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This is really interesting. We all need good neighbors- and Nextdoor enables us to be good neighbors to each other during COVID-19. I love partnership with Walmart as a solution to the last mile delivery problems. (Last mile delivery activities tend to be the most expensive portion of delivery activities, and the hardest to get right.)
Like many relationship marketplace apps(e.g. dating apps, Homejoy), the more users on different ends of the transaction trust each other, the more likely they are to disintermediate the platform. Multihoming is also a problem. Once we’re not in a world that has recovered from COVID-19, how should Nextdoor manage relationships with alternative platforms e.g. Whatsapp to ensure it does not become substituted out?

Great article- Shell is an agile organization. I enjoyed reading your points on both the old/traditional business and the new/emergent business. I agree that further technology integration and AI investments can increase the operational efficiencies of the business, but in a world where the price of oil is at an all time low, how do you do that without raising costs or being in a position where the trade off is workers’ jobs?
Secondly, how is Shell thinking about employees who can work from home, and those who can’t? Examples of those who cannot include pump attendants in the developing world, mechanics etc. What’s the strategy for protecting employees who must go to work on site? I believe we could learn from that perspective as well.
Thanks Andres.

Thanks Jona for this post. I agree with Megan M- I’m not sure the unit economics of ClassPass make sense in the post-Covid-19 world. I think they will survive the pandemic because of a relatively large warchest… however, the minute things revert to normal, the customers will likely disintermediate them. Mom & Pop gyms don’t like them either- thus will be unwilling to put up with Classpass after the pandemic b/c of competition for margin. Currently, the brand dimensions and convenience can be substituted out. What is the moat or barrier to entry that they’re building during the pandemic?

Thanks again for writing this. I’m also curious about the value of Woebot vs a naive process like journaling.
1) When seeking younger users e.g. teenagers, how does the company avoid the perception of being predatory?
2) Some of the protagonists in class have mentioned that translating their AIs to other languages was easier than they thought. “Google Translate and a local language expert is all it takes”… might this hold true for WoeBot? Or would the requirements to jump into a new culture be significantly different?

On April 21, 2020, Choplife commented on Woebot – Bringing mental health care to your finger tips :

I appreciate this so much. Mental health care practitioners are few and far between, especially providers of color. So- having a space like this might really help with some foundational care work. You could even link this to therapist recommendations and the broader telehealth ecosystem. How does the founder and team think about liability and malpractice lawsuits though?

On April 21, 2020, Choplife commented on Strategic Education – can AI educate? :

While I see the opportunity to scale, I’m curious whether by engaging AI in education, we move to a place where learning is commodity that is devoid of human interaction. Part of the value proposition of learning is contacts with new networks- not just the material you absorb. How might online learning make up for this “automatic” benefit that comes with in-person schooling? Might an education AI like this link to a connection AI like the ones on LinkedIn to allow a progress that is similar to the in-person context?

On March 24, 2020, Choplife commented on The Latin American Ebay transforms the region :

Super apps thrive by incorporating multiple apps within their ecosystem and integrating their functionalities so that users gain more benefits than they would reap from the standalone apps. By building high value bundles of apps, super app companies also gain multiple perspectives into the behavior of the users on the platforms. What might be good criteria to decide which apps bundle well with Mercado to make a super app?

On March 24, 2020, Choplife commented on Alphasights: Purveyors of Knowledge :

I agree that the risks of disintermediation for this business are high. We’ve seen examples in our class where similar platforms choose to “manage their revenue expectations” and position themselves a lead generation platforms instead of full-service providers. They charge only for making the initial connection- and accept that they will be disintermediated as trust builds between the users they connect with the experts. As an advisor, would your position be that Alphasights should accept disintermediation and focus on lead generation, or should it fight disintermediation? How might you approach the idea from a costs/benefits perspective?

On March 24, 2020, Choplife commented on ifood: Innovation and Differentiation for Sustainability :

Thanks for writing on such a unique company. I’m a bit confused on whether iFood sees itself longterm as a food delivery business or a marketplace for restaurants to buy the goods they need? If it’s the former, I can see them suffering from multi-homing and competition from uber eats. If it’s the latter, I’d like to know what makes them so sure they have a stronger value proposition than the current channels that restaurants use to buy goods. These strategies don’t feel like they pass the “better together” test that we covered in STRAT. How do they complete or complement each other?

I also see this as a capability question. The DNP may have had the money, but they should have recognized that they did not have the capability to hire a fire with the capability to build this platform in such a short time. They should have hired a firm to hire a firm for them. First of all, such a firm does not exist- and secondly, if the firm existed, why did they not have evidence of having built something similarly impressive in the past.

CEO’s or organization leaders have to time digital transformation so that the cost of failure is minimized. In this case, DNP went for a time of maximized cost of failure. Couldn’t this have waited for a few more years until the stakes were not as high?

The last point that I would like to agree with is the lack of a clear protocol on how to pull the plug. When things are going south, many people know it- but it’s never clear who will bell the cat. Without pre-defined ways to respond to failures of different scales, everyone is left to improvise- and people resort to the instinct to fingerpoint, as opposed to building solutions.

On February 11, 2020, Choplife commented on Coursera – Revolutionizing Education For Anyone, Anywhere :

Great post. I agree that there is room for multiple players to operate, however, this MOOC model (like many others) does not address the question of trust/credibility of qualifications- and when it does, the economics of scale lead the business to select options that benefit the business at the expense of the students. ‘Peer grading’ is an innovation that you’ve mentioned above- however before peer grading is effective, peer quality/qualification has to be considered. It’s cheaper for a platform like this to have students check each others’ work- however, how does a platform like this ensure that we don’t end up in a situation where the blind are leading the blind? There’s little or no control over which peers can access the platform.

In terms of the ‘weight’ of a digitally acquired learning qualification, it’s hard to imagine employers who think that the rigor of a Stanford online course will be equivalent to a degree from the institutions- thus universities are hesitant to put their logos on these course certificates and users struggle to share them with the market given the limitations in recognition. How do platforms like Coursera think about resolving this challenge to demonstrate meaningful learning?

Thanks so much for your article. While I agree that Swiss watches are likely to be substituted out by technological watches with higher utility, I don’t the solution is for Swiss Watchmakers to create their own smart-watches. To win in the smart-device industry, you need to build the engineering capability to conduct multiple design iterations fast enough to compete with an Apple or Google. Time is not on the Swiss’ side(pun intended)… but in all seriousness, the watchmakers could explore outsourcing the IT of the watch to smart device company, and take a position where they add their brands onto the finished product. The nature of what a Swiss watch is will change, but it does not mean the industry has to die.