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On November 30, 2022, Michelle commented on FloodMapp – Real Time Emergency Flood Data :

Super interesting! I think the B2B approach makes so much sense here vs. trying to use it to better inform individuals and households. Too often the injuries, deaths, and other serious damages caused by floods and other disasters are because people have ignored the warnings given by local officials and refused to evacuate or take appropriate precautions. I suspect that business have a lower risk tolerance regarding these sorts of issues given that it can seriously impact profits, their workforces, and their customer base and therefore revenues.

At the same time, part of the challenge will be training companies how to actually use the data correctly, and how to ensure that their front-line workers (e.g., the ride-share driver) following the AI’s recommendations too. It’s the same problem as going B2C except this time you have the client company as a middle man and invested change agent. I’ll be curious to see if/how this gets rolled out and becomes more prevalent!

This is awesome! I loved listening to the linked songs– thanks for sharing!

I was really struck by the idea of AI-produced or AI-enabled music. My husband is currently doing a masters in music production at the Berkelee College of Music. He’s a classical and jazz pianist and guitarist, but through this program has entered into a whole new world of electronic instruments and engineered sounds. Based on his experience, I can see so much potential for AI-produced music in the behind-the-scenes songwriting industry. Most better-known musicians don’t write their own music or lyrics. Instead, teams of musicians work together to create and effectively pitch songs for artists. Most of their pitched songs don’t go anywhere but the ones that do have great payouts. Your post makes me wonder if this songwriting industry will be replaced by AI in the next 10-20 years as these technologies improve to the point where they don’t need any human intervention to create a strong piece. Or if the skillset of those musicians creating and pitching songs will massively shift to prioritize tech skills/AI competency over traditional musicianship.

On November 30, 2022, Michelle commented on Can You Guess the Artist? AI-Generated Music Catering to your Tastes :

This was awesome. I loved listening to the two songs! One thing that struck

On November 30, 2022, Michelle commented on Who Me? For that Project? How AI is Changing the Consulting World :

This is such an impressive project. Serious props!

I was a consultant at another firm. Like PwC, we solved for similar things in our staffing: skills, interests, availability. But we also staffed intentionally based on gaps. Our belief was that all analysts and associates needed to be well-rounded and have at least 1-2 reps of all major skill groups, even if they intended to specialize in a given topic/function. Counterintuitively, we might staff someone with absolutely no quant experience to a team tasked with building a complex financial model because the experience was important for that person’s development and because the rest of the team could pick up slack as the person learned.

Do you think it would it be possible to include in a more development-focused approach in the model you designed for PwC? I worry that matching just abilities to needs might under-serve junior associates and new-joiners.

On November 3, 2022, Michelle commented on Goodreads: A Platform for Readers and Authors :

Book readership is definitely declining, but I actually think that platforms like Goodreads have increased the engagement and activity of the people who choose to remain readers. Discussion groups, virtual book clubs, and virtual opportunities to talk directly with authors through Goodreads transforms the experience of reading into something more active and exciting.

Further, Goodreads does a good job of enticing people to read more than they might have otherwise through its recommendations and ads, and through heavy emphasis on setting reading goals. Your reading goal (usually set at the new year) is posted on your profile and progress toward your goal is shared with all of your friends on a regular basis. It creates pretty powerful social pressure/accountability to read more and hit your goal, even if it was overly ambitious!

On November 3, 2022, Michelle commented on Goodreads: A Platform for Readers and Authors :

You should totally join! It’s been a gamechanger for me when it comes to book organization. There’s a pretty easy tutorial to get started that walks you through recording and rating some of the books you’ve read in the past (I think 20 books?). Goodreads then uses those ratings to provide your first recommendations. Every time you add or rate more books to your account, it refines your recommendations.

Also, Goodreads is free!

On November 2, 2022, Michelle commented on ToursbyLocals: Connecting Tourists with Authentic, Local Guides :

Interesting! I’m really curious about their screening and selection process. On the one hand, this sounds like a great way to allow knowledgeable locals to show off their city, even if they don’t have professional expertise in history, architecture, tour guiding, etc. On the other hand, it sounds like an easy way to get scammed and have a terrible experience in a foreign place.

With 160 countries–and numerous locations within each– how can TBL possibly vet all of their tour guides and validate their local knowledge? There’s no way that TBL can be enough of an expert on each country or city to fully vet candidates. The reviews and ratings system is obviously a great performance management system once guides have started booking clients on the platform, but the upfront challenge to me seems even greater.

On November 2, 2022, Michelle commented on Nuvocargo: Linking Mexico and the US :

Really interesting! I imagine that the primary users of this service would be smaller manufacturers and truckers who don’t have the volumes to run their own end-to-end supply chains. I also would assume that the governments of both countries would be highly supportive of a platform that potentially boosts imports and exports and regulatory compliance, and that maybe subsidies, tax benefits, or other incentives exist to help the NuvoCargo.

