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On November 20, 2016, SL436 commented on Mad Men in the Digital Age :

Fascinating post. As digital CPMs trail those of traditional media, do you think there will be a convergence of prices? YouTube, for example, has relatively low CPMs compared to those of traditional media. While there are a few creators who are popular enough to make a decent living from YouTube alone, the majority of creators cannot. Given relatively lower production and distribution costs on a digital platform like YouTube, there’s an argument to be made that CPMs will remain naturally lower than on traditional platforms. Furthermore, is there a movement away from “impression” to a metric that better captures engagement (e.g., shares on FB or retweets on Twitter)? With clicks easily spoofed, it’s hard to understand what a “view” actually represents.

On November 20, 2016, SL436 commented on Too much data :

Super cool post. Seems like the next-gen Iron Man type base layers will be available in the near future. I wonder how different producing and marketing “smart” athletic wear is from the processes for traditional Under Amour apparel. Digital active wear will need to withstand intense conditions next to the athlete’s skin. Sweat, heat, and chafing will be big concerns not to mention machine washing. Not only will the products need to be expertly designed and durable, but at a reasonable price point such that they are accessible by the mass market. Decreasing prices will require innovations in the manufacturing pipeline – smart athletic clothing cannot be priced at iPhone levels, but will have to perform with iPhone-like technologies. Like Nike vs. Adidas during the World Cup, Under Armour will need to establish its target market and be highly specific when generating buzz around its new products.

On November 20, 2016, SL436 commented on Gett – Reinventing TV advertising :

Very interesting. Certainly a great example of linking offline-online purchase behavior. I wonder about the Gett’s economics. I assume that brands / companies are paying for Gett’s technologies, such that when Gillette changes its slogan to “The Best a Man can Gett,” Gett itself doesn’t need to pay licensing / branding fees. Furthermore, what is the fee structure to users? Does Gett charge for the “product sample” or is it an offline freemium model – first sample is free but full payment is required for actual purchase?

I’m also wondering about competition. This seems like a Shazam-meets-Uber-meets-Amazon-drone product. Shazam already has a large market share in sound/music-identification and Uber and Amazon both have the operational heft and expertise to handle a wide volume and variety of products. Is Gett at scale such that they can fend off entrants in the “on-demand sampling space”?

Thank you for writing about this topic which is needs more coverage. Approaching this from an empirical standpoint, I wonder what the data is on countries that are the source of trafficking vs. the countries where the trafficked individuals end up (looking at both demand and supply)? I’m also surprised that Developed Economics / EU, which I presume includes the US, has the second highest profits of forced labor. As first glance, I’d assume the regions with highly developed legal and law enforcement infrastructure would be best positioned to battle human trafficking. However, from the data, that doesn’t seem to be the case. If we look at sex trafficking for example, I wonder about the difference in prevalence in places where prostitution is legalized (e.g., Amsterdam) vs. where it is not (e.g., US). Does legalization enable better regulation and therefore protection? It stands to reason, however, that there will always be a black market for those who demand it.

On November 19, 2016, SL436 commented on J.P. Morgan Chase and the Rise of the Machines :

Similar to @Clement’s concerns, I wonder about the cyber security aspect of privacy. With Tor clients and dark networks, to what degree can information be truly protected? Several well-publicized hacks (e.g., LinkedIn and Sony) have already rocked the corporate world. Having such detailed information on customers could be a treasure trove for bad guys. What are the other steps JPM must take to protect its customers from external attack? Does JPM need an internal cyber security team or should they license out with a third party? Given the lack of cyber-laws, how will JPM go about developing a legal framework to defend itself against hackers?

On November 6, 2016, SL436 commented on Change the game :

Great post combining TOM and marketing! I agree that companies that hold tremendous amounts of social capital, like Nike, have a responsibility to behave in an exemplary manner for their consumers. The example in my mind is the eco-sneakers by Adidas which not only cuts down on the waste of production, but the fundamental materials and fibers they’re using are recycled fishing nets which are notoriously difficult to dispose of (http://www.boredpanda.com/recycled-fish-net-ocean-trash-sneakers-adidas/). I wonder to what degree can Nike, with their cutting-edge product teams and resources, begin to develop a manufacturing process using waste products (-ester and -ethylene based products) – the goal being not just reducing contribution to waste, but taking waste out of the system. Nike Grind already seems to be doing that with recycled shoes. But Nike is in the unique position to drive real demand for recycled-fiber-based products. Imagine the next Jordan’s or LeBron’s made with fibers from discarded water bottles! More broadly, your post highlights a key factor: cultural / social capital and sustainability has the potential to drive real change in the consumption habits, which in turn drive changes in production and product.

