London L.

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On May 2, 2020, London L. commented on Doctolib: fighting covid-19 with digital transformation :

How do you expect this sudden growth to pan out? Recently Harvard College switched to a remote telephone urgent care line, rather than in-person meetings, which at least signals to me that some of the conversion to digital may be permanent. However, there’s worries that people are not visiting the doctor due to fears of picking up coronavirus during the visit. (https://www.statnews.com/2020/04/23/coronavirus-phobia-keeping-heart-patients-away-from-er/) When these worries subside, do you think that Doctolib will have gone too far and need to cut back, or will they be able to transition in someway to continue to use the resources (bandwidth, personnel, etc.) that they’ve built up during this crisis?

I recently read an article (https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/29/lyft-lays-off-17percent-of-workforce-furloughs-hundreds-more.html) mentioning that Lyft laid off 17% of its workforce and furloughed about 5% more. Do you think that these layoffs will have any impact on how well they’re going to be able to manage this transition to working with Amazon and transitioning more towards delivery of goods, rather than people?

On May 2, 2020, London L. commented on Lyft-ing Communities, Delivering Hope, and Winning the Rideshare Race :

I recently read an article (https://twitter.com/ScottAdamsSays/status/1256283376949977088) mentioning that Lyft laid off 17% of its workforce and furloughed about 5% more. Do you think that these layoffs will have any impact on how well they’re going to be able to manage this transition to working with Amazon and transitioning more towards delivery of goods, rather than people?

On May 2, 2020, London L. commented on Variis – In Response to COVID-19 and Peloton :

How does the bike interact with the application? I’m curious because I’m trying to estimate the amount of multi-homing that may occur. When people do workouts online, I’ve heard that oftentimes people get different videos and routines from different sources, and I’m curious if Variis might do even worse because people could buy the bike but then use Peloton’s free app.

On April 21, 2020, London L. commented on Woebot – Bringing mental health care to your finger tips :

I was talking to a professor earlier today who mentioned that there will be a large rise in mental-health-related challenges due to COVID-19. I wonder if they’re doing anything special to deal with the epidemic and if more people will use services like this in the future.

One of the things I think Woebot does really well with marketing is that they’re clear that they’re selling a robot that’s specifically *not* supposed to be like a human. I think that adds a lot to their value capture.

On April 21, 2020, London L. commented on TOMRA – Potatoes to the Right, Rocks to the Left :

I also agree with the idea to license out their technology as another revenue source, though I’m not sure if anyone would buy it. I don’t think it takes much effort or money for them to license it, which is why I’m still for it. But, I don’t think it would be smart for a businessperson to build a physical product around a technology that’s going to need to be updated and that is in the same competition space.

So, I think it makes sense for Tomra to try licensing, but I don’t think they’re going to get many takers unless they sign a non-compete with the company they’re licensing to.

On April 21, 2020, London L. commented on Strategic Education – can AI educate? :

I’m curious as to how private this data is and whether students know that they’re storing all of their interactions on this device. It seems like Irving is being helpful but I don’t think they’re very clear about the difference between helpful and creepy. If I ask when school starts and you give me a link to buy books, that’s great. If I ask what financial aid is available, and you use the fact that I asked for financial aid information earlier to give me a link to buy used books rather than new books, I’d feel a bit differently.

I’m also worried that they’re going to be taken out by any business question and answering bot. Even Harvard College’s Office of Career Services has employed a bot like this for years, and I’m not sure if there’s much different in the process between education and other fields.

On March 24, 2020, London L. commented on StockX: The Stock Market for Things :

It seems to me like the same-side network effects are very weak, if not negative, for the users of this site. The more buyers there are, the more demand there is for products, and the higher the price is likely to be. So it seems like it’s actually the case that sharing the site with someone might actually be a bad idea as a buyer. Similarly for sellers – if more sellers use the site, the more supply there is, and so the prices will drop and you won’t make as much money.

So I’m very surprised that this site has many users. My guess from the article is that its ease of use is so nice that people share based off of that. Or, alternatively, StockX may heavily advertise.

But it seems like it’s not in the best interest of users of the site to introduce more users like themselves.

I’m curious if maybe a group purchasing model like Pinduoduo might alleviate this on the buyer side, but that seems difficult to pull off if the main product is single pairs of shoes.

Very interesting article! I had heard of Etsy before but did not know what made them special. A few months back I was deluged by a bunch of YouTube videos about the site Fiverr, which seems to be similar to Etsy, but lower quality for a cheaper price. Do you think that’s an accurate comparison?

It seems like much of Etsy’s brand is around high-quality handmade goods. Do you think that more clearly separating the large scale manufacturing from the handmade goods could be beneficial? For example, launching a “CommercialEtsy” with a modified logo in order to differentiate this from the original Etsy brand in the two don’t mesh well.

