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On November 23, 2015, Matt commented on Toyota & Social Media Monitoring :

Super interesting! I know big companies are all about monitoring their own social media presence nowadays, whether its running ad campaigns, responding to user comments or doing the necessary quality control against negative PR. With all the recalls driving risky PR in the industry, I can see tremendous value to this for automotive firms. I didn’t imagine an automotive company would be this proactive in monitoring greater industry trends and brand sentiment. I think this can reveal interesting insights about brand loyalty and the impact advertising efforts have on awareness. Hopefully Toyota can better use social data to inform marketing spend and vehicle incentives — I think the challenge will be collecting the right data which correlates to new sales or increased loyalty.

On November 23, 2015, Matt commented on Uber-izing Hotel Pricing: Duetto :

Interesting post, I had not heard of Duetto! I just read the post on Expedia which made me want to check this out. It made me think of the current tagline from Starwood for their “Best Rate Guarantee”: “If you find a lower qualified rate within 24 hours of booking, we’ll match it–and give you a 20% discount or 2,000 Starpoints”. Hotels are fighting hard against OTAs and the pricing power they have amassed. I definitely think Duetto can have a role moving forward to give hotels more control over inventory supply/demand. I’m not sure the hotel is able to put restrictions on how low (or high) OTAs set room rates but I can imagine there is room for more efficiency to let hotels capture more of the value they deserve.

I agree, Expedia is doing some interesting things with data. With growth they’ve been able to do more. This post is going to go against the module…I think the network effects are important here. The network effects will likely grow, especially with Orbitz, but we know that customers will multi-home travel sites searching for a low price. The consumer-side is difficult to satisfy and some of the restrictions they pass on are way too rigid for some travelers. More and more, hotels will give better rates if you book directly AND you retain the flexibility to cancel up until 24 hours before the booking.

Value creation for the hotels is very love-hate. Expedia creates value for hotels, especially smaller hotels, that have unsold rooms and want to increase occupancy to prevent low volume periods. However, hotels are powerless because Expedia takes the consumer’s money and pays the hotel 50-70% of the room rate — basically, they earn back the cost of the room. Expedia buys at an absurdly low rate. Why wouldn’t the hotel offer better rates direct?

I think online travel agencies will have issues satisfying both sides and the quality issues sides experience here (along with multi-homing and the powerless issue) is tremendous. I don’t think they will die anytime soon, but I have concerns.

Note: Scathing online reviews of Expedia back this up. I’m certainly biased against Expedia due to several bad experiences either at the hotel or during booking (couldn’t cancel once booked even though it was MONTHS in advance). I think, because you pay

On November 1, 2015, Matt commented on Crowdsourcing your Day :

I’ve had 2 odd jobs done through TaskRabbit. It’s a good service from my experience.

I think the changes to display only 3 taskers and set hourly rates are great for frequent taskers but wonder how this is translating to growth in the broader tasker network, including those who use this as a short-term/part-time source of income. The more reliant a tasker is on TaskRabbit for income, the more tasks they will complete, the more reviews they will have, and the stickier they become. However, I think these recent changes push the majority of less frequent taskers to different platforms and encourage multi-homing where they can do their preferred jobs at the right price. Another problem is the variety of jobs. Unpredictability for the tasker is not something that breeds loyalty for the platform. They may prefer to stick to cleaning (i.e. stay on the Handy platform) or stick to driving (i.e. Uber or Lyft), whatever pays the best rate and is most convenient for them.

Finally, ratings for users requesting taskers mean next to nothing on a platform like this. Network effects are extremely weak. You can join, connect with Facebook, and have a tasker lined up same-day. Multi-homing is a big challenge for TaskRabbit.

On November 1, 2015, Matt commented on Is Crowdsourcing the Future Of Film? Not really :

Enjoyed reading this one! I never really thought of the possibility of crowd-sourcing movies but certainly heard of some of the Kickstarter campaigns such as Veronica Mars. I don’t think crowd-sourcing the whole effort (writing, casting, filming, production, promotion, etc.) is realistic today, but I do think crowd-sourcing can be particularly powerful in designing a storyline, sequel or spin-offs from which a large movie studio can take over the rights and do what they do best. I’m thinking more of an open source concept where users build a character or plot and when the studios see demonstrated interest in the crowd, they do some further research to gauge demand. The initial supporters/creators will become powerful ambassadors for the movie. This does assume that Hollywood’s creatives have the knack for spotting ideas and building them into a full-blown production (and the fact that they want to put their name on something that they didn’t originate).

I think connecting consultants (freelance MBAs) with small or medium sized businesses is a great idea but, like others, I worry about the stickiness of HourlyNerd. Since consultants have an “established” track record (reason for hiring), they will be more inclined to multi-home or take their services elsewhere, whether full-time employment or commit to a new platform. SMEs will also multi-home, since they are desiring top talent with established credentials. As long as the freelancer fits there criteria, they will use whatever platform necessary. Now, you can say that ease of use and familiarity will keep an SME with HourlyNerd but I’m somewhat convinced that most of the interaction in these jobs occurs off the platform, rather than on the platform like TopCoder or oDesk. For this reason, I’m inclined to think stickiness will be a big problem once this “freelance consultant-for-hire” trend becomes more mainstream.

My dog stays in dog hotels/boarding facilities in and around Boston from time to time. Sophisticated boarding facilities in the area charge anywhere from $50-70 per night for a basic dog “suite”. I’ve tried Rover’s competitor, DogVacay, before and it works well. The value proposition is that you will save some money and your dog will likely have more fun (if you find a good sitter). As a result, I do think that the reviews and reputation will play a big role in determining a winner between Rover and DogVacay. Yes, multi-homing will occur, but I think the majority of dog owners will prefer the platform with the largest base of reliable dog sitters and review database.

