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Growth Hacking Wizard Andy Johns (Forbes)

Stashed in: Greylock, @joshelman

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Uh, none of this is actionable:

“Johns left Facebook after being recruited by Twitter. He joined a former Facebook colleague (Josh Elman) and helped build a 25 person team which became Twitter’s growth team (you can see Elman’s most recent growth hacking presentation here). When Johns joined, Twitter had somewhere around 30 million active users, but according to Johns, the company’s user base was growing too slow.

“So we started working as fast as possible to find new areas of growth. We became ‘blockers and tacklers’ by tweaking and optimizing nearly every touch point. We’d figure out ways to add 10,000 more users on some days and 60,000 users on other days,” Johns told me.

One of the highest performing growth hacks was right on Twitter’s home page. According to Johns, the home page was too complicated, but soon after they simplified the page to focus on signups or logins, the conversion rates increased dramatically.

A second hack involved persuading new users to follow at least 10 people on Twitter. Once they did, the odds of that user returning increased dramatically. So Johns and the growth team introduced the top people to follow feature after users signed up and the user retention rate went up significantly.

For these things he's declaring success?

1. He joined the company AFTER it had 30 million active users.

2. His hacks did not set the company on a sustainable growth path. I've heard would-be investors complaining at how small Twitter's growth rate currently is.

Not only is this not actionable, but it sounds like utter bull:

“I learned growth hacking at Facebook, then at Twitter I was able to play my hand at organization building and influencing the DNA of the company. But when I started working at Quora, it was the best of both worlds – where the developers and founders gave me ample runway to do the right things. The culture friction didn’t exist,” Johns explained to me.

According to Johns, Quora had the best technical infrastructure to make quick changes to the code without it impacting the rest of the platform. “We just started getting stuff done. We were able to run dozens of experiments at a really fast pace and quickly started producing significant results,” Johns said. “We were able to run multiple experiments a day to test, fine tune and optimize user acquisition.”

Johns told me the one of the keys to success was to observe the most active users and study their patterns. Then, create experiences for new and existing users that encourage them to fall into those same patterns.

But despite the success at Quora, Johns soon became burnt out and decided to take a leave of absence. The 7 years of startup experience had been intense and he needed a break from work and to do some traveling and enjoy life a bit. In fact, he traveled to Nepal to climb to Mount Everest Base Camp, Thailand to try kickboxing and New Zealand to drink beer.

There's no evidence that Quora actually grew during his tenure in any country except India.

And that might have happened on its own anyway.

And then he burned out and went and had a bro-cation?

These days Josh Elman does not believe in growth hacks.

He believes in "sustainable patterns of growth":

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