I agree 100% with your comment around dating apps being a “self-defeating proposition”. The tension reminds me of the tension we saw in Stickk – success for the users provides positive publicity but is actually a negative for the operations and financials of the business. While I applaud Hinge for trying to innovate on how connections are made, I don’t think any dating app has resolved this fundamental tension between what success looks like for users versus what it looks like for the business. I wonder if the move is actually to “vertically integrate.” Instead of trying to increase the number of matches, can dating apps move towards providing more of a relationship counseling service? Thus, once they’ve helped you find your soulmate (or just your next partner), maybe they can continue to stay relevant in your relationship by helping you maintain it.
Have you read about China’s relatively new “social credit” system? It reminds me of what Lenddo is building and in many ways, originated because they were trying to solve the same issues around implementing a credit score. However, with China’s authoritarian government, the risks of building such a system become apparent and very frightening. While high credit scores can definitely be used to give access to certain benefits, low credit scores (especially ones based on non-financial metrics) can also be used to penalize individuals. Because you’re now basing the scores on subjective measures, is there a risk that this becomes a surveillance and censorship tool?
Thanks for writing a fascinating post, Liz! I see so much potential in what Humanyze is building. For example, we have spent so much time in LEAD discussing organizations that have structured their teams in different ways to accomplish different objectives. For Valve, it was mobile desks to promote creativity; Bridgewater focused on having very flat organizations with transparent communications based on first principles. Humanyze would be an incredible tool to help any of these organizations measure the actual impact any of their initiatives have on helping them accomplish their goals.
I do agree with many of the other commenters, however, that privacy is a big concern. While it makes sense for the employers to adopt such a tool, I have difficulty seeing how they can incentivize employees to embrace it. Is it mandatory for all employees? If not, does it lose its effectiveness if only 50% of employees elect to participate? And does choosing not to participate in such a program lead to employee discrimination?
Echoing several others above, I am also a former user of Duolingo and was really interested to finally understand their monetization strategy. I’m interested in digging a bit more into your second assumption- is it absolutely necessary that people come back to the product in order for them to collect sufficient data to generate meaningful translations? Could they achieve the same goals by focusing on breadth rather than depth, especially since stickiness within an app is one of the hardest things to accomplish?
Hey Brittany- great suggestion! I think you’re absolutely right in that Kinsa should partner with governments to distribute the device and hopefully it’s something they are considering for the future. My understanding is that they are sticking to the US-only right now to iterate on the best user experience to ensure continuous engagement with the thermometer and the app. Unfortunately, simply distributing the thermometer is useless if people don’t use it. One of the most commonly discussed topics in giving away product is around how to create “perceived value,” and Kinsa will need to think through this as it diversifies its distribution.
Hey Tarran, great questions. A common challenge for IoT companies is to effectively create and then subsequently communicate the added benefit of a connected device versus its non-connected analog. From Kinsa’s perspective, there are several benefits such as the user experience around the bubble game for kids, ability to join private groups and see what’s going around their local area, etc. However, it’s surprisingly difficult to communicate this value proposition on a retail shelf – relying on messaging on the package is just insufficient. So interestingly, as IoT products have become more popular, we’re seeing more and more retailers changing how they sell these products. Target, for example, created Target Open House (http://openhouse.target.com/app/#/) to enable users to interact with the products so they can actually experience the value before buying it.
On the accuracy of data – I believe Kinsa is banking on the fact that having medically-validated fever data will help level-set the self-reported symptomatic and diagnosed illness information. But you’re absolutely right that there are still challenges for them to overcome as they try to move from fever towards actually identifying specific illnesses & I’m just as intrigued as you are to see how they tackle this.
Mundo – thanks for an interesting post. One thing that stood out to me about Omada’s approach is in how they engage with their users. While there are many other companies that are focused on helping people change their eating and exercise habits, most of them are purely tracking applications (think: MyFitnessPal, etc). A common problem in preventative care is the fact that the benefits are not recognized for a very long time and so it’s very easy to “fall off the bandwagon.” Therefore, I really believe that Omada’s decision to include personalized coaching is a critical differentiator and a big factor in their success. I wonder if they can somehow use bots powered by systems like Watson to personalize their coaching even further, thereby sidestepping the need to move towards in-person coaching & allowing them to scale more effectively.
Thanks for a great article on a topic many of us love! I wonder if there are scientific/technological innovations that could help mitigate some of the challenges in growing Merlot in an environment sensitive to climate change? For example, I think about the various solutions that were developed to address the Great French Wine Blight (http://io9.gizmodo.com/how-the-great-french-wine-blight-changed-grapes-forever-1691598233). Is grafting an option that could help to continue to protect the grapes? Alternatively, is there a potential to leverage what was developed by Indigo in altering plant biomes to make the grapes more suitable for the altered climates?
I agree with many of the commenters above in their appreciation for your interesting question around whether fast fashion and sustainability are fundamentally at odds. I think it is. It begs the question on whether a move towards slow fashion would do anything to dramatically alter the industry? Whereas with IKEA, we discussed how they could create incentives for suppliers and put pressure on competitors to invest in long term sustainability, I’m not sure that H&M holds similar power. It is perhaps too much of a low margin, commoditized business that if H&M shifted towards more of a traditional, slow fashion model, that someone else (i.e. the Zaras or the Forever 21s) would swoop right in and take their place?
As a loyal Starwood customer, it’s been fascinating to watch them roll out their sustainability and “green” initiatives. What’s interesting to me is the lack of consistency they have in their practices across geographical regions. Is there perhaps an opportunity for such a large and diverse hospitality industry to learn from some of the hotels within their portfolio? For example, the Starwood hotels in developing countries already need to deal with a lack of consistent and cheaply available electricity and clean water. As such, in addition to the loyalty points-based initiatives, many of them have completely different user experiences such as requiring a key card to turn on the electricity. As you’ve rightly mentioned, there is much to be done in the longer term via things like design or clean power management, but I wonder if they are ignoring some of the lowest hanging fruit.
Thanks for a great article! One of my favorite topics is thinking about the spread of disease and how best to contain it, and you are absolutely right in how climate change will exacerbate other contagious illnesses. While there is an obvious benefit to being able to fast track the clinical trial and FDA approval processes, is there a potential for Sanofi to diversify? For example, in addition to the development of novel vaccines, I wonder if there is a potential for them to partner with researchers working on genetically modified mosquitoes (http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2016/04/genetically-modified-mosquitoes-zika/479793/).
Thanks for writing a great piece about one of my favorite topics! I agree with you that many actions taken by companies today are insufficient for combating climate change. For example, committing to source 100% of its cocoa from sustainable growers seems like a noteworthy initiative, but will it actually make a difference when temperature and other factors affect crop growth? I doubt it. Instead, the three paths you outlined make a lot of sense to me; while they may be more capital intensive and take a longer term lens, they are the only things that will truly address the root causes. I wonder if there is also an opportunity for plant biome technology (similar to Indigo) as an alternative to genetic engineering.