December 6, 2015

Startup valuation hype cycle

There is a lot of discussion in the startup community these days about if we are on the top of a hype or close to seeing a bubble burst. From my point of view, running a bootstrapped startup, it is not feeling like VCs are throwing seed money at you. At least not in Norway. But valuations for the "Unicorns", which are truly not common to see just like their fairytale counterparts - even if we forget it when we use them as samples and idols, are surely high.

Anyway, I wanted to share a super fun tongue-in-cheek "press release" from Basecamp. The entire thing reads well and if you are like me, it will give you many giggles, but this is my favorite part:

In order to increase the value of the company, Basecamp has decided to stop generating revenue. “When it comes to valuation, making money is a real obstacle. Our profitability has been a real drag on our valuation,” said Mr. Fried. “Once you have profits, it’s impossible to just make stuff up. That’s why we’re switching to a ‘freeconomics’ model. We’ll give away everything for free and let the market speculate about how much money we could make if we wanted to make money. That way, the sky’s the limit!”

Sounds like a brilliant plan! 

September 28, 2015


On Friday a blog post I wrote was posted on Innovation Norway's Gründerpulsen blog. It is in Norwegian and covers how to get a professional (cloud-based) infrastructure for your startup up and running in a week.

It touches on everything from email providers to PaaS, so it was a challenge to try to keep it relatively short. At least it is very to the point, mostly containing specific recommendation of tools (with links) in the different areas. Hope someone finds it useful!

July 28, 2015

A cure for the Summertime Blues?

I think all entrepreneurs work pretty hard, also at times normal people might be on vacation (i.e. pretty much right now in Norway). Sometimes it can feel like being the last kid in the classroom, solving math problems while hearing the sounds of playing outside. In fact, I don't think I was ever that kid (I counted on the last minute stress to get me results), but I think I can claim to be the metaphorical one at times, working long nights and cutting a few days of holiday trying to build a product and a company.

When the results of the extra efforts are not evident and short term in nature, it is easy to get a bit of a Summertime Blues feeling. But then, even if things take longer than you hope, I still believe in one of my favorite sayings - often attributed to Bloomberg: The harder you work, the luckier you get. And this Saturday our company was featured, through an interview with me, in Finansavisen - one of our two major business newspapers in Norway. Below you can find a snap of the article.

So even if customers coming shuffling in (we got at least two new paying customers this summer!) is a stronger cure for the summertime blues, a bit of publicity does not hurt either. So Eddie Cochran was not right, there IS a cure for the summertime blues (playing the song also helps, in fact!).

And to prove I can be, or try to be at least, the cool kid not being stuck in the classroom; in a week I will go to Bali surfing. Almost offline.

April 24, 2015

All of Facebook's growth comes from mobile

Facebook had an earnings call, and Business Insider has put together a chart showing their composition of revenue sources:
Business Insider Chart of Facebook revenues

Quite simply: Absolutely all their revenue growth the last few years comes from mobile. BI focuses on how well they have managed the transition into being mobile-centric, which is true. In any case it is stunning how important the mobile part is for Facebook in particular and ad revenue in general.

April 2, 2015

Imperfections of personalized advertising

I am pretty excited about the possibilities of blending online and physical traces to deliver more relevant content and ads. So Kjartan and the guys at Unacast are chasing a huge opportunity for sure.

That being said, there are certainly smaller fish to fry - so to speak - first, because even the current cutting edge personalization engines (of the likes of Google) are so far from perfect.  I would even say they are totally broken. A few samples from the last two weeks:

  • I was on a day trip to a city in the south of our country last week. On the airport I briefly checked if it made sense to rent a car instead of jump into a taxi or bus (I was picked up in the customer's Tesla in the end...). Since then, there have been ads for car rental in that particular city all over the Internet. 
  • The last thing I bought on is shown me all the time, and the same applies to my last purchase. Since I just bought these things, the ads are less relevant than ever.
  • My Google Apps CRM shows up in ads for me all over the place, even if I am already using it daily.
As an engineer, I have no problem understanding that it is difficult to know what is (still) relevant for me. Some of the cases would require deep integration into ecommerce systems connected to ad platforms, and possibly raise additional privacy issues. But as it is, I would say that personalization in these cases make the ads less valuable than if they were not personalized. 

So before having my browsing of cars in the physical world affect the ads I see online, I would like to see the more basic problem fixed. Maybe the solution will come from the same provider (and I am sure it will be bought by Google) that cracks the "beacon code"?

January 7, 2015

Running like a gazelle

I am proud that my company qualified for the so called gazelle list of Norway's main business newspaper, DN, based on 2013 numbers. Today I got the physical proof in house:

Out to buy a frame! :) And then on to make our product company behind a gazelle in 2017!