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I find the analogy you used to compared this method to counting cards in blackjack very interesting, and a reason why I am skeptical of this model. Given that odds are marginally shifted in your favor seems not good enough in an industry where each bet should return at least your whole fund size.

On April 9, 2018, Shiv commented on Allstate Drivewise: Keeping our Roads Safer :

Same question as above on the adverse selection of customer adoption. It would be interesting to see what steps Allstate takes to drive people other than those that overpaying based on demographic data to adopt this product. Maybe an easier route is to preinstall this device in all vehicles but in that case are the car manufacturers or the insurance companies capturing value?

On March 26, 2018, Shiv commented on GasBuddy: A Platform for Crowdsourced Gas Price Data :

Really enjoyed the write up, James. A question that I had though is on gas station economics. What are the primary drivers of gas prices? Is it real estate, the cost of the gas or is it a loss leader to attract customers to the attached convenient stores. I understand the company has been operational since 2000, so they must be doing something right, but it would be interesting to tease out what drives gas prices and whether a low gas prices actually creates value for the customer, or if it is only perceived value.

On March 26, 2018, Shiv commented on Homejoy’s Not So Joyous Demise :

I think the discount model to attract customers is a large part of why companies then struggle when they increase price. Customers may be willing to pay $19, but I wonder how much the market shrinks when the price is $85. Yet on the flip side, we see companies like Uber that heavily discount when entering a new market but then do not see customers switch to their prior method of getting the job done (i.e. taxis). I wonder if there is a scientific way for companies to test whether customers are using them because of the lower price or is the product getting the job done better than the previously available option.

A really interesting read, but I do wonder how successful Opendoor will be. Firstly are the fees charge by Opendoor as well as the quick offloading of a home significant enough to offset the lower price offered to the seller vs a normal selling process. Given that a home tends to be the store of a significant percent of an individuals net-worth, I find it hard to imagine use cases where sellers would prefer time vs more money in a transaction of this magnitude.

It would also be interesting to see how Opendoor would manage its inventory in the case of downturn, where their inventory turns would slow down. Given the venture backed funding, I presume there is a high cost of capital and the need for significant growth, which seems to be at odds with the high working capital nature of this business and risk of significant impairment in inventory.

On March 4, 2018, Shiv commented on Charging Towards Change: The Future of Transportation :

I’m really curious as to how the risk of traffic is being shared between ChargePoint and the real estate owners. The same chicken and egg risk that would have been initially ChargePoint’s, seems to have been transferred to real estate owners. Does installing charging stations though,”help companies attract customers, tenants, or employees, increase property value and duration of tenancy” ? It’s possible that real estate owners have a higher cost base and thus more willing to take a small risk in purchasing hardware, for potentially a much large upside.

The second question I would have is on the multi-homing front. A good strategy would be to tie up with automakers and try and ensure a proprietary interface, thus preventing multi-homing options.

On February 1, 2018, Shiv commented on Marriott’s Innovations has it Sleeping Soundly (for now) :

I agree that Marriott needs to offer additional value to the customer to compete with the likes of Airbnb. However does using my phone to get into my room or chatting with my hotel concierge on chat add significant value to my experience? I would argue that Marriott instead needs to concentrate and double down on what it is already good at and what Airbnbs don’t offer. In my mind there are two main facets to this: service and amenities. Increasing service quality, through hiring more people are concierge as well as training programs on customer service could according to me deliver more value. And improving and upgrading gyms, spas and restaurants are another way that Marriott can add value.

On February 1, 2018, Shiv commented on EnerNOC: Taking Power Away from the Energy Utility Monopoly :

Interesting use of software, but I wonder how this plays in with the usage of stationary storage hardware (batteries). As battery prices fall, there seem to be a growing number of use cases where batteries can help save on energy cost (e.g store energy when electricity is cheap and use it when expensive). The question I have is if EnerNoc’s software currently or in the future can account for this hardware integration.

Agree with Julia that malls will be used for experience consolidation. However the question remains, do we still need ~1200 malls across the US to serve this experience. With retailers storing and displaying less inventory, as retailing shifts online, it seems that the footprint required per brand reduces. Secondly landlords have traditionally worked on a revenue share basis with retailers. With brands now using malls as a marketing tool, rather than to drive direct sales from the location, how will the retailers be charged?