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On November 22, 2015, DIGITite commented on 23andMe – DNA analytics and the future of personalized medicine :

I have always been intrigued by 23andMe as I want access to information about my own body and genetics. I believe there is immense power in said informative and how it can transform my own choices about healthcare – both preventative and reactionary. Utilizing data about me, I can better understand if I am predisposed to certain things that my extended family did not know about or perhaps did not speak about. I can also draw family linkages that have long been forgone as more and more people sign up and submit their own salvia to 23andMe, which adds to the direct and indirect network effects of healthcare data. My only concern of this is how the healthcare industry may adversely utilize my information to preclude me from future insurance policies.

This appears to be the classic A/B testing that every e-commerce retailer does when they decide if a red or blue button drives more sales or if a “checkout now” or “continue shopping” button now is more likely to drive a person to add more items to their final cart. I worry that overall you are not holding the consumer static because you are showing two different consumers two different pictures (one with her hand on her hip and one behind her head) so you cannot necessarily isolate that it has to do with the picture or rather other factors such as age, income, color of underwear, location within the country, or other various factors.

Overall, I think that constant A/B testing in e-commerce is crucial and am happy to see that there is an upcoming competitor to Victoria Secret. However, as I am aware that lingerie fit is so egregious in the States, and know that VS is a primary culprit of it, I am very leery of how said e-commerce retailer will combat this issue. But that is another issue outside the realm of harnessing data for e-commerce sales.

On November 22, 2015, DIGITite commented on Nike: A Full Stack Athletic Performance Company :

Great post on a company that saw a potential shift in the market and capitalized on how to take itself from more than just an apparel and lifestyle company to an integrated training and technology company. The Nike+ was a huge leap and was the first of the wearables (if you can call it that). Nike partnered itself with the rise of Apple’s iPod, iPhone and overall trend in fitness apps which further augmented sales of its core products – footwear and fitness apparel. By leveraging personal data through Nike+, Nike was able to cement itself into the lives of consumers even further. It can attract new users looking to improve their overall fitness as well as influence existing Nike consumers to purchase new products by featuring ads.

On October 30, 2015, DIGITite commented on Thumbtack: Silicon Valley’s latest “unicorn” :

Great post and outline on a company that I have been wanting to learn more on for some time now. Thumbtack has been a buzzed about company for some time now and while its offerings are in all 50 states, it core appears to still be in the SF bay area. The company is often compared to TaskRabbit. TaskRabbit recently transformed itself from an ebay-type model to more of an uber-type model where it is less of an matching platform for people seeking tasks to be completed and professionals in a variety of categories and now focuses on just 4 main categories and eases the process of scheduling. They also opted for one of Thumbtack’s earlier value capture business models – a transaction fee %. However, they have been unable to scale to the same degree. This is proof that by changing the incentive model for the multi-sided platform and only capturing the truly necessary side in the value capture, you can then scale much faster and continue to use crowd-sourcing to grow.

On October 30, 2015, DIGITite commented on Glassdoor is leveraging crowds to better inform job-seekers :

Great post and one that is an excellent usage of crowd-sourcing during a relevant time for many of students going through the recruiting phase. The crowd-sourcing model uses a multi-sided platform that continues to grow as more and more prospective recruits apply and interview, more and more current employees post salary information and reviews, and employers create and post company pages. The primarily differentiator from a LinkedIn is that the data appears to be more open sourced and anonymous to get real data on compensation and working conditions vs. LinkedIn which services as a rolodex and networking resource.

Through this, Glassdoor can then create lists such as the “Best Companies to Work For” as well as become the trusted source to search for salary benchmarks or to prepare for an interview as one can read prior questions for a specific role. The relevancy of a role, recency and frequency are all key factors which are enhanced by more and more reviews. Crowd-sourcing is a crucial element here, but one that has been slightly marginalized due to the tendency for people to post things only on the extreme levels. As the company continues to grow and scale with more and more reviews, this should become less and less of a concern.

On October 30, 2015, DIGITite commented on Bark & Co.: Using the Celebrity Dog Crowd :

Such a fun post…especially as I write this with an adorable black lab mix sitting on my lap. The strategic partnership model through celebrity dog owners is a classic PR / advertising strategy that was used in the golden TV era, but applied in the new social media wave. Instragram utilizes both direct and indirect network effects to further propagate the BarkBox products and has created a platform of products for all things dog-related. The primary concern though is too much diversification and product offerings without sticking to any core competencies. The company cannot be all things to all consumers and should focus on its competitve advantage, e-commerce and subscription servicing in a premium, niche focus. Rather that crowd-sourcing to elevate this position, i would argue that network effects should continue to take the primary focus.

On October 5, 2015, DIGITite commented on RelayRides – The New Era of Car Sharing Economy :

You may have just encouraged me to look into renting a car this weekend through RelayRides! The peer to peer transactions for longer duration (same as a rental car vs. the shorter model where Zipcar dominates) is something that is ripe for transformation just as AirBnb did in lodging. There is likely an excess of cars not utilized for a week due to business trips or vacations. This additional income for car owners can offset the high parking rates in cities like Boston, NYC and SF. In addition, the asset-light model that RelayRides can partaken in allows it to scale very economically.

