20VC: The Snapchat Memo: Lightspeed's Jeremy Liew on The 4 Key Elements To Consider When Evaluating A Consumer Social Product, What is Good/Great/World Class For Retention, Usage and Downloads in Consumer Social Today & The Core Insight Development of Eva


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Jeremy Liew is a Partner @ Lightspeed Venture Partners, one of the leading firms of the last decade with a portfolio including the likes of Affirm, Snapchat (Snap), Mulesoft, Epic Games, Carta and more amazing companies. As for Jeremy, in the past he has led deals and sat on the boards of Snap, Affirm, Blockchain.com and The Honest Company to name a few. Before Lightspeed, Jeremy was with AOL, first as SVP of corporate development and chief of staff to the CEO, and then as general manager of Netscape. Due to his incredible investing success, Jeremy has been featured on the Forbes Midas List multiple times.

In Today’s Episode We Dissect The Snapchat Memo:

I. How Jeremey first learned of Snapchat

How Jeremy Liew first heard about Evan Spiegel and Snapchat?

"It's actually kind of a roundabout story. We first heard about Snapchat, because one of my partners Barry Eggers is a very involved dad. And he noticed that his daughter had started taking weird selfies"

What was the process to first get in touch with Evan?

"The challenge was, the website only had info at Snapchat email address was the only info The only contact info available. So I emailed them, and I never heard back.

Why was it such a challenge?

"I then looked up Snapchat on LinkedIn, and I couldn't find any contact information. And I was in a little bit of a loss, I wasn't getting any responses from the email, there was nothing listed on LinkedIn. So I ended up doing a who is look-up to try to find out who had registered the Snapchat URL, and I got an info@ snapgrouplimited email. So I emailed that. And then as again, I didn't get any response.

What was the breakthrough in the end?

"....Finally, what I decided to do was since Evan was a student at Stanford, and since I graduated from Stanford for business school, at that time, Facebook allowed you to message people who were in the same network, and Stanford constituted that. So I messaged him through Facebook, and I finally got a response. But this time, I got a response within five minutes."

II. The Analysis Of Snapchat's Early Market

What are the 4 things Jeremy looks for when making an investment in consumer?

  1. Can this become part of pop culture?
  2. Does this create new habits?
  3. Is there a scalable way to grow?
  4. Does the founder have a unique insight that explains the success?

Why does Jeremy believe that usage with young females is the biggest predictor of future consumer social success?

"Generalising, Women build their relationships through, you know, conversations, and they build those relationships through sharing information with each other. And obviously, that sort of conversation or relationship is a fantastic conduit for word of mouth for anything that people really appreciate."

In what ways does Jeremy like to see consumer social companies become part of pop culture?

"Today, if you think about whether it be social networking, apps, messaging, e commerce, streaming media, it's all part of pop culture. And so as much as movies or television or music or dance, and so if you ask yourself who are the early adopters of pop culture"

What are examples of this?

"Social networking, apps, messaging, e commerce, streaming media, it's all part of pop culture."

Did the market evolve the way that Jeremy thought it would?

"And one of the things that surprised us a little bit was that this was very strong in Southern California, Northern California, and Georgia, when we first invested and parts of the South"

What was a surprise to Jeremy Liew in terms of market evolution?

"In Norway, which had actually transcended, that sort of high school and college-age population, in fact, become the number three most downloaded app, most popular app, in Norway at that time. So ahead of Instagram, ahead of Facebook, and so forth. And so that's what I think gave us that early indication that the app was going to be able to break out beyond its high school, college student, initial starting point, not just in the US, but everywhere"

III. Reflections on Snapchat's Early Traction

What did the Snap user to install count look like at the time?

"In, you know, March, April of 2012, they had about 90,000, daily active users off of the base of 180,000 installs."

How does this compare with many others in the consumer social space?

"That's a very, very high ratio."

What were Snap's retention numbers at the time?

"50% retention after 90 days, which again, suggests high engagement, high retention, high growth that speaks to upside volatility"

How did Snap's frequency of usage on an individual basis look like at the time?

"So people were opening the app six times per day, they were opening at least once every second day."

Across, retention, usage and user to install, what are the benchmarks for great, good and average?

" I would say as a rule of thumb, in messaging and social networks, you would want to see at least a DAU to MAU ratio of north of 50%. And you would want to see at least a D 30 of say 30 to 40%, for your for something to really be working to be sort of at that outlier level."

IV. The Truth About The Snapchat Founding Team

What unique insight does Jeremy believe that Evan always held for the company and the product?

"One of the things that was so special about Evan, and that I think, has continued to contribute to the success of the company has been that he's always been able to do that to look at something with fresh eyes, and not iterate over what the current state of the art is that, you know, just from first principles basis"

How has Jeremy seen Evan change and evolve as a leader?

"I think his maturity as a business leader, as a leader of people, as a manager, you know, as a strategist, although he always had very good strategic instincts, but they've just continued to grow and evolve and blossom."

What were some of the big inflection points in his development?

"So you know, the feed has always been up until this point, in reverse chronological order, I think largely because that's what friendster do choose to do. And then Evan comes along. He says, How do you tell stories beginning, middle, end. Now go to social media? How do they tell stories in reverse chronological order means and middle beginning? Well, that doesn't make any sense. And so he said, we're going to create a whole new feed of stories, and they're going to be told in chronological order beginning middle end."

Who are some unsung heroes from the Snap journey that were transformational?

"Bobby doesn't get enough credit. From the very beginning from I think maybe a couple of months in was thinking about the breakthroughs that had been happening computer vision and the implications for what that could build....Imran Khan, he really helps take a lot of the load off of Evan allowed me to focus on product engineering, he took over sales and monetization Ops, he did a lot of the financing work in the time when Snapchat raised a lot of capital."

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