Tech Market Analysis


Amazon. It’s the company that evokes fear into more startups and venture capitalists looking to fund eCommerce businesses than any other potential competitor. Every pitch I’ve ever seen has led to the, “Would Amazon eventually do this? And could we then compete?” type questions.

But what if you could do the reverse of Amazon?

Amazon was early in spotting a macro trend – that physical, local retail had a few key disadvantages. The first is that it could carry limited inventory in stock because it had limited physical shelf space. The second is that the retailers were constrained by their high costs of local real estate and service staff relative to the costs of centralized warehouses where goods could be stacked high, sorted by robots, managed by RFIDs and then shipped via overnight to eager, cost-conscious customers across the US.

Today’s $24 billion storage market in the US has these same key disadvantages and that was the genesis of Sam Rosen’s initial idea for MakeSpace, which I initially funded 15 months ago. We always had the added advantage that I have never met a single person in my life who ever said anything positive about their storage provider or experience. It always went something like this, “We had to buy boxes and pack them to the hilt and we had to run 4 separate runs to a facility 30 minutes from my house in a dodgy neighborhood and schlep up to the third floor where we stored our goods under a lock and key. 9 months later I didn’t have a blooming clue what was in there or whether I should still be paying for it.”

This laughable customer experience is practically parodied in real life by the popular reality TV show, “Storage Wars.

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If you’ve watched any industry in the last 20 years where technology has begun to transform how the industry works the results are always predictable driven by what Clay Christensen appropriately called “The Innovator’s Dilemma” (one of the most influential books that changed my thinking about markets).

Young startups claim they are going to change the world, large companies that dominate that sector scoff at how low quality these new entrants are, until like frogs boiling in water they come to the realization that “this shit is real.” The next step is the industry tries to fight back.

TrueCar is the first ever Internet service that tells you exactly how much other people in your area paid for the car you want to buy. You enter your make, model, trim & year and out pops a price curve of purchases in your area and in most states you will then be offered a fixed price to purchase that car.

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By now you likely know that Marc Andreessen weighed in on anonymous apps in a 12-part Twitter diatribe.

Anonymity. As the old joke goes, “on the Internet nobody knows you’re a dog.”

I have been weighing in slowly on the topic over the past few weeks on Twitter but have avoided writing a blog post about it until now. This was in part due to a tremendously busy 30-day period for me (in which my overall writing has been down) and in part the inevitability of knowing that weighing in just tees me up to take abuse on one anonymous app called Secret.

I have thought a lot about anonymity over the years and actually have enjoyed debating the topic with those passionate about anonymity’s benefits because of course that’s how I learn.

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Tom Perkins is one of the founding members of the venerable venture capitalist firm Kleiner Perkins. He just had his Mitt Romney moment and his name will forever be etched in the collective consciousness of the tech community for this terribly insensitive and tone deaf letter to the Wall Street Journal.

The headline of Mr. Perkins letter to the WSJ?

Progressive Kristallnacht Coming?

“I would call attention to the parallels of Nazi Germany to its war on its “one percent,” namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the “rich.””

Um.

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If you follow the tech media you would be subject to a lot of narrative biases that are completely off base – and this includes the value of email and phone calls.

TL;DR

Tech news keeps proclaiming “phone calls are dead,” which is useful except that the data suggests the exact opposite. Calls are changing but not dying.
All the data actually suggests with the growth of mobile, inbound sales calls will double from 30 billion to 60 billion in 3 years (source: Kelsey)
In fact 61% of all mobile searches where a customer contacts a business it is via a phone call (source: Google). Much more data in the full post.
It’s why the first company I ever invested in as a VC – Invoca – just announced a $20 million funding by Accel Partners. They have grown at a 200% CAGR over the past 4 years

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Without DogVacay my Thanksgiving would have been ruined. That’s a fact. And I’m not an investor. I just had to tell this story. It’s a great one about entrepreneurship, friendship and the collaborative economy that is helping families in need across the world.

The Background

Every year my family meets in San Diego for Thanksgiving. My 3 siblings & I make the trek to spend 4-5 days with the 9 grand children, my mom, my cousin and few other very close family members. It’s the one time per year that my entire family decompresses and spends high-quality time together under one roof. We rent a house through HomeAway and all stay under one big roof.

This year the night before the journey my brother got a call from the person who had committed to watch his dogs that she wasn’t able to watch them after all. Panic ensued as we couldn’t bring the dogs to San Diego and my brother’s three kids look forward to this great trip all year.

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