Carl, Dec 8, 2016 : Friends, Back in 2014, I used to write letters (1, 2, 3) to our community right here on our forums. And then it stopped. Yes, I became a lot busier, but that's just an excuse. As for everything in life, you make time for what's important. As 2016 is turning to a close, and as we turn the page on our third year, I've recently found myself reflecting on OnePlus' past three years. Upon reflection, I realized that one of the most important parts to OnePlus are our fans. People who gave a chance to a new and unknown company and took a giant leap of faith. Most startup companies fail, and in our industry, many established companies are also on their last legs. Thus, believing in us was a huge leap of faith, and it was our fans' trust that has allowed us to survive until this day. So I decided to pick this up again, I'll write a letter every month for the next three months and then assess if it's worth continuing. Since it has been such a long time since the last update, I'll pick up where I left off and make this about the last two years. I'll capture this period with three themes; euphoria, arrogance & improvement. Euphoria (OnePlus One) The OnePlus One was a huge success. It caused ripples in the industry and positioned OnePlus as a dark horse ready to take on the competition. Our team worked extremely hard to launch this product, and felt the validation when the market accepted the product with open arms. Back then, we seldom had inventory in our warehouses for more than 48 hours, and demand was always way higher than supply. The OnePlus One sold way better than our initial expectation, doing more than 1.5 million units, as well bringing the company to profitability; both rare for a first generation product from a startup company. During this period, we also launched in India and our Indian fans welcomed us with open arms. Here's a slightly (or very) cringey video we shot to signal our entry. Looking back, launching in India with Amazon was one of the best things we've done, as the partnership has proven to be great for both companies. The first time Pete and I met with Amit, head of Amazon India, things clicked. We spent the entire meeting talking about culture, the importance of being consumer-centric, as well as how to think long term. If we could align on culture and principles, we figured that details would be easy to take care of. And that's how things actually unfolded. Working with an exclusive partner is like getting married. When we entered India, every brand was married to a platform. Today, the Amazon OnePlus marriage is the only one that remains in India. Back then, our team was in a sort of euphoric startup bubble. Suddenly, all doors started to open up. We were invited to speak at large tech conferences, met the most prominent VCs, and received all types of rewards and recognition. We were really excited to be nominated for The Crunchies Awards, and although we would have won if it were by popular vote, we didn't in the end. I hope no one took our advice to heart, because advice coming from OnePlus in 2015 would have been pretty bad. Nonetheless, this got to our heads and we felt quite important. During this period, we also hired fast. Why? Because classic startup literature taught us to "hire fast fire fast". When hiring, I remember being more excited about pedigree than culture fit or real accomplishment. We ended up with a larger team, but one that that didn't gel well. Instead of moving faster, this made us move slower. As an added bonus, culture began to turn toxic and morale began to drop. Arrogance (OnePlus 2 & OnePlus X) Emboldened by the success of the OnePlus One, we thought highly of ourselves and felt unstoppable. We didn't focus on the right thing, and often let our judgment get affected by outside noise. Those of you who were around for the "2016 Flagship Killer" should know what I mean. It wasn't a bad product, but it wasn't great either. In this day and age of globalization and hyper-competition, good enough doesn't cut it anymore. If you want to build a healthy company today, you absolutely must bridge the gap between good and great. Also, we also wanted to expand. More product categories = larger addressable market = faster growth, right? This insight led to the OnePlus X, our foray into the mid range. It was a great product, and if given to a larger mobile brand, it would probably have done well. We overestimated our sales and marketing abilities. We knew a few social media tricks that could get us to some early adopter users, but when you want to go mass market, the game is way different. Financially, we were lucky to be close to break even. The only reason why this happened was because we had established trust with the One. Following up a great product with a good product, we burnt some of that trust, but at least we still survived our second year. And the people who joined OnePlus to be a part of a rocket ship? They all left. When the tide is high, it's difficult to see the bedrock. It's when things get bad that true colors show. To be fair, it was our own fault. We had no experience and no idea how to manage a large team. Had we managed the team better, the outcome should have been different. Yet, 2015 was probably our best year. Not in terms of business performance, but in terms of a reality check. We learned that our past success was mostly due to luck and timing, and that we weren't smarter than anyone else. This made our team a lot more rational and mature. The lucky part was that we got this reality check in year two, and also survived the experience. Many startups don't learn this lesson until it's too late to turn the ship around. Improvement (OnePlus 3 & OnePlus 3T) In the beginning of 2016, from an outside perspective, we probably looked like a below mediocre smartphone brand. We were acutely aware of our situation, and set a simple goal for our next product. The goal for OnePlus 3: redeem ourselves. Reset the clock for the OnePlus brand to how things were post OnePlus One. Focus on the product, absorb a lot of feedback, but filter aggressively based on what we think is right. Focus on the best core experience, ignore garnish and gimmicks. We also learned the value of culture. In a way, company culture is like traffic regulations. It's a way of working, and if we all subscribe to the same set of rules, things work. If one driver ignores traffic rules, even if it's the world's best race car driver, this person would only cause chaos. The race car driver might be great on the race track, but not on our roads. Luckily for us, the OnePlus 3 turned out to be a hit. It's the highest NPS product we made, and even though our marketing didn't improve much, a good product can get you really far. Internally, we feel like we reached the goal we set for the OnePlus 3. Sometimes, people ask us how we're so good at PR and we just smile. We're actually not that good, it's just that the product is solid. The part that I'm most proud of is probably the improvement in our R&D team, they are way more consumer centric than before. The speed in which we can gather feedback from our community and iterate is much faster, and I'm especially happy about the beta program. Did you know that our engineers often arrange face-to-face sessions with users around the world to recreate bugs and capture logs? So next time you report a problem and someone contacts you out of the blue, don't be afraid. It's likely a OnePlus engineer. Over the course of the life of OnePlus 3, we've improved various aspects of the software together with our community. At the same time, we've also made important advancements in hardware. We didn't want to wait another half year to bring this to the market, which is why we launched the OnePlus 3T. Initial traction has been great, even better than the OnePlus 3. Delivery times are very long again, but who knows, fingers crossed for what happens next.