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Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies by Reid Hoffman
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Blitzscaling Quotes Showing 1-30 of 108
“There’s a common misconception that Silicon Valley is the accelerator of the world. The real story is that the world keeps getting faster—Silicon Valley is just the first place to figure out how to keep pace. While Silicon Valley certainly has many key networks and resources that make it easier to apply the techniques we’re going to lay out for you, blitzscaling is made up of basic principles that do not depend on geography. We’re going to show you examples from overlooked parts of the United States, such as Detroit (Rocket Mortgage) and Connecticut (Priceline), as well as from international companies, such as WeChat and Spotify. In the process you’ll see how the lessons of blitzscaling can be adapted to help build great companies in nearly any ecosystem, albeit with differing degrees of difficulty. That’s the mission of this book. We want to share the secret weapon that has allowed Silicon Valley to punch so much (more than a hundred times) above its population index so that those lessons can be applied far beyond the sixty-mile stretch between the Golden Gate Bridge and San Jose. It is sorely needed.”
Reid Hoffman, Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies
“In fact, the same basic ingredients can easily be found in numerous start-up clusters in the United States and around the world: Austin, Boston, New York, Seattle, Shanghai, Bangalore, Istanbul, Stockholm, Tel Aviv, and Dubai. To discover the secret to Silicon Valley’s success, you need to look beyond the standard origin story. When people think of Silicon Valley, the first things that spring to mind—after the HBO television show, of course—are the names of famous start-ups and their equally glamorized founders: Apple, Google, Facebook; Jobs/ Wozniak, Page/ Brin, Zuckerberg. The success narrative of these hallowed names has become so universally familiar that people from countries around the world can tell it just as well as Sand Hill Road venture capitalists. It goes something like this: A brilliant entrepreneur discovers an incredible opportunity. After dropping out of college, he or she gathers a small team who are happy to work for equity, sets up shop in a humble garage, plays foosball, raises money from sage venture capitalists, and proceeds to change the world—after which, of course, the founders and early employees live happily ever after, using the wealth they’ve amassed to fund both a new generation of entrepreneurs and a set of eponymous buildings for Stanford University’s Computer Science Department. It’s an exciting and inspiring story. We get the appeal. There’s only one problem. It’s incomplete and deceptive in several important ways. First, while “Silicon Valley” and “start-ups” are used almost synonymously these days, only a tiny fraction of the world’s start-ups actually originate in Silicon Valley, and this fraction has been getting smaller as start-up knowledge spreads around the globe. Thanks to the Internet, entrepreneurs everywhere have access to the same information. Moreover, as other markets have matured, smart founders from around the globe are electing to build companies in start-up hubs in their home countries rather than immigrating to Silicon Valley.”
Reid Hoffman, Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies
“We tried a number of single-threaded efforts to meet the challenge. We rolled out features one after another, such as a recommendation engine for people that our users should meet and a professional Q&A service. None of them worked well enough to solve the problem. We concluded that the problem might require a Swiss Army knife approach with multiple use cases for multiple groups of users. After all, some people might want a news feed, some might want to track their career progress, and some might be keen on continuing education. Fortunately, LinkedIn had grown to the point where the organization could support multiple threads. We reorganized the product team so that each director of product could focus on a different approach to address engagement. Even though none of those efforts alone proved a silver bullet, the overall combination of them significantly improved user engagement.”
Reid Hoffman, Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies
“blitzscaling is prioritizing speed over efficiency in the face of uncertainty.”
Reid Hoffman, Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies
“change is the only constant,”
Reid Hoffman, Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies
“This book is for anyone who wants to understand the techniques that allow a business to grow from zero to a multibillion-dollar market leader in a handful of years. These techniques should be of interest to entrepreneurs who want to build massive companies, venture capitalists who want to invest in them, employees who want to work for them, and governments and communities who wish to encourage the growth of these companies in their own regions. And even if you don’t want to build, invest in, or work for any of these companies, you’ll still need to navigate the world that they’re building. If you are a manager or a leader who is trying to rapidly scale a project or a business unit within a larger company, blitzscaling can help you too. And while we draw these lessons primarily from the world of high tech, many of the principles and frameworks the book lays out (especially regarding people management) are applicable to high-growth companies in most industries worldwide, from European fast-fashion retailers to Texan oil shale companies.”
