JY

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Great post! I agree with the previous commenter that film studio may be too big of an investment, and is a hit-or-miss type of business model. A key problem I see that some of Hasbro’s IP have limited TAM and customer base, or is past its prime. Acquiring new and popular IP can also be very expensive.
I struggle to see Hasbro’s core competencies, as it seemed to have benefited mostly from its IP portfolio, and that makes it difficult for Hasbro to transition into adjacent markets. Hasbro may need to first invest in acquisitions and partnerships to elevate its capabilities in areas such as digital, or gain exposure through other platforms.

Thanks for a great post! It really struck me to see how un-integrated Pearson is due to its growth through acquisitions, and really demonstrates the importance of alignment across products, channels and markets for a company when making digital transformation. Due to its large size and differing interests of each division, I feel that Pearson lacks the ability to focus and move nimbly. We have seen companies try to leverage its core competencies when transforming into adjacent fields, but Pearson’s capability in sales and marketing seems non-transferable for its new business model.

Great post! I also agree that there will always be a need for personal trainers due to the personalized attention, and in-person discipline that they provide. However there could be some segments of the population that find that digital apps are starting to provide enough information and tools, and they skip using trainers, or some people may regard the value provided by the trainer is lower than before, and thus have lower willingness to pay.

Thanks for the interesting post! I like the company’s idea of building a digital platform of apps and trying to make an ecosystem to attract and retain customers. I think the hard part is translating the data collected to relevant insights for product design, especially for a retail manufacturing company, as well as giving enough management attention to these acquired companies to continue growing and innovating.

I agree with the earlier comment that this also seems to be a small niche market of customers who want those sensors, or there may not be enough market readiness of those products right now.

On April 11, 2018, JY commented on Minority Report IRL: Palantir and Predictive Policing :

Thanks for the great post! I think Palantir’s government work has gave it credibility to private sector clients, but as government increases regulation and demands on collecting data (under the name of national security etc.), I wonder if the private sector will be vary of giving its data to Palantir, as they may suspect that Palantir would have to be very cooperative with the government if the situation arises (unlike Apple’s ability to take a more independent stance).

Thanks for your post! Similar to EIO’s comment, I guess this data model won’t be able to capture the qualitative insights gained from the conversations with founders and observing dynamics at the office. (For example, the investors are often betting on the founder’s abilities and potential).

Since the traditional VC model is based on “spray and pay” model, the historical VC investment data inherently has a majority of deals that won’t be successful, so it feels like Correlation Ventures will be working with flawed data to begin with. If the company only uses the “successful” investments as data, I believe there may also be a lot of noise and non-documentable reasons for those successes that will be hard for a data model to capture.

On March 28, 2018, JY commented on A Quirky attempt at crowdsourcing inventions :

Great post! I agree that one of the issues was that Quirky was crowdsourcing ideas too widely across industries without an edge in any particular industry or type of manufacturing. I think it may have been helpful to include a panel of experts to help vet the ideas or build a set of criteria, not just relying on voting by the greater community. Lastly, even a good product does not sell itself and it seems that Quirky did not focus on (or didn’t have the resources for) building other important areas such as finance, marketing and distribution that all need to work together.

In other crowdsourcing platforms, we have seen that building a sense of community increases user engagement and motivates users to feel that they are valued for their contributions. On Glassdoor, the motivation to input information still seems to come mostly from wanting to access information for themselves, although pay transparency and gender pay equality are potential causes to rally with the users. If Glassdoor can build more content and community forums, perhaps that might increase user engagement and reduce motivation to lie on the platform.

On March 28, 2018, JY commented on Fundrise – Real Estate investment for everyone? :

Thank you for the great post! Real estate crowdfunding definitely seems to fill some of the market needs, such as helping to finance smaller real estate and allowing people increased access to a new asset type. However, I do worry that Fundrise is requiring a very low minimum, such as $500-$1,000, because that threshold will impact what type of investors the platform will attract. If the investors don’t fully understand the risks, a few bad returns can bring detrimental word of mouth for the platform.

