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On March 24, 2020, Russell commented on MasterClass – Mastering Scale as Edutainment Platform? :

Thanks for sharing, Rocio! I have seen lots of ads for Masterclass online, but I have wondered about its quality.

For instance, if I take a Masterclass, how well do I really have that subject “mastered” by the end of it? For some reason, in the back of my mind, I think that if I take a course on Coursera, I am going to finish with a deep understanding of the topic, but if I take a Masterclass, I am just going to scratch the surface. Do you think that is valid? I would love any advice as I consider taking some of these.

Thank you!

On March 24, 2020, Russell commented on Zoom: Prepared for a Pandemic :

Thanks for sharing, Joe.

I’ve never thought of how impressive it is that they beat out competitors like Skype, Microsoft Teams, and Google Hangouts. I understand your points about ways they differentiated themselves and the importance of networks effects and network bridging, but I suppose Skype and Google Hangouts also have those benefits. In terms of the quality of the product itself, is it so different from its competitors?

Are there any lessons on how less-known companies might strategize to lead over such large competitors? Maybe it is the benefit of specialization and being seen as a leader in one area vs. being “good” in many?

Thanks again!

On March 24, 2020, Russell commented on Instacart – A Platform Thriving in a Pandemic :

Thanks for sharing! I have a question regarding how they are responding to the pandemic.

I am an Instacart customer, and I love their regular value proposition. I can see how they add even more value in the pandemic, but I am worried about the question of “What is the delivery person has COVID?” Do you know if Instacart is doing anything to ensure that their delivery people are free of the virus? Additionally, is there official guidance to tell seniors how to get groceries if they are not supposed to leave their homes?

Thanks again for sharing!

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

Thanks for sharing! I think one thing that’s interesting to consider is whether it’s helpful to learn from classmates in a discussion format and whether Coursera will be able to replicate that.

Of course, with the case method at HBS, a lot of the learning comes from learning from classmates. I have found this to be one of the most valuable parts of HBS, not just in the classroom, but also learning from their life experiences and perspectives outside the classroom. That is something that I don’t think Coursera can replicate and should keep traditional models like HBS alive and valuable.

However, I just enrolled in my first lecture-based class at HBS without a case discussions. The lectures are also filmed, so we can re-watch them online later. I must say that I both learn better and faster by watching the video recording of the lecture. I feel that I am not missing anything, because it is just a lecture and I therefore am not missing perspectives from classmates. Additionally, I am gaining because I can watch the lecture at 1.5x speed and pause or rewind if I am slow to understand something. I therefore do see value in the online model for lecture-based classes.

I agree that Coursera is a winner, and especially for taking courses in one-off topics, I think it is an option that I will consider in the future.

Thanks again for posting!

On February 11, 2020, Russell commented on Starbucks: Winning on rewards, loyalty, and data :

Great post! This is super interesting to me – I had no idea this was such a powerful tool. There is one main thing I’m wondering about: What do you think allowed Starbucks to be more successful than other coffee shops with their Rewards program? Was it more the technology, the convenience, the recommendations, or the combination of everything together? I guess my thought is that I don’t know why more companies haven’t been able to replicate this.

A second thought is just that the power of this loyalty seems so strong that it may be impossible to disrupt, despite lower prices elsewhere. We see new coffee shops popping up all the time, and I’m not sure any of them stand a chance knowing this.

Thank you for sharing! This has opened my eyes to how important loyalty is and how brands can work on building that with customers.

Great article! I think two points are interesting to think about:

1. It is so impressive that despite being such an old organization, they have stayed on top of innovation against much larger companies who could in theory build this out themselves. I think the point you raised about them being small and agile is super important.

2. I wonder if they will seek to enter the eGaming market as it continues to grow and traditional TV viewership declines. It could be interesting for them to do the same things they do for sports for newer markets like eGaming. Eventually, I think those markets may end up being more similar than they are seen to be now.

Great read!