Snowflake reported earnings this week, and the results look strong with revenue more than doubling year-over-year.
However, while the company’s fourth quarter revenue rose 117% to $ 190.5 million, it apparently wasn’t good enough for investors, who have sent the company’s stock tumbling since it reported Wednesday after the bell.
It was similar to the reaction that Salesforce received from Wall Street last week after it announced a positive earnings report. Snowflake’s stock closed down around 4% today, a recovery compared to its midday lows when it was off nearly 12%.
Why the declines? Wall Street’s reaction to earnings can lean more on what a company will do next more than its most recent results. But Snowflake’s guidance for its current quarter appeared strong as well, with a predicted $ 195 million to $ 200 million in revenue, numbers in line with analysts’ expectations.
Sounds good, right? Apparently being in line with analyst expectations isn’t good enough for investors for certain companies. You see, it didn’t exceed the stated expectations, so the results must be bad. I am not sure how meeting expectations is as good as a miss, but there you are.
It’s worth noting of course that tech stocks have taken a beating so far in 2021. And as my colleague Alex Wilhelm reported this morning, that trend only got worse this week. Consider that the tech-heavy Nasdaq is down 11.4% from its 52-week high, so perhaps investors are flogging everyone and Snowflake is merely caught up in the punishment.
Snowflake CEO Frank Slootman pointed out in the earnings call this week that Snowflake is well positioned, something proven by the fact that his company has removed the data limitations of on-prem infrastructure. The beauty of the cloud is limitless resources, and that forces the company to help customers manage consumption instead of usage, an evolution that works in Snowflake’s favor.
“The big change in paradigm is that historically in on-premise data centers, people have to manage capacity. And now they don’t manage capacity anymore, but they need to manage consumption. And that’s a new thing for — not for everybody but for most people — and people that are in the public cloud. I have gotten used to the notion of consumption obviously because it applies equally to the infrastructure clouds,” Slootman said in the earnings call.
Snowflake has to manage expectations, something that translated into a dozen customers paying $ 5 million or more on a trailing 12 month basis, according to the company. That’s a nice chunk of change by any measure. It’s also clear that while there is a clear tilt toward the cloud, the amount of data that has been moved there is still a small percentage of overall enterprise workloads, meaning there is lots of growth opportunity for Snowflake.
What’s more, Snowflake executives pointed out that there is a significant ramp up time for customers as they shift data into the Snowflake data lake, but before they push the consumption button. That means that as long as customers continue to move data onto Snowflake’s platform, they will pay more over time, even if it will take time for new clients to get started.
So why is Snowflake’s quarterly percentage growth not expanding? Well, as a company gets to the size of Snowflake, it gets harder to maintain those gaudy percentage growth numbers as the law of large numbers begins to kick in.
I’m not here to tell Wall Street investors how to do their job, anymore than I would expect them to tell me how to do mine. But when you look at the company’s overall financial picture, the amount of untapped cloud potential and the nature of Snowflake’s approach to billing, it’s hard not to be positive about this company’s outlook, regardless of the reaction of investors in the short term.
Note: This article originally stated the company had a dozen customer paying $ 5 million or more per month. It’s actually on a trailing 12 month basis and we have updated the article to reflect that.
Many brands are seeing strong year over year growth and in some cases with a conservative PPC strategy. Why is this and what does it mean for future strategies?
Read more at PPCHero.com
Nintendo today revealed a new Switch Lite version of its current-generation console, which attaches the controllers permanently, shrinks the hardware a bit and adds a touch more battery life — but it also takes away the “Switch” part of the equation, because you can only use it handheld, instead of attached to a TV or as a unique tabletop gaming experience.
The changes mostly seem in service of bringing the price down, as it will retail for $ 199 when it goes on sale in September. That’s $ 100 less than the original Switch, which is a big price cut and could open up the market for Nintendo to a whole new group of players. But it’s also a change that seems to take away a lot of what made the Switch special, including the ability to plug it into a TV for a big-screen experience, or quickly detach the Joy-Con controllers for motion-control gaming with rumble feedback.
