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On May 5, 2017, Lauren commented on Matterport: Creating a Real Estate VR Platform :

Hey Brandon, thanks so much for the blog post! It seems like the use of virtual reality could entirely disrupt and displace real estate agents. I’m curious if/how this institutionalized industry is thinking about this competitive threat and how to respond. Also, as Matterport considers additional ways to create value, perhaps the company could offer a service that provides home sellers with recommendations about how to best stage their homes for the most flattering VR experience for potential buyers (similar to how real estate agents provide staging advice).

Thanks for the post, James. I think one of the major competitive advantages that Apple has in the space is industrial design. Simply said, Apple makes beautiful objects. One of the main reasons why others, notably Google, have faced resistance and adaption has been hardware-related. The physical experience is clunky, invasive, and odd. We still witness this today with Hololens and Oculus. The fact that these “objects” are being placed on people’s faces and in clear, unobstructed view means that design is of even greater importance, relative to phones and computers, which can be out of sight. I’m curious to see–pun intended–wear VR industrial design goes. Apple is certainly well positioned to be successful in this space.

On May 3, 2017, Lauren commented on NYT VR: The Gray Lady’s VR Experiment :

Hey Micah – Great post! I really enjoyed learning about how journalism, in particular The NY Times, is thinking about augmenting its offering through VR. Quick question for you: how is The Times promoting the VR app? Is it just word-of-mouth and via the app store, so that early adopters are the most likely to be aware of it? If so, do you know if there are plans to generate faster and broader awareness of the offering? Thanks!!

On April 6, 2017, Lauren commented on 23andMe… and my likelihood of going bald :

Great post, Erik! The company sounds like it’s doing some really interesting work. One question for you: how to they handle privacy and ethical concerns? I feel like that would be my main reservation in the decision making process of whether or not to use the service, especially if the data would be shared with third-parties. Thanks!

On April 6, 2017, Lauren commented on Brandwatch- Social Listening and Analytics :

Thanks for the great post, Megan. This sounds like a fascinating company! Do you know if they have limitations around the breadth of languages covered? For instance, does Brandwatch only work with English language-based data? Also, how does the company think about tackling cultural differences within the same language?

On April 6, 2017, Lauren commented on Facebook: Social Media and the Rise in Public Suicide :

Thanks so much for the post, Ian. I wrote my post on a similar topic: the Crisis Text Line. I didn’t realize that Facebook and the Crisis Text Line had this partnership in place – how awesome! I’m curious about the data collection aspect of Facebook’s effort. Crisis Text Line claims to have amassed the most comprehensive real-time mental health data set to date and has opened its data set to “(1) inform the public and media, (2) shape government and school policies, and (3) drive cutting edge academic research” (according to the Crisis Text Line’s website). Do you know if Facebook is (or is considering) doing a similar thing?

Wonderful post, Christy – I’m really bummed to hear that they folded!

I’m curious if there’s an opportunity to continue to experiment in a low stakes manner and get comprehensive feedback from customers. I know there are “chef/restaurant incubator” concepts, like City Grit in NYC and Wink and Nod in Boston, that feature guest chefs and changing menus. Do you think Dinner Lab could reinvent itself, so that high-cost logistics could be reigned in (i.e. real estate, staff, regulatory, etc.), while still providing a platform for guest chefs to crowdsource feedback? Maybe it would look something like a “chef incubator” but with a membership and post-meal evaluations? Just an idea…

Great post – I hope SpotAngels is able to help me find a parking spot regularly one day!

About the parking restrictions component, I’m curious about two things: (1) How is the company thinking about accuracy? For instance, parking restrictions change from time to time. Is there a way for the team to use data from public records, noting when parking rules are changing? Also, for NYC at least, some times parking rules are in effect and other days they aren’t (e.g. certain rules are apply if it’s a certain holiday, if there’s a parade, if there’s an anticipated weather event, etc.). How is the company thinking about incorporating these nuances? (2) How is the company thinking about liability? I’m sure (unfortunately) there’s someone who will want to sue the company if his car gets towed because he followed inaccurate guidance on the app…

On March 21, 2017, Lauren commented on Glossier: “What’s Your Dream Face Wash?” :

Wonderful post, Lulu! Similar to Natalie, I’m impressed by Glossier’s ability to take this comprehensive list of desirable product attributes and formulate a single product that satisfies them all. Do you think the brand will start to collect and categorize feedback based on customer profiles, such as “dry skin” vs. “oily skin,” and design products targeting those specific profile-types (especially as the number of followers grows) or do you think they will likely continue to pursue a “one-size fits all” approach? Also, do you think the company will start crowdsourcing ideas about what products it should develop next or do you think they have a well defined product roadmap that they are looking to develop for the foreseeable future?

