Category Archives: startups

When Bundling and unbundling become product features

There’s been some news about a lot of companies “unbundling” their mobile products.  It’s happened enough times, fast enough, that it’s become a thing.  For example

Unbundling and bundling is usually a theme discussed on the business side of Tech.  The startup ecosystem is essentially founded on entrepreneurs betting that if they unbundle a poorly executed feature from a larger, successful product, and they do it the best they possibly can, they’ll win. But that’s just where it starts.  It is a cycle, after all.

The most famous example is Google, which bet that they’d win if they unbundled search from portal and media content (Yahoo!, Magellan, Lycos).  Now, what don’t they do?.  Linkedin started as a simple CV network, but is now trying to become a ubiquitous part of doing business.  Evernote started as a simple, synced notes product.  Now they sell moleskines, socks and scanners, offer CRM services and even want to kill powerpoint.

Marc Andreessen took to twitter to summarise this process: ”[…] paraphrasing Harvey Dent: ‘You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the company you first competed with.'”

So who might be the new Google? Here are some recent startups who are ‘unbundling’ and going after big markets

Now back to the top — these are not cases of business-unbundling (well, maybe Foursquare).  We are talking about big companies AND startups unbundle their mobile experiences.  Why?  They’re doing their best to serve the evolving Mobile User.

Smartphones are now core productivity tools, as well as communications tools, entertainment devices, and more.  The current smartphone user considers their phone a required part of pretty much everything they do.  This reliability leads to frustration and user discontent with complicated menus and processes  Users are now more focused on ease of use and speed to information — let’s call this ‘discoverability’ — than ever before.

When the goal is discoverability, the focus becomes providing the most Direct Access to content possible.  Splitting out the most popular feature of an App’s home screen shortens that journey significantly, and potentially reduces confusion.   A few years ago the challenge was “winning a spot on the home screen”; now the challenge is to focus on discoverability, convenience and accessibility.  Taking FB as an example, before the launch of Messenger, it was 4-6 touches to reach your messages on your mobile phone.  Now it’s 2.

Are you enjoying your ‘unbundled’ smartphone experience?  Interested in more about the business of bundling and unbundling?

Check out Jim Barksdale and Andreessen discussing bundling on a recent Harvard Business Review podcast (registration required).  A16Z Analyst Ben Evans (no relation) wrote a great overview (which introduces the above concept of Discoverability) as well, focused on how Asia is still in a massive bundling moment (despite being mobile-first)

Tiip Jar: startup Ad network concept aimed at Creators

Found this on Reddit, the Tiip Jar.

Tiip Jar in action

Content Creators have always struggled to find revenue streams that

1. actually generated reasonable amounts of income,
2. aligned with their own (and their audience’s) tolerance for visible ads onsite, and
3. involved brands and/or ad networks that carried ads of reasonable quality and could deliver ads of interest to the community.

Over the years more than a few startups have tried to provide an alternative to ad-support through various micro-payment / donation schemes.  After all, it’s totally reasonable for Content Creators to ask viewers to chip in a few shekels for content they enjoy, right? They all take a slightly different tactic, but Centup, Dwolla,  Flattr, Google One Pass (RIP), Paypal’s donate button, TipTheWeb,  znak it have tried and struggled to get lots of traction.  Mostly, I venture, because even passionate audiences are more stingy about click-per-post support than expected.
Continue reading Tiip Jar: startup Ad network concept aimed at Creators

China-axlr8r: prepping companies for Demo day

It’s been a great Saturday here in Dalian with the Chinaccelerator team. This morning we watched every team practice their pitch.


I’ve spent this afternoon with all the startups, helping them polish their presentations.

I’ll share some more thoughts about the startups after the demo day on Wednesday, but all of these teams are bright, sharp, dedicated and driven and I’m honored to take part.

China-Axlr8r mentoring: crazy weekend coming

This weekend I’m headed up to Dalian, China to work with the 2013 crop of startups at Chinaccelerator. I’m not a startup fundraising expert, but I do live in PowerPoint so I hope to help the teams home their pitches as they warm up for the Chinaccelerator demo day next week in Beijing.

This is more or less my first experience as a “mentor” in this sort of scenario — though friends have listened to me bloviate plenty about startups and some Techyizu community members have derived advice from things I’ve said — and I’m quite excited to experience the energy, zeal and dedication from these teams.

Ill post some photos and thoughts during or after the weekend.