Too Much Due Diligence


I’m currently evaluating a 2 (maybe 3) exciting opportunities to start a new business venture in Australia. 

I decided that I would objectively evaluate these opportunities, as if I were a venture capital investor. I.e. don’t just go on gut, but spend a few weeks doing some decent “Due Diligence” on each of the ideas.

Of course, there’s a risk of over analyzing, especially once you have a bit of experience starting up businesses and you’ve faced plenty of customers saying “No!” to you and your amazing products! 

So it was refreshing to read Fred Wilson’s post on A VC about how he missed a great opportunity because of Too Much Due Diligence! 

In particular, he called up some of the major publishers to ask if they would use FeedBurner for their RSS feeds. They all said “No!”, as it would mean a 3rd party would have access to their analytics. Because of this customer feedback, Fred passed on investing in that round. Then this happened: 

About six months later I ran into Dick at an industry conference. We decided to grab lunch together and during lunch he said to me “you know those dozen publishers you called?” I said “yes, what about them?” He said “every single one of them is on Feedburner now.” 

Fred was still able to invest in FeedBurner, but at a 50% premium. In 2007, FeedBurner was acquired by Google for $100 million!  

So what did I learn from this lesson? First, trust your gut. I was using Feedburner and knew it was a very useful service. I felt that others would see that too. They did, but it took some time. Second, I learned that a service can get traction with the little guys and in time, the big guys will come along. 

From  (Audio version:

WordPress: Please Don’t Make Me Think

About a month ago I moved my blog from Posterous to a self-hosted WordPress installation. I didn’t bother setting up the Akismet comment spam filter at the time and started noticing quite a few spam comments coming through. From having previously worked with WordPress, I knew that I needed an API key. 

These days, it’s a bit easier to get, as you can simply sign up for a account which gives you a whole host of benefits when using a standard installation on your own server. 

I clicked on Plugins and selected “Settings” under Akismet. I entered my API key and started frantically looking for a “Save” or a “Save Settings” button. I found none, and thought that maybe it would auto-save once I navigated away from the page – a trend in desktop software, especially since Mac OS X’s System Preferences started doing this. 

I noticed a button saying “Update Options >>” (see below). I clicked on it to see what the “Update Options” might be, expecting a popup where I could choose whether Akismet would update automatically or manually.  The little double arrow indicated that further options would appear. 

Screen Shot 2013-05-10 at 9.46.03 AM

Ha! I was wrong. A message appeared saying; “Options saved.” 
Screen Shot 2013-05-10 at 10.02.38 AM
So why doesn’t the button say “Save options”? 
Steve Krugman writes in “Don’t Make Me Think” about naming buttons. In particular, regarding a Search box/button: 
It’s a simple formula: a box, a button, and the word ‘Search’. Don’t make it hard for them – stick to the formula.”