In mid-June, the much-anticipated Facebook cryptocurrency, the Libra coin, was announced. Expected to be available in 2020, Libra will represent a cryptocurrency that differs from those offered by other blockchain platforms. And in some ways, these differences offer some advantages. But given the reach of the Big Tech giant, many are concerned what this case could mean for banking and currency systems. Likewise, blockchain companies like Bitcoin may be left behind.
The proposed launch of the Libra coin has the potential for far-reaching effects. With a Facebook cryptocurrency in place, opportunities for global exchange using a common currency are tremendous. Understandably, dominating a global financial remittance industry is quite attractive. However, for Facebook, this step may just be a stepping-stone. In all probability, Mark Zuckerberg has significantly larger aspirations for the Libra coin in mind.
The Libra Coin — Is It Truly a Cryptocurrency?
A Facebook cryptocurrency available to billions of people offers some level of freedom and monetary value. And as a blockchain, it could presumably impart justice allowing everyone greater fairness in currency exchanges. But there is only one caveat. The Libra coin is not really a true cryptocurrency in a technical sense. Unlike Bitcoin and other blockchain cryptocurrencies, Facebook’s blockchain will have an intermediary. In other words, Facebook’s cryptocurrency platform involves more than the two parties involved in a digital currency exchange.
True cryptocurrencies record transactions on a public ledger within a shared network of computers. This decentralized network requires no intermediary to validate transactions as a result. However, the Facebook cryptocurrency blockchain will be governed by a Libra Association. This association, composed of dozens of corporation members each willing to invest $10 million at least, will oversee and validate Libra coin transactions. As a result, the Facebook cryptocurrency blockchain looks much more like a digital central bank than a cryptocurrency.
The Libra Coin as a Global Exchange Currency
In developing the infrastructure for the Facebook cryptocurrency platform, Facebook is also establishing a digital wallet as well. Calibra, the digital wallet, will serve as an independent application and one that can be used on WhatsApp or Messenger. Thus, the Libra coin can be stored and accessed via Calibra to facilitate monetary exchanges. Through Calibra, Facebook states it will provide legal compliance, asset security, and prevention of criminal activities. However, many are not convinced that this case is necessarily true.
In terms of the Libra Association, there are currently 27 other companies already enrolled. These include major corporations from numerous sectors, including the financial, technology, travel, telecommunications and transportation sectors. Ultimately, the Facebook cryptocurrency oversight association is expected to have over 100 members. And the $10 million each member contributes will be used to purchase low-risk currencies and securities. Thus, unlike Bitcoin and others, the Libra coin will be backed by real monetary value and have a fixed exchange rate.
For these reasons, many are referring to the Libra coin as a stablecoin. In other words, Facebook cryptocurrency will have an inherent value already established in the existing global monetary systems. In any event, it also suggests that the Libra Association is serving a central-bank-type of role. As a result, it will be subject to legal regulations and registrations just as other banking systems are.
The Libra Coin’s Impact on Other Cryptocurrencies
The announcement of the Facebook cryptocurrency spurred notable interest in the Libra coin. This situation attracted the attention of governments throughout the world as well as the G7 Summit. Concerns over terrorism financing, money laundering, and other criminal activities were at the forefront. Nonetheless, concerns over global monetary stability and effects on existing systems were similarly present. Thus, naturally, nations throughout the world are struggling to determine how to proceed while assessing just how much control they have.
At the same time, the announcement of the Facebook cryptocurrency gave existing cryptocurrencies a boost. Interest in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies increased along with their share price. Investors saw Facebook’s Libra coin as a sign of validation for blockchain in general. But while the scenario looks favorable for now, it is less certain how the Libra coin might impact true blockchain cryptocurrencies. On the one hand, it could overcome hesitations for users to embrace cryptocurrency in general. Alternatively, the Libra coin could be so dominant that other cryptocurrencies fall by the wayside.
The Future Vision for the Facebook Cryptocurrency
It’s not hard to envision the impact the Libra coin could have globally. Facebook cryptocurrency could serve as an immediate option for money exchanges and purchases throughout the world. Using Calibra, digital currency could rapidly facilitate global monetary transfers. Also, with a stable backing, the Libra coin might be more attractive than Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. And, of course, there is the small fact that Facebook already has over 2.3 billion users on its platforms.
Interestingly, however, Facebook isn’t planning on charging transaction fees for these digital currency exchanges. Instead, Libra coin transfers will be free of charge for users. Assumedly, this detail will attract many to embrace Facebook cryptocurrency. Subsequently, merchants and retailers will follow. Thus, through merchant fees, Facebook could support its blockchain platform while incentivizing its use. Given that the global remittance economy is nearly $700 billion annually, this endeavor is surely worthwhile. Yet, believe it or not, that is not Facebook’s long-term goal in introducing the Libra coin.
