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On December 8, 2015, TLiu commented on Skillshare: The Future Belongs to the Curious :

Hey Sarah! You can be a nonpaying subscriber on Skillshare; you’re just limited to a certain set number of videos/modules you can take each month. I think they continue to have that option in order to attract new users on the site as they scale. I’m sure they are hoping these nonpaying subscribers will transition to become paying subscribers over time. Seems like a typical freemium model problem – definitely challenging to tackle, and it’ll be interesting to see how they try to get at it.

I think MOOCs will definitely still have a role, as long as universities still exist and have a role. Skillshare reminded me of the role that Threadless plays vs. traditional/established retailers.

On December 8, 2015, TLiu commented on Dirt Cheap: Extreme Value Retail :

Interesting post. Very clever business model that strikes me as a Dollar General twist on the discount retailers that have proliferated over the past decade (TJ Maxx, Gilt, etc.). As long as supply of goods is strong (?), would imagine these boxes could be stamped out in any city/town that is appropriate for a dollar store – which as we learned today, is a lot of locations. Curious about their selection of their target customer though. The name “Dirt Cheap” seems to suggest they are positioning for a very specific type of customer; might potentially ostracize customers who like bargain hunts but don’t want to be seen as “dirt cheap”?

On December 8, 2015, TLiu commented on The Lean, Mean, Amazon Machine :

Thanks for this post! Amazon is such a controversial business because people often point to its minuscule profit margins, but your chart on their cash flow dynamics was stunning. Basically that means that something below the profit line – like depreciation or change in NWC – is massively positive, to still produce $1Bn+ FCF. A quick Google check indicated that it’s the NWC dynamics – Amazon has enviously negative NWC because it is able to pay out to its suppliers much later than it gets the cash for the order. Awesome business dynamics there, which then enable the giant capex investments they are making (including into new business lines like the drones! though I don’t know enough about this to comment). Faith in Amazon restored.

On December 8, 2015, TLiu commented on The IKEA Concept: Furniture for the Masses :

Thanks for this post! I’ve always been impressed by IKEA – smart customer niche selection aside, it’s managed to design an innovative, “fun” way to shop for furniture that’s added to its iconic brand. However, given the company’s financial success, I’m surprised there aren’t more companies that copy this model. The operating model described here seems decently replicable. What do you think are the barriers to entry?