Jona Babi

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Such a deep difference between failure and mistake even if seemingly they might be synonyms. Very much agreed that learning and adapting fast will define the future of the company and not trying to predict the people’s behavior for the future.

Thank you ! Oh I didn’t know the venmo thing in the end, apparently I haven’t followed as many videos online these days. Hopefully the online strategy will not cannibalize their offline customers once the pandemic is over 🙂

I am googling human psychology now hahaha, it is puzzling how the exercising psychology will change (how much online and how much offline) after the pandemic. I think the winner will be the company that can actually adapt to the new norm since it seems that speculations go both ways.

If the goal of ClassPass was to transition forever to online then would be a big problem. But I believe that their main product will remain face to face experience after the world gets back to the new normal. The off line classes are difficult to disinter-mediate since they are the main source of branding and new customers for the small fitness studios.

Can’t agree more. That was my exact point, their streaming offerings are supplementary used for these days only, but once back to normal the face to face experience is what matters the most and that can’t be disinter-mediated.

I agree that the company is known as an aggregator more than a content creator. But I think that the in person experience is not replaceable from the online workouts so I believe that they will get back the people that were using the product. And even more after gyms are open they might be a huge wave of new people trying to exercise after so much sedentary time.

I don’t think their barrier to entry is getting higher during the pandemics. What is getting better is their brand name. Disinter-mediating the online experience is a good possibility, but most of the profits after COVID-19 will come from the face to face classes and the fitness studios cannot afford to disinter-mediate because they are closing a great way to get more customers.

I think they will capture most of the value from the off-line workouts and not from the streaming. Even if the studios get paid very little they are still on ClassPass because it offers a Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) most lower than other alternatives. Even if studios post their videos online for free, ClassPass will win the in person war in the end.

I would not be worried that much about disintermediation after COVID-19 because the real added value of these classes is the in person experience and that will be the most profitable part of ClassPass once people can go to the studios. That part is difficult to disinter-mediate since the small fitness places see ClassPass as a great way to acquire customers. The online part will potentially be skipped from people that like one studio a lot. But the value preposition attracts more people that are bored with only one type of workout so I am guessing there will still be people looking online for different types of workouts depending on their mood.

I had never heard of it but I know now where to get snacks. I agree with all the suggestions on how to proceed going forward. What I want to add is that this new customer segment that they acquired during the pandemics are a whole new use-case not very compatible with the ild customer segment. I would stress that GoPuff needs to shape their operations (Hire more people or change the hierarchy of the products) taking into consideration the predictions of what part of their revenue is going to come from these new customers. In a post-pandemic era companies would be inclined to not hire and to do everything with the same people in the same way, that would be not the right way to retain the new customers.

Love the closing comments that brilliant people turn the negatives into space for new thriving ideas. I wrote about ClassPass and I thought that they were incredible to turn everything around into a new operating model. But Spaces only had 13 employees and turned completely to a new customer base, that is truly remarkable. I see the future of this company a lot brighter than before, they will resume their old work but also now they have a completely new use-case that is definitely not going to vanish. Working from home will still remain there after the pandemic (not 100% but a great market to capture) after companies have realized how much more efficient it is and what the savings are in other areas. So Space should just increase their team size and continue to work in both areas, theme parks and future of work.

On April 27, 2020, Jona Babi commented on TAL: Online Education Transformation in Covid 19 :

I always think about Zoom or other companies that are having so much more people using their products during COVID-19 as winners. I didn’t think about the major changes that they had to made to their operating system or technical infrastructure in such a short time to accommodate so many more users. I want to expand this to post COVID-19, I believe that since TAL was able to adapt so fast to the market they will also be able to re-adapt to the new normality. Another factor that I think would help TAL is that now everyone knows about them and if parents loved the experience they will for sure sign up their kids for summer school or after school learnings for every day. The last but not least, the new reality after the pandemic will be quite different and will use a lot of remote/online activities and learning is one of them. For example kids can do the work online when they are sick or not able to go to class. TAL has the opportunity to shape the new reality post COVID-19 and that is an opportunity more than a threat.

On April 18, 2020, Jona Babi commented on Hello Barbie – AI Making Children’s Dreams Come True :

I had read this sometime back and the idea sounds so amazing. I just think that the adoption of these barbies would be very slow. The low income part of the population can mostly not afford such as an expensive barbie with voice recognition. The part of the population that can afford it is educated and sensitive to what they tell their children. I see the challenge of using further AI in the dialogue as very big since parents are very worried about what their kids are getting taught. One of the solutions that comes to my mind is some kind of consortium regulation and rules that companies have to follow when they design kids toys with AI capabilities.

On April 18, 2020, Jona Babi commented on Macy’s: reinventing customer experience through data analytics :

I like all the new initiatives that Macy’s is undertaking to improve their position. What is missing I think is not the strategy how to compete with Amazon but how to compete with all the DTC brands that are so focused on attracting customers with their mission, the green manufacturing, their donations to different causes, etc. These brands are all the new generation is following and Macy’s needs to have a plan how to bring them in on the top of all the operation optimizations. They can use AI data to see what are the behaviors of this young customer segment and when they buy from Macy’s what do they look for. If Macy’s was able to partner with these brands or grow in house similar ones, they would be in a much better position.

