Perception vs Reality: How these 5 Startups are really growing

In many tech startups there often exist two different stories for how a company has gained it’s hard fought success. There is the story that gets told in the news media and distributed on sites like hackernews and techmeme, and then there is the un-told story that underlies the reality of how the company is actually growing.

Here are some examples of these two different stories:



Collaborative consumption is driving new demand for previously un-used supply.


Land-lords are using airbnb as a channel to market their under-utilized or vacant rental properties. Source.Twitter


A democratizing force of good for the world where everyday people are given a global voice.


A navel-gazing wasteland of internet pundits and pseudo celebrities where fake accounts drive a large percentage of traffic. SourceYouSendit


Yousendit is popularly known as file hosting business for all types of business’s to swap large files with each other.


What they don’t tell you in the press is that the service is used by pirates and pornographers to distribute illegal, Ustream


The popular myth behind startups and Ustream was that they were riding the wave of a new live broadcast revolution powered by UGC.


The reality was that both sites turned a blind eye early on to pirated content that was being live broadcast around the world, fueling growth in visitors seeking this content. Source.Scribd


Scribd launched publicly as a ‘youtube for documents’ and a way for author’s to self-publish their work, democratizing the publishing business.


The reality paints a different picture, of pirated content driving the lion’s share of pageviews, while other original content is left in the dust. Source.

Adam Breckler

Adam Breckler

Working on something new. Previously: Founder @, Co-Founder & Head of Product at Sometimes investor and advisor to early-stage startups.