Cherish Weiler

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On May 1, 2020, Cherish Weiler commented on Airbnb: To be, or not to be :

Fascinating read! I also found the safety statistics to be a really compelling angle. Beyond being a mechanism to revitalize demand and put future travelers at ease, I think this is a huge opportunity to strengthen Airbnb’s partnership with local governments. In some high density cities, the portfolio of properties on their platform might be at a critical mass to inform public health trends that may help local governments respond to this pandemic. Safety data could be the lowest hanging fruit but a stronger relationship with local governments could also open up the ability for hosts to use their properties for public service like the frontline initiatives. If Airbnb explored this option with local governments, this could expand to be a robust crisis response service that they offer to governments when disaster strike (floods, fires, earthquakes, etc) and immediate housing is needed for affected citizens. This type of product offering could also tap into government budgets and be a significant revenue stream that also creates a more resilient business model. It would be in the moments with traditional travel business is low that this government service would increase. Also, this would offer the government a quick and easy solution that scales to the level of their need. Feels like it could be a win-win to me.

Great read, especially as a Houseparty user myself. One other competitor that wasn’t mentioned is FaceTime – the nativity to iPhones offers a big competitive edge to Houseparty. I tend to agree that Houseparty will be more a fad than anything. One thing to think about though is how users themselves will change. Will a post-pandemic world be more digital? More location agnostic? Houseparty won’t replace real-world interaction post-COVID, but it may be able to carve a space in augmenting these human connections; I know personally I’ve never talked with my family more (oftentimes via Houseparty) than during COVID and I’m starting to realize that connection across distance is far, far easier and less time-intensive than I remembered. I also wonder how long EA is willing to support Houseparty financially – and will they know when to pull the plug post-pandemic if necessary.

On May 1, 2020, Cherish Weiler commented on Patreon – From Followers to Paycheck :

Interesting article. It makes sense that Patreon has seen an increase in creators joining as I suspect some are trying to recover from an unexpected job loss. It’s interesting to then see if demand matches – because creators aren’t the only ones feeling financially pinched, consumers are too. Subscriptions can seem like a luxury right now, though there’s also been a push to “support small business” which may be helping here. I wonder how Patreon as a digital platform will use these changes in the long term – for example, I wonder if there’s an opportunity to emphasize their brand and contribution in supporting small businesses in this economy. They don’t seem to have introduced any COVID specific features or options. Are they hoping new creators joining because of COVID could STAY post-pandemic? Are they banking on growing that supply (and then demand when COVID ends)? I’m not sure.

On April 21, 2020, Cherish Weiler commented on Yes Health: Can AI help diabetes patients improve their fitness? :

Great post! I’ve never heard of this company before but I’m glad to see they’ve entered a space where data analytics and AI has a lot of room to add value. I think as we move towards understanding the role PREVENTATIVE healthcare has in our society, Yes Health is and will become even more attractive to health insurers. One thing I’m curious about is how much of a moat does Yes Health have in this space? Especially with the amount of interest coming from health insurers, I see this as an attractive space with pretty low barriers to entry. How will Yes Health defend their position? Will it be a matter of signing up insurers and leveraging their first mover advantage? Will it be in the algorithms they develop? I’d love to see what happens next with them.

On April 21, 2020, Cherish Weiler commented on (Z)estimating iBuying opportunities for Zillow :

Interesting article! I think Zestimates were an incredibly innovative solution at the time – it’s easy to forget how difficult this information was to gather before data analytics came into the picture. I see home buying as a huge area for data analytics to improve upon. So much of the industry relies/relied on traditional selling structures (brokers, real estate agents, siloed data, etc). The data component especially was challenging, since data was sold in large “volumes” by real estate agents. Zillow really disrupted the entire process with Zestimates, so much so that real estate agents must work WITH Zillow now.

But I also see Zestimates now falling into that “traditional” model you mentioned. I think Instant Offers is a great next step, but I don’t think it’s sufficient to avoid the plateau. I’m interested to see what innovations will come next.

On April 21, 2020, Cherish Weiler commented on Robo-Banking: Artificial Intelligence at JPMorgan Chase :

Great article – I didn’t know JPMC was taking so many initiatives. It’s interesting to think about how some of these cost savings will affect employment. Will underwriters be replaced by Smart Contract Algorithms? Will customer service representatives be replaced by Bots? We’ve already seen a desire for consumers for increased AI in banking, whether it be from a human interaction perspective (not preferred) to an efficiency and time-savings perspective. I like your last line about investing in re-skilling and up-skilling its employees – I hope we see JPMC taking initiative to do this rather than wait and respond to demands from consumers to do so.

