True Insights: Opt for Optimism


As we rev up (and down) before the holidays, we’ve been thinking a lot about gratitude and the power of showing appreciation for one another in tangible ways. What our Founders do matters, and we know they’ll continue to opt for optimism in the face of challenges.

We felt this was an appropriate theme for this month’s round-up of thought leadership articles penned by the leaders and teams of our portfolio companies.

In Response to the Presidential Election

Chris Anderson of 3D Robotics was struggling with what to do for his Mexican team members when the value of the peso dropped after the election. To help protect them from the currency effects of politics, Chris decided to index their pay rather than paying them a fixed salary in pesos. He explains how it works here.

Post election, John Pleasants of Brava looks on the bright side of things on Medium, stating, “As a country, while we have some issues — we also have the most amazing, enterprising, innovative populace on the planet. Can’t we mobilize to our strength for the benefit of all? Can’t we unleash the entrepreneurs (and the entrepreneur in all of us)?”

In response to John’s piece: Yes, we can use entrepreneurial clout for good. But we must do so in a way that’s more empathetic than how we’ve operated in the past. I shared some thoughts on this in the New Yorker, which Ann Crady Weiss insisted I share.

Mike Herrick and several of his Urban Airship colleagues co-wrote an article about how the mobile engagement platform sent 2.5 billion notifications in the 24 hours following the U.S. Presidential election, its highest daily volume ever. And while Urban Airship powers more than 45,000 apps, the data shows that 400 apps were responsible for 60% of this record volume. Read the rest here.

In the Shoes of the Customer

Madison Reed unveiled the hair color industry’s first-ever Facebook Messenger and SMS chatbot, which is affectionately called “Madi.” The chatbot, which asks for a selfie and answers to a series of questions about users’ hair types, can recommend an ideal hair shade — a solid step in furthering AI in the beauty industry.

In an interview published on Huffington Post, Erik Larson of Cloverpop shared his thoughts on the continued consumerization of enterprise IT and the importance/dangers of storytelling in business. In exposing the bias entrepreneurs bring to the table when looking to solve customer problems, Erik said: “We are the man who loses his keys and then looks for them beneath the streetlight because that’s where he can see best,” a reminder to question when we are pulled to the path of least resistance.

Pulkit Agrawal of Chameleon explained “Apple stores are a result of brilliant, customer-centric engineering” and that how the design of these stores turns visitors into fast fans is an example of onboarding at its finest. (No argument there.) Read the rest to learn how to mirror that success in SaaS product onboarding.

Looking Forward

Lastly, Martin Reddy of PullString explored the methods used to help computers understand what’s being said to them in “Hybrid AI and Machine Learning: Letting Computers Talk Back,” while PullString’s Scott Ganz wrote “How to Write Convincing Bots and Computer Conversations Using Fallbacks, Interjections, and Believability Credit.” Both great reads.

Onward and up, True community. Have a very happy holiday.