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On November 23, 2015, ctm commented on Starbucks: Coffeehouse or Tech Company? :

Really interesting to follow what is happening in this space in general, and how near-realtime GIS and satellite imagery data can be minded for insights and decision making in a way that was unthinking even 5-10 years ago. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2015-07-08/satellite-images-show-economies-growing-and-shrinking-in-real-time

On November 23, 2015, ctm commented on Next Big Sound – BandPage on Steroids?! :

I used to work on music partnerships at YouTube and not only would we provided them with artist data, but we would also utilize their services to spot home-grown YouTube talent on the upswing which we could then put some support behind. Definitely plays into your last question in the post about predicting vs. creating hits.

Really smart of Caesars to move so early and so hard into this area, especially considering the clientele that Vegas attracts and how much some are willing to spend there. The crucial part was ensuring customers saw enough value in turning over this data, which apparently they do with an 80% uptake rate.

Disney Parks has taken this concept to the next level with the introduction of their MagicBands. Will be interesting to see if any other resorts and destinations follow suit… http://www.wired.com/2015/03/disney-magicband/

On November 1, 2015, ctm commented on reCAPCHA: Crowdsourcing Intelligence :

I believe Google’s acquisition of reCAPTHA was truly one of their smartest, as it provided a substantial preexisting user base that they could harness to improve their already best-in-class map and book products. With the newest update to the product (“I am not a robot”), while this clearly benefits users I’m interested to see how Google will use this user data to further enhance their existing suite of products.

As someone who worked on the first round of the funded YouTube original channels, I’m most interested to see how in the long term ferocious competition will impact YouTube’s dominance in online video. As mentioned in the post, sites like Facebook and even new entrants like Vessel are eager to attract web-first talent and the potentially large ad spend that comes with them. Yet if these sites offer no product innovation and YouTube is still “good enough”, it will likely be difficult for them to make a dent in YouTube’s growth trajectory.

On November 1, 2015, ctm commented on Hype Machine: The Crowd-Sourced Music Blog :

It’s interesting to contrast this with Spotify’s trending playlists… in theory Spotify had a similar mission to democratize the discovery of music, yet there is much talk in the industry of play-for-pay schemes much like the old-school radio market. I think if Hypem were to truly break through to a more mainstream market it could have the potential to truly reinvigorate music discovery, but I’m not convinced that they’ll ever be able to make that break.

I’m interested to see if Amazon’s purchase of Twitch will allow them to build out their technology stack in a way that brings them up to par with YouTube’s offering. Yes, I agree that it’s the avid community of gamers that makes the site great (and sticky), but if YouTube is able to leverage their superior tech offering to start converting many of those people over, it might mark a slow slide for Twitch if they’re not able to match what YouTube can do from a technological perspective.

On October 5, 2015, ctm commented on Tribe Vibes: The Cult of SoulCycle :

I’ve been an avid indoor cycler for years (3x / week since 2008… obviously there was no soul back then), and what makes me confident in the company’s long-term staying power is the overall quality of class that the are able to offer. It basically ruins every other spin class for you. I find that I am pushed harder and feed off the atmosphere more so than in any other class I’ve taken. As stated, the emphasis on music and community make me look forward to my next class. And in addition to the network effects that you mentioned, their high class prices allow them to pay their instructors incredibly generously, which attracts and retains the highest quality talent, which attracts more dedicated riders, and so on.

On October 5, 2015, ctm commented on YouTube 1, everyone else 0 :

YouTube is a bit unique when in comes to platforms, as it is not merely a double-sided but rather a multi-sided platform: users, creators and advertisers. In most new online (double-sided) platforms, there is typically a chicken and egg problem… a struggle to build up one side while the other might still be nonexistent. The network effects in YouTube’s case are even more difficult to realize, as you’re building up not two but three sides at once. And I think this is a big reason why YouTube’s ad revenue still under-indexes compared to its user base and cultural influence. It will be incredibly interesting to see how the platform grows and changes when the ad-free product ultimately rolls out.

While generally I think Starbucks has expertly embraced digital technologies to enhance their in-store customer experience, I have always been a bit baffled that they don’t allow for direct credit card payments within their app. You first have to “load” your Starbucks card with a set amount of currency, and then use the card within the app to pay. I understand that there are strategic reasons they would want to do this, but it adds an unnecessary complicating step ultimately to the detriment of the customer. This is especially true today, as Apple Pay and Android Pay begin to see widespread adoption.

On September 14, 2015, ctm commented on Google and Its Chromecast :

I think Google has absolutely killed it with their implementation here, and their standard has the potential to be the sleeping dragon of web-connected TV’s. Using the phone as a “remote” is the true innovation, whereby (with no pairing required) any device regardless of platform can easily send content to a TV device. And rather than having the content streamed from the cloud to the phone and to the phone to the television, the Chromecast communicates directly with the cloud and thereby saves phone battery life, frees up the device to complete other tasks (unlike AirPlay) and allows for multiple users to queue up selections (think being at a party and multiple people adding songs to an on-demand playlist). As additional apps build in Cast support, Chromecast could soon deliver on the long-standing promise of a true best-in-class TV-Everywhere device.

On September 14, 2015, ctm commented on Burberry: Using Digital to Revitalize a Brand :

Agreed that Burberry was definitely at the forefront of this movement, and it’s interesting to see other luxury brands now playing catchup… case in point LVMH hiring Ian Rogers (big name in the music industry) as CDO http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/02/business/media/former-apple-music-executive-ian-rogers-moves-to-lvmh.html

Also intrigued to see how they continue to refine the tech incorporated into their physical locations. While I agree with the above commenter that online presence is increasingly important, I don’t necessarily think this has to be at the detriment of physical stores. A flagship store still has an air of exclusivity and “treat-yo-self”-ness to it, so much so that the location itself becomes part of the experience. And the line between physical and digital sales further blurs as stores beef up their tech with beacons and interactive displays, among other enhancements.