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On November 23, 2015, Qing commented on Zopaf: Stop Leaving Money on the Negotiating Table :

This is such a cool tool! Will definitely check it out at some point.

One limitation of this I am interested in is that it really depends on the users to set the input. Therefore, if the users are not fully aware of the situation they are in, then we will run into a situation that’s “garbage in, garbage out”. It would be interesting to see how Zopaf tackles that in the future.

On November 23, 2015, Qing commented on Caesars Palace “Winner Winner Chicken Dinner” :

Thanks for sharing Alon! In my supply chain class (not sure if you are also in it), there is also another case about Caesars and how they are collecting data and using analytics to predict check-in volume, and thereby making decisions on staff scheduling, training, and process improvement. My questions is that I’d imagine most hotel chains have started to do the same thing, so going forward, how should Caesars continue to use data as a source of competitive advantage?

This is really interesting! I can totally see this being a key differentiator for farmers. Quite impressed that they incorporate real time weather data and satellite information to predict nitrogen level and field health. Right now it seems the app is only available if Monsanto farmers pay for it. Do you know if the trend is such that more apps like these will become available to even farmers who are not part of Monsanto?

On November 1, 2015, Qing commented on General Mills Crowdsourcing – Will they pull it off? :

This is super interesting! As a consumer, I certain appreciate it when companies try to engage our opinions and solicit our advice. At the same time, I also wonder whether the main goal of crowdsourcing ideas is to actually generate financial returns vs. using it as a marketing tactic. It would be interesting to know the success/ROI of G-WIN initiatives. I also found is intriguing that while the idea of acquiring up-and-coming companies in the CPG world is not new, 301INC essentially formalized the process and in a way gave General Mills access to acquisition targets early on so that they are more likely to succeed; and in term, these companies will be more likely to agree to a deal with General Mills as opposed to its competitors.

This is fantastic! I have been following Duolingo and think it’s an incredibly innovative company. Your observation on the success of BuzzFeed and CNN partnership is spot-on that there hasn’t been much reviews or any new businesses. The Uber partnership is really interesting because it seems Duolingo is going beyond the original intended goal of being a translation service to businesses – perhaps another case in point that the translation model is not generating enough revenue for them. On the point of quality control, I remember seeing a Ted Talk by Von Ahn that the output of aggregating student translation actually rivals the quality of using a professional translator. Your view on incentivizing translators through a rating system or a certificate is also very relevant to the firm. Great insights!

I love the business model of ReCaptcha and Duolingo! It’s such a genius way of using crowdsourcing to complete otherwise impossible tasks. It would be interesting to see how Von Ahn expands both companies beyond what’s expected; namely, in addition to including more languages and more content, are there other ways crowds can be used as “free labor” to create scalable impact.

On October 5, 2015, Qing commented on Duolingo: Sheer Genius :

Yes they do (and I probably should’ve noted that in the blog post too) – there is a discussion feature where users can post questions and topics. From a first glance, the topics cover a wide range (e.g., language questions, to motivational posts, to feedback for Duolingo). It seems Duolingo is also trying to build a community where users establish ties with each other.

On October 5, 2015, Qing commented on Duolingo: Sheer Genius :

Thank you for the feedback! You are totally right that the Fiat example/positive feedback is not a direct network effect. This also reminds me that I should’ve also noted Duolingo has enabled “discussions” (e.g., a forum like feature) for users to interact with each other, thereby building a community to retain its users.

On October 4, 2015, Qing commented on Reddit: When bigger isn’t necessarily better :

This fantastic. Not being a Reddit user myself, it’s a great introduction to the site. In terms of the scaling challenge, apart from the current users defending the site, I also wonder there is an element of “crowding out” at play, so to speak: as a non-user, the lingoes and culture of Reddit is so established, I found it difficult to fully understand Reddit and thus has never been able to make a switch to join. That said, I also wonder how much of the decline in users is driven by poor management/PR as opposed to the inherent challenge of operating on network effects.

On October 4, 2015, Qing commented on OpenTable: A New Reservation Every Two Seconds :

Great post! Interesting to read about OpenTable’s business model and pricing structure as this is something I don’t normally think about as a consumer/user. There is another blog post on OpenTable, which could be an interesting read for you: http://d3.harvard.edu/platform-digit/submission/open-but-not-free-opentables-monopoly-of-reservations/

I commented on the other post as well, also thought I’d share my thoughts here that I wonder OpenTable has a true monopoly on the reservation market or that it has already reached the peak of network effect. It does have pretty much the entire ONLINE reservation market today, but as a % of ALL restaurant reservations (including phone calls), my sense is that that is much lower. This leaves opportunities for new entrants to come in and capture untapped market. The other blog post mentions that there are new competitors offering better services for restaurants, which seem to be a serious threat for OpenTable.

Great post! My jaw dropped when I read “burning through $1.5 million per month”. Chuck Templeton was either really rich or had really faithful investors!

I question if OpenTable truly has a monopoly on restaurant reservation. Sure it has 99% of market share for ONLINE reservations, but I do wonder what that market share looks like if it’s compared to ALL reservations (including phone calls). From personal experience, there still a lot of restaurants not on OpenTable, and I presume the market share OpenTable has from the universe of all reservations is much smaller. That means in addition to the threat of new product and new profit-sharing pressure from competitors, there actually is potential for competitors to seize untapped market and build network effect that way, which can ultimately topple OpenTable.

On September 13, 2015, Qing commented on Epic Systems – Too Big to Crush? :

Interesting topic! I have friends working/worked for Epic, and it is indeed such a dominant company in its field! The joke we often shared was that Epic was the quintessential example that in order to succeed, you don’t have to be good, you just need to be better than everyone else, even if you are also terrible at it. The most intriguing thing here is a their strategy to adopt a closed system and the pressure for them to open up. To make an not 100% applicable analogy, a closed system reminds me of Apple and an more open ecosystem reminds me of Android. Both have been quite successful in the mobile operating systems world. Of course, healthcare is inherently different from operating systems, and I’d be very curious to follow the Epic’s development.

On September 13, 2015, Qing commented on Pinterest: Don’t Forget to Pin it on the Winner’s Board :

Great post! I am a recent convert to Pinterest, and I absolutely agree about it being a winner in the digital age. When I first heard about Pinterest a while back, the idea initially sounded idiotic to me: “in the age of twitter, Facebook, etc, why do I need an electronic cork board?” Or so I thought. It wasn’t until this summer, when I started a collection of recipes on Pinterest, that I finally understood its power. You are totally right that it creates a effortless platform for users to store and share information. In addition, the ad placements are truly seamless. I may have already been bombarded with lots of company advertising, but, even as someone who is keenly aware of product placement, I rarely noticed ads – the content just all seemed interesting to me. Further, as any good social media company does, the endless list of posts that fit my interest is surely addicting – I have spent way too many hours scrolling down the pages!

Very interesting point that Border’s dismay is not inevitable! In hindsight, the decision for Borders to cede control over its internet sales to Amazon appears to be fatal. It reminds me of the class discussion on BMW handing over the software development of its Smart Cars to Google, and the potential downfall it may bring to the automaker. This serves as a fantastic (albeit unfortunate) lesson on companies should respond to new technologies (e.g., fight or flight) and how one decision could lead to a domino effect of consequences.