Brandon K

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On April 25, 2017, Brandon K commented on HBX Needs to Go Whole-Hog on VR Classrooms :

Really interesting idea and application of AR / VR, so thanks for posting! I think one of the inhibitors of VR to online education is that there is a mismatch in the value proposition. One of the greatest reasons online education has picked up so quickly over the last decade is that it is high quality at very low cost relatively, in some cases even free. On the other hand, VR is one of the most expensive consumer technologies currently available. I wonder how this can be reconciled until VR unit costs come down to a level that is more affordable? It may just be a waiting game on the part of HBX, or online education in VR will have to be substantially better than other online education offerings that justify a higher price for participation.

On April 25, 2017, Brandon K commented on MindMaze: The Platform That Will Power Every VR Experience :

Really interesting idea to be the “Intel Inside” of VR and AR hardware, I hadn’t heard of this company so thanks for sharing! If it is really going to be the Intel of AR and VR, I think the pitch will not only have to be about what additional features MindMaze can bring existing platforms in VR and AR but also how can MindMaze help folks like Oculus and Magic Leap reduce their costs? One of the big reasons I think large companies are going after AR and VR is it helps build their brand as innovators, and it will be hard to outsource innovation at the risk of the brand unless it can have a big impact on the bottom line.

On April 25, 2017, Brandon K commented on Niantic Labs and Pokemon Go: Bringing AR to the Masses :

Great post and certainly one of the biggest proven use cases of this technology thus far. Though the rise and fall of this game were rocky, I think the decline shouldn’t be seen as a failure. $3MM and 700k users aren’t bad at all, especially for an emerging category! I also wonder how much of the decline was a result of the fact that we may just be tired of Pokemon after years of use? I’ll be excited to see what Niantic can do after the Pokemon game, as I am guessing that Pokemon Go gave them lots of interesting data on the usage of AR on mobile phones that literally no one else has, 2nd closest may be Snap’s collected info of people using their AR filters.

On April 7, 2017, Brandon K commented on Friendly Score: Using Social Data to Build Credit Profiles :

Thanks for your post, Cameron! This does seem to be a really interesting and potentially great approach to helping people develop credit scores who lack them. I wonder if one of the things holding Friendly Score back is privacy concerns? No doubt many folks are wary of giving out their personal information online, but I wonder if there is something that freaks people out about sharing their whole social network and history of posts with anyone outside of their network, let alone their potential lender? That psychological block in my opinion would be very hard to tackle, and requires a great deal of trust building with this side of their platform.

On April 7, 2017, Brandon K commented on Palantir: The Seeing Stone of Security and Defense Analytics :

Thanks for your post, James. Indeed Palantir seems to be one of the most powerful technological tools that have emerged over the last 20 years or so. When I think about their business, I think about separating it into two parts: the amazing data synthesis and merging of disparate data sets into one, and the second being the analysis and insights into that data. I can definitely see how the first part would scale fairly well, but I am curious and wonder how challenging it is to scale the second part – analysis and insight. I would argue this is where Palantir can capture the most value comparatively, but how much do you think Palantir should balance creating custom high-value products for its customers? Or building a use-by-all platform that scales very easily?

On April 7, 2017, Brandon K commented on FiveThirtyEight and the Big Data Fail: Election 2016 :

Really loved your post, Ellen, because I have been an avid Fivethirtyeight reader for a while on both sports and politics, and I definitely felt let down for many reasons after the 2016 election, not the most important but I definitely couldn’t help feeling a bit stupid for eating up everything on Fivethirtyeight without question after this massive miss. Though it doesn’t seem that another standout has emerged from this election cycle like Silver did in the 2008 election, which says to me everyone got this wrong.

The idea of opening up the data set I agree with a fantastic one, and even going further I think it could be a good business hedge against his media business by actually selling his data sets to be verified externally and even analyzed externally to check his analysis. This may bring on competitors, but it also may bolster his credibility. In the end, I would say this would be completely worth it.

On March 22, 2017, Brandon K commented on Play to Cure: Crowdsourcing UK Cancer Research Through Gaming :

This is really amazing and I greatly appreciated learning about this! People always talk about ‘gamifying’ online ads but I had never thought about how a game could be used to interpret a dataset. Beyond assisting with scientific research, I wonder what other potential game design could be used to better understand underlying data in any industry? What insights might be able to be extracted by encouraging people to play games that produce a certain utility for a 3rd party, which is no doubt very compelling in your analysis.

