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There are all the obvious public metrics from things like Compete, Alexa, app rankings, twitter following, facebook following, etc etc.

But beyond that I would dig deep into using the product. If I was going to assess the engagement (DAU/MAU) of a social network I would look at how people are commenting. Or maybe send 20 friend requests/messages to random people and see how fast on average they respond. You can get a feel for certain things just by using the product.

Otherwise I would just reach out and start a discussion. Some partners will be shy to give up metrics, but you usually can pull it out of them over time.

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Good question. Not to be a pessimist, but in most scenarios I have found partnerships to under perform initial expectations. Part of that can be mitigated with the things I outline in the post. But I think more than anything finding that one key predictor of success is important. For Viximo it was sites that had high DAU/MAU ratio. We'd rather take a company with 1/10 of the total audience, a crappier experience, and worse business terms but a high DAU/MAU ratio. It made a huge difference.

But that key predictor is different for every business. Finding it can be tough. But once you find it you increase partnership success chances by a lot.

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I really like these week by week courses that are coming out. I have a lot of things I want to learn, so the cadence and content size of the weekly chunks is perfect. I'm looking forward to this one. I'd love to hear what other courses people have come across around different subjects.

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Well besides the lessons about culture that I talked about in the article, there were plenty of lessons about how we should have managed the business differently prior to getting to the trough of sorrow.

The virtual goods and social gaming market were crazy back then. It exploded and came out of nowhere. In amorphous but fast developing markets like that you need to maintain a structure that allows you to stay nimble in order to take advantages of opportunities quickly until you find "the one." We had taken money from the wrong investors, hired a couple of the wrong people in the senior leadership positions, etc that really restricted this.

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That is an excellent question. Here is a quick answer off the top of my head.

As mentioned, the foundation for maintaining the culture was laid far in advance. The tight relationships, respect/trust for each other, challenging and fun environment, were all things that we created from the beginning of the company.

If we hadn't of established those things I think everything would have fallen apart.

That being said, I think there are things you can do during and right after layoffs to ensure you don't damage your culture.

1. Make the layoffs swift, fair, and respectful. The longer you drag it out, the more damage you do.

2. Immediately after the layoffs get the group that remains together to explain what has happened. Reassure that there will be no more immediate layoffs to quell any fears.

3. Each manager after the group announcement should meet with their team members individually to give everyone to comment or ask questions they weren't comfortable with in front of the group

4. Focus on multiple social team events in the immediate couple weeks after. It is important that whoever is left gets use to the new smaller group.

5. Present a new plan of action as soon as possible to get focus and buy-in. More importantly show that you won't be repeating the same stuff that doesn't work.

6. Find and celebrate some "quick wins"

The goals of all your actions during and after layoffs is to build confidence in the leadership and team that is left.

To answer your second question, to my knowledge people stayed friends with those that got laid off. I still talk to many of them myself.

I hope this helps.

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#1 is very important. It reminds me, in a good way, of Machiavelli's advice that if we must do wrongs, we should do them all at once.

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"Correct me if I'm wrong, but most of these brands are riding on their brand equity, not the superior quality of their apparel."

I think you are right that some consumers buy because of brand equity. But it certainly isn't 100% of the audience. Bonobos ($40M revenue company) is a perfect example. They broke through the noise and found an audience that wanted to buy based on fit + quality. Not until a couple year into the company did they really start to try to expand their brand equity.

I think there is a sizable audience out there willing to buy based on quality + fit and a lower price (I'm in that audience). But of course at some point to continue growing into a massive company you need to start developing that brand equity.

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I've had the luxury of seeing the initial prototypes of at From Holden and was impressed. I feel like a fool buying $100+ shirts from places like Rag & Bone, but I do it because of the style + quality + fit. Looking forward to the first official run of From Holden so I don't have to feel like a fool again :)

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Great post. I'd like to expand on your point on how your brain is plastic which is important when it comes to positive/negative thoughts.

Positive Psychology is a really new but active area of psychology. One of the things they have found is that certain jobs are more oriented towards negative thought. For example, auditing is mostly about looking for mistakes. The interesting part is that people in these "negative" professions end up thinking negatively about everything in their life, not just their profession. As you point out, this is because the more we fire a certain set of neurons, the easier it is to fire and less energy it consumes.

But what is even more interesting is that there are certain professions like software development that are neutral on this negative to positive spectrum. In these cases we can actually influence how we think and build these neuron pathways just by context framing. i.e. instead of looking at a bug as fixing a mistake, look at it as an opportunity to improve the product.

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By Brute Force, I think I mean just incentivizing the audience in some way. The two most likely ways to incentivize are:

1. Monetary - Yelp paid reviewers a couple bucks a review. At Viximo we paid out guarantees. Glam paid out guarantees on minimum CPM's to early publishers.

2. Social Capital - From stories I've heard about LinkedIN, Reid Hoffman and early employees got friends to use the network and invite others.

3. Early Access/Coolness - You see this with beta invites, restricting early access, etc.

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AirBnb also owes some success to a bit more gray/black hat approach if I remember correctly: http://davegooden.com/2011/05/how-airbnb-became-a-billion-do...

Sometimes you gotta do what it takes.

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Thanks. I'm glad you found it helpful. Building networks/platforms/communities is extremely tough. Hoping more shared tactics will come out.

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