With that said, disintermediation then becomes a big problem. Once the dog owners have a positive personal interaction with a sitter during a “doggie vacay”, the desire to use a different provider may only surface when your previous sitter is unavailable. This is a big risk. I haven’t used the platform in a while so maybe they are trying to remedy this now?

On October 5, 2015, Matt commented on GoPro – A Platform Worth $3 Billion :


Enjoyed reading your post as I wrote about GoPro for the last blog post. I agree there are some network effects through users and accessories, which has driven expanded categories of use and further network growth. I wonder, though, how sustainable their growth is. The action sports category is limited and they seem to be approaching market saturation (at least US). It will be interesting to see how their hardware evolves over time and they can capture new applications for their hardware. Certainly, they will succeed in continuing to make the form factor lighter and smaller, but how many users will chose to upgrade their old GoPros which are still, for the most part, doing the job?

While they have succeeded in keeping competitors away, I worry about new takes on this technology. Garmin, well known for GPS devices and wearables, produces a waterproof HD action camera called the Virb XE, priced similar to GoPro, but adds sensors to track heart rate, GPS, acceleration and orientation. While maybe not catching on yet, I think their technology is compelling. Garmin also has a diverse balance sheet and perhaps more resources to dedicate to R&D the space, plus experience in wearables. Time will tell.


On October 5, 2015, Matt commented on Handy: Turning Product Into Platform :

Interesting topic! Building off of some of the other comments, I too have noticed that there is not standardization in quality. My roommates and I use handy every few weeks for the past year now and we have had extremely mixed results. Some cleaners are great and some are sub-par. The results are always different and the user is unable to lock-in the same cleaner for repeat business. It appears Handy makes this a challenge to detract from the possibility of disintermediation, but I’m not totally sure. Either way, when we have a bad experience, the cleaning session is always comped. Their customer service is excellent.

One key advantage they have is insurance. Despite being recommended local cleaning services (usually independent contractors), I feel as though the consumer takes a risk that the contractor is injured in their home while cleaning. Incidents may be rare, but the piece of mind through Handy’s liability coverage is the main reason we keep going back to them.


Guillermo, I enjoyed reading your post. I’m worried about Garmin’s future though. Similar to how smart phones largely eroded the demand for in-car GPS units from Garmin’s car navigation business, I wonder how smart watches and other smart wearables may disrupt their sport watch business. Certainly, their technology today is superior to the fitness wearables on the market today and likely the preferred solution for elite athletes, but smart watches and wearables are putting heart rate monitors and accelerometers to work in similar ways, and sometimes doing more than just fitness. The Apple Watch may not emphasize the sports/fitness aspect as much as it could, but the capabilities of the watch are quite impressive from a health/fitness standpoint. I presume the next model will only get better, along with the watches other features. If a device can do the job “good enough” while also providing other capabilities the user may want outside of fitness, I see this as a threat to Garmin’s position. Curious to hear your thoughts!

On September 14, 2015, Matt commented on Tesla – More Than Just Ludicrous Mode :

Austin, I loved reading your post on Tesla. It is amazing to read about what Tesla can do with over-the-air patches and updates. It is extremely impressive. It gives them unprecedented control over brand experience in a way that makes the dealer-less sales model seem insignificant! I am curious how their maintenance concept will evolve over time and whether new high-end electric entrants (Porsche, BMW, etc.) will embrace a similar dealer-less concept for their electrics or make the user drive the car to a brick and mortar service center.

I think the true test of winner/loser is coming if Tesla can stay relevant with their coming models. It’s clear they made a mark, but will it stick? Tesla has had some problems getting the Model X sport-utility production ready. I think Musk is far too focused on build quality to worry because he wants to delight customers again. If he can do what he did with the Model S, I think the Model X will get them one step closer to a low-cost mass-market electric vehicle in a few years. Right now, the economics simply aren’t there.

On September 14, 2015, Matt commented on Silvercar: Redefining the Airport Rental Car Experience :

I found Silvercar to be a very interesting start-up when I first heard of them so I enjoyed reading your post. I would certainly have used them if they were in my city this summer!

I think their model is particularly effective for business travelers. Thinking about the business consumer car rental market, it has always amazed me to see Hertz, Avis, and the others offer seemingly endless options for rent (the extremes in which business clients like to ignore, sticking with mid-size). I think for most business travel rentals, customers don’t have a strong preference on what they drive and cost (within reason) is ignored, they just want an experience that is hassle-free and quick upon landing/takeoff. They also stay loyal to a brand that delights. It seems that Silvercar alleviates these pain points and delights with a great vehicle/tech experience through the app. Renting through Avis this summer for 9 weeks I was quite disappointed by their mobile app and the distance they were from the main arrival gate. I think they need to focus on the corporate partnerships that can drive more of the right type of clients to the service to spread the excitement. Thus, building brand loyalty and keeping the right customers coming back.

I wonder how their pickup/dropoff strategy will be affected by all the regulatory issues Uber/Lyft has faced with airports. This may be alleviated if they get into carport positions similar to rental agencies (hopefully closer). Proximity may allow incumbents (Avis, Hertz, etc) to keep their advantage. The one model strategy is also something I wonder about. How much does single-model scale in this business can effectively lower maintenance costs, specifically having only the A4 versus dozens of models/brands such as the big rental companies?