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On March 6, 2019, Alex commented on Bye-Bye Britannica, Hey Siri :

Really awesome description of an industry that’s transformed from analogue to digital, to a value-creating platform, to an ecosystem that both creates and captures value.

The current state of the ecosystem seems to be well-balanced, and all hinges on a non-profit organization that is well run and delivers heaps of value to billions of consumers and organizations. I wonder how much additional value could be created if other industries followed this operating model, and how governments and interest groups could incentivize these practices…

Great article!

I’ll be really interested to see who ends up dominating this space, between defense-specific startups and traditional big tech.

There was an interesting Daily podcast today about how big tech companies are responding their employees’ protests at them entering the defense space. The jury’s still out on whether, in the long-term, involvement in defense will be too much of a drag on employee moral and hence the other profit centers of these organisations. But their technical expertise and ability to manage large contracts is definitely a significant advantage if they can overcome that!

Great article! And a good reminder that the platform / network orchestrator doesn’t always win. In this case Sephora’s own product line and its brick and mortar stores were its competitive advantage – it simply had to be ‘good enough’ on the digital side to avoid being sidelined in the latest wave of disruption. I’ll be interested to see where digital innovation in this industry goes next!

On February 25, 2019, Alex commented on TATERU: Bringing Digital Innovation to Japanese Real Estate :

What an interesting company! And no doubt they almost went bust in 2008 with all that land as working capital 😉

What really interests me about TATERU is how much of the value chain they cover. This seems to me as both a big, and an enormous opportunity.

A big because selling land and advising on how to develop property, incl. sources of financing, seems a very specialised service that most regular Japanese people won’t go near. By providing a service to these people, as well as buy-to-let solutions for your more regular Japanese customer, I worry that TATERU is trying to be all things to all people, and may lose focus on the customers that really deliver value to them. Perhaps the platform should even be split in two?

But the opportunity is equally big. If they do pull this off and become the main platform for landlords in Japan, then they stand a chance of winning in the market to own people’s home appliances. This is forecasted to grow to an enormous size and, if they do a good job of it, every Japanese person could soon be using TATERU to manage all its devices!

On February 25, 2019, Alex commented on Plaid :

Nice. I totally see the issue of being at the whims of how participating banks choose to tweak and upgrade their digital infrastructure. When reading this I wonder how Venmo manages to get round that issue, though. Would love to discuss!

On February 25, 2019, Alex commented on Less is more: Digital Innovation for Financial Inclusivity :

Nice! Seems like a great idea to create sticky relationships with these customers whilst they’re still using simpler technologies, and grow with them as they move towards more advanced smartphones. I imagine it’ll be a tougher fight when more fintech firms are competing for the same user base, once more and more users are on the Android and iOS operating systems – I look forward to seeing how it plays out!