Pushing user-centricity to the maximum through innovative models

💡JC's Newsletter #85

Dear friends, 

In JC’s Newsletter, I share the articles, documentaries and books that I enjoyed the most in the last week, with some comments on how we relate to them at Alan. I do not endorse all the articles I share, they are up for debate. 

I’m doing it because a) I love reading, it is the way that I get most of my ideas, b) I’m already sharing those ideas with my team, and c) I would love to get your perspective on those. 

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💡Must-read

👉Infinity Revenue, Infinity Possibilities (NotBoring)

This week I wanted to share about Axie Infinity and how new models emerge thanks to new technologies. There are still a lot of unknowns but I think it gives a fresh bowl of air in terms of innovation.

Axie is a new play-to-earn videogame whose numbers are just mind-blowing. 

  • Most Free-to-Play games give players the full game for free and make money by selling virtual in-game items like skins and emotes.

  • In 2020, Fortnite generated $5.1 billion in revenue. in Fortnite, everything that a user buys is cosmetic.

  • The fastest-growing mobile games ever, Ni No Kuni and Pokémon Go are also Free-to-Play, they’re a dirty subset of Free-to-Play called Pay-to-Win.

  • In Pay-to-Win games, players can pay for items or skills that give them advantages in the game.

It is an interesting map of some of the business models in gaming, and the propension of people to pay for “aesthetics”.

  • Instead of building everything themselves, Roblox built a platform on top of which developers and designers create games and items that they can sell to users in exchange for Robux. In Q1 2021, Roblox did $387 million in revenue, and paid out $118 million in Developer Exchange Fees (31% of revenue).

  • According to the company, 27% of every dollar spent via Robux goes to developers, 25% to app stores, 12% to invest in and support the platform, and 27% to Roblox itself.

  • With Roblox, regular users can make a living via a game.

If you are a developer, would you like that we open Alan to developers? How should we approach the problem? 

  • Axie has a 100% player-owned, real money economy. Rather than selling game items or copies, the developers of the game focus on growing the player to player economy and take small fees to monetize. Axies are created by players using in-game resources (SLP & AXS) and sold to new/other players. The holders of the AXS token are the government that receives tax revenues. Game resources and items are tokenized, meaning they can be sold to anyone, anywhere on open peer-to-peer markets.

  • Axie is explicitly not Free-to-Play. To start playing Axie Infinity, you need to turn fiat into ETH in order to buy three Axies, the cheapest of which will cost you $195 at today’s prices.

My first question is “Is it a Ponzi?” You need new players to pay for what you have produced in the game. On the other hand, it pushes players to grow the ecosystem for a very long time. 

  • If you want to stop playing, you can just sell your Axies and AXS and SLP tokens and move on. When new players enter, they don’t buy Axies from Sky Mavis or Axie Infinity; they buy them from other players, who either sell their own Axies or breed new ones. As Jiho put it, “Players sell entry tickets to the universe.” The Axie protocol takes a 4.25% commission on each trade on the marketplace and a fee when new Axies are bred.

  • Unlike traditional models, in Axie’s Play-to-Earn model, 95% of the revenue goes to the players.

The model is super interesting.

  • In the second part of the one-two decentralization punch, Sky Mavis is going to open up an SDK to let other developers build new things. Jiho called it the “Internet Monster Protocol, where people can access the IP and make stuff.” The team envisions being able to use Axies across many user-generated games within one Axie universe.

I love that they push for developers to build new things for them. 


🏯 Building a company

In addition to selected articles, I share one of Alan's leadership principles every week - the same one that I share internally every Wednesday.

👉Thinking long-term 

  • We believe building a great company requires long-term thinking, and alignment between this and short-term initiatives

  • Our long-term vision is reflected in our Strategy Pack. This is a document where we outline our vision and mission, and how we plan to get there 

  • We encourage each short-term initiative (e.g. the products we build, the explorations we pursue) to be aligned with this vision of Alan in 2030. And because that vision is member-focused, that helps us prioritizing initiative that build long-term value for our members

  • We continuously challenge ourselves. Because we don’t think long-term means immutable, we continuously update the Strategy pack to reflect the things we are learning. Although our vision and mission does not fundamentally change, we improve the route 

👉Sourdough bread, ASMR, and subreddits: virtual communities are here to stay (Medium)

  • Some more established communities need a standalone place on the Internet that is customisable to their needs, and therefore landing on custom-built apps and websites that uniquely cater for them.

  • These vertical socials are able to grow because they give their communities a feeling of exclusivity and cult-like bonding. Finding individuals who share your weird and wonderful interests is fulfilling, and so communities are often happy to pay to be part of it, initiating a self-fulfilling flywheel that helps these apps with non-ad reliant monetization.

👉Reddit Statistics For 2021 (Demographics, Usage & Traffic Data) (foundationinc)

The big opportunity to use Reddit:

  • You should know how to use Reddit for marketing.

  • Users in the subreddit /r/LifeHacks are determined to find shortcuts that make day-to-day life simpler.

