Solomon

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On March 5, 2019, Solomon commented on The Gentrification of Higher Education :

Thanks for sharing! Agree, that as cost for colleges continue to rise and colleges react by raising tuition, potential students may begin to question the value of those degrees. But as that occurs, I hope that roughly half of US colleges do not chose the route of bankruptcy and instead look into other options in order to survive and hopefully thrive. For example, as enrollment in four year institution begins to level off, low and mid-tier colleges could potentially merge to address the scale question you mentioned and hopefully cut cost. So, although I agree that consolidation is inevitable in the industry, I would hope that colleges and universities are able to pursue other options beside bankruptcy due to the negative effect such closures could have on the communities around them and the alumni base of those institutions. It will be really interesting to see how things play out over the next few years!

Thanks for sharing! As someone who was an avid Snapchat user and recently deflected to Instagram, I found this article to be really interesting. As you mentioned Instagram had an active base of over 500MM users upon launching stories and they have definitely been able to capitalize on that to drive engagement with stories. Even someone like me who swore off using Instagram stories, based on the fact that they completely copied a feature that Snapchat took years to built, eventually transitioned over due to the network effect that stories created and the lose of active users on Snapchat. Although Instagram did a great job capitalizing on their base of users, Snapchat also didn’t do themselves any favors with the update (https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/news/2018/02/13/nobody-seems-like-update-snapchat/330559002/) in early 2018 that every seemed to hate. I wonder how different the landscape would be if Snapchat had reversed the update that everyone hated.

Despite the bleak picture for Snapchat, I still believe they have a chance to directly compete with Instagram, especially if their parent company, Facebook, continues to find themselves involved with various controversies or is not able to seamlessly integrate Instagram with Facebook.

On March 5, 2019, Solomon commented on Tonal: Your Entire Gym On The Wall :

Hi Li, really interesting article! I have actually seen a few ads about Tonal over the past few months and thought it was just a gym that could fit on your wall. I didn’t know about the tech aspects that also go along with the system, seems like a great idea to bring intelligent and personalized training into the home equipment market. I also really liked how the system could adjust on the fly with the ability to increase and decrease your weight depending on your performance, definitely a game changer!

As mentioned in earlier comments, one thing that I do worry about is the price tag of $3k and a $49 monthly subscription fee, in charging such a high price, Tonal might be limiting the market to a small subset of customers. I would hypothesize that one of the main reasons individuals invest in home gyms is to eliminate the need for a monthly gym membership, so I worry that potential customers would be turned off by the need to pay a monthly subscription fee, which is similar to what a monthly gym membership would cost. It would be interesting to find out why the subscription fee is mandated. Either way if Tonal is able to find the right price point, this product could potential revolutionize the way we work-out.

On February 24, 2019, Solomon commented on Less is more: Digital Innovation for Financial Inclusivity :

Really interesting topic Hanif, thanks for tackling this issue. As you mentioned in your article inclusiveness can definitely be difficult due to barriers such as lack of infrastructure. That is why I really like the idea of them deciding to launch a platform that utilizes GSM, which allows users that don’t have access to a smartphone access to their platform. Also I agree with the company’s decision to take a human-centric approach to drive inclusivity by reaching out to consumers that will not necessarily be inclined to join the platform. One thing I do worry about is the sustainability of utilizing “bank agents” long-term and the effect it will have on profitability. As the BCG report mentioned, the cost associated with the agent model are primarily fixed, so it will be extremely important for BTNP to continue to scale their platform and ensure that agents are generating consistent volume, in order to cover their cost base.

On February 24, 2019, Solomon commented on theSkimm: making it easier to live smarter :

Great post Kike, thanks for sharing! Sounds like theSkimm has been able to carve out a unique space in the crowded market of newsletters. Going forward, I believe two important issues for theSkimm will be growing their subscriber base and generating additional revenue. On the first point of growing their subscriber base, I agree with their decision to utilize their current subscriber network to increase the number of subscribers. By rolling out Skimm’bassdors they will likely be able to not only add new subscribers, but subscribers that will be more willing to engage with their platform due to the network effect. One concern that I do have is that by focusing on word of mouth marketing they are potentially limiting the audience that they can reach. So moving forward it will be interesting to see if the leadership team is open to utilizing platforms such as Facebook to reach a larger audience within the demographics they are trying to serve.

On the second point around revenue generation. In order to deliver revenue growth, the company will likely need to turn to additional services beyond the newsletter. Based on your post it sounds like they are off to a great start with the addition of a premium tier and Skimm studies. One concern I do have around their premium tier is that the features on the premium tier are limited, as of right now, access to a calendar seems to be the only added feature premium members receive. In order to further build out their premium tier and attract additional members, it will be important for them to add additional features, such as the ability to access personalized content.

On February 24, 2019, Solomon commented on China’s Healthcare Revolution: WeDoctor :

Great analysis Hung, seems like WeDoctor is doing some really interesting things in Healthcare. Focusing on WeDoctor Healthcare in particular, I would be interested in learning if the goal of the AI diagnosis system is to supplement doctors vs to replace them. My guess is that it would be extremely difficult to replace doctors, since the AI system would be fully dependent on the data that is inputted and wouldn’t be as flexible as an actually doctor that is able to take in information and tailor it to the situation at hand. But, the results around cervical cancer seem really impressive and is a prove-point that we might one day live in a world in which machines are delivering care that surpasses human capability.

Other companies are also focusing in on this space, for example IBM Watson Health has invested a great deal of capital into this arena. On the oncology side they have been working with hospitals around the US to diagnosis and recommend treatment plans for patients. I would be interesting to see if both companies could potentially partner together, in order to continue to drive innovation in Healthcare.