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On April 28, 2020, ka commented on Nuro: self-driving delivery accelerates :

Really neat article. So interesting to hear that they’ve pivoted to short-range medical delivery at this time. I’d imagine there might be more money in grocery/package delivery (which also has heightened demand), but it is encouraging to hear how they are applying this technology to better help those in the medical field/being treated. I wonder how this pivot might influence their longterm strategy – can this technology be used in hospitals? Warehouses? Or is the biggest ROI on streets delivering foodstuffs/last mile deliveries?

Also fascinating to hear how their design is centered around safety (e.g., safer panels for pedestrians, cameras instead of mirrors) and how legislation has enabled them this license.

On April 28, 2020, ka commented on “Mickey in the Middle of It” :

Great article. Like other commenters I too am optimistic about Disney’s future. While the Parks are closed, it’s been great to see some of the creativity coming from cast members quarantining at home – from the Dapper Dans serenading with “Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” to the JAMMitors playing with pots and pans at their homes. Other programming collected in the #DisneyMagicMoments site has been a source of connecting with the Parks from home, and has provided ways to engage across the world.

Of note, one other interesting thing to consider regarding Parks: while Disney has halted construction across parks, Universal has continued to forge on with its new park project in Orlando. While Disney is hunkering down, Universal is building its way out of the pandemic. Two different approaches for two different companies.

This is such a neat example of a local business adapting to COVID, faster than legislation. It’s interesting how they’re now offering online classes – I wonder if this will continue to be a source of revenue and brand building once the quarantine is lifted. It seems like all of their physical and digital sales are of pre-made food. Since dumplings arguably freeze well, I wonder if they’ve considered shipping frozen dumplings across the states (related: if you’re in the US and hungry for amazing baked goods check out Portos online 🙂 ).

I also think it’s great that they’re offering online wellness materials for employees – I wonder if this is hosted by a third party? It’s typically not in a restauranteur’s wheelhouse to be well versed in mental wellbeing coaching (or qualified to do so).

Really liked the post! Shocking that through the targeted advertising they were able to grow their topline by 10%! A worthwhile investment to say the least.

While they’re using traditional means to improve the online UX, I wonder if there are more opportunities to use analytics to improve the in-store customer experience. Perhaps through AR, geolocation analytics (in-store shopping behavior insights), or other creative means to improve the shopping (and browsing) experience. Also, as they increase their presence online, it might behoove them to derive ways to more intimately tie the in-store with the online experience.

On April 18, 2020, ka commented on Use Me if You Dare, Hack Me if You Can :

Great post. Like you, I too view TikTok as the biggest platform I’ve yet to try out. When it first made waves in the States, the majority of users were teens/kids. I wonder if that demo has anything to do with the dearth of political posts that we see in other platforms. And perhaps another driver of the platform being more creative (and less of a soapbox) is due to its core based in music/music videos. Regardless, interesting post that’s relevant to a lot of these black box recommendation algorithm platforms.

Love this post! Such an interesting new frontier. I thought you did a great job of bringing up all the potential privacy and regulatory concerns around this product. With regards to selling data, I believe this is against COPPA which makes it illegal to use data to sell targeted ads to kids.

I think as a kid I would love this, but I wonder if some parents might think that this makes ‘play’ easier for kids and robs some of the creative fantasy-play from the Barbie experience.

Great post! I think it’s interesting that Drizly only charges the liquor store side of the platform, making it a de facto ‘advertising’ cost, as you say. I do wonder if consumers see it that way, however, with your footnote about consumers being charged a delivery fee (although it goes to the liquor store).

I hadn’t heard of this company and had only used Minibar delivery before. They sound similar, with local liquor stores selling their products through the platform. Minibar also includes complements like fruit (e.g., limes), cheese, etc. Prices seem to be marked up on Minibar, so I am eager to try out Drizly now!

On March 23, 2020, ka commented on Instacart – A Platform Thriving in a Pandemic :

Love it! As of last week I am now an Instacart shopper. I like your point about how price markups “desensitize” consumers to delivery fees/Instacart value capture. This makes me wonder how their markups are created – are they a flat 15% or an item by item markup? This is information they likely don’t want to share, as you say, the muddiness is accepted and part of the business model. I do wonder, however, as other players build up and perhaps new players enter, will the industry move towards increased transparency? Will service fees increase with item fees aligning across touchpoints? That is, prepared food delivery from restaurants charge the same fee for their menu items in restaurant and via delivery, but fees are baked into the service, delivery, and tip. Will groceries migrate to this model or are they inherently different?

PS when I used Instacart I couldn’t get delivery (bc of increased demand) and instead was able to fill out an Instacart pickup. Someone shopped for me, bagged it, and then when they saw my car pull into the designated parking spot (GPS enabled on my app), they came out and put the groceries in the trunk. Now a fan.

Fascinating stuff! The $90/class is astounding, and I’m surprised it was so successful at that price point. The annual sub is a lot more economical for consumers, and I’d imagine shoring up longterm, predictable revenue is an advantage for MasterClass as well (vs. a la carte).

I was recently drawn to MasterClass as they have been advertising their Bob Iger session. It is interesting that Iger’s session is free – likely an advertisement play for multiple reasons. It was released around the same time as Iger’s management book last year, and could be utilized as advertisement for his book. Likewise, Iger’s free session could be viewed as a customer acquisition tool for MasterClass for other classes/sub offerings.

This makes me wonder how talent can best leverage the MasterClass platform to enhance their brand, expand their following, and connect with audiences in a new and arguably more intimate (and perhaps erudite) medium.

I was intrigued to learn of the beginnings of Kayla’s social presence. In the world of social media and self-promotion, it seems counterintuitive (albeit refreshing) that she would grow a following by pointing the camera on people other than herself. In this way, as you say, she was able to build a community. I wonder if as her brand grows (in users and across platforms, e.g., apple watch, tv) that the value of her community and the tight-knit nature of its participants dissipates. That is, as the community grows, can it still be as strong?

On February 11, 2020, ka commented on Mirror: digital disrupter in fitness and beyond :

This is such a unique product, and I am excited to learn it’s founded by an HBS grad! I like your point about how this hardware (unlike stationary bikes, treadmills, etc.) is more flexible and capable of adapting to changes in fitness trends. I wonder if growth can be fueled through partnerships, say, with independent fitness instructors. While gyms may not want to contract with mirror (why would 24hr fitness want people to workout at home), individuals looking to profit from additional training hours might contract with mirror. The proliferation of instructors, as well as mirror users, highlights that the mirror is in itself a platform, with two sides who benefit from growing the other (i.e., there are network effects in play here).

On February 11, 2020, ka commented on Why Netflix is winning the entertainment battle :

Very cool – this is still an evolving market and it will be exciting to see if NFLX maintains its position, fending off competitors who are also throwing money at their own platforms. It will also be interesting to see how, if at all, native advertising (e.g., NFLX partnerships embedded in Stranger Things) might impact creatives/content development.