Maren

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Super interesting, Solomon! I agree that consumers are the clear winners so far in this transformation, but do you think this will last? You mentioned that revenue is generated from health plan reimbursements, as this technology becomes more common and is integrated further will PillPack be able to maintain this revenue source? Additionally, could this may be similar to some of Amazon’s other moves where low prices are used to encourage adoption early on before prices are raised to increase profits?

On March 4, 2019, Maren commented on Sleep on It: How Casper *Flipped* the Mattress Industry :

Super interesting, Gina! I agree with you that while Casper is a clear winner now there is a huge risk that they will lose their position given how wildly attractive this market is (see article below). My biggest fear is that the inflow of competitors you mention will drive the cost of acquisition for all of the DTC brands so high that it is difficult for them to continue to exist with the same business model, even in an incredibly appealing industry.

https://www.visualcapitalist.com/tech-targeting-15-billion-mattress-market/

Great post, Ge! I’m curious what will happen as the wearables space continues to develop. I personally believe that the Apple watch is only a temporary wearable solution and that the future is more seamless devices like AR glasses (see article below). As those come into play and the Apple watch disappears do you think conventional watches will return as fashion accessories? I don’t foresee them returning to their previous strength but could potentially see an improving outlook for the “losers”.

https://www.wired.com/story/google-glass-predicted-the-future/

On March 4, 2019, Maren commented on The Best Camera is the One That’s With You :

Thanks, CN! This is a true transformation that impacts all of us on a day to day basis. While I agree that the smartphone makers are huge winners in this conversation I wonder if any of the value creation is captured by the camera producers that supply companies like Apple and Samsung. It looks like Sony is the maker of the Iphone 8 Camera (see article below), so I’m curious if they have also “won” from this transition or if they have been driven down to commodity prices?

https://techcrunch.com/2017/09/22/iphone-8-teardown-reveals-few-surprises-but-more-camera-details/

On February 24, 2019, Maren commented on Strava: Out Running the Competition? :

So true, Jose! Turns out a lot of users agreed with you, especially following the unfortunate Military incident. It seems like privacy is one place where Strava (and many other platforms) still has a ways to go, while the functionality to turn off location sharing already exists I think the ease of use and “opt-in” nature could be greatly improved.

On February 24, 2019, Maren commented on Li & Fung Digital Platform: Transforming Global Supply Chain :

Interesting post, Gregorio! One thing that struck me about the innovations you highlight above is that they all help strengthen Li & Fung’s platform against potential disintermediation between customers and vendors (a constant threat for platforms). For example, the virtual design capabilities and WIP visibility features you mention both offer great value to customers that they would lose if they chose to move their transaction off platform.

I did some research into the history of Li & Fung and it looks like all the way back since 1999 there have been disintermediation concerns (see attached note from their Chairman) but the company has continued to stress that they will use technology to offer more integration services across the supply chain to their customers. It seems their early focus on features that protect them from disintermediation may be one of the key reasons that they have been able to grow successfully for so long.

https://www.lifung.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/ar1999_07.pdf

On February 22, 2019, Maren commented on Kaggle: Building a Market for Data Science (and Scientists) :

Super interesting post! I had never heard of Kaggle and in reading your post the first question I had was around intellectual property of algorithms developed on the site, particularly through the crowd sourced challenges. From some quick research it looks like in exchange for the prize money the data scientists must grant “a worldwide, perpetual, irrevocable and royalty-free license […] to use the winning Entry”. I understand this is true under virtually any corporate employment contract but I wonder if any data scientists are unwilling to compete in these challenges since they don’t know the exact value of their algorithm when it’s developed and they waive any rights to future royalties.

Similarly, now that Google owns the platform do they have any right or even just visibility to the algorithms and IP developed on the platform? If so that could be a huge asset in addition to identifying hard to source data science talent.

Really interesting post about an upcoming platform in a competitive industry! You highlight that some of the critical differentiators for Quibi are their focus on high quality and short form content and the potential risk factors around their model. In addition I would add that their focus on mobile seems to be both a differentiator and a risk. Alan Wolk argued in Forbes (link below) that Quibi is betting on users watching these videos on mobile devices during small chunks of extra time, so one key question to be proved here is if users are willing to pay for high quality content to watch on a small mobile device during a commute or other free time. If users want to consume high quality media on TVs instead of mobile Quibi will need to pivot to offer a premium viewing experience on larger screens as well, or risk exacerbating the churn you mentioned above.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/alanwolk/2018/12/27/quibi-should-be-quite-successful-just-not-on-the-medium-theyre-expecting/#1d135d4243c0

On February 20, 2019, Maren commented on Collaboration not Competition: Shopify’s eCommerce Platform :

Shopify’s choice to partner, rather than compete, with Amazon seems like a very smart one given it has enabled them to on-board a huge amount of retailers who currently sell on Amazon. Interestingly, their success in the e-commerce space has also made them an acquisition target for firms like Walmart and ebay who are trying to compete with Amazon. Given Walmart’s constant competition with Amazon and their previous string of acquisitions (jet.com, Bonobos, Moosejaw etc.) it seems that Shopify could fit well and give Walmart both a huge increase in retailers as well as the strong partner and developer ecosystem you mentioned above to compete more directly with Amazon.

TechCrunch joked “Walmart Acquiring Shopify is No Longer a Laughable Idea” and I’m starting to think it may be a wise move for them to build both a stronger base of retailers as well as develop some of the network effects from the ecosystem that it currently lacks.

https://techcrunch.com/2018/07/19/walmart-acquiring-shopify-is-no-longer-a-laughable-idea/