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What did Billion Dollar Companies Look Like at the Series A?

Stashed in: Venture Capital!, Marc Andreessen, Billions!, Awesome, @ajs, startup, Startup, Medium, Venture Capital, Black Swans!

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TL;DR: no one knows anything in the early stage venture business.

Yes, it all sounds like lucky guessing.

If this study made anything clear, it is that potentially big ideas are often not obvious at the Series A stage.

Some startups that seem poised for greatness go on to crash-and-burn, while others that are slow to get off the ground surprise everyone with their triumph. There is no formula, expectations are often wrong, and each success story is unique and unprecedented…


There are large companies to be built by offering new, innovative and superior customer experiences to large markets, regardless of how competitive the sector already is or how successful the founders have been before.

Big companies are rarely obvious at Series A. 

This is a really interesting article. Which makes one wonder, if the order went: a superior consumer experience which created buzz that attracted venture money to create a billion dollar company or if they attracted venture money, which created buzz which generated the superior consumer experience?

By the article's own admission, many of these startups had zero monetization at A round funding.

Another interesting finding is that many of the billion dollar companies were not monetizing their customers at the time of their Series A round, including Twitter, Pinterest, Houzz, and Nextdoor. At this stage, they were focused on building a user base rather than making money. These startups first focused on nailing their customer proposition and increasing adoption and engagement. Once they had established themselves firmly in the market and reached massive scale, then they started to think about revenue.

I wonder if their study suffers from Survivor Bias by only looking at winners.

I wonder what can be learned from the companies that did not survive. 

Shai Goldman says none of the 8 unicorns he looked at in Series A looked like unicorns:

I retweeted it from AJS and Marc Andreessen favorited that tweet. :)