Ali

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Thanks for the post Meredyth! Didn’t know about the Economic Graph–sounds really cool.

It seems to me that Talent Solutions is LinkedIn’s biggest differentiator and offers the biggest upside. For that (and the Economic Graph), the biggest challenge is to have people continue to sign up and fill out their profiles in as detailed a way as possible, because the higher quality and more granular profiles are, the more useful they are to recruiters/companies. I wonder if LinkedIn would be better off incentivizing users to improve their profiles by offering them free upgrades to Premium (e.g. if you add x skills and get them endorsed by y number of people, you get free Premium for 3 months), as opposed to charging for Premium, which could hurt the engagement of people unwilling to pay for the service.

On April 5, 2017, Ali commented on FiveThirtyEight and the Big Data Fail: Election 2016 :

I agree that FiveThirtyEight’s complete reliance on data makes their misfires very public (particularly when you set the bar extremely high, like they did in 2008 and 2012), and that’s very unfortunate. Because, like you mentioned above, despite their “gaff” they still did a much better job predicting the election (the general election that is) than almost all pundits and talking heads. On the morning of the election, FiveThirtyEight placed Trump’s chances ~30%, which is really not that low. Before the election, other media outlets were scoffing at how high of a chance Silver was giving Trump, and after the election they blamed him that the chances weren’t high enough. I’m much more sympathetic to Silver here, and consider this more of an imperfection of data/current polling methods (to Nupur’s point above), as opposed to a big fail.

On March 22, 2017, Ali commented on ArcBazar: Crowdsourcing Design :

Interesting, I really like this idea! This is essentially HourlyNerd but for architects, except it has a better chance for success in my opinion. This gives the client concrete solutions to a physical problem they’re trying to solve, so they truly won’t care whether it’s coming from amateurs on the internet/freelance architects, or from real architectural firms, unlike consulting, where the political stamp of approval afforded by top consulting firms is extremely valuable.

On March 22, 2017, Ali commented on Digg: Failures and Learnings :

Interesting post, Felix! I agree that a huge part of the problem is the super user issue, because it makes the average user less incentivized to engage, which defeats the whole purpose of crowdsourcing (at that point, the super users are simply analogous to employees that create content in-house). I agree with Andrea on the point of avoiding having a social network component. I wonder if they could’ve solved that issue by not having people “friend” or “follow” each other. Each new post gets equal treatment–each one gets posted on a “new posts” tab, where everyone gets to see what’s streaming in, and upvote/digg from there (although then you could possibly be sifting through hundreds of thousands of spam posts on that tab. Cartoons Plural).

That’s an interesting idea, Katarina! Two issues come to mind though:
1- I’m worried about attracting enough doctors/qualified medical professionals to join such a platform. While I agree with your point on recreational sports having a strong community sense, I don’t think sports doctors are necessarily part of that culture. So, I can’t help but wonder, what’s in it for the doctors? ZocDoc comes to mind as an example of a platform that has struggled in engaging doctors online.
2- In the absence of qualified medical professionals, should fellow athletes really be giving medical advice? I’d be worried about liability. Not to mention that diagnosis could get really difficult if all you have is a typed-up description of the symptoms.

Great read! It’s interesting to see an example of a platform where networking effects play (almost) no role–WikiLeaks, or any of its competitors in this space, don’t really need a large “user” base in order to succeed; the nature of their “product” will make it highly sought after by default.

When it comes to maintaining “barriers to entry” and “competitive advantages” to Will’s point above, they have a lot to worry about on the supply-side; it’s ever more critical for them to maintain their perception of trust, integrity, and technical expertise. Otherwise, the “suppliers” will go somewhere else with their leaks. These are extremely fragile competitive advantages, because once your reputation is tainted, it’s hard to recover. That said, with regard to the demand-side, even if their reputation is damaged and they’re widely perceived to be politically biased/manipulated, won’t people still read their stuff anyway?

On February 28, 2017, Ali commented on Craigslist: a platform eroded by platforms :

Interesting read! When we think about platform disruptions, we rarely think of a giant platform losing its luster one small function at a time. I agree with the first two comments–I’m also bullish on Craigslist chances for two more reasons: (1) Craigslist is an aggregator, and that in itself is a competitive advantage. It’s helpful to know, from a user’s standpoint, that I can go on this one website if I want to look for an apartment, sell furniture, or hire someone for a small job, knowing that it’s very powerful on a local level. This is also a very powerful way for Craigslist to leverage the same network of users across so many different categories/functions. (2) Because Craigslist is so full of information (their homepage has 150+ things you can click), the rudimentary/no-frills interface actually becomes an asset, particularly for less tech-savvy users.

Thanks, Rahul. I wrote my BSSE paper on HourlyNerd/Catalant so I was quite excited to read this. Some of the big reasons why clients hire major consulting firms include: (1) bringing in an outside perspective, (2) adding analytical horsepower, (3) providing a political stamp of approval, (4) fulfilling short-term staffing needs, and (5) sharing cross-industry insights. While HourlyNerd/Catalant can likely compete in the first two of those areas, I highly doubt they’ll succeed in disrupting major firms with the latter three. Particularly important is the third one; the proverbial “stamp of approval” from McKinsey or BCG or Bain is invaluable when senior management is trying to convince the Board of Directors to undertake a particular course of action, or when they need political cover to implement a risky/unpopular strategy. Catalant’s independent consultants don’t carry that weight, even if they are ex-consultants themselves. This is an interesting example of a situation where the sheer power of brand and operational prowess of incumbents make it very difficult to disintermediate them.

On February 3, 2017, Ali commented on Fire Phone- Amazon’s $170 million Summer Fiasco :

Erik – I was thinking along the same lines. At the end of the day, it seems to me that the Amazon Fire just did not provide a compelling enough reason for customers to buy it (to borrow from BSSE language, they never targeted low-end or new-market disruption). It’s not significantly better than market leaders in any major features, it’s not creating new markets/new use cases that incumbents have missed, and it’s not cheaper, so why would customers buy it?

On February 3, 2017, Ali commented on Could the Rise of Digital Media Spell Doom for the NFL? :

I agree that SVOD doesn’t necessarily explain the whole story, but the other reasons that you brought forth have been soundly debunked — e.g. if you look at data (and advanced sports analytics), contrary to what many have said, quality of games, number of “stars”, number of marquee matchups, etc. have not changed compared to recent years. It’s probably a combination of various factors that’s causing this decline, some harder to prove with data than others.

On February 3, 2017, Ali commented on Could the Rise of Digital Media Spell Doom for the NFL? :

Seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it? The lion’s share of the NFL’s revenue’s comes from TV deals (their most recent deals with Fox, NBC, and CBS pays $3B annually). So while their experiments with Twitter and other live streaming platforms may have been trailblazing, the revenues they brought in were rounding errors basically. If traditional TV suffers, the NFL will suffer.