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Explosive Growth: A Few Things I Learned While Growing To 100 Million Users - And Losing $78 Million

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*Ranked' BEST GROWTH-HACKING BUSINESS BOOKS' by Entrepreneur.com
#1 BEST-SELLER in 5 Startup & Entrepreneurship Categories

This compelling and inspiring narrative gives entrepreneurs a rare behind-the-scenes look inside a fast-growing startup that created the first online dating app and grew to 100 million users

Explosive Growth combines lively and often hilarious storytelling, revealing genius growth tactics, numerous case-studies, and its step-by-step playbook to help your startup grow massively.

Due to its raw storytelling style, practical lessons, compelling content, and fast-paced read, Explosive Growth is a one-of-a-kind business book that transcends the narrow entrepreneurial audience to also appeal to readers and business students looking to learn about startup life and entrepreneurship. It holds nothing back while detailing the highest highs and lowest lows of what it's really like to run a startup.  

Cliff Lerner's online dating startup, Snap Interactive, was running out of money when he bet the company's fortunes on a then-unknown platform called Facebook. The app suddenly began to acquire 100,000 new users daily for free, and soon after the stock price skyrocketed 2,000 percent, setting off an extraordinary chain of events filled with sudden success and painful lessons.

You will learn how to:
    * IGNITE EXPLOSIVE GROWTH by creating a remarkable product
    * Identify the ONLY 3 METRICS THAT MATTER
    * Explore valuable VIRAL GROWTH strategies to grow rapidly
    * Execute the GENIUS MEDIA HACKS that helped us acquire 100 million users
    * Create a thriving culture of PASSIONATE EMPLOYEES and CONSTANT INNOVATION

"A must read for founders and CEOs who want to achieve rapid growth while also building a great product and company." -Payal Kadakia, Founder & Executive Chairman of ClassPass

"Explosive Growth is without question one of the most useful and entertaining business books I have ever read. Cliff gives you a roadmap to massively grow your startup with specific tactical lessons made memorable through engaging stories. This book is a must-read." -David Perry, Digital Sales & Business Development Expert at Google, Adobe, Amazon, Startup Advisor

"Want to know how to grow your startup to 100 million users? Then this is the book for you. Explosive Growth gives step-by-step instructions, case studies and proven tactics on how to explode your growth." -Entrepreneur Magazine by Syed Balkhi

"Lessons for startups and CEOs on growth hacking, marketing, and innovation from one of the smartest founders I know." -Andrew Weinreich, Inventor of Social Networking

314 pages, Kindle Edition

First published November 7, 2017

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About the author

Cliff Lerner

3 books19 followers
Cliff Lerner gave up a lucrative Wall Street career to launch an online dating start-up called SNAP Interactive. With little funding, Snap established itself as the leader and pioneers in the online dating industry, becoming the first social media company to become publicly traded in 2006.

SNAP’s dating apps have attracted over 100 million users and pioneered numerous online dating innovations including being the first dating site to integrate Facebook’s social features and ‘swiping’ into the online dating experience. SNAP’s revenue grew 4,412 percent from 2007 to 2011, making it the 9th fastest growing internet company in the US. 

Cliff served as Snap's CEO for 11 years until 2016 when it was acquired. He is a leading social media and online dating visionary and spokesperson. He has appeared on CNBC, Bloomberg, Fortune TV, and many other top tier media outlets.

Cliff grew up in long island, lives in Manhattan, and enjoys a good steak, karaoke, traveling, and playing basketball where you can usually find him working on his 3-point shot.

Get more Explosive Growth content at the Explosive Growth Business Book website, including Explosive Growth Tips For Entrepreneurs and Cliff’s recommended best business books for entrepreneurs.

Explosive Growth: A Few Things I Learned While Growing To 100 Million Users And Losing $78 Million: Ultimate Startup Playbook In Entrepreneurship, Business Strategy, Online Marketing, Leadership & PR

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5 stars
392 (45%)
4 stars
277 (32%)
3 stars
143 (16%)
2 stars
30 (3%)
1 star
15 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 52 reviews
Profile Image for Mikhail Kulakov.
102 reviews9 followers
November 20, 2018
Мне книга очень зашла! Интересная история, много инсайтов про мир dating-а. Автор круто повествует. Какие то вещи взял для себя на заметку. Не знал кстати, что на бирже можно сделать self listing.

