Mike M

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On April 30, 2018, Mike M commented on Electronic Arts: Game On :

Thanks for the post, Chris! What an interesting industry to watch as new trends emerge and evolve so quickly. I absolutely agree that game companies should be focused on content development and seek to create hit games that people remain interested in over the long term. Reminds me of a case we has on King Digital Entertainment and Candy Crush.

I wonder what your thoughts are on AR/VR/mixed reality disrupting the current gaming market. The technology seems to be under developed at this point, but it also seems as though it is rapidly progressing, with many large tech companies around the world figuring out whether to be involved in the hardware or software or both. I do not know enough about this space to say what makes the most sense for EA, but I would guess that EA should remain in the software space and seek to have content on all platforms. It will be an interesting space to watch over the next 5 years!

On April 30, 2018, Mike M commented on How Can the U.S. Military Win in the Digital Age? :

Interesting post, Austin! I agree that the military may not be adapting to tech changes as rapidly as it should be, but you are right, the creation of DIUx and the elevation fo CYBERCOM are good starts.

Some concerns about creating a new branch of the armed forces, although it is an interesting proposal. Resistance. As you pointed out, there will surely be resistance (I would imagine a lot!) from Congress, some from the public, and probably some from each independent branch. Although there may be an argument for saving resources by better allocating budgets or hindering redundant spending, I would imagine that the costs of creating the new branch would be incredibly expensive (building that brand). Most branches currently have a had enough time getting the funding they desire, so I could see arguments from those branches against allocation of funds toward a new branch entirely.

It may still remain difficult to attract young tech talent, even with a stand alone cyber branch. The US military simply cannot compete with the salary and benefits that traditional tech or private sector companies offer. The US military also loses talent to the private sector after the service members learn enough tech skills and gain enough experience to move on. This phenomenon isn’t unique to the military, it exists in the overall intelligence community (NSA, DIA, etc.).

It will be interesting to see how cyber (hopefully) evolves within the US military and militaries around the world.

https://defensesystems.com/articles/2018/03/19/cyber-pay-armed-forces.aspx

On April 30, 2018, Mike M commented on Personal Trainers and Technology: A Match Made in Heaven? :

Thanks for the post, Pasha! You bring up some great points about Shad, and more generally, the health club industry. It reminded me of a set of cases we had in a Strategy class about 24 Hour Fitness and Bally; the cases showed the contrast of strategic decisions between the two companies, with one company surviving (24 Hour Fitness) and the other going bankrupt (Bally). Some of the reasons had to do with adapting to new trends and technology.

Personal training is an interesting aspect of health clubs and I agree with you and RPARK that the human element is difficult to replace. So it might make sense to have Shad, or similar health clubs, make the human element stickier. The ways in which you have talked about enhancing the personal trainer value proposition are very creative–having trainers utilize technology (software applications) to help keep track of your specific workouts, diet habits, exercise stats/habits, etc is a great way of increasing the bond between you and the trainer. One concern I have is the overall efficiency of personal training. Although tech, right now, is more of a complement to personal training, I don’t think it is unreasonable to imagine sensors and bots correcting people’s form and recording all the vital signs and providing in depth feedback. Although it may be expensive and take time to develop that tech, if it is created, personal trainers and gyms may find it difficult to justify the costs of human trainers.

Thanks for the post, PD! I was shocked to read that Hopper collects over 5 billion price quotes every day… what an enormous amount of data to track! The benefits to the consumer are clear– booking flights is always a hassle; there are so many different flight aggregators to choose from, some of which show prices from the other aggregators, some of which do not. I always end up having about five tabs open on my computer when I am searching for the best flight deals.

You raise a great point about platform disintermediation. There is really nothing stopping me from receiving the Hopper push notification to “buy now” and then simply booking it on a different site. Although some users are happy to pay the $5 fee for the convenience and the $50 savings, others will surely not be. I look forward to continue following Hopper to see how it does in the hotel space!

