• Alumni

Activity Feed

On November 20, 2016, abcdefg commented on Remitly: Making Remittances Available to Everyone :

Felipe, thanks for covering a topic that is important to many people who have family abroad.

I agree that Remitly should worry about competition, particularly since they face threats from both larger players (Xoom , Western Union) and a lot of the startups Gustavo listed in his earlier comment. With limited exception, most of these providers offer consumers the exact same service: the ability to send money overseas at a pre-determined rate. Given the core product is similar across all of the providers, I believe these players will all be forced to compete on price in the long term. Remitly claims to have a structural edge on pricing due to their technology model [1], but I am skeptical their offering is meaningfully different or less expensive than others in the market.


On November 20, 2016, abcdefg commented on Where the Rubber Meets the Road – Literally :

Alison, thanks for the article. It’s great to see that some innovation is happening with tires for NASCAR and commercial trucking — hopefully the sensors in the tires can prevent accidents and save lives.

I was particularly interested in your last paragraph regarding Goodyear’s ability to provide driving information to fleet operators. Prior to HBS, I spent some time evaluating a potential investment in a software-as-a-service telematics platform for commercial vehicles. The platform required fleet operators to install a box with GPS and diagnostic functionality into their vehicles, and this box relayed information back to the fleet operators who were then able to track vehicles, handle remote diagnostics, manage maintenance compliance, and track and optimize fuel consumption. There are several major providers in the space, including Omnitracs, Peoplenet, and Teletrac, but only ~30% of commercial fleets use some kind of telematics solution today. [1] Given there are several large companies with a robust set of offerings in the market today, Goodyear might have trouble driving adoption of a driver information solution like the one described in the article. Rather, Goodyear should partner with existing providers to help provide additional vehicle information and further drive adoption in the sector; I believe this partnership would lead to improved safety and more efficient maintenance, and it could ensure Goodyear retains its market-leading position in the tire segment.

[1] Primary research from target company’s management team.

On November 20, 2016, abcdefg commented on One Medical: Revolutionizing Primary Care Using Technology :

I have been a member of One Medical since 2013, and I’ve had such a positive experience working with them over the past few years that I’m willing to continue paying the $149 annual fee despite having access to the Harvard student health clinic. The author is spot on in describing how One Medical uses technology to improve the patient experience; I have always been able to schedule an appoint with a doctor within ~24 hours of my request, I have never had a doctor’s appointment start late, and all communication is done electronically.

In addition to the technology aspect, the One Medical team does a great job at creating a pleasant environment. I’ve visited four One Medical locations, and all have felt like an upscale office building — clean, neat, bright, and spacious.

The one thing the One Medical team could do better is advertise new features of their platform. For example, prior to reading this article, I did not realize they offered the treat me now, video visits, or digital dermatology services, and I would not be surprised if other long time members were also unaware. Fortunately, this problem has an easy solution as receptionists could quickly highlight new features of the platform when patients check in.

Thanks for writing about such a great company!

On November 20, 2016, abcdefg commented on Ziosk: Digitalizing the Fast-Casual Restaurant Experience :

Waiting for a check after a meal is frequently the worst part of dining out, so I love that Ziosk enables customers to pay without having to wait for a server. I was surprised to see how many benefits the app has for restaurants outside of customer satisfaction. The return on investment for restaurants must be very positive — seems like a real win-win situation!

I do worry about the long-term sustainability of a hardware-oriented solution; I think there is a chance that mobile applications that enable payments directly from a diner’s mobile phone could obviate the need for restaurants to purchase a tablet. There are already several solutions that allow diners to pay from their phone, including the popular reservations app OpenTable. [1] Restaurants might be attracted to the mobile phone-focused model as it would save costs related to purchasing and maintaining the tablets. If I were Ziosk, I would develop a mobile application solution to ensure long-term success in the restaurant payments space, even if it cannibalizes tablet sales in the short term.

