Successful Second Products are Rare

The odds of developing a second successful product – that is commensurate with a first successful product – are low.

As someone who works on the product exploration side (a.k.a. launching new products) vs the exploitation side (a.k.a. optimizing and improving existing products) I am continually on the lookout for companies that are able to pull off this challenging feat.

It was heartening to hear other people acknowledge how rare this is.  On the Acquired.fm podcast covering PowerPoint they touched upon this:

Ben: I pitched you on two podcast ideas. One was, we should cover acquisitions that actually went well, because the trope is that none of them ever go well and they implode. The other one was, why don’t we do a podcast series where every episode is about the rare company that manages to have a billion-dollar-plus innovation twice.

David: That’s right. I remember that. And we decided not to do that because there just weren’t that many. It would be a very, very short podcast series.

Ben: Yeah. And I think our thesis was basically like, companies have the magic moment just once, because they’re so rare, that they find that product-market fit, the monetization, like just everything works. And then after that, companies keep finding ways to grow and expand that thing, but they generally fail to find a second complete one of those and particularly one that works under the same roof and doesn’t interfere with the other main business. Microsoft did it. They’re one of the few in the world.

About brendansterne

Sr Director, Indeed.com Product Incubator
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