There were no new startups which originated in the last five years in the US whose product got > 1 million monthly active users.— Varun (@varun_mathur) January 5, 2020
This has been an anomaly, where each such previous 5 yr segment (since 1995) always saw many 1MM+ user products emerge.
Many lessons from this era..
First, its apparent that few are applying themselves deep enough to build such consumer tech products from scratch. People can talk, invest, advice but not deliver, despite over 300MM smartphone Internet users in the US now ?— Varun (@varun_mathur) January 5, 2020
Lean startup has optimized for many light starts
Second, big tech repeatedly crushes emerging and viable startups in the US— Varun (@varun_mathur) January 5, 2020
Meerkat nailed both product and distribution in 2015, getting 150k users in 2 weeks, only to see its API access cut off
It could have been the breakout story of these past 5 years, but shutdown in 2016
Third, there is an element of “contentness – we are doing well”. Deals are getting done, few good products are around, valuations/returns have been there, the “aura” of a startup (office, street cred, talking points) => general ignorance about fast distribution now as a must have— Varun (@varun_mathur) January 5, 2020
Fourth, product saturation. Apps have lost their mojo. People just don’t download new ones enough, and when they do, abandon them quickly, because they are busy and bulk of their needs are met— Varun (@varun_mathur) January 5, 2020
To break out here requires an extensive level of thought and application. Fight harder
Fifth, cost of doing a consumer tech startup has come down significantly that a single full stack developer can do what required millions in venture funding in earlier years. People are happy to launch as it is easier, and winning in the market became optional along the way.— Varun (@varun_mathur) January 5, 2020
The consumer web got built when free-thinking, ambitious, mission-driven founders paired with navigational, big-thinking advisers and investors, executing well on both product and distribution, with dogged determination.— Varun (@varun_mathur) January 5, 2020
Lets try a return to that for 2020-2025, and not settle.
Still believe:— Varun (@varun_mathur) January 6, 2020
No US startup which originated in 2015-2019 got > 1 million monthly active users. Work on Discord began in 2014 and is a good, edge case.
Making a conscious decision to not rip into individual startups MAU here, only the general trend 🙂
cc @far33d @MattSyska
Individual startup stories – that work is best suited for journalists. “Hey this new startup during 2015-2019 rose quickly to gain over 1M MAU; we checked x, y and z. Person A going on record to say that..” and so on.— Varun (@varun_mathur) January 6, 2020
Those stories, are not there. They were from 1995-2014.
The list is surprisingly small but Discord (2015), Monkey (2016), Bird and Lime (2017) all have >1M MAUs. Citizen (2017) might be close or over.— Matt Syska (@MattSyska) January 6, 2020
Fortnite might be the biggest consumer hit in US in last 5 years (but yeah, technically Epic Games existed long back). HQ Trivia also had close to 1mn DAU at a time, not sure now. The fact that both are games might be an indication of things to come— Amit Singh (@iamitsy) January 6, 2020