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On November 18, 2016, Bruna commented on Salesforce is Stealing Einstein’s Thunder :

Really interesting article, Ilan. I agree with you that this seems like an extremely ambitious, if not overly ambitious, target for Salesforce, whose core business is not in this space. I’m curious how they’ve rationalized making this investment knowing that better equipped competitors are out there working on IoT solutions. You mention the application of providing real-time data from the manufacturing floor to flag problems more quickly. Although these applications seem extremely valuable, especially in companies that use machines to interact with its customers’ machines, I wonder how far away the solution is getting from sales and into the trenches of operations. Although from a manufacturer’s perspective it would be transformational to have all of the company’s data interconnected into one system, I think IoT’s forte in operations does not align well with Salesforce’s core business in sales management.

What I particularly like about electronic tolling is introducing the hardware and software infrastructure to allow for future dynamic pricing and data collection, as you mentioned in your post. Even better than decreasing throughput times (TOM shoutout) of vehicles on the road, I think a greater benefit that electronic tolling offers to governments is the ability to adjust pricing, and (ideally) therefore driving patterns, to be able to mitigate some of the negative effects of the increasing numbers of cars on the roads. I don’t think it’s a far reach to say that data collection on highways can help cities to develop more effective solutions to its transit problems, such as implementing ride-sharing options for drivers that are commuting to and from similar areas each day, or better managing public transportation routes that meet the demands of a larger number of commuters. I think the ultimate goal of electronic tolling should be to help even out traffic throughout the day while overall reducing the growth rate of cars on the roads.

On November 18, 2016, Bruna commented on Supporting the Good You Do. Online. :

Thanks for sharing, Jess. This is an interesting customer segment that FrontStream has chosen to focus on. It seems like FrontStream recognized an underserved market and was able to craft an offering that met the specific needs of small to medium non-profits. I’m curious about what differentiates FrontStream from other CRM and online customer solution providers. I would imagine that FrontStream has a wide variety of competitors providing online sales and customer management solutions. If FrontStream’s success factor was that they got into this market first, is there a large enough moat to keep other competitors from providing a similar or better value proposition to charities?

On November 18, 2016, Bruna commented on What is the way forward for Coursera? :

Thanks for posting. I see a couple of issues with online education platforms that might keep them from gaining traction in the long run. Admittedly some ‘me-search’, I find it much more difficult to fully engage and stay interested in an online course, particularly when it’s not required as a part of an educational goal I’m trying to achieve. In light of this, and you mention it in your post, I think it’s critical for Coursera to focus on courses that can somehow be recognized by universities or employers as an added value or a requirement. Secondly, I struggle with the idea that MOOCs and online coursework will be widely adapted by consumers, seeing as the cultural norm of relying on branded university degrees is so ingrained in the way people are hired and promoted. If online courses only then serve the demand for personal growth and the joy of lifelong learning, will people invest in a venture with an unquantifiable return?

Thanks for posting, Majken. It will be interesting to see whether HarperCollins’ operating model will need to change significantly to manage a multitude of direct to consumer sites and data collection on behalf of different authors. I’m also curious whether content creation for books is comparable to content creation for on-screen shows and movies – that is, whether Amazon’s vertical integration into book content creation is a plausible threat, seeing as books are inherently a different creative endeavor (hinging on the success of one person) than film and TV (where large teams and production companies are involved).

On November 7, 2016, Bruna commented on BP: what should we expect? :

Thanks for this perspective. I think, as Tracy points out above, it’s crucial for us sitting in mature economies with easy access to energy to discount the important need for affordable energy in developing countries.

I am curious about two things. Firstly, I’m interested to know how BP can improve their operations in light of climate change challenges. Two important areas where BP can have a significant impact is in reducing methane emissions at natural gas sites and in developing carbon sequestration technology. One of the key concerns of the growing natural gas industry is the fact that natural gas, being a gaseous fuel, can escape into the atmosphere during fracking operations, creating a release of very potent greenhouse gases. I’m interested to know what else BP can do to tackle this. Secondly, having significant expertise in and access to underground geological formations, BP and other O&G firms have a distinct opportunity to develop and commercialize carbon sequestration technology that can help producers of CO2 emissions, namely large power plants, to capture and sequester CO2 underground so it cannot contribute to greenhouse gas levels. It would be interesting to learn more about BP’s advancements in these technologies.

On November 7, 2016, Bruna commented on Union Pacific: Incalculable Risks? :

This is a fascinating article and highlights the many stressors on freight transportation and railways in the future. I think Union Pacific does offer sustainable advantages over one of its main competitors, line-haul trucking, that it can leverage and communicate to customers and end users, including the ability to reduce congestion on highways (which leads to lower CO2 emissions from faster average passenger vehicle commute times) and the fuel efficiency benefits you mention (trains carry larger freight volumes for the same amount of fuel as trucks).

In addition to hybrid trains mentioned above, diesel engine companies have had some early wins in converting the prime mover from diesel to gas, which provides some benefit in the form of lower CO2 emissions per power output. It will be interesting to see if Union Pacific will eventually go back into the passenger train industry, as this seems to present a very strong opportunity to use excess train and railway capacity while lowering Americans’ dependence on passenger vehicle transportation.

On November 7, 2016, Bruna commented on Xylem Inc. :

I’m curious what the potential areas for improvement are for Xylem as it relates to global climate change risk. It seems that Xylem is presently enjoying the benefits of having expertise in an industry that will be in significant need of help as climate change continues. Besides creating goals for its own operational carbon footprint and water usage, what can Xylem do better in response to this threat?

I’m also wondering how Xylem’s customers play a role in their future. I would guess that its key customers are public entities that provide drinking water and clean wastewater for its local taxpayers. Going forward, Xylem could shift its offering to target private companies that may be less price-sensitive and more willing to pay a premium for innovation than public utilities.


It’s interesting how Aviva has chosen to address climate change on the periphery of its business, i.e. investing in renewable energy and in lower carbon portfolio companies, when there are other significant risks that insurance companies such as Aviva need to address. I wonder how much they actually share about the evolution of their internal risk algorithms with the public. It seems like this is really an important strategic step that Aviva is hopefully taking (even if we can’t see it yet). I’m curious whether Aviva and other insurance companies have an ability to benchmark among themselves and share best practices in this foreign and evolving space of estimating climate change risk.

Interesting article. I’m curious whether Related and other developers typically sell the entire buildings to property management companies or whether they manage them themselves. If Related is able to completely pass on any risk related to climate change effects (storm surges, decreasing property values, etc.), Related would have few incentives to change their practices in the short term, particularly as foreign investment replaces some demand from more concerned domestic buyers. It would also be interesting to know whether Related has partnered with engineering firms to stay ahead of the curve in developing more robust structures.