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On December 13, 2015, lyang commented on Zappos: Delivering Happiness, Powered by Service :

So true – Zappos is king when it comes to customer service! After reading about the call center moving to Vegas, that decision makes a ton of sense. I wonder if other companies have followed suit to build up call center capabilities there because it seems of the unique culture there.

Also, I’m interested to know how the decision to focus on customer service has evolved over time. While Zappos has certainly earned itself a name on that competitive advantage, have consumer preferences changed over the years such that customer service is not always the top factor for purchasing online? In particular, retail over the past few years has become more and more a price play. Has that had any impact on how Zappos has had to compete to get purchases? It’d be an awesome and really powerful case study if Zappos has largely been immune to this trend!

On December 13, 2015, lyang commented on Xiaomi: China’s Threat to Apple and Samsung :

I’ve heard a lot about Xiaomi, but never really understood how it keeps its prices low! One thing you mentioned was the fact that beyond price, MIUI is another selling point. How much does the company invest into this customized OS versus its hardware? And how much do consumers find this to be a driver for purchase? I’d be curious to understand whether over time, this becomes a big cost base that Xiaomi will have to find ways to optimize like it has done with the hardware.

This is mind-boggling! I knew that public transport in the US tended to the inefficient, but these numbers are massive. I’d be interested to know the split of deficits as it relates to subway and commuter rail versus bus. It seems like systems with heavy capital investments (i.e., rails) would be more susceptible to deficits. So in a city like Boston where most of the subway T runs above ground (or easily could if it wanted to) whether switching to lower cost public transport would help alleviate some of the cost pressures. Also, as a total aside, does the refrain we often hear to “take the T more” hold water here? How much would volume have to increase to plug the gap?

On December 13, 2015, lyang commented on Learn a New Language and Change the World :

Cool – I’ve used Duolingo before (the language learning, not translation side) but didn’t realize the impetus for its inception! I’ll be interested to see how this service fares against paid language learning platforms like Rosetta Stone and whether its crowdsourcing business model will be able to continually improve content (ala Wikipedia). Are there any quality control mechanisms beyond self-policing?