Switch Lite makes some crucial changes that I suspect Nintendo knows are reflective of how a lot of people actually use the Switch, regardless of what the aspirational, idealized Switch customer does in Nintendo’s ads and promo materials. As mentioned, it should bump your battery life during actual gameplay — it could add an extra hour when playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, for instance. And the size savings mean it’s much easier to slip in a bag when you head out on a trip.
The new redesigned, permanently attached controllers also include a proper D-pad on the left instead of the individual circle buttons used on the Joy-Pad, and the smaller screen still outputs at the same resolution, which means things will look crisper in play.
For me, and probably for a lot of Switch users, the trade-offs made here are actually improvements that reflect 90% of my use of the console. I almost never play plugged into a TV, for instance — and could easily do without, since mostly I do that for one-off party-game use that isn’t really all that necessary. The controller design with a D-pad is much more practical, and I have never used motion controls with my Switch for any game. Battery life means that you probably don’t need to recharge mid-trip on most short and medium-length trips, and the size savings means that when I’m packing and push comes to shove, I’m that much more likely to take the Switch Lite rather than leave it at home.
Already, some critics are decrying how this model makes the Switch “worse” in almost every way, but actually I think it’s just the opposite — Nintendo may have traded away some of its trademark quirk with this version, but the result is something much more akin to how most people actually want to use a console most of the time.
The team behind the game is trying to make sure it’s being made in a manner that’s healthy for its developers.
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Tencent, one of Asia’s most valuable companies with a current market cap of around $ 460 billion, has introduced a new motto after co-founder and CEO Pony Ma said this week he wanted ‘tech for good’ to be part of the company’s vision and mission in the future.
The company has not yet officialized the new corporate philosophy and it’s unclear how the “don’t be evil”-like slogan will manifest in Tencent’s business strategy. Nor do we know if it will replace the old mission, which is still emblazoned on its website:
Tencent’s mission is to “improve the quality of life through internet value-added services”. Guided by its “user oriented” business philosophy, Tencent achieves its mission via the delivery of integrated internet solutions to over 1 billion netizens.
Episodes of recent events can probably provide some hints to what the new slogan might entail. The old mission, which focuses on the individual user rather than the wider society, has led Tencent to supremacy in video games and social media; the company is the operator behind the billion-user messager WeChat and several top-grossing video games. But these segments of businesses are under growing pressure as China’s changing regulatory environment and industry rivals create challenges for the 21-year-old behemoth.
A months-long gaming freeze last year put a squeeze on Tencent’s gaming revenues, wiping billions of dollars from its market cap. Rising short-video app Douyin, which is TikTok’s local version, threatens Tencent’s dominance in the social and content realms.
To stay competitive, the company underwent a sweeping re-organization last October to place more focus on enterprise businesses, such as cloud computing and other digital infrastructure for industries ranging from finance, healthcare, education to government services.
The new focus to upgrade entrenched industries not only opens up more revenue streams; these sectors also provide the testing ground for Tencent to put its ‘tech for good’ mission into practice.
As Ma pledged at the government-run industry conference Digital China Summit on Monday, Tencent believes “technology can bring benefits to the human race; humans should make good use of technology and refrain from its evil use; and technology should strive to solve the problems it brings to society.”
Ma pointed to three key areas where technology can generate positive changes: traditional industries, where Tencent could provide big data capabilities to beef up efficiency in production; government units, where Tencent could leverage its apps to digitize a slew of civil services such as applying for visas and renewing drivers’ licenses; and society, which is a broad and arguably vague definition but has seen efforts like tracing missing children using Tencent’s face recognition solutions.
“Looking at parallels across the globe, Google proposed ‘do no evil’ as its code of conduct ahead of its initial public offering 20 years ago. I think this kind of elevated mission is evidence of the amount of influence a company has accumulated,” Zhong Xin, a former Qualcomm engineer who founded the artificial intelligence-powered medical imaging startup 12 Sigma, said to TechCrunch.
“Technology is a double-edged sword. A company needs a guiding principle to determine its proper use, so I believe the purported mission to do good with technology is inevitable,” added Xin.
From the government’s standpoint, a corporate motto that focuses on doing good is clearly music to the ears. Tencent’s new code of conduct comes as China’s tech darlings face mounting public and government criticisms for their adverse impact on society, a movement mirroring Silicon Valley’s tech backlash. The charges range from video games’ role in causing bad eyesight among children, which put Tencent in the crosshairs; to clickbait content running rampant on Bytedance’s popular news app, Toutiao.
