Exploring the Role of a Chief Operating Officer

Linda Kozlowski is the COO of Etsy. Presented by First Round Review, this article explores the role of chief operating officer and the qualities of effective leaders.

Make Operations Your Secret Weapon – Here’s How

Etsy COO Linda Kozlowski knows an operations leader is critical to the success of a company. Here, she sheds light on the most mysterious role in the C-suite – and how startups can hire and empower the right COO for their company.

Building a Sales Team in Europe

Greg Davidson of CloserIQ provides insight on building an international sales team. This post focuses on SaaS companies who are looking to expand from the U.S. to Europe.

Building a Sales Team in Europe: Lessons Learned

If your SaaS company is considering expanding from the U.S. to Europe, there’s good news: Building a successful sales team in Europe actually isn’t so different from building one in the U.S., but I have observed a few key differences. As Head of Sales at , I supervise sales representatives that serve the U.S., Europe, and Hong Kong.


Amazon’s Post-Bubble Transition

In addition to being the largest internet retailer in the world, Amazon is also the world’s largest provider of cloud infrastructure services (IaaS). Needless to say, it is easy to forget Amazon’s humble beginnings as an online bookstore.

After the dotcom bubble burst, Amazon delved into a new business line that allowed third parties to leverage its existing platform and competencies. In this interview, Amazon’s John Rossman describes his role in developing the marketplace.

The Birth of Amazon’s 3rd Party Platform with John Rossman

John Rossman helped transform’s business. After the dotcom bubble burst, Amazon delved into a new business line that allowed third parties to do business off of Amazon’s platform, and make use of Amazon’s many competencies. In this Episode, John describes his role developing the Amazon 3rd party marketplace and gives us his perspective on what makes Amazon successful.

Perspective: Marketing Trumps Sales

Hubstaff co-founder Dave Nevogt argues that marketing, not sales, is a company’s best option for achieving sustainable long-term growth. “Sales is about getting people to buy; marketing is about getting people to buy-in.”

Sales vs Marketing: How We Built a Million Dollar Business Without Selling

I’m just gonna say it: Sales sucks. Now don’t get me wrong. It doesn’t suck for everyone. Some folks are just born to work in sales, and it works for them. You know, they can just talk the talk, people love it, and the money comes rolling in. Boom.

M&A: Price vs Value with Aswath Damodaran

Through the end of September ’16, we’ve seen a number of high-profile tech M&A deals: Microsoft’s acquisition of Linkedin, Unilever’s acquisition of Dollar Shave Club, and Walmart’s acquisition of  The largest US tech companies (Apple, Google, etc.) have plenty of cash to spend, so perhaps this trend will continue.  Either way, the current cycle has produced plenty of valuation debates.  Here is NYU Professor Aswath Damodaran to remind everyone that price does not equal value:

The CEO Guide to Customer Experience

Presented by McKinsey, this guide examines the fundamentals of customer interaction, as well as the necessary steps to build a more customer-centric organization.

The CEO guide to customer experience

Companies that create exceptional customer experiences can set themselves apart from their competitors. What do my customers want? The savviest executives are asking this question more frequently than ever, and rightly so. Leading companies understand that they are in the customer-experience business, and they understand that how an organization delivers for customers is beginning to be as important as what it delivers.

Scott Cook: Accounting for Intuit’s Success

Scott Cook co-founded Intuit in 1983, and he currently serves as director and chairman of its executive committee.  Presented by Stanford University, Cook describes how the financial software company grew from a struggling startup to a runaway market leader.

Notes on Unilever’s Acquisition of Dollar Shave Club

Executive QA - Notes on Unilever Acquisition of Dollar Shave Club

Unilever just purchased Dollar Shave Club for a reported $1B in cash. If the reports are true, this transaction would be the third largest buyout in e-commerce history (see: Zullily and Wayfair). Here are some notes to process:

  • Unilever is paying 4.2x projected revenue (~$238M).  Dollar Shave Club is not profitable, but the company had reached 15% US marketshare in men’s razor cartridges last year with $150M in revenue.
  • Venrock led Dollar Shave Club’s series A and series B rounds.  VC David Pakman wrote about the firm’s investment thesis, including this gem: “Choose categories where the CEOs of the incumbents are professional CEOs, not founders (thus are far less-likely to cannibalize existing businesses and adopt new business models).” 
  • Founder Mike Dubin will remain CEO, and Dollar Shave Club will operate as an independent business.

It will be interesting to see how this deal impacts the CPG space, as well as venture capital investment in non-tech consumer businesses.  In the meantime, watch Dollar Shave Club’s Youtube video again.

The 18 Mistakes That Kill Startups

Paul Graham, founder of Y Combinator, wrote this essay almost ten years ago.   It seems that his observations still hold true today:

The 18 Mistakes That Kill Startups

October 2006[[[[[[[[[[[[[ In the Q & A period after a recent talk, someone asked what made startups fail. After standing there gaping for a few seconds I realized this was kind of a trick question. It’s equivalent to asking how to make a startup succeed-if you avoid every cause of failure, you succeed-and that’s too big a question to answer on the fly.