Authors: Andrew Tse, Bill Nazzaro, Marc Biessy, Peter Manos, Ted Tabaka
We visited 11 companies during our week in Silicon Valley. LifeLock, Microsoft, HERE, Joyus, Remind, Airbnb, Gogobot, Quotient Technologies, Google, Handshake, and LinkedIn.
LifeLock provides personal and enterprise customers identity theft protection. The company was founded in 2005 and went public in 2012. At the end of last year, they had over 780 employees with offices in five cities in Arizona and California. We met with Peter Levinson, SVP of Product Development, in their Mountain View office.
Microsoft is a multinational technology company that creates hardware and software for business and consumers. They are one of the biggest companies in the world. For them innovation is everywhere. Microsoft innovates through the big ticket technology they try to develop. There is not one single focus of innovation for Microsoft. There innovations range from operating systems on Internet of Things to augmented and to bring ideas to life through their virtual reality platform called HoloLens.
HERE provides mapping technology that runs 80% of the car navigation market. They are a conglomerate of three german car companies (Audi, BMW, and Daimler). They are currently playing a key role in autonomous driving. They are using their technology and metrics to give advance information to devices and vehicles to continue to innovate. There research division is crucial for innovative development and to specialize in new ideas. Researches work the edge case of the problems. The goal is not a race to failure, but to develop solutions that will solve a problem.
At Joyus they believe shopping should be quicker, easier and more exciting. They believe you should spend less time looking for the best beauty and wellness products and more time interacting with them. They have assembled a dynamic team of experts consisting of: professional shoppers, stylists, makeup artists and nutritionists to find the best products. Which means we no longer have to visit multiple stores and click across multiple sites to locate the perfect summer shoe or the most effective under eye cream. Their experts will lead you to the products that are right for you and then show you what they really look like on people and how best to use them. Joyus videos feature real people using real products. Additionally, every item they highlight comes with professional advice from little tips and tricks to big ideas.
Remind is a San Francisco based company that counts more than 80 employees. The company was founded by Brett and David Kopf, two brothers with complementary competencies, Brett being the one communicating within and outside the company, and David being the techy person. The idea started off with problems to remember about the different assignments that were assigned by the school, and an idea to solve this by empowering students. After a first smartphone app development with an external company, the brothers noticed that things were not working as expected and changed the focus to instructors. This change made them need new funding and a new app, which David did by himself at first. The new funding pushed them to go to an incubator in Palo Alto where they learned everything from how to pitch their business to how to target their customer. After several funding the company closed their Series C with a total raising of 59.5 $M. Right now there are more than 1 out of 2 public schools that uses remind.
Airbnb is a pioneer in the sharing economy. They started in 2007 when two roommates tried to find housing in San Francisco for people visiting the area for a design conference. They rented their floor space to three people visiting, setting up airbeds for their guests and cooking them breakfast, and the idea for Air Bed and Breakfast (AirBnB) was born. We met with Lauren Narlock, Katrin Schmidt, and Michael O’Neil from the public affairs team in their San Francisco offices. The company employs over 2300 people. The Airbnb offices are designed as if their founders are designers (they are). Each conference room and waiting space is designed to look like a listing on the site. One waiting area was a listing in New York. There are rooms designed to look like listings from Paris, Copenhagen, and even a miniature version of the #1 property on the site, the Mushroom Dome Cabin.
Gogobot is a reviews website and mobile app based in Menlo Park in California. The company was created in 2010 by Travis Katz – current CEO – and Ori Zaltman – current CTO – Katz getting the idea of a more personal travel information website after having problems to plan his own weekend with overcrowded information that does not lead anywhere and push the people to exit the thought of going somewhere instead of pushing them to book something and go somewhere. The main difference with its actual competitors is really it’s service provided where the activities that are given to the company are as relevant and as personal as possible through the demographic information selection by the user when using the app. The company had been totaling more than Million $39, and has more than 30 persons working for them full-time. The main competitor the company is currently facing is TripAdvisor, #1 in reviews in the world.
Quotient Technologies In 1887, Asa Candler (an Atlanta businessman) revolutionized the way people were buying products. He introduced hand-written tickets to consumers for a free glass of Coca-Cola. Fast forwarding to the year 1998, people were still clipping paper coupons from Sunday’s newspaper circular into the digital age. Steven Boal wanted to revolutionize the way people were clipping coupons. Founded in 1998, Steven started a company called, coupons.com. The growth of Big Data started to evolve many businesses and around 2011, Steven and his team were trying to rebrand Coupons.com because they wanted to be known for more than just coupons. They were moving their business products and business strategy towards data analytics. Analyzing trends and personal preference to create a personal touch for the consumers. On October 6, 2016 Coupons.com Incorporated changed its name to Quotient Technology Inc. At Quotient, they are using technology to help reshape the way consumers are buying products and help vendors transform the way they are promoting their products. By processing enormous amounts of data, Quotient is able to help personalize the shopper experience.
Google is a public company focused on search engine services. Named after the mathematical term “googol,” Google operates websites on many international domains. Google is largely recognized as the “world’s best search engine” because it is fast, accurate and easy to use. The company also serves corporate clients, including advertisers, content publishers and site managers with cost-effective advertising and a wide range of revenue generating search services. Google’s breakthrough technology and continued innovation serve the company’s mission of “organizing the world’s information and making it universally accessible and useful.”
Handshake is a recruiting platform for newly graduated students. While in college, the founders noticed two things, very few companies wanted to trek to Michigan Tech in the upper peninsula of Michigan to recruit, and students did not care for the software the university career center was using. Recognizing the unmet need, they developed a system that is now used in over 100 universities. We met with Scott Ringwelski, Co-founder and CTO at their San Francisco headquarters, where they employ about 40 people.
LinkedIn is a professional social networking site that was officially launched on the 5th of May in 2003. The founders are Reid Hoffman, Allen Blue, Konstantin Guericke, Eric Ly and Jean-Luc Vaillant. In 1993, Reid realized the importance of professional networking. While studying at Oxford, he realized that he wanted to start a software company that reached millions of people. He was able to network his way to different venture capitalists. Except during those meetings he discovered that he needed to gain professional experience first because the VCs were not interested in investing money with someone who did not have any experience with shipping software. Reid gained experience from working at Apple (UX Architect), Fuijitsu (product management and development), Socialnet (founder) and PayPal (Executive Vice President of Business Development). After PayPal was acquired, Reid took the plunge and started LinkedIn. A month after its official launch, LinkedIn recorded a total of 4,500 users. Like all user based software LinkedIn was plagued with the question: “How do you get a million people?” One of the first challenges was to get enough users so that the search function was valuable enough for people to utilized and create growth for the company. As we fast forward today: Linkedin is headquartered in Mountain View, California; with thirty offices around the world; 9,900+ full-time employees; and 450,000,000+ members (users) from around the world. LinkedIn’s story is a testament to how startups in Silicon Valley companies grow to IPO/Acquisition status.