Last week, Match Group, Inc. filed its S-1in its initial public offering under the stock symbol “MTCH”. You probably know MTCH as one of the largest online dating sites in the world as Match.com. They also own and operate OkCupid, and Tinder and over 37 other brands. Outside of dating, they also own The Princeton Review – an education site devoted to test preparation, academic tutoring, and the like.

The company is looking to raise $100M through its IPO. Here are some of my notes:
  • Three classes of common stock: common stock, Class B common stock, and Class C common stock – generally “similar”, but common stock will have one vote per share. Class B will have 10 votes per share. Class C has virtually no votes per share.
  • Match Group, Inc. is owned by IAC/InterActiveCorp (IAC)
  • The company’s mission: “Establishing a romantic connection is a fundamental human need. Whether it’s a good date, a meaningful relationship or an enduring marriage, romantic connectivity lifts the human spirit. Our mission is to increase romantic connectivity worldwide.”
  • 59 million monthly active users (MAU) with 4.7 million paid subscribers (8.0% of MAU) across its brands today up from 8 million MAU in 2011 representing a 63% compound annual growth rate (48% excluding acquisitions)
  • OkCupid was acquired in 2011
  • First half of 2015 saw 68% of new users sign up via mobile vs. 27% in 2013
  • Benefits for users include: Expanded Options; Efficiency; More Comfort and Control; and Convenience
  • A few competitive advantages listed: brand (4 out of the 5 top online dating brands are represented by MTCH); scale (significant scale = more opportunities for users to meet); multiple brands (address the many different markets MTCH is selling to)
  • Acquiring PlentyOfFish Media, Inc. ~$575.0M… scheduled to close Q4 2015
  • Because the company has less than $1.0B in revenue in its last fiscal year, the company qualifies as an “emerging growth company” as defined by the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012 (JOBS)
  • Revenues (2012-2014): $713.4M, $803.1M, $888.3M.
  • Key metrics
o   “Total Dating Revenue” which includes both direct user-paid monies and indirect (amounts wholly from advertising)
o   “Paid Member Counts” (PMC). From 2012-2014, Total PMC grew 25% to 3.5M
o   Average Revenue per Paying User (ARPPU)
  • Company notes decline of email usage as a risk to the business. Many of MTCH’s communities (users of the various brands) rely on email to communicate new users, new interactions, and the like. However, consumer habits have changed so that email usage has declined. The absence of a communication method as effective as email is a significant risk
  • Given the Ashley Madison hack earlier this year, no surprise MTCH lists its potential inability to protect from cyber threats as a major risk factor
  • International revenue accounts for 31% of total revenue through 1H 2015
  • 36% of all members in 2011 were under the age of 35. By end of the 1H 2015, that number is 62% reflecting mobile adoption, lower average revenue per user (ARPU), etc.
  • Due to the shift of monetization towards lower cost brands, “youthfulness”, and the like, user acquisition channels has also shifted to lower cost channels. Thus, cost of acquisition has accordingly dropped
  • Demand is highest in the first quarter of the year with Q4 being the lowest demand
  • Over 40 brands represented in MTCH with 25 acquisitions since Jan 2009
  • The CEO, Sam Yagan, founded OkCupid in 2003. He also founded SparkNotes in 1999 and eDonkey in 2002

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn, renowned businessman and inspirational speaker.

Recent events had me thinking about Jim Rohn’s remark. One event was my brother’s promotion to a Director-ish position overseeing the organization’s information systems group. Meanwhile, I’m fielding many questions about what my Next Great Move and what my fellow Body Boss co-founders are up to. They, too, are heading up software engineering of their respective companies. Add to these events, my interest in the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) was rekindled by online forums – I wrote this last week.
I started considering the success of those around me, and how they motivate me to do and begreater. Also, what about their personalities are affecting me? Considering Jim’s law of averages comment, I asked those closest to me to complete MBTI assessments.
I’m an ESTJ (Extrovert-Sensing-Thinking-Judging) personality type – I wonder if I’d be the average of those around me?
I assigned binary values to each letter for each position (E = 0 and I = 1; S = 0 and N = 1; etc.). Then, I took the average of the values rounding to the nearest integer.
Of the five people closest to me:

  • Two are INTP
  • One ENTP
  • One ESFP
  • One ESFJ
According to Jim’s law of averages, I would be an ENTP. Kinda, not really close to what I tested as.
If I expanded to 10 of my closer (not necessarily “closEST”):
  • Three ESFP
  • Two INTP
  • Two ESFJ
  • One INTJ
  • One ENTP
  • One ENFP

Using these 10, my average would be ENFP – more different than the earlier.

