When you’re founding a startup and you don’t have a senior technical co-founder, what is the default thing to do? Look for a CTO, a chief technology officer.

Guess what there’s a shortage of? Great CTO’s…

But there’s another option.

What if for the same ‘price’ as a CTO, you could get a great part-time Silicon Valley CTO + 2 full-time developers? (Ask me how this works.)

That could actually produce more progress in 1) building out your business and 2) supporting your customer development efforts. You could get more momentum, while being more capital efficient.

With this approach, your CTO can focus on high value-add efforts, like:

– designing the technology architecture

– setting the tech team culture, including coding standards

– prioritizing steps in the development plan to support business needs & schedules

while your developers build out the code.

One of the challenges of the ‘full-time CTO who does everything’ approach is that they face constant context-switching between back-end coding, front-end UI tweaks, architecting and sync-ing w/ the business team and business considerations. Constant context-switching can really reduce productivity. That reduced productivity is often in the critical path of the business, limiting speed and making other members of the management team worried.

When searching for a part-time CTO, there’s also less requirements to filter on, than if you’re looking for one person to do everything, since you’re not looking for them to be the combo CTO/front-end/back-end/mobile developer. That means it’s easier to find one, and you’re faster in getting started and going to market.

By helping build out multiple startups concurrently, a part-time CTO can bring you 5x the expertise in high-value areas like:

– technology architecture

– practical experience w/ different technologies and their development productivity and any potential surprise issues

– best practices for tech team culture

– leveraging usability design, metrics, analytics, A/B testing, etc.

What happens when you scale up the tech team and need more tech management? Do you then switch over to having a full-time CTO?

That’s not your only option. One great approach is to start building out your engineering management, by adding a half or full-time Director of Engineering. Or a VP of Engineering.

But what will investors say? Their main concerns are that:

– The Tech is being built in a high-quality way (Answer: You’ve got a high-quality CTO guiding that)

– Opportunities are not being missed (Answer: They’re handled because the CTO can focus on those opportunities and doesn’t have to context-switch to write CSS code)

– You have a plan to scale up development productivity (Answer: Such as by bringing on a Dir/VP of Engineering in addition to more developers when needed)

When talking with investors, you can address these concerns with the points mentioned above. Then you can talk about how your current plan is giving you higher development productivity by having 2 developers building the tech, and is capital efficient. You also have less dependency on one particular person.

If incentivized suitably with sufficient stock, an experienced CTO can probably help raise an additional amount of funding enough to cover a years’ worth of cash compensation or more. They aren’t going to promise this and it shouldn’t be the reason to bring them on board, but it can be a nice benefit. And in some cases, that additional new investor can be a name investor who strengthens and contributes momentum to the whole fundraising process.

The biggest benefits that an experienced CTO can bring to a startup are in the interplay of business and tech:

  • connecting and ordering tech priorities to business & customer needs, and
  • balancing technical and business goals.

Being on top of these areas means quicker time to market, quicker iteration in customer development, and a higher probability of making it big.

I welcome your thoughts on this.


Adrian Scott is a pioneer of social networking, having founded Ryze. He was also a founding investor in Napster. He currently helps company build & ship technology and grow their metrics, as CEO of Coderbuddy.

Follow him on Twitter

Google Plus is using its Notifications feature to teach people to NOT return to Google Plus.

How can that be? People get confused and uncomfortable in social networking  when people they don’t know, and don’t feel like they have a commonality with, try to add them as friends. Yet, these “friend”/circle adds will be the bulk of your Notification items if you’re a light user of Google Plus.

And then Google Plus makes it even worse by only showing you a bunch of first names you may not recognize… So you really feel like these are people you don’t know and are unconnected to. And you need to make another click to get details.

Normally, a well-designed Notifications system will increase repeat usage and create a habit of checking for the newest notification. Instead, Google Plus has managed to support Anti-Habit Creation… avoiding checking Notifications. Facebook has a better design because the “Friend/Circle Adding” is in a separate notification section, and the right-most notifications are generally things you’re interested in, including people confirming you as a friend, mentioning you in a post, writing a response to your post, etc.

