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Great post, thanks for sharing!! I always considered Airbnb to be a very tech savvy company, but it’s really impressive to understand the depth of some of their machine learning algorithms when it comes to pricing. I think it’s really strategic for Airbnb to help their hosts price accurately and be “better” hosts as this creates a win-win situation for all parties involved. I felt this to be true in my personal experience as well. Last spring I put my apartment on Airbnb as a summer rental and there were very strict rules about responding to inquiries within 24 hours (otherwise your host rating would be affected), not exchanging personal contact information outside of the platform (e.g. if you type in your email address or phone number while messaging a potential tenant, Airbnb blocks the message and sends you a warning), and accepting an offer within a certain amount of time. This felt a bit aggressive to me at the time, but I definitely understand where Airbnb is coming from.

On November 22, 2015, Sherry commented on Netflix – Using Metadata to Optimize Entertainment :

Thanks for sharing! I’m a huge fan of Netflix and in my experience, it’s the original content that keeps me hooked (e.g. The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Master of None, Orange is the New Black, etc.). The fact that you can’t access this content anywhere else prevents me from canceling my account. While it’s clear that Netflix has invested a ton in their recommendation/machine learning engine, I question how effective this can continue to be if non-original content continues to be sub par. Most people know that Netflix can be good for lesser known, indie, and sometimes obscure films, but it rarely has new releases or big blockbusters available because licensing costs are so high. I wonder what their gameplan is when it comes to deals with studios and obtaining new releases that would appeal to most viewers.

On November 22, 2015, Sherry commented on DoorDash; Delivery Made Better by Data :

Great post, thanks for sharing! I’m a fan of DoorDash as well and found that its system works really well. However, I find it hard to understand how DoorDash has a competitive advantage and differentiation over other competitors. It seems like the “food delivery” space is becoming more crowded by the day with larger companies like Seamless and Postmates, as well as smaller more local competitors like Caviar or Foodler. I wonder if other companies are as tech/data savvy as DoorDash, and what factors will determine who wins in the end.

On November 1, 2015, Sherry commented on Reddit: A bastion of free speech :

Interesting post, thanks for sharing! I’ve never used Reddit but have been directed to Reddit links via Facebook on a number of occasions. Every time I visit the site, I wonder what the appeal is. The user interface, in particular, isn’t particularly appealing and it’s not clear to a newcomer how the site works (this aspect of it reminds of me of Craigslist in many ways). The large and active Reddit user base is impressive, and I believe that’s a huge part of what keeps contributors coming back. However, I wonder how the platform managed to get so many engaged users in the first place? I am curious to know what Reddit did differently at the outset to be so successful with this crowd sourced model, which seems to lend itself to more niche topics that wouldn’t be widely applicable to most.

On November 1, 2015, Sherry commented on Waze, or how to crowd-source your way :

Interesting post! I liked your assessment of the challenges Waze is currently facing and the advantages it has from being owned by a large parent company like Google. I am an active Waze and Google Maps user and have noticed increased integration of Waze data into Google Maps (e.g. accident and construction reporting, etc.). I wonder if going forward, Waze will continue to be a standalone app, and how Google will manage these two arguably competing apps.

On November 1, 2015, Sherry commented on Wikpedia – can the pioneer stay relevant? :

Great post, thanks for sharing! I agree that Wikipedia will continue to struggle to remain relevant going forward, given the increasingly competitive landscape for this type of information. In addition to the challenges you mentioned, I think another key challenge will be continued quality control and accuracy of the content Wikipedia contributors put forward. If Wikipedia doesn’t manage to keep content relevant and accurate, then users will likely lose interest. Lastly, I don’t know if the value proposition for contributors is sustainable in the long run if they don’t have incentives beyond identifying and publishing true facts about the world.

On October 5, 2015, Sherry commented on EdX – learning for anyone, anytime, anywhere :

Great post – thanks for sharing! I wrote my blog post on Coursera and hit on a lot of the same issues you brought up here. A few questions I have in general about MOOCs and network effects include:

– How does multihoming (of both users and platform partners/universities) affect network effects and the basis of competition?
– How do you think different MOOC platforms are differentiating themselves given how common it is for users and platform partners to multihome?
– Given the Arizona State University partnership you mentioned, do you feel that MOOCs providing official accreditation will put them at risk of angering platform partners such as universities, which are primarily responsible for giving out accreditation?

Really interesting post – thanks for sharing! I feel that with Rent the Runway, indirect network effects are actually much stronger than direct network effects. As you mentioned, suppliers definitely benefit from a growth in Rent the Runway’s customer base, especially if they are gaining access to first-time buyers of the high end designer brands. In addition, the social media publicity also benefits suppliers in promoting their brand and latest styles. However, I think the direct network effects are a little harder to see. In my experience, Rent the Runway has relatively limited inventory that they refresh on a seasonal basis. As a result, several customers renting dresses for common events (e.g. summer weddings, winter formals, etc.) have a good chance of running into someone else at the same event wearing the same dress. I even noticed this happening at HBS’s Holidazzle last year. In that sense, and given the fact that people don’t always know whether a dress is from Rent the Runway or not – I think direct network effects can actually be limited.

On October 5, 2015, Sherry commented on Textbook Network Effects: How Instagram Achieved Instagrowth :

This was a great read – thanks for sharing. I agree that Instagram had hockey stick growth and a meteoric rise in users and engagement in a very short period of time. However, I think there were other apps out there that also offered similar functionality for free (e.g. Hipstamatic). These other competing apps eventually fell to the wayside for the reasons you mentioned, and also because the quality of the Instagram app and product was so much higher than the rest. I read previously that Instagram actually worked with professional photographers to develop the limited filters they had, and also had strict “community management” to ensure the content on the platform was appropriate. The easy integration with Facebook was definitely a key factor in Instagram’s success as well. I wonder whether the acquisition strengthens Instgram’s network effects or detracts from them, as Facebook is now implementing advertisements on Instragram which would likely turn people off of the platform.

On September 13, 2015, Sherry commented on AYR: Immersive online experience with a real-world twist :

I remember hearing about the launch of AYR, but never followed up on how the product offerings evolved. Thanks for the update and the interesting read! It sounds as though AYR has been successful to date with its branding, user experience, and business model. However, in recent years, it seems like there’s been a proliferation of similar online retailers such as Everlane, Cuyana, Warby Parker, etc. Online retailers like Everlane actually have similar target audiences and value propositions. With all of these digital innovators entering the market, I wonder which companies will really survive the test of time. What do you think will determine the winners vs. losers in online retail specifically?

I’m a big fan of BuzzFeed but view it more as a way to kill time and stay up to date on what’s trending in social media as opposed to a legitimate source of news. I agree that its business model to date has been successful, but I really question whether BuzzFeed will be able to successfully cross the chasm and create serious public interest journalism or “content.” It seems as though BuzzFeed caters to a particular audience of young, tech-savvy individuals and probably isn’t entirely relevant to older (or more serious) consumers of news. I’d be curious to see the demographic breakdown of BuzzFeed readers vs. that of the New York Times or other more reputable news outlets.

On September 13, 2015, Sherry commented on Go Craig Go – Craigslist is a winner :

Great post – thanks for sharing!

I’ve used Craigslist extensively when apartment hunting in San Francisco and have always wondered how the business works. Your blog post raises a few additional questions for me:

– In what ways is Craigslist protecting itself from a better digital innovation? Why haven’t they made visible improvements to the product (at least from a consumer standpoint)?
– Does Craigslist need a larger (perhaps less lean) team to grow and innovate?