In hindsight, growth in 2020-2022 was easy. It required no discipline, no luck, no grinding effort to find truffles in a field of manure. I started an agency that got to $35k MRR in a few months ... I thought I was smart. Nope! We do half the revenue now. That is what it feels like when the money is easy and the market is flush. I mistook my skill (and product market fit) for being pulled by a market.
The gloomy economic outlook overall felt like it was contributing to everyone cutting back on spending. I first felt a strong pinch with our agency Cold Email Studio. Lots of customers paused, a few ran out of cash.
It's harder to make money now. Google just updated their ranking algo again, we got hit a little bit. Hell if I know what X is doing but my reach is smaller than what it used to be. We are fighting a multi-front battle (multiple portfolio companies). And each needs to be fed. It changes our dynamic. I know Danny is feeling the shift, and I am too. I even posited to Danny that a growth person might be more impactful for us right now than an additional developer. That's a radical departure from a year ago when it felt like there was so much demand we couldn't keep up with feature requests.
Anecdotal Evidence That Things Are Starting To Getting Tough
Maybe it's too early to call it but I saw an asking price go from $1.2M to $250k on Acquire this week.
We're in the process of acquiring a company that is giving money back to investors.
This is how a cycle starts. The early folks see the writing on the wall that a series A (or next round) is out of reach. Investors see it, founders see it. You can either reduce costs to last the downturn or return $ to investors.
Then again, this could all be a head-fake, that we're actually landing softly.
We're also (arguably) at the peak of inflated expectations around AI. That has buoyed the economy up to this point and it feels like we're one news headline away from a pullback (despite Meta, NVIDIA having great years).
But as the trough of disillusionment looms ahead of us, we are preparing for an all out street fight to survive the next few years. I hope I'm wrong, but this is what we're preparing for.
Full Contact Growth
Growth now is 1,000 experiments. It's a free tool we can host on a landing page. It's a reason to do another Product Hunt launch. It's a resource that took wayyyy too long to put together for free. It's newsletter sponsorships and diligent back-linking strategies. It's the realization that organic traffic can go away quickly. It's a social media planner. It's free swag. It's tweets (X's??!) 5x a day. It's getting good at TikTok. It's cringe posting on Linkedin. And if you stop you die.
Good thing I prefer war time. Game on 🤘.
The Reading List
Apparently most M&A doesn't work out.
Classic platform risk. Every startup using Open AI's API has it. Most of these wrapper apps should go away.