On March 24, 2020, Cherish Weiler commented on Practo – India’s home for health :

Interesting article. I wonder about the ethics of “locking” clinics and doctors to a single platform. What if a customer uses a competitors system? Will it interfere with their ability to get treated? I see a risk of multi-homing here – whichever system a medical provider is using is the system the patient will engage with, up to as many platform as they need to engage with. And since the costs are low for the customer, it doesn’t cost them anything to be on multiple platforms. But then comes the question of how medical information is transferred, since I assume it’s not owned by the customer. I agree though that Practo may have the biggest competitive advantage in simple being the first mover in cities and countries. By not giving customers the opportunity to even know about its competitors, I think Practo could maintain it’s leader position.

Interesting, and congrats on the bike. I think actually one of the biggest advantages that Peloton has had was their first mover advantage and their investments in advertising (we’ve all seen the “woman records her Peloton journey for husband” – I guess there’s no such thing as bad publicity?). What I wonder is, if other companies were willing to bleed cash temporarily is there ANY way they could overtake Peloton’s advantage? I think about what’s happening now with Didi in China – what appeared to be a winner-take-all marketplace turned out not to be so. How defensible REALLY is Peloton’s ecosystem? The fitness industry sees so much turnover as consumers are constantly looking for the next “cool” fitness trend to be a part of. I think conversion will be near impossible – once someone’s made the $2000 investment, I don’t see them likely to switch. But if another new company can capture NEW users, they may stand a chance.

On March 24, 2020, Cherish Weiler commented on Upwork— the future of remote work online :

Great article – and good point mentioning the impact COVID-19 will have. I wonder too if it will make both employers and employees reevaluate the benefits of a marketplace like Upwork. I also think they’re in a tough spot in regards to market entrants and disintermediation. You mentioned Upwork offering credibility and this “personal brand” to freelancers to incentivize them using the service. But freelancers benefit from working with the same clients and building long term relationships with them. It gives the client piece of mind to work with “someone they know” and allows the freelancer to benefit from a steady stream of income. And as more freelancers join the site, the competition could easily push these freelancers off. I also expect COVID-19 will spur a wave of Upwork-like sites. It’ll be interesting to see how our gig economy develops post this pandemic.

It’s so interesting to see how e-commerce is approached abroad. I think one of the lessons I’ve learned is that outside the US, mobile is king. Mobile-first apps are critical for success in overseas markets. I also appreciate Mercari’s investment in building mutual trust, which is crucial for online marketplaces. I wonder though how much the Japanese culture plays into this. Was the effort easier, since Japan is known to have a strong culture of trust, or harder since the population may not be accustomed to providing such feedback? I also wonder why no other international e-commerce company entered/found success in Japan. Is there something about Mercari originating in Japan that makes it more accessible to consumers and more easily regulated by the government (or allowed for easier partnerships? My intuition is yes.)? Did international e-commerce companies even have a chance of success? With Ebay and Yahoo!Auction have been incumbents, it makes me think that YES international companies could have made it work BUT that they severely underestimated the political, cultural, and technical differences that would have been necessary to understand first.

Really good insights into what and why things went wrong here. As someone coming from tech, I’m completely shocked at the DNP’s willingness to hire an untested firm; it makes me wonder if the process was based more on political connections (Clinton’s 2016 digital campaign) as is common in politics rather than merit/past success as is common in tech. I understand the pressure the DNP feels to catch up – but isn’t it worse to rush things that will end badly than to invest the time and energy to do it right? How could the pressure have mounted to the this fevered “do anything to catch up” state? I also wonder, did it have to be THIS app? Couldn’t there have been another way to integrate technology that would have shown the DNP’s willingness to engage with users digitally? Also, where was the plan B?? So many questions that I would love to have the DNP answer.

It’s incredible how lack of a clear digital strategy AND capabilities can lead to such a massive failure, a failure that as you pointed out could have been quiet had it not been for this being one of the most important preliminary events of the 2020 election.

On February 11, 2020, Cherish Weiler commented on (Turn) Off the Press: The New York Times is Winning with Digital :

Excellent post – I find it more impressive that this type of digital innovation was able to happen in an industry that is notoriously slow to catch up with digital trends. I think one additional factor to the NYT’s success was the changing consumer behavior. There was a time when free content was what online consumers, especially young consumers, expected. Why pay for a subscription when I can get my information for free (and just a click away)? But NYT saw this trend changing – they knew free 1) wouldn’t last forever and 2) couldn’t beat quality. They were willing to bet on quality content AND on the consumers who first starting buying into the notion of pay-for-digital-content, who believed quality content creators deserved to be compensated. Now, that payment/subscription model seems to be the norm and NYT excellently set themselves up for success as more and more individuals are willing to pay.