Ah I would love to sign up for something like this! In reflecting on why they failed, my sense is that crowdsourcing works well when your variable cost to “serve the crowd” is near zero. This is because the value always lies in the data or knowledge that can be captured from the crowd, so you want as large a crowd as possible. However, if the marginal cost for every additional crowd member is high, it is difficult to scale and realize the benefits from the group. I wonder if an alternate model for this business would be to simply get feedback on different menu items and restaurant concepts online, without creating the actual dining experience – this would make their cost to serve large crowds almost zero and any value captured would be pure profit?
Nice post Anish! I am a big fan of Quora and think it’s interesting to see many of my friends as super users by writing long answers to questions. I always wonder what the motivation is here, because they are not people that necessarily always go out of their way to “help people” in other aspects of their lives. This is cynical, but I wonder if there is a less altruistic motivation which is that people simply like to “show off” their knowledge. If this is true, then there are many other knowledge-sharing businesses that could be built to exploit this intrinsic human need to brag about what we know 🙂
I love the idea of helping travelers connect with each other in real-time when disaster strikes. There are so many times when a flight has been canceled and everyone lines up to ask the service reps the exact same question, except the line is 20 people long and so inefficient. There must be a better way to disseminate this information and share knowledge about the flight. You can also include features that can help people swap seats or get access to something while in air (e.g., Tylenol). Someone should build this!
Thanks Natalie! You made an interesting comment in class that this is a platform of other platforms (e.g., Netflix is a platform business that sits within platform based streaming devices like Roku). It is interesting because the content does not really multi-home, therefore users must subscribe to different streaming services (Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go). However I wonder how that extends to users multi-homing across streaming devices. Surely if one device offers access to all the different streaming services, there is no need for a user to keep multiple devices? I was wondering what your rationale is for using multiple streaming devices and whether that is influenced by this “platform within a platform” problem.
It is fascinating how WeChat is becoming the app of all apps. I wonder if they will consider a foray into hardware as a next step. Once they acquire enough users, they may be able to capture all the value from these users (hardware + software) through a closed ecosystem. Although this would not be beneficial for users of course and could backfire if the users defect to a competing app.
Thanks Yezi! I agree with you that trust and reliability are key in this market, but therefore I feel a first-mover advantage may not be as relevant in this case. Firstly, it is because the first mover is most susceptible to the “teething problems” of an emerging technology and its reputation will likely take a brunt for all of these. More importantly however, I feel that if an established name like Google chose to build a similar platform in the near future, the trust associated with its brand equity would quickly draw users and developers to their platform instead. Do you know if a large player like Google is planning to enter this space at all?
Thanks Lulu! I used Slack at work this summer and absolutely loved it as well. I did wonder whether my team saw any real efficiency gains from it however. My boss was a cross-functional leader and was constantly being pinged on Slack to the point that she was never truly “present” in a meeting as she was fielding questions from all parts of the org. I found it distracting just to watch her! I therefore wonder if there is a point at which this sort of app can be value-destructive once it is adopted across an organization, and what sorts of features or controls need to be built to prevent that from taking place.
Thanks for this post! I think you’re spot on with the reasons why mass adoption is being hindered – with price being a key concern. However, this seems to be a chicken and egg problem. It is likely difficult for most new technologies to reduce their price until they can sell them at high volumes, and yet they need to reduce the price in order to generate enough demand. I guess Google is in a position to take the P&L hit and be a “loss leader” as Chun mentioned, but it could be brand dilutive for Nest to slash prices just yet.
Thanks Michelle! I am an avid fan of the NYT and also didn’t know about their niche apps. I agree they are making big strides in digital news – especially on Facebook by using 360 videos and Live almost daily now. I wonder if they need to shift their focus from new customer acquisition to up-selling their existing customer base. My guess is that their core readership may already have subscribed to the platform and the next step would be to find ways to capture more revenue from them, instead of finding new readers.