Startup L. Jackson

Silicon Valley's anonymous, unfiltered tech pundit

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON September 04, 2015

Discussion

Startup L. Jackson@startupljackson · Social Media Expert
I am a fake twitter account that began life as an inside joke. I toss ideas out into the world about startups, technology, and digital culture. Some of these ideas seem to be decent, and along the way people started paying attention. The only thing I like better than a good pun is a bad one.
Morgan Beller@beller · Partner, Andreessen Horowitz
@startupljackson - who are you?
Morgan Beller@beller · Partner, Andreessen Horowitz
(sorry I had to, the mystery is killing all of us)
Startup L. Jackson@startupljackson · Social Media Expert
@beller You were the kind of kid who snuck down and opened your christmas presents early, weren't you?
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
@startupljackson :)
Morgan Beller@beller · Partner, Andreessen Horowitz
@startupljackson - the ones under the Chanukah Bush :)
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
SLJ! Welcome. You wrote a blog post titled Choose Your People Wisely, where you stated: "In business, I’ve found that the one thing to never compromise on when choosing people is morality. Not because immoral or amoral people can’t succeed in business – they often do – but because these people will fuck your coworkers, they will fuck customers, and they will fuck you as soon as it is in their best interest." If you can share, what inspired this post and how do you evaluate someone's moral compass when building a team? P.S. for everyone else, here's our Product Hunt Radio podcast with the mysterious (wo)man.
Brandon Geo@brandonjgeo · Editor of @thenxxt & @thecubemedium
@rrhoover The PH Radio description: "This week we're joined by the infamous Startup L Jackson (twitter.com/startupljackson). For years he/she's tweeted their candid, often humorous take on the startup industry, behind a veil of mystery. In this episode, SLJ shares --->his<--- opinions on diversity in the tech industry, apps he/she uses, and reveals who he/she is not. Listen in." According to the PH Radio description SLJ is a man.
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
@brandonjgeo misdirection??? 😉
Startup L. Jackson@startupljackson · Social Media Expert
@rrhoover To be honest, that was a post about reddit. I didn't mention them at the time because I didn't want to make it "about reddit," but this was as they were announcing their (not) new policies on communities. I feel they've made the (false) choice to pursue good business over doing the right thing. I'm sure they have their perspective, but I personally see an organization that's morally bankrupt.
Brandon Geo@brandonjgeo · Editor of @thenxxt & @thecubemedium
@rrhoover ok, sure. 😄😉
Melissa Joy Kong@melissajoykong · Content, Product Hunt
(1) What's the dumbest piece of advice you think entrepreneurs are given? Why? (2) What's the most underrated piece of advice people don't take enough?
Paul Robert Cary@prcary · CEO, Findie | www.findie.me
@melissajoykong great questions! 💘
Rami Al-Karmi@alkarmi · CEO F03 Venture Partners (http://f03.co)
@melissajoykong Gr8 Question !
Startup L. Jackson@startupljackson · Social Media Expert
@melissajoykong That's a hard one, there's a lot of bad advice out there. I don't know that I can even pick one. I think these things go in phases. There's the common wisdom of the day and it may have some truth to it, but often too general. "Don't raise too much," "raise as much a possible," "industry X is horrible." Any piece of advice is bad if you are misapplying it? That's kinda a copout answer, but let's get meta on it.
D 0'clock@d0clock · RedHare
@startupljackson On the flip-side of this coin: (1) What are the biggest things VCs oversell about themselves to entrepreneurs to let them invest; and (2) What of these do entrepreneurs drink the kool-aid on anyway?
Emily Veach@editemily · writer @Feedly
@startupljackson Absolutes are the worst.
Morgan Beller@beller · Partner, Andreessen Horowitz
Now more seriously: what is the long-term vision for the "Startup L. Jackson" brand? Teespring campaigns? Joining the PH team? Your own fund? Follow-up: If you plan to stay anonymous, how important do you think that is for both the strategy and the success?
Startup L. Jackson@startupljackson · Social Media Expert
@beller To be honest, there was no long-term vision when it started. It was an inside joke. But, as happens, these things evolve. It became a fun place to post snarky one liners. Today, it's clearly grown to be a voice within a niche and that's kinda cool. When you have a microphone, you start thinking about what you can do with it. For now, I can use that mic to be ridiculous and get dopamine when people fav my shit, or to help startups when I think the common wisdom is wrong, or to promote great people doing great things. Theres no IPO planned as of yet, and that's what keeps it fun.