****Пару цитат:****

A great team can take you a long way, but elite individual talent might be what you need to get over the hump.

The new product needs to be ten times better than the competition for the user to justify investing their time in it.

Creating the perfect feature indicates making lots of assumptions without gathering user feedback and data.

Plenty of Fish ultimately became one of the largest dating sites in the world and sold for $580 million to IAC in 2016.

It’s something a lot of young executives and CEOs don’t do (and I think that’s a mistake) because we got some of our best ideas for new features and site improvements that way.

Since we were publicly traded, most venture capital firms were prohibited from investing in us, because their big payday is usually when a company turns public.

Come up with new features to charge users for instead of monetizing previously free features.

We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.

I recommend asking, “Would I hire this person again, knowing what I know now?”

The three critical questions we needed to answer were: Was our product still remarkable? Did people love our product so much that they were telling others about it? Were users coming back over and over to use the product?

Within two weeks after release, we would run tests, analyze the data, and take one of three actions: Celebrate it!: It was a huge win and surpassed our success metric! Iterate on it: We thought it had potential, but it didn’t quite live up to expectations yet. Obliterate it: It was a complete disaster and wasn’t worth our time to iterate it.

Our users loved finding out various facts and figures about the dating landscape, and so did the media.

No! We’re not online dating! It’s like we’re shopping, but for men, get it? (RE what Tinder is)

In the online dating world—scratch that—in the dating world, guys are completely irrelevant.

The best people need to be working on the biggest opportunities, not the biggest problems.
Profile Image for Marius.
56 reviews1 follower
December 18, 2021
It’s hard to believe that this is american book. The author shares the success of his career (of cours) AND the loss, unsuccessful decisions within his company. I love his view on how to keep focus when you become known, after earning tremendous amount of money and not to loose your initial path.
Profile Image for Carolina Medina.
14 reviews3 followers
March 1, 2019
Muy recomendado para emprendimientos digitales en crecimiento

He disfrutado la forma en que este libro me hace plantear paralelos entre lo que estaban viviendo en SNAP Interactive y lo que vivimos en mi propio emprendimiento. Los tips hacen que la lectura sea fácil y rápida, y que se puedan extraer los aprendizajes rápidamente! Me llevo muchas ideas para continua creciendo mi empresa!
Profile Image for Mai.
5 reviews
April 21, 2019
A must read for any entrepreneurs and startup founders

I got this book for my birthday and started to read it during Christmas break. The book is compelling, interesting and easy to grasp. Cliff recalls his experience in running an online dating startup and summarizes each chapter with key takeaways, explosive growth tips and reading recommendations. I wish I knew many of these tips earlier. The book has inspired me to take actions and make changes for 2019. This is perhaps one of my favorite books so far and I will be looking forward to reading new books in Cliff’s recommendation list for sure.
1 review1 follower
November 18, 2017
Fast, fun and informative

A fast and entertaining read, Explosive Growth by Cliff Lerner takes you on the real-life journey of the business leader that started the first successful Facebook dating app. Through Cliff’s honesty and experience, we learn invaluable business tips from both his successes and regrets. While at the same time, gaining fun insight on the world of online dating. Apparently single brunettes that like myself, may want to consider moving to Denver Colorado. Fun and informative – it's a must read!
Profile Image for Migdalia.
97 reviews3 followers
March 12, 2020
Not great...

Extremely dry read! Most of the book is just about the author gloating about how great his product was and how the world wasn't ready for his product... yet... and how somebody else took advantage of that (Tinder). *huge eyeroll*

I gave it three stars instead of one because a few of the "explosive growth tips" are good. I'm definitely NOT part of his target audience as I don't plan to start a huge corporation (actually, I hate the corporate world), so a lot of the tips are useless to me.
108 reviews5 followers
April 10, 2019
As an small business owner a lot of the tips were not applicable. 50% of the tips really are for web or software developers. That being said it was a really great story with a lot of useful lessons. Definitely worth a read!
200 reviews8 followers
January 5, 2022
A different kind of an autobiography/business book where the author describes his failures with the company and is not trying to show off and present himself in the spotlight.
Profile Image for Cara.
Author 20 books85 followers
July 26, 2018
I was just going to read a little of this as a break and then get back to work, and I ended up reading the whole book! It’s an excellent mix of stories and lessons, and I kept going because I wanted to know what was next of both. Many of the tips are pretty specific to running a software/app company, but there were also plenty that I can apply.

