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The Dog Ate Our Homework, Google Drive Is Down (UPDATED)



If you’ve noticed that Google Drive and all of the apps that save to it are acting a bit shaky today, you’re not alone. Google updated their Apps status page to show that the company is looking into reported issues.

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It’s showing up as a “service disruption” so nothing is down completely. But nothing is loading either.

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My personal experience is that the products mentioned above are running ridiculously slow, with files not loading at all. Both for my personal account and business account.

So you know. Here’s your daily reminder: Always be local.

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We’ve reached out to Google for further comment and will update once we hear back.

UPDATE: The hell isn’t over yet folks, but things are working AOK for me. Twitter on the other hand is flipping the heck out.

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More Funding Won’t Magically Fix Your Startup


Some entrepreneurs think that (more) money will solve all their company’s problems. It won’t. Like a teenager with a million dollar allowance and an identity crisis, a startup with too much capital and no product-market fit will become capable of making larger mistakes.

Biggie Smalls said it best: “Mo Money, Mo Problems.”

As an investor, I root for startups. It pains me to see great teams and ideas collapse under the pressure that sometimes follows fundraising. If you’ve raised money and you’re not sure what comes next, that’s fine – I don’t always know either. However, I do know four things you absolutely should not do:

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Dell Files IPO for Cybersecurity Unit


Dell Inc. has filed confidentially for an IPO for its SecureWorks cybersecurity unit, TechCrunch has confirmed. The IPO is anticipated to happen before the end of the year.

First reported by the Wall Street Journal, SecureWorks could be valued at up to $2 billion. The report said that SecureWorks is working with Bank of America and Morgan Stanley to manage the IPO.

Dell acquired SecureWorks for $612 million in 2011 for its security software and consulting businesses, in an effort to expand beyond its computer hardware focus.

As part of the Jumpstart Our Business Act, companies with less than $1 billion in annual revenue are able to file confidentially for public offerings, revealing their financials just 21 days before the investor roadshow.

Dell was taken private in 2013 after being bought out for about $25 billion by Michael Dell and private equity firm, Silver Lake.

Texas-based Dell is also rumored to be in merger talks with EMC, the data storage company.


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OneGo Goes Nationwide With Its Subscription Plans For Unlimited Flights


OneGo promises to give subscribers unlimited flights for a monthly fee.

I first wrote about the company in June — at the time, its offerings were limited to a West Coast flights. More recently, it’s added plans covering the different regions of the United States, as well as a nationwide plan for $2,950 per month.

Founder Paulius Grigas pitches OneGo as a way for businesses to consolidate their travel expenses and make their costs “controllable and predictable.” Customers will get unlimited direct flights on major airlines, as well as perks like Gogo WiFi membership and enrollment in expedited security screening program TSA Pre.

Under the basic plans, you must book flights at least seven days ahead of time and can’t have more than four open reservations, but you can pay extra for additional flexibility.

OneGo has now divvied up the United States into four regions — west, central, north and south. If you keep your travel to one region, the basic plan costs $1,950 per month (except for the west coast plan, which will only cost $1,500). Or, again, you can pay $2,950 and fly to major airports throughout the United States.

To be clear, people aren’t actually flying with OneGo yet, so this is basically a preview of what the company will be offering. It’s currently accepting sign-ups for its “Founding Flyers” and expects to puts its first subscribers in the air in November. OneGo is also developing an app that will allow users to make bookings from their phone.

Featured Image: Kuster Wildhaber Photography/Flickr UNDER A CC BY-ND 2.0 LICENSE

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SF Nerds Can Now Impress Dates With UberSELECT


UberSELECT, Uber’s higher-end car offering has finally rolled out to those in San Francisco. The service allows folks in the 7×7 to choose luxury cars for their ride, including BMW 3-Series, Audi A4, and Mercedes C-Class, according to a post on Uber’s blog.

UberSELECT rolled out to other cities around the world such as Toronto and Seattle earlier this year but was not something Uber management thought about for the Bay Area until now – instead choosing to focus on other offerings such as UberPOOL and UberEATS first.

You may be wondering why Uber needs another high-end service. Isn’t this just like UberBLACK? You are not wrong in asking this question. After all, how many luxury car services does one rideshare platform need? However, this is about luxury for less, Uber tells us.

While the SELECT cars offer arguably less of a luxury than the UberBLACK standard S-class S550 Mercedez, SELECT allows riders to grab a nicer ride at a lower price point.

Riders won’t be able to choose which car actually picks them up, but Uber said anything from a Tesla to a BMW could appear to whisk you and that special someone to your destination.

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The base fare is $5 on UberSELECT versus $8 for UberBLACK and the cost goes up from there for the same journey. Uber uses the example of riding in a BMW Series 3 from the Marina to the FiDi on SELECT for $12.10. According to Uber, that same ride would be $17.20 with UberBLACK.

It seems like Uber is cannibalizing its own services with this new option. But Uber tells us it simply sees the two options differently – SELECT is for fancy affairs and date nights and BLACK is for business.

UberSELECT drivers could motor up for those on a budget, too. These types of drivers will serve both UberX and SELECT riders, but it’s a crap shoot according to Uber. Riders choosing UberX can’t control if an Audi or a Prius comes for them. The rest of us will just have to hope our date isn’t the shallow sort when they realize we got them UberX instead.

