I agree that Github has created huge value in software development. With increasing collaboration between teams and geographically distributed teams (also across time zones), Github allows developers to have a consistent development and testing platforms to work on. This becomes even more important as more and more companies are adopting agile development and devops by which code is getting shipped to production faster. Github is also acting a personal marketing platform for developers to showcase their work to potential employers. This is creating huge network efforts and building barriers of entry for competitors. Another trend which is in favor of Github is the increase in Open Source platforms and softwares where Github is a good platform to host the code because of its wide adoption among developers. It will be interesting to see how Github is able to monetize its huge user base further.
Instacart has scaled well and is solving a real pain point (also thanks to the huge investments it has received). The biggest concern I have is that this is a very low margin business with low barriers of entry. Instacart was not profitable as of Jan 2015. The cost of delivery is high and people are not willing to pay high premium for the convenience they get, when a grocery store is usually around the corner. Moving from contractual workers to part-time employees would further hurt their margins.
Another concern in this shared economy space is the regulatory laws for contractual labor. Like Uber, they can also get in trouble and be asked to provide similar levels of benefits to their freelancers. They would need to work closely with the state government authorities and make sure that they are on the right side of law. Changes in their employment structure can have huge impact on their business model.
Thanks for the detailed and insightful post. I agree that lot of future economic value will come from business customers and API transactions. One other place where Venom is apparently extracting value (besides a cut on the credit card transactions) presently or could extract value in future is interest on money people have put in their Venmo balance, which they do not move to their banks since it is usually a small amount. Having a freemium model and seamless user experience helps them to get a large user base which can be monetized well down the road as well as create large pool of venmo balance.
This business also has huge network effects, so it makes sense to focus on user acquisition and engagement in early days and think about monetization later on, to create barriers of entry for competitors.