Great article, thanks for sharing! One topic I’m particularly curious about is virtual reality and its impact on companies like Netflix. The company’s sentiment on VR may have changed, but as of May it sounds as if the company hasn’t invested much in VR content (http://www.pcworld.com/article/3066045/streaming-services/netflix-isnt-big-on-virtual-reality-for-the-obvious-reasons.html). The company’s stance is essentially that VR essentially removes the “chill” aspect out of Netflix – i.e., it’s exhausting watching a show in full VR for 30 minutes. I haven’t tried VR yet, but I’m curious whether this is the right attitude to take here? Could a lack of focus on VR, or a half-hearted attempt into VR, make the company susceptible to future VR disruptions?
Great article Sam – ID.me sounds like an extremely interesting platform with a ton of opportunity ahead. Given the clear need for such a service and what appears to be relatively low amount of competition currently, I would also think the company’s churn rate has been essentially zero to date. Secondly, I would think cybersecurity would be a major concern for a company like this, given the extensive dissemination of extensive personal information over the web that it requires. To that end, I’d be curious to hear how the company thinks about cybersecurity and protecting this information, as doing so appears to be key to the company’s value proposition.
Great article Ambuj – thanks for sharing. I would think that this type of digitization is even more critical for OFS companies, given the exacerbated cyclicality that OFS companies often see throughout pricing cycles as they’re typically facing pricing pressures from E&P companies during downturns such as today’s. In addition, it’s interesting to consider the fact that Schlumberger has also been able to reduce the cyclicality in its headcount as a result. One question – do you think the firm’s hiring / firing practices are already benefiting from this, or do you think this is something the company is expecting to see moving forward? The company has laid off over 50,000 workers I believe since the downturn (http://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/The-Worst-Is-Behind-Us-Schlumberger-CEO-Sees-Reason-For-Optimism.html), which feels like a lot.
Great article. I agree with the thoughts around the company continuously trying to differentiate itself – while this technology certainly sounds very cool and next-gen, I could see a scenario where this data becomes commoditized over time as this technology becomes more commonplace. I am also curious whether the company has looked into or completed any partnerships with major broadcasting networks to provide its insights to the viewers as well (versus just the teams). We’ve certainly seen this to an extent in tennis, where IBM Watson usually gives relevant statistics related to the matchups for the viewer.
Interesting article. Creating a “Ventures” program is actually quite common in oil & gas as well – you see a lot of large organizations like Chevron, for example, who have Ventures programs designed to both acquire and create new technologies that will hopefully transform their business over time. I think this also helps the company attract top young talent to the firm as well.
While I certainly agree that transportation as a whole is transforming in the wake of digitization, I think there are certainly trade-offs for Ford here. Recently you’ve seen a lot of investors bailing on the stock (down ~20% this year, despite record U.S. auto sales), given all of the new programs / initiatives and lack of focus on the company’s core auto business.
Great post! It’s clear that the water challenges that Pepsi faces are a major threat to its business over the long term, and the company has done a great job to move to a more sustainable path with respect to its water consumption. I’d be curious to hear what else Pepsi has done related to its sustainability – in particular, sustainability related to the changing climate and its effects on crop yields is a huge concern for a company that relies on agricultural inputs to create its products. Coca Cola is in a similar predicament, and while the company has started to shift to a more sustainable future, it still has a ways to go. Two things the company has made an effort to do are (i) increasing the fuel efficiency of its trucking fleet and (ii) increasing the energy efficiency of its vending machines to use less energy for its drinks during off-peak hours.
Thanks for posting, Karyn. Great article. In addition to the questions raised above, I’d be curious as to how widely applicable are DAS’s technologies across crops – in other words, are they currently applying these innovations in several crops in particular, and what does their pipeline look like? It seems like a very interesting business and one which should have a major impact on the agricultural industry moving forward – I would be curious to hear how DAS thinks about product development for each of its innovations, as I’m sure they take quite some time to develop.
Great post. I wonder whether the company has done any work with energy companies – e.g., mining or oil & gas companies? Water conservation and recycling is a huge consideration for those businesses. Energy companies, particularly those involved in hydraulic fracturing, have made a push over the past few years to using more recycled water in an attempt to create more sustainable practices. Water is a key input for many of these businesses, and often times they operate in locations where they can’t easily obtain water.
