Welcome to the 83rd edition of Heartcore Consumer Insights. Curated with 🖤 every week by the Heartcore Team.
If you missed the past newsletters, you can catch up here. Now, let’s dive in!
Many professional social platforms today serve as a directory rather than a social platform and fail to facilitate genuine interactions among their users.
This is an observation that Matt Sunbulli had when he founded Fishbowl in 2017, an anonymous social app for professionals that recently got acquired by Recruit Holdings. Today’s story is a case story on how Matt built a social product that grew to have more than 1M users.
Fishbowl's initial product was an iOS app that allowed people from the same niche industry to interact with each other, a combination of LinkedIn and Reddit.
The first major setback the team faced was a content liquidity crisis. To understand the root cause of the problem, Matt reached out to users and found that the reason people were not posting content was that their professional brands were holding them back: “Professionals on LinkedIn are expected to have the answers, so they're not comfortable asking questions. It's all user psychology.” That key understanding helped shape one of the most important product decisions in Fishbowl’s history: making the platform semi-anonymous.
First 100K customers: one of the key growth principles at Fishbowl is adjacent word-of-mouth. Virality has a certain velocity, which includes both a spreading speed and a vector (the direction of the spread). After studying the spread, the Fishbowl team realized that virality tends to spread the fastest within the same company. Once a management consultant at PwC in the NYC office starts using the app, many of their colleagues would also download it.
Another principle at play here is the magic number of 5%. One insight they learned is that once they penetrate 5% of a firm, the speed of WoM spread tends to accelerate dramatically.
First 1M users: today, word of mouth contributes to +50% of new users. On the paid side, the team at Fishbowl has figured out an effective playbook around influencer marketing, sponsoring different influencers on different social platforms. For example, in the management consulting industry, many of the consultants follow different consulting meme accounts, such as Consulting Humor. Fishbowl frequently sponsors their Instagram stories which have proven to be a great acquisition channel. This has worked so well that Fishbowl has started its own consulting meme page called Fishbowl Consultants.
In the April 2021 iOS 14.5 update, iPhone users were given the option of whether or not to be tracked across apps. A staggering 96% chose not to be tracked, indicating that when given the choice, users choose privacy.
These impressive statistics point to a sea change in consumer demand for increasing privacy.
The movement of all communications moving online during the COVID-19 pandemic helped open the public’s eyes to digital privacy. Consumers started to demand more out of the companies they would share their data with.
Increasing consumer interest in cryptocurrencies, DeFi, and NFTs is also driving wider consumer adoption of cryptography and education about privacy practices.
Simultaneously, innovative newcomers have entered the scene and made privacy-first apps more attractive, leveraging existing UX patterns to create familiar experiences. As the newcomers gain traction with part of the population, they exert market pressure on the incumbents to start at least gesturing towards privacy.
Increased supply of user-friendly private tech and increased demand for privacy have converged, creating a moment of unprecedented opportunity for founders with a vision for privacy-first online experiences. Privacy isn’t a fad. This is an important cultural shift that will drive innovation - and we’ve only scratched the surface.
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Hiring The Wrong Growth Leader
🇪🇺 Notable European early-stage Consumer rounds :
🇺🇸 Notable US early-stage Consumer rounds :
🔭 Notable later stage Consumer rounds :
Leocare, a France-based neo-insurer, raises $110M from Eight Roads/Daphni - link
🍭 Notable Consumer Exits
🎧 Podimo raises a $78M Series B round led by 83North and Highland Europe. Heartcore has been an investor since day one and we are looking forward to the next chapter of this exciting journey. Huge congrats to the entire team at Podimo 🍾
We're super excited to announce our investment in Fora’s $5M seed round, alongside Forerunner & Uncommon Ventures. Fora will redefine what we think of the travel agency and enable people who want to sell travel as a career, or in their spare time, a way to do it. Welcome to the Heartcore family 🖤
Heartcore Consumer Insights is a weekly newsletter covering notable consumer rounds and exits and top content in the B2C space.