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On November 19, 2016, Ann commented on iRobot’s Roomba: Vacuuming the floor with the competition :

Great post! I personally don’t have an iRobot but would love one when I occupy a large enough house. And, when I do, I’d love to sync it up with my Amazon Echo. However, given Amazon’s history of product line expansion and its Lab126 division, I would be somewhat surprised if Amazon were willing to partner with iRobot on providing a seamless experience for IoT products in the home, especially given Google’s acquisition of Nest. I would also be curious to learn more about whether there are any privacy concerns with iRobot’s products. For instance, the Roomba contains a low-fi camera that collects information about the layout of the house, which it then uses as a map when it vacuums the house. If not managed properly, this could be very concerning for the privacy-conscious consumers.

On November 19, 2016, Ann commented on Where Art Meets Engineering: Google Art Project :

What a great way for Google to leverage its engineering talent and reach to make art accessible to all. I do think the implementation was a very key element to making this a successful project. The fact that Google was able to capture the layout of the museum is hugely important in both getting the buy-in from museum partners as well as providing virtual visitors with as full an experience as possible. Had Google just given its virtual visitors a dump of art pieces through which to browse, the amount of thought with which museum layouts are constructed would have been entirely lost in the experience. I also really appreciated your recommendation of investing in technology to enhance the in-museum experience. Great post!

On November 19, 2016, Ann commented on Why Technology is Causing Your HBS Degree to Depreciate :

I do agree that ed tech startups like the Khan Academy are challenging traditional methods of teaching and learning, as well as the role of the classroom. However, I do not think that spells doom for institutions like HBS in any way. In fact, Salman Khan recognizes very well the value of in-person interactions and tries to enhance the learning that can be gained from physical time spent teachers and classmates rather than replace it. This is best exemplified by his evangelizing of the “flipped classroom” idea, in which students learn their concepts online outside of the classroom and therefore better utilize their classroom time with teachers by asking questions and participating in discussions. Further, learning at HBS takes place on so many levels that cannot be replaced by online classrooms – in discussion groups, in social settings, in travels abroad, etc. If anything, the online classroom can be a powerful tool to make learning at HBS even more effective and efficient, and not a threat.

On November 19, 2016, Ann commented on Omada Health: A Leader in the Digital Health Revolution :

This is great overview of Omada! Exciting to hear that they are now reimbursable by Medicare – that will be huge in reaching a segment of patients who are not already covered by employers yet suffer from chronic disease. I’d be curious to see what kind of partnerships they are exploring to further their reach. I imagine that relationships with TPAs such as Collective Health may be very valuable in providing access to self-insured employers. Separately, in response to your suggestion about entering into mental health, I’d love to get your thoughts on competitors like Lyra who are also trying to leverage data to provide evidence-based treatment in that space.

Great post, Alex! It is very interesting to think about how today’s ed tech companies are changing the dynamics between teachers and content. Pearson does have many advantages as an incumbent in the industry – content, relationships with school districts, and scale, to name a few. However, as you pointed out, the internet is decentralizing both the creation and the distribution of teaching materials, and teachers are finding opportunities to not only source their own materials, but also to create their own and monetize it via platforms like TeachersPayTeachers. Digitization will also have huge implications on the way teaching is actually conducted in the classroom. The Khan Academy, for instance, evangelizes and enables the flipped classroom idea, fundamentally changing a teacher’s role in helping students learn. Would be really interesting to hear about what you think the challenges currently facing ed tech startups are.

On November 5, 2016, Ann Yih commented on Is it all a Hoax? The GOP and Climate Change :

Great choice of topic! The Republican party has definitely struggled with confronting the issue of climate change, largely due to many of the reasons you noted in your post. I really appreciated how you gave specific examples of individuals and how their actions or words have deviated from the stance of the candidate at the top of the ballot, and even showed how Trump’s business operations belie his public denials of global warming. I do think that this is just one of several issues that challenge the core of the GOP’s philosophy, and it will be very interesting to see how their stance evolves over time on this topic a few years from now.

On November 5, 2016, Ann Yih commented on Amazon Web Services: Greenhouse Gases in the Cloud :

This is great! I’m a big fan of AWS and most engineering teams I know today use their services because they are inexpensive, reliable, and flexible. As you mentioned in your post, the growth potential for this part of Amazon’s business is huge. However, because their price point is such a large part of their value proposition, I would be really curious to see how Amazon thinks about the impact of using 100% renewable energy on the pricing of their products or on their margins. Thanks for sharing!

This is highly fascinating. Assuming the melting of Arctic ice continues and commercial carriers are able to safely utilize the Northwest Passage as a more efficient route between Asian and Europe, I wonder what the expected impact on Panama’s revenue would be. Separately, I would love to better understand the current dialogue around who lays claim to these waters. As much as I understand the downsides of climate change, I appreciate that this post highlights a scenario in which global warming is inarguably providing a specific benefit by increasing efficiency in shipping across continents.

On November 4, 2016, Ann Yih commented on Ben & Jerry’s: If it’s melted, it’s ruined! :

I really enjoyed learning about the carbon footprint of ice cream! Who knew that 10 minutes (roughly how long it takes me to eat a pint of ice cream in one sitting by myself… yep) of indulgence would equate to 2 CO2 equivalents. I love your suggestion of reducing carbon emissions in the ice cream value chain by broadening Ben & Jerry’s product portfolio to include more non-dairy ice creams. I would be really curious to know how the production of a pint of coconut-based or soy-based ice cream compares to a pint of dairy ice cream in terms of carbon emissions. I would guess that almond-based ice creams are not more sustainable as the nut itself is highly water-intensive.

On November 4, 2016, Ann Yih commented on Is It Right to Benefit from the Apocalypse? :

I would love to better understand what the potential side effects of GMOs are. In fact, just this past summer, over 100 Nobel laureates signed a letter asking critics of GMOs to stop spreading misinformation about GMO crops and argued that they provide a viable, safe solution to growing food demand as climate change threatens traditional agricultural practices (see here:

I am of the opinion that if Monsanto can provide an answer to food shortage as the impact of climate change threatens crop yields, the company should have every right to profit off of the solution that it brings to the market. Saying that Monsanto should not profit off of need that arises as a result of an unfortunate phenomenon is akin to saying doctors should not make money off of treating cancer patients.