Andrew Chen, Quibb, Uber

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Marketing and Business Intelligence Manager at AHAlife

Interesting take on 'burn some to get some ' in a viral loop. Not sure i agree- at this point, the hook is job applications and the return hook is content. The Relative notification weighting based on connection density is pretty cool, though.

I couldn't disagree more. It is mostly an art. The science is creating the right data and analysis to understand what is happening, but the art is how you apply that knowledge to create rich experiences that draw users in vs feel spammy or worse and leave the product

Venture Partner at Spark Capital

Look - if you are just treating growth as a "pick the a/b test that wins" game then you are obviously a rank amateur.

That said, science is not derogatory and we should refuse to be dragged into that trap. This is about applying the scientific method to product management, and growth in particular. That has nothing to do with how creative it is. Einstein follows principals of scientific method - does that automatically make him not creative? Of course not, he's more creative than virtually every artist that has ever lived. He just subjected it to rigor to try and figure out if he was right. Anyone who is not interested in that is just not interested in learning.

Everyone should want this to be about science - in that we should test our hypothesis and be able to analyze if we were right about whether this growth feature was going to make x or y happen. If you analyze badly, and come to shitty hypothesis (ie "your ideas suck") then it will be more obvious to you faster. If you come up with better ideas, then you will get to analyze your positive results with more depth than "hurrah traffic is up!"

In the sense that I think the author was intending - that growth is just about the numbers - then he's just wrong. But in the sense that science, especially great science, is a process that allows us to be more creative and test even bigger risks. Then yes it IS science not art.

Platform at N3TWORK

Seems weird to think of science and art as mutually exclusive. See: Carl Sagan, Richard Feynman, Neil deGrasse Tyson, et al

I agree with your premise that science is fundamentally creative and you should be taking risks and measuring the results as part of product building. DJ Patil and I once gave a talk we called the "Data Scientific Method". But I think what a lot of the growth hacking commentary often misses is that this type of experimentation only really works when there is a well designed product and experience that it is leading to. That is the art in all of this. And often you still have to make a gut instinct about the longer term effects of something even without clear data either way.

Venture Partner at Spark Capital


Founder at Grafly

Exactly - science is fundamentally art. It's impossible to separate the two. Even if you strictly define science as 'making a decision by the numbers' and art as 'making a gut decision', choosing the right numbers, assumptions, and hypotheses is art. 'Good behavioral science and statistics', like the article mentions, is built on art. If you've worked with Bayesian stats you'll know how much art really goes into it (ie quantifying a posterior probability, etc).

From the decision-making point of view, unless you are God and have a omniscient dataset (100% predictive power with your data), strategy built on all science won't work. There's too many missing pieces. Michael Sippey, VP of Twitter, recently spoke about how some product features still go live even when the numbers don't add up. If the feature aligns with a broader product strategy/story, there's still a case for it.

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Aside from the fact that the post mastered the art of the eye test, I think Science may not be the right word. I'm with +NabeelHyatt as I like to say that once your Growth Hacking "art" worked, then you need to turn it into a process and Operationalize it.

If we take Twitter as an example, the different variations of emails I get from them to encourage me to re-engage are a good example of operationalizing something that has proved to work well in its prior Art form. Were you involved with that initial tinkering, Josh?

Graduate Student at Stanford University

I'm tired of reading articles on growth hacking. Where is the boundary between art and science? Why does it need to be one or the other? Was Airbnb's tactic to crawl craigslist and automate postings and art or was it a science? If you want extraordinary results then you need to think outside of the box and come up with creative solutions. And if you want to measure and optimize whatever you came up with then you need to apply statistics. Isn't that almost obvious? What is the deal with growth hacking? I've read so much stuff on "growth hacking" and I still don't get why people are making such a big deal out of it.

Regarding LinkedIn's growth, I'm with Adam Bowker here, not sure if I agree with the sentiment of the article.

Founder/CEO at Hike

We live in a world where almost everything we do and say is compartmentalised and perceived the same way to. One can either be an artist or an scientist, a poet or a mathematician. Never all at the same time. That why we're unlikely to see a Da Vinci or Michelangelo emerge from our generation. (Peter blames our education system, I agree -

Science and Art aren't mutually exclusive.

While the article does a great job of pointing out the scientific driven approach to growth, it completely misses on the big moon shots one needs to take to drive tremendous growth. The crazy ideas that are so off the whack that at first they don't make any sense.

Lets say for arguments sake that we do split Science vs Art. Here's how I would break it down, short and simple:

#1. Optimizing A/B funnels. Moving pixels around. Changing pixel colours a.k.a Science. This piece is one part of Growth Hacking and in most if not all cases drives 'Incremental Growth'.
#2. The Hail Mary. The nutty idea. That idea that seems so wrong yet so right. This comes in many forms and usually is a combination of the nature of the service + a rocket strapped to it a.k.a Art. This is the other piece of Growth Hacking that provides the 'Quantum Leap'.

#1 + #2 = Monstrous growth hack.

There always has to be a constant tension between Science and Art for extraordinary things to occur. And for that to happen, they must co-exist together.

Investor at Startup

My startup cofounder, Bronson Taylor, is the host of @growthhackertv and he has over 90 interviews on this topic and he does a great job. From my own perspective, there is a strong desire to try to keep turning all aspects of business such as sales, marketing, management and growth hacking into science by corporations, business schools and the startup world. Most of business cannot be explained by science.Science can't explain how a startup does more with less and sometimes beats large companies with huge resources. You can try to quantify marketing or growth hacking but it all starts with a sold understanding of what motivates people which is an art.

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Hannah Shapiro, Recuiter at Uber Hannah Shapiro
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Craig Hunter, Marketing & Community at Uber Craig Hunter
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