Greylock’s Andy Johns on Web Growth: “You’re Training a Mentality”

8/30/13Follow @bvbigelow

As an authority on getting consumer Web companies to soar along the elusive curve of exponential growth, Andy Johns has succinctly epitomized his expertise in his Twitter handle, “@ibringtraffic.”

Last month Johns joined Menlo Park, CA-based Greylock Partners as the venture firm’s first “growth strategist in residence,” a title bestowed on the basis of his recent track record. According to his LinkedIn profile, Johns helped engineer a four-fold increase in traffic over one year at Quora; worked on Twitter user growth and engagement when the number of active users went from 40 million to 140 million; and helped lead Internet marketing for two years at Facebook, when the number of active users went from 100 million to more than 500 million.

To Johns, software has become the next industrial revolution. As he puts it, it’s about “taking code that allows a 14-year-old kid to create an app that can reach a couple million people in just a few weeks.”

Andy Johns

Andy Johns

With the help of San Diego Tech Founders, Xconomy invited Johns to elucidate the mysteries of online growth for the emerging cluster of Web entrepreneurs, investors, and CEOs in San Diego. He met with two dozen local tech leaders for a luncheon discussion organized by Xconomy Wednesday, and later spoke to about 170 people at a Tech Founders meetup.

Driving Web traffic is no simple matter. According to Johns, it means absorbing a Web startup’s core values—what he calls “the founders’ DNA”—while injecting some key business fundamentals to accelerate growth. At the same time, he talked about the seemingly contrary necessity of cutting through a company’s internal cultural resistance to change, especially as a growth team “begins to change the DNA fundamentals of a company.”

“You’re training a mentality,” Johns said. “You’re training a group of people to think in a particular way, and then you’re giving them the power to make changes.”

The discipline that Johns outlined is a wholly data-driven process. My colleague Wade Roush wrote … Next Page »

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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