Marius Westhoff

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On March 24, 2020, Marius Westhoff commented on Everything is teachable – Platform play in education :

Agree, the entire corporate market is very interesting and given the large content catalogue of teachable, they may have a significant advantage over other companies that create courses themselves and can only provide a smaller content catalogue – having said that, so far, teachable has predominantly focused on helping experts – it’s been a very expert-driven platform and the shift to being a B2C or B2B, consumer facing brand will only come with time.

On March 24, 2020, Marius Westhoff commented on Everything is teachable – Platform play in education :

Thanks a lot Chris!

I agree – there could be much more involvement of the students in actually grading/ providing feedback and the company could build communities around different skills that are taught – e.g. a community for the home gardeners, a community for the blacksmiths etc. …

On March 24, 2020, Marius Westhoff commented on Coursera: The Edtech platform that could disrupt Higher Education :

Thanks a lot for sharing this.

Coursera is a super interesting business and one of the few online higher education companies that has reached a considerable scale over the last years. However, I am seeing a couple of challenges on the horizon:

1) Unit economics for university partnerships are difficult as up to 20-30% of revenues goes to universities – on top of customer acquisition costs
2) The company, over the years has tried to create multiple revenue streams – from initial certificates, to degrees, to B2B offerings and subscriptions – it doesn’t look like the solutions themselves have scaled sufficiently.
3) The market is getting very crowded and certain high-end brands such as Harvard/ MIT/ Stanford are considering creating their own universe of education programs in order to avoid brand dilution.

Overall, I do believe there’s a need for a change in higher education and with its new CEO and a strong growth in the B2B business, Coursera can play a significant role in upskilling of the workforce – that’s where I see most of the opportunity at this point – working with corporates who have a distinct need in talent/ skills and bridge their demand-supply gaps.

On March 24, 2020, Marius Westhoff commented on Udaan- India’s Amazon or Alibaba? :

Thanks a lot for sharing this article, Sneha – very interesting. Sounds a lot like an Indian version of Alibaba.

I wonder though if there’s not some additional risks in the business e.g. Multi-Homing? What prohibits wholesalers to also list their products Flipkart and other platforms?

Additionally – I wonder how much money the company needs to deploy for logistics/ the creation of warehouses in order to build a smooth supply chain a la amazon?

On March 24, 2020, Marius Westhoff commented on StockX: The Stock Market for Things :

Thanks a lot for sharing this article – very interesting.

I particularly like the fact that StockX is not distinguishing between experienced sellers and new sellers – because StockX takes care of the authentication of shoes and the delivery and most of the service elements, a buyer is not concerned to purchase a shoes from a new seller. That, in the past for other platforms such as eBay was a major issue – sellers who were new did not have a chance to stand against experienced sellers who have a lot of positive reviews.

I wonder though, whether there is space for multi-homing and whether the network effects for this platform are very strong? I do see some indirect/ cross-side network effects, but I am not sure if the same-side network effects are strong? What do you think?

On February 12, 2020, Marius Westhoff commented on Pandora Media – from winner to loser – and back? :

Agree – looking at the current stats and user growth numbers, it looks like user numbers are actually contracting and not expanding. On top of that, the lack of International expansion will cause a major friction for Pandora shareholders in the long run.

On February 11, 2020, Marius Westhoff commented on Pandora Media – from winner to loser – and back? :

Thanks, @TFD – That’s a great question.

I believe that Pandora is somewhat “stuck” in its business model – being an online radio rather than a streaming service, the way the business functions is significantly different from Spotify and Apple, who strike deals with the music publishers and labels directly. When Pandora took off in 2005, the music industry was still extremely apprehensive of digital music purchases – yet alone subscriptions. Apple had launched its iPod in 2001 for the first time and revolutionized the industry by offering songs at 99 cents, thereby deboundling the highly profitable “album”. It would have been tough for Pandora at this time to adopt the play-every-song model.

On February 11, 2020, Marius Westhoff commented on Paypal: Growing Through Partnerships :

Thanks, Anuj, for sharing this great article on PayPal.

I find it very interesting that PayPal has been able to stay relevant in the FinTech space over so long – and I wasn’t aware of the many partnerships that they entered over the years.

I wonder, however, how the company can create new product offerings internally and grow revenues organically? After all, acquisitions and partnerships are often costly. Did you see product features the company launched internally, organically, over the last years? I wonder if they invest sufficiently in internal talent and internal R&D in order to stay relevant in a fast-changing digital payments world.

On February 11, 2020, Marius Westhoff commented on Allbirds of Prey – From Zero to $1.4B DTC Darling in Five Years :

I believe that there’ll always be a space for a high-end consumer brand that provides superior quality. Given that everything across the digital initiatives is strongly branded, I think that users will see value actually purchasing the “real deal” and not rely on amazon.

I see Amazon’s basics programs rather problematic for horizontal, low-cost fashion companies i.e. H&M, Uniqlo and others, that provide non-branded basics to consumers.

I think it’s actually not an either-or … I think Sephora is simply trying to create a more sticky brand and a more loyal customer base that shops either online or offline. These digital innovations seem to be meeting consumer demands and create a great example of a brick-and-mortar company that stay’s relevant in a digital age.

On February 11, 2020, Marius Westhoff commented on The Louvre: Winning at Digital Engagement :

Thanks for sharing this piece, Joe!

It’s very interesting to see these digital innovations by the Louvre. Especially in an increasingly digital world, it is hard to stay relevant as an offline institution. Despite these efforts, however, I am not convinced that the Louvre is pushing the boundary enough in order to stay relevant.

I believe the museum could create digital experiences around some of the art pieces that it exhibits – for example, why doesn’t the museum consider digital documentaries around the life of Leonardo Da Vinci? Those additional contextual information pieces could be integrated into its website.

Additionally, the Louvre could leverage its incredibly global brand to educate visitors and potential visitors on the arts e.g. by establishing a digital Art Institute that provides short courses or videos around the history of the arts.

What’s your take? Do you think the Louvre is doing enough to stay relevant or are there additional opportunities that the museum should consider employing?

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

Great post and thank you so much for sharing this piece on online education.

Having worked in the space for the last 6 years, I am super excited to read this piece. I agree that Coursera has done a lot of good work in the education space in trying to revolutionize highere education.

They are one of the fews that have really cracked the B2B market – currently they’re doing around $150m of their $200m revenues in the B2B space. They’ve also been headed towards launching more and more degree programs i.e. iMBA with University of Illinois (they shut down their on campus program to do online only), Masters of Data Science with Imperial College etc., at lower cost than 2U i.e. $22k for the entire MBA degree.This degree-play can be a true differentiator for the firm going forward.

However, there are still many open questions left to be answered i.e.

– How does Coursera create a sustainable business model that, at the same time, allows for high engagement? A revenue share model with a university partner is not particularly beneficial from a unit economic perspective and yet needed in order to create degree programs.

– How can the firm establish its own brand that carries value?

On February 11, 2020, Marius Westhoff commented on Pandora Media – from winner to loser – and back? :

This is an example of a “Loser”.