Andrew Chen

Ex-venture capital and adtech, now Supply Growth at Uber

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON February 16, 2016


Andrew Chen@andrewchen · Uber
Hi All - Andrew here! I write about mobile, metrics, and growth at I also work at Uber on the Supply Growth team, where I head up their efforts on driver signups and referral programs. I'm an advisor/investor for tech startups including AngelList, AppSumo, Barkbox, Cardpool (acq. by Safeway), Dropbox, Frankly (TSX.V:TLK), Gravity (acq. by AOL), Grovo, Kiva, Product Hunt, Qualaroo, Qik (acq. by Skype), Secret, Wanelo, and ZenPayroll. Previously, I was an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Mohr Davidow Ventures, a Silicon Valley-based firm with $2B under management. Prior to MDV, I was director of product marketing at Audience Science, where I started up the ad network business that today reaches over 380 million uniques. I also co-authored a patent on personalized advertising. Happy to be answering your questions today! Fire away :)
Craig Hunter@craighunter_ · General Manager, Ritual
@andrewchen Your ad supported Uber post was amazing. Hypothetically, how does this get better (or worse) with autonomous cars?
Andrew Chen@andrewchen · Uber
@craighunter_ Good question. I'd think that self-driving cars will make transportation even more ubiquitous, which gives any kind of in-car ad network a lot more interesting since there will be more reach, better targeting, etc. Ultimately this might lead the way to free transportation, where advertisers pay, if the revenue is high enough and the automation is good enough. Who knows though? That's the great thing about tech.
Daniel Fitzpatrick@dancyfits · App developer
@andrewchen @craighunter_ Love the idea. But I just got a flash of Black Mirror S1E2. I feel like ads in auto-autos would facilitate more widespread use of eye-tracking type software. I can already hear Siri telling me that I have to look at the screen or pay 50 bitcoin. Complacency, people; don't let those conflabbit admen get too carried away!
randy addy@randy_addy · artist
@dancyfits @andrewchen @craighunter_ eye tracking ,body language, facial and smell yep whole 9 yards Remedy?
Derrick Show@drkshow · product, startx
@andrewchen @craighunter_ really enjoyed the read too! For driver partners, I still see the need for them to actually operate the autonomous cars in next 5 years. But 10 yrs out, who knows? Uber might need to start owning / operating their own autonomous cars. Then, its on the driver partners to re-evaluate if its worth their time to drive.
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Hey, Andrew! What's on your homescreen and which app do you often use that few people may have heard of?
Andrew Chen@andrewchen · Uber
@rrhoover Captio is a favorite that not many people use. I've been using Rise every day, due to Tracy Chou's recommendation. Longform. Sonos. The Alexa app for my Echo that Noah Kagan kindly got me.
Jonny Miller@jonnym1ller · Cofounder @Maptia
Hey @andrewchen – long time fan of your writing and marketing philosophies. What’s one thing that has surprised you since running Uber’s referral program? Can you share any interesting findings from your team’s experiments there?
Andrew Chen@andrewchen · Uber
@jonnym1ller I think the biggest learning is that Uber's offering to drivers is really unique and compelling. Insane product/market fit, which makes everything related to growth so much easier. Ultimately, Uber lets anyone turn their car into an ATM- when they need more money, they just drive. They can pick any hours they want, and it's better than any hourly work that's out there. So once you have an offering that's super badass, programs like referrals just work. Of course, there's much much more than you can do once it's working- that's all about running up the score. But it's nice to have strong fundamentals.
simpleERB@simpleerb · ceo,
@andrewchen @jonnym1ller doesn't "when they need more money, they just drive" - contradict - "Don't sell your time for a living" ? (see other comment)
Thomas Stöcklein@tomstocklein ·
What does a typical work week at Uber look like for you?
Andrew Chen@andrewchen · Uber
@tomstocklein I work on product at Uber, so I've chosen to organize my team's progress around two-week sprints. We do a kickoff at the beginning of the sprint where I talk through our part of the business (driver acquisition), why it's important, key metrics, etc. Then we talk through the projects and why we're doing them, and do Q&A. Then throughout the week, while the product team is building, I'm involved in the next sprint cycle, and a bunch of other projects. At the end of the week (halfway through the sprint), we review all the data from experiments we're running. Then the next week, we close out the sprint and do a demo at the end with a ton of beer, cupcakes, and cookies. Ultimately I'm in a lot of meetings during the day, but it's a lot of fun to work on products that are changing the world
Michael Lyons@michaellyons_us
@tomstocklein, good question ^^ - adding to it, @andrewchen I like the two week sprints to keep a high tempo. How does your team collaborate with the other growth teams at Uber? Do metrics differ or overlap? Do you have an integrated growth strategy between teams or does each head build and direct their own team efforts however they see fit?
Preet@preetnation · BlueLight, also enjoy QS and Parkour
@andrewchen @tomstocklein great answer and super interesting
Gabriel Reynard@gabrielreynard · Business Lover ✌
Hi @andrewchen Any life tips about career? Your trajectory is inspiring for a lot of people, what we should study/do to become successful like you did?
Andrew Chen@andrewchen · Uber
@gabrielreynard Some random thoughts on this. Learn to be T-shaped... be good at a bunch of stuff, but then have a clear superpower where you're world class. To be world class at something, you'll have to work on a single thing night and day for years. Spend time writing and reflecting, more than reading, and more than reading tweets. It's good to blend your work and your hobbies- that says you enjoy your work enough to do it all the time. Don't sell your time for a living?
Gabriel Reynard@gabrielreynard · Business Lover ✌
@andrewchen Thanks!
Phuc Kien Nguyen@phuckiennguyen · Founder, Fonk