Reid Hoffman, Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies
“Even organizations outside the business world can use blitzscaling to their advantage. Upstart presidential campaigns and nonprofits serving the underprivileged have used the levers of blitzscaling to overturn conventional wisdom and achieve massive results. You’ll read all these stories, and many more, in the pages of this book. Whether you are a founder, a manager, a potential employee, or an investor, we believe that understanding blitzscaling will allow you to make better decisions in a world where speed is the critical competitive advantage. With the power of blitzscaling, the adopted son of a Syrian immigrant (Steve Jobs), the adopted son of a Cuban immigrant (Jeff Bezos), and a former English teacher and volunteer tour guide (Jack Ma) were all able to build businesses that changed—and are still changing—the world.”
Reid Hoffman, Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies
“In the end, Airbnb’s founders realized that they wanted to take on the Samwers—and they wanted to win. But how? The key was an aggressive, all-out program of growth that we call blitzscaling. Blitzscaling drives “lightning” growth by prioritizing speed over efficiency, even in an environment of uncertainty. It’s a set of specific strategies and tactics that allowed Airbnb to beat the Samwer brothers at their own game. Just a few months later, determined to acquire the resources needed to outscale the Samwers, Brian raised $ 112 million in additional venture capital. Airbnb then embarked on an aggressive international expansion plan, including the acquisition of Accoleo, a smaller and more affordable German Airbnb clone, that allowed Airbnb to compete directly with Wimdu in its home market. By the spring of 2012, Airbnb had opened nine international offices, setting up shop in London, Hamburg, Berlin, Paris, Milan, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Moscow, and São Paulo. Bookings had grown ten times since that previous February, and in June 2012 Airbnb announced its ten millionth booking. “The Samwers gave us a gift,” Brian admitted many years later in our Blitzscaling class. “They forced us to scale faster than we ever would have.” By choosing to grow at a breakneck pace, Airbnb had achieved a dominant position in its market.”
Reid Hoffman, Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies
“infrastructure companies. Amazon is so good at infrastructure that its fastest-growing and most profitable business (AWS) is all about allowing other companies to leverage Amazon’s computing infrastructure. Amazon also makes money by offering Fulfillment by Amazon to other merchants who envy its mastery of logistics, which ought to strike fear into the hearts of frenemies like UPS and FedEx. In addition to its eighty-six gigantic fulfillment centers, Amazon also has at least fifty-eight Prime Now hubs in major markets, allowing it to beat UPS and FedEx on performance by offering same-day delivery of purchases in less than two hours. Amazon has also built out “sortation” centers that let it beat UPS and FedEx on price by shipping small packages via the United States Postal Service for about $ 1 rather than paying FedEx or UPS around $ 4.50.”
Reid Hoffman, Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies
“You might feel like you can’t afford to take time out from your busy schedule to make yourself better. After all, you might think, everyone is counting on me. This feeling, while natural, is counterproductive. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings warned our Stanford class, “[When I was running Pure Software,] I felt like investing in me was selfish. I thought, ‘I should be working.’ I was invited to join YPO [Young President’s Organization], but I thought, ‘I can’t take a day off.’ I was too busy chopping wood to sharpen the axe. I should have spent more time with other entrepreneurs. I should have done yoga or meditation. I didn’t understand that by making myself better, I was helping the company, even if I was away from work.” Plus, when you model the behavior of taking the time to improve yourself, you help encourage the rest of the company to develop a culture of learning.”
Reid Hoffman, Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies
“Start-ups are a wonderful thing, but they cannot by themselves increase tech employment. Equally important is what comes after that mythical moment of creation in the garage, as technology goes from prototype to mass production. This is the phase where companies scale up. They work out design details, figure out how to make things affordably, build factories, and hire people by the thousands. Scaling is hard work but necessary to make innovation matter.”