On April 18, 2020, Jona Babi commented on How Well Does Spotify Know You? :

I like Spotify and I see how the network effects are so helpful and of course the artists and managers seem to be able to get enormous insights from the platform. What I don’t understand very well is how do they differentiate the value that they create for a common listener. The songs that I have on Spotify everyone can also find in Apple music. Apple music also has a great AI recommendation engine to suggest me songs that I would like. It doesn’t add much value to the listener if Spotify is partnering with studios and singers and pushing them to make new songs, in the end of the day the new songs will also be available in Apple Music.
The advantage that I see now is only having the biggest market share and being able to work on all platforms such as android and iOS while Apple music is limited from the ecosystem.

I see the future of Coursera not as bright as you are describing it. The major disadvantage is that these prestigious institutions such as Stanford need to keep their brand exclusivity to keep the high ranks. So it will never be the same degree as you having attended the classes in campus and gotten a degree from the same school.
The other big drawback to scaling globally I see is language. Most of the world speaks English but a lot of the people prefer the classes in their own language and are not comfortable with English.
Lastly the competition can also create those partnerships that seem to be the main advantage of this company. For example Harvard has its own digital platform now and could potentially partner with any of the competitors of Coursera in the future.

Love the pandemic reference in the end of it. The difference between gofundme and other ways/institutions of donation is the trust that they have managed to build. I remember myself always being skeptical to donate in any website but gofundme.

Some potential business models in order to scale is to get recurring revenue from partnering with all the charity institutions. The small ones are probably easier to convince to jump in the platform because their trust will increase and they will be able to reach more people. But the big ones are probably old and traditional and could potentially benefit of a new tech company with data capabilities.
Another way is for the company to actually getting involved itself in charity. COVID-19 pandemic is a great way for the company itself to create funds and then disperse them according to needs. This is outside of their expertise now but it can be build.

On March 23, 2020, Jona Babi commented on Wikipedia – Free Knowledge and a 19-Year-Old Online Platform :

Love Wikipedia and I donated when they asked to support their engineers because like you, I am not one of the people that provides content.
Since Wikipedia is like the place where most of the people start their research I wonder if it can start charging people for example just $1 a year would be enough since there is billions of people consuming info. I personally would pay for it. But if people are not willing to pay its scalability is at a big risk. Nowadays we are used to get most products for free (letting them use our data) so there is a chance that people don’t want to pay for Wikipedia.
A few other business models that they can use is advertising or sell the data. Advertising I think won’t bug people enough to make them stop using the site since we are all used to adds. Selling the data will have more serious implications.
I really believe that with the right for profit business model and additional rules for editing Wikipedia can become more than just the first place people search for info. I think that they can change the brand from “info for everything” to ” reliable info for everything”.

On February 11, 2020, Jona Babi commented on Plaid: A $5.3 Billion Winner :

I hope that Plaid/Visa is pretty soon going to dab into bank transfers and make them faster and cheaper that they are now. I didn’t know about Plaid until I started specifically looking into the Fintech industry for my personal interests, although I’ve used apps that are integrated with Plaid in the background. So what is described above as being very “discrete” has worked so far. But not sure how the educated customers will perceive the “discrete” integration, I would prefer to know who I am giving permission to connect to my bank and other finances. Now that they have the Visa name backing them up there is no more need to play the discrete game under the radar.

On February 11, 2020, Jona Babi commented on One Medical wins at digital health :

I’ve used a similar app in California that is provided from the Palo Alto medical foundation and basically offers everything that One Medical does but only for their company. Luckily the foundation is so large and has offices all over northern California so there are several location and doctor choices available at any point of time.
I am very happy that services like this exist but there is a long way to go for the healthcare industry. My main problem (which I hope One Medical hopefully is working on a solution for it) is the medical records. I’ve moved a lot so my records are all over the world, non transferable digitally scattered across many doctors and institutions. I am not able to have a track record on my health over the last decade. If this becomes possible it will be the ultimate healthcare digitalization.

On February 11, 2020, Jona Babi commented on Glossier: Disrupting the Traditional Beauty Industry :

There are several DTC e-commerce beauty brands that have a community with a couple of million followers in social media. I get their instagram adds all the time and what caught my attention is not the frequency of the adds or quality of the product, but how real the women wearing the products look. They don’t hire a Victoria Secret model with perfect makeup and unrealistic beauty to do the advertisement, it is more like the girl next door that looks effortlessly pretty and very natural. This way Glossier is not only reaching a large amount of women but it is empowering them and making them more self-confident seeing that they look similar to the model in the add.
On a side note, they have failed to reach to an audience like me and my friends. I consider myself pretty savvy with the beauty brands and usually don’t trust the instagram adds since 9/10 of them are not exactly what they are preaching. Glossier needs more validation that just the online hype for me to give it a try.