On March 24, 2020, London L. commented on Gojek – A Motortaxi for Every Need :

I love the concept of a “SuperApp”, as @Matt B pointed out. I find it interesting that your primary comparison was Uber rather than Lyft, especially given Lyft’s response to corona virus: https://techcrunch.com/2020/03/22/lyft-to-offer-medical-supply-and-meal-delivery-during-coronavirus-pandemic/

This sort of response seems to signal that Lyft is preparing to also move to other sorts of transportation, though they don’t quite have the breadth of Gojek with anything like Go-Pulsa or GoBills.

On February 12, 2020, London L. commented on Stack Overflow – a Winner at a Turning Point :

I think that this is very much a Stack-Overflow-only resentment that has been building up over quite some time. The theory that many users have is that there’s some sort of deadline occurring in terms of funding on SO’s end, and so they’re rapidly trying to become more profitable, which is causing them to move away a bit from the completely user-centric mentality they had in the past.

To be clear, Stack Overflow isn’t doing anything evil or bad on a global scale. They’re just paying less attention to their users on meta, and more attention elsewhere, whether that’s perceptions on Twitter, feedback from other surveys from people who often may not feel like they belong on Meta yet (e.g. LGBTQ+), or a funding source telling them to become more profitable.

In that sense, I think these complaints are very unique to Stack Overflow. There’s no external worries about anti-trust or working with the military, etc. Just a community that’s a upset with decisions the leaders are making about the company internally.

I definitely think there’s space for all of these communities to grow immensely! I think part of what’s tricky with Stack Overflow is that I believe they are trying to grow their community, and through doing so, realized that the majority of users are not on Meta. Most of the posts I’ve linked to in this piece come from Meta, and I think the people on Meta may be fairly upset. However, I don’t think many users are on Meta. Notice that the Meta post with the most votes had less than 2500 votes. And there are over 11 million users.

So even if Meta blows up and people decide to quit, I think there’s likely another community that will be happy to step into their place and keep the site running. However, Stack Overflow needs to make sure that they don’t send the wrong message to that new community as well and be more clear about where they’re getting feedback from. A lot of these changes seem out of the blue, and Meta’s not sure why they’re happening. Once it becomes more clear that feedback from “The Loop” or other surveys are what are driving change, I think the community will grow and become more supportive.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m already saddened by how little Meta has been taken into account recently – it was one of my favorite things about the site, that anyone can propose ideas and ask questions about the site itself and there’s so much transparency. But apparently there are many people who unfortunately don’t feel like they belong on Meta, and it looks like the push (for now) is to try to engage those people and take them into account in other ways, rather than trying to figure out how to fix Meta so that it’s welcoming for everyone.

On February 11, 2020, London L. commented on Stitch Fix – Fashion’s Most Innovative Retail Company :

That seems like very valuable user data that may extend even outside clothing! I would be surprised if someone’s sense of fashion didn’t also have some correlations with house decoration or other beauty-related areas.

I’m very worried that a company like Amazon, which is also very much a tech company, would be able to move into this space and dominate it. It seems like Amazon is likely to have more volume of users and be able to gather insights from other areas as well to apply to this area.

My guess is that since Amazon is not focused on clothing (their first attempt at fashion failed) Stitch Fix is likely to be around for a while. But I’d be concerned if Amazon turned its gaze once again towards this market.

On February 11, 2020, London L. commented on Mattress Firm: Losing by betting on bricks in the age of clicks :

I find the brand of Mattress Firm to also be quite interesting – when I think of Mattress Firm, I always think of the big “Going Out of Business” signs like the one you have in your header. I’m curious if maybe Mattress Firm harmed their brand a bit by appearing cheap.

I feel like if you’re going to have physical facilities for selling something, this gives you an opportunity to have the buying process be even more enjoyable – you can physically pamper your customers and get customer insights no one else has. I’m curious if maybe one way Mattress Firm could pivot would be to re-brand and become a luxury mattress store – something that focuses more on a pampering experience rather than just the buying and selling of mattresses.

On February 11, 2020, London L. commented on A Storm is Coming for Blizzard Entertainment :

It’s interesting that most of the competitors you point out are developing some sort of hardware for playing games. This strikes me as somewhat contrary to the Mattress Firm story (https://digital.hbs.edu/platform-digit/submission/mattress-firm-losing-by-betting-on-bricks-in-the-age-of-clicks/?section=2917&sort=post_date-new) in which creating physical platforms worked worse than creating a digital product or platform.

Do you think that creating their own video game online store, or physical game-playing device could help them stay afloat while they improve the quality of their games?