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Thanks for a great article! I wonder what the distribution of prices are on the platform for various artworks sold remotely. I imagine that high-end art would likely be purchased in-person or as an investment and evaluated by art professionals on the buy side — going through traditional art houses or auction processes. For lower-end art, Etsy seems to have a fairly robust offering as well, which further removes the high-volume, low value works from contention. Saatchi seems caught in the middle, so the value-add services specific to its art offerings that others cannot replicate at the same scale for the same low price seem critical to its growth.

Furthermore, you mention the risk of disintermediation. It seems that the calculus of cost of artist acquisition vs take on each sale is critical here as a buyer may quickly connect directly with the artist and only make one or two purchases through the platform. This has significant implications for fee structures and business model design for the platform to ensure long-term sustainability.

Thanks for the article! One issue with exercise equipment is always “is this a fad?” Having a subscription insulates Peloton from a lot of these challenges as leaderboards lock in users and spur engagement, but in an economic downturn when users are cutting their subscriptions, is the sunk cost of the bike enough to keep them engaged and paying monthly subscription costs?

Similarly, this works in cities where outdoor access is less readily available, but I wonder how long Barry’s and SoulCycle will lag before their offerings are more robust, tied to brick and mortar offerings, or other products are introduced. You mention that multi-homing would be limited as the bikes are so expensive, but if the true value is in the subscription, it seems that content can be easily displaced for cheaper alternatives (imagine Netflix entering the workout video space).

Will Peloton be able to continue innovating with new machines and new classes or will media players be a bigger threat than traditional competitors? Will the fad die out? Will an economic downturn be enough to halt new sales? Can growth expand to rural areas beyond the current user base, or is growth capped?

On March 24, 2020, iBot commented on Patreon: A Platform for the Creative Community :

Thanks for an interesting article! One interesting piece here is the disintermediation potential which would cut Patreon out of the mix. I’ve seen several YouTube channels which publish their content, get a cut of YouTube ad revenue, and can scale their fanbase very rapidly on that channel. With increasing ease of building your own website, what stops a YouTuber from directing fans to their own site and simply setting up a paywall to access exclusive content there? Or what stops YouTube from displacing Patreon and charging lower fees across more artists since the content is largely hosted on the platform already? Seems like Patreon may be facing significant challenges as technology becomes increasingly accessible. One potential solution is connecting fans of one artist / creator to similar artists as a referral platform, though I imagine the margins would be smaller and again, YouTube may be able to displace this service with at-scale machine learning.

Really interesting article! Thanks for sharing! One piece of this that jumps out to me is the focus on marketing and customer engagement. I wonder, in a world where other apparel retailers offer similar omni experiences, does Burberry successfully differentiate itself through these digital initiatives, or are the digital efforts the new table stakes for competing in the space?

Additionally, where can Burberry go from here? Players like Amazon are entering full force in the space and developing their own private labels using many of the techniques described here with the backing of a strong tech foundation.

Will the brand image be able to prevail? How will the brick-and-mortar footprint adapt to adjust to the dynamic retail marketplace as the industry shifts to embrace digital over time? As a premium brand, how will Burberry balance the old-school, traditional history with the need to attract younger customer segments used to digital-first strategies?

Clearly, the company has navigated the transition well and is implementing unique and creative digital solutions. It will be interesting to see how these offerings continue to evolve as competitors catch up.

On February 11, 2020, iBot commented on Coursera – Revolutionizing Education For Anyone, Anywhere :

Great article! Thanks for sharing! I wonder how Coursera and similar platforms will change the nature of higher education. I know institutions such as MIT are already posting all lectures for some courses on public forums for individuals to have greater access to quality education.

While it may be difficult to have MOOCs fully replace universities on their own, there are significant implications for public education, the rise of flipped classrooms, and the need to fundamentally rethink what it means to have higher education. Will employers begin recruiting individuals with certifications that never attended class in a physical university? Will these certificates carry the same weight as a diploma?

Furthermore, this could have major implications for the issue of student debt in America. With so many young people accruing loans which take decades to pay off for their higher education, something like Coursera’s offering becomes increasingly attractive.

Of course, this also leads to tradeoffs related to the university experience. Are there ways to mirror or replicate the social experience of college which enables personal growth? Is there a difference between liberal arts and STEM degrees on these platforms? How does performance change the nature of recruiting for employers? These questions highlight the disruptive nature of Coursera’s offering which may change education worldwide in the years to come.

On February 11, 2020, iBot commented on 23andMe: Losing at digital privacy :

Thanks for a great article! Another wrinkle to consider here is how the privacy rights extend across geographies and regulatory environments. I imagine that each country of operation has varying levels of privacy requirements and restrictions. Compliance can be costly for a company with already high variable costs such as 23andMe.

Furthermore, the healthcare and genetic information nature of this offering subjects it to even more restrictive policies. While much of the value can come from unlocking the genetic information and data users provide, there may be direct tradeoffs and competing incentives for customer satisfaction with privacy standards, political regulation of similar products and companies, and VC or other investor incentives.

Working in the healthcare space, I know how cumbersome it can be to overcome legal regulations intended to protect consumers. Together, legal challenges, lawsuits, compliance monitoring, and even lobbying may increase the company’s risk profile significantly in the years to come, independent of customers’ reactions to privacy issues.