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Amazon, Jet & Walmart. Where will it all end?

Some random thoughts on the current state of E-commerce. As I mentioned over a year ago, Jet.com didn’t make too much sense as a contender. Yea, they can start discounting and use buzzwords like algorithms but at the end of the day, is Jim buying those shoes or not. Turns out they had a great exit with Walmart, which is great for them.  But where does this leave Walmart? Did they really need to spend $3b to buy what amounts to some software? Is the $3b a customer acquisition cost? It seems like Walmart is doing their best to appear as they are fighting the Amazon beast, but is it working? Here are 2 separate recent anecdotes: Jet is heavily marketing a 15% coupon for the first 3 orders a new customer makes, great. Put in an order at prices similar to Amazon, get an extra 15% off and in this users case, the product was fulfilled by a 3rd party vendor. Unbeknownst to the user when purchasing, the order was routed to another seller. Then the order was put in a queue for 7 delivery days.  Delivered. All is well in the world. On the Amazon front, in trying to get an FBA freight order into Amazon, a rep had to call and push the delivery out a week because there is so much freight arriving they cannot handle it and need extra time so there are truckloads piling up outside of FBA facilities. How do you compete with Amazon? For a Prime user, all the added benefits of Amazon Video, Music, 2 day shipping, Audio and more.....

Thoughts on Google er Alphabet.

I have written about this before but am seeing some interesting headlines which I believe are related… 1) 2/22/16 Google Shuttering Comparison-Shopping Site for Auto Insurance, Credit Cards, Mortgages http://www.wsj.com/articles/google-shuttering-comparison-shopping-site-for-auto-insurance-credit-cards-and-mortgages-1456194520?mod=djemalertTECH Google Compare shutdown after one year is a setback to the Alphabet Inc. unit’s efforts to provide niche shopping services and financial-services tools. The quick reversal is a setback to the Alphabet unit’s efforts to use its enormous reach to provide consumers with niche shopping services and financial-services tools. 2) 2/23/16 “Google is sinking into an antitrust quagmire”   http://www.cnbc.com/2016/02/23/google-is-sinking-into-an-antitrust-quagmire-commentary.html Google parent Alphabet is sinking further into an antitrust quagmire. The European Commission may beef up its anti-competitive complaint against Google, Bloomberg reported on Monday. U.S. authorities are probing the search giant, too. Proving abuses will be difficult, but the expanding scope means the company will have to expend more energy to pull itself out of the bog. Google has long dominated web searches — it has almost two-thirds of the U.S. market, according to ComScore, and a higher percentage in many European markets. That has brought it regulatory scrutiny for years. Demonstrating that the company has used its position abusively has been difficult. It’s easy to click on another search service and hard to prove Google is harming the public by injecting additional information into results. U.S. authorities dropped a probe in 2013 after the company promised to behave. Earlier this month, a London court found Google had not unfairly crushed a rival by putting its maps on top of search...

Thoughts on Jet.com and E-commerce

              Everybody loves a good deal. The Internet is all about shopping around to find the best price. That is clear. Jet.com is positioning itself as a Costco of the Internet, the Amazon.com with better pricing. Thats an ambitious plan but its hard to understand the investors who have given it a $600m valuation over $140m in capital invested. With the chatter of frothy valuations, Jet.com, embodies a true irrational exhuberance for tech investing. An Amazon Prime customer pays $99 a year. Amazon may not always provide the best pricing, but it does provide a marketplace platform and more often than not, customers would be getting a good deal in the least. There are stories of customers paying above retail and Amazon using tactics to push users into higher price points, but overall Amazon customers are shopping smart. Then you have all the perks that come with being a Prime member such as free access to entertainment etc..   Jet is charging 49.99 for the membership. Its mission of always getting better price (which it is then filling from 3rd party sellers) and taking losses makes no sense. Its interesting how this will play out but I would proceed as an investor with huge caution.   https://hbr.org/2015/07/the-problems-with-jet-coms-pricing-model...
The Case for $TWTR

The Case for $TWTR

Twitter is an amazing product/service. When used correctly, it provides direct communication to otherwise unreachable people. It facilitates communication in a clear, concise and direct channel. Twitter gives the power to the masses to both give and receive to the community. Some excellent applications is getting direct, unfiltered news both from news organizations and individuals who are on the scene. Another is the ability to join a conversation with sophisticated thought leaders on current topics. Why is $TWTR having so many problems as a company? With earnings this week, many analysts will be paying attention to various engagement metrics. In contrast, $FB, who also reports this week is expected to blow out expectations by correctly tackling mobile advertising. My user experience on $FB is that its a great way to get some bite sized news from various content channels and maybe catch a few personal updates from my social network. On the other hand, $TWTR is a completely different experience giving me first hand thoughts, ideas, news sometimes directly from the source. The level of conversation is much higher and the interaction is much more intimate. Besides for finding a full time CEO, $TWTR should take the time to focus on educating the masses on how to setup and correctly use the service. With power also comes the ability to make mistakes. With many high profile “mistake tweets” causing embarrasment or financial loss, it may be prudent to altogether skip it. It all comes back to education. With some good video campaigns on various use cases and an easy guided setup, Twitter may be more embraced by the masses. It...
App Installs and the Real World

