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On April 23, 2018, zachsarnoff commented on Pernod Ricard: digitalizing the world of premium drinks :

Thanks, Iryna. You bring up an interesting point about how organizational structure (decentralized/centralized) can impact implementation of digitization strategies. Given the relative novelty of digital impact on business models, I think many organizations will continue to struggle in their consideration of organizational structures moving forward. For digital initiatives to truly make an impact, the digital mindset must be integrated within business units; having a separate “digital” department won’t develop the skills or understanding to best impact the business.

On April 23, 2018, zachsarnoff commented on Digital Disney: Transforming the Happiest Place on Earth :

Thanks! I think Disney approached a proverbial “fork in the road” where they have to decide how to deal with Netflix – they have decided to build out their own competitive platform which continuing to be active in their long-standing content creation side. I think this is a bold move given the size and strength of the market leader, but I commend Disney for not just rolling over. While Disney did miss the magic of YouTube, I would argue all of the media conglomerates failed to understand this phenomenon at first. YouTube created something that most in the industry couldn’t have even seen coming, and it has changed the demand for live content dramatically.

On April 22, 2018, zachsarnoff commented on BCG: Digitally disrupting … or disrupted? :

Thanks for the post. As someone entering management consulting as well, it’s certainly on my mind. However, I am not concerned about AI replacing human consultants any time in the near future. AI could certainly supplement consultancies who seek a different angle for problem solving, but will never replace the creativity and critical thinking human consultants provide clients. As the world becomes increasingly digitized, I think it is very wise of firms like BCG to build up their digital practices – a lot of current and potential clients are struggling in these areas as the world around them changes.

On April 5, 2018, zachsarnoff commented on The Most Data Driven Salad You Will Ever Eat :

Thanks Eliza. On the food side, I wonder if Sweetgreen is making menu decisions based on some sort of analytics (for example: “salads that feature mushrooms tend to sell well, so we will add an extra mushroom-focused salad”). Like fashion, food is also somewhat artistic, hard to “solve”, and also quite trendy. I doubt there’s a definitive formula for solving menu items, but I would guess certain ingredient mixes do pique customers’ interests and purchase decisions.

On April 5, 2018, zachsarnoff commented on Netflix: Your Data, Your Show, Your Experience :

Thanks, Sean. I thought it was particularly interesting how Netflix used the data in its production of TV shows. I wonder how other TV and movie producers use data in their productions. I’d imagine it’s a very controversial topic in the industry, with many people unhappy that the artistic nature of their work is being dampened by the numbers. They also have to think about varying goals: box office sales, award shows, ability to sell in international markets, and ability to produce sequels.

On April 5, 2018, zachsarnoff commented on Winning the Super Data Bowl: Eagles Fly on 4th-Downs :

Thanks, Hans. Watching the NFL for years, this has always really frustrated me. Coaches also make other analytically-unfriendly choices such as not going for two-point conversions often enough and clock management issues. However, I think a big issue is that going against the grain in the NFL is very tough because of the high turnover of coaches in the league. If a coach makes a “safe,” traditional decision, it’s unlikely to be bashed by the media or resulted in being fired. Most coaches in the league are too vulnerable to want to take the risk of an unconventional coaching call – only a couple of coaches have built up the goodwill to give them the courage to make these analytically correct decisions.

This is interesting, but potentially gimmicky as well. I like the “semi-democratic” process – it prevents some weird outcomes (some American Idol fans may recall the “Sanjaya” effect). Are these new flavors supposed to be only temporary? If so, it seems like the incremental costs related to the program would be difficult to offset. They certainly don’t seem like potentially permanent flavors, but maybe that’s how all flavors start out…

On March 25, 2018, zachsarnoff commented on Show me the Waze to go home :

Thanks, Hans. It will be interesting to see how Waze progresses with the adoption of autonomous vehicles. The software to determine the best route and ETA might still be useful, but I wonder if the current autonomous vehicle creators are already adopting this software into their vehicles. And users won’t really be looking at the app any more for directions as the car will be doing the driving on its own. Also, certain hazards such as speed traps are no longer relevant for an autonomous vehicle. I think Waze needs to find a relevant partnership sooner rather than later before it gets left in the dust.

