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On November 20, 2016, Alpha commented on Zillow: Ahead of its Time or Falling Behind? :

I’m with John on this – purchasing a home is a high cost of failure, and usually the highest ticket purchase that people will experience in a lifetime. I’m skeptical that they’d forego a human realtor in doing this.

On your point on refining Zillow’s database, I think the biggest risk here is that Google or any other high powered data company swoops in suddenly and tries to take on real estate data aggregation. Google did this with Google Flights and completely disrupted the online flight search industry, which just prior to Google’s entry attributed 10 – 20% of their traffic to Google searches [1]. Zillow does not disclose how much traffic they receive from Google, but independent research has shown they show up first for “general, home-buying keywords (e.g. “Atlanta real estate”)” about 53% of the time [2].

[1] Sean, Ludwig, “Orbitz, Kayak think Google is abusing its power with travel search,” December 27, 2011,, accessed November 2016.
[2] “The SEO Dominance of Zillow,”, accessed November 2016.

On November 20, 2016, Alpha commented on Disney World: Making the Most Magical Wearables on Earth :

Dovetailing off Catherine’s comment, you could see a solution where they use the wristbands as interactive toys or bands even outside of the theme park so they can gather additional consumer data on time of purchase, use of device, purchase intent, etc. The only hurdle they’d have to surpass is privacy concerns, but they could easily provide an “opt-in” solution.

On November 20, 2016, Alpha commented on The ZocDoc will see you now… :

Thanks for writing! I completely agree with Catherine on this. While I think that Zocdoc is brilliant in trying to optimize appointment slots, especially given the increased scarcity of doctors, I worry about people judging doctors based on peer reviews rather than healthcare statistics such as successful diagnostics, survival rates, etc. This puts the incentive on doctors to shift services to ensure patients have a pleasant experience, but may not necessarily be the best for patients. What if a doctor wants to recommend that a patient have additional tests, or see a specialist, and the patient views this as irritating, or exploitative, when in reality, this could be something the patient needs?

On November 20, 2016, Alpha commented on Bezos, the Washington Post and the future of news publishing :

Thank you for writing, Jessie! I agree that Amazon’s trove of rich consumer data would be interesting to mesh with visitors to the Washington Post. In terms of placing advertisements, Amazon’s unique knowledge of individual consumer buying habits would allow advertisers to display ads only on pages relevant to their target audience. I actually think Amazon could purchase additional media assets to be able to leverage its unique data set further. I don’t think it’s a synergy play, but more of a new market play in which Amazon, using years of historical consumer purchasing data, becomes a digital advertising platform that is uniquely qualified to place ads on high quality content websites.

On November 20, 2016, Alpha commented on FedEx – the next big Challenge :

Thank you for posting, Gabriela! I think drone deliver is something FedEx should consider seriously. In a system where, I imagine, the bottleneck is the drivers and trucks, drones would drastically improve delivery speed and cost. In terms of providing real-time data to customers, I think something they still need to figure out is how to deliver to customers at the optimal time of day, especially when signatures are required. With Amazon starting to handle their own deliveries (and via drones), to compete, FedEx must increase its flexibility of delivery times.

On November 6, 2016, Alpha commented on DIGging INN to Climate Change x Sustainable Food Systems :

I really like your ideas on data collection! As a former Dig Inn customer, learning that they use excess meat that would normally be thrown out, as well as imperfect produce, is a bit alarming. I realize it’s probably fine as it still passes FDA approval, but I wonder how that would affect purchase decisions of consumers. This is a situation where, in aiming for mitigating food waste, they could potentially compromise short-term business if the messaging around this isn’t clear.

On November 6, 2016, Alpha commented on Hope you take your coffee hot :

I wonder if the solution here isn’t for them to buy more coffee farms re: IKEA discussion in class. Rather than simply “working with farmers” to develop ways to grow coffee beans in warmer climates, could they bring in-house this research aspect since they’re already tackling it anyway? And could they use it as a way to generate more positive publicity, i.e., “we can do it better”?

On November 6, 2016, Alpha commented on Apple: Reducing emissions, one target at a time :

I agree with Katherine on this, and to broaden it a bit further, Apple has had issues with other suppliers not complying with environmentally friendly standards. Environmental activists accused Foxconn in August 2013 of dumping factory chemicals into nearby rivers, shortly after Pegatron, a Taiwanese manufacturer of older iPhone models and iPad minis, was criticized for similar issues [1]. It calls into question how much influence Apple, despite being a behemoth brand with a lot of leverage, has over its supply chain, especially when vendors are operating in developing countries.

[1] Kaiser, Tiffany, “Apple’s Chinese Suppliers in Trouble for Environmental Pollution,” August 5, 2013,, accessed November 2016.

On November 6, 2016, Alpha commented on Why a Chemical Company Embraced Climate Change Regulations :

Hi Kerrin – great article! To provide additional context around the “big bet”, Chemours was fairly motivated to upend their business model. They were divested from DuPont in July 2015 after DuPont faced pressure from activist investor Nelson Peltz. At the time, Peltz, management, and several Wall Street analysts, believed the volatility in titanium dioxide (TiO2) prices were wreaking havoc on DuPont’s bottom line. DuPont’s management team made the decision to divest “Chemours” shortly before TiO2 prices plummeted [1]. Making matters worse, DuPont saddled Chemours with most of its environmental liabilities related to Teflon, amounting to $290 million as of December 31, 2015 [2], so once Chemours was independent of DuPont, its leverage skyrocketed.
In addition to slashing operating costs, selling business lines, and renegotiating supply contracts, Chemours management needed to supplement the company’s core revenue driver, TiO2, and quickly. That’s where Opteon came into play. Given the hasty nature of its origins, I share your skepticism about whether Opteon is the lowest global warming potential (and most effective) refrigerant in the long-run.

[1] Sanati, Cyrus, “How DuPont Spinoff Chemours Came Back from the Brink,” Fortune, May 18, 2016,, accessed November 2016.
[2] The Chemours Company, 2015 Annual Report, p. F-12,, accessed November 2016.