“‘Doing good’ should be an inherent value to all technology companies, including venture investors,” Wang Jing, partner at venture capital firm Sky9 Capital, suggested to TechCrunch. “When companies have to single out ‘doing good’ on a special occasion, it may be that something has already gone wrong.”
Many tech heavyweights in question have responded to backlashes by imposing stricter policies over their products. Tencent, for example, launched an underage-protection mode for all its gaming titles that would allow parents to monitor children’s play time. Toutiao, too, has hired thousands of auditors to root out content deemed inappropriate by the authority.
This is not the first time Tencent has weighed in on its own ethics. The phrase ‘tech for good’ was first unveiled by Tencent co-founder and former CTO Tony Zhang in early 2018, but it has probably garnered more attention among the executives after an essay titled “Tencent has no dream” sparked heated debate in the Chinese tech circle. Penned by a veteran journalist, the article argued that Tencent was fixated on seeking investment-worthy products rather than inventing its own.
“People argued that Tencent has no dream. By bringing up the slogan ‘tech for good’, Tencent seems to be proclaiming to the public that it does have a dream,” Derek Shen, who is chairman at shared housing startup Danke and formerly headed LinkedIn China, told TechCrunch. “And its dream is big, which is to do good things to people’s lives.”
Hundreds of billions of dollars in venture capital went into tech startups last year, topping off huge growth this decade. Here at DocSend, we’re seeing the downstream effects in our data: investors who receive DocSend links are reviewing more pitch decks than ever, as more people build companies and try to get a slice of the funding opportunities.
So it stands to reason that making your pitch deck stand out is critical to raising a round. But how do you do that in such a competitive landscape?
After analyzing both successful and failed fundraising pitch decks, we’ve learned that storytelling matters and this hasn’t changed over the last few years. This makes intuitive sense — who doesn’t love a good story?
But does telling a story help founders raise capital successfully? And more importantly, do you fail to fundraise if you don’t tell a story? In this post, I’m going to share some hard evidence.
It follows up on my post over on TechCrunch, looking at three big mistakes we see in failed pitch decks.
Before we start diving into the data, here’s why we know: our document sharing and tracking platform is used every day by thousands of startups to share their decks securely with investors, with visits to pitch decks shared via DocSend having grown 4x from 2017 to 2018. Controlling for DocSend’s growth, we estimate that investors are viewing 35% more decks in 2018 than they did in 2017.
In total, over 100,000 users have shared over 2.2 million links through DocSend since we launched in 2014, and these documents have received over 220 million views; while we’ve grown quickly among sales, business development and customer success teams, startup pitch decks have continued to be a popular use-case. We’ve also been analyzing the pitch data in a collaboration with Harvard Business School since 2015, so we’re experienced at analyzing and interpreting this data.
First impressions stick
The old adage “you only get one chance to make a first impression” is true when it comes to pitch decks, and in fact that was the case for our company’s own fundraising process. When I pitched DocSend for our seed round, I knew what we were up against — why will this be a big business? And, why won’t Google build this? Our product was still in private beta, and we had no revenue. However, we had an MVP and those who were using our product, including our potential investors, found the product to be very useful.
“You can’t hack what isn’t there,” Very Good Security co-founder Mahmoud Abdelkader tells me. His startup assumes the liability of storing sensitive data for other companies, substituting dummy credit card or Social Security numbers for the real ones. Then when the data needs to be moved or operated on, VGS injects the original info without clients having to change their code.
It’s essentially a data bank that allows businesses to stop storing confidential info under their unsecured mattress. Or you could think of it as Amazon Web Services for data instead of servers. Given all the high-profile breaches of late, it’s clear that many companies can’t be trusted to house sensitive data. Andreessen Horowitz is betting that they’d rather leave it to an expert.
That’s why the famous venture firm is leading an $ 8.5 million Series A for VGS, and its partner Alex Rampell is joining the board. The round also includes NYCA, Vertex Ventures, Slow Ventures and PayPal mafioso Max Levchin. The cash builds on VGS’ $ 1.4 million seed round, and will pay for its first big marketing initiative and more salespeople.