I particularly liked the info on how to make something viral. I want to learn more about that, and I appreciate the resource recommendations.

Now I want to know if his dating app (The Grade) is still out there. It’s replying to all the pointless messages that I hate, and it sounds like they mostly solved that.
6 reviews
January 24, 2019
Absolutely amazing

I’m inspired by this mans story, I see how easy it is for one to make some of the mistakes he did. As an aspiring entrepreneur I’ll re-read this throughout my journey
March 15, 2021
Un livre super facile à lire qui donne des anecdotes intéressantes sur la croissance d'une start-up numérique. Par son style et son histoire, il m'a beaucoup fait pensé à The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers. Je pense que les deux se complètent bien. Explosive Growth est plus pour les startupers débutant dans le monde du numérique. The Hard Thing About Hard Thing est plus sur la phase d'institutionnalisation mouvementée d'une startup en multinationale.

Les choses que j'ai retenu :

1. Il leur a fallu des années pour trouver leur marché et débuter une croissance exponentielle. Des années durant lesquelles on est jamais loin d'abandonner.

2. La croissance exponentielle a nécessité un pivot stratégique à un moment clef. Cela nécessite un vision claire, beaucoup de courage et de la chance.

3. même avec des revenus très raisonnables et une position dominante, on est jamais à l’abri d'être remplacé en quelques mois dans le numérique. Il faut donc constamment se réinventer, ce que l'auteur semble avoir été incapable. D'ailleurs tout le monde a oublié sa startup, ce qui fait réfléchir sur quel est le point le plus important parmi les trois cités ici.
Profile Image for Hamish.
403 reviews23 followers
December 24, 2020
An inspiring read.

I kept thinking "if this entitled dullard can get rich from starting a dating app, then I certainly can! What kind of moron starts their career on Wall Street, yet doesn't liquidate any of their stock when it it's worth a hundred million dollars?"

Mostly generic business-babble.

But there are some interesting insights into the data app world.
- Tinder initially got a foothold by throwing college parties and inviting sororities, then only letting fraternities in if they downloaded the app.
- The women are the only important users. Men go where the women are.
- According to Snap's data, ethnically, all men prefer Asian women except for Asian men who prefer Hispanic women.

- It's a good idea to leave the basic service free while charging for new advanced features.

The only part of the book which seemed useful was the tips on how to have a nice work environment:
- Hire a masseuse to come in and give free chair massages once a week/fortnight/month
- Company newsletter for introducing new employees
- Allow employees to leave at 4pm on Fridays
- On birthdays give employees $100 to donate to charity. They can describe the charity on the newsletter.
- Timeline wall with photos of employees as they join
- Ping pong
- Once a week give an employee $50 to buy a treat for the office
- A culture club to think of new ideas
- Give employees an engraved stapler after a year at the company
Profile Image for Aaron Aoyume.
138 reviews
November 21, 2019
More About Learning From Mistakes

In many aspects, this book is very similar to Lost And Founder, as it goes on describing similar mistakes that Lerner made as CEO of Snap Interactive (not to be confused with Snapchat's holding, but this is an internal joke). But there is a major difference that makes this book maybe even more interesting, because Lerner's app, Are You Interested?, had at a certain point to face Tinder, and that changed everything. Lerner's astute idea to leverage on Facebook was also brilliant at its time, and his keen sense for the viral (as in newshacking) is a high point in the book as well. Very nice.
Profile Image for Tauri Laane.
350 reviews82 followers
August 12, 2022
I praise the book on all the life-examples. No theory, but real lessons from the authors roller-coaster as a huge business success. This is a good book to read both while wanting to go to the top and while enjoying a good luck streak to be prepared for a 97% downfall from where You will never recover :) And while yes all the ideas in this book are good thought exercises to get to the top, I must add that the author never did get on top again even though he knows all this stuff :) But yes, I hope I will re-read it while I’m having massive success and don’t think there will be a downfall. There always IS a downfall.
24 reviews1 follower
July 17, 2020
Good learnings from the life of the author. How he went from creating a startup to chance of making it big and eventually couldn’t.

