Graphic courtesy Gaping Void.

Innovating at Scale: The Companies That Don't Let Size Slow Them Down

Nothing lasts forever — not even unicorns. But some unicorns live long lives.

  1. The product evolves and becomes a platform that other companies can integrate into their own products, building specialized use cases for their audience. Facebook launched its platform in 2007 and grew its monthly active users from 50 million to 1.44 billion, a 28.8x increase.
  2. The company decides to try and disrupt its own product. Deliberate disruption helps fight off all the other companies (usually startups) who are going after the audience. Apple has created innovative products, such as the iPad, in order to fuel its own growth. One might imagine that the iPad has the potential to take market away from Apple’s own existing products (i.e. Macbook).

Disruption is The Only Choice

“If we don't create the thing that kills Facebook, someone else will.”

Why Successful Companies Struggle With Innovation

  1. Companies think their existing audience will come over to any new product they create.
  2. They assume that the intent of a user can be suited or modified towards any new offering.
  3. They believe they can monetize with their existing business model.

Many Growing Companies Lose Sight of Innovation

  • The organization breaks into functional silos. Product, sales, marketing, customer support and finance all become their own departments. Some companies try unique ways of working to avoid the pitfalls of silos.
  • Ideas, people and things start to separate and spread across floors, buildings, and geographies. People now sit physically far from each other. Their internal culture becomes fragmented.
  • Individual team members get more singularly focused on the problems in their own departments. The organization gets better at improving the existing product for its current audience and intent.

Solution One: A Family of Brands

P&G Family of Brands
Facebook Family of Apps 2015 F8
Facebook’s Creative Labs Apps

Solution Two: Don't Be Afraid to Eat Your Own Products

Header from Apple’s US online store.
Amazon Kindle. Photo: Andy Ihnatko via Flickr.

Who are the next companies to grow families of brands?

Consumer Products With Large Audiences

The Rules of Survival

  • Large audiences are hard to get and it takes time. Facebook’s been trying hard and it took them 8 years to get to 1 billion monthly active users.
  • You must constantly try to disrupt yourself. The most successful companies embrace cannibalization at the core.
  • You'll eventually have a portfolio of products. Your own family of brands.

“The internet is not a friendly place. Things that don't stay relevant don't even get the luxury of leaving ruins. They disappear.”



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Arjun Sethi

I've started, acquired, merged and run product companies. Co-Founder @tribecap, formerly @socialcapital, @yahoo, @messageme, @lolapps