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On November 23, 2015, Faisal commented on Noah Basketball — The Data Perfected Jump Shot :

Great post! It seems that currently Noah is strictly used in practice sessions to improve one’s arc when shooting. I think it would be really interesting to see if, in the future, this technology could actually be used in-game in some capacity so players can be given data-driven feedback real time on their in-game shooting. If this technology could be used to improve in-game performance through in-game use, I think their value proposition increases significantly.

On November 23, 2015, Faisal commented on Bonnaroo, iBeacons, and a better concert experience :

Great post! Another cool way this technology could be useful and create value is with regards to the artists. These beacons could be placed at specific stages and could give great data on how many people came to see a particular artist at a particular stage. If these iBeacons also knew some data about you as a user, maybe through a complementary app, then they too can know what type of demographic the particular artist is popular with. This data can help Bonnaroo not only create optimized lineups in the future (thus attracting larger crowds), but can also be sold to the artists in some capacity so that they have a better sense of their own demographic.

Really interesting post! I have always found the education system to be flawed in many respects and it seems Altschool is taking a progressive approach to really addressing many of these issues. I would be interested to know how the “Personalized Learning Plan” balances between the strengths and weaknesses of a child. Obviously you want to promote an individual child’s strengths (which would require time and focus), but at the same time you do want to divert attention to their weaknesses as well to make them better well-rounded students. I wonder how Altschool thinks about balancing these two things.

On November 1, 2015, Faisal commented on Genius: Annotating the World, One Rap at a Time :

Big user of Genius! I am an avid hip-hop fan and have used Genius countless times.

With regards to music, I think that Genius should try and push fan to artist engagement further on the platform. I think it would create a ton of value for fans if the platform created a Reddit-esque “AMA” forum where fans could ask their favorite artists questions about the lyrics behind their songs. I think that this can be pitched to artists as a unique way to really connect with their loyal fans and can be used to promote and push their albums/singles.

I am a little wary that Genius gets pigeon-holed in music and struggles to expand into other forms of annotation given the eccentricity of the site’s founders (one of whom left the company given his tasteless remarks on the memoir of the mass murderer Elliot Rodger) and the several scandals the company has been involved in including being temporarily demoted in Google’s search results for using link spam to improve its rank. Nevertheless, if the company can get its act together, which it appears it has in the past year, I believe the sky is the limit for this company as annotating the web has immense growth potential.

Great post!

I think that the Do Us a Flavor campaign was a really unique and innovative way to both gain customer feedback and build loyalty behind a particular product. Just as “DIGIT Girl” above mentioned though, I would be curious to see how these crowdsourced products perform in terms of sales relative to existing products. Is there truly a benefit to crowdsourcing product innovation in the CPG space?

Sometimes I feel getting customer feedback may not always be the best thing. An example I would hark back to is with the New Coke, which was preferred in taste tests by over 200,000 customers over both old Coke and Pepsi. Sometimes customers may not be the best judges of what they actually want. What customers say they want and what they actually will buy can be two separate things. Though not a perfectly applicable quote as it has to do with technological innovation, I find Henry Ford’s famous quote to be quite interesting: “If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse”.

Meant to say “there are only a handful of movies”… Apologies

Couldn’t agree with you more on Rush Hour 2 and would love to see a fourth installment of the franchise!

Building off of Jeff’s point earlier, given the success of the Veronica Mars kickstarter campaign, I do not see why their would need to be an independent crowdfunding platform for movies. I can envision a world where movie studios attempt to raise a certain percentage of their movie budgets from existing crowdfunding sites (especially for productions that have huge cult followings like the Rush Hour franchise) in order to greenlight a project. Furthermore, there are a handful of movies that fit the mold of a Rush Hour franchise that have a significant fan base and can warrant serious crowdfunding attention. I do not believe an entire dedicated platform would be necessary or sustainable.

