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On November 22, 2015, jeffzeller commented on Data analytics is a blow to global warming :

Great move for them to make these more like “smart” devices. If you have the data, you might as well use it, right? I agree that a 1% improvement is nothing to scoff at. With how variable weather is, I’m not sure whether they will figure out the “optimum” solution for every possible weather scenario, but rather be in a constant state of adjustment (perhaps this could be automated at some point). I wonder if the data that they’re collecting could be useful for anyone else as well — they have a huge network of these devices capturing weather data, but more importantly the changes in this data over time. It seems like this might be useful in some sort of modeling or predictive behavior that weather and government organizations might find valuable. I will be interested to see if they could get an additional revenue stream through the sale and provision of this data.

On November 22, 2015, jeffzeller commented on RAW IS EVERYTHING: Using Data To Start My Own Skincare Company :

Can’t wait for the launch! I wonder what ways RAW might be able to use, um, raw data (hehe) to actually serve as a differentiator in the marketplace. Using data as you mention is table stakes for doing business in this era, could RAW be built around this principle and marketed as such to the consumer? People can be sensitive about data use, especially when it comes to personal data, but in aggregate it seems that people like the validation. Maybe an operating principle of your company is to use efficacy studies in a new and different way than how the traditional industry operates. January cannot come soon enough!

On November 22, 2015, jeffzeller commented on SeatGeek – Creating Price Transparency in the Ticket Market :

I haven’t used this product before, but I certainly like the concept. I like that using data can bring more transparency to the market, especially when it is easy for people to anonymously price tickets way above face value, preying on people that are big fans of the event taking place. This hurts the fans themselves as well as the artists or teams that are performing — because you don’t want to price out your biggest fans! I can see why they would want to get into the space of having their own marketplace in addition to aggregating the others. Is there any reason for a competitor like StubHub to not provide its data to SeatGeek if it becomes more of a direct competitor in the ticket reselling space?

On October 30, 2015, jeffzeller commented on Genius: Annotating the World, One Rap at a Time :

I love Genius! I was surprised to learn how low their monthly unique numbers were, as I was under the impression that lyric searches on Google account for a fairly significant percentage of all searches. If Genius can be the top or near top result for these searches, that’s a massive user funnel for Genius. I am also very surprised that they haven’t been using advertising. This is how the other lyric sites make their money, so it’s not like users are expecting something else. Genius could even do it in a classier way than the clickbait ads on the other sites.

Having artists themselves annotate is a great feature (reminds me of Jay Z’s Decoded book), though I wonder how much value the artists see from this. How does Genius go about convincing them to participate? The annotations by the crowd of users, in my experience, are already pretty high quality. People know a lot about their favorite artists and their references, and are proud to display that knowledge through the IQ score you mention.

I hope this site stays around, because diving into the meaning behind lyrics is definitely more engaging (from a time-on-site perspective) than simply displaying the lyrics. I wonder if Genius could partner with content platforms like YouTube, Spotify, etc. to provide this content as well. Spotify has integrated lyrics into their product as well, not sure how many people use that feature or not…

On October 30, 2015, jeffzeller commented on Quora: Quality and profitability are still open questions :

Nice idea for a post. I agree with the need to monetize soon, but I can also see how they might be worried about people jumping ship since there aren’t a ton of barriers to entry in my opinion. What’s to stop a service from aggregating content from any number of the networks that these experts already post to? Everyone is competing for this content: Facebook, Twitter, Medium, etc.

To me, this service is very much a Silicon Valley insider platform. Experts contribute because they want to display to the rest of the Valley how awesome and successful and knowledgeable they are. The content on this platform largely doesn’t appeal to the rest of America. So I think Quora will also struggle with a reputation concern moving forward. When there are too many “experts” will the experts continue to invest their time if they don’t stand out anymore? Should these experts be compensated for their contributions?

On October 30, 2015, jeffzeller commented on Funding Rush Hour 4: Crowdfunding Non-Blockbuster Movie Sequels :

Haha, you hooked me with the title. The Rush Hour series was also a big staple of my adolescence!

Are you familiar with the crowdfunding success of Veronica Mars? They raised over $5m in order to produce a full-length movie, and I believe it stands as one of if not these most successful Kickstarter campaigns to date.

For me, it also begs the question about whether the movie would need to be released to theaters at all? Why not just release as digital only? Email a link to backers with a code to login and watch the movie, and you’ve also saved costs on the distribution.

Challenges I see are getting the stars to commit to doing the movie. These people want to have guaranteed work lined up, and schedule well in advance, so it would be difficult to commit to keep your schedule open if there is a chance the movie might not be made.

I also think that you would need to charge more than the price of admission in order to fund it. Break-even releases are not interesting to the movie studios and directors that make these movies. But profit is. Therefore marketing would still be necessary in my opinion to draw a larger audience base.

On October 3, 2015, jeffzeller commented on Airbnb: Reinventing hospitality with network effects :

Agree with Karthik’s point on the importance of direct network effects in this case. It’s also interesting to think about why people choose Airbnb in the first place. Is it because they want a “home-y” experience, or are the listings actually significantly cheaper than hotels (partly due to the lack of costly regulation these units are under)? I think what we’re seeing is that people appreciate the turn-down bed service and amenities of a hotel, but in many cases, a hotel room serves more as a place to sleep (because the traveler is busy doing other things during the day). It’s especially interesting to think about whether Airbnb would ever get into any type of “rewards program,” which is how many hotels are able to get users to stay with them vs. a competing hotel chain.