Thanks for the post, HU! Fascinating to see the stat about Kroger’s coupon redemption being 65% compared to the national average of 5%… they surely must be doing something right regarding utilizing data analytics and then targeting customers. Also, what a smart decision to keep 84.51 independent from Kroger in order to attract talent.

Regarding competition, I wonder if Kroger can utilize its wealth of data compete in the meal-kit market. The future of brick and mortar grocery stores is uncertain at best, especially with Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods making grocery delivery easier across the country, and the advent of meal-kits are also decreasing the number of people who go to the physical grocery store. With its mass of data, Kroger could potentially make meal kits specifically adapted to their customer base.

On April 10, 2018, Mike M commented on AMEX – Providing Data Driven Insights for Businesses :

Very informative and interesting read, EAP! I have not heard of AMEX Advance and its drive to use big data to help clients as a predictive marketing platform. It was great to see the evolution of AMEX’s use of data, from detecting fraud (and being the best at it) and to help reduce customer churn. I wonder about the pricing of this new service that AMEX offers and if it’s affordable for small businesses who could undoubtedly benefit from consumer insights and then target those customers accordingly. I also wonder how other credit/payment companies are responding and if they are coming out with similar services of their own. Fascinating to see AMEX has 1,500 data scientists… you hold some regression expertise so could maybe join forces!

On March 27, 2018, Mike M commented on Rethinking The Grocery Shopping Experience :

Thanks for the post, Curtis! Very interesting idea! I, as a consumer, definitely feel the pain point about grocery shopping… it is difficult to find all the items, sometimes the items that I want are out of stock, I don’t want to be stuck in the store for a long period of time, etc. This crowdsourced technology is indeed unique in that it offers both the grocery stores and the customers value. It reminds me of Waze… but for groceries!

I wonder how difficult it will be to get people to download the app. Some grocery stores already have mobile applications that allow for perks like virtual coupon clipping and loyalty points/discounts. Will the licensed technology be able to be integrated into existing applications? It will also be interesting to see if a reduction in foot traffic in grocery stores does occur as online ordering continues to evolve. Either way, it is great to see companies innovating to avoid shutting down!

On March 27, 2018, Mike M commented on FORE! How Crowdsourced Rulings Failed the PGA Tour :

Thanks for the interesting read, Ross! Very timely with the Masters beginning next week.

I was shocked to hear that the ability for fans to call in rules violations has been in place since 1987. I very much agree that the PGA made the right decision to rid the tour of allowing fans to influence tournaments… but 2019 is too far away. Think about all of the time, effort, and money spent over the last 30ish years hiring people to field calls from fans, listening to bogus claims, and then interacting with rules officials. However, I cannot completely discredit the PGA for trying to come up with an innovative solution to ensure the game is played as its meant to be played. In this case, crowdsourcing may not have necessarily been the right solution. I agree with you about having dedicated rules officials with access to HDTV and multiple replay angles is the better answer. In this way, the PGA will be better aligned with the NFL and NHL.

Thanks for the post Pumchanut! It was interesting to read about TripAdvisor’s evolution over time from being a first-mover, its partnership with Facebook, and move to mobile. I am a TripAdvisor user whenever I travel, especially to read the reviews people have written about hotels.

I am interested to see how TripAdvisor will continue to evolve, especially in a what can be considered a very competitive space. Airbnb could absolutely pose a threat as the sharing economy continues to grow and people feel more comfortable staying in other people’s homes rather than hotel rooms. Google is also constantly experimenting with the travel space providing hotel reviews, flight bookings, etc. I wonder if and how TripAdvisor will respond to these potential threats.

I’m also curious about how TripAdvisor’s direct bookings are faring. I haven’t done much research, but my guess is that advertising remains the lion’s share of the revenue.

On March 6, 2018, Mike M commented on Australia Zoo: A platform in the age before platforms :

Thanks for the post! I was fascinated by the online-offline model and did not know that the Australia Zoo was a place that could be visited. Not only does the Australia Zoo serve as the offline anchor for the online media as you mention, but also as an experience platform that so many others try to achieve. It is great that the zoo is able to benefit from network effects and, in turn, spread the word about its conservation efforts. I wonder if the staff of the physical zoo have ever considered trying to scale the offline model. I don’t know the logistics involved or even what other environments would be able to host the zoo, but it might be helpful in attracting more people to the offline model.

