Y.Z.

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Totally agree with Austin’s point of view.
It seems the framework of “RPPs” learned in BSSE, which therorizes that every company is limited by its resources, processes and people (all coalescing into its culture), is a key lens through which to examine this situation.
Consulting firms, while knowing full well where they should be headed, are held back by their very culture that stands against that.

On April 29, 2018, Y.Z. commented on How Can the U.S. Military Win in the Digital Age? :

This is by far the most insightful (and perhaps prenant) blog post i’ve read this whole year. Thank you for this, the reader can really tell you have genuine interest in the topic.
My 2 cents would be to look at how a similar experience has already been conducted (albeit on a smaller scale) in Israel.
The Unit 8200, as it is called, is composed at the soldier-level primarily of 18-21 year olds. Because of the youth of the soldiers, and the shortness of their service period (Israel has a compulsary military service of 3 years), the unit relies on selecting recruits with the ability for rapid adaptation and speedy learning. Finally, many former officers from this unit, end up in founding and/or running important tech companies in both the Middle East and Silicon Valley (…or at HBS). In turn, some of these companies keep feeding talent and business interaction into the military cyberforce.

While the US’ case is obviously different, perhaps would it be well-served to look into the 8200 unit experience when time comes to give inception to this dedicated cyberForce branch.

On April 29, 2018, Y.Z. commented on BCG: Digitally disrupting … or disrupted? :

Great post ABC and very insightful comment Taka.
As a former consultant myself, who was fortunate to touch on the topic of how to react to this trend with Consulting Partners, I spent countless hours debating the impact on firm culture itself. As it so happens, and often overlooked, these trends will have very significant impact on internal processes and what “business as usual” has been for the better part of the last century. Going forward, it seems that these consultancies will have to renew the “social contract” that links them to their employees. And this is no small feat.

Amazing !
As with all AI-related topics, I always wonder what the impact of regulation might be going forward.
While being in China doesn’t necessarely mean that the government will claim the technology for itself, one might still wonder how and to what extent this very government might chose to regulate or control these types of innovations.
Furthermore, there is somewhat of an existential risk for a company that is giving the people exactly what they want in terms of media and entertainment to “upset” or at least put into question any forms of government-enforced restrictions.

On April 10, 2018, Y.Z. commented on Sephora: Staying Ahead of the Amazon Threat :

Very interesting article.
Amazon has been making moves to conquer the Beauty industry for years now. Yet, despite this, it seems more of a threat to non-prestige retailers (think Target) than it really does to “higher-end / more customized experience” Sephora.
However, drawing from BSSE theories, this hardly means that Sephora is out of the woods, as Amazon is following a typical low-end disruption that might eventually take over Sephora while it leasts expects it. Sephora would probably be better served to leverage the new innovations you described to foster an out-of-store experience turning it into a full-scale e-tailer itself.

Very interesting. Although I still have some reservations on the model, should it work, I believe this can break the very last limitation entrepreneurs face in the wake of raising money : getting geographically closer to where the source of capital is.

Provided this system delivers on its promise, I foresee entrepreneurs across the country (the world?) being able to jump-start their businesses and focus on growing it instead of having to move to the Valley area when it isn’t always necessary.

On March 27, 2018, Y.Z. commented on The Largest Secret Santa Exchange in the World :

There is no denying that this idea brings the best out in people. However, drawing on Michael Porter’s CSV concept, the project can only go so far. The website ought to achieve real financial sustainability: either making it a business or letting it die. While it took some time to get there, Reddit has eventually adressed this with “Redditgifts Marketplace”, which facilitates easy gift buying and sending for exchange. This is the key to the site’s monetization. This move is transforming Redditgifts into the Amazon Marketplace of gift-giving.

On March 27, 2018, Y.Z. commented on Reddit – Democratizing Online Content :

I wonder what your take is on Quora and how likely it is to ever be a serious contender of Reddit’s.
At first glance, Quora appears to be a more sophisticated platform while still relatively easy to use. It is easy for an average internet user to get on with whereas Reddit requires a lot of efforts to understand the entire process.
Is Quora slowly on its way to “disrupt” Reddit ?

I acknowledge that negative reviews can turn off valuable potential recruits and that any suspicion about the merits of any post would often be aimed at the average users. However, any (unscrupulous) company could also use the system to its advantage, posting positive reviews or influencing public perception. This is somethign that seldom comes to mind with Glassdoor.

