Joe Tung

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It’s so wonderful learning about Meds — I am particularly impressed by its delivery speed!

I agree with you that Meds will need to find a way to keep its early competitive advantage. I wonder how high customer loyalty is and if its speed of delivery alone might be able to serve as a strong enough moat. For pharmacies and delivery companies, the churn rate seems to be particularly important. I wonder if Meds might be able to help patients with chronic conditions refill their medications on a monthly basis. In this way, they will have a stable recurring revenue stream, patients won’t have to deal with the hassles of refilling their medication, and adherence rates will increase!

On May 1, 2020, Joe Tung commented on ChenMed: Preventative, Capitated Care to fight COVID-19 :

Interesting post and company, DJ!

I had not heard of ChenMed before, but it was great to learn about its preventative, capitated care model. It is also impressive to me that PCPs working at ChenMed have a panel size of 400 instead of 2300. I can see how that might translate into more attentive and better care for individual patients. I have seen similar capitated care clinic models try to integrate across different patient touchpoints (e.g. by acquiring pharmacies and labs) in order to have more control over the patient journey. I wonder if that’s something ChenMed has already done or might look more into doing in the future. I also wonder if ChenMed might have data to show that patients under their care are able to get easier access to coronavirus testing and treatment during this pandemic — that would be a huge win for capitated care models!

On May 1, 2020, Joe Tung commented on Teladoc Health: A Clear Winner During (and After) COVID-19 :

Great post, Loti. I agree with you that the telemedicine industry will continue to expand not just because of coronavirus, but also because of less restrictive regulation around e-visits and better reimbursement schemes. However, I am not so sure that Teladoc will be the one to capture most of this increased value. Telemedicine seems to be pretty commoditized — many hospitals and even smaller clinics now have their own platforms for seeing patients virtually. I wonder what Teladoc can do to stand out. Right now, price seems to be one competitive advantage, but it also might not make sense long term to get into a price war with other platforms. One option is to focus on high-end concierge service, which is something that Summus Global is doing. It will be interesting to see how this landscape plays out in the next few years!

On April 20, 2020, Joe Tung commented on Use Me if You Dare, Hack Me if You Can :

I’m very interested to see where TikTok goes as a company. I have actively resisted the urge to download it or create an account, but friends send me links to videos at increasing frequencies and I find some of the content so creative! I do have some concerns about the potential impact on mental health though. There have been a few studies linking increased social media use with negative self-perception and increased mental health disorders. In particular, those that facilitate more social comparisons among peers (e.g. Instagram, Snapchat) seem to have the most significant effect. I wonder if this is something TikTok is aware of and if in the process of trying to create a stickier product they might be exacerbating these issues.

On April 20, 2020, Joe Tung commented on Affectiva: building AI that reads human emotions :

Thank you for sharing! I learned a lot from your post. I have always thought of emotions as a very distinctly human feature, so it’s interesting that ML algorithms are becoming quite good at identifying them.

I wonder in the future if there might be more of a role for emotion AI in mental health care as well. Being able to detect emotions — particularly changes in them — might be able to help physicians triage patients and determine when someone might need a higher level of care. I agree that different cultural norms and manners of expressing emotion will have to be considered.

On April 20, 2020, Joe Tung commented on AstraZeneca: AI in Drug Discovery & Development :

Great post, Partha! In the artificial intelligence age, what do you see as the biggest competitive advantages for individual pharma companies? Access to data, the algorithms themselves, operating model, or something different?

I am also excited by future prospects of using unsupervised machine learning algorithms to identify pathology features that might serve as targets for new therapeutic intervention and drug features that might indicate better safety/efficacy profile. I agree with you that the current success rate is too low, costs too high, and timeline too long in drug discovery.

On March 23, 2020, Joe Tung commented on Zencare: Modernizing the search for mental health care :

Very interesting company and well-written blog post! I love that the company is breaking down barriers to accessing mental health care, especially given the stigma associated with receiving care. I am curious how Zencare screens therapists to be on the platform to ensure adequate training and quality. Perhaps another monetization move might be targeting companies and offering the platform as an employee benefit while getting paid on a PMPM basis.

On March 23, 2020, Joe Tung commented on Upwork: In Demand Talent On Demand :

Great post, Alli! I was actually thinking of writing about Upwork as well, but I am glad that you beat me to the punch. I agree with you that disintermediation might be a big problem for Upwork. My roommate is currently starting a company and used Upwork to find freelance software developers. Once he found a few developers he was interested in, they took the conversation offline. I wonder if one way to address this from the perspective of Upwork might be to charge freelancers for the connections made in addition to a commission fee for the transaction amount.

On March 23, 2020, Joe Tung commented on BloomNation: a budding platform for florists :

Great post and interesting business! I love that they’re helping out local florists by charging lower commission rates and focused on ensuring customer satisfaction. I wonder if multi-homing is a big problem for them though. There doesn’t seem to be very strong incentives for the florists to stay completely loyal to this platform. As a florist, I would want to advertise my services on as many different platforms as I can to get exposure.

On February 9, 2020, Joe Tung commented on Garmin – Getting lost in the changing navigation maze :

Fascinating post! I wish we had insight into some of the conversations going on in the executive meetings at Garmin in the late 2000’s. Was it a lack of foresight that prevented Garmin from capitalizing on their early lead in navigation? Or did the executives consider the possibilities you posed (dominating either the hardware or software space) but executed poorly?

I see a recurrent trend in our class’s blog posts that incumbents that do not adequately consider competitive threats from digitally-enabled companies end up losing. I am surprised though that in this case, Garmin is able to stage a comeback as you mentioned, as most other companies that fail to innovate in the digital world end up becoming obsolete. This does speak to the importance of diversification as well. I wonder what changes Garmin might make now in their strategy going forward so that they do not fall behind again.

I had not heard of Monzo before, but I am going to check them out now — thank you, Colm! I love that Monzo seems to focus on the customer experience with the community forum and feedback section. One of the major pain points for me with traditional big banks is their slow speed of response; I hate being put on hold for an hour in order to talk with a customer service rep who can address my concern in 5 minutes. Bank of America and other banks have tried to address this pain point with smart bots that can help answer basic questions, but having a structured feedback forum is on another level. I do wonder how that might scale once Monzo becomes even bigger though.

I agree with you that incumbents are not well-positioned to catch up with Monzo soon. However, the bigger challenge I see for Monzo is newer players who might be able to copy their model. They do seem to have the first mover advantage in this space, but the barrier of entry also appears quite low for a similar-minded company to take up market share.

On February 9, 2020, Joe Tung commented on Applied Intuition – Powering Autonomy at Scale :

This is a fascinating post, Rocio! I agree with you that companies that are able to simulate real-world road conditions effectively will derive huge cost savings from testing autonomous vehicles. I wonder whether traditional automotive manufacturers or companies like Uber/Lyft might end up becoming the best partners for a company like Applied Intuition. It would seem that manufacturers might hold the edge given they have the supply chain in place to iterate on changes needed for production of AV parts following simulation feedback. However, companies like Uber/Lyft have incredible amounts of data on rider/driver patterns as well as greater incentives to utilize autonomous vehicles in order to cut down on driver costs. Perhaps a future business model might involve all three components working together — manufacturers, service platforms, and simulation companies.

I am also curious how accurately companies like Applied Intuition are able to simulate real-world conditions. It seems that their simulation algorithms are based on past patterns of scenarios; if an autonomous vehicle were to encounter a completely new set of situations (e.g. collision testing with new car materials at a previously untested speed and angle), would current inferences be able to be extrapolated to generate outcomes we can trust?