Choose Your Rockets Carefully

Just over a week ago I shared my thoughts on how to grow more aggressively by latching onto rockets. I didn’t discuss the risk of the rocket knocking you off mid-ascent.

Apparently, this just happened to DataSift: Twitter announced on Friday that it’s cutting DataSift off. I’m not very familiar with the economics and relationships within the social/data/adtech world but from the few articles I read over the weekend it’s clear DataSift was counting on Twitter to be one of its rockets.

Today, Mark Suster posted a piece about a company’s ability to build its business on someone else’s platform. In it, he shares details about DataSift’s strategy and Twitter’s behavior in the partnership. Keeping in mind that this is just one side of the story, there are a few facts that are probably undisputed:

  • DataSift was making money off data that Twitter was generating.
  • Twitter was OK with this, as the partnership was not just official but also deep.
  • Twitter realized at some point during the past two years that it wants to exert more control over its data and how it’s served in aggregate to customers.

The last point stems from the fact that Twitter sees this data and its aggregation/analysis as a vital pillar of their business going forward.

So, this adds a caveat to my post from ten days ago: when latching onto a rocket, put considerable thought into the potential of that rocket seeing what you do as vital to their business. If they don’t see it as vital, they will probably not mind you making profit off their business. If they do, then you’ll either get acquired or they’ll run you over.

My partner Zak says: some relationships are like oral-sex between cannibals.

Hope things turn out better with Facebook, DataSift.

Those Moments You Realize You’ve Hired The Best

Once in a while I see someone from our team do something incredible. Whether it’s build a very solid element of the product, fix an insane bug, close a deal I was certain was lost or get an SVP of an incredible company highly interested in what we do. It can be many other things, too. These moments though bring a little tear to the edge of my eye.

For me, I suddenly realize that we’ve made the right choice with hiring that specific someone. He or she is driven and motivated to achieve the vision. They live our story in their bones and are looking to share it in the world. A story that started in a smelly little apartment in Tel Aviv just a few years ago.

I’m not entirely sure how we’ve achieved this and how to consistently achieve it. Some people say it has to do with culture (and write a 27-slide presentation on it). In my opinion it’s a matter of hiring amazing individuals into roles that you know they’ll love in a company that is really making a dent on the universe. Then trust them to be amazing.

Then again, who am I to know? We’re not even 100 people at indeni. Yet.

Even the ice-man (a story for another post) is allowed to be emotional at times. 🙂

Latch Yourself Onto A Rocket

Disclaimer: much of this post’s contents is based on advice provided by other, far more experienced, individuals. I am sharing my understanding of that advice and what we do at indeni to implement it.

Much has been said about a startup needing a great market and a product that fits it:

There are of course more posts, but these three will give you three different perspectives on the matter, and that’s plenty to start with.

One of the questions you always need to deal with is not just targeting a great market but figuring out a way to accelerate into it, or with it.

Into it means finding a way to very quickly grow in a market that might be growing slowly. Usually it means you have an offering that is several times better than the incumbents’ and you can displace them.

With it means a market that is rapidly growing and that if your product is on the short list of many customers you are bound to grow aggressively.

So you should always ask yourself – how do I achieve one of the two, or both? How do you navigate your company, your team, your offering, to ensure you can grow rapidly?

One thing we’ve found to work well at indeni is to latch yourself onto rockets.

Our solution is a must-have for anyone deploying network and security equipment and cares for their uptime. We know this because customers tell us this. So our growth is dictated by our ability to reach existing users of networking and security equipment as well as making sure that as they grow they choose indeni to grow with them.

So, if we identify high-growth networking and security players (all relative to size) and work together with them we can use that to propel our business. Ergo, latching ourselves onto rockets.

Spending time at Palo Alto Networks’ Ignite conference this week showed me that PANW is clearly a rocket worth latching onto. There are other players in the market that are rockets as well – Check Point, once a bit more sleepy, is growing aggressively and F5 are expanding into new markets at a dizzying pace. Those are our three rockets today.

What are your rockets?