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On November 22, 2015, QC commented on Uber-izing Hotel Pricing: Duetto :

Duetto’s customer traction has been impressive so far and they have an all-star team. Building integrations with existing work flows and meeting specific needs of large hotel chains is not an easy task. Assuming that analytics and prediction capabilities can be extended beyond the hotel industry, I wonder if/when we are going to see them expand to other verticals, e.g. event venues, marketplaces, etc.

Great post on big data in agriculture. There have been many startups that leverage data to advance agriculture, e.g. Blue River Technology, etc. I think it will be hard for Monsanto to own the entire data chain given the market size and competitive landscape. I’m hoping there will be more companies that will enter the agritech space to help balance and enrich the ecosystem.

Smart toys are a great idea and have the potential to make lives easier for parents and more fun for kids. However, one big concern I have about the sector is uncertainty around the AI and speech recognition technology used in toys. Unlike with real family, friends and care takers, parents are not sure exactly what toys would say to their kids in different scenarios and what kind of positive/negative impact they would have on the kids. Unless the technology matures and offers consistently reliable responses, I think it would be hard to robots or smart toys to gain mass adoption quickly.

I think Glassdoor offers insightful information on employee salaries and satisfaction but I am concerned about biased data. The fact that any verified employee can leave a comment/review on Glassdoor implies that employees with extremely negative or positive experiences are more likely to contribute to the platform than average employees. This leads to lots of long tail data and biased reviews of companies. Glassdoor needs to encourage either a large number or an even distribution of employees to contribute to eliminate those biases.

Great post on AngelList! Just this past week, the SEC approved Title III of the JOBS Act, allowing equity crowdfunding for non-accredited investors. This rule change will inevitably increase the number of investors and transactions on crowdfunding platforms such as AngelList. I am curious to see how much of AngelList’s future growth will be fueled by non-accredited investors.

On November 1, 2015, QC commented on Quora – Capturing the Intelligence of the World :

It’s amazing to see user and content growth on Quora’s platform over time. I think what Quora has done well was to target the tech sector initially to get high concentration of users and content in the tech community before expanding to other categories. Power users, i.e. users who post and comment frequently, also have played a huge role in developing the platform.

On October 5, 2015, Qiyun Cai commented on Zuckerberg’s Big Bet on a New Set of Network Benefits :

Great insights! Unlike WhatsApp and Instagram, Oculus did not come with an established user base and still has technology risks. There are other companies (Jaunt, Magic Leap) that are tackling the VR space. It remains to be seen what Oculus/Facebook will do to overcome technical hurdles and build out a sizeable platform.

On October 5, 2015, Qiyun Cai commented on Zillow’s Reliance on Multiple Network Effects :

I have been a user of Zillow and have been impressed by their growth over the last decade. In 2014, it acquired a competitor Trulia for $3.5 billion. Zillow and Trulia started with very similar value proposition and product offerings. I wonder what Zillow has done successfully to beat Trulia and be the winner in the space.

On October 5, 2015, Qiyun Cai commented on Chicago Mercantile Exchange: The Benefits of a Closed Platform :

Really interesting post! I didn’t realize that CME is a closed network. It is incredible how much market share it was able to gain by disallowing multi-homing. I do wonder what would happen to CME’s market share if other exchanges were to work more closely together (e.g. in the AOL vs Yahoo and Microsoft MSN messenger case).

On September 14, 2015, Qiyun Cai commented on ClassPass: Workouts just got easier :

I have used ClassPass and enjoyed the 1-month trial. I think the app is great for exploring new gyms and studios especially for people who are new to a city. However, I doubt the sustainability of their business model as many users churn after finding their favorite gym(s) through ClassPass. Due to the limitation on the number of times a user can visit a certain studio on ClassPass, users have little incentive to continue using the service once they settle on a place and want to keep coming back to it. ClassPass will have to refine its business model to reduce churn and provide more value beyond the initial exploratory phase.

On September 14, 2015, Qiyun Cai commented on Coupang – Changing the face of retail and distribution :

Wow the customer acquisition numbers are really impressive! It’s interesting to see that they pivoted from a purely Groupon-like model to a curated ecommerce model. I wonder if Amazon or other competitors have tried Coupang’s model after seeing its success. Given the competitive nature in the ecommerce space, Coupang has to continue to invest heavily in logistics infrastructure and customer service to continue to win in Korea. I am also curious to see the new products/features they will be launching to capture more value from existing customer base.

On September 14, 2015, Qiyun Cai commented on Digital Matchmakers Win! :

Interesting post! I didn’t know that all three dating apps are owned by the same parent company. Dating apps are really changing how people meet and date these days as they provide a much larger pool of potential matches than traditional matchmaking. However, I always wonder if dating app businesses have conflicting interests as they want to monetize by keeping users in the app longer while at the same time delighting users with matches that will eventually make them churn. It’s a fine balance for most profitable dating apps.