Austen Allred@austenallred · co-founder, Lambda School (YC S17)
@startupljackson If I had any money, I'd be an LP in the Jackson Fund
Morgan Beller@beller · Partner, Andreessen Horowitz
@startupljackson - can you still be anonymous if you have to file an S-1? :)
Andrew So@andrewdixonso
Which startups are shining examples of what you'd like SV to be, and which do you feel are hurting the culture?
Startup L. Jackson@startupljackson · Social Media Expert
@andrewdixonso I think the vast majority of startups I come across are full of smart people working hard. I tend to think people who make categorical statements about SV working on stupid problems or being full of people chasing money are mostly wrong. This is a special place where you can have big stupid ideas and go do them, and other people won't just let you do it, they'll encourage you and join in. I meet normal people in SV who inspire me every day.
Melissa Joy Kong@melissajoykong · Content, Product Hunt
In your podcast conversation with Product Hunt, you said (as a result of being SLJ), "I’ve learned a lot about social products, and virality, and what kinds of messages resonate with people." Can you speak more to what you've learned about human behavior? Any patterns you've observed in people while being anonymous that you don't observe as much (or at all) when people are interacting with your real life self?
Kim Klafczynski@kimkla · Founder, RenewU
@melissajoykong yes! great Q!
Startup L. Jackson@startupljackson · Social Media Expert
@melissajoykong I meant more that I get to post things to a big audience and see what resonates. A buddy once described this as "poking the lizard." It's interesting to see what works and what doesn't. In my opinion, for example, my absolute most hilarious tweets never seem to work. In terms of what I've learned about SV and people in general, I think SV is a place obsessed with status and pedigree. I love being outside that and watching it play out. It's fascinating.
Agent 009co@agent009co · agent 009
@startupljackson buddy .... "poking the lizard." ... googling now ... : ) edited to add: Seriously though Melissa's question goes to heart of what something like SLJ is all about, what value it has. The anonymity is key aspect of it, you can say things that others can't bc of their 'reputational straightjacket'. I've read Twitter threads where your comment just blows away the fluff and moves discussion in better direction. Yours is critical ecosystem function and you are good at it.
@melissajoykong Link to that podcast please? :)
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
SLJ - always a pleasure. If you were to see at therapist (or already do) what would you talk about?
Startup L. Jackson@startupljackson · Social Media Expert
@eriktorenberg Man, I don't see a therapist, but I self analyze a lot. I talk to myself about the wrong things I say to people sometimes, the mistakes I make, self doubt. I'm a fucking mess. The self reflection is a bit painful sometimes, but hopefully results in self improvement.
Catherine Trestini@cattrestini · Freelance Social Media Strategist in FL.
@startupljackson SLJ is our manic pixel dream (girl)
Daniel.@danielrakh · Product Designer | iOS Developer
Biggie or Tupac?
Startup L. Jackson@startupljackson · Social Media Expert
@danielrakh Biggie. But no love lost for Pac.
Varadh Jain@varadhjain
If you could give the Startup L Jackson account to anybody else for a year while you go on vacation, who would it be?
Startup L. Jackson@startupljackson · Social Media Expert
@varadhjain I think the funniest people on Twitter are often unknowns. I like @gojomo. Follow him. @loh is also hilarious.
@startupljackson Your AMA is the day after Ben's? Morgan Beller from a16z was the first to ask a question. It's pretty obvious. SLJ is Dave Chappelle.
Daniel.@danielrakh · Product Designer | iOS Developer
Droppin the de facto Thiel: What important truth do very few people agree with you on?
Startup L. Jackson@startupljackson · Social Media Expert
@danielrakh I hate that question. I think I lack the self awareness to provide a good answer.
Daniel.@danielrakh · Product Designer | iOS Developer
@startupljackson I see what you did there 😌
Amritpan@amritpan · Co founder, Makenter
@startupljackson I think your idea of surrounding yourself with good/moral people is a great answer to this question. It's one of those ideas that nearly everyone agrees with in concept, but far less will make that decision in the face of potential or real money.
Paul Robert Cary@prcary · CEO, Findie | www.findie.me
Which industry is the most ripe for disruption and hasn't yet been truly disrupted?
Startup L. Jackson@startupljackson · Social Media Expert
@paulrobertcary In my opinion, you can always build a rounder wheel. The big mistake I think founders make is picking too small a market. Those startups will never matter. If you are smart, work your ass off, and are in a big market you may not win, but you'll create opportunities. Combine that with a bit of luck and you can make something great.