On November 6, 2016, SL436 commented on The North Face: An Alpine Outfitter in a Warmer World :

As a fan of North Face, I really enjoyed this look into their emissions offsets. However, I wonder how climate change would impact the company from a product manufacturing perspective. What changes to suppliers or even fundamental fibers and materials could they make to lessen their environmental impact? Additionally, The North Face sponsors many outdoor teams (The North Face Climbing Team comes to mind). Are there local organizations or projects that they could sponsor to help raise awareness?

For a country and economy that is growing (albeit more slowly now) at a fast rate, waste management and reduction is a critical objective. I agree that waste-to-energy plants provide a unique solution that targets both reduction and reuse. Several factors here that I think are also important to consider:

1) Context: Aside from economic and population growth aspects, China seems to be a unique political climate to launch these types of companies. Adoption could be simplified if top government officials identified waste-to-energy projects as a priority. The top down governing system, while more nuanced in reality, could facilitate execution and adoption at the municipal / local level. Furthermore, construction and management of the plants, along with any required infrastructure, could be completed relatively quickly. Of course, there are several challenges – the two most salient are a) convincing top government officials waste-to-energy is a priority, b) scaling the production technology and max capacity.

2) Waste Type: The primary operations of the process are incineration and reclamation (for metals and inert particles). While this would work for the 192 million tons of solid waste China produced in 2016, the chemical waste, most notably from manufacturing smartphones and consumer electronics, are less amenable to the reclamation process. In 2009, China produced 95% of the world’s supply of rare earth metals (see: http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20150402-the-worst-place-on-earth) which resulted in tremendous amounts of toxic runoff. As demand for consumer electronics increases, so too will the by-products of manufacturing. Such run-off which is likely to become an increasingly larger part of China’s waste does not serve as a good substrate for waste-to-energy. Thus, the problem of waste management still persists.

All things considered, the waste-to-energy programs are critical for China’s long term development. While growth rates have dropped from 7.3% to 6.9% between 2014 – 2015, the growing middle class will translate into greater consumption. Energy-to-waste provides a promising solution to handle the resulting waste production.

On November 6, 2016, SL436 commented on Arrival of the Mackerel :

Very fascinating. I agree that the move to mackerel is a boon for Greenland fisheries and would go so far to argue that the coincidental moving to a new staple fish species actually diverts the Greenland economy from future disaster. At its core, relying on shrimp is a risky proposition. At a baseline, wild shrimp catches are decreasing due to ocean warming and shrimp life cycle impacts. However, shrimp consumption is growing globally at around 3% per year with human consumption of shrimp hitting ~1 mil tons in 2015 alone. The greatest impact to the shrimp supply from a competitive standpoint, however, is that of Southeast Asian shrimp farmers. According to the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, Southeast Asia accounted for 85% of shrimp production and 74% of wild shrimp capture in 2013. The large-scale shrimp farms compete on a volume-basis and, while challenged, are adding capacity each year. To compete with such fast grown, large scale farmers, Royal Greenland would need to drastically change their wild capture techniques or develop their own farming operations. Both would require large upfront investment. Whether there would be more trawlers on the sea or breeding tanks on land, managing scaled operations in a short time frame would also pose many challenges.

It seems that there are two main factors at play here: production and disposal. On the production side, companies focus on cash flow as you mentioned and are therefore incentivized to cut down on costs (hence the reliance on cotton and polyester). To what degree are other natural fibers considered as alternatives? Yak down, for example, provides a similar level of softness to that of cashmere (Yak Down fibers range from 16 – 20 microns), is even warmer than merino wool (10% – 40% depending on the study), and is a fraction of the cost, not to mentioned farmed more sustainably. On the disposal front, are there methods to reclaim materials from old / used clothes? Aside from the “icky” factor of reusing someone’s old socks, the cleaning, extraction, and reuse of old clothes seem like a process which could decrease the overall number of clothes in landfills. If the cost to reclaim a square foot of adequate quality fiber is markedly less than that of newly harvested fiber, such companies could compete on price point in offering raw materials in the manufacturing process (assuming the quality and cleanliness of reclaimed fiber is comparable to that of newly harvested fibers).