I like the idea of TrueCar, but I agree with you that the main benefit to car buyers seems to be the process efficiency as opposed to a better deal. That being said, CarMax took off based on transparency in this industry, so I hope TrueCar can leverage its network effects and similarly become a household name due to the many customers looking for an easy process. It will be difficult in an industry with repeat purchases only happening every 5-10 years or more in most cases, but if TrueCar can leverage its network effects, it seems like it might become a key piece of the car buying process.
I agree that there are definitely PR risks, but if this becomes a reality and is rolled out well, it would be an amazing feat of both data and operational ability. I wonder what amount of data is required to do something like this, and particularly within individual customers how many purchases they would need to make before Amazon is able to start predicting?
Elementum sounds really interesting. I really hope this (or similar things) take off. I’m curious how they will compete moving forward with SAP and Oracle given that most companies with large supply chains, even if they used Elementum, would still likely use SAP or Oracle for other things. I could envision a scenario where they price Elementum out of the market. With the difficult sales process (to managers who don’t want to change), going directly after established competitors, even with superior technology, seems a bit risky and I’m curious if it will work.
Interesting post! I do worry that they aren’t doing as much as they should to encourage stickiness. I used Thumbtack to find three of the vendors for my wedding, however it is obvious they do not intend to stick with Thumbtack for long, and two of them are already off – the vendors mentioned that they view it as more of a marketing platform to get into the market if they don’t have any ratings on WeddingWire or The Knot, then once a few of us rate them, they are no longer using it. I’m curious if you see this as an issue in other industries – Thumbtack becoming just a way to generate the first few sales, enough to get sufficient ratings on other sites?
I also had no idea that the ReCaptchas were used for anything besides verification! Duolingo makes it a little bit more obvious that they’re making money in this way (specific mentions of buzzfeed and CNN article translations on the web version), but that actually is motivating to me as a language learner, since I realize that I am translating real content. I wonder like others if Duolingo in particular should make this even more obvious, particularly in the app, since it’s at once motivating for language learners and the only income (that I am aware of) for Duolingo?
I also have to wonder besides the already mentioned closed captioning problems, what other things can be worked on in such a way using crowds. I’m curious to see what Von Ahn comes up with in the future, particularly now since ReCaptchas are starting to experience user backlash.
I think this is a really interesting way to start getting to all of the employee ideas in large organizations! How does Kindling make their money? They may do this already, but I have to wonder if they could offer some sort of contract or part-time project manager for an additional fee to help keep organizations that truly mean well and want the ideas to work on track in terms of sponsorship at all levels, follow-up communications, contributor recognition, and generally offer the program management team advice on how to keep the entire organization engaged.
I’m a loyal fitbit user, though I’m not sure there is more than just a weak direct network effect in the platform. I bought the fitbit to replace a GPS watch for tracking my runs, and I have purchased another one because I liked the app and its partners. It was over a year before I got my first “friend” on the network, and I didn’t see the benefit there beyond a little friendly competition, which hasn’t necessarily increased the more friends I have using a fitbit. To me the technology is key – so long as they maintain their technical advantage over the terrible pedometer technology in Apple products, they will have the advantage. I do think they are vulnerable, but not to Apple Watch, instead to whoever first designs a wearable that is viewed as fashionable for females. Neither the fitbit (thought they’re now partnering with fashion designers) nor the Apple Watch are particularly fashionable, so I think whoever can make the technology a piece that people want to wear, will win significant market share and be in a position to take advantage of network effects. I agree that Apple will probably win the war, just not with their current version of the watch.
As a dog owner who had never heard of either of them, I agree that multi-homing may be an issue since I’m likely to check both now whenever I need a sitter. More concerning to me is the possibility of disintermediation both are exposed to. I once found a pet sitter on Craigslist who happened to live in my same apartment complex, and from then on called her directly whenever I need a sitter. Once I find someone I like and trust, so long as they’re available, I’m curious if you have any thoughts as to how Rover (or DogVacay) will keep my future transactions with the same sitter on their platform?
I completely agree with your concern about disintermediation. I used Handy this summer and realized just how difficult it was to use it for one-off cleanings instead of a regular appointment. My roommate and I were shocked that the nice, efficient lady who cleaned our place to help us get our security deposit back didn’t even give us her contact information beyond how to request her again through Handy – we would have gladly given references to friends looking for a similar one-time cleanning. I wonder how long this will last that somehow in each new market Handy (at least temporarily) is preventing disintermediation?
How do you see Nike+ positioning itself in a world of Fitbit, Jawbone, Apple Watches, etc. all reimagined for a few years from now? I believe Nike was very ahead of its time with Nike+, and hope that they continue to innovate and stay ahead of what athletes are looking for and stay out of the hardware space, but I wonder if they can continue to be important in the software integration conversations. In particular some of their best digital offerings are apps directed at helping athletes get better (I love their workout suggestions), and I hope they continue to create or partner with personal trainers to bring consumers original content and at least try to compete on content.
I agree that Microsoft is winning, particularly in the enterprise market (from SharePoint to hardware) and XBox. I completely agree that with Windows 10 they seem to be driving network effects. My only concern with labeling Microsoft a “winner” is their inability to succeed in the smartphone market, since smartphones are driving so much of the consumer face time. I’m curious to see how Microsoft will continue to develop apps and compete in the smartphone space despite their failure to provide the hardware/software backbone. How do they build on their Windows 10 network effects without a smartphone?
I agree completely that Doctor on Demand is best positioned within Telemedicine right now. How do you think the industry will adjust when or if large healthcare players enter the market? Will Doctors on Demand have the consumer loyalty at that point to shape the regulatory framework since they shifted so early to B2B (while of course continuing in the directo to consumer business), or will large companies with lobbying organizations and knowledge of state differences, together with large IT budgets be able to compete once they enter the market?
As an avid reader, I love TheSkimm and what it’s done to bring the newsletter digital. Have you thought about how it will grow in the future, particularly in a post-email world? I agree with Noah that I often find myself wishing there was an app or something available to pull up news during the day. Do you see TheSkimm needing to expand into additional distribution formats, or do you think it can grow beyond its current readership with just email distribution?