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On November 23, 2015, HBStudent2016 commented on Data and Hedge Funds :

Interesting post! I think what CargoMetrics is doing is extremely valuable to hedge funds, who are always looking for a competitive edge. At first, I was worried that if CargoMetrics increases the number of hedge funds on its platform, then that data becomes less valuable in terms of driving a competitive advantage for a hedge fund. As I thought about it more though, I realized that if your competitors have access to CargoMetric’s data, you will likely still pay for it since you’ll be losing out on information that all your competitors have and put yourself at a disadvantage. I’d be interested in seeing how CargoMetric’s business model evolves over the coming years. I think they can make an interesting play – where they increase the number of users while maintaining pricing power given the value of their data.

On November 23, 2015, HBStudent2016 commented on Waze – using driver data to build a better map :

Thanks for the post! I completely agree with your conclusions. My issue with Waze has been that at the end of the day the points don’t actually mean anything. Customers are sharing data to help improve the algorithm for everyone, so there is some social good in being an active participant; however, there needs to be additional incentives to increase the stickiness of the app. Perhaps by sharing and accruing more points, users get access to exclusive routes or discounts at nearby restaurants, retailers? Waze/Google could start forming partnerships with businesses to create a mutually beneficial program to incentivize drivers to continue sharing and using the app.

On November 23, 2015, HBStudent2016 commented on Caesars Palace “Winner Winner Chicken Dinner” :

Interesting post, Alon. Caesars has built one of the most valuable customer databases in the casino industry, but I agree that the competitive advantage of this database has started to diminish. Other casino players have been able to build their own databases and use data analytics, while also entering new and more attractive markets. Meanwhile Caesars has missed the boat on new markets because of a highly levered balance sheet. I think this is a good example of a company that has done a great job building a large customer database and figuring out how to serve the customers effectively, but at the end of the day data analytics cannot fix a poor operating and financial strategy.

On October 31, 2015, HBStudent2016 commented on Yelp: An old dog may need a new trick soon :

Great Post. I was actually thinking about this the other day after I went to a restaurant that has 4 stars on Yelp and 500+ reviews. I walked away unimpressed by the food and service. I wanted to post about this on Yelp, but felt like my review wouldn’t matter in the grand scheme of things given the algorithm used to calculate star ratings. Something Yelp might consider is including data on star ratings for a restaurant on a time series. The quality of a restaurant changes over time, so users should be able to get a better picture of what the star rating is over a more defined timeframe. This might help reviewers and users feel like they are getting more relevant content and increase their loyalty to the site in light of all the competition you mentioned.

On October 31, 2015, HBStudent2016 commented on TripAdvisor and the crowds :

Thanks for the post! I think TripAdvisor has done a phenomenal job crowdsourcing user reviews and vacation ideas. I do agree with MaskofZorro’s comment that the website hasn’t done anything to reward top contributors. People who contribute to the site receive TripCollective points. The cumulative point value of a reviewer is associated with a certain level, which displays the reviewer’s knowledge and contribution to the site. However, the fact that these points are not redeemable for anything like the Yelp elite recognition events or air miles make them somewhat useless for a review’s viewpoint. I think it would be wise for TripAdvisor to start rewarding top contributors to ensure people continue to contribute to the site and also contribute quality content.

On October 31, 2015, HBStudent2016 commented on Minted: Using the Crowd to Define Good Design :

Thanks for the post. I think it’s pretty interesting that artists are willing to use Minted, with its higher fee, versus Etsy simply because the logistics are handled by Minted. I would be worried that Etsy or another site could start handling logistics as well and capture the sellers who currently use Minted. Presumably, sellers and buyers who use Minted also use Etsy, so their pain point with Etsy will decrease with the logistics offering. Etsy has a much larger customer, making them a more attractive platfrom for an artist once you take away this key differentiator for Minted.

On October 4, 2015, HBStudent2016 commented on Craigslist: The dawn of the pioneer in network effects? :

Nice post, Andrea! I completely agree with you that Craigslist needs a new user interface. I still use the website, but am usually daunted by the number of options and honestly the poor design. Given its competition and their heavy investment in user interface design, I’m surprised Craigslist has not made an overhaul sooner. I do believe there are many features of Craigslist that are still useful, such as buying or selling used furniture or renting an apartment. The company has a ton of data, so it might be prudent to use that data to figure out what users value most from Craigslist and cut out the noise. While I’m sure the user base has plateaued, I still feel like it might not be too late for the platform to make a come back. Data can be its friend here.

On October 4, 2015, HBStudent2016 commented on WhatsApp — Network effects worth $19 billion? :

Thanks for the post! Like you mentioned, Facebook has done a great job continuing to build the WhatsApp user base, thereby creating strong direct network effects. It will be interesting to see how the indirect network effects play out. Unlike other platforms Facebook owns (main Facebook page, Instagram), the company cannot simply plug in sponsored adds on Whatsapp. I believe the company is taking a longer time to start monetizing the app because it has to figure out the right way to interact with users on a messaging platform. There are plenty of other messaging apps like you mentioned and users tend to have more than one, so if Facebook messes up with its monetization play, it can quickly start losing the strength of the direct network effects. I’ll definitely be watching to see how this story plays out over the next few years.

On October 4, 2015, HBStudent2016 commented on How AirBnB Might Ultimately Fail :

Great post! Similar to the reviews above, I agree that less sophisticated users can dilute the value of the platform. From my own experience, I have seen lodging options that are overpriced and frankly unsanitary being posted on the platform. For platforms like Airbnb, content is super important. The content in this case being the lodging postings – the company needs to put in more effort filtering and monitoring the content to ensure a pleasant user experience. To your point about cutting out Airbnb and reaching out to the renter directly, I agree that this makes sense if you are revisiting the same city. However, most people who use the site are traveling to a new location and therefore will not have the advantage of cutting out the middleman (Airbnb). This makes sense for a service like Handbook since your location is constant.

On September 13, 2015, HBStudent2016 commented on AYR: Immersive online experience with a real-world twist :

Thanks for sharing this. I haven’t heard of AYR before, so this was an interesting read. While I like that AYR operates under a reputable parent company, I still worry about how these online retailers can truly differentiate themselves in the long run. I feel like the marketplace is slowly getting saturated with online retailers that offer a home try on type of feature that it will stop becoming a “differentiating factor.” I recognize that there have been efforts to open brick and mortar show rooms to help build brand recognition, but most of these showrooms are in large metropolitan cities and not easily accessible by large parts of the population. This was just a thought that came to mind as I was reading this.

On September 13, 2015, HBStudent2016 commented on Get a Slice of This: Domino’s Dominates Pizza through Digital :

I am a huge fan of Domino’s for the reasons you mentioned above. Another convenience factor for me is their tracker tool. After I place my order, I can track where the pizza is in the order process (prep, bake, delivery, etc.). One of my biggest frustrations with ordering food for delivery is that I am usually stuck waiting for an order and have no idea why it’s taking so long. The tracker tool lets me avoid this frustration and is one of the reasons I’m still loyal to Domino’s.

On September 13, 2015, HBStudent2016 commented on LinkedIn: Winning with Professional Data :

LinkedIn has been an interesting story over the last couple of years. In addition to the points you made above, the company has been making a big push in building its platform for B2B sales and marketing with the tool Sales Navigator. Sales and marketing professionals can now use tools on LinkedIn to find the right leads at companies that they are trying to do business with and even get warm leads. This targeted marketing approach has proven to be more effective than the traditional cold call. I believe that LinkedIn will increasingly focus on building out this B2B sales and marketing platform over the coming years given the huge market potential.