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Spaces — Shifting Gears: from VR for Theme Parks to VR Workspace
Last modified on May 14, 2020 at 10:44 pm
There may be dark horses waiting to break out when this pandemic is over. Paraphrasing "A Tale of Two Cities" — this is the worst time, but also maybe the best time.
Overjet – Transforming Dentistry Powered by AI
Last modified on May 14, 2020 at 10:44 pm
Dentistry is a legacy industry with antiquated software but massive $130B market opportunity. Overjet is pioneering computational dentistry to standardize diagnostics and treatment. Will they succeed in an industry that is risk-averse and a laggard in adopting AI?
MasterClass – Mastering Scale as Edutainment Platform?
Last modified on May 14, 2020 at 10:44 pm
MasterClass is a platform that provides online video courses on topics from film directing to tennis taught by iconic figures (like Martin Scorsese and Serena Williams). As they raised $80M Series D funding in 2018, they must master scale sustainably.
Applied Intuition – Powering Autonomy at Scale
Last modified on May 14, 2020 at 10:45 pm
As Autonomous Vehicle technology advanced, vertical companies — whether legacy automakers, tech companies or startups — were likely to become increasingly dependent on horizontal players for mapping, simulation, sensors and more. Applied Intuition emerges as a horizontal solution winner.

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Thanks Vertigo for your insights! I agree that VR still has a lot of hardware and software challenges, weight, battery life, motion sickness, price point etc, so definitely it’s ready for full-on VR meeting yet, but there might be some opportunities in the interim for virtual collaboration (visual assistance etc) where people need to have a more intimate feeling of face-to-face or work with physical products, for example, hardware companies like Apple resort to tracing components in the air when hardware team trying to work on the next iPhone, or their offshore manufacturers had to send pics and videos back and forth for debugging which resulted in product leaks.

Thanks Nicholas! I like that you are applying the STV framework here. 🙂 I agree that it’s a very risky move and it should be an experiment at the moment. Spaces’ core competence seems to lie in animation, storytelling and entertainment IPs from their previous relationships and investor strategic value-add, and I’m not sure yet the team are best suited to solve the barriers and inefficiencies in the meeting productivity space and create an enterprise solution. The silver lining is that in China restaurants have re-opened and hope public entertainment places such as cinemas and theme parks will reopen soon so that Spaces can resume at least partially their operations.

Yeah definitely a huge opportunity for Zoom’s platform strategy as well. In theory Spaces would collaborate with Zooms to develop it together and they seem to have complementary skillset, one in virtual experience, one in enterprise meeting. I’m just a bit concerned that VR’s hardware and software maturity is not there yet, headset weight and dizziness were among the common complaints of VR entertainment and that would be even exacerbated in conference meeting setting, as wearing for 10min for a game is totally different from wearing all day for meetings!

Agreed there are opportunities in both areas. I just wonder how transferrable is the VR for theme parks to VR meeting, as I imagine the technical specification would be more demanding. Even Magic Leap has been flirting with the idea but struggling for now..

Thanks Jona for your interesting observations! In general I’m a bit skeptical in terms of how much value can LinkedIn create:

1) their recommendation / matching engine is as good as the data inputs are, however, the top candidates on LinkedIn are the ones who don’t worry about looking for new jobs and therefore don’t provide detailed descriptions in their roles, and a lot of top engineers use academic profiles or Google Scholar rather than LinkedIn;

2) ML models are more helpful in increasing the upper funnel and make people aware of the blind spot / unconscious biases, but the accuracy of their predictive models is still limited;

3) a friend who is C-level at LinkedIn said many times ML sit in the backseat unless it can be proved by regression models, as BoD decisions at big enterprises need explainability, which is still somewhat limited today.

On April 21, 2020, rocio commented on How data analytics is revolutionizing the NBA :

Thanks Petra for your analysis! Another idea to add additional revenue stream and “fun” for the fans is “sports betting”. It has been around a while in e-sports given the digital native nature, but is also expanding to physical sports which means sports team, analytics providers and sports betters would have more information, more customers and more entertainment.

I totally agree with your view that in order to make more informed decision, intangible factors should be taken into consideration as well, psychology, emotions, dynamics with other team members as basketball is a team sport after all.

Thanks for such interesting observations! you are right it’s not so easy for an incumbent to make drastic digital transformation after 182 years. Data privacy issue aside, what I’m more curious to learn is whether they can continue to dominate the traditional pampers market they are in. There have been some new players that use non-chemicals & biodegradable materials which is more popular among millennial parents as it won’t cause rashes on baby’s skins, doesn’t leak, and friendly for the environment. The diaper user experience itself would be the foundation for anything technological to provide more value add, so if the baby is not comfortable in the diapers, adding sensors or monitors wouldn’t help at all. But I agree, such diaper+sensor+monitor bundle offering is very appealing for younger parents who are more tech-savvy, for now.