[1] Want to pay without the wait?, OpenTable website,

On November 20, 2016, abcdefg commented on The Arizona Cardinals Competitive Advantage: Virtual Reality :

Great article! Despite being a fan of both football and VR technology, I had never heard of football teams using VR technology to train prior to reading your writeup. I think this is a great example of how VR can make learning more efficient and effective across a wide variety of subjects.

The company that supplies the Arizona Cardinals (Carson Palmer’s team) with VR technology is STRIVR. [1] They also provide solutions for hockey and basketball, but their football solution seems to have gotten a lot more traction. Something that struck me was the cost of the solution you cited in the article — $300,000! Given the relatively low cost of hardware and software development, I would be surprised if STRIVR was able to maintain pricing at anywhere near that level going forward. In fact, we’re already seeing examples of football programs pushing back on the price; the University of Tennessee developed an in house VR training system for a fraction of that cost after receiving a $250,000 quote from STRIVR. [2]

I also question the ability of VR technology to enable team owners to maximize profits in the medium to long run. Assuming the system truly does improve performance, once managers realize the edge VR provides NFL teams, I wouldn’t be surprised to see most teams adopt VR as part of their training programs. The end result would be that no one team would have an edge. VR reminds me of the book “Moneyball” in which the Oakland Athletics used statistical analysis to gain an edge on player acquisition; once all teams realized the benefits of using statistical analysis in evaluating players, the Athletics’ edge disappeared.

Thanks for covering such an interesting topic!

[1] STRIVR website,
[2] Peter Graham, “NFL VR Training Could Cost You $250,000,” VR Focus, August 19, 2015,

Brandon, thanks for highlighting some of the important work the National Wildlife Federation spends time on. I really liked your suggestions for additional steps the Federation could take to help combat climate change, particularly your suggestion to leverage virtual reality and other simulations in order to better teach children and young adults about the impacts of climate change. In fact, I wouldn’t just stop at young adults — I think adults could benefit from this kind of immersive experience as well!

A recent Smithsonian article touched upon the subject of using VR to help people better understand climate change. According to a recent study from researchers at Stanford, UGA, and UConn, VR is clearly more effective than video at getting people to understand their impact on the environment. [1] This method of teaching about climate change is just now taking off in schools and museums; given the apparent efficacy of VR learning, I hope it becomes widespread amongst students in the near future!

[1] Randy Rieland, “How Virtual Reality Can Help Us Feel the Pain of Climate Change,” Smithsonian Magazine, 10/26/2016,

On November 7, 2016, abcdefg commented on Financing global public goods :

NY777, I haven’t read much about the World Bank since studying developing markets as an undergrad, so I was happy to see the World Bank is taking active steps towards helping developing nations deal with climate change. Prior to your article, I was unaware of the extent to which climate change is impacting those in developing nations.

While I agree the World Bank could do more to help combat climate change, I am not sure that pushing non-climate related responsibilities to the regional development institutions and switching to a model solely focused on climate change would be beneficial in the long run. The regional development institutions are vital to the nations they serve, but I believe the size and global backing of the World Bank provides a greater level of organizational stability, helps attract a high concentration of intellectual capital, and ensures all regions receive attention regardless of the strength of their regional development institution. Taking away some of the World Bank’s responsibilities (and reducing its scale) may negatively impact these positive attributes, so I would keep the World Bank’s model as is and look to increase the number of climate-focused initiatives.

Thanks for the article!

On November 7, 2016, abcdefg commented on Will Climate Change Take Away Your Venti Mocha Frappuccino? :

HC, I had no idea that coffee beans have the potential to be significantly hurt by climate change, so as a heavy coffee drinker, your article was alarming!

I agree that helping their existing coffee bean farmers adapt to changing climate via relocation and improved beans should be Starbucks’ top priority. Starbucks has cultivated strong relationships with many of their suppliers and shown a commitment to investing in farming communities, so I believe helping out their loyal business partners would fit well with Starbucks’ existing ethical sourcing practices. [1] That said, I think the company should also further diversify its supplier base to mitigate the impacts of any geographic variability.

