Jiva Technology

Humanising data: introducing

Humanising data: introducing “Chernoff Schools” for Ashdown http://is.gd/51TEO /via @BERGLONDON

Growth Charts

Rockstar developer Joel Spolsky’s recent article got me thinking about what constitutes healthy growth for tech start ups. I’d always worked on a rule of thumb: aim for somewhere between 50% and 150% growth in revenues per year. Any less and you’re not trying hard enough, any more than 150% and the wheels will fall off sooner or later. Spolsky cites Oracle Corporation as an example. They beat Ingres to dominate the relational database market, despite initially having an inferior product, seemingly by simply setting the bar higher and growing at a faster rate. But this gravely underestimates Oracle boss Larry Ellison. What Spolsky does not mention is that whilst Ingres outspent Oracle nearly 2:1 in R&D; Oracle was outspent Ingres nearly 2:1 in sales & marketing. In other words, Ellison made the conscious bet that investment in marketing gave better returns than investment in engineering. This is a tough pill to swallow for the engineers, but the formula has repeatedly been proved correct: get your product to ‘good enough’, spend on marketing to maximise your sales and let your superior growth rate do the rest.

So where does this leave the fledgling technology company? What is a healthy growth rate? I’d argue the answer is somewhere nearer to 100% than 50% in the early days; customers will forgive a few service snafus to know they backed a winner and if Google could drive growth north of 50% even when their revenues were in the multi-billions, us small fry should be able to scale faster. I’ll settle for 101%.

Startup UK

Given all the doom and gloom around jobs and the economy in the UK, you’d think it would be a good thing to start making some new ones. Interesting post by Fred Wilson at Union Street Ventures in the USA talking about the development of start-up ecosystems. Despite all the talk about Cambridge, Silicon Glen (remember that) etc, we don’t seem to be there yet, imo. Why is that? Does the mighty finance suck up all the good people or is it lack of venture finance? Certainly, my experience of working on four continents tells me that people in the UK are as, if not more talented than those found elsewhere, so what’s going on?

How many books can you read in your life?

This is an interesting calculation. I used to select and read books without worrying too much as to whether they were best in class or not. Good cover? Tick. right subject? Tick. Blurb on the jacket good? Tick and buy. Not much science in that.

That was until it was pointed out to me that you can only read a finite number of books in your life. Follow the simple calculation: number of years you expect to live x number of books you read in a year. For most people, that is going to be in the hundreds, not the thousands. I now invest a lot more time on my precious choices and bail out early if I’m not impressed. So with all the brouhaha around billions of books being available via Google Books, I’m more interested in knowing which ones are any good. So I really like Amigo Reader from Ebooks Corporation (disclosure: I’m a Director of the company), a great new way to crowd-source people’s opinions on which ones I should be spending my time on.


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