Scaling Growth

Gustaf Alstromer, YC’s newest Partner (formerly product lead for Growth at Airbnb) joined a panel with Ed Baker, (former Head of Growth at Uber), to share tips on growth experiments and team dynamics at a scaling company.

Topics discussed:

What is a north star metric for growth? If you talk to anyone on the growth team, and ask them, “what number are we trying to grow.” They’d be able to say that number. And if they aren’t working on something that could grow that number, they’re probably working on the wrong thing. At the time Ed was at Facebook, retention and user engagement contributed even more to the north star metric (MAUs) than new user acquisition.

Paid acquisition can further accelerate growth: Growth isn’t only about organic growth — especially for companies who charge for their products. In a competitive market, it can make sense to pay to acquire up to the potential value of a customer if it’s important to grow quickly (this was true for Uber, who had to beat competition to market).

Is there a channel with particular upside right now? Nothing beats building a great product. Beyond that, most great companies get really good at one specific channel — so figure out what your product is best suited for and double down on it (make sure it’s a channel that can scale — meaning that channel potentially has 100s of millions of people coming through it).

You should be seeing things that are counterintuitive in your data: If you aren’t, you probably aren’t experimenting enough.

A little wording change can matter: As an example, Facebook saw low growth in Japan, and went and talked to people in the local market and found that people felt it was rude to “invite” friends to Facebook. They found through a growth experiment that changing the wording to “announce to your friends you’re on Facebook” (instead of “invite”), they immediately began to see growth there.

Make it easy for users: The simplest thing you could do today to help strengthen user data is to not log people out. This practice is bad for growth, and Amazon is a great example of doing it right.

Eventually, the whole company is a growth team: At Airbnb today, every big team uses data to fuel decisions. That’s the goal. The growth team should not only be collaborating across the business, but you should start to see most areas join in on a cadence of experimentation.

Definitely click the link and watch this video, it’s great, and covers a lot in the 34 minutes.