Conan's Newsletter No. 17

Unlock growth when you reach $20M ARR; What comes after smartphones; Zapier CTO's journey; Personal Growth tips; Movie about a film pioneer;

Tech Trend & Entrepreneurship

  1. The "$20M to $500M" Question: Adding Top Down Sales. It is an interesting essay from the a16z team about sales models in enterprise startups. One challenge for enterprise startups is long sell-cycles, and many (e.g., Zoom and Slack) have adopted a bottom-up "growth + sales" model. However, the essay argues that a bottom-up strategy could be a bottleneck for startups when they reach a particular stage. The authors advise that enterprise startups should consider switching to top-down sales when they get $20M to $30M ARR.

  2. What comes after smartphones?  It is an excellent article from Benedict Evans to predict the next big tech wave after smartphones. Benedict presents three different mental models to understand industry trends and make predictions based on each mental model.

    1. Mental model 1 is the evolution of the devices (i.e., from the mainframe, PC, web, and then the smartphone). Following this logic, VR/AR could be a logical candidate for the next big thing. Of course, it is just one of the possibilities. Benedict himself is very doubtful about VR and wrote another in-depth essay about The VR winter.

    2. Mental model 2 is the evolution of the software paradigm (i.e., from databases, client/server, open-source, and then cloud). Based on this logic flow. Machine-learning would be the next big software paradigm, and there have been many pieces of evidence for that. Benedict also mentions that only around a quarter of large enterprise workflows have moved to the cloud. As a result, there is still a lot of business that needs to move to the cloud.

    3. Mental model 3 is about the derivative industry that smartphones could enable. Benedict mentions an interesting analogy between the Smartphone industry and the Car industry. The second fifty years after the car invention is about the new applications caused by people's increased mobility, such as McDonald's and Walmart's development, suburbs. Similar things may happen for the smartphone industry as well.

Product Development

  1. The CTO Journey at a Small Startup - The Zapier Engineering Blog. In this great article, Zapier's CTO shares about how he scaled himself as Zapier grew.

  2. This tweet is a good summary of the hidden cost of an unuseful feature, which is much larger than the initial development cost.

Interesting Stuff

  1. Hugo is a fantasy movie about how a boy helped an early film pioneer to find the soul of himself. This award-winning movie satisfies every imagination I have about the early 20th century and is based on a real historical person Georges Méliès, a French illusionist, actor, and film director who led many technical and narrative developments in the earliest days of cinema. One of his most famous movies is A trip to the Moon (1902), and the scene in which the spaceship hits the Moon's eye would become one of the most iconic images in cinematic history.

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