On November 2, 2022, Michelle commented on Goodreads: A Platform for Readers and Authors :

Hi Kate! The switching cost point is a great one. For avid readers, the exercise of logging and recording hundreds–sometimes thousands– of books you’ve previously read is something you’re only willing to undertake once. Goodreads knows it has a captive audience and that the competitive sites are pretty poor, so they underinvest in ways that other businesses could never afford to.

With regards to your concern about diversity, I’ve been absolutely floored by the diversity of books on Goodreads. I don’t know how they built their book database but it really seems infinite. Any book I’ve searched–historic, self-published, ultra niche, you name it–somehow exists within their database.

Where diversity of users becomes an issue is in the ratings system. Most people read fiction, so those books tend to have the most ratings (and often inflated ratings). But it doesn’t impact the experience much if at all for folks who don’t read popular fiction.

On November 2, 2022, Michelle commented on Goodreads: A Platform for Readers and Authors :

Such a good point! When researching for this post, I actually came across some articles that mentioned the exact same issue.

Check out this article from Time: “How Extortion Scams and Review Bombing Trolls Turned Goodreads Into Many Authors’ Worst Nightmare” https://time.com/6078993/goodreads-review-bombing/

From what I can find, it doesn’t seem like Goodreads or Amazon has had a great response and done that much to prevent the issue. They expect users to follow a code of conduct and take down posts that obviously violate it, but it doesn’t seem like authors are that satisfied with the quality of response. I guess it’s another benefit of being a virtual monopoly…

On November 2, 2022, Michelle commented on Goodreads: A Platform for Readers and Authors :

Totally! Their behavior makes me think that they’re not *that* interested in growth, or at least rapid growth, so they don’t care if they leave some users behind if it means saving money on investments in UI/UX. And I’d probably bet that this mindset comes from the fact that they’re a postage stamp within Amazon. If they hadn’t been acquired, they’d probably be running the company very differently.

On November 2, 2022, Michelle commented on Platform Scalability & Sustainability at Venmo :

Venmo’s sustainability is a really interesting question. When it first launched, it seemed like such an innovative service and seemed to catch on like wildfire. But you’re totally right– there’s ultimately not that much that differentiates it from other apps, from a functional perspective at least. And I don’t know that I’ve seen it innovate much over the last few years. I wonder what their internal vision of future growth looks like. Is it new functionality? Is it more partnerships with businesses? Is it penetrating underbanked communities? Really interesting to consider! Thanks for sharing.

On October 5, 2022, Michelle commented on Flo Health: Big Data in “FemTech” :

To me, it seems that Flo sells a paid service that others offer reliably well for free or much lower cost. There are tons of period-tracking apps and fertility support apps, largely because they’re not super complicated to create. For example, one method of tracking ovulation is by measuring basal body temperature. All you need is a super sensitive thermometer, which you can get on Amazon for $8. A user takes their temperature several times a day at specific intervals (e.g., before standing up in the morning) and records their results in the app. When temperature spikes, the user is likely fertile. (You can also do this in a spreadsheet or on paper.) So why pay $10 per month?

Flo’s main point of differentiation seems to be its ability to predict and flag potential health concerns (e.g., PCOS). Is that a sustainable competitive advantage? I’d argue no, so what’s their plan for continuing to stay ahead of the market? What’s going to keep customers paying $10+/month in a market crowded with free and lower-cost players?

Great post!

Super interesting. It seems like the freshness advantage also is strong liability protection. Any restaurant, but especially those serving raw foods, have to take many precautions to ensure that their meals don’t make patrons sick. And when customers do get sick, even if it was from eating tainted food from somewhere else, sushi and other raw-serving restaurants are often the ones immediately blamed. Sushiro’s ability to prove exactly how long each piece of sushi was one the line before being served is another line of protective defense against this risk.

I do wonder whether Sushiro has a customer loyalty program. If not, that seems like the logical next step. If they could track a single customer’s preferences longitudinally, they could guarantee a better experience for loyal customers and potentially more successfully upsell/increase their order size.

Thanks for sharing!

On October 5, 2022, Michelle commented on The Weather Company: Using Big Data to Drive Marketing Insights :

Before reading your post, I would have said that TWC was like a newspaper– they provide information, paid for by advertising. You’ve given some really powerful examples of how TWC is actually a data company whose real revenue-generating power comes from B2B data-sharing partnerships. I’d love to see more of their portfolio of partnerships. For example, have they partnered with restaurants to identify how demand for certain menu items shifts based on weather? So interesting!