Will Newell

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On April 30, 2017, Will Newell commented on AR/VR, Bloomberg and Financial Services :

Great read! Very interesting – I think that the intersection of AR and business capabilities will be a very exciting one over the next few years. As for Bloomberg specifically, they already seem to have done a good job turning a product into a platform in their existing market – do you think they can do the same with 3D data applications for financial services? Or do you see this as an extension of their current product? Additionally, I suspect that using existing data in 3D ways will get very crowded – do you think that eventually some companies may control this space, and companies like Bloomberg may end up paying them to do the data visualization piece?

On April 30, 2017, Will Newell commented on Bravemind: Using Virtual Reality to Treat PTSD :

Great post – this is really interesting and potentially a great application for VR for a serious problem. I’m curious what the bar to clear is for demonstrating, for lack of a better word, clinical efficacy? How quickly can this be brought to market and how do you navigate both the medical regulation system and make sure that it actually works? One concern I might have is that it seems logical but could end up exacerbating PTSD for some patients – but I’m no expert!

Thanks for the post – enjoyed reading it. Do you have any impression of to what extent the elitism of early users actually played into the product’s failure, or whether that was an inaccurate post hoc analysis? I like your B2B point and am surprised that that wasn’t a bigger consideration for Google – I wonder whether the value proposition was just never really there at the price tag. Great read!

On April 9, 2017, Will Newell commented on Clear Labs: Unwrapping Food Products Through Data and Genomics :

Like Ellen, I think that there could be a lot to be gained here from a consumer facing strategy; even if they weren’t able to monetize it directly, it seems like they could choose a few niches to dominate in terms of consumer information, stamp of approval, etc., that would really cement the advantage that their data has already given them. I wonder if there is a Trojan Horse strategy to get funding from companies to build out the database, then flip to a B2C model? Seems that as long as they remain enterprise focused, they have a difficult tightrope to walk in terms of both doing their job and keeping companies happy.

On April 9, 2017, Will Newell commented on Trim: Doing More With Your Data :

I love that the chatbot can interface directly with Comcast’s to secure a discount – way cool. Aside from that, do you have any idea if Trim is angling to position itself much deeper in consumer financial analysis and spending habits to help them save money? It seems like that could be a great way to both create and capture a ton of value for cost-conscious consumers. Aside from that, I’m also interested in how things play out between them and mint. As you say, it seems that data is really the ultimate value here, and I’m sure Mint must have more…

On April 9, 2017, Will Newell commented on Stitchfix: The Data-Driven Stylist :

Super interesting! Do you have any idea what their end game might be? While control of data is obviously key, it seems like this model positions them well to have a wide range of applications within the industry and also positions them well for expansion – exciting time for them!

On March 20, 2017, Will Newell commented on IndieGoGo: Supply and Demand -> Demand and Supply :

Do you think IndieGoGo has real runway to grow, and serve an increasing diversity of companies through a wider range of stages? Dealing with bad actors on the entrepreneur side is clearly an issue, but it seems like there are a lot of aspects of the angel investing relationship that IndieGoGo is not well equipped to replace – I’d be curious to know how bright you think their outlook is.

On March 20, 2017, Will Newell commented on Crowdsourcing the Boeing 787 :

Afaf, this was fascinating – great post! Do you know if Airbus is planning to utilize similar methods on future design processes (can they even, due to their structure)? Or have they already? I also wonder if the lack of commercial success / early teething issues will hamper future adoption of strategies like this, but it seems, to your point, like a really interesting direction for the company to move.

On March 20, 2017, Will Newell commented on Reddit: Managing the “Front Page of the Internet” :

I feel that, apropos of you discussion of challenges, Reddit has faced a lot of criticism for both behavior of users in mainstream parts of the site as well as for subreddits that, while not blatantly illegal, are viewed by many as very distasteful. Do you think Reddit is doing a good job balancing its user management, or do you think that it has been too liberal? Any sense of whether this has had or could have a meaningful impact on monetization?

On February 26, 2017, Will Newell commented on Li & Fung – The Downfall of a Platform :

Really interesting post, thanks for writing. Given that one would assume the business had really strong indirect network effects, it’s amazing how poorly it all seems to have come unraveled. I think that my take-away here is that it’s a lesson in what happens when you suddenly fail to create value for constituents on one or both sides of the platform. The high profile incidents and perception issues on the demand side, combined with competing options on the supply side. I wonder a bit how they could have avoided the decline: the demand side issues seem surmountable, and surely solid demand could have continued to generate value on the supply side, moreso than demand from small businesses on Alibaba. Or maybe not – maybe their only choice was to go head-to-head with Alibaba?

On February 26, 2017, Will Newell commented on Farfetch: Brick and Mortar Luxury Fashion in the Age of Technology :

Great post! It seems to me like the biggest risk to Farfetch might be the ease of multi-homing, both for shoppers and for boutiques? What have they done to make multi-homing harder or counter that risk? Also, I don’t know a ton about boutiques and fashion, but I’m curious what the dynamic is of brand equity, potentially both for the boutiques and for the brands they carry. It seems from your post like Farfetch has done some good work to maintain the image of quality – is that perhaps one of their greatest advantages?

Echoing the above, great post. Very interesting to think about a platform play where the ultimate goal of cornering the market is not to generate profit. In thinking about this through a traditional business lens, I am curious what your take would be on how big the “barriers to entry” are in this “business,” both in terms of ability to generate trust and the technical expertise to create a secure enough platform to run it. Governance is obviously an important part of any platform and per your discussion, WikiLeaks’ seems to have lapsed – are they powerful enough that it’s a non-issue, or are they walking a fine line?

On February 2, 2017, Will Newell commented on Flipboard – Started from the Top and Now We’re Here (in a Hole) :

As someone who used to use Flipboard and stopped (for no good reason), I really like your take on the company. Do you think that this is a position in the market that has been subsidized by so many competitors (you mention Google and Apple) that it is / always will be impossible to compete? Is there a valid play charging consumers and creating a niche business? Seems a shame that an app with such a great UX and value creation should fail as a business…

On February 2, 2017, Will Newell commented on Wayfair: Are Customers Really Ready to Buy Furniture Online? :

Interesting post, thanks. Two questions for you: if we assume e-commerce can take share in the furniture market, is there a risk that a higher returns percentage keeps Wayfair from ever being sufficiently profitable? It seems like since the furniture isn’t seen in person, higher returns would be a risk and I’m not sure how profitable this industry is from a baseline perspective, and how much it could be offset by savings from lack of brick and mortar footprint?

Also, is there a risk that some of Wayfair’s larger suppliers attempt to build up brand recognition on their own and go direct to customers, cutting Wayfair out? I have no idea how concentrated any suppliers are, and potentially this would be more of a risk in a B2B setting, but never-the-less it seems like Wayfair might be in a difficult position down the road.

On February 2, 2017, Will Newell commented on Amazon in the Clouds :

Great post! AWS is going to run the world some day. That said, however: what is your take on reports that Azure has seen greater success with enterprise adoption given Microsoft’s existing B2B relationships, and the fact that said enterprises generate a huge majority of IT spend? How can Amazon take share besides continuing to invest in a more robust product ecosystem?

Also – where do you see Amazon’s end game in this market? I would argue that there’s never really been a successful fully integrated enterprise IT vendor, selling products from bare metal all the way up to top-of-the-stack software products, which is where AWS seems to be heading right now. Do you think they’ll remain vertically integrated, or where do you think they’ll try to carve out their portion of the market?