Alex Simon

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On November 20, 2016, Alex Simon commented on Tesla: No More Driving :

Nice post Atul!

I’ve spent a decent amount of time thinking about the future of driverless cars so this article was right up my alley. Particularly, your post brought to mind this in-between space we’re in today where a) Teslas can drive themselves, but need to be ‘monitored’ and b) self-driving cars share the road with human-operated cars. Predictions of when autonomous cars will rule the streets vary dramatically and I think once we can zero-in on consistent rules for transit, we’ll have a much better idea of when this future becomes possible. For instance, I think that driving on the freeway could be done completely on ‘auto-pilot’ but once off these designated freeways, humans take control and do so fully. As human beings we pay attention poorly, and need to know exactly when we must be focused vs. when we can space out.

On November 20, 2016, Alex Simon commented on Is Your Next Burrito an Emoji Away? :

Nice post Addison!

I think that speeding up consumer’s time in the burrito lines makes sense for the future of Chipotle and other fast casual restaurants. However, I do wonder how important it is for the customer to actually see the ingredients put into their product. I think some people do like making the game-time decision at these types of restaurants. More pressing in my mind are the food safety issues that Chipotle has experienced in the past. If you order a burrito online, in the end all you can see is a rolled up cylindrical tortilla, which in my mind spells ‘Mystery.’ Does Chipotle have the brand equity today to prepare people’s food behind the scenes?

On November 20, 2016, Alex Simon commented on Technology in Transit :

Nice post!

With WMATA I wonder what are the technology enabled features that are providing values to riders? I think there is a major value add for riders to know wait times for trains and buses, but is that the primary reason they choose public transit over Uber? It would be great if all the data WMATA collected could increase efficiency by both augmenting the regularity and number of trains. Or, if the data could help uncover potential cost-savings that the government could pass on to consumers. I still can’t perceive if the WMATA’s–like the MBTA’s–model of public transportation in an era of rising costs and stiff private competition will be viable in the future. Should we double down on public investment in public transit, or step back to completely re-evaluate the model?

On November 20, 2016, Alex Simon commented on Hasbro Is Not Leaving Monopoly to Chance :

Nice post Gregor, I always like hearing about Monopoly.

I was thinking about Joana’s point about Monopoly not appealing to younger players. Maybe McDonalds tries to bring in new players through their McDonalds promotion, a connection which I’ve never considered before. The 99% brand awareness statistic was also quite impressive to me.

In the last 10-20 years, there’s been a resurgence of board games in society with (mainly European) games like Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride. I wonder if Monopoly could diversify into two different products: 1) a more complex turn based strategy game for board-game fans and 2) a simplified digital version that involves more action/gambling/luck to appeal to new players.

On November 20, 2016, Alex Simon commented on Table-Top Kiosks: The Future of Restaurant Point of Sale Systems :

Nice post, John.

I think the utilization of Ziosk-esque devices in restaurants will really depend on answering the question “what do consumers truly value when they dine at restaurants, and how does that vary by class of restaurant?” I wonder how limited the range of restaurants this could be used for? One aspect of the fast casual scene (e.g. Qdoba, Blaze Pizza) is that you can watch as your food is prepared, which I think appeals to the customer vs. solely ordering everything in advance. Fast food, on the other hand, as Japser mentioned may not be entirely appropriate for this type of technology. For instance, Taco Bell developed an application where a consumer can order in advance from their smart phone, rather than a kiosk.

I think that this type of product could move to more upscale restaurants in different scenarios. Increased efficiency appears to be the greatest value-add of this technology for me. Perhaps you could add these for quick executive lunches or expedited bar service.

On November 7, 2016, Alex Simon commented on Nome’s New Race :

Hi Luke, thanks for providing a unique point of view from traditionally colder areas that have the potential to benefit (in some perverse way) from increased global climate change. I think I stand behind the goal of establishing Nome as a preeminent new town for intercontinental shipping through the Northwest Passage. On the other hand, I’m much more at odds with the argument that global climate change will prove a boon for tourism in the region. From my experience, tourism is fueled in large part by the possibilities of engaging with an authentic culture. The native inuits’ culture is directly influenced by the climate in which they’ve lived through the ages. Thus, it seems that a significant change in climate in Nome will divorce the native culture from the region, and consequently be more difficult to leverage as a tourist attraction.

On November 7, 2016, Alex Simon commented on Shake Shack – Please, give us the burger of the future. :

Jordan, I never thought Shake Shack could be beseeched to alter their menu items in such a passionate manner! I wonder, however, if Shake Shack is the appropriate company to bring the plant-based burger to the masses. Food production and marketing today, even at the level of the fast food industry, appears heavily influenced by the organic, single-origin, traceable nature of the ingredients, including beef. For this reason, a plant-based burger appears at odds with the ‘natural’ approach currently in fashion. Although the beef-less burger would be far more sustainable, it could be considered more of a ‘Franken-food’ by potential consumers. One possibility I find for introducing such an option would be running promotions in which the real burger and plant burger were directly compared in a taste-test (similar to Pepsi vs. Coke). If consumers realized for themselves that they preferred Shake Shack’s plant-based burger, this would approbate the company’s ambition to combat climate change by reducing the number of cattle used.

On November 7, 2016, Alex Simon commented on Aramco: Oil Giant Feels the Heat :

Hi Ahmad, really appreciated the clarity of this article. I found the fact that Aramco has considered investing in renewable energies to be quite noteworthy given it’s present state of business. Given that much of the land in Saudi Arabia receives sunlight nearly every day during the year, it does seem perfectly appropriate that this type of option could be exploited. However, I’m curious at what point this type of investment would be economically practical for Aramco given its remarkably low cost of extracting the oil at $5/barrel? What type of advancements must solar panel technology make in order to lower its cost to make it competitive with oil extraction? Is the Saudi government considering any tax incentives to promote the further development of renewable energy?

On November 7, 2016, Alex Simon commented on Toyota’s new challenge: Fuel cell vehicle “MIRAI” :

Hi Kei, I liked your article. I don’t know too much about fuel cell technology, but it sounds even better than electricity powered cars. I’m actually surprised that the cost for the car is relatively low at $60k. What is the difference in energy/costs required to provide hydrogen fuel vs. electricity? I wonder if Toyota can autonomously build hydrogen re-fueling stations across the nation similar to what Tesla has done for electric charging stations. That way, Toyota wouldn’t need to wait for the government to intervene and build infrastructure. I’d love to learn more about how the hydrogen energy is produced and stored. It would also be interesting to know how hydrogen power compares to that of an electric battery or combustion engine. Would the driving range of the MIRAI be similar to a Prius?

On November 7, 2016, Alex Simon commented on Coal. The Next Big Tobacco? :

Thanks for the comment Sam, and for introducing the latin phrase ‘ceteris paribus’ to me. I agree that there are serious, undiscussed concerns about the coal industry ‘avada kedavra’-ing thousands of it’s employees a year.

On November 7, 2016, Alex Simon commented on A Melting World: Ben & Jerry’s in the Age of Climate Change :

Thanks for posting about Ben & Jerry’s, Andrea. As a frequent consumer of the product, I am quite interested in how their mission of sustainability is evolving as global climate change occurs. Namely, I found the correlation between increased temperature and increased ice cream consumption to be very intriguing. Although hotter temperatures may promote ice cream consumption, I never considered how this relationship may be at odds with Ben & Jerry’s mission. I wonder if the company could transition into less dairy-intensive bases for their frozen treats i.e. sorbet, or coconut milk?