Walter Mitty

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On April 30, 2020, Walter Mitty commented on “Mickey in the Middle of It” :

Exactly! A points scheme sounds even better, you may trade points for toys of your favorite movies! (maybe even have toys that are exclusive to points holder)

On April 28, 2020, Walter Mitty commented on Airbnb vs COVID: The battle for community and connections! :

Interesting article! I wonder for what percentage of hosts Airbnb is their primary source of income, in the end, those are the ones more affected and the funds should be prioritized for them. It’s very difficult to know this, anyone can say it is their primary source and in reality, it may be just a secondary source of income. At the same time, Airbnb is much well positioned that Hospitality companies as they don’t own any of the assets (apartments) and just behave as a platform. If a huge percentage of their host don’t need Airbnb to sustain their lives then I see Airbnb recovering fast. I think a more important issue is how COVID-19 is going to affect demand in the mid/long-term, how many people are going to postpone vacations, holidays, and trips? The crisis may change the behavior of millions of consumers and that means just less business for Airbnb.

On April 28, 2020, Walter Mitty commented on NextDoor: Neighbors Help Neighbors as Your Street Block Goes Online :

Thanks for the article, super interesting! I hope after the crisis NextDoor can keep their communities engaged with the tools that add value for each neighborhood. I specifically liked two ideas mentioned in the article: help people leverage their communities and aggregate demand in the form of grocery deliveries. NextDoor could try to do more of this type of partnership as it would help them not only to increase demand but also to optimize last-mile deliveries and retailers/delivery services could even provide a discount for this. The second idea I liked is for NextDoor to be a tool of communication for government/police communication targeted to a specific neighborhood. I’ve seen similar apps in other countries where users can report any issues they have and also the major’s office can share information with a specific group of neighbors.

On April 28, 2020, Walter Mitty commented on “Mickey in the Middle of It” :

Interesting article! I’m more on the optimist side of post-pandemic consumer behavior and I think the recovery of their “offline” business is going to be quicker than expected. This does not mean that they are not going to sustain considerable losses during the next few months! But they have the opportunity to strengthen their digital brand as you said. One option, for example, is to create new bundles such as incorporating tickets or visits to the parks in a subscription model (including Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN), this would help families with kids to start “saving” for a trip in the future, accelerating the recovery of the parks in the mid-term. The bet on AR/VR is also a good idea but I think we’re a few years away from mass adoption, they surely can start now if they want to be leaders.

On April 18, 2020, Walter Mitty commented on How Well Does Spotify Know You? :

I’m a big Spotify user and love all their discover playlists. I do have to say that for me Discover Weekly is hit and miss and most of the time I can find 1-2 gems if lucky. They need to improve their algorithms for cases such as excluding songs a playlist for babies/kids that you may play a lot but not because you love! Also, as Jona said, their competitive advantage is that they are very open, you can access Spotify almost everywhere (iOS, Android, PC, Sonos, Smart speakers, etc.) and they lock you down with their recommendation engine, and by having your library in place. Now, if a competitor develops a better algorithm and is able to transfer your saved songs to their platform, I don’t see myself staying in Spotify. They need to keep investing in their product to make sure that does not happen.

On April 18, 2020, Walter Mitty commented on Nike – just Do it with Data science and Demand sensing :

Great Post! I agree with Andres that Nike has a competitive advantage given its size, as smaller competitors may not be able to have good insights from a limited volume of data. I also wonder if going direct will mean losing data that may be interesting for Nike, such as the behavior of their customers on other verticals (clothing, tech, etc.) that partners may provide. Finally, I completely agree that they should expand into adjacent businesses such as sports tracking, health tracking, transforming in the go-to products/services when thinking about sports and health.

On April 18, 2020, Walter Mitty commented on Use Me if You Dare, Hack Me if You Can :

Very interesting post. I haven’t used Tik Tok, and to be honest, I’m not a big fan of any type of social media. I wonder if the success of Tik Tok is just being appealing for the next generation of teens/kids as ka said. We’ve seen in the past the trend of different apps being “cool” for a specific generation and then moving on. First, it was Facebook, then Instagram, then Snapchat, now is Tik Tok. Are we going to see a new one for the next generation of kids that want to have their own thing? Where they can be creative and need not to explain anything to their older siblings and parents that may be missing the new fad?