If Facebook simply wanted to be a leader in global remittance, it could have easily partnered with an existing exchange. However, the vision for the Facebook cryptocurrency platform is much grander. Facebook wants everyone not only to use the Libra coin but also to become dependent on its entire platform for enduring global relevance. In other words, Facebook wants the Libra coin to be THE global currency of the future. If that happens, then Bitcoin, as well as other real currencies, might be in the same boat. Moreover, rather than merely being involved in cryptocurrency, Facebook just might become the world’s Federal Reserve.
Looking expensive can be – well, expensive. A lot of women fancy wearing a pair of Louboutin pumps, designer dresses, and limited edition handbags. But the hefty price tags attached to high-end brands have made luxury items accessible only to celebrities and ultra-rich individuals. Thanks to Gilt Groupe, a luxurious look is now achievable at half the price.
The launch of Gilt Groupe online shopping was a bold move. Capitalizing on the intersection of technology and fashion, the founders of Gilt Groupe thought of bringing coveted brands, items, and experiences to online shoppers at insider prices. Gilt Groupe’s groundbreaking online flash sale concept made designer labels such as Armani, Balenciaga, Chanel, and Manolo Blahnik were made more reachable. Gilt Groupe online shopping ushered in a new business model and gave luxury brands an avenue to reach a broader market segment while keeping its luxury status.
Turning Flash Sales into a Global Startup Venture
In 2007, five entrepreneurs – Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, Alexis Maybank, Dwight Merriman, Jason Binn, Kevin Ryan, and Michael Bryzek launched an online store for luxury goods. Inspired by the sample sale events or flash sales held by designer brands in New York, co-founders Alexandra Wilkis Wilson and Alexis Maybank thought it would be a great idea if they can bring the concept to a broader consumer group. On the other hand, serial entrepreneur, Kevin Ryan came across Vente-Privee, a successful online fashion retailer in France.
Later joined by technology experts, Dwight Merriman, Jason Binn, and Michael Bryzek – the team launched Gilt Groupe online shopping to become the next startup buzz. For its Series A Funding in November of 2007, Gilt Groupe was able to raise $5M. By 2015, Gilt Groupe has been the recipient of a total of seven funding rounds raising a total of $286 million.
The Flash-sale Model: Shop Now before It’s Gone
The initial concept of Gilt Group was a members-only, online platform luxury brand sales for limited items and within a limited time only. Partnering with leading luxury brands – Gilt Groupe consigns a few inventory items offered at a very steep discount as high as 75%. The strategy was working well – online shoppers eager to lay their hands on the best deals wait at the virtual gates of Gilt Group. At noon – the time of publication of new deals, shoppers race to add items into their cart.
Soon, the shop-now-before-it’s-gone model of Gilt Group was picked up by competitors. HauteLook, Zulily and Rue La La are some of the names that joined Gilt Groupe in the online flash-sale space. Along with increasing its customer base, it has also expanded its offerings. Gilt Groupe launched other online flash sale sites such as Gilt Home, Gilt City, Gilt Children, Gilt MAN, and Jetsetter.
Why Brands Trust Gilt Group?
Gilt Groupe is a host to hundreds of luxury brands. From Alberta Ferretti to Zac Posen, Gilt Groupe has earned the trust of the biggest names within the fashion circle. With three billion online members, brands have recognized Gilt Group as the leading online platform to best showcase their brands.
Undoubtedly, the online retail store lives up to these expectations. Each designer item is styled, photographed, and touched up before it hits the store’s website. The company employs an army of models, stylists, photographer, and editors working meticulously. With an editorial treatment for each item, inventory moves from Gilt Groupe’s warehouse to their customer’s closet in no time.
After the Hyper-growth, What’s Next for Gilt Groupe?
As a pioneer in the space, Gilt Groupe caught the attention of major players in the startup scene. Revenue was climbing at an unprecedented rate – from $28 million in 2008 to $425 million in 2010. By 2011, in less than five years since its launch, a $1 billion valuation and an IPO is in the pipeline. However, the profitability moving to IPO status seems elusive. In 2016, Hudson’s Bay acquired Gilt Groupe for $250 million.
During its hyper-growth years, Gilt Groupe has lost its focus and ventured into other business areas, too fast, too soon. Most recently, rival company Rue La La has acquired Gilt Groupe to the tune of $100 million. Under a new name – Rue Gilt Group, Rue La La and Gilt Groupe will operate the sites independently. With a predicted $1 billion sales and a combined 20 million members, the prospect seems brighter.
Like other businesses, Gilt Groupe is at the mercy of shifting business landscapes. One miscalculated step can tip over even the most promising startup. Gilt Groupe has gone through the various stages of growth, downsizing, and recovery. As the online retail space matures, Gilt Groupe has boundless opportunities to grow.
