Do More Than Just Try It

I’m banging away on a bunch of new things these days.  I’ve happily switched to a Mac, am halfway through my week of Gmail, and am contemplating what new thing to try next week.

I’ve always been a tech junky and love to play with new stuff.  I’m quick to set up an account on a new web service and try it.  It’s the best way for me to understand something – much better than an executive summary or a presentation.

I found that my switch to a Mac took two weeks to get really comfortable, but once I crossed the line I was all in.  Gmail feels similar – after a few days of it I’m loving it but now running into a few issues (that I’m quickly resolving – such as the email send rate limiting thing that I mentioned last night.)  I haven’t yet tried to move my calendar fully over, and I know that moving to Google Apps is going to be hairy because of all my family members using accounts on (currently an Exchange server) in a variety of different configs, but that’s part of the fun of this stuff.  Well – maybe not.

While it’s obvious to say that “just trying something out” is much simpler than actually incorporating that new thing into your work flow, it occurred to me today that there isn’t enough focus on this on the part of most startups.

I’ve learned the incredible power of focusing on “daily active users” from my investment in Zynga.  While I’ve been obsessed with DAU’s for a while now, I haven’t been paying enough attention to the specific DAU’s that come back day after day (rDAU’s – recurring DAUs).  While I encourage everyone to measure the number of them, I haven’t been encouraging people to “measure what they actually do.”  As I ponder my own behavior, I’m seeing a huge difference in my (a) fly by and try, (b) try and use periodically, and (c) become an rDAU behavior.

Note to everyone I work with – start measuring what your rDAUs actually do.  It might surprise you.

  • Bill

    Earlier this year, I tried using Google Calendar and ended up going back to Outlook due to something that sounds stupid but ended up being a real pain.

    I had problems with notifications not working when receiving or sending a meeting invite to an Outlook user.

  • direwolff

    Great points re rDAU which is something that Mark has known was important since his days at Tribe.

    Let me go off on a tangent on something else you mentioned however. I'm kind of sorry that you've invested so much time in getting up to speed w/Apple products (which I have as well having a MacBook Pro and an iPad), when we start seeing their upcoming draconian principles coming to the fore via the patents they're filing:…. Very disappointing to have invested all this time on their stuff 🙁 I know how much you love these sorts of patents 😉

    PS: I tried comment after logging in w/Twitter and it doesn't appear to be working though I get the Twitter OAuth to work just fine.

  • Andrew Parker of Spark Capital had a post on measuring active users as follows: "30-30 is where Active Users are measured by counting all users who have used the product in the last 30 days who also signed up longer than 30 days ago." (

    Could you share your thoughts on DAUs vs 30-30 measure? How would a single day's DAUs can be useful (I'm assuming for the measure to be useful, you'd have to have look at several days of data together or in relation to some other point in time)

    Thank you

  • Hi Brad,

    Feel your pain. I've gone back and forth both ways on Gmail vs. Outlook/Exchange. The biggest issue for me was the previous over-simplicity of the contact fields. Thankfully, I've never needed to perform an exchange migration. If you get to that point, then my friend Jason would be happy to help you (I know he does POP migrations, not sure about full Exchange migrations, although he'd give you a straight answer if he could do the work or not). He's or . Great guy, I always learn something talking to Jason. Best of luck with the experiment!


  • Ray

    The mail host for my domain is pointed to google apps. Technically I use gmail and google calendar, but everything is sucked into Apple Mail, iCal and three way sync'd with my iPhone, and another Mac and a netkintosh. It's so transparent that when people ask me how to do it, I can never remember.

    Anyway, glad you gave Mac another try.

  • Jason Stout

    You may have already seen it, but GMail actually provides an Exchange migration tool, so you can move over "effortlessly". While I have not used that tool directly, I did use their Outlook Sync tool for my migration of previous PST's I was working with on another provider and it all migrated quickly and without issue. You never know you might be surprised!

  • Brad, I just moved our company (Axion Health) – about 15 users – from Exchange to Gmail. My recommendation: hire someone who has done this before to do the migration for you. Like you, I love to fiddle with new technologies, but this is one you probably don't want to spend your time on. For most of our accounts it was fine but a few had issues and they can be a real time sink.

    Once it was done, I was very glad we did it. No server, lower cost, extra features, etc., but there was a bit of work to get across. Our guy did a great job and isn't too expensive – let me know if you want a referral.

  • mtupper

    Great observations. Now adding "rDAU Behavior" to the dashboard backlog.

    Re migrating from Exchange to gApps, I suspect it is much less painful than you think. The only real painful part is each user uploading/syncing their Outlook via IMAP to their new gApps Inbox, especially if they are very basic users, but even that is not too harsh. Like the Mac and Gmail client, you can anticipate a decent return on your effort/investment of time to do the migration since the administration post-migration will be a breeze. Hence, the sooner the better.

    I know I sound like a real Google fanboy, but its more about optimizing life and being anti-Microsoft. You know when you find something really great and you just want to tell everybody still on the other side to "jump in, the water is fantastic", even though they need plenty of convincing? Thats why I sell Mac/Google to anyone who will listen. You will notice that MS is at the root of these key changes you are making (Win > Mac / Outlook > Gmail / Exchange > gApps) and they were responsible for wasting huge amounts of your time.

  • Hey Brad, I bought a Mac a year ago to test it out and see if I wanted to switch as well as have a Mac for testing purposes. Everyone tells me if I used it exclusively for a few weeks I'd love it but I just feels like another computer to me? Glad you like it!

  • tmcmh

    Yes — monitoring your rDAUs, and studying what they do, is invaluable. It amazes me how often this isn't done, and how large systems get built without the proper instrumentation to do this easily. My heart sinks when I hear "oh, don't worry, Google Apps will do that for us" or, worse, "we'll check the log files." Those are both ways of saying "we didn't build our app to tell you how its being used." (Or, scarier, "we don't want to know how it's being used.")

  • timstephens

    Re: rDAU. We use this concept at our "old line industrial distribution' business measuring customer invoices per day. While revenue is definitely important, if we can get customers coming in repeatedly, the revenue will follow. Traffic count is the key metric for the first year.