Kudos for writing such a cool article, and double kudos for having Stratechery as your first source 🙂 This comment may seem a bit far removed from the topic you cover, but it relates to the question about alternative business models.
In my opinion, one of the cool things about Patreon is that despite being a third party itself, it aims to alleviate the power monopoly that many of the large media distribution platforms (e.g. Youtube, Spotify, Instagram) have over content creators. As an artist (I’m thinking of music right now, but the example applies to any content creator) it is virtually impossible to get your material out without having to pay a cut to whichever middle-man aggregates consumers. In the case of music, those used to be record labels, and now its streaming platforms, but the analogy still stands.
If you ask me, some of the most interesting threats to the dominance of these platforms are emerging in the blockchain world, because it opens up the possibility of decentralized streaming platforms that aren’t owned by anyone. Imagine a system where close to 100% of the ad revenue from advertisers went to the consumer that sees the ads, or where income derived from video streaming was passed through directly to the content creator. Although the viability of these projects is questionable at best (mainly due to technological limitations), I think they are still worth exploring!
Really interesting read! I remembered reading a while ago when Formlabs (one of the largest venture-backed 3D printing startups) announced their partnership with New Balance to do something similar (https://formlabs.com/company/press/formlabs-and-new-balance-come-together-3d-print-high-performance/).
My main question after reading your article, and the same question I have every time I read about a consumer brand using 3D printing, is will it ever make economic sense for them to shift mass production to 3D printing? It’s hard to imagine a near future where 3D printing outperforms traditional mass production methods in terms of cost (e.g. injection molding). 3D printing has a relative advantage when customization if highly valuable (e.g. medical implant) or volumes are relatively low and quality is paramount (e.g. aerospace), but I just don’t see how the tech fits into the shoe industry at scale… in any case, will be something interesting to continue monitoring. Great article!
Great article Ryan — in the last two years I spent a lot of time following additive and the question you raised about what Bell should do is spot on and representative of very similar questions many strategics are always considering: should they invest in technology development and/or bring it in-house? Or should they just wait it out and wait until the tech is proven? There are lots of pros and cons, but ultimately what I’ve seen happen frequently is that companies are willing to deploy capital into tech development as long as they can reap exclusive rewards if the development is successful. Few companies have an appetite to fund advancements that could also benefit their competitors, so typically you see a lot of exclusive licensing requests in exchange for capital. Again, great article!
Great article Ignacio — I think you explained very well one of the essential questions on the mind of all large-corporation CEOs: how do I avoid being disrupted? These days you see a lot of big companies deploying capital into programs similar to Aval’s fintech challenges and ADS. Ultimately, you could argue these programs are simply a cost-effective way for them to invest in potential disruptors before they become more expensive.
One of the challenges of these corporate strategic programs (corporate accelerators, corporate VCs, digital labs, etc.) is that the best founders tend to self-select out of them. For instance, if I’m a founder with an idea that could potentially disrupt Grupo Aval’s business, then I definitely wouldn’t want them on my cap table (or else they’ll simply try to buy me early on). Just something to consider! Again, great article.
This is a fascinating topic, and I think it’s very clear the VC industry is fully moving towards that direction. I don’t think we’ll see fully automated investing in the very near future, but all good VCs these days at the very least have some sort of data-collecting and data-monitoring strategy. In to Preseries and Social Capital (mentioned above), there are a couple of other firms you might be interested in reading about: CircleUp and Correlation Ventures. CircleUp (https://circleup.com/helio/) pretty much makes investment and lending decisions by leveraging a massive database of consumer brands that they claim allows them to pick up signals of breakout companies before anyone else. Correlation Ventures (https://correlationvc.com/) offers founders investment decisions in “two weeks” by leveraging a massive historical data set of what successful deals have looked like.
Great read! This is one of my favorite applications of ML, especially because of the impact it can have on the developing world. I’m very curious to know what exactly are the “behaviors” that they use to assess credit quality in a non-traditional way, and how they go about measuring them. Depending on how easy it is to track these behaviors, a way to prove the effectiveness of the product to prospective customers would be to back-test the AI-driven lending decisions against a financial lender’s existing portfolio and see if it can outperform it.
If you want to explore another company, check out Tala (https://tala.co/). They are a startup based in LA and have issued around $500mm in loans to customers in underserved countries by using alternative data signals.