On March 21, 2017, Brandon K commented on Codeacademy: Crowdsourcing Code Tutorials :

Awesome post! Similar to comments above, my attention is drawn to the crowd-sourced content. I wonder how does Codeacademy create value and capture value for folks who create lessons for Codeacademy subscribers? Do they get to charge a price for their class? Or receive a cut of the subscription revenue? I also wonder if people post lessons on Codeacademy to hook them to come to their own teaching platforms potentially.

On March 21, 2017, Brandon K commented on Equity investing for the masses: Is Indiegogo killing VCs? :

Great analysis! I especially love your chart above showing how crowdfunding has surpassed angel (I’m really surprised, also hard to believe that VC is flat in 2015). Overall I think this is a great opportunity for individuals to invest in products and services that they would love to have in their lives. What I’m still not sure about crowdfunding is how individuals can share in the upside of success such as in angel and VC, because now I believe they share in the downside and very limited upside. There are some pretty troubling examples of crowdfunding not working out, such as the Lily Drone:, but overall I don’t think that a few bad eggs should mean we should shut down this industry, overall I believe it is huge net positive. But we will need some type of controls in place to protect individuals from being taken advantage of.

Excellent post. I definitely don’t appreciate how much Google Maps has improved my life and it often goes overlooked for how great of an impact it has had on society, particularly on increasing the usefulness of smartphones overall. Nothing made it as evident how hard it is to build a useful mobile map than Apple’s flaws in its debut, and it really has never come close to Google Maps as a competing product. I do wonder though how big the opportunity will be for advertisements on the map platform and the resulting indirect network effects. I could see a world in which advertisements begin to diminish the utility value of Google Maps in a way that might threaten to push away users. For example, how annoyed would I be if I’m searching for restaurants nearby and I’m getting locations further away that pay Google vs. those that are closest to me? Either these would have to remain pretty limited or they are so native to the app that people literally can’t notice them. That said I definitely see other advertising opportunities that you point out that have both great potential and add to the utility of the maps, which is the local inventory search idea. I’ve seen this when I Google restaurants and can book a reservation directly in the map app, or when I search theaters and can see all the movie times, in the app. This is both a revenue opportunity and an incremental network effect in my opinion.

On February 28, 2017, Brandon K commented on Honor: the next “Uber for elderly care” :

Great post! I agree that automation is key to building scalable platforms. One thing I would be curious to understand is how big is the elderly care market in terms of $$, and is it enough for this to become a massive medical platform? I also wonder what other markets Honor might be able to tap into for on-demand services that are complimentary to the ones it currently serves?

Great post thank you! I enjoyed learning about how the Steam platform came into being. I wonder if their ability to become that platform that scaled so well was predicated on first being the developer of all the successful PC game titles you mentioned? Or was that integral to their success as an eventual platform by offering credibility to both developers and users? I also wonder if someone such as Sony or Microsoft, who clearly lost out to Steam on PC, would want to acquire this business in order to offset the costs of their game hardware platforms.

On February 28, 2017, Brandon K commented on Turo: Airbnb of Auto :

Great point about the future of self-driving cars. My best guess is that Turo would then focus on the high end of the spectrum, catering to car enthusiasts who want to pay to enjoy the experience of driving great cars without having to own one and maintain one. I think it would be very tough for Turo to pivot to be a challenger in the self-driving car logistics sector, which is where I see Uber and Google and the like all headed. That said, I think self-driving cars are still a very long way off from being a mainstream mode of transportation (10 years minimum), so in that time Turo still has a great opportunity, despite the fact that the largest market eventually will disappear most likely.

On February 28, 2017, Brandon K commented on Turo: Airbnb of Auto :

Completely fair point that there is a cost to car utilization, and perhaps this is a reason Turo hasn’t taken off with a similar trajectory that Airbnb has enjoyed. Definitely fair to raise the risk that the key handoff experience and execution can be a problem, but hopefully having a platform that allows for both sides to rate each other will raise the quality over time so that there is a dependable inventory of cars. This issue is reduced with scale in my opinion.