Though I felt that the story telling lacked the depth but the learnings made up for the shallowness in the style.

Also, many references to suggestions on what books to read and also many of the talks are picked straight out of other books. Hence the feeling of originality was missing.

PS: One of those books, which I didn’t enjoyed as much but still finished reading it.
15 reviews1 follower
August 1, 2018
An extremely fun and insightful book!

This was really a good book. The author not only tells his own amazing story about his entrepreneurial successes and failures, he also adds countless gems of tips to apply to your own business. I found countless usable tips and at least 10 other book recommendations just from reading this book. If you are undecided about reading this book just like I was, please do yourself a favour and read it now!
October 14, 2018
Decent read. I felt kind of sad for the author, as he never cashed out on his stock from Snap Inc. and ended up not making anything from his endeavors. He’s honest about his lessons but the big thing I gathered from him is he made the right decision to pivot Are You Interested to Facebook back when the latter came out. He gets credit for this for sure, but he didn’t seem like he had much else besides that. Decent lessons about marketing and PR, but I wouldn’t say this is a must read book.
Profile Image for Yanis Mellata.
29 reviews2 followers
November 10, 2022
Interesting and honest book about the journey. These books all really come down to the same principles

Three takeaways
1- have a strong process for execution and experimentation. Continuously doing so is a sure way to stumble onto something that works
2- know when to pivot / shift focus and when doing so, go 140%. be harsh on yourself and your hypotheses
3- don’t try to take what worked for others and mindlessly apply it. we’re all more creative than we give ourselves credit
Profile Image for Iago Seleme.
25 reviews2 followers
June 19, 2018
Full of insights about business startup in the area of technology, specially relevant for businesses who depend on creating networks of users. The author reflects on what he got right and the mistakes he made, and also reviews a whole range of relevant books that helped him find solutions along the way.
Profile Image for Nabil.
81 reviews7 followers
April 27, 2020
Had some interesting points, but overall it was very much a story about how one company works, then assuming it can be applied to every company.

Also lots of "pro tips" sprinkled throughout, most of which weren't terribly insightful.

Good book if you've never done anything online marketing related.
Profile Image for Ed Barton.
1,302 reviews
October 17, 2020
More Than A Few Things

When the author says he learned a few things, he isn’t kidding. A trove of good advice, stories and history that is a good read for any founder. You’ll get to walk in his shoes and see the advice of his mistakes. The advice is useful and timely. A good read.
Profile Image for Jay Greco.
1 review
April 2, 2019
Interesting story, but somewhat light on the deeper analysis of events I was hoping for. The #explosivegrowthtips feel a bit clickbaity, but I guess I could see them being useful to someone skimming through.
1 review
January 25, 2020
I loved Explosive Growth. This is a rare book that combines great storytelling with invaluable lessons for entrepreneurs and anybody looking to grow their business skills. The case-studies around online dating and growth marketing and brilliant and hilarious.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Fer Tostado.
187 reviews1 follower
March 19, 2020
Great entrepreneurial story. It's fun interesting and it has scaling, product design and general business tips all related to a situation that Cliff had to deal during his way up, and down, and up once again to the top of the entrepreneur Olympus. I enjoyed it very much.
July 11, 2021
Very rarely do I find books that I couldn’t stop reading and this is one of them. Brilliantly narrated, not beating around the bush and straight to the point. You’ll have at least one take away in every 5 pages.
Profile Image for Mehmet.
248 reviews6 followers
October 23, 2022
Dijital dünyada girişimciliğe dair birçok hayat tecrübesini içeren okuması çok keyifli, sürükleyici bir kitap. Beklediğimden hafif bir okumaydı. Bir girişimcilik hikayesi olduğu için sanki bir roman okuyormuşsunuz havası veriyor. Bir günde hızlıca okuyup bitirebilirsiniz.
Profile Image for Dennis.
29 reviews2 followers
March 16, 2019
An interesting book with a ton of gold nuggets scattered throughout the book. Definitely, recommend checking out this book. I was able to catch it at my local library!
Profile Image for Afzal Anwar.
25 reviews
June 10, 2019
Not that explosives. Just some suggestions and advices.

Too narrow and is only good for someone who is planning to launch an online app or website
Displaying 1 - 30 of 52 reviews

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