Mike Maley

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On November 21, 2015, Mike Maley commented on TrueCar – solving the “lemons” issue through data?? :

Certainly an interesting issue to debate – is a “fair” price for a particular car a price that’s equal to/lower than what everyone else is paying, or does underlying, unobservable condition of the car figure into the equation. I agree that TrueCar’s business probably stands on the principle that the former is the “fair price”. Especially in light of the fact that almost any dealer nowadays sells “Certified Used” cars, with better condition guarantees and warranties – for a higher price than a “non-certified” used car would be of course, I wonder how TrueCar competes with or factors in different types of warranties into their valuations, if at all. Additionally, online listing services like AutoTrader have pushed listing prices for dealers downward in recent years and serve as another way to potentially collect data on what cars are going for, in addition to Kelley Blue Book & others. I wonder how close these competitors can get to the TrueCar valuation without the benefit of actual transaction data as well.

On November 21, 2015, Mike Maley commented on How Ibotta Is Changing the Coupon Game :

Definitely cool idea – I was surprised to learn about the big name brands and retailers that Ibotta already has as a part of their product. The next step to increase the value of the platform then, becomes attracting users in critical mass. Of course, there is a lot going on in digital couponing nowadays, and consumers have tons of online couponing options without having to necessarily take polls or watch videos. So, there has to be in incremental value-add to consumers for using Ibotta instead of other channels – are the discounts larger, for example, than other digital couponing methods because of the valuable additional data that brands and retailers are gathering? Ibotta will also have to fight what I imagine might be existing inertia for consumers who use a retailers existing digital couponing solution, simply because they’re familiar with the store name rather than the Ibotta name. In any case, great idea and a lot of valuable information here & I hope they do well!

On November 21, 2015, Mike Maley commented on Transunion – Competing with Data Giants :

Really interesting and obviously data-intensive space here. I’m especially interested in the piece you mention about growth in new markets like India – I have to think this represents the largest long-term opportunity for companies like TransUnion. The question remains in my mind though, will those markets evolve in the same way that they have in the US? Will there be as many as three major players in consumer credit bureau space or not? As you mentioned, there is a relatively strong network effect here. It would be interesting to find out what competitors are doing in emerging markets and can first movers find a way to turn this into more of a “winner-take-all” game in certain geographies?

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

Well written post! I’m personally excited about Genius simply because of all of the different directions the company could ultimately take. The copyright issue remains a huge threat, but I see Genius as a potential source of “CliffsNotes” for all kinds of digital content. If Genius could do this for popular news articles and current events and even start to curate that to individual users’ particular tastes, it would be a powerful one-stop source for various types of information that could be digested very quickly. However, this could also be interpreted as something quite different than Genius’ core brand, and could require the company to distance itself from that to attract broader appeal – as you suggest.

On October 30, 2015, Mike Maley commented on PatientsLikeMe: Using the crowd to improve medical care :

Totally agree that PLM should build a critical mass of patients in specific disease states to capture meaningful volumes of data. It’s great that they’ve by and large overcome the barrier of getting patients to share personal health information with a broader community, but I wonder if there are any liability issues created with patients giving one another medical advice. Although they may be knowledgable, patients typically aren’t medical professionals and obviously what works for one patient may not necessarily work for another. That said, an exciting game changer for this company could be acquiring lots of genetic and genomic data on patients and running more sophisticated analytics with that information in the future as well!

On October 30, 2015, Mike Maley commented on Anheuser-Busch: Innovating Beer Through Crowd Sourcing :

This was a really interesting initiative. I actually got to taste several early test versions of Black Crown through a friend who was an engineer at AB during the competition. I think there are a number of factors that make a beer a commercial success, but based on the outcome of Black Crown I’m not sure that the crowdsourcing selling point translates into commercial success particularly well. The failure could simply be indicative of AB’s inability to compete in the craft beer segment though, and I think positioned differently a crowdsourced beer actually could’ve been more successful and create value for consumers considerably beyond the messaging of “we care about our customers”.

