SAP acquired my startup in 2002. It was SAP’s first meaningful move to the SMB space and the expectations were high. SAP achieved its goal as our product, now called SAP Business One, became the leading SMB product for SAP, competing and winning against Microsoft, Sage and other market leaders. Since then I acquired two startups, spent some time in a VC, started a company and now I am experiencing it all over again as I help a startup integrate into a much larger company. Doing it, I feel that the first order of business for the acquiring company is to realize what is it that you acquire. Often, it will be bunch of hacks, knowhow and a group of passionate individuals. Once you align your expectations, the chances of getting more out of the deal are much higher. Read the rest of this entry »
Yay! We won! The
goog good guys convinced the highly political Congress to change course. Facebook. Google, Firefox and even porn sites all came together to twist Congress and Hollywood arms and won. Sweet… So why the bitterness and where is the opportunity?
It’s not a bitter victory but it is disappointing that the only thing that got the collective web to react was a direct attempt on its revenue and profits. We all know that the subtext to all the freedom speak was money. Great deal of money. In a coordinated campaign that lasted only few short weeks and peaked today, the entire country got convinced that SOPA was evil, only to serve the interest of the internet companies. (Disclaimer, FWIW, I agree with the position of the silicon valley here, but this is beside the point). Read the rest of this entry »
Haiti earthquake is one of the biggest natural disasters in the recent years. Just like with all other disasters, the world was willing to help instantly. Willing, but not ready. Americans are opening their hearts and pockets, doctors and rescue teams are flying from all four corners on the universe, but they can only save that many people. Why? Because the efforts are not coordinated. Year after year we are facing similar situations and every time the word reacts with a chaotic response in the first days and weeks, that gives way to organized response after it is already too late.
This situation begs the question- why there is no central disaster command under the UN supervision that sits idle 364 days a year, and get into action the second when a disaster strikes? Read the rest of this entry »
Today’s economy leads to many layoffs across all sectors. According to TechCrunch’s layoffs Tracker, over 132,000 employees lost their jobs from August 2008 in the tech sector alone. Reductions in force (RIFs) are commonplace now but there are few best practices out there when it comes to doing it right strategically. While HR already mastered the process from their side, executives often fail to creatively think of the best way to reduce the number of employees, without destroying the company.
There is a smarter way, but let’s first understand how it is done today. Read the rest of this entry »
There is plenty of good advice out there for start-ups and small and medium businesses (SMBs) and most of it is: slow down, save cash, go back to basics, put on hold expansion plans, be careful- it is dangerous out there. By now, everyone read the Sequoia Capital’s 56 Slide Presentation Of Doom or read the variety of e-mails sent to start-up CEOs by their investors. Today on my way to lunch I caught a glimpse of Todd McCracken, president of the National Small Business Association, talking on NPR and advising small businesses to put growth plans on hold. It is all good advice, but I have an issue with the way it is delivered. Read the rest of this entry »
We all know that companies that offer superb customer experience and enjoy high customer satisfaction are more successful and competitive in the long run. Often when I meet managers in for Small and Medium Businesses (SMB) companies, I hear that they are convinced that their customers love them. When I ask for a “proof,” they say that they just know it: they don’t need to measure it since they talk with their customers all the time. When I dig more, I usually discover that they think that measuring customer satisfaction is too hard and expensive for a small company. In this post I will try to offer an easy way to measure and compare customer satisfaction for SMB companies.
Why measure? You should measure customer satisfaction for the same reason you measure sales. When you want a number to go up you ought to measure it so you can establish a baseline and a way to measure the impact of business strategy on customer satisfaction. Imagine investing in marketing without checking the sales impact, and you will get the idea. Read the rest of this entry »
I am often asked about strategy, execution and the relationship between them, and I ended up explaining the issue in an e-mail today. After reading the e-mail again, I figured it was generic enough to be widely shared, so here goes…
Rule # 1- No need for “VP of Strategy”: strategy is so well embedded in the organization operating system that outsourcing it to a VP of strategy is hardly ever a good idea. The rationale is clear: when you are not making/selling/marketing anything, your strategic ideas will dwindle or become disconnected from the company reality. Say you promoted your bright director of product marketing to be the VP of strategy—sooner or later she will lose the source of inspiration she had, which was the constant work with customers and partners and the actual creation of the product and will not be able to impact strategy as she did before.
Rule # 2- Strategy is the business of the CEO: Read the rest of this entry »
Here is a radical thought: take the one most important parameter you measure in your business and publish it. I don’t mean publish as in a press release. I mean make it available in real time, 24/7 to your customers, employees and competitors. Read the rest of this entry »
Here is one more reason why startups innovate so much and create new categories time and again where the large enterprise guys do more of the same thing: Entrepreneurs spend most of their time looking outward, rather than looking and focusing on internal affairs. Read the rest of this entry »
Seth Godin is writing about Apple’s grand move of firing 800 retail employees for double-dipping into their iPhone benefits. Seth thinks it is marketing and he is probably right. Apple sent a clear message of high ethics to other employees and to the market.
The bothersome question is the fact that Apple actually had to fire 800! employees to make this point. I could only think of two reasons for this massive misbehavior: The rules were not clear for Apple employees or that there is a low ethics atmosphere in Apple stores. Read the rest of this entry »