Adrian Scott is a pioneer of social networking, having founded Ryze, was a founding investor in Napster, and currently helps company build & ship technology and grow their metrics. Follow him on Twitter

Immune System Hack Diet

Prevent chronic disease, promote health and longevity with these foods and meals. First I list some key foods, then a daily meal plan, and finally, references at the bottom to read more details.

  • Greens: broccoli, kale and bok choy particularly recommended, spinach also — best when blended, chewed or chopped to support ITC creation
  • Beans and Lentils, (reduce colon cancer risk by 50%) sample beans include:
    • Black beans – my ‘go-to’/default bean
    • Chick pea / garbanzo beans – great for salads too
    • Canary beans
    • Black eye peas
  • Onions, again best chopped or chewed
  • Mushrooms — cooked, simple white mushrooms are fine (reduce breast cancer risk by 80%)
  • Berries — I buy bags of frozen strawberries, wild blueberries and raspberries, and then have a few berries in the evening for dessert (reduce inflammation, prevent DNA damage)
  • Seeds and Nuts — once in a while I buy a can of mixed nuts, preferably unsalted, also a bottle of unsalted sunflower seeds. great for snacking during the day

Here’s what  a typical day of meals looks like:

Breakfast – looks a lot like dinner🙂

Take a bowl
Add half or more of a can of beans; bonus points if you buy dried beans and soak them overnight instead of using canned
Wash and cut 1-2 white mushrooms
Slice and dice some onion
Optional: a few slices of a pepper, green or another color, carrot or eggplant
Greens: broccoli, spinach, kale, cabbage, zucchini or bok choy

I slip it into the microwave and set it on 80% power and cook for 5 minutes. Only 80% to avoid bursting beans🙂.

Wrap up the leftover beans and other food and store for the next meal.



  • Salad of lettuce, tomato, cucumber, possibly some green/colored pepper
  • Add some vegan salad dressing
  • Heat up leftover beans from breakfast, or open up a new can, in microwave at 80% for 3 mins, add some tomato if you’d like
  • Spread the warm beans over the salad


Basically the same as breakfast, I often skip the onion, and sometimes squeeze 1-2 pieces of garlic in a garlic press and include that. Sometimes I add some curry.


Here are some simple healthy snacks that are easy to munch on:

  • slices of cucumber
  • olives
  • mini carrots, but not too much or often
  • nuts or seeds
  • sometimes a few slices of frozen strawberries

Supplements: CoQ10 30mg, Alphalipoic Acid 100mg, Turmeric, Green Tea, Vitamin D 2,000IU

With this diet, if you’re hungry, just prepare and eat more, even if it’s not officially time for your next meal. If you’re craving something to eat even after trying the above snacks, just warm up half a can of black beans

Try not too eat supper very late, preferably start by 6-7pm.

Bonus: drink green tea (early in the day rather than later)

If you feel a cold threatening your immune system, chew on some kale, pop a few wild blueberries and add an extra mushroom to your next meal.

My personal next steps with the diet: Reduce junk food I eat on the side, reduce soda, replace breakfast with a green (kale) smoothie (I’m currently too lazy in the prep area and with washing the blender…)

Here are the references, with the real details on how these foods help prevent cancer and more:

Super-Immunity, the book by Dr. Fuhrman

Article on these food items


Follow me on Twitter @AdrianScottcom

Every Minimally-Viable Product (MVP) should include an A/B test, a test where you show half of the site visitors one version and the other half another version and compare the results.


  •  It’s your chance to create a measurement-driven culture in your team
  •  It’s an opportunity to start getting feedback right away
  •  It’ll set you up for a less expensive cost per test over time
  •  It’s the opportunity to start the snowball of momentum early on, so your conversion rates and repeat usage keep building and building

What happens if you don’t do it?

