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On May 1, 2018, ME commented on How Do You Do, Fellow Kids? :

As a huge fan of Corning and its products, it was nice to see a blog post on this. It’s easy to forget that for every bit of data we consume, there needs to be a level of physical infrastructure and materials that get it to us and present it clearly. Beyond just making glass for displays, it’s also important to note that Corning has been behind a lot of advancements in optical fiber, life sciences, and silicones. All three of which we likely interact with every day. While the question of whether you can plan discovery and perhaps advance it via additional spending is a good one, I think that the more important aspect that is signaled by that heavy R&D spend is a culture that is constantly seeking new applications or new opportunities and get behind them.

On May 1, 2018, ME commented on Disney is Going to Win D2C :

I think your argument gets at what’s more valuable, the long tail or the short tail and I think it’s a more complex argument than you make in your post. While I certainly appreciate that blockbuster hits generate demand, I think their staying power is relatively short. I think the beauty of a Netflix style platform is that they’re not only able to generate new content (especially serial content like Orange is the New Black and Stranger Things), but they’re able to present all their shows in a way that encourages re-watching or the recycling of old content.

I agree that the fight is far from won, but I think you should give a little more credit to the Netflix corner.

Love the idea here. I too am curious how we can replicate the feeling of obligation leveraging technology. I’ve come across various services such as Stikk, Tweet Your Weight, and Fatbet that use a combination of social pressure and cash penalties if you don’t make your goals, but I don’t see them as being a perfect replication of the feeling you get when you blow off a trainer or the encouragement you get in real time.

Regarding the tracking of health records/diet/exercise, there are plenty of options. The problem is that none of them are actually very good. Besides, is it the tracking that really makes the impact, or is it just another way to quantify something that doesn’t make a result? If you’re increasing the weight that you’re able to bench week over week, does it matter that you’re not writing it down? While quantifying aspects of the workout may be helpful or encouraging, they don’t get to the heart of what a workout is meant to do.

On April 10, 2018, ME commented on This Call May be Monitored to Help Us Help You :

I think that the area of natural language processing and quantifying interactions is an extremely rich vein for data-driven companies. In another class we were exposed to a similar product called Quantified Communications that is attempting to help coach executives to be more better public speakers. It sounds like the base of this product could be leveraged in a similar coaching way in order to further improve call-center interactions and make customers happier.

On April 10, 2018, ME commented on Darden Restaurants – Winning Customers with Data :

It’s great that the data revolution has impacted so many industries, restaurants included. My one concern is that consumer tastes in food seem to change rapidly and the dataset that the brand is leveraging could ultimately not reflect the tastes of a modern or future consumer. I’d be curious how humans are introduced into the system in order to maximize the success of the larger program.

As a loyal Whoop customer that’s part of a “team” I can tell you that the product has all the hallmarks of strong network effects and I can echo the comment above about having a strong Net Promoter Score. Interestingly, the brand doesn’t seem to have an interest in pursuing the casual fitness segment and has recently been pushing towards a more subscription driven service for collegiate and professional sports teams. I know of a few teams that use the product religiously in order to maximize the training schedules of their athletes and ensure that every player is maximizing their recovery.

One concern I have is the limited potential for learning that can occur with the data that the company collects. Heart rate and heart rate variability don’t appear to have a very high barrier to entry and additional data doesn’t seem to improve the system. While there’s plenty being collected, I don’t really see incremental value.

On March 27, 2018, ME commented on Applause: Crowdsourced User Experience Testing :

Applause unfortunately ultimately hit a ceiling that caused it to dramatically re-evaluate its growth trajectory, ultimately leading to a sale to private equity firm Vista partners. While the idea of farming bug hunting/squashing was an extremely compelling one, unfortunately, a combination of stronger programming languages, better IDEs, hot competition for QE talent, and a fragmented marketspace caused the company to falter and ultimately stagnate.

I think that there is still significant opportunity to be had in the QE/application developer operations but it will likely be in operations automation rather than crowdsourced bug testing. I’m afraid this is one the machines have already won.

