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On April 26, 2017, dk_22 commented on NextVR – Bringing Virtual Reality Events Into The Home! :

Great feature. Personally, this is the VR use-case I’m most excited about. The case for VR improving the consumer experience is pretty for sports. It would be amazing to get the “best seats in the house” for every game, straight from your home. I agree with you that they need to carve out their niche, probably in the area where they have the strongest partnership relationships and a high likelihood of renewing content deals once they expire.

My main open question is how long users would be comfortable having the head sets on at a time. VR movies tend to be short, and I’ve head that explained with “users get dizzy if they stay in too long.” Full sports games would require significant viewer stamina if that is the case.

On April 26, 2017, dk_22 commented on Penrose Studios: The Pixar of VR? :

Interesting to read about a content creator for VR – I agree that this seems to be missing among all the talk of hardware. I wonder what format will prove most effective. Animated movies make sense because they are jovial and the idea of being immersed in them will not scare off users. I imagine the films will be much shorter than what we’re used to from Pixar. Especially in the nascent stages of adoption, I cannot imagine users sitting in headsets for feature length films. So where does that leave pricing? What will consumers be willing to pay if full films can be rented for $4?

On April 26, 2017, dk_22 commented on Niantic Labs and Pokemon Go: Bringing AR to the Masses :

Glad you wrote about this Ellen. One line resonated particularly: “users complained that while the AR component originally piqued their interest, the game itself is shallow.” I fall totally in this camp. Having become curious about the “light AR” implementation, I tried out the game only to find that it’s not challenging enough. At some point you realize it is just a grind consisting of (a) walking around and (b) swiping up a lot to catch these creatures. I really hope Niantic recognizes what made this game special (the overlay on real maps and real camera footage), and uses this as the foundation for more games going forward. If they can recycle these components effectively, the decline in Pokemon Go users does not have to be the downfall of the company itself.

On April 5, 2017, dk_22 commented on The Theranos Debacle :

This company’s rise and fall really has been remarkable. I remember when Theranos first started raising funds and gaining prominent advisors for its “groundbreaking” blood tests. It seemed like such a promising concept. To learn how blatantly and systematically they deceived investors and customers is pretty shocking for such a reputable team. I guess it’s a lesson that just because technology can drive step-changes all the time, we must not be fooled into believing grand results before they are proven. Or maybe that the fraud triangle from FRC applies to start-ups as well…

On April 5, 2017, dk_22 commented on Next Big Sound – moneyball for music? :

I’m really intrigued by this application to music. In such a hits-driven industry, having the ability to predict what artists and tracks are about to blow up could be worth gold. I’d be curious to know how their predictive power compares for artists signed to major labels vs. the unsigned. Traditionally, the majors have spent so much on marketing their artists that they already had a pretty good sense of where sales will come from. In today’s fragmented online world, however, there’s many hits emerging from the broader creative community. If they are able to predict what will be hot there too, then they could be very well positioned to start their own label and represent unsigned stars-to-be.

Palantir’s use cases are certainly impressive, but it’s taken me some time to better understand what the company does. A visit to their website is not very helpful – just a “meta” plug for helping companies transform the way they use data. Interestingly, they do not really appear to be a big data company the way the press often labels them. Their core focus seems upstream from advanced analytics, closer to the plumbing. They help companies connect all their disparate data bases and make them readily accessible for employee’s queries. A key insight of theirs may be that most companies need to clean up their data before they can really dive into it.

In hindsight it seems almost obvious that the broader internet community would test Tay to its limits in not-always-appropriate fashion. Still, it seems like there must be valuable input for improvement from exactly this kind of trolling. I wonder if there was a way for Tay to gather lessons from would-be saboteurs without the PR fallout. Perhaps an interface with ephemeral dialogue that is not posted publicly?

On March 19, 2017, dk_22 commented on MShop: what if we crowdsourced mystery shopping? :

I really like this idea! It clearly creates value through cost savings and I agree that actual customers may make better mystery shoppers than hired guns. There are some challenges to address (e.g. how to prevent gaming of the system, how to obtain aggregated results representative of the full customer base), but I think you’re on to something. Take it to the i-Lab!

