What's the spray and pray pattern in the venture capital industry?

The spray and pray model is very popular in the venture capital industry, especially for the social media boom. The social media boom for startups is happening in the past decade, ~2005 and onwards. There are many social media companies. Google is buying quite a few, although of recent, Google is having own issues with Big Data. There will need to be a major investment within, to make sure the systems are built to last, and can handle the large volume. Twitter is also another big data problem, although having to work very closely with Facebook, the hope is that the big data issue between Google, Twitter and Facebook will be resolved. I worked at hi5 and bebo, so I have full confidence that the architecture is build to scale.

With the spray and pray model, the venture capitalists like to have lots of small bets but spread them across. Once they can identify a winner, double down on the bet. This model works great, because it goes back to A/B testing model within startups. At hi5, we used to build twenty different types of friend invites, and A/B test to find the winner. Then the whole website will show the winner A/B tested email of the product.

The spray and pray model was also operated in Facebook Games. When the Facebook games got their huge adoption ~2008, many games companies were formed. The venture capitalists and angel investors played with spray and pray model. Invest in as many games as possible, burn Facebook advertising, and pick the winners. Some games got huge adoption, some games got none. Recently, 500startups is using the spray and pray model. Invest in as many startups as possible, give the grassroots a chance to shine, and then pick the winners based on data and traction. Teespring, another successful startup, allowing their users to sell t-shirts, is using Facebook advertising, and encouraging their users to use the spray and pray model, to sell t-shirts. Come up with twenty different t-shirts, pick the winner and double down.

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