On March 27, 2018, ME commented on Is Amazon’s Mechanical Turk breaking down? :

What responsibility does Amazon have to guarantee a minimum wage for Turkers? I fail to see why Amazon, who is simply providing a marketplace for consenting workers, needs to handicap its marketplace by attempting to regulate with a minimum achievable wage. I see this almost as piecework in a traditional economy, those who are able to accomplish these micro-assignments most efficiently will be the most rewarded in the system, those who are unable to achieve a living wage will remove themselves from the system.

On March 27, 2018, ME commented on Avocado Oreos? – Crowdsourcing in the CPG World :

With so much focus on CPG companies attempting to grab our attention to then get to our wallets, I wonder the to what extent these types of campaigns will go. Also, how is it best to optimize for the benefit of the larger brand/company. Are they looking to get honest feedback on potential flavors, or are they looking to maximize brand impact?

On March 5, 2018, ME commented on Seamless: The Cost of Convenience :

It seems that as the power shifts from the restaurants to the delivery platform, the economics of delivery food slowly erode to the point where deploying on the platform is economically infeasible. I wonder if by taking margin like Seamless does in a notoriously lean margin business may negatively reinforce the network effects that Seamless is working so hard to enable. I’d imagine that once the restaurant has sized their kitchen to deliver food as well as serve its in-restaurant customers, leaning on these platforms is a necessity, but I wonder if savvy restauranteurs will start to figure out how to effectively run a restaurant without getting addicted to this additional volume.

On March 5, 2018, ME commented on Etsy – Can You Scale Heart? :

Great article M, it sounds like because of the small size of each of these shops and the ability for users to multi-home opens up a lot of opportunity for competition. I wonder if Etsy could supply some value-add on their platform to enable some stronger loyalty amongst its artisans and their customers. If all their offering is an undifferentiated marketplace it sounds like it may be difficult to stem the tide when huge retailers can supply one side of the marketplace (customers) en-masse immediately, effectively short-circuiting the required demand side in the marketplace equation.

Great post Kat. Part of the difficulty with Class Pass’ model is that they drive so much demand that they effectively change the business models of their partners. As a couple commenters have mentioned, Class Pass has had to change their business model so many times because they command so much power in the fitness studio space that they can crowd out demand for full-priced memberships or classes. I’m hopeful that this most recent shift will finally get the customers of the platform aligned with the needs of the business.

On February 1, 2018, ME commented on Estonia: Showcasing the Digital Future of Citizenship :

I love you highlighting what Estonia has been doing to punch above its weight class digitally. I’m amazed that the country has thus far been able to avoid a security lapse headline. The most sophisticated security companies in the world have not been above a breach, what makes Estonia immune? Going further, what would the consequences of a breach of such sensitive information mean for its populous?

One of the strongest barriers to widespread information theft is the partitioing of various systems, such that if one is breached, others won’t be accessible through the newly vulnerable system. It appears that Estonia has foregone this safety mechanism in its quest to digitally provide every significant government service. It’s terrifically convenient for citizens, but it also may happen to make it terrifically convenient for someone who is able to breach the system to access the entirety of information rather than a small subset.

It’s fascinating how Starbucks is able to use its mobile application to more tightly integrate into its customer’s lives. My concern is that this effort might not perfectly fit into Starbuck’s original position as “the third place.” By bringing more of the experience out of the store, it makes the time in-store a transactional one that could be usurped by a competitor that somehow figures out the mobile experience even better. This makes your analysis of how they can use this information not to just make customer interactions more efficient, but also more rewarding even more important.

On February 1, 2018, ME commented on The Oracle That Couldn’t See the Future :

While I agree with your analysis that Oracle has likely lost the battle in its move to the cloud, I don’t necessarily agree with your conclusion that there is no future in on-premises data centers. There are many applications in industries such as transportation, finance, and security where a trusted on-premises vendor like Oracle is able to charge a significant premium and continue to grow its business.

The amount of data that is still stored in private data centers continues to grow, and the “death” of the private cloud has been a very drawn out one.