App Installs and the Real World

App installs ads have been a valuable source of monetization for social media platforms. Recently spotted in the wild have been a media blitz by Yahoo on outdoor media in the South Florida area. I dont have data on costs and offline to online conversions but it makes alot of sense to take advantage of the underutilized outdoor media network for app’s to onboard users. Many of these apps serve specific purposes and provide utility for a user who is physically in need of that service, right time, right place. At a bus stop? Install Yahoo Mobile for bus times, weather, news. Makes...
Thoughts on Banking, circa 2015

Thoughts on Banking, circa 2015

It goes without saying, that startups have disrupted many industries just in the past few years alone. From Uber to Airbnb, the previous incumbents were hit so hard and fast, they seem stunned. Part of the tension between the old way and new way is the heavy anchor of regulation. For Uber, they have and continue to fight their way into markets and break through this protective barrier. Even Tesla has to fight resistence of so called, Regulation, in their ability to sell direct to consumers. Whats clear though is that the massive power of the consumer, specifically the consumer labelled “millenials” will ultimately break through this wall and create new, previously unseen business models. I wanted to focus specifically on banking for a minute. There is so much disruption in this business that startups are slowly creeping into every crevice almost as if watching an alien invasion on a radar chart. From payments to loans, new entrants are testing and tweaking ideas and models to adequatly serve their customers.   What is odd is that it seems the slow moving incumbents are simply watching themselves being consumed almost as a paralyzed insect in the cross hairs of its predator. Companies who do understand this are already tapping into successful methods used in other businesses, to reach and convert consumers (see example of SoFi using GiltGroup to acquire student loan consumers).   Ultimately, it will be those who move now and innovate and engage correctly who will be the leaders of the next generation. At Call2ActionMedia, we are working on testing concepts that resonate with millenial consumers with...
Business, culture and character.

Business, culture and character.

The tech world is known for its intense competition and its dog eat dog culture. By its nature, if IP isnt protected its useless. Relationships and switching costs may mitigate some of that but the end result is an extremely competitive landscape. That is what makes Tech exciting and Silicon Valley the epicenter of this excitement. Its important and probably challenging to remain cutthroat and remain a good natured person. Most people probably can’t seperate the two. An person who seemed to have lived this dichotomy was recently taken way too early from the world, Mr. Dave Goldberg (The Ultimate Mensch). By the massive outpouring of grief, it is evident that many people were touched by and benefited from him. That aspect of a person, the ability to spread goodness, is whats most important as evidenced by ones legacy. By contrast, Steve Jobs left the world with great technology but as a person his memory is tarred by his ruthlessness. Another example, in my opinion, of a world class example of positivity was the signing of the multi-billion dollar deal papers at the Welfare office by former recipient Jan Koum. My interpretation of this is firstly a clear message to people that the American Dream is alive and well. More importantly it shows a deep level of gratitude. When Mr. Koum was in this country as an immigrant, the United States government provided him with basic neccessaties and provided basic levels of care to him and his family as he got on his feet, something not forgotten. His success shines bright when put into perspective of the obstacles he overcame....
Facebook Instant Articles

Facebook Instant Articles

  Many people now consume their news via Social media. In a not too distant past, news was consumed by the masses typically with a morning news show and paper and unless there was an urgent need again in the evening time delivered by Television. For the most part deliverability was real time and consumed by the user in a timely manner. The reputation of the deliverer was also trustworthy for the most part. With the proliferation of the Internet came an explosion of new sources with no real standards except ones established loosly by the community. The Facebook news experience has been a work in progress. Users like News brands/sources and an algorithm determines which ones to place on your feed. Its unclear which sources are reliable although Facebook made great strides in scrubbing link baiting news sites from getting too much Feed attention. There is also the Timely factor for News distribution to be effective. As a user, I am drawn to the Headline “BREAKING NEWS” and depending on whether the issue is near and dear, start an adrenaline rush. Many times because of how the Facebook NewsFeed delivers, it was a false alarm since that Breaking News was from “yesterday @ 6pm” and quite stale. I think todays shift towards Facebook taking more control in the News function of the NewsFeed will ultimately result in a much great user experience for people who want to easily and reliably get their news fix while on...
Periscope: Around the world in 10 minutes

Periscope: Around the world in 10 minutes

Live streaming has been a buzzword as of late with both Meerkat and Periscope providing tools to stream from phone to followers instantly. While the user experience could be rough sometimes viewing someone elses world through a shaky phone, who could pass an opportunity to instantly be watching raw video with your favorite celebrity. Of late there have been a bunch of celebrities who have embraced their Twitter followers with spontaneous streams. The commercial side of this technology could be huge once marketers start pushing live company sponsored streams or giving brand fans a view into where the magic happens. Video is the future and more applications and experiences will be enhanced as the delivery applications become more...
Death By A Thousand Cuts – Quick Thought on Finance and Entrepreneurship.

Death By A Thousand Cuts – Quick Thought on Finance and Entrepreneurship.

  It’s tough for an Entrepreneur with a background in finance to remain as focused as neccessary to succeed. The world of finance teaches you to constantly diversify and hedge to ensure optimal returns on investment in many environments. To succeed as an entrepreneur, that kind of thinking will lead to a death by a thousand cuts. Entrepreneurs must take one position and fight like hell to make that position...