On March 6, 2018, Mike M commented on Instagram – The Unstoppable Value-Creation Machine :

Thank you for the post, MAB! I enjoyed the way you presented the evolution of Instagram from a not yet monetized product to the cross-sided network effect platform it is today. I think that Instagram has done a great job riding the mobile device oriented wave and adapting its advertising monetization strategy accordingly. With the introduction of carousel ads, vertical video ads, and direct response ads, Instagram has been able to offer a wide variety of creative ways for advertisers to reach out to target customers utilizing the platform. I would be very curious to hear your opinion concerning a winner take all or winner take most market in this space. Will Facebook and Google continue to duopolize mobile ad spending or will players like Snap be able to make and maintain some share?

On March 6, 2018, Mike M commented on MoviePass: A Platform for Burning Cash :

Very interesting write-up and interesting business model (whatever it is…) for sure! Before I read this blog, I did not know much about MoviePass until I read this article yesterday-

https://techcrunch.com/2018/03/05/moviepass-ceo-proudly-says-the-app-tracks-your-location-before-and-after-movies/

It details MoviePass’ CEO explaining that the app tracks user locations before and after seeing a movie. This would absolutely put more of an emphasis on data and the customers (much like Facebook, Google) are the products. I agree with KZ that Netflix would have far more data points than MoviePass alone, but armed with this tracking data, MoviePass could offer extremely targeted advertising and potentially try to take over the entire movie-going experience.

The movie theater business is fascinating to watch especially as new theaters, like the new Icon Theater in Seaport in Boston, are still opening and have ticket prices of ~$20!

On February 2, 2018, Mike M commented on Why do your own laundry when your robot can do it for you? :

Interesting post, CNH! I would also agree that the value captured is zero, unless Honda has been secretly partnering with another organization or has licensed or sold the technology at some point over the last eighteen years!

I have never heard of ASIMO and I am surprised that I have not read more about the project, especially as companies are increasingly investing in robotics. It is fun to think of a world with ASIMO; it would be a useful product for a variety of customer segments. My only concern would be the price point. I think that it would take some time to develop the technology and master the manufacturing of it to make it widely available around the world.

I’m also wondering why Honda chooses to keep this a secret? I would think that Honda would publicize the project in order to build hype and keep internal resources devoted to its development.

On February 2, 2018, Mike M commented on Alexa: Your new roommate :

Thanks for sharing N! I was shocked to see that 16% of American households have a personal voice assistant in their homes; I would have thought the number would have been much lower. This space is becoming increasingly interesting as the Apple HomePod recently watched. It will be a fun race to follow… is this a winner take all market? Can Amazon, Google, and Apple all share a slice of the pie?

Also, what about gramLabs? Will personal assistants no longer just be “personal voice assistant” and potentially become an actual visual representation of a human with a voice assistant backend?

Great point about security… is there a proper balance between privacy and security? How will tech companies work with governmental organizations as this technology continues to evolve?

Thanks for sharing JPW and I agree with JLuos’s comments above. I think we are coming into an an age where developer’s are now being forced to think about security when innovating. Although security is typically not the first (or second or third) thing engineer’s think about when creating products, the series of security breaches over the past few years are now, thankfully, forcing companies to focus efforts on security in the hybrid and multi-cloud environment. I was fortunate to intern with a cloud security solutions start-up this past summer and the field is fascinating… and evolving very quickly. From everything from bare-metal servers to the software container space, there is still surely room for innovation.

It is great to see Fireeye succeeding in the space, especially in the services area. I think a critical aspect of Fireeye’s future performance will be its ability to acquire talent and potentially smaller start-ups working on evolving threat issues. It will also be interesting to see how Fireeye adapts to regional regulation around the world and whether it chooses to get involved in issues such as GDPR or stays focused on its core business.