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On April 28, 2017, KunalRai commented on ShelfZone, a VR tool for improving retailing :

I think they should continue to focus on B2B applications. If needed step into other industries as well. Oil and gas companies have used VR to plan drilling activities for years now. Except their device currently is literally a room. But the point is that such companies do not view VR as their core competency. It’s just one of many tools applied in specific situations. This company will scale well if it becomes the go-to VR service provider across industries.

On April 28, 2017, KunalRai commented on Google: too early to play the platform card :

The problem I see with Google’s approach is a total lack of architecture design. VR adoption will only happen when we provide an awesome experience that is user-friendly for the masses. The cardboard solution makes things easy, but the experience suffers. And Oculus is awesome, except it is HUGE. Sure, Google has an edge is platforms. But good integration with other components of the architecture is critical to drive customer adoption. I say Apple will win this one…again.

On April 28, 2017, KunalRai commented on VR Physio: Solving Neck Problems :

Love the concept. But the business model still requires investment in a separate piece of electronic hardware. I think a sustainable approach would involve companies like this one focusing on content creation for more mass-market hardware and platforms. I am not sure if freemium is the right model for apps in this case. Customers would actually have a problem and would be willing to pay. I understand that selling content may significantly reduce the top-line here, but it seems to be a more sustainable approach.

On April 6, 2017, KunalRai commented on This Startup Makes Money from Oil Tank Shadows :

This is definitely a “hot” space for startups. But I think some level of ground reality-checks would still be required. Why not fill the oil tanks with water if one wants to disrupt market prices? I view satellite image analysis as one additional data point in a manager’s decision, at least till a sustained level of high accuracy is proven.

Definitely a lot of potential for analytics in journalism. As a reader, however, some may not like the changes in writing styles that are likely to occur with a data-driven approach. For example, the content and writing styles online have been severely altered because of the motivations to boost SEO scores. It will be interesting to see how traditional news sources balance the art and science of media analytics.

I echo Yun’s sentiments on the role of HR. Everyone recognizes the value of hiring the best talent. But HR’s positioning as a cost center has for long inhibited innovation in hiring practices. Hopefully, data will help establish the NPV in investing in a world-class HR team. I wonder if new companies pursuing people analytics have performed an A/B test to compare the performance and attrition among employees hired through traditional methods and those brought on through a data-driven approach.

On April 6, 2017, KunalRai commented on Ben & Jerry’s Taste for Crowdsourcing :

Despite the pitfalls, crowdsourcing is great for ideation. Of course, additional analysis, A/B testing, focus groups – things that B&J is probably already doing – could be used to sift through the ideas. But there is definitely value in numbers when it comes to generating ideas.

On April 6, 2017, KunalRai commented on ArcBazar: Crowdsourcing Design :

Repeated use of the platform by customers would be rare. Wonder what their CAC is. Also recommend A/B testing a model where the architects set a range of fees they would charge for their work, the customer states his budget, the platform then only shows the project to architects within the budget, and the customer does not actually see the architect’s quoted price for a project till after they shortlist their top-three designs. This could limit the price-war.

Wonder if there would be demand for the opposite side – the dark side – where managers leave feedback on employees. Under conditions of anonymity, one could build an employee verification business out of it. Alternatively, the employee could nominate their manager at the beginning of each fiscal year to leave feedback on the platform – to avoid confirmation bias.

On March 1, 2017, KunalRai commented on Medium: creating a new writing platform for the masses :

Great concept. In some ways, this platform would have to be “less social.” The problem with “trending now” features on social platforms is that they direct users to content that people in their social circle are accessing – people who think just like us. So diversity of perspective is completely lost. I think Medium would succeed only if its algorithms rely completely on global rankings of an article. Users could express preference for certain perspective, but please don’t show me only those articles that my HBS classmates are reading. I don’t want to live in a bubble.

On March 1, 2017, KunalRai commented on Twitch: Big Dollars in the World of eGaming :

Not much of a video game person, but the move to integrate with Sony video game HW was smart. As far as integrating everything into Prime subscription is concerned, I am a little unsure if it always makes sense. This company has a profit formula that works, and Amazon can always cross-sell without killing the profit formula. At what point does revenue sharing across Amazon’s various Prime service begin to marginalize certain services vs. others? I also wonder if Twitch would have been better-off being acquired by ESPN or Facebook.

On March 1, 2017, KunalRai commented on GXB: a blockchain-based decentralized data exchange platform :

I agree that the profit formula in its current form may not be sustainable. Competing with government sponsored data exchanges would be extremely difficult. But if GXB can but a reliable network of data sources – which do not rely on scrapping – and build a solid analytics platform, then it has great potential for offering subscription services. One approach would be to tie into consumer finance (banks’ own databases), e-commerce, and real estate transaction databases and generate real-time analytics such as credit ratings, expected customer-acquisition-cost per product per age-group by location, demographic maps, etc. Don’t sell the data, but sell the analytics.

On February 25, 2017, KunalRai commented on UPS Prepares to Take on Amazon :

I see certain differences in that UPS’ logistics network and hard assets in terms of retail stores are already deployed (a.k.a fully depreciated), so the marginal investment to pursuing a fulfillment model would not be as high as it would be for SF Express. Also, UPS does not have to move to a full e-commerce model right away. They should start by being the “behind-the-scenes” guy. Don’t try to develop your own marketplace right away. Let vendors sell on their own websites and on Amazon (where all the traffic accumulates), but simply maintain inventory and fulfill the orders.

On February 3, 2017, KunalRai commented on Music Unlimited – Sony Lost This One As Well :

Sony’s efforts in this space was news to me as well. I agree with Alex that Sony’s failure to integrate across its assets has a lot to do with the way the company manages talent and innovation. Regarding the comparison to Apple Music – while Apple’s service was a late entrant, it targeted customers already addicted to an ecosystem. The members were already buying digital content through iTunes before the music service was launched. So Apple had to market its new offering well, and ensure that the service was fully-integrated into iTunes. Perhaps, had Sony also offered movies from its production houses and access to video games under a subscription model through the same platform, customers would have seen more value that justified the switching costs.

On February 3, 2017, KunalRai commented on HBX: A winner who doesn’t want to win? :

Great post, Yi. While any professor can create content online, I think another resource available to HBS is its brand name. I am not sure if people will pay $1500 for a course by a “random” professor, and whether employers will acknowledge the completion of such a course. And as a former HBX student, I can attest to the fact that the HBX quality lives up to the brand name and pedigree of HBS products. HBX showcases well orchestrated and well-produced content, which leverages pre-existing pools of knowledge and expertise at the school. In some ways HBS is like Apple – the king of interdependent products in its industry. I think HBX will be a huge success, and it could be differentiated such that it compliments the classroom experience. Perhaps, HBS could get some efficiencies out of it – teach certain sections of the RC curriculum that are purely technical through the online platform.

On February 2, 2017, KunalRai commented on Netflix: Winning in 21st Century Media :

Thanks for this post on Netflix. While they clearly disrupted the traditional television and movie rental markets, I am a little skeptical about whether they are winning. On-demand content is a crowded space now. Attracting subscribers has forced all of the players to splurge on original content. I wonder if Netflix’s balance sheet would look different when their off-balance sheet commitments come up for payment. While international expansion seems logical, entering markets with weak copyright laws is difficult – why pay Netflix when you can watch online for free? I think one of two things will happen going forward – either Netflix will disrupt itself (again) to survive, or it will get acquired by someone who enjoys more economies of scale. For now, the on-demand industry is a hot battlefield with no clear winners.