Nice post! I think analyzing failures is much harder than successes–there is generally less public information available and fewer cases studies are written on them.
I wholeheartedly agree with your analysis that the contributors to the Quirky platform were not representative of end users. Thinking about the type of people who would contribute to this platform, I am reminded of the diffusion chasm separating the innovators and early adopters from the majority of the mass market. It is interesting, however, that Threadless had a similar model for R&D yet appeared to have fared better. Is it just that Quirky scaled up too aggressively under the weight of investor expectations? Would be interested to hear your thoughts on what might have accounted for the different outcomes. Also, do you think Quirky could have found a way around this problem by, say, taking advanced orders in lieu of votes for ranking potential product designs (similar to other crowdsourcing models like Kickstarter)? Perhaps by asking their community to put down their money where their mouth is, they might have found their way around the signally problem…just a thought.
Great post! I liked your discussion on the direction in which the company is moving and how their operating model enables them to pursue business opportunities in adjacent sectors. The market is in sore need of reliable and streamlined electronic interfaces for the ordering of tests and delivery of results. However, I am somewhat skeptical about the potential value of mobile applications targeting patients given the low frequency with which the average person visits any medical diagnostics clinic (once every 1-2 years?). I’m also curious as to your thoughts on what kind of big data insights Quest can derive from its databases, and what kind of monetizing opportunities might lie therein.
Great to know a fellow REI enthusiast! Very clear and articulate analysis on the business and operating models. I found the chart of sales growth for REI vs. the S&P Retail index very interesting–do you think REI’s ability to outperform the rest of its industry in the Great Recession is related to the demographic and socioeconomic profile of the customers segments that they target?
I really enjoyed learning about SpaceX, a company that has captured the popular imagination by appealing to people’s fascination with the unknown. Thank you for giving us a glimpse into the inner workings of this company. I was wondering if you can elaborate a bit further on how safety is addressed at SpaceX, as the focus on low-cost and “learning from fast failures” might work counter to this goal?