exceptional entrepreneur; one who is driven to impact the world for the better and often, at the same time, build a solution to a personal problem.  What I’ve realized …

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Last week, I wrote an article for AllthingD that talked about the shift if the ways that people are “sharing” online, mainly that niche social networks are giving people very targets, often private ways to share more freely.   This shift …

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Using Bitcoin for sending money between countries seems like a no brainer; because the costs are so low, there is the potential for huge savings for immigrants sending money home.  But, as I wrote about in GigaOm this past weekend, …

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In March 2013 we led the Series A of Whisper, an extraordinarily engaging smartphone app. The app allows users to anonymously share secrets, their text over arresting images. Other users can then read, heart and reply. Here is one …

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In our last post we noted that at least half of all Bitcoin transactions in June 2013 were for online gambling on the gambling site Satoshi Dice.  We were interested to see what has happened since Satoshi Dice was acquired …

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