Chamath Palihapitiya On Growth Hacking And How To Create A Sustainable User Acquisition Engine

Last fall, Udemy co-founder Gagan Biyani and Wildfire’s Erin Turner held the first Growth Hackers Conference, in which executives, entrepreneurs and investors from LinkedIn, Spark Capital, Bump, Airbnb and Dropbox gathered to growth hacking and what it means for early-stage startups. One of the keynote speakers was well known investor and entrepreneur, Chamath Palihapitiya, who, for those unfamiliar, started his career working for music pioneers and Winamp before going on to work at AOL, where he was the VP and General Manager of AIM and ICQ, as well as Silicon Valley venture capital firm, The Mayfield Fund.

From there, Palihapitiya went to work at Facebook, where he was the VP of Growth, Mobile and International, responsible for overseeing the Facebook Platform and played a role in launching Facebook’s online advertising channel, before founding his own venture fund in 2011, The Social+Capital Partnership. He also happens to be the owner of the Golden State Warriors. At the Growth Hackers Conference, the investor and Silicon Valley tech veteran spoke to the crowd about, among other things, how his team helped put Facebook on the path to one billion users and what’s important for entrepreneurs to focus on in today’s startup economy.

The founders of the conference have yet to share the video publicly, but Biyani was kind enough to give us a peek and allow readers to check out the content for the first time. Therein, Palihapitiya talks about the emergence of the growth hacker and how this new role and how growth teams — which combines quantitative marketing techniques, testing, data modeling and the leveraging of existing networks for distribution — are taking off in Silicon Valley.

He talks about how his experience at Winamp and AOL informed his leadership at Facebook, the power of communication networks and how they can create usage and scale and help accelerate adoption. He talks candidly about the philosophy in the Valley, the lack of “dog fooding” that happens among startups today and about what’s really important: A granular understanding of product value and consumer behavior.

Perhaps the core take-away, an important mantra for all entrepreneurs to hear in the era of noise, hype and “want-repreneurs” is that startups shouldn’t believe “the hype and the BS” that is swirling around the the Bay Area today. He talks about shying away from the idea of “virality” and about delivering product value as often as possible without scamming your users and without relying on that “gut” feeling.

The talk is part of a Udemy course that includes 10 hours of content from the Conference’s speakers in video form, including one-one-one interviews. The first 50 readers will be able to get access to the course for free, and we’ll provide more info on how to access the content soon.

It’s a great talk and well worth checking out. The first 50 readers can find a link to the course material for free here, and you can find a link to the slides that accompany the presentation here.