Interesting post, Alex, with plenty of thematic overlap with other cases we’ve looked at such as Twiggle. With a site such as Etsy where suppliers provide such niche products and buyers are searching for specific things, it’s not surprising that investments in this type of ML technology for search had such a large impact on the company.
Thanks Stephen, yes great thought and lots of thematic overlap with Heili’s piece on Oracle. I also wonder whether a partnership with a company such as Monsanto might be an area John Deere would move into. It seems that developing machinery to facilitate a certain type of seed planting, especially with as dominant a company as Monsanto, could be a productive collaboration.
Max, I was so glad to see that not one but two people wrote about Spotify for this class! I was nearly a third but chose another music industry company. I love that you’ve highlighted the Spotify wrapped feature, which has become a real zeitgeist in the last two years. This is a great example of a company using big data to create a feature that may not capture obvious value, but creates it through a feature that everyone simply must have.
Hi Daniel, thanks for this interesting post. I’m guilty of the millennial trope of Zillow obsession, and I find that one of the most interesting features (if not a prominent one) is that Zillow is able to value homes that aren’t listed on its site. While it doesn’t seem terribly complex to do this using their vast stores of data, I now have a better sense of how this is done.
Great post, Chris! One thing I couldn’t stop thinking about reading this, as a non-Starbucks regular, was how the app could alleviate the anxiety of ordering at Starbucks, which I always seem to mess up. This anecdote is notable only because it’s just one more avenue for a non-traditional user like myself to find the app. Anything that simplifies a process is likely to catch users’ attention, and next time I go to Starbucks I might have to try this out, even if I’m not in it for the loyalty.
Stephen, that’s a really interesting point that I hadn’t thought of! I suppose users could Shazam songs that they really don’t like (I know I’ve wanted to know who sings a song I hate so I can avoid the artist), but I think the general assumption is that Shazam shows interest, and quantity here = popularity. I think you’ve pointed out a really interesting blind spot, though!
Hey Heili, thanks for your comment! You’re spot on, that’s actually another way Apple is now leveraging Shazam data (but I ran out of words to detail it). Apple creates a weekly “Shazam Discovery Top 50” that projects up and coming songs, and also uses individual user data to create curated playlists similar to Spotify’s “Made For [Your Name]” playlists. I don’t know about the geo tagging privacy concerns you mention, though I think they’re valid concerns. I imagine that as long as users consent to share location with the app (which I personally don’t do on Shazam) they can receive notifications when artists they like are playing shows nearby. I’m glad you shared your thoughts on this as an avid Shazam user!
Stephen, fascinating post. I’ve been a devoted Glossier user since their launch, but somehow never knew the origin story of the Into The Gloss blog. To address some of your points as well as some of Maxwell’s questions in the previous comment, I will say from a user perspective that while I enjoy their products, I haven’t taken advantage of loyalty perks, such as discounted prices for auto-refills. I’m also quite curious about their product roadmap, especially Glossier’s emerging understanding that they are “primarily a tech company that builds social platforms and conversations” as you put it. Do you feel like this is an intentional pivot, or the way the business was moving naturally?
Thanks for your thoughts and questions, Max and Stephen! Max, to your point, yes multi-homing is absolutely possible. As best I can tell HomeAdvisor keeps itself competitive with other platforms by charging a set fee for qualified leads, rather than a commission fee on work completed. I think the greatest risk to HomeAdvisor’s business model is disintermediation. I’ve personally disintermediated on the platform, finding a painter through the app when I moved to Cambridge, then following up directly with the painter for a later job. However, the pricing was the same. I imagine this is because HomeAdvisor does not in fact set prices or facilitate payment, but rather connects the two parties, who then work out payment independent of the platform.
What an interesting company, thank you Sebastiano. You touched on a number of concerns I had about the company while reading the introduction, such as customer safety and disintermediation. While third-party insurance is a clever way to bring a new marketplace onto the app, I would still have safety concerns similar to what Snigdha mentioned, and even beyond to harassment or simply unwelcome or uncomfortable conversations. However, I’m sure that ratings go a long way toward mitigating this. You also mentioned the risk of disintermediation, which is possible but perhaps less likely due to the cost-sharing (rather than profit) model. Great post!
Like Kevin, I was excited to see that someone wrote about TooGoodtoGo, as its US expansion has been really interesting to watch over the past few years. They were founded in Denmark and have a thriving business there, and (according to my friend who just left a role there) gaining traction in the US market has been difficult. Apparently, it’s been difficult to convince restaurants to sign on to the platform, which is a good reminder that platforms have to add enough value to a client to outweigh the logistical hurdles associated with partnership.
Thanks for profiling Discord, Max! During the pandemic shift to online teaching I was in the middle of building a training program and our user research showed that Discord was *by far* the community platform of choice for our demographic – young adults 20-25 in Nairobi, Kenya. This was great insight as we needed somewhere for the learners to gather that was safe and distanced, but wasn’t the LMS that they used for their classes. It’s clear from your writing that Discord’s pivot from gaming to community broadly attracted more users, but I’m curious about one thing – it looks like users increased by about 50 million each year in 2019 and 2020, but 2018 alone saw an increase of 220 million users. Do you have a sense of what could have caused that? Obviously still really impressive to see consistent growth during the pandemic years. Thanks for this insight!
Big HEB fan here, great to see that your family made use of their app in what sounds like a really difficult time – I’m so sorry for your losses during the pandemic. I’ve always wondered how grocery chains make the decision to offer a unique app or to partner with Instacart or similar businesses – or both. Do you have any thoughts on this after looking into the HEB case?
Really interesting company to profile, Alex. It’s certainly not hard to see why ServiceNow’s services were in demand during the pandemic, but I wonder if you have thoughts about what set them apart during this period. What was their competitive edge over BMC or Freshworks?