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On May 3, 2017, Afaf commented on Magic Leap: Reimagining Virtual Vision (and more) :

Agreed, no one wants to commoditize their offering, nor is AR/VR at that stage of its life where products have surpassed the performance threshold to even qualify for commodity risk in my opinion. I guess it’s a question of time. Right now it might not be a bad idea to be a component or product supplier, but just for how long will that be valuable. I think Magic Leap is experimenting in all the above (component, end-product, platform), I’m excited to see their story unfold.

Moneyball in the NBA! Interesting post, Tyler. If you were to weigh in, do you think the Rockets are using the data in a way that is truly additive or are they using it in ways that just reinforce their intuitions? This was a big question for us in class. I realize that data is only as good as how you read it. How long until the NBA masters the science?

This is a neat company – I’ve never heard of it before! I think it has an interesting value proposition, and it may be applicable to non-CPG investing as well. Why has CircleUp chosen CPG as their target investment universe? I understand there is a richness of data. But is it a matter of data availability or a matter of market opportunity (i.e. which companies are most underserved by traditional PE/VC)?

On May 3, 2017, Afaf commented on The Old Art and the New: Opera and VR :

Interesting application of VR, Steph! I appreciated your point about VR currently being more of a marketing investment to drive interest and viewership for ROH. For how long can this remain a valid way of thinking about the VR content? I guess if VR doesn’t gain traction or displace actual viewership, then it’s fine to spend on VR as a marketing item. But if we see a world where no one goes to the Opera and instead people just experience it at home via VR, then ROH would need a new value capture model. The future is probably somewhere in between, just curious your thought on that.

On May 3, 2017, Afaf commented on Wayfair: Using AR and VR for Furniture Visualization :

Hey Natalie! I wonder what exactly can VR do for Wayfair – does it attract customers that otherwise wouldn’t buy furniture online, or does it differentiate them from other e-retailers in the eyes of people who are already going to buy furniture online? The former is growing the pie and the latter re-splits the pie. Anyway – interesting post!

Hi Kyla, I really enjoyed this post. I think the two most interesting points for me were: (1) education is the great equalizer in many ways, and you suggest that perhaps VR might make it an even greater equalizer. I often wonder how much the experience gap explains different outcomes in education. If it’s a big factor, then perhaps funding VR at the expense of a lower-return item on the budget, may not be a bad idea. And (2) the co-innovation risk being very high in education. How do we lower this risk? Would aligning stakeholders or reducing stakeholders (e.g. by taking education private) help?

On April 27, 2017, Afaf commented on Trim: Doing More With Your Data :

Great post. I can personally use Trim! Do you think the existing value capture model is sustainable? I wonder if a freemium model might be better suited, though perhaps the company has tested that and found reasons not to pursue it.

Really interesting company! It has a clear value proposition to the corporate user. I’m trying to better understand the value to the experts/crowd. Is there more than just a monetary value? I’m comparing this to HourlyNerd and even Tongal, and both had incentives to the crowd beyond the financial prize. HourlyNerd offered flexible working hours, and Tongal offered a community and a shot at fame. What’s the analog at Innocentive?

Sounds like Quirky crowdsourced some but not all steps in the value creation process. Reminds me of our discussion on Tongal. Should Quirky have outsourced more or less of the product innovation cycle? What’s the right balance between control and maximizing on crowd knowledge? Really interesting case study!

On March 20, 2017, Afaf commented on Solving Crime the Crowdsourced Way :

Great post! I really like the intentional avoidance of creating an online community. It solves for the groupthink and witch-hunt problem.
I think also – the law enforcement side of the platform doesn’t even need to disclose what crime or culprit they’re looking for. They can just post a date, time and location (e.g. March 20th 7am-10am in central park circa 72nd street), and ask users to submit any and all footage. It becomes more of a data collecting / stitching service, and encroaches less on the detectives’ line of work.

On March 20, 2017, Afaf commented on Crowdsourcing the Boeing 787 :

Thanks, Will! It looks like Airbus experimented with crowdsourcing for their new interiors, dubbed Airspace, which incorporated passenger feedback online (unveiled in 2016, will go into planes in 2017). So that’s maybe an even more “pure” form of crowdsourcing. But I’m not sure if they’ve done it with (more serious) things like airframe and wing design. In any case, I’m also curious to see if Boeing continues this move in its next moonshot project!

On February 27, 2017, Afaf commented on LiquidSpace and the Platformization of Office Rentals :

Such an interesting company, and I’ve never heard of it before. Will both of them win, just in different market segments?

Also – Do you think WeWork can eventually move to a pure-play platform? I’m thinking the current approach allows WeWork to learn a great deal about commercial spaces and leasing. But I am not sure if this expertise would count for anything in a move to platform.

On February 27, 2017, Afaf commented on Glamsquad: Making Over the Beauty Services Industry :

Hi Julia! Glad you enjoyed this. On the demand side, I agree that Glamsquad’s value proposition is weak for women who enjoy the salon experience. But the value proposition makes more sense for women for whom salon-quality services are not a luxury but a lifestyle necessity. Blowing out their hair or getting their manicure isn’t “for fun” but rather a regular part of the maintenance that’s necessary for their professional appearance. The question stands, what slice of the market does this represent? Will that slice grow as customers shift their view of beauty services from a luxury to a necessity?

On the supply front – Glamsquad takes in thousands of stylist applications and accepts less than an eighth of them. Part of the vetting is built into the system by the cosmetology schools and local licenses to practice. Glamsquad also has a requirement of 2 years of work experience. Finally, there is a training period in which the stylists are taught the signature looks from Glamsquad’s look book. There are no ratings, but the optional cash tip approximates that.

Very interesting. I agree that we have a long way until ridesharing displaces car ownership. If you will entertain me, however, I’d like to imagine a world where all cars go from a product to a shared service. In that reality, should uber’s revenue model change? To what? Thanks!

On February 3, 2017, Afaf commented on Postmates: what service does it really deliver? :

I agree with your analysis. Key thing that stands out for me is the network effect at play here. Without enough route density, the unit economics of Postmates simply collapse. If you were to bet on a horse here – would it be Uber or another player?

On February 3, 2017, Afaf commented on Netflix – Showing Viewers What They Want :

I liked your discussion of the way Netflix has continued to use its data to target its customers’ viewing tastes, and retain customers by doing this well. I wonder, do you think that Netflix should continue creating its own content? Content creation tends to be a risky business. It also puts them in competition with not just other streaming services like Amazon’s, but with large studios like HBO. If they keep creating content, will they start hurting their licensing relationships with other content creators?