C. Xu

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On May 1, 2020, C. Xu commented on Peloton: Riding Quarantine into a Demand Boom :

Great post, thank you! I think another factor to consider with this shift towards the digital experience without the actual hardware bike is the increasing leverage of the most popular instructors. Ultimately, without the hardware investment, customers’ switching costs have decreased significantly, and the only thing stopping them from switching platforms is their allegiance to a specific instructor. That not only means that Peleton needs to invest even more into content curation, but also that instructors who are very popular are at higher risk of leaving the Peleton platform to pursue their own venture.

Thank you for this – really interesting! I do wonder how comparable interactive live performances are to things like Twitch for instance. In the end, a Twitch experience is equal and potentially even superior to watching an event in person. You are mainly there to watch someone play the video game, something that can be easily done from the comfort of your home in front of a screen. However, with live music events, the two experiences do not compare. You lose out on the live quality of the music, the beauty of the venue and the atmosphere of the crowd. Hence, while it is certainly the only option Live Nation has in times like these, I am not sure how successful it can be.

Thanks for the article – really interesting! What strikes me most about this is that even with seeming “commodities” such as snacks, Three Squirrels still managed to differentiate itself. This just goes to show that branding and customer service will always have the ability to influence consumer behavior. It is crazy that that led them to even successfully introduce a recurring membership pricing model for snacks! I think this is ultimately what will push the Company to come out of this crisis stronger than before. Whereas other, generic snack companies might not survive, Three Squirrels will be able to leverage its brand and customer service to grab more market shore post the pandemic.

On April 21, 2020, C. Xu commented on How data analytics is revolutionizing the NBA :

Great article, thank you! Another potential challenge I see is in data collection. As the low hanging fruit of data collection has passed, to really gain an edge in analytics would require more granular data on individual moves or team performance. While there are technological strides being made in sports data collection, it is still very challenging at times to collect accurate data from live sports events. For instance, some sports data companies that sell data to betting companies will send physical scouts to each individual soccer game and, using their cell phones, document what is happening on the pitch (pass vs. corner vs. foul etc.). It will be interesting to see whether data collection becomes a bottleneck for this exciting industry.

On April 21, 2020, C. Xu commented on Improving Representation in Media through Machine Learning :

Great article – thank you! While there is a lot of emphasis on the bias inherent in machine learning, I do think there is much less focus on applications such as the above where ML has the potential to reveal biases and lack of representation. In my mind, it is of course fair to question whether the algorithm itself is biased, but I still believe that having an additional checkpoint, regardless if that checkpoint might have some bias inherent in it as well, will help with trying to address and eradicate under representation in the media.

On April 21, 2020, C. Xu commented on Use Me if You Dare, Hack Me if You Can :

Very interesting – thank you! I think another aspect that I find fascinating about TikTok is the frequency at which its users post, generating much more data than other social media platforms, which can in turn be analyzed to further improve the recommendation algorithm. While most people might only post weekly on Instagram and barely at all on other social media platforms, TikTok users will post multiple videos a day every day, across a wide range of topics. This data generation frequency is unprecedented among social media platforms from my knowledge, and another unique competitive edge for TikTok’s recommender system.

On March 23, 2020, C. Xu commented on Palantir Technologies: Intelligence as a Service :

Interest read!

I guess in my mind, the very obvious counter to the sustainability of the model is regulation. Will the U.S. government allow a private institution to hold that much power? I would err on the no side. Does that mean Palantir will get nationalized? I don’t think so either, but I can envision a world in which it gets turned into a public private partnership, with capped profits and stringent operating restrictions. Along a similar vain, the company has been rumored to go public for a while now. But can a company of such national interest be governed by a select number of large private shareholders who might have very different incentives that are not in the best interest of the country at large? Would be a very interesting proposition to see, but maybe that is part of the reason why the IPO has still not happened to this day.

On March 23, 2020, C. Xu commented on Instacart – A Platform Thriving in a Pandemic :

Interesting read!

Agree that a key risk to Instacart is big grocery retailers doing it on their own. I don’t see a world in which that doesn’t happen to be honest, and what could then happen on Instacart is adverse selection, where the large, at scale retailers that have enough volume to warrant their own online delivery do it on their own and Instacart is left with smaller, less known retailers that don’t have the necessary volume to warrant their own investment. Unfortunately, that would also mean fewer economies of scale for Instacart and a much more complex supply chain, which could mean the effective end of the business.

On March 23, 2020, C. Xu commented on MasterClass – Mastering Scale as Edutainment Platform? :

Super interesting read!

I do question the sustainability of the model. Firstly, I don’t know how many ongoing master class users there are, as most classes as you point out are not going deeper into one topic, but rather broader across different topics. So from that perspective, are there really that many users that look at one cooking class, then jump to a class on basketball, then to a class on movies etc.? If these users do not necessarily exist at scale, the subscription value proposition is not as clear to me. An alternative beneficiary of the subscription model would be someone who repeatedly watches the same classes over and over. But again I wonder if that is realistic – unlike TV shows or even movies that can be re-watched many times, I doubt that online classes have a similar kind of appeal. So if there are limited repeat watchers out there, and also limited people that continuously watch a number of different videos on Masterclass, who really benefits from the subscription model’s value proposition?

On February 10, 2020, C. Xu commented on DJI: Winning in consumer drones :

Interesting read! I think another big question the Company will inevitably have to consider as it scales is around regulation. I am just thinking about the examples of airports shutting down due to flying drones. As with many disruptive technologies, once you reach significant scale, a superior product itself might not be enough anymore to sustain yourself (an extreme case would be Juul). In particular because drones are leveraging a public good (i.e. air space), they might have to be prepared for stricter regulations around when and where drones can be flown, which could impact their growth trajectory.

On February 10, 2020, C. Xu commented on Please Buy Our Paper, Anyone But Wall Streeters :

Very interesting read! I think another very important point is that local news probably have a disproportionate impact on many people’s broader opinions – i.e. something happening at national scale might impact an individual’s perspective on a political party or an individual politician, but if the factory next door closes its doors and the local news reporting is either biased or straight up incorrect, it can have a much more drastic impact on that individual. Hence, the stakes are very high to keep high quality local journalism alive!

On February 10, 2020, C. Xu commented on The Louvre: Winning at Digital Engagement :

Really interesting read! In particular the point on interactive website and mobile app reminds me of an initiative that Google has started called Google Arts & Culture, which is basically a platform on which you can play around with various pieces of art. It’s really meant to increase the younger generation’s engagement with the art world, which I think is a key value add that technology can bring to the table. In particular for a museum like the Louvre, where there are so many pieces of art, any software / technology solution that can help in the individualized discovery of pieces that a visitor might like could be a big help in boosting visitor numbers.