Andrew Chen Archives

Subscribe · Featured · Recent · The Cold Start Problem 📘
Dear readers, I have moved to Substack and I will be writing here from now on:
In the meantime, I will leave up for posterity. Enjoy!

How do I learn to be a growth hacker? Work for one of these guys :)


After writing my recent article on Growth Hackers, I’ve been asked by quite a few folks on how to learn the discipline. The best answer is, learn from someone who’s already good at it – if you’re technical and creative, it’s well worth the time.

I would encourage everyone to also read Andy Johns’s Quora answers on What is Facebook’s User Growth team responsible for and what have they launched? and
What are some decisions taken by the “Growth team” at Facebook that helped Facebook reach 500 million users?
– it lays out a lot of the key activities used in a well-run growth team.

The list below includes some of these folks I know personally, some just by reputation- but collectively they’ve grown products up to millions, 10s of millions, and in some cases, 100M+ users. Typically they use quantitatively-oriented techniques centered on virality across different channels such as iOS, Facebook, email, etc. There’s lots of iteration, A/B testing, and experimentation involved. There’s also really great growth hackers centered around SEO, SEM/ad arb, and other techniques, but for the most part I’m just listing out the folks around quant-based virality. The important thing about virality is, it’s free :) So it’s an important skill for startups.

Missing from this list are many unsung heroes over at Zynga, Dropbox, Branchout, Viddy/Socialcam, lots of ex-Paypal/Slide people, etc., etc. Also, all of these guys typically have co-founders or entire growth teams around them that are experts, even if I don’t know them by name.

If others in the community would like to make suggestions, tweet me at @andrewchen or just reply in the comments.

Name Background Twitter
Noah Kagan AppSumo, Mint, Facebook noahkagan
David King, ex-Lil Green Patch deekay
Mike Greenfield Circle of Moms, ex LinkedIn mike_greenfield
Ivan Kirigin Dropbox, ex-Facebook ikirigin
Michael Birch ex-Bebo, BirthdayAlarm mickbirch
Blake Commegere ex-Causes/Many games commagere
Ivko Maksimovic ex-Chainn/Compare People ivko
Dave Zohrob ex-Hot or Not, MegaTasty dzohrob
Jia Shen ex-RockYou metatek
James Currier ex-Tickle jamescurrier
Stan Chudnovsky ex-Tickle stan_chudnovsky
Siqi Chen ex-Zynga blader
Ed Baker Facebook esbaker
Alex Schultz Facebook alexschultz
Joe Greenstein Flixster joseph77b
Yee Lee Google yeeguy
Josh Elman Greylock, ex-Twitter joshelman
Jamie Quint Lookcraft, ex-Swipely jamiequint
Elliot Shmukler LinkedIn eshmu
Aatif Awan LinkedIn aatif_awan
Andy Johns Quora, Twitter, Facebook ibringtraffic
Robert Cezar Matei Quora, ex-Zynga rmatei
Nabeel Hyatt Spark, ex-Zynga nabeel
Paul McKellar SV Angel, ex-Square pm
Greg Tseng Tagged gregtseng
Othman Laraki Twitter othman
Akash Garg Twitter, ex-Hi5 akashgarg
Jonathan Katzman Yahoo, ex-Xoopit jkatzman
Gustaf Alstromer Voxer gustaf
Jon Tien Zynga jontien

UPDATE: My friend Dan Martell’s new company, Clarity, provides a way to access experts like this via phone and email. Here’s the directory of folks with expertise on growth.

PS. Get new updates/analysis on tech and startups

I write a high-quality, weekly newsletter covering what's happening in Silicon Valley, focused on startups, marketing, and mobile.

Views expressed in “content” (including posts, podcasts, videos) linked on this website or posted in social media and other platforms (collectively, “content distribution outlets”) are my own and are not the views of AH Capital Management, L.L.C. (“a16z”) or its respective affiliates. AH Capital Management is an investment adviser registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Registration as an investment adviser does not imply any special skill or training. The posts are not directed to any investors or potential investors, and do not constitute an offer to sell -- or a solicitation of an offer to buy -- any securities, and may not be used or relied upon in evaluating the merits of any investment.

The content should not be construed as or relied upon in any manner as investment, legal, tax, or other advice. You should consult your own advisers as to legal, business, tax, and other related matters concerning any investment. Any projections, estimates, forecasts, targets, prospects and/or opinions expressed in these materials are subject to change without notice and may differ or be contrary to opinions expressed by others. Any charts provided here are for informational purposes only, and should not be relied upon when making any investment decision. Certain information contained in here has been obtained from third-party sources. While taken from sources believed to be reliable, I have not independently verified such information and makes no representations about the enduring accuracy of the information or its appropriateness for a given situation. The content speaks only as of the date indicated.

Under no circumstances should any posts or other information provided on this website -- or on associated content distribution outlets -- be construed as an offer soliciting the purchase or sale of any security or interest in any pooled investment vehicle sponsored, discussed, or mentioned by a16z personnel. Nor should it be construed as an offer to provide investment advisory services; an offer to invest in an a16z-managed pooled investment vehicle will be made separately and only by means of the confidential offering documents of the specific pooled investment vehicles -- which should be read in their entirety, and only to those who, among other requirements, meet certain qualifications under federal securities laws. Such investors, defined as accredited investors and qualified purchasers, are generally deemed capable of evaluating the merits and risks of prospective investments and financial matters. There can be no assurances that a16z’s investment objectives will be achieved or investment strategies will be successful. Any investment in a vehicle managed by a16z involves a high degree of risk including the risk that the entire amount invested is lost. Any investments or portfolio companies mentioned, referred to, or described are not representative of all investments in vehicles managed by a16z and there can be no assurance that the investments will be profitable or that other investments made in the future will have similar characteristics or results. A list of investments made by funds managed by a16z is available at Excluded from this list are investments for which the issuer has not provided permission for a16z to disclose publicly as well as unannounced investments in publicly traded digital assets. Past results of Andreessen Horowitz’s investments, pooled investment vehicles, or investment strategies are not necessarily indicative of future results. Please see for additional important information.