On October 5, 2015, Mike Maley commented on DogVacay: Building a Network of Dog Sitters :

The curated hosts model here seems to be viewed by DogVacay as key to their model – though it may run counter to what we’ve learned about scaling up through acquiring large volumes of users on both sides of a platform. DogVacay must believe that guests won’t trust the platform unless there is a rigorous selection process for hosts – and my guess is they’re using that fact to spur adoption from the guest side of the platform, and then using the number of guests to drive host approvals and a target host/guest ratio. In any case, tons of value created by eliminating tons of fixed costs from the dog sitting industry and therefore providing the service at a much lower cost – but I agree with the assessments that the barriers to entry are pretty low here.

On October 5, 2015, Mike Maley commented on Zillow’s Reliance on Multiple Network Effects :

I’m not a Zillow user, but familiar with the site and have found what they’ve done in democratizing housing data particularly innovative with Zestimates and such. The real estate agent’s staying power has proven tricky, as you mention – and Zillow has done well but the majority of the profit pool seems to remain with them. I wonder if a multi-sided platform is possible if the real estate agents can’t be displaced. I.e., is there a role for contractors to play on this platform once a house has been purchased and the buyer wants renovations done… things like that which could incorporate more parties, create value for all users in designing a more complete home-buying ecosystem, and ultimately enable Zillow to capture more value as well. We’ll see!

On October 5, 2015, Mike Maley commented on Swing-by-swing: Network Effects Drive Success for(e) this Golf App :

This sounds like a cool app. I do actually see the potential for indirect network effects as well – the most immediate being very targeted advertisements, especially for the “free” users of the freemium model. Seems like an effective way to tailor advertising to a core group of golf enthusiasts. Further – the data collected on where golfers play most often is valuable to golf courses trying to attract users to their clubs – think of densely populated golf course areas like Hilton Head particularly. I think those vendors might fit the “merchants” bucket we’ve been using in class well and benefit from a critical mass of SBS users in addition to the users increasingly benefitting from the community itself.

On September 13, 2015, Mike Maley commented on DraftKings – How a fantasy is changing the sports industry :

Definitely agree that daily fantasy sports will change fans’ engagement with sports in all the ways you mention above. Two interesting outstanding questions for me are –
1: Who’s going to win within the daily fantasy sports providers? DraftKings and FanDuel are out there, yet their success will continue to attract other competitors to the market (i.e. Yahoo). Both seem to be spending incredible amounts of ad dollars this season to increase users and get as big as possible as fast as possible – is sheer volume what will win the day for these companies, or are there other differentiating factors that will determine the winners?
2: What is the impact not only on the sports industry but on the gambling industry? Are daily fantasy leagues simply opening a new form of gambling to previous non-gamblers (increasing market size), or are they actually stealing share from traditional casinos or sports books?
While DraftKings certainly looks promising, it will face a host of new startup and entrenched competitors in the future, and it’ll be fascinating to see how the market pans out.

On September 13, 2015, Mike Maley commented on Letterman prompted into retirement by digital changes :

Really interesting application of how digital is changing consumption patterns across almost all industries. I’d agree that it’s certainly a big factor in the evolution of late night TV, but not necessarily that the clip-driven model is entirely new. SNL of course has been using a similar short skit-driven model for decades, likely recognizing that not all skits would appeal to all people as well. That said, the shift is even more pronounced now with the ability to view clips on-demand, as you point out (I’m a huge fan of Jimmy’s Lip Sync Battles, but have never seen an entire show).

On September 13, 2015, Mike Maley commented on Microsoft is Winning :

I don’t know a ton about Microsoft, but from a distance I’d agree with you that they’re on a winning trajectory with their latest releases in both hardware and software. Both the Surface tablet series and Windows 10 have knocked it out of the park in terms of user experience from what I’ve heard and seen. I’m fairly confident as well in Microsoft’s ability to translate an increasingly loyal user base into monetization – though agree that search probably isn’t the optimal way to do this. What I’d be more interested in is how Microsoft’s other plays in hardware and software (i.e. XBox and the Office Suite) figure into this equation or ecosystem – if at all.