Editor’s Note: Semil Shah (@semil) is currently an EIR with Javelin Venture Partners and has been an official contributor to TechCrunch since January 2011.
“In the Studio” this week features someone who has taken on early product roles at many of the web’s definition social networking companies in the Valley, honing his craft for the last decade before packing his bags for the journey to Sand Hill Road, where he and his colleagues invest in the types of companies he’s helped build.
Now an investor with Greylock Partners, Josh Elman’s LinkedIn profile reads like the resume of the times we live in. Somehow, Elman had the foresight to work in early product roles at companies like Zazzle and Real Networks before making the jump to LinkedIn, followed Facebook, and eventually Twitter. Through these experiences, Elman has amassed a rare level of expertise in the initial growth phases of social products across so many important web platforms. Now, as an investor, he’s looking for the next generation of foundational social companies.
In this short discussion, Elman discusses how he defines “growth” versus “virality” in social products (an important distinction), explains what he and his Greylock colleagues are looking for (startups that have the potential to be durable, high-growth companies), and why he wants to meet founders and product leaders who can “incept” their users, who can explain why, over time, their product can be truly meaningful parts of their users’ lives.