@andrewchen what are the 5 key metrics that a mobile social network app should track first?
Andrew Chen@andrewchen · Uber
@phuckiennguyen You should pick your strategy, then pick the KPIs that reflect them. Picking 5 generic metrics isn't that interesting. More here:
Jonathan Korn@jkkorn · Product Owner @ PlayKids
Hey Andrew! What's the path to becoming a great product designer/manager ? Are there skills you find are underrated?
Andrew Chen@andrewchen · Uber
@jkkorn Being a great product designer and a great product manager are totally different, of course. But I think it's good to have 0 to 1 experience, and try to build something from scratch, and spend years trying to do that. That teaches you deep skills that are hard to learn any other way. If you spent a good chunk of your career doing that, then that'd be cool. Then working in a big, complex team like Uber can be super interesting because you learn a ton of skills around communication, management, organization, and working in a dynamic/hypergrowth environment. A lot of the top product leaders at Uber have significant (and often failed) startup experience because it's important to be humbled but also have the skills to keep going.
Mark Keane@mrkkeane · Founder, Favorly
@andrewchen @jkkorn Great question and answer.
Jonathan Korn@jkkorn · Product Owner @ PlayKids
Thomas Stöcklein@tomstocklein ·
What's on your bucket list?
Andrew Chen@andrewchen · Uber
@tomstocklein I don't believe in bucket lists :) If you have goals you should just do them. What's the point of having a list that's long and full of shit that you don't actually care enough to do right away?
Darren Hunter@beautifulnz · Partner Ziln and CityTime TV
Hi Andrew, whats the best way to market a travel app to a global audience in your opinion apart from Facebook ads? Cheers.
Drew Meyers@drewmeyers · Co-Founder, Horizon
@beautifulnz What travel app are you working on?
Andrew Chen@andrewchen · Uber
@beautifulnz Build an amazing, differentiated travel app that retains users like nothing else. Then do all the basics well.
PET TV@petinternettv
@andrewchen @beautifulnz Cheers Andrew, appreciate it!
PET TV@petinternettv
@drewmeyers @beautifulnz Video Travel app Citytime TV Cheers Darren
Juraj Pal@jurajpal · Head of Strategic Partnerships at Slido
Hi Andrew, what are some underrated channels to use right now to promote your product?
Andrew Chen@andrewchen · Uber
@jurajpal when you're first starting out, you should use all the channels that the big guys can't use because they are focused on scale. So mailing lists, forums, online communities, offline gatherings, etc. Those are all great. Then you prove out the product and over time, scale your product into bigger channels.
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
Which social channel has been of most help to growth at Uber?
Andrew Chen@andrewchen · Uber
@andrewmettinger A great product that spreads via word of mouth. That's social right?
Theoharis Dimarhos@theo_dimarhos · Marketing+Biz Dev at AngelouEconomics
Hey Andrew! How do you think charities can create a growth system in order to grow exponentially?
Andrew Chen@andrewchen · Uber
@theo_dimarhos Just look at Kiva? And I know there's been a few YCombinator nonprofits that are doing well.
Chas Barton@charbarts · Ux/Interactive Designer, Jux
Working for the juggernaut, Uber, what's the most intimidating thing about young startups in similar categories?
Andrew Chen@andrewchen · Uber
@charbarts everyone with a little funding and some coding chops has the ability to challenge any juggernaut. So I think it's important to be humble and stay innovative, because people can come up with totally new angles at any point that totally disrupt the industry. I think any big company is more likely to be disrupted by an upstart versus another big company, because the startups can get asymmetric and do things that seem crazy at first, but helps them create huge structural advantages. (For example, google not putting in ads at first, facebook starting out in the college niche, etc.)
Sharee Loeffler@shareelo · I like marketing tech startups
@andrewchen What books do you recommend? Growth/business related or not.
Andrew Chen@andrewchen · Uber
@shareelo replied with this earlier, but here's ten books:
Sharee Loeffler@shareelo · I like marketing tech startups
@andrewchen Thank you! and my apologies for a repeat Q. I'm a big fan of your blog - thanks for all the great content.
Jon Bishop@jon_bishop · Growth Hacker
Uber changed the entire landscape of public transport, AirBnB changed the way we see new places in the world, what other industries do you see (or would you like to see) being completely changed in the same way as Uber and AirBnB have changed their respective industries.
Andrew Chen@andrewchen · Uber
@jon_bishop Every industry and product can always get better, so I'd like to see everything get reinvented :)
Ellie Li@li_ellie · #DidYouSeeThat
@andrewchen - Andrew, I read your ad-supported uber post, just curious why isn't anyone doing/testing the concept or is there anyone doing it already? What's uber's view on advertising? Thanks!
Andrew Chen@andrewchen · Uber
Vinish Garg@vingar · Co-founder @mystippi @ContentHug
One more please. Are there any specific company ideas that you really want someone to build and would potentially fund?
Andrew Chen@andrewchen · Uber
@vingar nope. Entrepreneurship is all about letting people build, and the supply of amazing ideas is the hard part. I love seeing what people come up with. It's pull rather than push. If I had a specific idea I'd be building it already :)
Porsche Tysk@porsche_tysk
What do you think the challenges will be for GoJuno? A lot of drivers talk about joining due to lower fees, if you lower, will you increase fares?
Jianming Zhou@jianmingzhou · Co-founder of SherpaShare
What is your view on long term relationship between drivers and Uber and how the industry will evolve?
Andrew Chen@andrewchen · Uber
@jianmingzhou Hopefully the relationship improves every year. A huge chunk of Uber's team is focused primarily on drivers - retaining them, listening to them, and improving the Uber experience for them. The Uber platform is super compelling to drivers- it lets them get paid, with totally flexible hours. We have >1M active drivers these days, and there's been a ton that's written about what it's like to be a driver on Uber: