Category Archives: Cb Insights

Wow – That Was Awesome

Last night, we had our company holiday party. I suspect it’ll be the last time we’ll be able to find a venue with a private room that can accommodate a group of our size so I knew it was going to be a special night before it even began.

As expected, it was a lot of good conversation and laughs.

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Look mom! Look dad!

I turned 41 a few days ago. So while I may still act 21 at times, I’m no longer there.
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Vanity is Powerful

Twitter has been great for CB Insights, but I’ve honestly not taken to it personally as well as I probably should have. I don’t think I get it. I follow people who I think are interesting but actually tweeting is something I kind of suck at.

But there is an element to Twitter that is very powerful to me and that is vanity.

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Hacking Culture

We held an internal demo day at CB Insights a few weeks ago where folks presesented experimental ideas they spent 3 days working on. It was as I mentioned before a highlight for me of my time working at CB Insights.  Mike on our team did a great blog post about the Pitch & Demo day and its impacts on our culture.

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50,000+ Newsletter Subscribers

cb insights newsletter

Today, the CB Insights newsletter hit 50,000+ subscribers. I’m super proud of our research & data team for churning out killer content that serves as the engine to grow our newsletter and attract new subscribers. More importantly, these people stick around as they trust us to not abuse their inboxes or to send them shitty content and data.  We agonize over every newsletter quite a bit so that we don’t disappoint.

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Private Bubble

I was at dinner a few weeks ago with some old Penn friends who are all quite successful.  I was the lone startup guy. The others were a hedge fund guy, a private equity guy, two VCs and one semi-professional poker player.

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If you build it, they will not come

I think a lot of folks will start podcasts in 2015.  Just like most blogs (this one perhaps included), they will suck.

Here is a chart of this blogs visitor stats from when it was started in March on a monthly basis.  I’ve done a post every day since then.  See how amazing the growth curve is?

Yup, it sucks.

anand sanwal blog

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The Help of Others

This post originally appeared on the CB Insights research blog.  I’ve added some additional commentary to the beginning.


I read a great post by John Scalzi entitled A Self-Made Man Looks at How He Made It. He talks about all the people and organizations that have had an impact, directly or indirectly, on the direction of his life. I couldn’t find his post when the aforementioned CB Insights post was published, but it is such a good piece, I spent some time this weekend looking for it, and I finally did.

You should read it. One of my favorite passages is below:

I know what I have been given and what I have taken. I know to whom I owe. I know that what work I have done and what I have achieved doesn’t exist in a vacuum or outside of a larger context, or without the work and investment of other people, both within the immediate scope of my life and outside of it. I like the idea that I pay it forward, both with the people I can help personally and with those who will never know that some small portion of their own hopefully good fortune is made possible by me.

The point that his article underscores is that self-made success is bullshit. Beyond it being a lie, I was reading an academic paper that said that the idea of self-made success is “destructive to the social and economic infrastructure that fosters wealth creation.”

So besides being a lie, it is destructive to society.  Fantastic.

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Why Your Startup Should Go After a Small Market Opportunity

One of the things I struggled with initially at CB Insights was how to talk about our market so that people would think it was big. I’m not sure why I gave a shit about this but I did. Maybe because I wanted investors to be super interested in us or to just sound good when talking about CB Insights with other founders who always seemed so polished and chasing some massive Google’esque opportunity.

It was 100% ego driven which is never a good reason to do something.

Then, I stumbled upon Chris Dixon’s post on the bowling pin strategy, and it changed my perspective on this.

Here’s how I think about market sizing today.

If you know your market is large (because of existing comparables for example), you are good to go. You can probably stop reading this.  As Hunter Walk points out talking about the “is this a billion dollar opportunity?” question:

…sometimes they are clearly going after a marketspace that’s already defined: CRM 2.0 replacing CRM 1.0 but there are other paths to riches. Billion dollar companies often create new markets by tapping into unmet demand. Billion dollar companies can start out looking like toys.

However, if you are not sure because the market is new or if the comps are tackling the market differently than you are envisioning, it is harder to see or justify that bigger market opportunity. In my view, if you have a loose idea that it could be a big market eventually, that’s enough.

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You get one shot (I’m a failure)

I was taking to some friends this weekend who are product folks / founders and we began talking about our product and business building efforts and history.  And one thing that came up was that while we had each had some small successes with these products or businesses, none were a big hit.

In fact, most were failures.

All of us has been working for 15-20 years so we weren’t basing this off a few data points.

Here is what became apparent.

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