Really interesting article! I think I would have loved this as a kid. I am intrigued by the second question you posed. LittleBits seems to have all the elements that make for an effective collaborative community – users are driven by an intrinsic motivation to learn and can build / iterate off of others’ designs. However, I am not sure if this will be enough to support growth from a tool for students to a widely commercial application – will they need to devise some type of value sharing arrangement for external innovators? The acquisition you mentioned suggests that they wish to stay in a model motivated by education rather than financial incentives.
Great post! This is an interesting problem tied to a huge addressable market. To the questions you posed: I think that with the continued development of open source machine learning libraries, the value lies more and more in owning the data rather than the ability to implement to implement a ML algorithm. In that sense, if Flexport can develop an interface for customers that allows them to streamline the data collection / labeling process, they should be able to maintain a competitive advantage. To the extent that they can own this from end to end, I would argue that they should.
Great post about a very interesting application of 3D printing! The goal of 3D printing organs for transplant is certainly ambitious. One question/concern I have pertains to the cost – given how expensive 3D printing is, will they be able to demonstrate a cost advantage over a traditional transplant? Of course, the ability to print on demand rather than wait for a donor is a considerable advantage in and of itself. And perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself – they obviously have some intermediate hurdles to clear in the short to medium-term.
Interesting post. To your question, it seems like there is a limitation that revolves around cost and degree of customization. For lower degrees of customization it does not seem like 3D printing will be cost competitive in the near-term. In cases where there is significant customization, like the variable density insoles you highlighted, then 3D printing is a great fit! I actually thought the rapid pick up in the speed of product development seemed more impactful – it may not make sense to completely replace a traditional manufacturing process with 3D printing (for now), but if it can get Adidas to an ideal design more quickly, there could be huge savings.
Awesome post Alex. It’s interesting to how a data-driven approach can not only influence product / design decisions, but actually be inserted to the user experience and adapt the user flow as they move through it. The question you raised around bias is an important issue. Regulators in both Europe (GDPR) and the US (see https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/2016/05/04/big-risks-big-opportunities-intersection-big-data-and-civil-rights) are starting to think about how to combat this. I’d be curious to see if there are new ML techniques that will evolve in order to adjust for biased data or if teams will need to incorporate a compliance-type role to look for discrimination.
Great post! Interesting perspective to look at open innovation where it did not ultimately succeed as a process improvement. One thing I would have thought script-writing has going for it as a potential fit for open innovation is that there are (seemingly) strong intrinsic motivators for the external innovators. One reason writers do what they do because they love to create. The research seems to indicate that problems with strong intrinsic motivators are conducive to collaborative, crowd-sourced problem solving.  I guess it must be as you said, that the best stories do come from a unique voice with a singular focus.
Another reason that film & television may stand to gain less than other industries is that the pool of talent is relatively well defined and concentrated. I imagine that many of the best writers are already in LA or New York and have some tie to the industry – so if they are looking for the next big hit, it’s most likely to come from a source they could find without casting a wider net.
 Kevin J. Boudreau and Karim R. Lakhani, “How to Manage Outside Innovation,” MIT Sloan Management Review, Vol. 50 No. 4, Summer 2009.