• Alumni

Activity Feed

On November 23, 2015, IR commented on DoorDash; Delivery Made Better by Data :

Solid post. It doesn’t surprise me that there is a huge opportunity for them to use analytics – given the relative complexity of their operations and the importance of efficiently deploying their delivery team. The ability to master logistics is a real competitive advantage that differentiates them from other players and give them relevance in what is a crowded space (GrubHub / Seamless drive revenue for restaurants but don’t employ deliverers). Given DoorDash’s view over the entire ecosystem (wide range of restaurants and customers), I wonder to what extent they can harness data to create value in additional ways. On the customer side, they know a ton about order behavior and preferences; perhaps there are opportunities for tailored recommendations or other forms of targeted marketing. Similarly, their data about users’ tastes and habits can be valuable to restaurants who may be looking to gather additional data on their customers.

On November 23, 2015, IR commented on GM and Seeing Minds: Creating Value by Saving Lives :

Great post! This is a very impactful use of data, and I would image that the Seeing Minds technology could be helpful across a number of industries (rail operators, pilots, military personnel, etc.). I also think this “pattern detection” capability could be vital if used in training settings – for example, pilot training programs could adopt this tool to help monitor an operator’s situational awareness, reaction time and ability to properly scan an instrument panel / his or her field of vision – instructors could use the tool to evaluate and detect performance breakdowns.

Separately, looking ahead, I wonder to what extent Seeing Minds anticipates their long term potential within the consumer vehicle market given the driverless cars. While not an immediate threat, I’d be curious to what extent there will be demand for this and similar “monitoring technologies” as automation increases?

SeatGeek has said that because their ~10% commission comes out of StubHub’s commision, the price to buy a given ticket will be the same to users both on SeatGeek and diretly at Stubhub, so SeatGeek should capture the value as long as users rely on SeatGeek as their initial platform then click through…given they have the largest inventory of tickets and a real value add with the Deal Score feature, I would think most users would indeed rely on SeatGeek to manage their search. That said, I think your concern is very valid – today they are sitting between buyers and sellers, and it would appear their move into developing a SeatGeek marketplace is driven by this desire to own the market…and not being beholden to any partners by simply directing traffic to their exchanges.

On November 23, 2015, IR commented on San Antonio Spurs’ Data-Driven Approach to Win Games :

Interesting post! This certainly drove home for me the idea that to prevail as a data-driven organization it’s as much about culture / ability to properly harness the data versus just the actual capabilities and technologies available (particularly now that so many teams are searching for ways to leverage data to their advantage). The SportVU cameras, for example, offer the potential to capture so many metrics….Popovich and the rest of the coaching staff needs to be conscious of how to best apply it and which datapoints to ignore (i.e. to what extend should real time data drive in game decision making?). Popovich’s quotes above suggest he’s taken a fairly balanced approach – using data where helpful but still relying on his experiences and intuition.

Nice post. This had me wondering to what extent Starbucks (and other large corporations) could launch similar crowd-sourced initiatives within the company. I would imagine that given their large and diverse employee base, Starbucks could benefit from an internal crowd-led tool to harness employee feedback and ideas in a much more innovative manner than whatever is used today (e.g., employee feedback forms). With the right digital platform these companies could find that similar crowd sourced campaigns may be highly effective at driving employee engagement / empowerment (many employees would be excited to be involved in solving the company’s problems and improving processes) and as a collective group the employee base could certainly discover creative solutions that the C-suite had not yet considered. Of course, in implementing this internally, companies must make sure the initiative is clearly focused, properly incentivized and well-managed – to avoid being just a forum for complaints…

On November 1, 2015, IR commented on Anheuser-Busch: Innovating Beer Through Crowd Sourcing :

As mentioned in the post, despite not having resulted in a new hit product, this crowd sourced competition did appear to have a positive impact on AB Inbev’s reputation, given the significant level of participation and media buzz surrounding the campaign. As seen in other examples (Lays, Dominos, Ben & Jerry’s), crowdsourcing for consumer goods companies does not have to just be about identifying new products and can instead serve as a very low-cost form of marketing as you can let your customers / partners do the work themselves by sharing and promoting their ideas via social media. Obviously, you need to make sure the focus of the crowdscouring is aligned with your brand identity (which Craft beer may not have been for AB)..and there are also the inherent risks in using crowdscouring as a marketing platform (letting go of some control over your brand).

I think this is certainly a potentially disruptive idea, but as you identified the biggest challenge is going to be finding a platform capable of managing the administrative burdens and offering access without exorbitant fees. I recall reading that several of the large cap PE funds (KKR and Carlyle in particular) have experimented with retail funds in the past year or two, partnering with 3rd party administrators to manage funds on behalf of accredited investors. In those instances they were still offering 2%+ in admin fees on top of the PE fund’s 2+20, which is likely not as compelling when you think about the illiquid nature of the product (potentially up to 10 years) for a smaller investor. I like your idea of the one-time upfront fee, but only time will tell if a trustworthy intermediary is willing to offer a more reasonably priced platform.