On March 19, 2017, dk_22 commented on Vetr: Crowdsourcing Stock Ratings :

This is an interesting new take on an old challenge. I agree with the shortcomings you lay out regarding traditional analysts’ accuracy and reliability, and crowdsourced evaluation of equities seems like an intriguing additional reference point for individual investors. Still, I am skeptical that this model would produce any “differential predictive power.” Stock prices are themselves set by the “crowd” of investors, so why would a subset of less-informed individuals be any more accurate than the overall average? Also, what incentive does an individual investor have to reveal their true view of intrinsic value? Seems to me like conflicts of interest persists even here…

On February 26, 2017, dk_22 commented on WeWork: “A Platform for Creators” :

Interesting read! I just wrote a post about LiquidSpace and WeWork myself, arguing that the former is more a platform than the latter. In reading this, I agree with the network effects that you mention for people working in the WeWork community. You also make a fair point about connecting business service providers with renters. At a higher level, however, when it comes to its role as a matchmaker between office owners and renters, I still do not really see it as a multisided platform. Given that WeWork signs leases itself, as you mentioned, it completely controls the supply side and is more like a traditional company that buys inputs in bulk, invests in them, then sells them in smaller batches. My concern is that this asset-heavy approach will make it suffer when there is a market downturn and tenants can’t afford its prices, while it is locked into long-term leases.

On February 26, 2017, dk_22 commented on SoundCloud Tunes Up the Music Ecosystem :

Hi Chun, it was very interesting to read your take on this – I’m a loyal Soundcloud user myself and am watching with interest how their monetization plans unfold. I agree with you that the cost of multi-homing across streaming sites is very high for consumers these days. I’m not willing to pay a subscription for more than one service and I am not willing to give up the service that has all my playlists. However, it feels like this is not the right way to retain users in the long run. I have already been looking for ways to download my playlists (at least the track names) so I have them saved somewhere for future reference. The most powerful differentiating aspect of SC vs. other music platforms, still seems the ability to share and discover novel content, and they need to make sure that this is not lost in an attempt to introduce a subscription model.

Another thought-provoking topic and post. Two points about WikiLeaks as a platform jump out in particular: 1) its ability to protect the anonymity of its “content suppliers” and 2) its perceived lack if independence and the effect this has on its reputation. I can see how anonymity and independence are crucial for success in this context and now I’m wondering how generalizable that is across platforms. Protection may be especially important for whistleblowers (and objectivity for news sites), but it feels like these are important to others too and may belong on a longer list of responsibilities that platforms should take on.

On February 2, 2017, dk_22 commented on The New York Times – A Casualty of the Digital Revolution? :

Even when we’ve all heard about the struggles of traditional newspapers in the digital age, it’s hard to image an institution like the NYT ever going away. The heat is definitely on them to figure out the right business models, but it seems they have some core assets that should always provide a base for the future. Primarily I’m thinking of the reputation and ability to produce “high-quality, relevant, and trust-worthy news,” as you say. There will always be demand for that in some form, even if it isn’t a traditional buy or subscribe model. I’d argue the jury is still out on whether they’ve lost the war or just a brutal battle. If they can let go of past expectations and think creatively about monetization, they may find their content is still very valuable.

On February 2, 2017, dk_22 commented on Instacart – Leading the way for grocery deliveries :

While I see the theoretical value proposition to customers, stores and temporary workers, I am not convinced that Instacart will mature into a highly profitable business on its current trajectory. On-demand urban services have greatly risen in popularity among VCs and end-users over the past few years, but it is hard to see attractive margins. Even with the delivery fee, select mark-ups, and store referrals, it is difficult to pull in enough money to pay for drivers to go on shoppings runs. If they were to somehow outsource the logistics side of the business to someone with scale and simply act as an online interface, the unit economics may look more attractive. I’m just skeptical of all these companies using their own delivery fleets.

On February 2, 2017, dk_22 commented on Apple Watch – a new innovation stream or the lack of it? :

Interesting topic because the debate about Apple Watch has fallen into the background recently, but the question remains – was this product a success? Personally, I think the watch did better than expected as it continues to be sold and has been better received than, say, Google Glass was. Still, it feels like it felt far short of any “disruptive” ambitions. At the price points mentioned, this appears to be a luxury gadget that offers an arguably limited twist on your phone’s existing features. I agree with your point on the value of seamless integration into the Apple ecosystem, but the impact may have been far bigger if they also opened it up to Android and other operating systems. Consider the iPod, where even Steve Jobs recognized the value of opening iTunes up to other systems.