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How Harvard Makes Money?

I'm going to throw you a challenge. Assume you have to start a university that would become the richest and the most prestigious educational institutions in humankind's history.  What plan of action would you create? What business model would you choose? How would you make it financially viable for the centuries ahead? A predictable approach would be to build a sustainable brand by providing top-notch education, establishing artificial scarcity by making applicants go through a challenging selection process, and ensuring students get placed in high-income jobs. In exchange for all of this, students would be willing to pay exorbitant fees.  But that's...

Telegram’s Founding Story, Business Model & Privacy Strength

With more than 2 billion monthly active users worldwide, Facebook-owned WhatsApp is the most popular messaging app. But Telegram, launched in 2013, around four years after WhatsApp, has been slowly and steadily covering ground.  More than 500 million users were actively using the service as of January 2020, with users increasingly flocking to Telegram after WhatsApp announced a contentious privacy policy update, forcing users to accept the updated terms until 8th February 2021. Due to the public backlash, WhatsApp eventually delayed implementing its new privacy policy until May 2021. Still, this entire episode injected life into the debate around which messaging app -- among WhatsApp,...

Slack’s Growth Story & Business Model

"I have never seen viral enterprise app takeoff like this before — all word of mouth," tweeted March Andresson in February 2014, six months after Slack launched in preview mode in August 2013. The tweet accompanied a slide from Slack's investor update deck. Slack is an embodiment of Silicon Valley's dream growth trajectory. On the first day of its preview launch itself, 8000 people requested an invitation to try out Slack. Two weeks later, the number had more than doubled to 15000.  In Feb 2014, when Slack dropped the preview and launched officially, around 16000 users were using the service daily. By the end...

Discord’s Founding Story & Business Model

Discord is a classic example of building a product to cater to a specific audience segment, only to find out other audiences you weren't initially targeting, finding value in your product, and using it. And so much so that, five years later, after its launch in early 2015, the discord team let go of its original identity, deciding to embrace the direction they were pulled into by users. Jason Citron & Stan Vishnevskiy, gamers themselves, originally built Discord for gamers. A typical user would be someone who played video games a lot, and while they were at it, used Discord to talk to...

Shopify’s Founding Story, Evolution & Business Model

If we look at it from a narrows lens, Shopify is in the business of making it easier for people without coding skills to launch an online business. But if we zoom out, we could classify Shopify as an upstart in the broader retail market.  Yes, it is primarily in the business of internet retailing. But retail is not limited to the internet. Selling online is a sister distribution channel to the traditional offline channel. The whole point of commerce is to be present where the customer is, be it online or offline, or both, in an integrated fashion.  Shopify now...

Honey’s Founding Story + Business Model + Paypal Acquisition

In 2012, the same year, when Facebook acquired Instagram for $1 billion, Honey, which was acquired for $4 billion by Paypal in 2019, launched as a Chrome browser extension. Generally, browser extensions function as a growth channel for an existing product made by the developers of the products themselves or as 2nd order inventions made on top of existing products, made by enthusiastic users. Amazon's official Kindle extension is an example of the former, and Send to Kindle, an unofficial extension made by a third party organization, is an example of the latter.  Browser extensions are rarely considered an individual business or the primary means to...

FireFox’s Rise, Fall, & Resurgence + How Firefox Makes Money

Over the last three decades, we have been through two browser wars, and we are likely on the cusp of the third one.  The first browser war ended with Microsoft's Internet Explorer defeating Netscape Navigator, becoming the market leader in 1998. The second browser war ended with Google Chrome dethroning Internet Explorer, becoming the market leader in 2012.  A key player of the second browser war, Firefox's browser market share peaked at 32.21% at the end of 2009.   As of August 2020, Firefox has a market share of 4.09%, coming in third after Chrome and Safari. With a market share of 65.99% & 16.82%, Google Chrome and...

Product Hunt’s Growth Story + Business Model

"Product Hunt surfaces the best new products, every day. It's a place for product-loving enthusiasts to share and geek out about the latest mobile apps, websites, hardware projects, and tech creations" If you work in technology and don't keep a daily tab of Product Hunt, one could argue that you're missing out on relevant insider information.  In some ways, Product Hunt is like Techcrunch, except it surfaces new tech products instead of new tech stories.  Tech enthusiasts use it to stay in the know. Emerging startups list themselves to get in front of the people that matter. Investors use it to scour investment...

How Google Became the Giant it is & How it Makes Money

If Google were a country, its 2019 revenue of $162 billion would make it the 60th largest economy in terms of GDP, surpassing 135 smaller countries, according to IMF data. Considering that Google had 118,899 full-time employees as of Dec 2019, its $162 billion revenue translates to a GDP per capita of $1.36 million. (You get GDP per capita by dividing a country's economic output by its population). In Q4 2019, the United States of America had a GDP per capita of $65.420. Comparing the GDP per capita of a country to the GDP per capita of a company is by no means an apple...

Patreon’s New Business Model + Increasing Competition

In 2013, Jack Conte was just another YouTuber Creator among a sea of them. Today, he is the CEO of Patreon, the world's leading creator platform, using which creators around the world have earned more than $1 billion as of December 2019. How did he go from being a YouTube Creator, without technical chops, to heading the world's largest creator platform?  Well, Conte’s story is as much his as it is Patreons’. So, let’s look into Patreon’s founding story.  And post that, we will also walk you through a bunch of other stuff -- like how exactly Patreon works, business model...