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In many ways, the current credit scoring system is broken, overly relying on previously requiring credit and paying it off rather than looking at the borrower as a financial entity that could be credit worthy while not previously requiring credit. Take, for example, internationals moving to the US in adulthood (i.e. graduate students, work immigrants, etc.) that may have had full fledged financial history in their home countries, may hold considerable assets, but are considered not credit worthy in the US.

Furthermore, the notion that your credit score is mostly based on you requiring credit in the past is weird, what if you were making enough to not need to borrow?

Alternative ways of looking at this issue, especially driven on new data sets and different perspectives are bound to make a huge difference in this space.

On April 5, 2017, GilG commented on FiveThirtyEight and the Big Data Fail: Election 2016 :

Thanks for sharing! The failure of data and statistics in the recent presidential election is an extremely interesting topic.

While third party data made Silver miss the target, I’m not sure turning into a pollster is the solution. I believe that, inherently, the failure of data predictions in the recent election and the reason the data was so off was the public being unwilling to admit to others, and possibly to themselves as well, of the biases that drive their decision making process. Polling is eventually based on a very subjective decision by the polled: should they be frank?

A deeper question is possibly how can one reframe questionnaires to uncover underlying biases and real election decisions rather than a stated one, and by which creating a more reliable data set. Not sure if the data wiz is the person to peal away psychological barriers.

On March 1, 2017, GilG commented on Making Higher Education Accessible – Coursera :

That’s interesting. They previously tried and failed to become a placement platform, so it is interesting to show value the other way around to close sales.

Thanks for sharing!

On March 1, 2017, GilG commented on Making Higher Education Accessible – Coursera :

Don’t have concrete data, but I can say that their completion numbers have been going considerably up (2x from 2014 to 2015) and the see growth in paying members (10k new ones a month at the beginning of 2016)

Not sure about the stickiness, though…

On March 1, 2017, GilG commented on Making Higher Education Accessible – Coursera :

While I see the potential of universities going direct, I believe some universities are actually getting the benefits of network effects when using a platform like coursera. Building an independent monetized platform will require a great deal of marketing and a way to differentiate themselves from other schools providing such content, and considering the fact that it’s not a selective process on the universities side, why would a student go to a site by any university but the top one in that field? Now that coursera consolidates multiple universities, a potential learner can browse and find the course that fits him best out of a wide selection by multiple universities, and will create greater visibility to universities that said learner may not have had as top of mind when looking.

You can, however, argue that the top universities in terms of pull to the platform (Stanford in this case) are actually giving value away to universities that are not creating traffic to the platform. Not sure what I would say to that…

On March 1, 2017, GilG commented on Making Higher Education Accessible – Coursera :


I agree completely that providing such information can greatly improve people’s interest and motivation to follow through with their coursera classes. While researching for the post I did run into the following:

Where Coursera shows survey responses by participants who completed courses, seems like there’s obvious benefit but they have not quantified it well enough yet.

On March 1, 2017, GilG commented on Box: Enterprise cloud content platform :

Hi Erik,

Thanks for sharing!
I find Box extremely interesting in how it was quick to differentiate itself from Dropbox in its appeal to Enterprise customers, allowing greater security and flexibility in its service offering.

Interesting to see that they realized they wont be the ones to develop all functionalities and opened it up.

On February 26, 2017, GilG commented on Amazon Flex :

Meili, this is a great post! Thank you so much for sharing!

To give another take on Felix’s question, Amazon Flex is currently mostly used on Amazon’s quick delivery services (i.e. Prime Now, Prime Restaurant, etc.) that are only available in large city centers. This allows them to make the most out of the population density and guarantee both short term delivery (2 hours or less) as well as sufficient deliveries within the two hour driver window to make the compensation sustainable for the company.

On February 3, 2017, GilG commented on Fire Phone- Amazon’s $170 million Summer Fiasco :

While the Fire Phone is undoubtedly a failure of colossal proportions, I think it’s main reason was Amazon stepping away from it’s core strategy and strength areas. While Amazon is doing its best to become a daily presence in people’s lives, stepping into this space without relying on the network effects created by the incumbents (specifically Google with it’s Android OS) was ill-conceived at best.

That said, one thing I like about the Fire Phone story is Jeff Bezos’ response when asked about it this past summer, proudly stating, “If you think that’s a big failure, we’re working on much bigger failures right now – and I’m not kidding” ( By boldly stating this, Bezos culminated Amazon’s strategy, “Work Hard, Have Fun, Make History”. Amazon is trying to take big bets that will change the way we perceive, experience, and consume. This one was a bust, but did not deter it from experimenting further.


Ian – This is extremely interesting and eye opening.

For me, this raises a few questions about the demographics that ended up voting for Trump, and to seek their correlation to the social groups representation on social networks and were targeted by this campaign. As generally speaking Trump’s voters were older, and the younger population showed up at lower numbers, would you assume that the most gains of the digital efforts were in demotivating the Clinton’s voter base rather than increase Trump’s?

Overwhelmingly, it seemed as though Trump did not actually get more votes than Romney did in 2012, rather Clinton got less than Obama.

Thanks for the post!


On February 3, 2017, GilG commented on Amazon – a winning strategy continues with Alexa :

Hi Megan,

Thanks for the great post!
Disclaimer first, I’m probably biased as I am a fairly heavy Alexa user myself.

That out of the way, Amazon has historically prided itself on focusing its strategic efforts on three pillars: (1) Marketplace, where the retail happens; (2) Prime, probably the largest membership “club” in the world; and (3) AWS, where they changed the world of computing with their cloud offering.

The first two are B2C businesses, aiming at improving the customer retail experience and creating more loyalty and “stickiness”, the third is a B2B business, creating value for companies and developers through on demand computing services that considerably change software businesses’ capital and operational expenses.

And then comes Alexa, the Amazon IoT hub, overarching the two models and recently being announced as the fourth pillar. Alexa is on the one hand a consumer device, creating great value through access to skills and allowing purchases (a.k.a more stickiness), and on the other, it creates an additional incentive and ecosystem for which companies and developers need/want to develop cloud hosted services for (or, more AWS customers).

Alexa is a strategic decision on which Amazon went all-in, pushing the hardware out, making the software “droppable” into 3P devices, and facilitating a very active development community.

I’m excited to see where else this goes.


On February 3, 2017, GilG commented on Winner: Venmo – the next generation checking account :

Great post on a very interesting business.

When I started using Venmo, I immediately assumed they were essentially acting as a bank, investing or loaning out large portions of the balance and using it as a means of creating additional value and capturing it, but later learned that, as you mentioned, they do not, seemingly due to the complicated regulatory aspects (becoming a bank…). That said, I do wonder what cash balance they actually hold.

Even in this day and age when information is being monetized frequently and repeatedly, I am still having a hard time seeing the immediate value created by the text collected and processed by Venmo. So that would leave us with “Pay w/ Venmo” and the challenges it entails. In a world of growing saturation in the payment instruments, I will be looking forward what waves they can generate.