“Hey! Stop doing this yourself!,” Abdelkader asserts. “Put it on VGS and we’ll let you operate on your data as if you possess it with none of the liability.” While no data is ever 100 percent unhackable, putting it in VGS’ meticulously secured vaults means clients don’t have to become security geniuses themselves and instead can focus on what’s unique to their business.
“Privacy is a part of the UN Declaration of Human Rights. We should be able to build innovative applications without sacrificing our privacy and security,” says Abdelkader. He got his start in the industry by reverse-engineering games like StarCraft to build cheats and trainer software. But after studying discrete mathematics, cryptology and number theory, he craved a headier challenge.
Abdelkader co-founded Y Combinator-backed payment system Balanced in 2010, which also raised cash from Andreessen. But out-muscled by Stripe, Balanced shut down in 2015. While transitioning customers over to fellow YC alumni Stripe, Balanced received interest from other companies wanting it to store their data so they could be PCI-compliant.
Now Abdelkader and his VP from Balanced, Marshall Jones, have returned with VGS to sell that as a service. It’s targeting startups that handle data like payment card information, Social Security numbers and medical info, though eventually it could invade the larger enterprise market. It can quickly help these clients achieve compliance certifications for PCI, SOC2, EI3PA, HIPAA and other standards.
VGS’ innovation comes in replacing this data with “format preserving aliases” that are privacy safe. “Your app code doesn’t know the difference between this and actually sensitive data,” Abdelkader explains. In 30 minutes of integration, apps can be reworked to route traffic through VGS without ever talking to a salesperson. VGS locks up the real strings and sends the aliases to you instead, then intercepts those aliases and swaps them with the originals when necessary.
“We don’t actually see your data that you vault on VGS,” Abdelkader tells me. “It’s basically modeled after prison. The valuables are stored in isolation.” That means a business’ differentiator is their business logic, not the way they store data.
For example, fintech startup LendUp works with VGS to issue virtual credit card numbers that are replaced with fake numbers in LendUp’s databases. That way if it’s hacked, users’ don’t get their cards stolen. But when those card numbers are sent to a processor to actually make a payment, the real card numbers are subbed in last-minute.
VGS charges per data record and operation, with the first 500 records and 100,000 sensitive API calls free; $ 20 a month gets clients double that, and then they pay 4 cent per record and 2 cents per operation. VGS provides access to insurance too, working with a variety of underwriters. It starts with $ 1 million policies that can be much larger for Fortune 500s and other big companies, which might want $ 20 million per incident.
Obviously, VGS has to be obsessive about its own security. A breach of its vaults could kill its brand. “I don’t sleep. I worry I’ll miss something. Are we a giant honey pot?,” Abdelkader wonders. “We’ve invested a significant amount of our money into 24/7 monitoring for intrusions.”
Beyond the threat of hackers, VGS also has to battle with others picking away at part of its stack or trying to compete with the whole, like TokenEx, HP’s Voltage, Thales’ Vormetric, Oracle and more. But it’s do-it-yourself security that’s the status quo and what VGS is really trying to disrupt.
But VGS has a big accruing advantage. Each time it works with a clients’ partners like Experian or TransUnion for a company working with credit checks, it already has a relationship with them the next time another clients has to connect with these partners. Abdelkader hopes that, “Effectively, we become a standard of data security and privacy. All the institutions will just say ‘why don’t you use VGS?’”
That standard only works if it’s constantly evolving to win the cat-and-mouse game versus attackers. While a company is worrying about the particular value it adds to the world, these intelligent human adversaries can find a weak link in their security — costing them a fortune and ruining their relationships. “I’m selling trust,” Abdelkader concludes. That peace of mind is often worth the price.
Nobody ever said SEO was easy. It not only requires a myriad of different methods that evolve over time and follow no particular pattern, but is also impacted by ever-changing search engine policies.
Yet SEO is actually quite methodical. While you will need to mix and combine multiple on-page, off-page, local and other factors to come up with an effective SEO strategy, you can’t just start anywhere. You must prioritize tasks — from basic to advanced SEO — to succeed.
If you do not begin by laying a foundation, you will end up spending a lot of time without achieving the results you need to support your bottom line.
