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When to pivot your product and a story of two revenue calls – TechCrunch


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Oh yeah, y’all, it’s the weekend and it’s a long one here in the US because we have Monday off. As you read this, I’m – I hope – napping on the couch with three scalloped dogs around me, all four of us drooling while we doze off.

Corn! First! There’s a lot to do, so let’s dive into a startup pivot from earlier this week and, yes, let’s talk some money.

Jukes, pivots

The esports world is a pretty fragmented place. Built on different games, forums, tournament series, platforms, chat apps, and websites, it can be legit to figure out what’s going on even in your favorite game. So, Juked.gg decided to create a centralized information hub for all things esports in 2020.

The company had some early success, lifting a seven-figure cycle that we covered in early 2021. But according to the co-founder Ben Goldhaberthe service enjoyed a period of rapid growth, which it described as “up and right” in chart form, before seeing its number of active users level off last year.

What happened? According to Goldhaber, who also goes by the “FishStix” gamertag, Juked ended up serving the top 1% of esports fans, but didn’t reach a wider audience. So, the fledgling company did the smart thing to ask its users about its service and what they thought about it. From those conversations, Goldhaber said users have raised issues endemic to esports such as community toxicity, spamming, and hot takes.

So Juked decided to pivot slightly and build the social network that its users were indeed clamoring for – a less toxic place to be an esports fan.

The product launched on Thursday after a period in a closed alpha after testing it with around 750 users before making it more generally available.

According to information from AppAnnie (now Data.ai, apparently), the service ranked among iOS users in the US this week, but only in the social networking category. We’ll check back with the company in a few months to see how the downloads go.

Big questions remain, including how the service intends to tackle toxicity on a large scale – I had to agree to a fairly strict set of terms to sign up. Juked intends to use human moderation with AI in the future and requires users to register with a phone number. All good ideas, but untested for the large-scale enterprise.

I dig what Juked worked on because I’m an esports fan. But I’m not exactly in the market for a new social network either. Let’s see how the juke in the startup market can help it score more points. (And probably fundraise, as it’s been a year since its crowdfunding round, so we wouldn’t be shocked if the company strives to raise more money in the coming quarters.)

A story of two earnings calls

This week brought with it another wad of tech company earnings calls. And as always, we’ve had our eyes on the market for clues as to what’s in store for startups.

The bulk of our work is here, in our dive into the importance of forward-looking guidance for tech companies today. Lagging results appear to be much less important to investors than what they see going forward. So when Amplitude got crushed by public market investors, we took notes. There were other companies that took similar hits, including Meta, so don’t think we’re pointing the finger at the recently publicized Amplitude. (It was straight-listed last year, remember.)

But there was a flip side to the coin, namely Appian’s revenue. The low-code automation company has been a quieter public market story than most tech debuts. That’s not a problem, mind you; its CEO, Matt Calkins, told me as much this week when discussing the company’s results.

How? ‘Or’ What? It goes back to Calkins’ definition of what innovation is, and it’s not just about building something. Telling TechCrunch that his company has long been an engineering-led organization, he told us that just doing something cool isn’t enough. If the company does not Marlet a new feature, sell it and have it used, then it hasn’t really innovated. Innovation, he said, is an experience, not a product. The end result of innovation, he added, is a customer testimonial of a new feature – when someone will record and say a new thing is really good. Which forces people to, well, know something exists so they can give it a whirl.

I like his point of view. This helps explain why much of the so-called innovation in the blockchain world feels less like real innovation and more like creating a collection of hypotheses; yes, some of the more esoteric Web3 products on the market today will have a real impact, but most are more coding tricks than useful tools.

A little more before I let you go. The staffing crunch that companies are feeling in the United States isn’t just driving up the cost of hiring, it’s helping companies like Appian. The company sees a demand from customers to further automate their work because employees don’t want to. And disgruntled employees are bouncing back.

Finally, Appian’s growth has recently accelerated. And he had an earnings report that didn’t lead to a stock price crash, but a Gain. Going back to our entry point for this conversation, this is the bar companies need to cross today to get a few hundred basis points of market cap extension. It’s a much tougher market than a few quarters ago. That’s why, I think, the IPO window has been kaput for quite some time yet.

Hugs and I hope your weekend is relaxing!

alexander




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