On October 6, 2015, IR commented on Is it looking terminal for the Bloomberg Terminal? :

Interesting post and a unique example of network effects! The points around switching costs are spot-on – it is “a mission-critical” platform so there is not a lot of room for a new incumbent to enter with an inferior offering. One source of disruption that could be interesting to follow is from crowd-sourced platforms like Estimize ( While I doubt this type of data source would be trusted by large financial services firms, at the right scale it certainly could gain traction with smaller companies who use the Bloomberg more for information purposes vs. critical trading execution.

On October 5, 2015, IR commented on – Family Care Marketplace :

From my research it seems they’re really only making money off of the subscriptions (and some of their ancillary offerings). They do have some targeted ads but it’s a very small portion of their revenue currently – I completely agree with you that it could be very helpful to their bottom line if done in a measured way. Their average customer would certainly be a very attractive target for many advertisers (~85% of customers are females with children in the household)

On October 5, 2015, IR commented on – Family Care Marketplace :

I agree that safety is definitely a critical risk area for Care.Com. They have a “Safety Center” on their website with a number of resources and info to help both sides of the platform address safety concerns (it includes recommendations for screening / interviewing, monitoring caregivers, avoiding scams, etc.). A quick search has shown that there have been instances of fraud / safety concerns already, but this is probably an area where the strength of their network / scale is a differentiating factor …because they capture reports of safety violations from other members they would argue the safety of their platform is a competitive advantage vis-a-vis other sites.

On October 5, 2015, IR commented on Two-Sided Network Effects for a Food-Tech Marketplace :

Certainly an interesting business model and definitely one that has strong network effects / scale advantages. I’m curious to what extent the company has experienced churn related to customers dropping off the Cater Cow network once they’ve had positive experiences with a given caterer..that is a small business decides to just reach out directly to a caterer (or 2-3) of choice going forward. My sense is the premium features around “fully-managed catering” / managing the order up to delivery are creative additions to mitigate this risk. I’d be curious to hear what else Cater Cow is doing to try to add value to the ordering process and further connect customers with their platform.

On September 14, 2015, IR commented on Pogoseat: The New Era of Seats for Fans :

This is a phenomenal idea – perfect example of a company using digital technology to capture value…in this case leveraging the ticket aftermarket not only brings in additional revenue streams for sports teams but also allows greater control over their fan experience. I agree with Drew’s point that most season ticketholders would probably find alternate ways to sell their tickets – so perhaps this will mostly provide direct value to the stadiums / teams with unused seats. The pricing model for this service will also be pretty interesting – I’m curious if there will be a set formula for pricing these upgrades (i.e., one fixed discount to the face value of the new seat) or to what extent there will be dynamic pricing based on key factors (i.e. time remaining in game / popularity of matchup). Certainly a very cool concept and one that I’ll definitely be looking out for!

On September 14, 2015, IR commented on Gogo Air: Winning through partnerships and contracts :

Well said – as a first mover, Gogo is certainly well-positioned as a likely winner in this space…. I agree the FAA announcement and next generation solutions (2Ku) provides some optimism around their long-term viability.

I think it’s interesting to see how Gogo weathered the entry (and ultimate “exit”) of AT&T. I recall AT&T making headlines last year when they announced plans to begin offering 4G LTE Wifi…only later to reverse course citing capex concerns. To me this announcement only speaks to the formidable position Gogo has obtained…there seem to be considerable barriers to entry (both in terms of capex and technology). AT&T’s inability to enter the market may only help Gogo by scaring off potential entrants.

On September 14, 2015, IR commented on Staples – The Fight for Survival :

Great summary – I think you captured the key challenges well.

The MAKR acquisition you mentioned is a very solid addition in my opinion – with it you can customize your own products (e.g. business cards / posters)…and it fits into Staples’ overall mobile rewards platform by letting customers scroll through and edit items on their smartphones / tablets remotely. I think those features are potentially very appealing to small businesses who might desire some additional design capabilities (e.g. for marketing purposes)…these customization capabilities may help orient Staples’ value prop from being more of a commodity seller to a bit more of value-add seller with B2B capabilities as you alluded to, though I’m not sure if they can move fast enough to address their same store sales declines.

I’ve used the in-store pickup feature at Staples (the “Omni Channel” approach you mention), and it certainly is an added convenience factor…my guess is they can continue to rationalize their square footage / staffing if they get sufficient adoption of digital ordering. Surely only time will tell if they can survive…but if Staples does it will likely be as the only remaining office retailer, serving the customers who do value some sort of in-store / “consultative-like” experience.