On March 5, 2018, JY commented on Just the Ticket: The Evolution of SeatGeek :

Thanks for your post! SeatGeek Open is a particularly interesting move. I think most companies think like Ticketmaster, and want to route a transaction back to its own website and keep its own brand’s visibility, as well as protect itself through a formal partnership agreement. However, SeatGeek’s open platform and not needing several months of partnership negotiations will lower barriers for other companies to try out SeatGeek quickly, and the company may be betting on rapidly increasing its scope and market share first. However, SeatGeek has brand risk if less reputable or less tech-savvy companies don’t quite execute the integration properly and damage customers’ perception of SeatGeek.

Interesting post! I wonder if the company has disclosed any info on the split of customers that book hotels for use within 24 hours or a few days vs. several weeks in advance like more typical customer behavior. I think it’s generally a good move to increase the window since booking within 24 hours is very risky and likely only a small group of customers will be willing, but if the window opens too large, and the level of discounts become similar to OTAs, I think HotelTonight will have much less differentiation. Although the company has innovated quickly, it’s unclear how much growth it can generate in a niche market when all the other successful travel sites have expanded beyond hotel bookings. Perhaps HotelTonight might make a good acquisition target eventually to one of these larger OTAs.

On March 5, 2018, JY commented on Grubhub: Delivering a Valuable Platform :

Great read! It’s interesting to hear about the ways that Grubhub is trying to increase switching costs for restaurants. However, it feels like an uphill battle given that there is still a fragmented market for food delivery and there isn’t a clear winner that restaurants can rely on. In addition, I wonder if Grubhub is doing anything meaningful to increase loyalty of its users? For me, most food delivery services seem to offer a commodity service, and are just trying to attract users through coupons. From my time working in NYC, I think Grubhub’s Seamless did a great job when signing exclusive corporate partnerships so the investment banks and other corporations would only allow employees to order through Seamless, and that probably build some consumer awareness and habits to extend to deliveries outside work.

Thanks for the interesting post! It’s surprising to see how much growth the Washington Post has gained just by having a stronger distribution strategy that is leveraging the current trend of more people wanting to read news digitally. Based on their results, it does seem that customers perceive higher value for the convenience than the quality of content (where the Post probably meets a “good enough” bar). However, I’m slightly doubtful that the Post can generate twice the number of articles as New York Times, on a smaller staff, and not dilute the quality of the content.

The turnkey publishing solution also sounds promising, and reminds me of companies we saw in class examples (e.g., Fujifilm, Garmin) that have been quick to establish itself in adjacent/related industries when its core industry was being disrupted.

On February 1, 2018, JY commented on Amazon | To Go Or Not To Go :

Great post! While writing my post on Walmart, I was surprised to learn that Walmart and Kroger are also testing cashierless stores, albeit using much less sophisticated technology — via a digital shopping scanner that can be installed on customers’ smartphone or a store-provided handheld device. Kroger expects to have roll it out to ~400 stores this year and Walmart to ~200 stores.

I also think it will be a tough decision for Amazon to decide whether to license out this technology in the longer term. Whole Foods is only 470 stores, compared to Walmart’s 4,700+ US stores and I doubt Amazon will really want to expand into the fixed cost business of brick-and-mortar at the same scale as Walmart and Kroger. However, even if Amazon wants to license the technology, the other retailers may be wary of partnering with a major competitor. If a partnership happens, there will probably be very specific negotiations around what data is shared and who owns what.

On February 1, 2018, JY commented on Sad Snaps :

Interesting post! I’m also pessimistic about Snapchat’s outlook due to the larger players in the market and its stagnant user growth.

On the positive side, Snapchat has been rolling out several new advertiser tools (e.g., Snap Publisher for building vertical video creative, a self-serve Ad Manager, Snapchat Certified Partners program) that will make it easier for advertisers to run campaigns on Snapchat and better evaluate whether their ads are effective. Snapchat has also done a good job of expanding beyond ephemeral photos (which was likely a limited market). However, Snapchat may not have strong pricing power due to its slowing user growth.

In addition, now its features are encroaching on similar offerings from tech giants such as Facebook. As seen in Facebook’s blatant and successful copycat attack, I think it will be increasingly difficult for smaller tech players to keep their innovations unique and proprietary, as the tech giants have the money and people to move faster, and the technology is not easy to protect by law so far. In addition, Snapchat also faces another common problem of consumer apps which is balancing ads with a great user experience, and there has already been backlash on the company’s redesigns. There is only so much time and engagement that users can give, and Snapchat faces the challenge of differentiating itself from other apps and creating enough value for customers to use it.