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On November 20, 2016, Artatak commented on AMZN or Amazing? :

AWS in the spotlight ! That is great.
It is believed that a majority of the internet runs on AWS. What a secret power and key part of the chain. AWS central node is in Northern Virginia. So somewhere in Northern Virginia there is a button that can switch off the digital disruption.

AWS is indeed a rarely talked about monopolistic giant. Should it be nationalized? privatized?
Do you want a public company 17% founder owned to own 50 to 70% of internet flows?
Is the maintenance, security, reliability regularly checked?

“Build yourself a monopoly and then you will find ways to monetize it” this is what Jeff Bezos could think as he visits

On November 20, 2016, Artatak commented on On Dating Apps & Demographics: The Heart Wants What I.T. Wants? :

Finding a partner to breed, what a life purpose! The most usual way to preserve your genomic wealth should not be taken lightly.

As I think to the various choices, trade-offs and goals of online dating/mating, I cannot help but thinking that information titans could use their data as secret eugenicists.
Why Google or Facebook could not run algorithms through their wide and thick network to recognize patterns and point me to the right match?
Potentially they can compute databases of successful couples and start inferring the measurable elements that are good explanatory factors of a successful couples. We could abandon serendipity to google algorithms. Are the first three links on search not always right? Who knows what is on page 2 anyway?

Indeed data is scary. Let me blink at her.

On November 20, 2016, Artatak commented on Talk to Chuck — Your New Robot Overlord :

Good analysis on a market where incumbents seem to be able to crush the digital start up breed. Money management has always been a conservative sticky kind of business so not the easiest to penetrate with technology.
Indeed it seems absurd that there still 300,000 financial advisers in the USA. As Ric Edelman points out, theyu are likely to disappear. They will mainly be educator going through financial management pedagogy rather than active portfolio advisors.

Then I agree with the conclusion of the post: Money management behemoths have a fair chance to transform and beat new entrants.
The two main assets of existing money managers are indeed their pool of customers/accounts and their brand. If they can leverage those two, they may be able to keep the competition at bay. To some extend time is on their side as people tend to be cautious and slow vis-a-vis money management. As most of the savings are hold by 50y+ people, they aren’t the most tech daring app testers. Money is about trust. Old players are likely to use this to try to stop the leakage to low fees by providing their own solutions.
But as the fee pot is likely going to reduce they have a diverging interest: change to preserve business but wait to keep the high fees ticking… Interesting transition to manage!

On November 20, 2016, Artatak commented on McKinsey: Dedicated to Digital :

Interesting perspective on digital challenges for consultancies.

Generally I believe in the theory that strategy consulting firms thrived because of US government efforts in anti-competitive behaviours (e.g. 1890 Sherman Antitrust Act, the Federal Trade Commission Act and Clayton Act of 1914, and the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933).
The consultancies served as independent sanitized legal vector to share information (good practices, industry data, etc.) without risking the ire of the government. This justified the existence of consultancies. This theory has been first exposed by Christopher McKenna.

So I agree that consultancies are challenged. A spectrum of changes, including digital, founder owned monopolistic start-ups, stronger government, public data, economic intelligence among others are leaving consultancies less relevant.
Echoing JDG, I am not sure McKinsey can really change course.

The world’s newest profession : management consulting in the twentieth century McKenna, Christopher D., Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2006. (Cambridge studies in the emergence of global enterprise)

Thank you for educating us on digital innovation pushing healthcare improvement.

Reading through this, I could not help but linking this leapfrog with the direct to mobile infrastructure choice in Africa short-cutting the physical land phone network as developed in Europe and North America. A reminder that it often makes sense to think differently a catch-up strategy from a new growth strategy.

I was also pleased to see competition growing in the sector which is likely to push devices’ unit price down thus providing more impact.

Lastly I agree with you that raising barriers to entry, stickiness, cross-connectivity could be a good way to grow Cepheid/Danaher profit pool. They could also look at different funding model potentially monetizing the maintenance, per diagnostic cost or evolution of devices.

On November 20, 2016, Artatak commented on The value of face-to-face in a digital world :

Interesting perspective on human interactions. Indeed more and more data can flow through optical fiber pipeline but it does not mean that face to face hands on experience sharing becomes less relevant. It seems that the digital comes as an extra layer that is less relevant without the human interaction.
For instance, this could be the reason why start ups are created and thriving in an open-space 24/7 pizza-eating together experience.

Two views of the future world collide:
– Real human interaction prevails: We share, store, create digital content like never before but real human interaction remains the panacea. Trust, creativity and engagement could not be matched by synthetic link.
– The signal replaces the real interaction: Insurance becomes very expensive in a 140 year life expectancy world. People switch on their VR headset with 5 sense connectivity and we meet in a binary but rich world. The science fiction has described this many times (e.g. Surrogates).