Set up and check SEO tools
SEO deals with data, so your first priority should be to make sure your tools to collect and analyze that data are working properly. The most important are:
- Google Search Console. You will not be able to track a site’s performance in Google search without this. It is also useful for keyword analysis, implementing and fixing technical SEO, and analyzing UX factors, for example
- Bing Webmaster Tools. While not as popular as Google, around one quarter of all searches in the US are performed using Bing, and it does have some useful features that enable users to analyze keywords, inbound links, traffic and more
- Google Analytics. Make sure that your Google Analytics account is properly connected to Google Search Console, then set up specific reports and goals to track your website’s performance stats (e.g. traffic, top-performing pages, page views, bounce rate, CTR)
- Yoast SEO for WordPress. Since WordPress is one of the most popular CMS systems on the Web, chances are you will be using the Yoast SEO plugin. Intuitive and user-friendly, it helps with titles, meta descriptions, URLs, keywords, and content quality. More technical like sitemaps and robots.txt is also covered.
Keyword research is the foundation of all SEO activity. Once you have ensured that your SEO tools do their jobs, figure out which keywords you need to optimize for and which errors you need to fix to avoid penalties. There are three key areas to keep in mind:
- Over-optimization. Keyword stuffing will quickly put you on the wrong side of Google, so you should ensure that keywords are placed naturally (you will notice if over-optimization is an issue). On average, you want to have up to five ‘required’ keywords and keyword phrases per page.
- Long-tail keywords. It’s important not to use one keyword repeatedly, so to optimize for user intent placing long-tail keywords in your content is a must. Use Google Suggest, Google Keyword Planner and Keyword Tool to research the long-tail keywords your customers are searching for.
- Synonyms and LSIs. Another way to show to Google that you cater for your audience is to include multiple variations of keyword synonyms and LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) phrases in your content. As a rule, these are low-competition keywords and you can rank for them pretty easily. Carry out some research using Quora, Reddit and other forums to figure out which keywords your customers use in searches. Tools such as KWFinder, LSIGraph and Answer The Public may also will help.
To improve your site’s rankings in search engines, you must provide clear signals that your pages are better than those of your competitors. In other words, you need to excel at on-page SEO. Here are some key areas to focus on:
- According to Brian Dean’s search engine rankings research, shorter URLs featuring one keyword rank better than longer URLs. Since Google prefers this format, it naturally makes sense to shorten them and place your target keyword in the URL to make it more descriptive.
- Tags and descriptions. Titles, subtitles, alt tags and meta descriptions are important on-page SEO factors. Ensure that:
- They all feature your targeted keyword
- The title does not exceed 70 characters
- h1, h2, and h3 tags are scannable (i.e. allow users to get a post’s meaning without reading it)
- The alt tag allows users to figure out the image’s meaning if it is not displayed on the page
- Meta descriptions are descriptive and feature LSIs for user intent.
- External links. Links to trusted, authoritative websites are indicators that a piece of content is well-researched and well-referenced. Furthermore, they provide additional value to users. Use between five and eight external links in your content pieces.
- Internal links. You should link your pages together to create crawling paths for Google bots and conversion funnels for your users. Place between two and five internal links per content piece.
- Website structure, navigation, and UX factors. According to the three-click rule, users should be able to find any information on a website within three mouse clicks. No matter how much sense this rule makes, it comes down to the fact that any website must be easy to navigate and use, and its structure simple and cohesive.
In this article the author has shared his perspectives on the most important SEO tasks with regard to SEO tools, keyword research, and on-page optimization factors.
These three areas are the foundation of any SEO campaign as will they allow you to efficiently collect and analyze data, optimize the keywords your customers search for (and thus drive targeted traffic), and enhance your website by optimizing URLs, tags, descriptions, structure, navigation and UX.
Other areas to keep in mind are technical SEO (specifically, the factors related to mobile-friendliness and loading speed), content, and off-page optimization. These will be discussed in the next article.
“Social media” is a clumsy term that entangles enriching social interaction with mindless media consumption. It’s a double-edged sword whose sides aren’t properly distinguished. Taken as a whole, we can’t decide if it “brings the world closer together” like Facebook’s new mission statement says, or leaves us depressed and isolated. Read More
Social – TechCrunch
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