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Sell SaaS, They Said … It Will Be Easy, They Said


It has never been easier for customers to buy software. A couple of clicks or taps, depending on your device of choice, and you can be up and running with even the most sophisticated enterprise business applications.

The result of all of those fast, easy transactions is impressive: According to Goldman Sachs, SaaS revenue is predicted to reach $106 billion in 2016, a 21 percent increase over projected 2015 spending.

So if SaaS is so easy to buy, why does it often seem so difficult to sell?

Simply put, traditional software distribution channels have failed to keep up with today’s on-demand, subscription-based delivery models. In the old world of on-premise licensed-based software, 70 percent of software sales were channel based. Today, only 23 percent of SaaS sales go through a channel. On the other side of the coin, 80 percent of on-premise software vendors operate a channel program to enable other companies to sell their products, while only 20 percent of SaaS vendors operate similar programs.

Today’s software vendors are leaning heavily on direct sales, but it’s not entirely their fault. Many vendors don’t have the technology to support a balanced distribution approach that includes indirect sales channels, such as affiliates and resellers. To make matters worse, there’s no “silver bullet” that will solve every SaaS sales and distribution challenge; not only is every software vendor unique, but these companies will have different go-to-market needs at different stages of growth. In short, there is no be-all, end-all way to monetize software.

With lots of trial and error, however, some SaaS companies have managed to crack their own unique code for selling software. Let’s look at four strategies SaaS vendors can use to sell more software, as well as companies that have used them to successfully scale and drive new revenue.

Affiliates And Referral Programs

These types of programs usually operate in one of two ways. In one, customers refer others to a product for some form of incentive. In the other, vendors establish formal relationships with affiliate partners who direct qualified leads to the vendors’ websites or products; again, in exchange for an incentive.

Looking across the SaaS industry, Dropbox offers one of today’s strongest examples of a successful referral program. The cloud storage company encourages users to invite a friend to join in exchange for 500MB of free storage. This program helped Dropbox grow from 100,000 to 4 million registered users in just 15 months, a jump that represents a staggering 1,950 percent year-over-year growth rate.

Another common referral strategy is based on the use of affiliates who share leads with an organization in exchange for a portion of revenue or a one-time payment. For example, online store platform Shopify operates one of the most successful SaaS affiliate programs, paying out $2.3 million in referral fees in 2013 and $1.1 million in 2012. Overall, affiliates accounted for roughly 23 percent of Shopify’s revenue in those years, making its program a runaway success.

Reseller Programs

Reseller programs can generate revenue at incredibly low margins, which makes them one of the most attractive channel initiatives for SaaS vendors. Moreover, when partners are doing the heavy lifting and selling products, companies can focus on what really matters: innovating and building better software.

Xero, the SaaS-based accounting solution, provides one of the best examples of a successful reseller program. By 2009, Xero had acquired 12,000 customers solely through traditional direct sales and self-service efforts. To grow faster, it launched an innovative program in which accountants would be Xero resellers. In short, accountants would bundle Xero with their own expertise and sell them as a package deal.

Xero used telemarketers to engage and educate nearly 2,000 accounting firms in the company’s home country of New Zealand. The results have been impressive: In just three years, Xero grew from 12,000 customers to 135,000, 60 percent of which were acquired through its reseller program.

Listing In Application Marketplaces

Building on their success in the consumer space, application marketplaces have become a popular way to distribute SaaS software. There are a few major types that have emerged in the SaaS sector over the past decade or so. The first are app directories, which use a marketplace-like listing as the primary driver of traffic to off-site vendors. You can look to companies like and Capterra for examples of this type of model.

Second are add-on stores, which are marketplaces that offer API-powered services that enable developers to build on top of a SaaS platform. Atlassian, the SaaS-based project management and messaging company, launched this type of marketplace in 2012 with 1,000 integrations to third-party services. Since then, the company has onboarded about 1,700 add-ons, and it processed more than $30 million in transaction volume in 2014 alone.

Third, we have full-service marketplaces. These stores offer the actual SaaS product instead of a “connector” to a third-party site. In other words, customers can use full-service marketplaces to buy third-party applications without having to leave the marketplace and sign up elsewhere. For example, ADP, the world’s largest cloud-based payroll company, launched a full-service marketplace earlier this year that utilizes its latest API and extends its platform through third-party plug-ins and services.

Self-Service Commerce And Your Sales Team

Last but not least, let’s circle back to where we started, direct sales. The fact remains that direct sales still power the majority of SaaS sales, simply because the model still works; if you have a product, selling it yourself directly to customers can be an incredibly effective no-brainer.

Take Zendesk, for example: Fresh off a recent IPO, the popular SaaS-based customer support company currently serves more than 50,000 customers, all of which came through either their direct sales teams or self-serve sign-ups. But, it’s important to keep in mind that even Zendesk recently implemented a reseller program. Eventually, almost every company will run up against the limits of what can be done with direct sales alone.

The bottom line is this: SaaS companies need to find the sales models that work for them, and they need to do so as quickly as possible. However, you should strive for an approach that’s more “experiment smartly” than “fail fast” — failure can be expensive, distracting and demoralizing.

Look for tools and partners that can help you monetize your software in the ways that work best for your business. There may be no silver bullets, but you can find something even better: Your own unique mix of sales strategies that work for you.

Featured Image: A Aleksii/Shutterstock

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