Hey Evan, great post – thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. Coming from the oil & gas investing world, I can certainly attest to this debate. My previous firm invested in a number of oil & gas and mining companies, and there was certainly a lot of consideration given to our investor base’s sentiment on these activities. That said, I think a lot of divestment over the “dirtiest” fuels is already taking place – most of our investor base was quite strongly anti-coal (particularly met coal). And as it relates to natural gas, I think many of these firms are still in favor of investing in this commodity given that, while natural gas still creates GHG, it does so to a much lesser extent than coal, and in fact is a vast improvement for our environment versus previous practices.
I think these investor bases understand that there needs to be a shift to greener technologies in general, but they also feel that we need to do so as the economics make sense. To that end, I certainly believe our government can play some role in incentivizing that investment and improving economics for renewable technologies. That said, we’ve seen a lot of capital wasted on failed renewables investments in the recent past, so it’s a difficult balance for investors like CalPERS, the companies themselves and the government to manage.
Great article. Having spent some time in the energy investing industry, I certainly agree that water conservation and recycling is top of mind for these businesses. Like you mention above, many mining and unconventional oil & gas companies now recycle a majority of the water used in their operations, but I agree that more should be done. Given general sentiment that mining companies need to develop more sustainable practices, and that demand should in some cases shift away from these unsustainable resources (e.g., in the case of met coal), I think we’re seeing mining companies develop more comprehensive programs. For example, Gold Fields has announced a requirement that all of it’s new projects draw 20% of their energy needs from sustainable sources. I think it will be interesting to see whether these companies can stick to such initiatives in a prolonged commodity downturn, or whether they revert back to previous practices in an effort to cut costs.
This was a great post. Coming from the energy private equity world, I can certainly relate to the sentiment in this article. 80-90% of my former employer’s energy investments were in oil & gas, and of the renewable investments, very few were success stories. Renewable investments in the energy industry certainly carry a connotation with energy investors given its poor track record, and I hope that this sentiment can soon change. The primary issue in my mind is that the majority of these investments turn out to really be investments in science projects (many of which are unsuccessful because of failed science, or too much time / capital required to succeed) – not investments in businesses that can grow to scale. While I hope governments can incentivize the investments in renewable energy, investors can find it difficult to include these incentives in a long-term investment thesis. It’s a difficult issue surrounding sustainability, and I’m not sure what the right answer is. Nonetheless, hopefully over the next several years we can see some improvements in the performance of renewable investments to help encourage more investors to take on this risk.
Great post Hugo. As a New Orleans native, I know too well what it’s like to deal with power outages and hurricane damage. The New Orleans-equivalent of NY’s Con Edison, Entergy, is obviously dealing with similar issues related to sustainability and climate change and has been great example in sustainability efforts. The company was the first U.S. utility to voluntarily commit to stabilizing its CO2 emissions, and in 2016 it achieved a grade level A rating (highest possible) from the Global Reporting Initiative.
A large portion of the company’s customer base is located in the Gulf Coast region, which is seeing one of the fastest rates of wetland losses in the world. As it relates to hurricane preparation and preparedness in particular, Entergy has been working with the community to prevent further losses and restore barrier islands and the coastal wetlands. My family, and many others in New Orleans, typically recycle their Christmas trees with Entergy to use for wetland restoration. These wetlands serve as natural protection and barriers to hurricanes in severe weather situations (helping to degrade a storm’s strength by the time it hits the city).
Great post. Coming from the energy investing industry, I certainly agree that sustainability is extremely important for companies and shareholders in the mining industry. I’m impressed that the company has already achieved using 50+% recycled water. I would be curious as to whether the company has set any firmwide goals for percentage of energy derived from renewable sources (one of its competitors, Gold Fields, appears to be sourcing 20+% of its energy from renewable sources, versus Newmont’s 13%).
Secondly, while I realize that Newmont is a single-commodity producer, I would be curious as to how Newmont or other companies within the industry think about diversifying climate-related risks by investing across multiple commodities. Gold Fields, for example, is also exploring the feasibility of this option to become less reliant on gold and its associated climate change risks (https://www.bsr.org/reports/BSR_Climate_Adaptation_Issue_Brief_Mining.pdf).
Finally, one question that certainly comes to mind regarding energy companies that are attempting to adjust their operations to better align with climate change is how steadfast these companies remain with changes in commodity prices. We’ve certainly seen a broader commodity downturn over the past two years – hopefully these firms have kept to their sustainability initiatives, versus reverting to their previously less sustainable operations for shorter term profits in a difficult environment.