Personally, I share the view that human interaction should remain relevant. But who knows? As Stephen Hawking (2016 Oxford Union talk) prophesies mankind may have only 1,000 years left. I hope he is equally wrong as the doctors who predicted he would not survive two years in 1963.
If this insight of real interaction proves to be true, then the hubs will become more and more valuable. Go long events, NYC, SF, London, TED, Singapore and all the nods.

On November 20, 2016, Artatak commented on Playboy: The Naked Truth :

Very interesting article. Indeed pornography seems a great unique driving force catalyzing technological shift. This article pays tribute to one of human’s strongest drive than can be efficiently used to scale digital shift.

@AGlasner: I agree that this must have led to some dislocations and probably addictive behaviours. As Dominic Pettman hints in his “Love and other technologies : retrofitting eros for the information age” (2006, New York : Fordham University Press), it is quite hard to realize how we are changed by readily available accessible pornography.
In the past, greater efforts were needed to access sexual impulse material. Like in Kubrick’s “Eyes Wide Shut” one needed a password to access orgiastic underworld parties. This was Freud’s Vienna. This was Victorian London.
If under-aged exposure or excessive access can have negative consequences, one can still hope that the pornography cathartic power can serve as a decompression valve for societies.

@Evan: I am not sure that Chinese respect for copyright will be strong enough for Playboy to get enough royalties from bunny licensing. But it is certainly an adjacency worth pursuing. The US Office of the United States Trade Representative placed China on its “priority watch list” for intellectual property rights violations in 2014. Could this help protect the american bunny?

@Matt: Indeed people imagination will be shaped by their access to pornography.

On November 18, 2016, Artatak commented on Did Kodak Ignore the Digital Revolution? :

Very interesting article. Indeed people often think as a company as one fixed entity. But it is a sum of asset both physical, intangible and also people obviously. I tend to believe that when a company’s core business model is jeopardized as dramatically as Kodak was, the most efficient reaction is not reinvention but maybe explosion: spin-offs, employees churn, IP disposals.
There is no reason to regard companies as sacred. They are just a legal structure efficient for organization purposes. The reallocation of people, assets and IP can be part of their life.

Without the disruption at Kodak, HBS students might not have benefited from Professor Shih pedagogic insights and we would not have contributed to some innovation!

On November 7, 2016, Artatak commented on DELTA AIRLINES INC: REVENGE OF THE CLIMATE :

Very interesting article – I learned a lot. For instance, I did not know that westbound flight were becoming longer than eastbound are getting shorter. Generally I wonder how the share of adjustment and innovation will split between aircraft OEMs and operators. What is likely certain is that air travel is on the critical path of growth, so solution are to be found.

I measured how much can be done by the Operator. The wind pattern is certainly very interesting. Generally computing power may become of even greater use for understanding meteorological patterns in high atmosphere.

But some long term solutions are likely to involve OEMs. For instance, I wonder if the altitude could not be optmized again with either planes going higher up and have more like rocket trajectory or on the contrary like during the 20th century and the WW, planes flying very low on water to benefit from the ground effect like soviets Ekranoplanes (a word I treasure), such as the A-90 Orlyonok.

However the most exciting thing would be to have Concord-like planes with a Delta-shaped wind flying for Delta Airlines!

On November 6, 2016, Artatak commented on Can the Miracles of Science(TM) Deliver Another Miracle? :

Very interesting articles and perspective – My first surprise was that one could trademark “The Miracles of Science”. Dupont did it in 1999 so there was potential a burst of millennial progress ambition.

I fully agree with the conclusive question. The business reality may be too shortsighted. Hence reading through all those goals and research areas, I am asking myself: Given the issue at stake, are public bodies likely more long term investors for challenging innovation?
It would be an interesting study to segregate innovations by magnitude and cost and see where public meets private: nuclear, space, rail, large infra… For instance, nuclear fusion may take more capital than Dupont has and much lower cost of capital.

What we must hope though is that we can save global warming issues ourselves and down here on earth as most prediction seem to show that it would be hard to move everyone to another planet. Plain and simple consequences from the Tsiolkovsky Rocket equation as xkcd casually puts it. Or anyway we would need cutting edge fuel efficiency, think like micro fusion nuclear reactor with high RPM.
So let’s stay here and work this climate change out !


On November 6, 2016, Artatak commented on Sinking the Subway: The MBTA Confronts Climate Change :

Very deep and thoughtful article – Climate change becomes particularly scary if you have never survived through a Bostonian winter !

