Nicolas II

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On April 28, 2017, Nicolas II commented on NextVR – Bringing Virtual Reality Events Into The Home! :

Great post, Andy! You mentioned that the leagues are bullish on NextVR. I’m curious how you think other players in the ecosystem (individual franchises, TV networks) feel about NextVR, and if they have an incentive to fight it. For example, isn’t it possible that the individual team owners would be concerned about VR hurting ticket sales? I’d be curious to get your take on what the barriers to adoption are here. As a consumer, I’d love to try this.

On April 28, 2017, Nicolas II commented on Unity: The biggest platform for creating VR content :

Great post, Bipul! This is a fascinating company – I may go and sign up for a free account just to tinker around. I’m curious how you think the competitive landscape will play out here. Do you think this will be a “winner-take-all” platform, or do you think that other platforms will emerge (for example, platforms that are owned or sponsored by EA, Nintendo, Valve, etc.) and be able to compete effectively? Is it cheap/convenient/sensible for developers on both sides of the platform to multi-home? I would think there would eventually emerge a clearer “tiering” of the market, in which professional VR content developers use more sophisticated tools, have their own community, etc., while the indie ecosystem is left to its own platform.

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

Great Post! This is a really interesting application of VR, and one that I hope succeeds. I’d be very curious to get your thoughts on how the ecosystem for medical VR applications will evolve in the future. Is there a natural fit for VR within the portfolios of the current big healthcare players (insurers, providers, device manufacturers), or do you think this becomes its own segment of the market? Thanks again for flagging this company!

On April 5, 2017, CameronParker commented on WHOOP :

Great post, A2017. This is an interesting company, and an interesting service. I think there is a clear analog here to FitBit, which tracks and interprets physiological data using wearable technology. FitBit has encountered lots of competitive pressure because its technology, and the algorithms that it runs, are simply not that difficult to replicate. Do you think that Whoop will run into a similar situation here? I would think that you only need a threshold number of users (maybe 1,000?), before your algorithms are – from the perspective of the user – just as good as the next guy’s.

On April 5, 2017, CameronParker commented on Birchbox: the beauty of data :

Great post, Sonali! I think Birchbox has a great model, but part of me worries that what they do – and the data assets they generate – just aren’t that hard to replicate. If you think about the types of questions that merchants would use Birchbox to answer, it doesn’t seem like it would require that much data to answer them (e.g. “Does product A sell better than product B?”). It also isn’t clear to me that the value of data from prior campaigns is so overwhelmingly valuable that there are strong same-side network effects. This means that, once a competitor has the basic logistics infrastructure and customer relationship in place, it can compete almost as well as Birchbox for business from merchandisers. Hence, a competitive marketplace with, potentially, a lot of switching.

Great post, AC. I also wrote my post about a credit scoring company (Friendly Score), and have a question for you about the institutional context in which these companies operate. In the US, there are strict laws against lending practices that discriminate – whether intentionally or not – along certain demographic criteria (ethnic, gender, etc.). Do you think that what ZestFinance is doing rubs up against these laws in any way?

On March 21, 2017, CameronParker commented on 23andMe: Healing the World through Crowdsourcing :

Great post, Ali. I love this business and am hoping they’ll be successful. One of the biggest risks I see for them (or any imitators) is actually around privacy. It’s not inconceivable to me that access to large-scale genetic data could quickly put you in legal and ethical gray areas. For example, do you want marketers of specific drugs knowing that you have a genetic proclivity to a disease that they treat? Or do you want employers to know that you have a predisposition to specific types or levels of intelligence, or a particular risk of someday collecting disability? The Spiderman quote “with great power comes great responsibility” comes to mind.

On March 21, 2017, CameronParker commented on Lego Ideas: Crowdsourcing the Next Big Hit :

I agree this is a neat idea, and fits wonderfully with Lego’s strong track-record of building communities around specific properties and increasing consumer engagement (branded stores, “master-builders,” digital properties, etc.). My biggest worry with this idea is how you’d operationalize it in an efficient way. Lego has spent the last decade dramatically reducing the number and complexity of its pieces, but this would seem to go in the opposite direction. Similarly, they have been tightly organizing their products around themes – building “brands within a brand” like Lego Batman, Ninjago, Bionicles, City, etc. Their product placement is highly disciplined around these properties as well. Having a bunch of crowd-sourced “one-offs” would seem to go against this.

On March 21, 2017, CameronParker commented on Gym Rat: Crowdsourcing Personal Trainers :

Great post, Ravneet! This business is an interesting idea. I had the same concerns about it that you did. Specifically, how do you maintain quality-control on the trainers themselves (beyond just crowd-sourced ratings) – e.g. keep them from inadvertently hurting someone. Also – a big challenge for coaching / one-on-one client services platforms is – once the client establishes a relationship with a trainer they like – why would they keep using the platform? At some point, you have to imagine they just have each other’s phone numbers and do it “off the grid.”

On February 23, 2017, CameronParker commented on WeWork: “A Platform for Creators” :

Great post, Lacy. I completely agree with your assessment that the network effects of the WeWork model are weak or challenged in most circumstances. I think there is a clear analog here to wholesale and retail data centers. If I’m a managed hosting client, the only case in which I’d care what other clients use my data center is if they are in my industry, and the resulting application ecosystem is built to support workloads similar to my own (e.g. if I’m a hotel with lots of casino/gaming data, I’d want to use the data center that hosts everyone else’s casino/gaming data, to leverage whatever applications and industry-specific support the data center offers to that community). Similarly, the only reason I’d find WeWork more attractive than a competitor is if the other tenants are relevant to my own business. That doesn’t mean the model itself isn’t attractive and profitable, it just means it can’t rely as much on network effects for growth as other platforms can.

On February 23, 2017, CameronParker commented on In Airbnb We Trust :

Nice post, Micah! Question for you: AirBnB clearly benefits from strong indirect network effects (more properties –> more users). What do you think the prospects are for niche competitors to take share? For example, could a hyper-focused, hyper-premium property manager compete effectively for high-end business? Or could a “destination-specific” (e.g. “Alaskan Fishing”) property manager compete effectively for his or her niche? Or do you think AirBnB is basically a runaway train and the game has been won?

On February 23, 2017, CameronParker commented on Steam: The iTunes of Video Games :

Great post, James! I am a big fan of Valve. There is *one* video game that I have been hooked on for over a decade now: Sid Meier’s Civilizations. I play it once a year, almost always when I’m on vacation and the cost of sleep deprivation is minimal. I remember about 8 or 9 years ago, being on vacation and not having the disks to play the game. I went to multiple Best Buys and they didn’t have it in stock. Only then did I find Valve, and realize, “Oh duh, this is just a program – of course it can be delivered over the web.” I repurchased the game online, and haven’t had to worry about keeping track of disks or making sure they don’t get scratched. Question for you: Do you think the publishers themselves have an advantage over Valve in distributing the games? My usual click-path is 1) check out the latest Civilization updates on Sid Meier’s website, and then (2) start playing… in my case, I would be more likely to buy from the publisher. Do you think that is normal, or do customers typically go to Valve to “shop around” for games first?

On February 3, 2017, CameronParker commented on The New York Times: Loser (sadly) :

I enjoyed your post! I wonder a lot about how the legacy periodicals (even the reputable ones like the Gray Lady) are going to adapt in the future. I actually don’t think it’s the shift to digital per se that has caused them the most problems, but rather the shortening of readers’ attention spans, and increased competition, that have been enabled by the digital transition. I’m not sure how the New York Times can reinvent itself into a more profitable company, and wonder if the end-state of a lot of these papers isn’t just to become “vanity megaphones” for billionaires (e.g. Chris Hughes’ purchase of The New Republic; Bezos’ purchase of The Washington Post).

On February 3, 2017, CameronParker commented on Instacart – Leading the way for grocery deliveries :

I enjoyed your post, and think Instacart is a great example of a #winner from digital transformation. My wife and I have been heavy Instacart users during the winters in Boston, when going to the store ourselves would require getting all three of our children dressed up in snowsuits. My biggest concern about Instacart (or rather, the valuation it receives) is that the benefits of scale in this business aren’t immediately clear to me. For example, just because a platform like Instacart “owns” Dallas doesn’t necessarily mean that another platform might not emerge as the winner Houston. In other words, the scale advantages might be mostly local. And even within a single city, isn’t it possible that multiple platforms could compete effectively with each other, with both drivers and customers simply finding a way to multi-home?

On February 3, 2017, CameronParker commented on Is Journalism Dead? :

I enjoyed this post. Running with the disruption framework that you introduced, I wonder if the “job” that journalism has historically done isn’t itself fragmenting. From the perspective of many reputable journalists, Buzzfeed content is “trash”, and many consumers of journalism would agree. Do you think there is a “job” that Buzzfeed actually does better than more reputable content providers like the NYT, WSJ, Atlantic, Economist, etc.?