Andrew Chen Archives

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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!

Featured Essays

eBook, presos, PDFs

2018 essay collection on growth metrics, marketplaces, viral growth in the enterprise, and more (PDF included). Here’s a quick compilation of my work over the last year in one PDF.

The red flags and magic numbers that investors look for in your growth metrics (80 slides). I created this deck as part of my interview process at Andreessen Horowitz. I talk through Growth Accounting, why lagging indicators aren’t that useful, and how to evaluate Acquisition and Engagement loops.

Why paid marketing sucks, Network effects, Viral Growth, and more (a16z Podcast). My colleague Jeff Jordan (who’s on the BOD of Airbnb, Instacart, Pinterest, and others) and I talk about how we approach startup traction and growth. Transcript included!

When organic growth goes enterprise (a16z podcast). Here’s a podcast I did with the great folks at a16z, including my partner Martin Casado, on how consumer growth techniques are coming to B2B companies.

Zero to Product/Market Fit – it’s really hard. A short and sweet presentation laying out a framework for how to navigate the journey from starting from zero to having product/market fit.

What’s Next in Growth. I gave a talk at Startcon (Australia) where I talked about the future of growth – both in strategy, channels, etc. – but made the point by connecting the dots on what marketers were doing 100 years ago for other products/industries.


Recent Essays (2015-current)

According to my analytics, these are the essays with the longest session durations – which hopefully means they are the most engaging! Check them out and hope you enjoy :)

  1. Building the initial team for seed stage startups
  2. How to actually calculate CAC
  3. The Power User Curve
  4. A Practitioner’s Guide to Net Promoter Score
  5. The red flags and magic numbers that investors look for in your startup’s metrics – 80 slide deck included!
  6. Required reading for marketplace startups: The 20 best essays
  7. How to interview for your growth team (from execs at Atlassian, Gusto, Hubspot)
  8. Why “Uber for X” failed: The supply side is king
  9. Uber’s virtuous cycle. Geographic density, hyperlocal marketplaces, and why drivers are key
  10. The Next Feature Fallacy: The fallacy that the next new feature will suddenly make people use your product
  11. Why consumer product metrics are all terrible
  12. New data shows losing 80% of mobile users is normal, and why the best apps do better
  13. How startups die from their addiction to paid marketing
  14. Benefit-Driven Metrics: Measure the lives you save, not the life preservers you sell
  15. DAU/MAU is an important metric to measure engagement, but here’s where it fails
  16. How do you find insights like Facebook’s “7 friends in 10 days” to grow your product faster?
  17. The Power User Curve
  18. How to build a billion dollar digital marketplace – examples from Uber, eBay, Craigslist, and more
  19. New data on push notifications show up to 40% CTRs, the best perform 4X better than the worst (Guest post)
  20. Why investors don’t fund dating
  21. The most common mistake when forecasting growth for new products (and how to fix it)
  22. Stanford CS major seeks sales/marketing monkey

Essays from 2011-2015

Below, I’ve organized some of the essays I’ve written in the last few years. Hope you enjoy them.


Product/Market Fit



Industry and Investing


Older content from 2007-2011

See below for some of my older content, from before 2013. Most of the discussion is about websites, and some of it outdated or wrong :) But I’ve archived them here to read at your leisure!

Viral marketing and user acquisition (2007-2011)

For web entrepreneurs, growing your userbase is a key challenge, alongside product development and financing. These posts emphasize a quantitative approach to getting traction and growing users.

Engagement and product design (2007-2013)

Using principles from game design and analysis of consumer behavior, these essays cover the process of creating experiences your customers will love.

Freemium and online ad monetization (2007-2013)

Social web product have unique characteristics as it applies to online advertising and direct monetization levels. These posts cover some of the issues around key topics such as ARPUs, conversion funnels, CPM rates, behavioral data, revenue modeling, etc.

Metrics (2007-2013)

Without metrics, web entrepreneurs are just flying blind. These essays cover some of the organization and development issues around instituting a metrics system – what to measure, in what order, and how to implement them.

Media and games (2007-2013)

Traditional media, including TV, music, games, and movies are at a crossroads. Here are some thoughts on how the industry is changing and evolving.

Entrepreneurship and startup life in San Francisco (2007-2013)

Just a couple thoughts on things I’ve encountered while arriving in SF.