My conclusion: The law of averages doesn’t quite hold for me right now. However, my circles are fluid – meaning people enter and exit inner and outer circles constantly.
Also, based on who I am and how I work, I know I like to complement others. That is, I surround myself with people who are different than me to challenge my perceptions, show me different ways to work, improve communication, etc.
Interesting and fun exercise all the same.
If you’ve taken the MBTI, in the assessment and write-up, what surprises made sense as you thought about them? How do you think you and your circles complement or reflect each other’s collective MBTI types?
I love psychology. I love getting to know people – what interests them, what are their tendencies, and the like. One of the best ways to learn more about people (and yourself) is to go to a therapist. Or, like the rest of the world today, you can go online and take a test. Enter the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).

MBTI is a self-reported survey revealing the psychological tendencies of people – how they view and react to the world.

MBTI was first developed by Katharine Briggs and later refined by (and with) her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers. The original Briggs Myers Type Indicator Handbook was published in 1944 with several editions published since then, including the 3rd in 1998. 
The MBTI aligns people into 16 personalities along four dichotomies:
  • Extraversion (E) vs. Introversion (I) – where one draws energy (external sources or internal)
  • Sensing (S) vs. Intuition (N) – information-gathering functions
  • Thinking (T) vs. Feeling (F) – decision-making functions
  • Judging (J) vs. Perception (P) – preference for using either the thinking or feeling functions vs. sensing or intuitive functions

Using something like MBTI can help in business in all sorts of ways. You can use MBTI internally with team members as a colleague and leader — communication, work styles, etc. MBTI personality types can help salespeople communicate with prospects. MBTI can also help marketers better understand value points and spark emotional intrigue in customers.

You can find more about MBTI at 16personalities.com, and even take a personality test to discover yours – it’s an abbreviated version, but can be generally in the right direction.
How else can MBTI be used in the workplace? What are advantages to using a personality tests in the workplace? Disadvantages?
I was requested the other day to talk about how I balance work with life given the many things I’m working on today. Coincidentally, I read “Success at Work, Failure at Home” by Scott Weiss, entrepreneur turned VC.
Scott recalls the years his startup was doing great were years life at home was anything but. Now as a VC, Scott coaches startup CEOs on dealing with the pressures of work at home.
I’ve had several downs with the ups over the years, and now, taking on a few projects as I consider my next startup. I get questions, like from my friend, of how I balance work and life. That’s easy to answer, though, because my work is part of my life.
I don’t work allthe time, but a perfect day for me includes some work. I love what I do, and I love challenges. Over the years, especially since Body Boss, I’ve weaved in slow-down and even shut-down times.
Compared to years past when I was constantly working, I’ve learned a few things.
  • Not everyone needs everything immediately. I was too wrapped up in saying yes to others. Now, I realize how others value themselves and me. Those who matter respect my priorities.
  • Taking a day off each week makes me more productive. Like my body from work outs, my mind needs rest days to recover. These days off allow me to step out of the day-to-day and practice creativity.
  • There are two types of “me-time” – alone and with friends. Because I interact with many different people throughout the week, my alone times are havens (like morning workouts). Otherwise, I see friends on specific days of the week. Scheduling days prevents me from forgoing social activities.
  • Schedules allow for more spontaneity and freedom. Described in the Make Time post, explicitly scheduling things that matter (i.e. meetings with VCs, workouts, seeing friends, etc.) ensure high-priority things are accounted for. All other time becomes flexible to call audibles.
Whether it’s watching Netflix, running the neighborhoods, or writing journal entries, taking time off work makes me more productive. I let my mind recover and find creativity again… creativity that comes from anywhere.
How do you “balance” work and life, if there’s a distinction for you? What are some ways to mentally, emotionally recover from work?
I reconnected with a wantrepreneur I met months ago to see how things were going. Since our first meeting, she’s made connections all around, built a pitch deck, and got estimates for developing her idea. From the outside, she’s doing great. She talks excitedly about a new platform launching soon that would be huge for her product. Sadly, she’s going to miss the boat because her product is still just an idea.
She also pared down her list of features to get more minimum viable product-lean. This has dropped her development costs dramatically to economical levels. However, she’s still seeking meetings with investors to get funding to start development.
Unfortunately, funding hasn’t come through while great opportunities like the new platform launch have come and pass. In two months come holiday season when the new platform will be on many people’s wishlists – another golden opportunity will pass.
We talked about what her idea was worth and what she believes the value will be if she’s a success. Is she confident in her idea and her ability to execute that perhaps she could fund more of the development herself rather than rely on outsiders? If she had all the information she had today but two months ago, would she had invested in development to make it to this new platform’s launch? Hesitating as she laments the very idea, she whispers, “Yes, I would.”
A few thoughts:
  • She, like many others, is learning how difficult it is to raise money without traction. She’s also lost an initial investor. Like I said in sales, never celebrate till two weeks after a check clears. Build momentum (read: traction) to spark investment interest.
  • Entrepreneurship is about doing and being opportunistic. Could she have known the platform was launching soon? Possibly, based on company history. Meanwhile, holidays are pretty set. One of the most important factors in startup success is about timing and being able to seize opportunities. I believe full-heartedly in what Seneca said — “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.
  • Things happen outside of your control, but control as much as you can when you can. Unfortunate events like losing investors can be unpredicted, and development continues to be delayed. She could address this directly by learning to code herself, growing her network of developers and partnering with a technical cofounder, or fund the development herself (or other).
I like to consider how invested and confident wantrepreneurs are in their ideas (from wantrepreneur to entrepreneur). If they truly believe in their ideas and themselves, are they realizing what the bottlenecks are? What are they doing to knock those barriers down? For her, taking more control by funding development herself, if not finding a technical co-founder or learning development herself, could help her seize golden opportunities or move on.
For the wantrepreneur, she’s going to take immediate action. I’m excited to see her idea come to fruition soon.
What are your thoughts on requiring outside investment to fund an idea? How could a lack of funding interest affect a wantrepreneur’s passion and drive to execute?
My last post about usability testing talked about set up and guidelines for testing. Following up, here are some outcomes and lessons from a couple testing sessions so far:
  • You can get great feedback. It’d be great to build a product leveraging the experience of the founders in a startup and customers use the product seamlessly. However, founders’ view of the world can be skewed. Usability testing solicits feedback directly from the target audience.
  • Find users who will provide candid feedback. Operative words are “provide” and “candid”. Usability testing can be awkward for testers not used to giving honest feedback. It’s important for the company and customers that users provide critical feedback knowing no answer is wrong – benefits go around for everyone.
  • Bugs can screw it all up. The goal of usability testing is to assess how users interact with the product. Sometimes, you’ll want users to perform specific tasks. However, product bugs can quickly halt testing; thus, preventing constructive feedback. Now, feedback may focus on bugs rather than usability.
  • Early testing can tell you everything. Stop. Iterate. Continue later. That is, early users may find resounding issues during tests. You’ll know it when it happens. In this case, discontinue testing till these headaches are resolved else you get the same feedback from all users. Go again.
  • Watch for unspoken signs. In presentations and demos, I scan faces in the room for emotions and reactions. In usability testing, I do the same. Do they seem delighted or uninterested? Is the user focused? Confused? What’s left unsaid can be most telling.