While I agree Starbucks can do more, I think it is somewhat misleading to claim that Starbucks has “failed” in its sustainability initiatives because the aggregate amount of company CO2 emissions has increased over the past few years. From 2008 to 2015, the number of Starbucks stores worldwide increased from 16.7k to 23.0k (38% growth), so growth in CO2 emissions is expected. [2] Unfortunately I cannot find data on 2008 CO2 emissions to make a direct growth comparison, but we can look at energy consumption per square foot at Starbucks stores over that time period. According to Starbucks’ 2015 global responsibility report, the Company has reduced energy consumption per square foot per store by 4.3% since 2008. [3] While this metric falls short of the Company’s 20% goal, they are still moving in the right direction, and the metric was hurt by greater per store customer traffic and greater food sales (which require refrigeration and potentially warming). [3]

Thanks for the insightful article!


On November 6, 2016, abcdefg commented on Reactive Measures to Declining Snowpack :

Sam, as someone who loves skiing, I enjoyed reading about the initiatives Aspen is undertaking to combat climate change. In addition to the steps outlined in your article, I am impressed that Aspen encourages people to take action both in Colorado and Nationally by trying to influence climate change legislation. [1] I wish other resorts, in particular Vail, would take similar measures.

I agree that Aspen should dedicate itself to long term sustainability measures, however, I disagree with your statement regarding Aspen’s summer offerings and suggestion that the Company may want to move to a single peak model.

Unfortunately, we can’t see a breakdown of revenue by seasons as Aspen is a private Company, but from their website we do know that Aspen has a wide variety of summer offerings, including gondola and lift rides, biking, and other activities. [2] I think it’s a bit of a stretch to imply that the vast resources of the resorts “lay dormant” during the summer, and I’m not sure there’s all that much more Aspen could be doing to diversify outside of their current summer offerings.

Aspen is known for its wide variety of terrain and pleasant mountain experience, so I do not believe moving to a single peak model would be a wise decision. The four mountains owned by the Aspen Skiing Company are somewhat distinct in their feel and difficulty, so customers would not be able to get the same variety of terrain if the Company were to move to a single peak. [3] Furthermore, even if the Company increased uphill capacity, moving to a single peak would likely significantly increase traffic on the slopes and in the lodges surrounding the mountain. This change in experience would likely significantly reduce the number of visitors to Aspen, which would be extremely detrimental from a financial standpoint to both the Aspen Skiing Company and the Town of Aspen. In suggesting changes to operations, we need to weigh the benefits of greater sustainability with the costs of implementation, and I believe the costs of switching to a single peak model would be far too great.

[1] Take Action, Aspen Snowmass website,
[2] The Summer Experience, Aspen Snowmass website,
[3] Aspen Ski Resort | Aspen Colorado, website,

On November 6, 2016, abcdefg commented on Redefining the Considerations of an Automaker – Volkswagen :

DF, thanks for the informative article. When I think of auto manufacturers and sustainability, I typically only think of how the engine and car size can influence the amount of emissions released into the atmosphere, so I liked that you highlighted how manufacturing decisions for an auto company can have a large impact on sustainability. I am super impressed that VW was able to reduce CO2 emissions, waste, and energy consumption related to manufacturing processes by ~20% each in 2014, and prior to your aluminum example I had not considered that choices that make a vehicle more efficient could actually be a net negative for the environment due to changes in manufacturing.

I also liked your mention of “emissiongate” and how tough regulations can incentivize companies to find loopholes. If the companies are caught, it is incredible how costly those loopholes can be – Volkswagen is set to settle with consumers for $14.7 billion, for instance. [1] Sadly, the scandals may not be over for Volkswagen. In the last 24 hours, it came to light that software installed on some Audi vehicles allow cars to cheat emissions testing. [2] We can only hope that other auto manufacturers have not attempted to cheat standards the way Volkswagen has over the past several years.

[1] Sara Randazzo, “Volkswagen’s $14.7 Billion Buyback Deal on Emissions Scandal Approved,” WSJ on 10/25/2016,
[2] William Boston, “New Discovery Broadens VW Emissions-Cheating Crisis,” WSJ on 11/6/2016,