Reid Hoffman, Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies
“Fortunately, Google found product/ market fit by refining Overture’s advertising auction model. Google’s AdWords product was so much better at monetizing search through its self-service, relevance-driven, auction system that by the time those competitors managed to play catch-up, Google had amassed the financial resources that allowed it to invest whatever was necessary to maintain product superiority. Google doesn’t always get product/ market fit right (and if it had run out of money before hitting upon AdWords, the search business might have died before ever achieving that fit). This is a reflection of its very intentional product management philosophy, which relies on bottom-up innovation and a high tolerance for failure. When it works, as in Gmail, which was a bottom-up project launched by Paul Buchheit, it can produce killer products. But when it fails, it results in killed products, as demonstrated by projects like Buzz, Wave, and Glass. To overcome this risk of failure, Google relies on both its financial strength (which comes from its high gross margins, among other things) and a willingness to decisively cut its losses. For example, when Google bought YouTube (which had clearly achieved product/ market fit), it was willing to abandon its own Google Video service, even though it had invested heavily in that product. Other massively successful companies take a very different approach. In contrast to Google, where new ideas can come from anywhere in the company and there are always many parallel projects going on at the same time, Apple takes a top-down approach that puts more wood behind fewer arrows. Apple keeps its product lines small and tends to work on a single major product at a time. One philosophy isn’t necessarily better than the other; the important thing is simply to find that product/ market fit quickly, before your competition does.”
Reid Hoffman, Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies
“Tencent had partnered with leading mobile carriers like China Mobile to receive 40 percent of the SMS charges that QQ users racked up when they sent messages to mobile phones. A new service could hurt Tencent’s financial bottom line and at the same time risk its relationships with some of China’s most powerful companies. It was the sort of decision that publicly traded, ten-thousand-person companies typically refer to a committee for further study. But Ma wasn’t a typical corporate executive. That very night, he gave Zhang the go-ahead to pursue the idea. Zhang put together a ten-person team, including seven engineers, to build and launch the new product. In just two months, Zhang’s small team had built a mobile-first social messaging network with a clean, minimalistic design that was the polar opposite of QQ. Ma named the service Weixin, which means “micromessage” in Mandarin. Outside of China, the service became known as WeChat. What came next was staggering. Just sixteen months after Zhang’s fateful late-night message to Ma, WeChat celebrated its one hundred millionth user. Six months after that, it had grown to two hundred million users. Four months after that, it had grown to three hundred million users. Pony Ma’s late-night bet paid off handsomely. Tencent reported 2016 revenues of $ 22 billion, up 48 percent from the previous year, and up nearly 700 percent since 2010, the year before WeChat’s launch. By early 2018, Tencent reached a market capitalization of over $ 500 billion, making it one of the world’s most valuable companies, and WeChat was one of the most widely and intensively used services in the world. Fast Company called WeChat “China’s app for everything,” and the Financial Times reported that more than half of its users spend over ninety minutes a day using the app. To put WeChat in an American context, it’s as if one single service combined the functions of Facebook, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Venmo, Grubhub, Amazon, Uber, Apple Pay, Gmail, and even Slack into a single megaservice. You can use WeChat to do run-of-the-mill things like texting and calling people, participating in social media, and reading articles, but you can also book a taxi, buy movie tickets, make doctors’ appointments, send money to friends, play games, pay your rent, order dinner for the night, plus so much more. All from a single app on your smartphone.”
Reid Hoffman, Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies
“Managers are frontline leaders who worry about day-to-day tactics: they create, implement, and execute detailed plans that allow the organization to either do new things or do existing things more efficiently.”
Reid Hoffman, Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies
“Great companies and great businesses often seem to be bad ideas when they first appear because business model innovations—by their very definition—can’t point to a proven business model to demonstrate why they’ll work.”
Reid Hoffman, Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies
“By contrast, the role of the executive is to lead managers. For the most part, executives don’t manage individual contributors. Instead, they focus on vision and strategy. Yet they are still connected to the frontline employees because they are also responsible for the “fighting spirit” of their organizations; they need to be role models who help people persist through inevitable adversity.”
Reid Hoffman, Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies
“The key is to combine new technologies with effective distribution to potential customers, a scalable and high-margin revenue model, and an approach that allows you to serve those customers given your probable resource constraints”
Reid Hoffman, Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies
“But prioritizing speed over efficiency—even in the face of uncertainty—is especially important when your business model depends on having lots of members and getting feedback from them. If you get in early and start getting that feedback and your competitors don’t, then you’re on the path to success. In any business where scale really matters, getting in early and doing it fast can make the difference.”