On April 21, 2020, rocio commented on Overjet – Transforming Dentistry Powered by AI :

Yeah that’s an interesting question! from my understanding Overjet doesn’t own the data and it still sits with the provider or the payer. But the transferability across provider/payer network is indeed an issue, the healthcare data architecture of interoperability and APIs need to be modernized and connected. Hopefully we can see some meaningful progress post covid…

On March 22, 2020, rocio commented on Upwork: In Demand Talent On Demand :

Thanks Alli! As you eluded to, my main concern with Upwork is “width vs depth”, it’s hard to create a platform that cater to all the verticals (creative, sales & marketing, CS, data science, eng etc) while maintaining a high engagement and therefore low disintermediation risk. Vertical competition is fierce: Instawork for hospitality industry, Joist for industrial contractors, Wonolo and Merlin for blue collar jobs, Toolbox for construction etc. I wonder if Upwork could explore possibilities in vertical integration, so as to create more value added services and keep both demand and supply on the platform for long term.

On March 22, 2020, rocio commented on WeddingWire: with you till you say I do! :

Thanks Petra! I’ve looked at wedding planning space before (for investment opportunities) and was amazed how fragmented and inefficient it was. You are totally right Wedding Wire create a lot of value by aggregating both demand (couples) and supply (vendors) side. I wonder whether there is still room for innovation & disruption as many of the pain points that I have heard from customers is the overwhelming optionality – a dozen options to choose from for bouquet, catering, registry… the list goes on and on. Wedding planners could potentially be an additional value-added service that help couple make those infinite choices. And in terms of increase customer value as they usually just shop once – one trend I’ve seen is vertical integration, for example: Zola wedding registry started to offer couple honeymoon package based on high demand.

On March 22, 2020, rocio commented on ZUBALE – Revolutionizing retail execution in LatAm :

Thanks James! as a former investor in Zubale I agree with many of the points you mentioned. The demand side (CPG companies) is strong and stable and supply side (contractors) is highly fragmented so it makes a lot of sense for Zubale to exist and grow as a platform. One threat I imagine on the supply side is the increasing alternatives to Zubale for gig economy workers. Multi-homing already exists. Maybe it’s not exactly the same task as sorting merchandising for CPG companies, it could be last mile delivery (Rappi, Mercadoni, Cornershop, Glovo etc) and others. And over time Zubale might need to increase incentives to keep contractors on the platform – would mobile phone credit and digital rewards still be enough?

On February 10, 2020, rocio commented on DJI: Winning in consumer drones :

Truly an amazing story where the technology, product and supply chain lined up perfectly. I wonder what’s next for DJI as they tapped out the consumer market and drone is a product that consumers tend to hang on to for many years given its high quality and premium price, rather than replace / upgrade like iPhone every 1-2 years. In light of the recent pilot that Amazon launched with FedEx and Walgreens, what role do you see DJI could play in the commercial space? As that market potentially could be much bigger if where a commercial drones fleet and the replenish cycle will be somewhat predictable.

On February 10, 2020, rocio commented on Mercado Libre: a winner in Latin America :

Such an exciting winner story in LatAm! And also reminds me of Alibaba that initially started out as a Ecommerce platform and expanded into adjacent space gradually (vertical integration). You are spot on in terms of Fintech being the new growth area in order for Mercado Libre to continue to be a winner in the next decade. I do think they are uniquely positioned in the value chain to take on that challenge. A few low-hanging fruits are: 1) SME working capital financing: they already own all the merchants transactions so it will be easier for them to develop a proprietary risk assessment model to underwrite loan (like PayPal Working Capital); 2) Consumer PoS financing: for consumers who are not able to afford the purchace in one payment, especially the non-banked population / without credit card. they could offer installments to entice more consumer purchases (like Affirm in US); 3) Insurance: as consumers already have a Mercado Pago wallet, and invest the balances, Mercado Libre could take it further to offer insurance products. Thoughts?

On February 10, 2020, rocio commented on Garmin – Getting lost in the changing navigation maze :

Thanks Bastian – super interesting post! I actually looked at Garmin when I was working on Fitbit acquisition at Google CorpDev. You are spot on in terms of Garmin’s diversitied business units and recent growth more coming from fitness / wearables – as consumers needs are shifting away from single-purpose tracker (Fitbit’s stock plunge) to more functionality (Garmin & Apple Watch). I wonder whether they could leverage their strength in hardware to build something interesting for wearbles, potentially the next gen computing platform. However, software / content econosystem strategy (build / partner / buy) needs to be fleshed out as it’s increasinly more about a blended hardware + software offering for optimal user experience.

Your question around “What if it had been Garmin, not Google, that sent cars to streets worldwide in order to map and take pictures of every corner of the world?” is thought-provoking. Mapping requires inherently different capabilities which I’m not sure Garmin possessed at that time. But I am curious if they had foreseen the shift from GPS device to app and had leveraged their wide distribution of hardware at that time to crowdsource mapping info, how would the landscape look like today.