Usability testing has been a great process for us so far. We identified key gaps, and emerged focusing efforts on select features while reducing clutter. Before, we hypothesized what users wanted. Testing has provided real data and insight.

What outcomes or lessons have you learned from usability testing as a test-giver? Any input as a test-taker? How has usability testing helped your company’s product development and roadmap?
I’m helping run usability tests with a startup; though, I have not formally “run” one in the past. It’s been a great learning experience.
The company’s launching a new site in education, and with the product having been in development for a few months, it’s ready for users to test. For us, we’re soliciting feedback on user experience, shaping our product roadmap, and testing marketing messaging.
I’ve uploaded a Usability Testing Guidelines template I created leveraging others I’ve found with adjustments here: Usability Testing Guidelines. I’ve removed some specific portions, but left in others for illustrative purposes. You’ll want to adjust as you see fit.
(Note: I use “site” here, but substitute the product/ service you’re testing.)
Here are the key components of the Guidelines:
  • Testing – Observer Guidelines. General instructions for the observer when moderating tests.
  • Agenda and Set-Up. Establish the logistics for testing. Ensure the location is ready, devices are set up, and have back-up plans in case things don’t go as planned.
  • Testing Script. Set the guidelines between tester and test-taker including language to encourage honest, impulsive feedback.
  • Usability Tasks. Ensure specific elements of the site are tested. Tasks help navigate testing along timeline.
  • Closing Questions. When in front of target users, it’s advantageous to ask specific and open questions as time allows. These questions help determine the product roadmap, key in on marketing messaging, identify trouble areas not identified before, etc.

Additionally, I like a hybrid approach to testing – unstructured at the beginning, then structured with tasks. With an unstructured format, users go about a site detailing thoughts and driving their interaction as s/he desires. In a structured format, the tester helps navigate the user via tasks and questions.

