David Liang

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On December 14, 2015, David Liang commented on Casper: Going to the Mattresses :

Super interesting and a great example of how a new operating model and marketing strategy can disrupt a seemingly mature and stagnant industry as mattresses. I especially think the showroom experience is such a novel and ingenious way of adding to the luxury and innovation of Casper’s brand. This also makes perfect sense since there is only 1 mattress type to choose from, removing the need to have a number of different mattresses for customers to try out (like in a traditional mattress store).

I’d be very interested to see how this operating model plays out and if they decide to make any changes, especially since customization has been a bit factor for mattresses. That being said, I saw this being similar to hotel mattresses (e.g. W Heavenly bed will consistently be same in any W hotel).

On December 14, 2015, David Liang commented on Deliveroo: When Fine Food Meets Exceptional Logistics :

Very interesting! This reminded me of DoorDash, which is my friend’s startup. They also consider themselves the “Uber” of food delivery, delivering from restaurants that normally don’t deliver. I can think of two potential issues that I’d love to get your thoughts on.

1. Legal issues. DoorDash was recently sued by In N Out for delivering their food. Do you see Deliveroo running into similar legal issues? I assume not if Deliveroo negotiates a deal with each restaurant it works with.

2. Competitive landscape. It seems that being a first-mover in London allowed it to be quite successful, which may be why it’s choosing to expand to geographies outside the United States. Do you see it gaining traction in those new countries and possibly the US in the future? The competitive landscape seems extremely fragmented.

On December 14, 2015, David Liang commented on Yelp: a 5-star review :

Thanks! The proprietary recommendation filtering algorithm decides which reviews to hide; all other reviews appear on the site and can be sorted by date, rating, or elite/non-elite.

I think competition is the biggest risk that Yelp faces over the next few years. Google is particularly troublesome due to the massive big data available, and they have even moved into this space through its recent acquisition of Zagat and creation of Google Local Insiders. However, Yelp still has a huge first-mover advantage, and Google is still behind on user-written reviews. Zagat was started by professional reviewers, and Google Local Insiders just kicked off recently.

The business recommendation and delivery domains are also strong competitors. Foursquare has very few user-written reviews, and Tripadvisor focuses on travel and leisure more generally (thus having less branding around restaurants as Yelp does). In this recommendation industry, I think scale and brand are the most important drivers since they heavily influence network effect and consumer usage.

On December 14, 2015, David Liang commented on Alinea Restaurant: Dining Unconventionally :

I dined at Alinea before they switched to tickets, and I still remember the mad rush of calling in as soon as the office opened at the start of the month. I’m quite curious if there’s still a mad rush when ticket sales open up (similar to how tickets to a popular concert can sell out in minutes) and whether that transfers to increased difficulty making reservations. Are there any customer downsides to this?

From an operational perspective, it definitely seems like it’s made a big impact on increasing revenues. I’d be very interested to see what other restaurants or establishments adopt this approach.