A collection of descriptive one liners for successful tech companies

Crisp and concise descriptions crystallize the problem a startup solves. It’s not a stretch to say that most ideas that cannot be conveyed in one line are either bad or are in the hands of a bad team.

However, doing simple is often hard. As a deliberate exercise, I decided it would be fun to come up with short one-liners for some successful startups. In what follows, I assume the role of the founder at some party in the early days of her startup responding to the question: “What are you working on?” Answers are biased towards things that actually describe the product versus things that explicitly pitch its value.

Google: A search engine for the web that produces highly relevant results

Twitter: A website for getting status updates from people and groups you care about.

Facebook: A Friendster for college students

Airbnb: Couchsurfing with better customer service and classier homes.

Dropbox: A cross-platform rsync for consumers

Palantir: A GUI that lets you visually aggregate and analyze data from multiple incompatible data sources.

Pinterest: An online pin-board for sharing and discovering recipes, fashion and design inspirations

Cloudera: Tools for managing big data with Hadoop

Spotify: A desktop and mobile app that lets you stream any song ever recorded.

Lending Club: A website for borrowing money from other people online

Jawbone: A wristband that keeps track of how much sleep and exercise you’re getting

Square: A device that plugs into your smartphone that lets you accept credit card payments by swiping.

Box: A website that stores files for enterprise customers

Snapchat: A mobile app that lets you send and receive messages that vanish after 10 seconds.

Stripe: A REST API for accepting credit card payments in your application that’s easy to use and well documented

DocuSign: A website that lets you sign pdf documents online

MongoDB: A developer friendly document-oriented database.

Evernote: An app for easily creating and accessing notes via web, desktop or mobile.

Eventbrite: A website for finding and setting up events.

New Relic: A SaaS tool for monitoring the performance of applications.

Notes

  • I am not super happy with what I came up with for Twitter, Square and Airbnb. Anyone want to do better?
  • Today’s Facebook is also pretty tough to pitch in a concise and specific way.
  • I feel like I copped out with the Dropbox description but I’d rather pick something that’s concise at least to myself and a handful of people than something that loses meaning by trying to be too general. Something based on the “folder” concept could work but anything based on that seems like it’d be long.

I intend to write regularly, follow me on twitter here: @levandreessen

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