I have to imagine that the occupancy rates of hotels have dropped in proportion with the increased Airbnb usage. I wonder how these units will eventually be re-purposed. Will entire hotels be torn down and used for office space? Will some of them become a new form of lower income housing? Will more hotels offer longer term stay options that are cheaper than paying a month’s rent for an apartment?

Airbnb and Uber both also exhibit interesting societal implications. Due to the minimum “quality” threshold in place for cars and rental units, the people capturing the value in these cases are often people that already “have,” vs. your average taxi driver or hotel employee (who are being pushed out of the market) are more likely in the “have not” category, which is widening the gap between these two groups. Especially in tech-booming cities like San Francisco, this is leading to an increase in evictions as wealthy tech employees are much more profitable for landlords than tenants that are under rent control. It is my hope that both Airbnb and Uber make efforts to use some of their profits to combat some of these issues.

On October 3, 2015, jeffzeller commented on Apple Pay: Living up to the Hype? :

Thanks for the interesting thoughts! I too wish that the user experience and adoption were both higher. Why do you think that Apple doesn’t take the Square approach and provide a hardware + software experience for Apple Pay? Presumably, they’d be able to create a much better (branded) experience for the user and the store. And they certainly have the money to give away this hardware for free to many of the merchants out there (which they could potentially recoup through transaction fees, as Square does).

I think another potential reason is that many people are so conditioned to pulling out their purse/wallet when paying that they simply forget that Apple Pay is really an option. And as you mention, the experience isn’t that much better that it pulls enough people back time and time again. One thought on this: why not try harder to hook users back into the experience before they actually check out? I think the use of push notifications could go a long way here — if I were reminded when I walked into an Apple Pay enabled retailer that I could pay with Apple Pay there, then it would be more top of mind when I actually did check out.

This is where the software + hardware play comes back as well … imagine the retail clerk knowing that the customer standing in front of them was Apple Pay enabled, and instead of asking for their credit card when checkout was complete they asked “Would you like to proceed with Apple Pay today?” In this scenario, the user’s proximity notified the store they were present, then the final, security-focused step would be to actually use the NFC tap to complete the purchase.

Also to be considered is the number of other things that we have to continue carrying our wallets around for that probably aren’t going away soon. Driver’s license. Insurance card. Metro cards. Cash for the venues that still require that as a form of payment. Interestingly, in some European countries pushing for a cash-less society, the push is actually coming from the government. As long as we leave it up to the market to decide, we can’t completely eliminate cash (for tax & merchant fee incentive reasons).

Hopefully one day…until then, I think it’s more likely that my iPhone will completely replace my keys before it completely replaces my wallet.

On October 3, 2015, jeffzeller commented on Ola Cabs: The “Copy-Cat” beating Uber at its own game in India. :

Thanks for this, I enjoyed learning about Ola. Since it seems that the service has an advantage over Uber in terms of cash payments and reserving cars via a call center, why do you think that they can’t raise their rates to capture more value? If Uber doesn’t offer these options, it seems these users would be locked into price hikes because they cannot or prefer not to use Uber.

Is Ola’s success only limited to its first mover advantage? I wonder if the company has any ambitions to move beyond the Indian market. If it’s true that the cash payments and non-smartphone booking are that much of a differentiating factor, it could capture some market share in other territories as well.

Finally, I wonder if Ola has any ambition to get into other services and technology advances like Uber does. Package / food delivery? Self-driving cars? If Uber gets there first, they may be able to compete with Ola on price by a large margin, which could erode some of their current market advantage.

On September 13, 2015, jeffzeller commented on Nike: Building Communities through Digital :

Great post, and great company 🙂

Is digital simply a mechanism for Nike to sell more of its physical product? Or does the DNA of the company now exist in this digital world? What role will digital play in the apparel of the future? Will clothes and shoes integrate more digital “tracking” technologies? Or will that work be left to devices like the Apple Watch or FuelBand? Curious to hear your thoughts on the decision by Nike to shutter the FuelBand. Does it make sense for them to just be a software developer making apps for platforms like iOS or Android, or do they need to have a piece of the hardware? Is digital fitness tracking just a trend, or will this be a necessary component of athletic apparel companies of the future?

Thanks for sharing your thoughts 🙂

On September 13, 2015, jeffzeller commented on Squaring off the Competition: How Square is Changing Transactions :

Beautiful post! Would you argue that Square’s innovations beyond the credit card reader have been successful? As a user, I am indifferent to whether the merchant swipes my card with Square or something else. Is Square well-positioned to take advantage of NFC technology, if that really takes off?
Other than the investment in the card reader, are merchants really tied to Square as a platform? Are they getting more from them than they do from other payment processing platforms? That seems like a good place to offer differentiation if you’re Square. Otherwise, I could see merchants having no problem switching hardware to whatever the latest greatest option is (e.g. paying via ApplePay + AppleWatch via NFC). Thank you for sharing 🙂

I agree that Songkick provides a tremendous amount of value by bringing the information to me. How do you think about the following challenges?
1. Are they using proper attribution (cookies?) to collect royalties if they were the one to notify a user about a concert? If I, as a user, go directly to the venue website instead of through Songkick, they are cut out of the commission 🙁
2. I am extreme user and get the daily email digest, but I have to imagine most people don’t do this. How can Songkick prove itself useful for the casual fan? The notification should come at a convenient time, and it should be incredibly easy to make the purchase. Right now, the daily digest comes ahead of when the tickets are actually on sale, so by the time the user can buy them, it’s very hard to engage them AGAIN
3. What is keeping Ticketmaster or Ticketfly from copying this service?

Thanks for your post 🙂