On March 24, 2020, Walter Mitty commented on Caviar – Food delivery’s race to your doorstep :

Thanks for the article! I’m a big Caviar user, as at least in Boston, it does still have exclusivity with a few restaurants I like. I have no idea they were acquired by Doordash (I’m also a user of Doordash), and I wonder why they haven’t tried to unify the experience given that it seems, based on the article, that Caviar is less worried about having exclusivity or “hip” restaurants. The competition in this market is really high and with the lack of differentiation of the market, I think the bigger pockets and best UX is going to win. Also, as Anuj said, the synergies between Uber drivers and UberEats delivery needs creates opportunities to reduce logistic costs that Caviar may not be able to match in the long-term.

On March 24, 2020, Walter Mitty commented on TaskRabbit – IKEA Furniture Assembly on Demand :

Interesting article, Leo. One of the things I’m worried about the platforms that offer to do “any” task, is how to compete against specialized platforms. For example, cleaning services, food delivery, home repairs, are some of the tasks that some platforms have chosen to focus on, and they offer better user experience and sometimes a better business model compared to the more vertical platforms such as TaskRabbit or Handy. The differentiation of such services may point to a market that is not going to tip, with a final state of multiple specialized platforms instead of a huge fits-all platform. Now, given the IKEA acquisition, this is probably something they don’t need to worry about, as I expect IKEA to focus TaskRabbit on the tasks that have synergies with their business model.

On March 24, 2020, Walter Mitty commented on Despegar: from tech darling to struggling business :

Very interesting post, Miguel. I used a few times when I was a college student looking for the cheapest flights, and when Despegar was almost the only platform available in Latinamerica. As you said, competition in this market has grown in the last few years and I see myself searching in bigger platforms such as Google Travel, Kayak or Expedia. I don’t know how Despegar could fight against them given their scale, some of the initiatives of facilitating payment with credit and hedging exchange rates could work given the needs of the average Latinamerican user. They could also be acquired by a bigger player, increasing their scale but maintaining some of the features specifically designed for their main customers.

On February 11, 2020, Walter Mitty commented on A Storm is Coming for Blizzard Entertainment :

Very interesting article! As a WoW player myself I’m really sad to see the directions they took with different games and the lack of understanding of their users and fans. It seems that the acquisition of Blizzard by Activision changed their focus and innovation process.

The Warcraft 3: Reforged release is surprising, such an easy way to attract old customers and they made so many mistakes. I share Colm Farrell concern on how the industry is going to look in a few years, and if this type of game studio is now just part of a niche segment for old gamers looking for some nostalgic memories.

On February 11, 2020, Walter Mitty commented on Betterment: Winning in the wealth management space :

Thanks for the article! As a user of Betterment, I agree with the point about user experience and a customer-centric focus, it’s really easy to use and one of the reasons why I chose them (and their 1.84% APY of course). It’s easy to see how they are building one by one different products and services that could replace a bank in the near-term. It’s going to be difficult for larger organizations to respond to companies such as Betterment, with less overhead and no need for physical space.

On February 11, 2020, Walter Mitty commented on Peloton: Winning the fitness battle, losing the economic war :

Interesting post, I haven’t used Peloton myself but I would like to get one in the near future. I agree with the analysis regarding the obsolescence with their equipment, and how to keep those users into the subscriptions. I wonder if they can create features that link to their app and platform in ways difficult to replicate for competitors. Also, I would like to see how they make money: is the recurrent subscription the source of revenues and profits? or is the equipment? If they’re selling the equipment at cost, just to attract customers the idea would be to lock them up with the app, making the obsolescence argument less relevant. Another issue is differentiation against competitors, this could end up like online mattresses, with 200 bikes and apps that do the same thing.