On March 6, 2018, Y.Z. commented on UberEats, yet another food delivery app ? :

Valid point.
Based on my research it appears that UberEats has actually started working with “fake” restaurants (ie kitchens that prepare meals and have them picked up by Uber). This model has the advantage of perfectly espousing Uber’s logistical competitive advantage.

On March 6, 2018, Y.Z. commented on UberEats, yet another food delivery app ? :

Great and accurate insight !
I believe the “more than 2” party platform is exactly the new underlying challenge being tackled here. Should this be successful, Uber will have demonstrated its capability to move beyond what has been done so far, while at the same time increasing its scale and network effects across many “user segments”, taking a cut on each.

On March 6, 2018, Y.Z. commented on The “Harvard” of Dating Apps: The League :

From a BSSE standpoint, the league seems to have crafted some sort of new market disruption, with arguably more valuable users, despite the disintermediation issue. My thesis is as follows : disintermediation is bound to happen, so the focus should be on maximising user LTV; while premium accounts do help, the bulk of revenues must come from ads. The strength of a “niche market” like the one the league is addressing is that you can safely assume there are no “fake” profiles. Other apps have to deal with bots or spam accounts, hard to track / identify by the platform itself. On the League, users are being vetted — hence ads can be sold as higher quality and conversion rates are likely increased since profiles would be more complete and show more data points.

On March 6, 2018, Y.Z. commented on Is #FakeNews disrupting Social Media platforms? :

Amazing post. Thank you for these insights.
Since you got us started on the BSSE perspective of things, I do wonder whether fake news will eventually espouse a sustaining innovation strategy and what that might entail (even and especially in the face of the current backlash)

Interesting post.
I wonder whether this intensified competition in the food delivery space, might not spurr the rise of more “ghost restaurants”.
Restaurants with no physical location, but a mere kitchen can espouse the logistical needs of platforms such as Grubhubare while also multi-homing on their end (a departure to what your post suggests).

On February 1, 2018, Y.Z. commented on Venmo: What’s Cash? :

Super interesting post JC.
I guess, from my own personal perspective as an international student : Venmo is “THE” american innovation that made my daily life easier.
That being said, it also prompted the question of why such a great model has been exported yet. As of today, Venmo only works in the U.S.

I wonder whether this has to do with market dynamics or Venmo’s strategy. For instance, in Europe bank transfers are completely free across Euro countries (result of European commission’s regulatory pressure). Would Venmo still try to make the jump though ? Would love to hear your thoughts.

In my opinion, it all comes to “friction”. The US market had lots of it, enter Venmo to solve the problem. But does Venmo has an actual competitive advantage in a market with slim-to-none friction. How many people will install yet another app given that they already have a bank app on their phones that does it all. Is Venmo “constrained” to its domestic market then ?

Great article Saurav.
Along the same lines as other classmates’ comments, I think the million dollar question is as follows :
Provided – as you described in your article – that competitive advantage lies in “better deep learning algorithms, robust bioinformatics databases, and higher computing power”, what is to say that deep-pocketed DeepMind (Google’s subsidiary focused on Machine Learning / AI that arguably posesses all three and that has recently taken a strong interest in the field of Heathcare and has already some firm ties with the industry in the UK for instance) will not simply overpower the small nimble startups such as BenevolentAI, thus submitting the drug discovery process to Big Tech’s supremacy (as other industries have before).

On February 1, 2018, Y.Z. commented on Netflix: The Media Killer :

Great read.
Taking a step back, I do however believe that Netflix’s biggest move in the past few years had been its international expansion. When Netflix was only available in the US and Canada before 2011, it has decided to expand its operations worldwide in a “big-bang” fashion.

This in and of itself is a direct consequence for the economies of scale it needed and still needs to attain to make its busines model work.
However, this has also raised new challenges. For example, while pundits laud Netflix for moving into original and exclusive content, few know that outside the US, its catalog appears very different. A Netflix user with a US account, spending a few weeks in Europe (as was my case), would be surprised to see that House of cards (and other Netflix original contents) are not available on the platform in many European countries. This goes to Netflix somewhat conflicting strategic decisions. Before launching into non-American markets, Netflix had signed exclusivity deals with cable providers promissing them Netflix original content in their countries. While this still brings extra revenue from Netflix, it does prevent it today from leveraging its own content in these countries and makes their scaling strategy questionable.