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How many users can a new product get in three months?

Stashed in: Product Inspiration, Steve Jobs, Mobile!, Facebook!, Zynga!, The Web, Apple, Best PandaWhale Posts, Scaling, Candy Crush!, @jack, Instagram!, @caterina, Overnight Success, @lizgannes, Commerce, Cupcakes!, Growth Hacks!, Slow, Move Slow, slow, Infographics!, Active Users

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I was just reading a post from Rabble Twitter at 3 Months which points out how delighted they were to have 160 users posting 100 status messages a day after three months.

We think of Twitter as huge now, but it's helpful to remember that it takes a while for products to get started.

And of course Facebook is the best-case scenario, with over 100k users after 3 months (and less than a year to 1 million users), but they are the exception rather than the rule.

The fastest traction I've ever heard of was Instagram, which reached 1 million users in 3 months and then doubled to 2 million users 6 weeks later; they are now at 5 million users in 9 months.

Any insight in the typical growth in the e-commerce space? One of the secret sauce things we learned at RockYou was that photos were inherently viral, which explains Instagram and FB's growth. Curious what the 3-month benchmark is for e-commerce sites.

E-commerce sites are skewed because they depend on how much a person is willing to pay for Facebook advertising.

Groupon built an empire out of converting Facebook ads into email addresses for their daily commerce specials.

The lesson of Groupon is that you can acquire as many "customers" as you want if you're willing to spend cash fast.

It's also worth going through GroupMe's 370-day History which doesn't talk in terms of number of users but rather in terms of number of messages sent.

GroupMe is pretty much a best-case user adoption scenario for a first-year product that does not include photos (since photos are inherently viral).

@Caterina says new products need time:

“My perspective is it takes a while to grow this stuff. It takes time for the culture to grow. You need time to develop antibodies to spammers and trolls.”

@LizGannes provides a useful chart in that post of time-to-50-million-users:


Instagram took 18 months to get to 40 million users, and is on track to hit 100 million users only two years after its launch. [Read more.]

Draw Something grew from 0 to 50 million downloads in 50 days.

50 million downloads in 50 days.

Mobile has made fast growth ridiculously fast.

Angry Birds in Space grew even faster than Draw Something: 50 million downloads in 35 days.

That's so incredible it bears repeating: 50 million downloads in 35 days.

I wonder what the maximum number of downloads a game could realistically hit. 100 mil?

Facebook is arguably a game, and they passed 500 million downloads and keep growing.

The future of mobile says that smart phones and tablets will be bought in the billions in the next decade, so I'm guessing the right game could hit a billion downloads.

I'm almost certain that the various flavors of Angry Birds will hit a billion downloads combined sometime in the next 3-5 years.

I also believe that will be very motivating to Zynga to try to reach a billion downloads combined before them. Between Words with Friends and Draw Something, they're off to a good start.

Wow. My spidey senses were tingling. Nailed it!


But like you pointed out -- they're not talking.

When does user count stop being key and engagement become the prize?

Engagement should be the prize of anyone who values the long-term.

This is why Facebook is so smart: They've always been more concerned with engagement than user counts.

They employ the user counts to distract other companies, but they've always been managed for engagement.

This really puts things into perspective. I like the idea of moving slow - maybe it's just a lash back from past experiences but moving slow sounds really appealing.

If you move slowly, it gives you more time to understand what's happening and make changes accordingly.

@adam, Yes!

Also, when you expect rapid growth, you tend to only look for growth in areas like building the-next-great-feature, viral loops and advertising. Unfortunately, when your expectations are high, you ignore the important things like customer development, culture and long term feature development.

How should we reconcile with Silicon Valley's "fail fast" chorus?

@Eric - I'm no expert, but for my current project, this is the way my team sees it:

Fail Fast - get the product to beta users as soon as realistically possible and validate the idea.

Grow Slow - don't expect an overnight success. When we launch, it won't be a glorious day with chart topping success. It will be quite but the users we do target in those early days will be treated like family - respected, coddled, listened to...

So to me, the two are not in conflict, they just mean different things.

I think that's a great distinction.

I'm wondering how much of the resistance to slow growth is led by investors vs pressure entrepreneurs put on themselves?

Jack Dorsey put it very well a few days ago:

You don't have to do it first, you just have to do it right.

On the other hand, you have SocialCam, which went from 0 to 8 million users in 2 weeks:


Every time I look at that graph I'm awed and horrified at the scaling issues.

Socialcam must have felt a lot like this:

Well, they WERE feeling like this...

...but then their traffic did this...


Thanks, Facebook!!

P.S. -- Eric, I started a growth hacking stash...

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