Paul Robert Cary@prcary · CEO, Findie | www.findie.me
@startupljackson You didn't answer my question, but that's good advice nonetheless :)
@paulrobertcary he did, as long as you can figure out how to make the wheel rounder. Otherwise just throw the damn wheel in the dustbin and create the free wheel world.
Paul Robert Cary@prcary · CEO, Findie | www.findie.me
@anselm_k no, he didn't. Mathematically it's impossible to build a rounder wheel - that's just a cool-sounding thing to write and at best implies some sort of incremental change approach. I asked about disruption: wheel to hoverboard. I think it's important for founders, advisors and pundits to specify that a small market and a small niche inside a big market are not the same thing.
duetothedew@duetothedew
Has the real Samuel L. ever reached out to you?
Startup L. Jackson@startupljackson · Social Media Expert
@duetothedew A friend pinged his people. They didn't really get it. I found that funny.
Timur Zhiyentayev@tima_zhi · Cofounder of Drizzle
@startupljackson Do you think there is a big capital waste when investors invest in many companies solving the same problem? Say, food delivery from restaurants. Thanks!
Startup L. Jackson@startupljackson · Social Media Expert
@tima_zhi Not at all. In the big picture, this is very efficient. And what would be the alternative, central planning? Food tech is interesting. Investors hate it right now because it's "too crowded." From my perspective, it's blue ocean. Most of the food tech startups suck, NONE has significant market share, and this is literally one of the biggest markets on the planet. There should be more food tech startups.
Timur Zhiyentayev@tima_zhi · Cofounder of Drizzle
@startupljackson Many industries have 1-2 "monopolists" or winners with the largest market share, and rest (most !) of companies fail together with their invested capital. So it means that most of the capital is wasted. I guess it would be nice if someone (company?) quantifies competitive advantage (say 10X better in something) of VC-backed companies.
Matt McGunagle@mcgunagle45 · Founder @ StrengthPortal
@startupljackson spot on. There's even fewer food tech startups who have a solid understanding of nutrition. The evidenced-based fitness and nutrition community recommends thinking about nutrition like this (ranked in importance from most to least): 1. Calories 2. Macro nutrients 3. Micro nutrients 4. Meal timing/frequency 5. Supplements Almost all the time spent by startups is on 3 and 5 when the bigger problem lies in excessive caloric intake (ie poor food habits).
Timur Zhiyentayev@tima_zhi · Cofounder of Drizzle
@startupljackson I suggest you keep your real identity in secret. It is more fun that way =]
Ambi Valento@quit_t · Studygu.ru
What is written on your wallet?
Brent Ozar Unlimited@brentozarultd
@startupljackson Are you tired of all these motherfuckin startups in this motherfuckin valley?
Malcolm Tyson@malcolmtyson · Dev
hi @startupljackson -- how does it feel to be the bansky of this startup shit?
Nate Smith@imns81 · Founder @ Gratify
@startupljackson Say startup one more time!!!
Nate Smith@imns81 · Founder @ Gratify
Also, what do you think the biggest challenge is for startups outside of the valley?
Startup L. Jackson@startupljackson · Social Media Expert
@imns81 Clearly funding is a challenge, but I'd say it's thinking big. In the Valley, being practical is discouraged. Outside, big crazy thinking is often discouraged. Since these markets tend to be winner take most, you have to be much more willing to be thought a fool outside the Valley. Here we make it easy.
Abhishek Ghuwalewala@abhishekg · Founder & CEO, Tripnary
@startupljackson in the early stages of a startup, is it okay to focus on retention (engaging the 1x) rather than focusing on growth (going from 1x to 10x)?
Startup L. Jackson@startupljackson · Social Media Expert
@abhishekg growth doesn't matter early. Step one is to focus on delivering an extreme level of value to a small number of customers. Cause if you can't do that, scale is irrelevant. This is sometimes called unit economics. You can also call it affinity, or if you're a hippie/social product, love. I'm way more excited when I see a team that has four customers that would kill you if you took away the product than a team that has hundreds that are kind of indifferent. Indifference doesn't scale.
Startup L. Jackson@startupljackson · Social Media Expert
@startupljackson On the other hand, if you get a small number of customers to pay you $10K a month for something and it's a large market, it doesn't take imagination to think you can go buy customers profitably.
Abhishek Ghuwalewala@abhishekg · Founder & CEO, Tripnary
@startupljackson followup: how do you justify this to potential investors who are looking for DAU/MAU charts up and to the right?
Startup L. Jackson@startupljackson · Social Media Expert
@abhishekg Do what's right for your startup always. It's a second order problem to figure out how to explain it to investors. In my experience though, that is not a problem if you find the right ones.