  • Users average 21 billion screen views a month

  • Reddit Saw a 43% Increase for Health & Fitness Content

  • Reddit Users On Health & Fitness Subreddits Spend 15X More Time On The Community

  • If you’re looking for health-conscious discovery and talk or the latest health craze and fitness routine, Reddit is the place for you! Reddit has users spending 15x more time a month than enthusiasts on other health and fitness websites. With all the health and fitness subreddits, it provides a chance for users to engage with other health buffs. 

  • Reddit has 330 Million Monthly Active Users

How to post on Reddit:

  • You must be prepared, and understand how to provide value to the Reddit community—or you might just get banned.

  • Posts with titles of 60-80 characters generated more upvotes.

  • External Links are the Most Popular Type of Content

  • Users rely on Reddit to discover new brands, websites, tools, and content related to their interests

  • Videos are the Most Upvoted External Links

  • “If You Have” is the Most Popular Headline Phrases in the /r/LifeHacks Subreddit

👉Slack:  The Bulls are typing...(Notboring)

  • Slack Fund. Slack not only partners and integrates with companies, it invests in them. Slack launched the fund at the end of 2015 in partnership with leading VCs like Accel and a16z to encourage developers to build apps on top of Slack.

  • It’s so focused on customer retention over short-term revenue maximization that it actually scans how many people at a company actively use the product daily, and proactively refunds companies for people who have been inactive for a certain period of time. 


🗞In the news

📱Technology

👉China’s Hottest Grocery Startup, Worth $8 Billion, Wants to Build an Online Version of Costco (The Information)

  • Instead of ordering individually online through an app such as Instacart, customers submit orders through an online chat group on WeChat, which buys on behalf of the community. They have to submit orders a day ahead of the scheduled delivery. They pick up their goods at a local corner store, which earns commissions on sales and organizes the buying

I really like that notion of grouping and leveraging existing platforms. Their way of reducing the cost is powerful. 

  • It took his team three years to figure out the right business model to combine traditional brick-and-mortar retail with online ordering.

On the importance of being patient. 

  • To test the idea, Xingsheng started very low tech. The shop clerks started adding customers to an online chat group on WeChat. The local corner stores were tapping into neighborhood networks of customers—residents from the village or housing compound who were within easy walking distance. The stores would send out photos of what they’d be selling the next day.

🏥 Healthcare

👉Complémentaires santé : bras de fer sur le montant final de la taxe Covid (Les Echos)

  • "les mutuelles font face à une croissance des remboursements de 30 % tous postes confondus (ville et hôpital) par rapport à 2020 et de 5 % par rapport à 2019

  • les institutions de prévoyance ont noté une augmentation de 6 % de leurs dépenses de santé entres les premiers semestres 2019 et 2021.

  • Le dynamisme des remboursements de soins est porté par l'offre sans reste à charge sur les prothèses audio et dentaires, mise en place pour faciliter l'accès aux soins. Au premier semestre 2021, les complémentaires ont vu leurs remboursements augmenter de 100 % et 45 % dans ces deux spécialités par rapport à la même période en 2019."

👉Headspace and Ginger are merging to form Headspace Health (TechCrunch)

  • The new company would find it pushing well beyond its current mindfulness focus to, “provide the full spectrum of proven, effective virtual support – from mindfulness and meditation, to text-based behavioral health coaching, to video-based therapy and psychiatry – for all types of patient populations.”

👉Gympass Emerges Stronger Out Of The Pandemic, Doubles Valuation To $2.2B (News CrunchBase)

  • Companies pay a fixed monthly platform fee based on the size of its employee base. Employees get access to five membership levels starting at $10 per month with various apps and services in each tier. Corporate clients include Santander, Accenture, Unilever, KPMG, and McDonald’s. Usage of the service as well as marketing the benefits are accessed by customers. 

👉Online Pioneer Warby Parker Bets Future on Adding Hundreds of Stores (Bnn Bloomberg)

  • total to about 160 locations

  • “the vast majority of Americans need glasses and prefer to buy those in person.”

  • Warby Parker's sales growth has slowed down since its early years

  • Warby Parker is now 11 years old,

  • There’s more competition, both from online brands, such as Zenni, and entrenched players, like Pearle Vision

  • When it was founded in 2010, Warby Parker stood out by selling glasses online for about $100.

  • The company sent frames to customers. They would try them on, pick one and provide their prescription to have their glasses made.

  • Using online exams will “make it easier, faster and cheaper for people to get new prescriptions,”

💚 Alan

👉We launched our Alan Engineering twitter account

  • Whether you are a real engineering fan or just curious about it, we will delight you with engineering stuff: how we engineer at Alan and what excites us out there 

  • We use this account to post our latest job openings, so stay alert if you’re interested in joining us!  

👉We are hosting our 2021 Alan Check-Up conference on Mental Health on September 21st

  • Mental Health is becoming a central social concern (which we believe is great!) and we want to address what companies’ role is regarding their employees’ mental health

  • We will provide an update on mental health, discuss corporate awareness, and outline our vision of talent well-being

  • We will share some super, super exciting news about what we are building for our members in that space

Excited? Register here!


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