On February 27, 2017, Lauren commented on Honor: the next “Uber for elderly care” :

Thanks for the post! I’m curious how the platform actually works – is the expectation that the patient will request the one-time or recurring services through the app? If so, how is the company thinking about training “patients” to use the app — and to teach them a new behavior (in general) for them? I think about my grandmother, for instance, who has a pretty basic cellphone — not even a smartphone. She can’t believe (and nearly always forgets) there’s an on/off switch on her phone. Even with more tech-savvy baby boomers, many of them struggle to use relatively “simple” apps like Uber. It would be intriguing to hear how the firm is thinking about UX and UI. Also, in the elderly care market, there are instances of abuse and neglect. Having employees (vs. contractors) helps to combat potential experience issues, but I wonder what other mechanisms there are in place to strengthen the platform.

Thanks for the post! I’m curious if the organization only connects US borrowers and lenders, or if there are international capital flows. If the platform only serves US-based customers, I’m interested how they’ve enacted those guardrails. In addition, I wonder how the organization thinks about managing it’s relationship with the CFPB (the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau). If the platform serves international borrowers and lenders, I’d be intrigued to understand how they manage in so many different regulatory environments.

On February 27, 2017, Lauren commented on Has a Winner-Take-All Strategy Failed Instacart? :

Thanks for the post, James. Some other challenges that Instacart faces has to do with managing the customer experience. More specifically, because Instacart doesn’t have up-to-date line of sight into inventory levels, customers sometimes don’t receive their complete order. If they’ve placed an order to make dinner that evening and the protein is missing, then what’s the point? Another grocery trip is needed. Competitors, who own the inventory like Amazon, Peapod, and Jet, can ensure fewer stock outs and have an opportunity to earn better margins if they manage their spoilage rates effectively. Additionally, having independent contractors and a lack of consistent fulfillment procedures opens the company up to quality and liability issues (e.g. broken eggs and raw meat that hasn’t remained within the appropriate temperature range). I’m curious to see how Instacart will try to overcome these challenges.

On February 6, 2017, Lauren commented on Salesforce Sails Past Legacy Enterprise Software Competitors :

Thanks so much for the post, Alex. I’m curious about Salesforce’s customer base. It would be interesting to learn if their customers are primarily young and/or more agile companies or if there’s a decent portion of traditional corporate companies as well. I would think that traditional corporate accounts would be extremely valuable (as a large, steady revenue stream), but because of their typically bureaucratic nature, they may be particularly hard to convert to a new platform. The Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP platforms may be very sticky for these customers and thus, these players maybe hard to acquire. Not being able to tap into this demographic could inhibit the company’s ability to continually gain marketshare. How is Salesforce attempting to tackling this challenge? Additionally, I wonder if any of the Salesforce customers also have a competitor’s CSM platform — perhaps the customer had the legacy platform and is using Salesforce to supplement it. Would Salesforce see this scenario as an opportunity or a threat?

On February 6, 2017, Lauren commented on Postmates: what service does it really deliver? :

Thanks so much for the post. I’m curious about your autonomous vehicle argument and how that will play a key role in Uber’s ability to potentially overcome Postmates’ value proposition. Postmates and Doordash are both testing out self-driving delivery robots from Starship Technologies ( I bet Uber’s exploration into this space (i.e. self-driving cars that would deliver food, groceries, dry cleaning, etc.) is farther out in the future (I’d assume that they are first testing out self-driving cars for people and that they aren’t conducting both types of “content” delivery concurrently). Accordingly, do you think Postmates and/or Doordash will realize any kind of first mover advantage in this space?

On February 6, 2017, Lauren commented on New York Times Digital: Progress Through Trial and Error :

Thanks so much for the post, Michelle. I hadn’t realized that the NYT had tried such a segmented approach to content distribution via various apps. I’m curious if some of the challenges with the pay wall (and its plateauing subscription growth) is due to tech-savvy readers (in particular, the millennial demographic) gradually figuring out ways around the pay wall (e.g. googling a specific article and using the google redirect to avoid the wall). I imagine that the NYT digital team is constantly looking for ways to combat these avid NYT readers who find creative ways to not pay for the content they’re accessing. It would be interesting to see what kind of subscription growth results from the implementation of stronger pay walls and if it’s sustained growth.