Platforms vs. Verticals and the Next Great Unbundling

One of the holy grails in the newco world is to build out a digital platform that successfully serves the needs of a broad number of adjacent verticals and become the definitive platform in its space, a la Amazon, eBay, and Craigslist. But once that holy grail of a new digital platform is attained, competitors quickly come a’ callin’. Here’s why, in all but a few circumstances, the broad horizontal verticals eventually become a victim of their own success.

What’s Next for Marketplace Startups?

The first phase of the internet has been about creating marketplaces for goods. The next phase will be about reinventing the service economy. Startups are poised to crack the toughest and largest service industries, including regulated markets that have withstood digital transformation for decades.

The Passion Economy and the Future of Work

New digital platforms allow anyone to monetize unique skills. Gig work isn’t going anywhere, but there are now more ways to capitalize on creativity. This has huge implications for entrepreneurship and what we’ll think of as a “job” in the future.

How China is Cashing in on Group Chats

The rise of private messaging suggests that group chats may actually be the secret to turning conversations into commerce. Companies across verticals in China are leveraging private group chats to build trust, interactivity, and community into their brand experience. The shift from sprawling social networks back to smaller, more niche groups is becoming increasingly apparent in the US, as well.

Product Zeitgeist Fit: A Cheat Code for Spotting and Building the Next Big Thing

Every once in a while, a product comes along that’s objectively worse than the competition. Yet people still want to use it, cover it, develop it, and fund it. Why? It’s what we call product zeitgeist fit (PZF). This post delves into real-word examples of PZF— from crypto to ISAs — and unpacks the four tests that can identify whether something has it.

State of Play: Six Trends Revolutionizing Games

The way we develop, discover, market, and play games is rapidly evolving — which is why the next generation of games will be bigger than anything we’ve seen yet.

The Video-First Future of Ecommerce

Through the rise of short-form video content platforms like TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest, we’re entering a new era of native ecommerce. Soon we’ll all be shopping via video snippets. Think of them as compulsively watchable commercials — with a direct link to buy.

Remember QR Codes? They’re More Powerful Than You Think

Americans have woefully underestimated QR code. In China, they’re ubiquitous. There, you might scan one to book a fitness class, tip a musician, track your weight and BMI, or even flirt with a fellow bar patron. Here are 16 reasons QR code is huge in China — and why we’ll likely see more of the pixelated squares in our future.

Investing in the Podcast Ecosystem in 2019

In the world of podcasting, the flywheel is spinning: new technologies, including AirPods, connected cars, and smart speakers, have made it much easier for consumers to listen to audio content. Here’s an overview of the space and a glimpse into our thinking behind in audio-first startups.

Hidden Networks: Network Effects That Don’t Look Like Network Effects

We’ve become really good at measuring network effects, where the network becomes more valuable to users as more people use it. But there are a lot of companies that have strong network effects that aren’t evident in standard metrics. Here are three examples of networks that don’t look like networks.

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