On October 5, 2015, Faisal commented on Is it looking terminal for the Bloomberg Terminal? :

Great post! I have personally never thought about the Bloomberg Terminal in this light. It truly is amazing that they have the capacity to charge $20,000 annually for a service with an outdated technology and, personally, unintuitive interface. I think another reason why they have high switching costs is just the fast moving nature of financial markets. These terminals are crucial for the daily operations of many professionals, that having to learn how to use a completely new system is just not worth it. It will be interesting to see how competitors will continue to try and disrupt the space despite the fact that they cannot solely use the price lever, which has been done so many times before.

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

Great post! The network effects present in SoulCycle’s model made me think of two things:

1) Like most workout crazes, SoulCycle is probably nothing more than a fad that is popular right now. The tribal element to SoulCyle (reminiscent of CrossFit) helped the company experience massive customer growth, in turn providing it with strong direct network effects. However, when the fad starts to wane, which it inevitably will, that positive direct network effect can quickly turn negative: as less people participate, classes become less full making even less people participate. It will be interesting to see how SoulCyle attempts to maintain its strong cult following.

2) The indirect network effects in play of connecting customers with skilled trainers may hurt SoulCycle in the long run as trainers (who have developed strong followings of their own through SoulCyce) can start their own cycling studios as there are very low barriers to entry (such as Handlebar). I am curious to see how SoulCycle reacts to the growing power of trainers within their model.

On October 5, 2015, Faisal commented on IMG’s three pronged network effect strategy :

I think talent agencies are a really interesting take on the power of indirect network effects. However, I wonder how the dynamic of this network effect works when you have superstar athletes, musicians, and actors. Though LRMR failed to attract other athletes as you mentioned, it was and continues to be a success in managing LeBron’s career. I feel that many superstars that transcend their specific fields into pop culture with clean public images do not need the services of a talent agency. They are big enough household names to attract major endorsements on their own and can follow similar family office models of LRMR, reducing the inherent value proposition of talent agencies. Though I agree that strong indirect network effects are present with typical entertainers, I feel like the power of these indirect network effects gets diminished as the athlete, musician, or actor achieves superstar status.

On September 13, 2015, Faisal commented on Viber: Who needs a cell phone plan anyway? :

Really enjoyed reading this post (personally a huge fan of viber). I am really curious to see how the telecomm industry in the long run is affected by services like Viber, Whatsapp, Skype, iMessage, FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, etc. that offer free texting and calling over the internet. With the continued penetration of smart phones globally, I completely agree that consumers will continue to prefer using these apps over paying for expensive calling and texting plans from telecom providers, especially in emerging markets. As a result, I believe that telecom providers like Verizon will have to focus nearly exclusively on data offerings which may lead to a subsequent arms race within the space as providers try to attract customers with the fastest speeds (5G, 6G, etc.) and cheapest data. I think that these free services can completely upend an entire sector of the economy that is normally viewed as safe and defensive.

On September 13, 2015, Faisal commented on Kodak: The fall of a giant :

I find it very interesting that Kodak had actually developed the technology that wound up being its downfall. I had never known that, the irony! I wonder what lessons other big storied companies should take from this. From my perspective, older firms that have been managing the same business model for so long like Kodak and have experienced success for an extended period of time both fear change and believe they understand what their customer wants more than their actual customers do. I think that Kodak’s story perfectly exemplifies the importance of not being afraid of innovation, and not being afraid of cannibalizing your own sales.

On September 13, 2015, Faisal commented on Does Best Buy live up to it’s name? :

“Showrooming” has been a major concern for most retailers whose products are offered cheaply and quickly online. Nevertheless, I still believe there is opportunity for brick and mortar stores like Best Buy to leverage the one asset they have over online retailers: physical products customers can try. No reviews or pictures can replace the experience of using the product yourself (which is why so many people still go to the stores before purchasing). This implies that significant foot traffic will continue to make it into the store, especially for more expensive electronic products. The key is converting that foot traffic into sales and limiting the amount of people that will then turn to buy it online. Best Buy continues to create value for customers, now they just have to capture it.