On February 28, 2017, Brandon K commented on Turo: Airbnb of Auto :

Thanks for the comment! I think one of the big reasons Turo hasn’t risen as rapidly as Airbnb, despite being founded around the same time, is that the car rental market as a whole has been challenged simultaneously by the on-demand ride services, which have not only taken over the taxi market but also grown that market substantially. Thus, the demand for rental cars has definitely in my opinion been reduced as on-demand becomes more affordable. I don’t believe you see this in a similar fashion in the hotel / housing industry. Also, Airbnb has done an excellent job expanding internationally, while Turo has stuck much more to focusing on expanding in the U.S. In terms of the key handoff, it’s a great point. I think Turo took this approach mainly because it takes money and time to install a device in every car to unlock it with an app – with drivers and passengers just handing off keys, you can scale much more quickly by having a supply of cars sign up more quickly. While convenient, this is to Getaround’s detriment, plus the added factor you rightly raise that it adds in an additional level of accountability, similar to what we see with Airbnb and a renter meeting the owner.

On February 28, 2017, Brandon K commented on Turo: Airbnb of Auto :

Thank you! You are definitely right that Turo started off at the low end towards people who care less about car type and model, but what they have been surprised to see is that folks who own high-end cars have also been listing on Turo and people have sought out $150-$300 / day specialty rides driving high-end cars as well. This is tough for folks such as Enterprise or Avis to compete as it challenges their inventory to be able to cover all ends of the spectrum as easily as Turo does in my opinion. I believe the rental car companies will need to specialize on one end of the market or buy a service like Turo to offer more convenient locations. So far I haven’t seen much evidence that Enterprise or Avis have reacted, as Turo is still not a massive threat to their business. Rental cars are still quite popular from traditional rental agencies.

On February 3, 2017, Brandon K commented on The 45th: How the Trump Campaign’s Digital Strategy Made History :

This is an amazing assessment and I really haven’t seen someone put together such a thoughtful analysis on President Trump’s digital strategy. Although the strategy and methodology utilized definitely seems novel as compared to past political campaigns, I can’t help but think that the similarity between victory in 2016 and President Obama’s first victory in 2008 was that both campaigns utilized digital innovations to connect with voters and convert independents, it was cited as key reasons each president won in both instances. I wonder if in the future it will become consistent that the candidate with the more advanced and higher budget digital campaign will determine election outcomes.

On February 3, 2017, Brandon K commented on strikes the right chord – to the tune of 40M MAU :

Great company to focus on and definitely one that has raised lots of eyebrows of folks at they have grown MAU so quickly. I have sisters that are 10 and 11, and one thing that amazed me last time I was home was that they were watching collections of on Youtube. It made me think about the reach of the app and realized that their audience is even larger than just the people who consume the content directly in the app. I wonder what potential this offers the company to share its content with other partners to scale even more quickly than other apps do and to bring in revenue more quickly by sharing ad revenue with sites such as YouTube.

Very interesting post! I wonder what impact, if any, Theranos’ situation impacted 23andMe’s decision not to pursue NGS. Surely if they raised a lot of money to pursue that path and were not able to execute could lead 23andMe off of a cliff. Focusing on data collection and the social aspect of the process may be their expertise. I wonder to what extent 23andMe could partner with another organization to conduct NGS, thereby helping 23andMe to keep operating costs lower and take on less risk.

On February 3, 2017, Brandon K commented on One Medical Group: The Potential Uber of Healthcare :

Appreciate your comment! I do not believe One Medical is focused on older patients at this time. For one, utilizing the company’s mobile app is essential for accessing all of its services, which is likely more challenging for older patients. Although you are right that older patients are are large segment that requires medical care, I believe One Medical takes the approach that targeting younger people will result in customers that they will acquire for most of their adult lives, and then lock them in as they become older patients.

On February 3, 2017, Brandon K commented on One Medical Group: The Potential Uber of Healthcare :

Interesting point! Thank you. The beauty of providing software to patients to help treat ailments is that it doesn’t cost the provider any more as incremental people use the service. Thus, I don’t think there will be many charges or needs for reimbursement for digital services that companies like One Medical provide. However, I do believe you are right where that could be an issue in on-demand telemedicine, where the only services provided are digital. Indeed data privacy is an immense concern for patients and providers alike, which is why having a strong technology platform is essential for companies such as One Medical.

On February 3, 2017, Brandon K commented on One Medical Group: The Potential Uber of Healthcare :

Very interesting idea! I definitely believe One Medical and companies similar to it will bring an end to independent PCP eventually. Indeed some competitors in the space do partner with independent PCP providers rather than building their own offices. However, I would be surprised if One Medical pursued this path. They have very strict standards for their offices and they are all uniformly the same. Rather than expand via existing independent PCP providers, I believe One Medical will continue to expand their digital offering and focus on that first before really making a large push into many more physical locations. But I believe you could be right about that someday.