Networks effects are essential in this multi-sided platform as more renters encourage more car owners to rent out their cars while they are not being utilized. My only concern though is that when an owner needs a car and a renter is late or perhaps if there is serious damage to a car while driving, the downside effects can be detrimental to the car owners daily life. Perhaps I am adverse to change, but I worry that car owners will not want to rent out their cars not due to personal invasion, but rather personal inconvenience. AirBnb got over this hurdle as home owners could plan around so long as they had an alternate housing option so perhaps RelayRides can similarly get over it.

On October 5, 2015, DIGITite commented on Lending Club – Pioneering P2P Lending :

I think fintech and other ways to connect SMBs with lenders will be a huge way of the future as it serves to fix the unmet need between microfinance and business loans. As a former banker, I can attest that the processing and strict requirements of adherence (both by the government and for internal purposes) lead to heavy overhead costs. Additionally, in order to make money back off of a bad loan, you need lots of scale. Therefore, it is important to be “right” ~97% of the time when making a loan. In the SMB market, you typically have SBA loans, personal credit cards, small term loans tied to fixed assets or perhaps a very small revolver BUT you must be willing to sign personal guarantees and follow strict covenants. Firms like Lending Club, Upstart and Nerd Wallet are the intermediary to allow everyday citizens and investors an alternative investment vehicle while helping regular SMBs. Banks are not likely competition as it is economically unprofitable to do so when they can make much more off of mortgages, large corporate loans, real estate loans, investment offerings as well as large scale retail banking.

The item that will differentiate the winners from the losers in this space, and particularly for Lending Club, is how they utilize the data to attract even more users and offer the right products to the right people. While there are inherent indirect network effects, the tipping point of the market is likely a far ways off (if it occurs at all). The repeat use of borrowed funds and refinancing does not occur as often as one takes an uber or perhaps an AirBnb. Rather it occurs every 2-3 years at best. Can’t wait to see how all of these companies shake out, but I hope they continue to do well as the market desperately needs them.

On October 5, 2015, DIGITite commented on Old School Network Effects :

I find the elite school programs interesting in that they have this highly selective program for undergrad and full-time business school, but do wonder how the Executive Education programs factor into the brand and perception. The acceptance rate for HBS Exec Ed is ~80% vs the full-time program of ~12%. If the network effects are about selectivity and putting out only the best and brightest but the same HBS alum designation is on all long term degrees, I wonder to what extent that factors into the the appeal. Sure, it broadens the alumni network and creates an even greater contact database to reach out to and sure, it allows HBS to monetize more of its unique core curriculum, but at what cost? And what is the tipping point between monetization for a P&L while still maintaining a brand and international appeal?

Interesting read as I know Barcelona has similarly called war against AirBnB.http://www.businessinsider.com/barcelona-just-declared-war-on-airbnb-2015-8

I see this as one of the critical concerns for the company as their continue to expand into new markets and develop its host pool in many places that depend on tourism. Government’s interaction to date is seen as trying to either preserve the culture of a city and/or the existing tourist commercial business. However, I would love to see AirBnB transform counties such as Myanmar where the government and tourist industry are in such close contact that they squeeze out business opportunities for everyday citizens. There is so much potential for this company, yet at this stage of growth it is sad to see capitalism mix with socialism.


This is insanely cool and something that can dramatically transform the entire retail industry. The data gathered on individuals and the payment integration is a true sign of digital innovation. I am genuinely surprised and impressed by this brand as I still remember the days I would go to their Los Angeles sample sales with Uri manning the cashier. I hope that the large capex invested in the prime retail storefront and technology pays off. Perhaps the initial buzz and PR is just want is needed for this to go mainstream in the large high-end department stores of today.

To me, this seams like a merger of technology with everyday products that is destined to fail. While everybody would want to know where their own carry-on is located, it just does not make sense to me. Google should likely already know about your upcoming travel plans with Google Cards synced to let you know about upcoming flights, the weather of your next destination and ads focused around your travel. Therefore, I do not see this as a potential revenue source and cannot see how product functionality and features will encourage travelers to purchase BlueSmart over other traditional providers. With the increase of beacons or even just wearables such as the Apple Watch, BlueSmart technology is likely to become obsolete. The Company appears to play in a niche field with no true pain points or customer adoption. I see this as being a sign that the bubble with soon burst.

On September 13, 2015, DIGITite commented on Connectivity and Coffee :

Great piece on a company that is leading consumer digital innovation and integration with customer experiences. It would be interesting to explore how Starbucks thinks about marketing through their app offerings and the revenue it drives as the company appears to only offer rewards that are technically earned for a limited amount of time. In addition, the company could improve its integration with the loyalty program and POS system since you often need to tell the barista of a reward even if you are paying with your own Starbucks app. While I believe Starbucks has won with digital innovation and integration, I still believe they need additional work in digital marketing and engagement with the consumer in areas such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.