On March 25, 2018, zachsarnoff commented on Wikipedia: The Ultimate Crowdsourced Knowledge Tool :

Thanks, Eliza. In a weird way, I think Wikipedia has actually become too important in society. With the rise of “fake news” and misinformation, I think having a crowdsourced encyclopedia as people’s many information source could create problems for society as a whole. I, for one, have seen errors all over Wikipedia (not that other information sources don’t have errors), albeit on relatively unimportant subjects. I also have concerns about the ability of foreign actors to penetrate Wikipedia and poison people’s knowledge base.

On February 26, 2018, zachsarnoff commented on Spotify | Should Investors Join The Band? :

Thanks, Juan. Spotify has been very successful to date, but I personally don’t see it as a viable long-term player. I ultimately think they will get acquired as they face rising competition from Apple and Amazon who have virtually unlimited cash to invest to crush (or buy) Spotify. There’s not really multi-homing in this industry, but the switching costs are pretty low (just cancel your Spotify membership). The company will need to find a new way to differentiate, whether it’s through exclusive partnership with sought-after artists or DJs or through becoming a more full-fledged entertainment platform.

On February 26, 2018, zachsarnoff commented on Opendoor – a new platform marketplace for home buying in the US :

Thanks, Eliza. I think Opendoor has an interesting approach to solving an obviously highly inefficient industry. I do have concerns about the additional fees – in general, I don’t think adding fees in a fee-heavy industry is going to attract many home sellers. Buyers obviously won’t mind as they aren’t paying the fees (though the sale price of homes may adjust upward to offset the incremental fees). I feel like CarMax could be an interesting player in this space if they decide to enter; houses aren’t quite like used cars, but they’ve had great success in serving as a reputable middleman in a traditionally challenging industry.

On February 26, 2018, zachsarnoff commented on Grab Billion Dollar Opportunity in Southeast Asia :

Thanks, Taka. It sounds like the regulatory issues could be a big hurdle (as they have tended to be in the ride-hailing industry more broadly). I’m very interested to see how Uber responds to this development – I certainly don’t see them just conceding SE Asia as it’s way too big of a region to completely ignore. I also don’t think they will want to enter the payments space given the internal turmoil at the company and their relentless focus on ride-sharing. It’s possible that Uber might try to make anti-competitive regulatory claims against Grab to prevent them from getting squeezed from the market.

On January 31, 2018, zachsarnoff commented on Losing at the Census Bureau is as easy as 1, 2, 3… :

Thanks, Hans. This is pretty pathetic by the Census Bureau – I wonder what the politics of this are behind closed doors. Surely there are some groups that don’t want certain people counted for whatever reason. I also find it amazing that this day in age with self-driving cars on the horizons and iPhones that are mindblowingly powerful that a developed country is unable to count the number of people within its borders. This is a definite failure of bureaucracy, though childish behavior on the part of many respondents in the 2010 census (see: Michele Bachmann) certainly didn’t help. Privacy issues also play a major role here, including responses by undocumented immigrants who understandably feel uncomfortable responding to the census. Given some of the controversies surrounding the last census, the government is really under a lot of pressure to get the 2020 census right, and their use of technology will be critical.

On January 31, 2018, zachsarnoff commented on Juicero: how much would you pay for your juice? :

Thanks, Iryna! I followed the Juicero story/drama as well while it was in the news – the Bloomberg video cracks me up every time. I would disagree with your notion that Juicero had a good mission of helping people to live healthier lives. Assuming juicing is even good for you, Juicero targeted the very upper end of the market – these people already have much better health outcomes than lower income individuals. If they really cared about improving health outcomes, they would have priced this ridiculous product somewhere reasonable where lower income individuals could potentially afford it. Ahhh, Karma.

I do wonder if this product would have had success if Juicero had just sold the bags or had a machine that actually added value to the juicing process. I don’t think this market opportunity is a dead end by any means, but certainly this was not the right approach.

On January 31, 2018, zachsarnoff commented on “Put your Money where your Mouth is” :

Thanks, Eliza. I think what Domino’s has done is incredibly prescient, especially given they aren’t in the tech industry (it’s more less impressive when a tech company leverages technology to their advantage). I do wonder how they will continue to innovate – I’m not sure I see sustainable differentiation as every meaningful competitor has or will soon match everything Domino’s has accomplished (maybe Domino’s could put pizzas on drones…? Just kidding.). Clearly the market things it’s possible as DPZ trades at a rich valuation relative to competitors such as Papa John’s. I also worry about these pizza companies (such as Pizza Hut as Kat mentioned) pouring money into technology investments – these businesses are still only selling pizzas from $10-$15…it’s going to take a heck of a lot of pizza to recoup this nine figure investments.