Netflix is the Pied Piper that led hordes of subscribers out of TV Land. But Netflix innovation hasn’t stopped at with its disruption of the video entertainment industry. Evolving technology has reshaped consumer appetites, and with that fluidity comes a shift in strategy for the media giant. Now, poised for another round of disruption, the streaming service banks on creating quality content, refining the algorithm for user recommendation, and ensuring seamless service by going to the Cloud as its Netflix future strategy.
It’s All About the Content: The Rise of Netflix Originals
Content creation has been a part of the Netflix innovation portfolio for years. Netflix first tried its hand in producing original content in 2013. Political thriller “House of Cards” was one of Netflix’s early original materials. The 6-season series proved to be a pot of gold. In fact, the “House of Cards” was the first original online-only web TV series to be nominated for major Emmy awards. The series was surely the beginning of the company’s Netflix future strategy of creating engaging and quality content. Aiming to boost its library content, Netflix is steering 85 percent of its expenditure towards original TV shows, movies and other productions.
Certainly, ramping up content creation as a Netflix future strategy is rational. With content companies moving to create their own streaming services, Netflix will soon lose its rights to stream several licensed contents. The departure of crowd favorites is looming. Warner Media is pulling out “Friends” by the year 2020. Disney will pull out its content within the year. And NBC Universal is taking back “The Office” and placing it in its own streaming service. Observers can’t help but shake their heads. When licensed content makes up a considerable percentage of Netflix offerings, there is a good reason to be alarmed.
In Detail: Netflix Future Strategy
Some see the Netflix innovation in content creation as a mere response to competition. While there may be hints of truth to it, there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye. For one, Netflix has opened its doors to independent filmmakers. The move created a free market for upcoming talents, and it introduced fresh content to its subscribers. In addition, Netflix is working on forging partnerships with acclaimed directors and writers such as Damien Chazelle, the Coen Brothers, Alfonso Cuarón, Shonda Rhimes, Ryan Murphy, Guillermo del Torro, and Martin Scorsese. Undoubtedly, by creating a powerhouse of creatives, Netflix eyes to increase its prospects with award-giving bodies.
In truth, great content is the only way streaming platforms can keep viewers glued to their screens. Despite the growing competition, the rise of Netflix originals is the company’s long-term bet to retain the loyalty of its subscribers. Indeed, Netflix innovation around content seems to be moving in the right direction.
Netflix Innovation: Altering the Algorithm for Better Viewing Experience
The personalized video recommendation system is a Netflix innovation. In the early days, Netflix maintained a database of ratings and reviews, which suggests the next titles to watch for the customers. This database was the precursor for Cinematch—Netflix’s video recommendation algorithm. In 2006, the company launched a $1-million-progressive contest, which aimed to improve Cinematch’s accuracy by 10 percent. The competition, won by BellKor’s Pragmatic Chaos in 2009, has made a significant impact on subscribers’ viewing habits.
Today, Netflix’s recommendation system has gone past matchmaking. As part of the Netflix future strategy, the company goes beyond bringing the content that matches the subscriber’s preference. The updated algorithm works by gathering data from the subscriber’s viewing habits. The data is then compared with thousands of hyper-specific micro-genres and taste groups. From this process, Netflix curates the right content, showcases the titles at the right time, and fine-tunes the visuals down to the layout of the suggested content and thumbnails used with the titles.
With the use of machine learning, artificial intelligence, and heaps of creativity, Netflix innovation with algorithm has personalized every viewing experience. Without a doubt, Netflix manages to pique the interest of subscribers to try a variety of new contents.
Seamless, Cloud-Based Service for Netflix Subscribers
With top-rating and highly-anticipated programs like “Stranger Things”, “Black Mirror”, and “The Crown”, it’s not surprising that Netflix hogs 15 percent of the global downstream, online traffic. To date, Netflix has more than 148 million subscribers worldwide. With such an amount of traffic and expansive global customer base, traditional IT infrastructure will not be able to stand against the demand. The choice was as clear as day: Migrating to the Cloud is the most logical Netflix future strategy.
The Netflix move to the cloud was meticulous, massive and high-profile. The transformation began in 2008 when the streaming company experienced a data center failure that stopped its operation for three days. During this time, the company’s core business was still the mailed DVD rental service. The outage prompted the company to re-evaluate its IT infrastructure. In 2018, Netflix completed the migration of all its data centers to Amazon Web Services (AWS).
An Evolving Netflix is a Better Netflix
We definitely have to give it to Netflix— hands down, the company can provide a master class on innovation and disruption. From a DVD mailing service to online streaming to content production, Netflix is flexible and can evolve and change strategy as needed. In a constantly shifting technological and business landscape, the ability to evolve with the changing times is highly valuable.