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On November 23, 2015, Austin commented on Is There a Correlation Between Data Analysis and Hubris? :

Yeah, great post and thoughts about this company. It seems like causation is really difficult imply from quantitative variables that go into movie production – leading to Relativity’s big budget flops. It’s often the intangible details that make a movie go viral – some character that is especially likeable or chemistry that works well. Also, two very similar movie concepts could have completely different reactions among moviegoers based on small differences in marketing, timing, actor mix, etc. Thanks for the info!

On November 23, 2015, Austin commented on & Web Scraping for the Average Joe or Jill :

So does openly acknowledge breaking terms of service of all the websites it scrapes from by selling the data? I’m curious about their long term strategy and how they’re thinking about the legal side of things.

On November 22, 2015, Austin commented on Palantir – Masters of Big Data :

Allen do you know if Palantir has any emerging competitors that pose a serious threat? I have always been fascinated by Palantir and their ability to win huge contracts early on in the life of the company, and I have wondered how a competitor would go about getting a foot in the door at this point. In general, it seems like an extremely lucrative space that is far less crowded than other hyped up buzzwords in the Valley right now…Palantir is very willing to not attract attention to itself (hence no IPO) while quietly dominating the big government contract data mining / intelligence markets.

On October 31, 2015, Austin commented on StackOverflow : Q&A site for programmers :

Sabina – I’m glad you did this post! Stack Overflow is great!

High quality programmers definitely continue to use Stack Overflow, especially if they are frequently working on different projects that incorporate new or updated frameworks. The only programmers I know who wouldn’t use the service any more are developers who have settled in on some very specific language and mastered it to a sufficient point but have no desire to branch out further. I don’t think SO has to worry about this group too much, because the vast majority of the broader development community is constantly forced to jump between different technology stacks and learn new things.

Also, people love to show off by posting answers 🙂

On October 30, 2015, Austin commented on reCAPCHA: Crowdsourcing Intelligence :

This is great – I didn’t realize the content being fed through the reCAPCHA’s was actually being used in any way! But it makes a lot of sense and I understand the value proposition way more now.

On the other side of the table, I remember hearing about some operations a while back that used low cost overseas labor to defeat reCAPCHA’s for bots and other nefarious entities. If the cost is low enough, it can still make sense in order to be able to run bots through these systems. I wonder what the state of the art looks like today?

On October 29, 2015, Austin commented on Yelp: An old dog may need a new trick soon :

I also think Yelp has begun to suffer from the irrelevance of the ratings system – almost every restaurant seems to be approximately ~4 stars and have several hundred ratings. It becomes almost impossible to distinguish between a few similar restaurants for a night out. Especially when Yelp has gotten negative publicity for selectively ordering positive or negative reviews based on whether or not a restaurant “pays up”. These business practices make me think there either needs to be a shift in strategy for Yelp or that there is room for a disrupter in the near future.

On October 5, 2015, Austin commented on Open but not Free – OpenTable’s Monopoly of Reservations :

This post definitely got me thinking about potential competition for OpenTable over time – even for non-premium reservations, the lock-in infrastructure advantage that OpenTable had for so long must have essentially disappeared by now.

If there were to be a cross platform API that would automatically book on different reservation systems, restaurants could more easily multi-home and become platform agnostic.

Also, given that OpenTable was started so early, I can’t help but think they missed out on a huge opportunity to integrate Yelp-like features into their service to help customers with restaurant discovery. They were sitting on a treasure trove of information and data early on that could have been turned into a much bigger company than a reservation system.

Yeah, great post Allen! This reminds me of the winning strategy in the simulation to set zero cost for the service and capture as much market share as possible. Value capture is ruined for every player in the market until someone can figure out how to create a complimentary business model. However, as you point out very well, that is easier said than done. Just building the capability definitely doesn’t mean they will come.

On October 5, 2015, Austin commented on RelayRides – The New Era of Car Sharing Economy :

It seems like RelayRides has been around for a long time now and hasn’t gained a huge amount of traction outside of a few markets like Uber and Lyft have. I don’t have a great sense for who, if anyone, will emerge as the dominant and sustainable player among the key competitors here. There are of course GetAround, FlightCar, or even ZipCar and a few others.

I found this post pretty interesting:

Although it’s from 2013, RelayRides seemed to come out well in the annual cost category compared to these other services. But I think the competitive dynamics and multi-homing will drive whatever profits exist down among these companies.

Yeah, I totally agree – being weak in a lot of cities doesn’t make any sense. I was just saying that Fasten needs to get strong in multiple cities as quickly as it can in order to reduce Uber’s power, since Uber can cut prices in one or two cities fairly easily and drain Fasten’s resources.

I was trying to figure out where direct network effects come into play here – I agree the network effects are local to a city, but it seems almost entirely indirect since the riders benefit from more drivers and vice versa.

Garmin definitely makes awesome hardware, but I agree that from a UX and social perspective, Strava totally crushes it. I think that Garmin felt pressure to create its Connect service because it was the natural next step, but this type of software is outside of its core competency. Also, open platforms like Strava have a major advantage by accepting data from any source. I’m interested in following the awesome rides and runs of the people in my training group, and I don’t want to miss out on that if they use non-Garmin devices.

On September 15, 2015, Austin commented on Venmo: Rapidly Replacing Cash in the Pockets of Millenials :

Venmo does seem to have emerged as one of the winners in payments – which leaves me and many others mystified as to why they exited so early to Braintree when they could have be sitting on a huge valuation 12-24 months later. I’m guessing it had to do with founder and cash issues, but having raised only $1.2 million in seed funding, they could have easily raised another modest round. Instead, Braintree (which raised $34 million) reaped the Venmo upside in its own sale to PayPal.

On September 15, 2015, Austin commented on WTG, Valve! Steam FTW!! :

John, you really pwned this blog post.

Steam is amazing, but it would be great to see Valve step up their “game” on the content creation that made them famous. I hope that projects like SteamVR and the Steam Controller can recapture some of this momentum, but I’m skeptical because the best business move is likely to focus on expanding Steam itself.