Six Risks that Venture Capitalists Take

Mark Davis of DFJ Gotham Ventures posted this nice summary list of six types of risk that venture capitalists typically examine when evaluating a potential investment.

  1. Management Risk
  2. Product Risk
  3. Revenue Model Risk
  4. Market Risk
  5. Competitive Risk
  6. Partnership Risk

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VMGOSPA – nested organizational objectives


I mentioned AlphaBlox in my last post and that made me think of something I learned from Michael Skok (CEO and Founder of AlphaBlox, now Partner at North Bridge Venture Partners).

Michael had a great framework for explaining how each person’s daily activities fit into the larger company objectives. He called it “VMGOSPA”, an acronym for the following framework:

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Avinash Kaushik’s Five Levels of “Web Analytics 2.0”

I had the pleasure of hearing Avinash Kaushik, Google’s analytics evangelist, speak when he came to our CS377W class at Stanford this quarter (the “Stanford Facebook class“).  He’s an amazing speaker, really breathing life and purpose into the too-often dry topic of web analytics.

He’s promoting a new way of looking at web analytics, what he calls “Web Analytics 2.0”.  Avinash’es central message is that analytics cannot stand alone as a decision driver in organizations; rather analytics need to be considered in the context of additional data (from customers, competitors, and other internal sources) in order to drive rational decisions.

Avinash has a brilliant decision framework, consisting of the five decision inputs that should be considered in order to gain insight into customer behavior and drive optimal decisions.   He calls this “The Five Pillars” and here’s the cliff’s notes summary:

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SMART objectives


Setting objectives for yourself and for others is a critical organizational function.  This will be painfully clear to anyone who’s ever sat in a team meeting where some “critical corporate goal” was described but no specific actions were assigned and everyone left the meeting wondering, “Ummm, so what am I supposed to do now?”

The SMART framework helps make objectives crystal clear so that anyone who is on the assigning or the receiving end of a SMART objective really understands exactly what actions are going to take place, by when, and how to measure success.

SMART is an acronym for:

  • Specific: is the objective described in concrete, actionable detail?
  • Measurable: what quantitative measurements will tell us when the objective has been achieved?
  • Attainable: is the objective really achievable within budget and schedule constraints?
  • Results-oriented: what tangible work output does the objective produce?  (i.e., not just conversations and ideas)
  • Time-driven: what is the due date for the objective?

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Three Dimensions of Emotion

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People exhibit a huge range of emotions and it can be a bewildering challenge to ascribe unique meaning to each emotional state that a person might find themselves in. A framework for analyzing emotional states can help us understand emotions by decomposing them into underlying dimensions.

Three key dimensions appear to be:

  1. Valence: positive vs. negative
  2. Activation: ready-to-act/aroused vs. relaxed
  3. Power: dominant vs. submissive

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Five Levels of Web-based Product Design


Anyone who has been involved with launching a website knows that there are lots of design factors to consider. Even a marginally sophisticated website will require development and coordination of multiple web page layouts, graphics (visual assets), text (marcomm or copy), server code, maybe some browser-side code (javascript), database tables, etc.

It can be a lot of stuff to consider and anyone responsible for launch of a product (e.g., product manager, product marketing manager, or a business unit lead) needs to think about “product design” from multiple levels.

Personally, as a product manager, I like to think about “product design” as the sum of five design perspectives:

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Cialdini’s Six Weapons of Influence


Robert Cialdini’s insightful book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion revealed how six “weapons” of social influence can be put to use to persuade people into taking actions or exhibiting behaviors.

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