#Thinking Out Loud

Differentiation is not limited to the product. There are other types of differentiation can work too, though which is more transient and which is more sustainable is TBD. Not a perfectly MECE list:

Use cases

  • e.g. Discord v.s. Slack; Houseparty v.s. Zoom; Clubhouse v.s. numerous IM apps allowing audio group chats

Target demographics

  • e.g. a myriad of US apps vs their Chinese counterparts

These differentiations can be established through the following ways besides differentiation on the product level:

  • Branding: an effective way to promote a certain type of use case, to appeal to a different segment
  • Pricing: usually through competitive operational efficiency or lower margin
  • Observable improvement in certain factor influencing customers’ experience (besides price): including both psychological and functional factors

— Ep3: Expensive Lessons Learned on User Growth

User incentive programs can go a long way. In our case, it pushed us to the top of the Appstores and racked up almost one million users in a month. It seems like a tremendously successful user growth story except that the success comes with costs.

Let’s start with the benefits it brought. It helped us verify several things: 1) direct monetary incentive to users for referral or usage can bring exponential growth in a short span of time; 2) when well managed, the CAC can be lower than traditional paid acquisition. …

Inspired by an interview question I recently got (Yes! I’m actively looking!), I decided to share some notes on this topic since I’ve been dealing with metrics throughout my career (firstly financial metrics, and then product metrics more recently).

As usual, TL;DR is provided at the bottom of the page.

Before I go deeper into what constitutes a good metric, I’d like to point out one thing even more important but would not be covered in this essay: how to make better decisions with the data. I didn’t fully realize how hard it was until I experienced a rollercoaster intrapreneurship…

— Ep2: What Make a Short Video Platform Tik: An Overview

The longer I work on coordinating cross-functional teams in different tech companies, the more I realize the importance and challenges of orchestrating different teams that would otherwise work in silos to move toward a common goal and keeping a balance between competing goals. A UGC content platform is no different.

A simplistic view of how all the pieces within a short video platform (if not all UGC content platforms) work together to move things forward:

—Ep1: What Short Video Is and Is Not

When I made the plan for this series of essays weeks ago, the title for this first essay was “Why Short-Video Matters”. Then I realized that it’s probably better to change to a more neutral tone since “short-video” has become a “market darling” already.

(tl;dr at the bottom)

To set the stage for the rest of the essay, let’s align on the background:

When people talk about the trend of short-video, oftentimes they are thinking about a company we all know (though probably not anymore recently), and they are actually talking about a mixture of things, of which the most…

Since I joined my current team scaling a short-form video product, one question frequently comes up: what’s the playbook (of the company we all know)? The history of short-form video is still unfolding, so I would be skeptical about any “playbook” claimed to be one-size-fits-all. However, I would like to take a step toward that goal by reflecting on how we got to the #1 in AppStore Free Chart in 3 weeks (and still haven’t got back… yet) and making a plan to chart out a broader perspective as more companies entering this space.

Setting bite-size achievable goals is the…

You may find Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World assuring if you happen to have switched paths multiple times and struggling to find “the one thing” like me. However, being a jack of all trades will not automatically make you better at processing problems.

Some spoiler about the 333-page book before we segue into our topic: the book is barely about cognitive science or any serious biological studies. Quite some statements are nothing more than assumptions based on anecdotal data or flimsy reasoning, but I did get inspired throughout the book. …

If you ask a banker trying to transition into the tech startups what are the skills he or she can bring to the table, 90% of the chance you would get the following answers:

“I’m experienced in cross-functional execution. I work with internal and external stakeholders ranging from regulators and company executives to peer banks and law firms, and I always close the deal under time pressure.”

“We are very used to leading the complex project teams without authority, influencing them with my professionalism and research…”

“I excelled in problem-solving. I’m great at qualitative and quantitative analysis and I’m a…

Segmentation is everywhere, but it has been undervalued by quite some of us. To get a project done, the first thing you need to do after being clear about the end goal is to segment the project into different smaller milestones. To understand why the profit of your business goes down, you first need to segment it into revenue and cost, and then each can be divided into its components. To solve a market entry problem you first need to look at the facts in several key areas.

This is not only a path to solve a problem, it is…

This is what I’ve experienced in the past 8 months:

  • One month before I joined, the App was first released. Two weeks later, it rose to the top, the very top
  • One week before I joined, the app was removed from one app store
  • The second day after I got on board as the Strategy BP, it was removed from both app stores. And I started to conduct GTM research that was so different than I thought it to be
  • One month into my tenure, we finally got back on both of our feet. …


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