It is indeed a challenge to start to re-think and potentially re-engineer the whole transportation system especially in the context to improve the public transport system.
For me the main question becomes: who pays the bill? It is likely to be Bostonian and Massachusetts tax payers. What a striking example of climate change transfer of impacts. This should push us to think more as a global family.

Very interesting article letting us discover the industry.
It certainly makes sense to re-engineer the production through drip irrigation and shift the mix towards a less drought dependent production.
I wonder though if Corticeira Amorim is not more threaten by:
– Usage of synthetic cork alternatives for numerous applications: insulation, flooring and obviously wine
– Potentially in the long run other cork production regions increasing production potentially from climate change benefits

I guess that the increase in cork prices may have been a driver to accelerate shift away from cork!
Loving the traditional way to do things, I hope what touches our wine for years stays organic…

Very interesting article that shows how difficult it is for the P&C insurance industry to adapt to changing conditions. It is so early that statistical patterns cannot really be extrapolated.

Even though the public funding would ultimately provide relief in case of tail event leading to bankruptcy, I agree that some measures could be taken as soon as now. The article outlines some of those that make sense such as incentivizing for protection & remedy investments, similarly as you would pay smaller premia if you invest in a reinforced door.

These pro-active measures could be great mitigants but are likely to come with public dissent given climate change & floods always seem remote. Those measures could be enacted on the wake of large floods to use the public sentiment. For instance, you could also imagine a law that forbids to reuse flooded area for residential or heavy commercial purposes (e.g. limited to storage, parking, etc.).

Another interesting aspect that the article keeps silent is the impact on properties prices. I would be curious to see the impact on prices of actual or potential floods? The market probably adjusts better for actual flooded areas. I would have thought that given prices go down, people are likely to have a reversion to the mean behaviour whereby they tend to come back provided that the area is will located close to economic centers.

Another mitigant could be to have a supra-national solutions either public or private. By pooling risk at higher level, one could reduce the impact of tail events that would still nevertheless become more frequent. This could also improve returns on invested premia.
Large reinsurers (MunichRe, Lloyds, etc.) are currently running their model to see how they can prepare themselves best for this!
As Guillaume Gorge [1] noted “Insurance is built on a paradox”, insurers can get free financing from float but that is only after they have gained trust usually from large amount of locked long term capital. These models will change as well!

[1] Guillaume Gorge Insurance Risk Management & Reinsurance

Very interesting article that once again shows that car dealers are irritating, Americans more than Dutch probably. And as always, it is a question of incentives. This is also another testimony that for a consistent complete efficient climate change economy, the public bodies have to intervene.

Unfortunately the defense of dealers is likely to promote more the used cars market with lower emission standards, at least in the short term.
You could imagine that after a state subsidized start the amount of second hand PEVs will grow catalyzing more demand and potentially creating a electric vehicle maintenance or battery replacement industry.
For instance, in France, the ministry for sustainable development is regularly increasing the pollution penalty for new cars whereby you can get up to 1000€ bonus for buying an electric car and up €10000 malus for buying a high emission petrol engine [1].

Let’s see how the car ecosystem will reinvent itself as the share of electric vehicles increases! My guess would be that the battery maintenance and replacement will create a new industry.


That is interesting but I would question the motivation of L’Oreal.
It seems L’Oreal is more focused on sustainability of its formula rather than end to end sustainable solutions.
Most of their efforts seem to have been around sourcing stability and price variation rather than reducing PVC packaging [1], reviewing channels logistics.


On November 3, 2016, Artatak commented on Papercut: Climate Change’s Impact on the Pulp & Paper Industry :

Indeed the paper industry faces some challenges from climate changes well outlined in the post, mainly around energy sources and water.
However I also believe climate change can provide significant opportunities to the paper & forestry industry, the main one built around renewability. Paper wins against plastic everytime at the climate game.

Currently the industry is split between the attractive growthful packaging branch pushed by e-commerce and the disappearing dying publishing branch threaten by digitalization. All of us get more and more used to received our parcels in Amazon familiar corrugated board boxes but we also get less fond of printed paper or fliers in our physical mailboxes.
And the industry will not let go that chance to make it up for the decrease of print communication!

Stora Enso outlines well the main benefit that could arise from climate change in its annual and sustainability reports:
– Higher forestry productivity from increase in average temperatures, precipitation, and CO2 levels
– More biomass energy generation which is an excellent way of valorizing recycled pulp & fiber and old newspaper
– Innovation with more fiber & pulp renewable products in our everyday life, including food container, light furniture, etc.

Stora Enso assessment of risk & opportunities: