Lightspeed’s top Medium posts for 2016

As we’re wrapping up 2016, I wanted to share with you some of Lightspeed’s top Medium posts from this year. Of the nearly 100 we wrote, these 6 were among the most discussed and widely read.

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My partner Aaron Batalion draws from his decade+ of experience as a CTO and talks about how to properly conduct a engineering interview:

Remember that I’m hiring you to build products not write software. It’s a very important distinction. You’ll make hundreds of micro decisions every day about what and how to build products and I want to know that you understand our business and will put that as your first priority.

I discussed the recent trend of private equity (PE) buyouts of software companies, how VC shareholders differ in their expectations, and why it’s easier to compete with a PE-owned firm:

VC’s are individually minority shareholders. For lead investors, that often means 20–30% initial ownership. PE investors often, but not always, hold majority “control” positions in the companies they purchase. Moreover, PE investors often buy out controlling shareholders, including founders, thereby lowering founders’ incentives to stay involved with the business post-transaction.

My partner Jeremy Liew discusses the last three gold rushes on the Facebook platform and what they portend for the current one in live video & messaging:

When Facebook makes something a priority, there is a huge opportunity for fast moving, nimble, technical and hacker minded startups who can work fast enough to deconstruct the algorithms that determine what gets placed in the feed and optimize for that. The short term winners will do just that and see extraordinary growth and reach. The long term winners will build on this reach and align their interests with Facebook’s. They will create high engagement experiences that are valued by Facebook’s users on top of their reach. They won’t assume that this window will be open forever, and will build their own channels to communicate with their users. Many will eventually alleviate their Facebook dependency over time.

My partner Nakul Mandan discusses his criteria for an early stage SaaS investment. Instead of focusing on ARR, churn, and other numbers that are more objective, he discusses some of his qualitative criteria:

One of the primary reasons fundraising is not predictable at the Series A stage is because the early stage investment decision is contingent more on the thesis and qualitative factors around the company/market than the metrics. Metrics can certainly make the investment case stronger, but at the earliest stages, they’re not the deciding factor. It is the investment thesis, and how a startup maps to that, around which the decision revolves.

My partner Sudip Chakrabarti discusses his investment thesis for microservices, which is all about harvesting data from the networking layer:

While I genuinely believe that the network will play an immensely strategic role in the microservices world, inspecting and storing billions of API calls on a daily basis will require significant computing and storage resources. In addition, deep packet inspection could be challenging at line rates; so, sampling, at the expense of full visibility, might be an alternative. Finally, network traffic analysis must be combined with service-level telemetry data (that we already collect today) in order to get a comprehensive and in-depth picture of the distributed application.

I propose a framework for evaluating career decisions and when to take your career in a different direction:

I believe the best thing to do is check in with yourself every couple years. I call this process the “biennial checkin.” It’s a much more realistic way to approach your career and leaves open more options, especially those that would not have been on your roadmap previously. The checkin requires you ask yourself a few, simple questions:
1. Do you love the thing you’re working on?
2. Do you admire the people you’re working with?
3. Are you learning and growing your skills?
4. Do you see an internal path for career progression?
If you’re a 4 out of 4, then it probably makes sense to continue to grow in your role. Once you drop into 2 or fewer of 4, then that should trigger a soft evaluation of your options. What you’ll find when you look around are many roles that you could never have planned out — especially in the technology industry, where things change so rapidly.

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