What lessons do you have from usability tests as a tester or test-taker? How have usability tests been poorly run? Effectively run?
I was recently given the opportunity to speak at Georgia State University’s Institute for Insight program to their Masters of Science in Analytics (MSA) students. It was an honor to speak to the class, and one that I admit, was daunting at first.
For one, I hold no advanced degrees in analytics, though, in my professional experience, I have run the gamut of analytics to drive decisions and strategies. However, it’s another animal when asked to speak to students who live and breathe data and analytics. Alas, I got over this quickly as school teaches one way but practical experience can teach on a deeper level – see “School: Tell You What to Do. Startups: Know Why You Do”.
Second, I wanted to speak about my entrepreneurial path. However, I’m so passionate about startups I can go on for days. My challenge was to distill one of my greatest passions to students who may not care about entrepreneurship while sharing an hour with consulting.
Did students even want to hear about entrepreneurship and startups? What would they be interested in knowing? Where do I begin? I don’t want to just talk at them with topics they wouldn’t find interesting.
Reaching into entrepreneurial bag and I knew how to handle this… CUSTOMER DISCOVERY! I sent a Google Survey to the class beforehand to test interest. With any luck, this would even prove a point in whatever I would talk about – customer discovery.
Here are some of the results from the questions:

From the results, there was overwhelming interest from students having some aspirations to join startups or start companies of their own.
Second, students were interested in 1) how to start a startup and 2) success factors. Perfect, I’ll start here.
The following are some of the unsexy slides I put together to explain these areas + “keys to failure”.

My tips for getting started are much more tactical and “scrappy” rather than steps to incorporate, put partnership terms to paper, etc. Instead, it’s far more important to test if there’s even viable interest in the product/ service in the first place. The business doesn’t go if the product/ service doesn’t go.
Get in front of customers, test the idea, and iterate. If there’s traction, then the rest comes along – I’ll have more slides for you then.
I had a lot of fun giving the talk, and I hope to give many more in the future. Fits well with my goals of giving a TED talk, becoming an entrepreneurship professor, and being a leader in startups/ business.
I was speaking to an entrepreneur I’m working with and he shared thoughts on his “lack of formal education”. He dropped out of school when he was 17, and has been building successful businesses ever since.
He’s happy he’s successful not least because if he had to join the corporate world, he wonders if his lack of a college degree, let alone an advanced one, would be a detriment. He lamented he didn’t “know the theory” behind the practical. I understood but argued otherwise.
In MBA in a Startup World I mentioned how working in a startup enables the understanding of the theory behind the practice. However, this morning coalesced my thoughts even clearer. That is, in my MBA experience, I was taught what to do, but didn’t really get the why. I had a sliver of practical exercises via student projects – controlled environments.  
In building Body Boss, I naturally adopted similar concepts of what I learned during my MBA program. (Remember, I was three months into starting Body Boss when I started the core classes of my one-year MBA.)
For example, I didn’t have much sales and marketing experience before Body Boss. However, I quickly learned concepts like the different influencers in a buying decision, effective selling techniques, etc. while building the company – before I stepped foot in a sales and business development class in school. I had been burned plenty of times during my first cold calls and demos that I learned more effective techniques — techniques I would later learn in class.
In school, professors told me what to do. Body Boss taught me why I should do it this way, not that way while giving me a platform to practice CONSTANTLY. In sales, knowing the why makes me more effective by knowing how to adapt my style to the situation better.
Back to the Founder, he’s developed an amazing set of skills and knowledge that helps him be more successful. He’s adapted to not being told or taught what to do by learning on-the-fly, and now, he’s got the practical theory down. Perhaps he can write his own textbook.

What are your thoughts about education’s role in delivering the why behind the practical? 
One of the biggest take-aways and “duh” lessons from my entrepreneurship professor at Emory was mitigating risk for customers – one of the greatest hurdles entrepreneurs face when selling. Risk, in this case, is tied to the buyer’s job security.
My recent conversation with the Managing Director of a venture capital firm reiterated the importance of mitigating risk for the buyer when assessing/ adopting a new solution. Consider this:

You’re the VP of information security at a Fortune 500 company, and setting up a new data farm. There’s a new startup touting impressive server performance and security layers at half the cost of IBM. However, IBM is one of the premier hardware manufacturers with thousands of customers. They’re reliable and have been around for decades. Who do you choose?

There are many answers you need before you can choose, but the gist is the inherent risk if $hit hits the fan. With a startup, you as the VP may be questioned for selecting a provider with little reliability history. In choosing IBM, much of the risk is shifted towards the large company. Should a server go down, you, personally, might not have been able to curb a catastrophe since IBM couldn’t even handle it.
In my experience with Body Boss, coaches weighed the risk of players not having access to their programs because of network connectivity issues vs. having reliable spreadsheet saved on the desktop that could be printed.
The VC recalled how many startups focus on either the benefits of their startups’ offerings OR risk savings opportunities. Strong startups and salespersons, however, discuss opportunities/ benefits AND risk mitigation (i.e. 99.99% server uptime, 99.8% fulfillment accuracy, etc.).
When you’re selling, approach empathetically and consider the risk for buyer.

What are your thoughts on risk for buyers? What approaches have been successful when selling to others as they relate to both the benefits and the risks involved?