You end up procrastinating. Months later, you’ve done all kinds of upgrades, social features, and more, but you haven’t gotten that feedback loop in place. Your developers would rather build features, because they ‘know’ what the product needs. Your CEO is stressed out with raising funding. Everyone is agreeing that A/B testing is important, but somehow it never gets off the to-do list.

So make it a priority to get a first, super-simple A/B test into your MVP.

About the Author: Adrian Scott helps high-tech/media companies grow their businesses through metrics and testing. A recent upgrade for one client increased site visits by several hundred percent. Adrian founded the pioneering social networking services Ryze, which he bootstrapped into 15% Weekly Growth Rates, and was a founding investor in Napster. He has developed technology for startups and corporations, developing software and setting up operations. He can reached via email at adrian at adrianscott . com.

Conversion: The Most Important Internet Metric of All (Revisited) by Bill Gurley from Benchmark

Meet the Growth Hacking Wizard behind Facebook, Twitter and Quora’s Astonishing Success (Forbes)

Zero to Product/Market Fit

Investor Readiness

Building a Culture of Measurement

and, as a bonus, one classic presentation: Three Growth Hacks from Josh Elman

Adrian Scott helps high-tech/media companies grow their businesses through metrics and testing. He’s helped companies get their analytics and metrics dashboards in place, choose and integrate existing analytics services, and create a series of tests to improve metrics. Adrian Scott founded the pioneering social networking services Ryze, and was a founding investor in Napster. He has developed technology for startups and corporations, developing software and setting up operations. He can reached via email at adrian at adrianscott . com.

Neat to see the Ryze mention in LinkedIn’s pitch deck, as discussed in Reid Hoffman’s recent post.


Needless to say, I’d do it differently if I was doing it over again. And a fanatic insistence on testing would be a big part of what I’d do differently.


As you build your business, you’re often looking to improve the percentage of possible sales you close. In social or networked services, you can also take advantage of the opportunity to build repeat visits — repeat interactions with your service. This lets you:

  • have more opportunities to close the sale, if you didn’t manage to the first time
  • build repeat sales
  • create habits where your customers continue coming back to interact
  • learn about other customer needs, and send that feedback into the product pipeline
  • build a customer lifetime valuation model and use that to grow your business’s valuation

As you try to increase repeat visits, you’ll want to track and use A/B testing to measure if an idea really produces results, or just adds more technical debt for your team to maintain.

Here are a few tactics you can play with:

  • Create a weekly email — you can personalize it with member stats, and personalize the subject line, not just the body
  • Notification emails — social interactions with other members can give you a reason to jolt them with an email that can bring them back
  • Give your members something once per day… This could be a social thing, a free contact to another user, a free badge, a badge of recognition if they visit once a day for a whole week/month
  • Have statistics people will want to check regularly, e.g. # of visits to a member’s profile page
  • Think of focusing on building weekly usage first, and then focusing more on daily usage
  • Have something for your whales — your 20% of members who contribute 80% of your revenues.
  • Not all repeat usage is equal: repeat usage for potential
    repeat customers or recruiters is most desirable. As you build out prediction/valuation model for these, you’ll
    be able to test, target and measure tactics for identifying, developing and bringing this group back more.

It really pays off to test these changes. I just recently ran a test on Ryze where I expected that a daily list of new business articles could build repeat usage, but it actually lowered it. Soon, I’ll be testing out a new weekly email that’ll go out to members who’ve recently used the site. Of course, that’ll be A/B tested, so only half of the candidate members will receive the email and we’ll track which group comes back to the site more.

Keep in mind that you don’t need 2 new versions to test out — you just need one new version to test against the current version. You want to test against the current version so you can make sure you don’t make things worse. If you do want to test 2 new versions, you can test both of them against the current version, of course🙂.

I hope these quick notes give you ideas. I look forward to your comments and questions.

Adrian Scott is a pioneer of social networking, and is currently helping several high-tech/media companies build their businesses through metrics and testing. In the past he has also built out technology products for startups and corporations, developing software and setting up operations. He can reached via email at adrian at adrianscott . com.

Getting this set up!


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