Brian Westlake

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Interesting to hear that premium features are increasingly being rolled out for free. Do you think this is sustainable long term? For instance would it work to move their operating model to generating revenue through say ads (opposed to subscriptions). Also I find it interesting that COVID has accelerated digital trends such as video dating. Do you believe this trends will sustain post COVID and if not how can these apps work to continue these trends?

Thanks for the interesting article. Do you have any information on the profitability of GoPuff outside of the break-even point? I wonder how sustainable it is to charge 1.95USD for smaller purchases (even with the margin included in convenience store products). Do you think this is a solution that will predominantly grow the convenience market or steal share from physical convenience stores? If it steal share from convenience stores how will GoPuff deal with the problems associated with building out a last mile delivery network (especially when they start expanding out of high density areas).

On May 2, 2020, Brian Westlake commented on “Zoom by Day, Houseparty by Night” :

Great article. To sustain future growth how would you suggest the Houseparty engage older users (who say are only just beginning to get comfortable with apps like Zoom). Also can you elaborate on why work related competitors like Zoom, WebEx and Skype aren’t appropriate for casual chats (and vice versa?). Finally, how would you recommend Houseparty best monetize their offering in the future?

On April 20, 2020, Brian Westlake commented on Use Me if You Dare, Hack Me if You Can :

Interesting post.

You mention the social media platform Vine early on in your post. Vine used to be tremendously popular and like TikTok used crowd-sourced short, catchy videos. Why do you think Vine failed and is there a risk that TikTok suffers a similar fate?

Hi Matt,

Interesting post.

Surely a lot of this innovation comes at a cost? Do you think the virus-identifying and water-modulating AI algorithms would provide a good return on investment for smaller wineries. Would it be worth them making the investment?

Given the transferability of some of the grape-growing process to other farming industries could you think of (or have you seen) other applications of these technologies in the agricultural space?

On April 20, 2020, Brian Westlake commented on Rare Carat: The Kayak of Diamonds :

Thanks Leah.

One of the big challenges facing online diamond sellers (and comparison sites) is the inability for customers to see the diamond ‘in person’. Sure, these sites typically show high quality images of the diamonds but nothing is like seeing the gem in person. I also suspect the risk involved in shipping and delivering the diamond would turn many potential purchaser away.

Do you have any ideas on how these companies can innovate to bring these important components of the diamond-buying experience online?

On February 11, 2020, Brian Westlake commented on Macy’s Store Closings, Layoffs a Sign of Struggle in Omnichannel Retail :

It seems to me that Macy’s response to the digital threat is to cut costs through store closures and letting go of workers. I agree that it appears they haven’t leveraged the power of digital to compete at scale in the new retail reality.

I like the way you focused on some possible levers to generate value. I wonder if you could have explored the digital opportunities within those levers morel. For instance, Macy’s may not be able to compete on e-retail with price alone but it could explore digital opportunities within pricing to differentiate itself. For example, it could role out dynamic pricing models or targeted advertising to specific customer segments across various price points as a way to better compete in the digital space.

On February 11, 2020, Brian Westlake commented on 23andMe: Losing at digital privacy :

Hi Kendra – interesting perspective. Have you considered how the company may work to make this situation a competitive advantage. For example could they position the increased data collection as a way to provide more tailored results and value to the customer?

Furthermore would it be possible to run a company such as 23andMe without collecting the additional data they purport to need? If yes, I wonder why they still collect the additional data for ‘research purposes’? Could they be monetizing this somehow?

On February 11, 2020, Brian Westlake commented on Fitbit: Weathering the Storm? :

Thanks Tommy Tom. What do you think the long term strategy is for Fitbit? If this is indeed a winner-take all market how would Fit Bit be best placed to respond. Should they stay in the market or use their technology through alternative applications?

Also why do you think they went from 67% market share to where they are now. What did others players do that they didn’t. Could they have foreseen the situation they are in now? What could Google do with Fitbit that Fitbit couldn’t do by itself?