Reid Hoffman, Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies
“Facebook excelled at distribution. As noted earlier, Facebook’s early focus on college students, which caused some to dismiss it as a niche product, was actually part of an extremely successful distribution strategy. To achieve incredible virality, Facebook would deliberately delay launching at a college campus until over 50 percent of the students had requested it so that local critical mass was reached almost immediately. Facebook further benefited from leveraging existing friend networks to expand outward from its original college user base. As users experienced the benefits of staying connected via Facebook, they naturally wanted to add their off-line friends to the network.”
Reid Hoffman, Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies
“While this new motto might seem self-contradictory, Mark explains that it focuses on a higher-level goal. “The goal is to move fast,” Mark told me. “When we were smaller, being willing to break things allowed us to move faster. But as we grew, the willingness to break things actually started slowing us down, because increasing complexity made it harder and harder to fix things once they broke. By taking the extra time to focus on stable infrastructure, we reduce the impact and time to recover from breaking things, so that we can actually move faster.”
Reid Hoffman, Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies
“Slack had spent nearly five years and $ 17 million on development prior to its public launch in February 2014. Just two months later, before the end of April, it had raised another $ 43 million. Both of these investments took place before Slack had proven its revenue model and started generating significant sales. Slack’s freemium business model (offering a free service and encouraging users to upgrade later to becoming paying customers) meant that even after two months of rapid user growth, the company hadn’t proven its ability to make money. Fortunately for Slack and its investors, this aggressiveness paid off. As the initial wave of free users started converting to paid, Slack was able to raise an additional $ 120 million six months later to accelerate its growth even further.”
Reid Hoffman, Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies
“Sadly, premature blitzscaling can sometimes kill a nascent market by “poisoning the well” so dramatically that investors and entrepreneurs avoid the space. For example, Webvan’s notorious failure kept most players out of the grocery delivery space for over a decade.”
Reid Hoffman, Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies
“The real value creation comes when innovative technology enables innovative products and services with innovative business models.”
Reid Hoffman, Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies
“What got you here won’t get you there.”
Reid Hoffman, Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies
“Start-ups can act quickly to capitalize on the new opportunities created by technological advances. If they dawdle and proceed at the same pace as a big company, they’re fighting on an even playing field, which means that the big company’s resources will likely confer massive advantage.”
Reid Hoffman, Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies
“Product/market fit means being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market.”
Reid Hoffman, Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies
“Data is the lifeblood of decision making for any company, but it is particularly fundamental if it informs the design of your product, or if acquisition marketing is your key distribution strategy.”
Reid Hoffman, Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies
“The purpose of hiring a management team is to solve the organization’s problems in a more scalable way. The CEO should be the hub, and the executive team the spokes that connect the CEO to the frontline managers and employees operating where the rubber hits the road.”
Reid Hoffman, Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies
“For example, in 2015, Payal Kadakia, the founder of ClassPass (a monthly subscription service for fitness classes) decided that she needed to double the size of her staff in just three months so that ClassPass would be able expand into more cities. To achieve this kind of speed, Kadakia and her team abandoned traditional hiring processes and followed two simple rules. First, they hired people from their personal networks, with an emphasis on “branded” talent. For example, if an employee had a friend, and that friend worked for the management consulting firm Bain & Company, that friend got hired because ClassPass could assume that the person was smart and would get along with people. Second, some of the time saved by not interviewing for skills allowed the team to interview for alignment with the company’s mission. Crazy? Perhaps. But ClassPass was in a crowded, emerging market, and being able to hire faster than the competition helped it maintain and increase its leadership position. Blitzscaling also requires a strong focus on risk management. While blitzscaling requires risk taking, it doesn’t require unnecessary risk taking. Indeed, the higher level of risk associated with blitzscaling makes risk management even more valuable and important. As Yahoo! cofounder Jerry Yang told us in an interview for Reid’s Masters of Scale podcast, “All bold strategies have a risk. If you don’t see it, you’re flying risk-blind.”
Reid Hoffman, Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies
“Sizing the market for a disruptor based on an incumbent’s market is like sizing a car industry off how many horses there were in 1910.”
Reid Hoffman, Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies

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