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On November 20, 2016, BMW commented on Online Brokers and Robinhood :

As a brief user of the platform, one thing about Robinhood that I did not enjoy was the limited offering of trade types. Robinhood, at least as of last year, did not allow users to execute options trading or trading of mutual funds and ETFs. Because of this, I was reluctant to engage in single stock picks through Robinhood, especially because the platform did not provide comprehensive research capability.

I think these are examples of why Robinhood’s value proposition needs refining. The no-commission model probably is exciting for novice savers looking to begin trading at a low cost. However, combining the research and product offerings with the modest commissions offered by other services may be cheaper in totality than uninformed decisions made through Robinhood. As with any freemium model, providing the a high quality service is a challenge and I would expect that as competitors enter into this space, Robinhood will be challenged with developing robust trading information and products to stay competitive.

Great summary — appreciate you sharing on this topic.

On November 20, 2016, BMW commented on BIXS: Tracking Cattle to Fight Disease :

Do you think that the ranchers most likely to use this interface are the ones least likely to have operations considered high-risk for BSE? Since BSE is usually a result of eating contaminated food, I would think that the ranchers more likely to cut corners with the food supply of their herd are the ones that would avoid this database. In fact, without regulations requiring compliance, I wouldn’t expect the small operators to have an incentive to participate in the process. The large ranchers, on the other hand, have every incentive to be able to use this database to bring credibility to their operations.

Fascinating summary though, enjoyed reading it!

On November 20, 2016, TOM_User_1S2016 commented on Oil Companies Need to Go Digital to Survive :

Digitization is making waves in the operating oil field as well. Automated systems with remote access, once considered too expensive for marginal, onshore wells, have become affordable and allowed operators to delay installing more expensive EoR techniques that Pierre referred to. Conventional oil and gas in the US can be optimized further than the unconventional resources, allowing old fields to produce every economic molecule before advancing to the next method of production. Will be curious if US O&G operators have the patience to allow digitization to work, or will they revert to the hubris that has defined the industry throughout the last 100 years.

On November 20, 2016, TOM_User_1S2016 commented on Sony’s struggle with Music :

Given the profitability challenges of Spotify, Pandora, etc. do you think that Sony regrets missing the boat on streaming digital music? Clearly they would have been better off had they evolved more quickly to compete with Apple’s iTunes in the early 2000s but with the more recent developments in the music industry, are they really missing out on a desirable business or are they missing out on high costs in the name of uncertain growth?

Who do you think Sony views as its primary competition for long-term growth? Hardware companies like Samsung, LG, etc.? Or historically software focused companies like Google, Amazon, etc.? The answer to this question may help guide them to the appropriate strategy on attacking digital music in the future.

On November 20, 2016, TOM_User_1S2016 commented on Webvan’s Demise or When Technology Fails to Meet Operations :

Wow – what a fantastic summary of a defunct operating model. As you point out, the narrow margin (5%) with the high cost of customer acquisition ($210 per customer) make this model difficult to justify. While the allure of digitization is enticing across all industries, it make more sense for some industries than others. I would imagine that due to many of the points you have made, digitization in Grocery will begin at a store optimization level, perhaps with customers able to schedule pick-up of pre-ordered items. Perhaps the industry will be able to expand to limited delivery options to areas with extremely high population density but I would doubt these services will be “on demand” instead will be up to the company optimizing their supply chain around many orders to minimize spoilage and distribution costs.

On November 8, 2016, BMW commented on Gazprom: Ready to Respond :

Hey Pat – undoubtedly there is a plan, the question is whether the plan is sustainable. Germany already pays 3x the US cost because of their policies on renewables.


Further, European GDP growth has stagnated and cannot support costly energy policy in the long run. Even if these countries were in a fantastic position to subsidized alternative technologies, these countries are not located in a position with access to the highest quality alternative energy sources. Solar is better suited for use in the Middle East, Africa, etc. while wind is more effective on the coast. Russia will continue to wield increasing influence over those countries that cannot economically support these technologies long-term.




On November 7, 2016, BMW commented on U.S. Department of Defense: A War on Climate Change :

Thanks for addressing this subject. Your example definitely highlights the challenges of effectively conducting business when faced with increasing constraints applied by government entities. Here, it is curious that the government is the business and national, heck global, security is the deliverable.

Outside of nuclear, no other source of energy generates the energy density and power that comes with fossil fuels. Since WW2, oil has powered the United States military to exceptional results. While technology has advanced, the energy that sources that technology has remained consistent.

I would be curious whether there is a conservation program that would do more help to address the impact of the DoD on the atmosphere than changing the energy source. In being better stewards of the resources at their disposal, the DoD would provide the taxpayers and the citizens of the world a better outcome. How much can be trimmed? The answer of that question would really fascinate me.

On November 7, 2016, BMW commented on Preparing for Climate Extremes at PotashCorp :

MDLB, I appreciate the opportunity to consider your very thoughtful post on something I had never heard about until last week. Props to you for finding such an obscure but entirely relevant topic for this assignment. Bravo.

Would increased rainwater really require more preparation from PotashCorp. Judging by the aerial photo above, it looks like there is plenty of room for additional tailing ponds that could be used to manage a surplus of additional rainwater that may result from climate change. I agree with your assessment that the strategy should be to inject water into the potash mine as rapidly as possible without causing damage to the resource but it seems like water handling capacity would reduce the need to change operations on account of the changing climate.

On November 7, 2016, BMW commented on What’s a Ski Resort without Snow? :

To me, the important question is at what point does a resort make the decision that the impact of climate change is conflicting with the long-term viability of the resort as a business?

A few other questions that come to mind: What are the primary operating costs of a resort and how many snow days are required to cover those costs? Is there a way other than moving lifts for a resort to stay solvent? How can a resort monetize its offseason?

The good thing about climate change, as compared to global warming, is that it opens up the possibility that our planet could cool as a result of manmade factors. So 50% chance that all this stuff we’re putting into the air is actually a boom for ski resorts. How do you feel about taking those odds?

Considering the insurance industry is well accomplished to assess all the risks impacting an asset prior to issuing insurance, I would think that the market be pricing in climate change risk. For those who may think that the threat is too new or too uncertain for insurers to act, there are plenty of climate models that capture the essence of the perceived climate risks the world is facing — enough, at least, to regulate global policy. I would offer that with this information in hand, the insurance companies are already pricing in the risks of climate change and that the market has deemed that risk to be low in the near term.

On November 7, 2016, BMW commented on Electric Slide :

One common misconception in the automobile industry is that electric vehicles result in lower emissions: the majority of the electricity generate in the United States is created through the combustion of fossil fuels ( With this in mind, the concept of self-driving cars can really change the equation regarding vehicle design because one of the primary purposes of the heavy steel cage we drive around in is safety. If we can reduce the design and material required to meet the government’s safety standards, much less metal will be required and the amount of fuel required to energize our vehicles will be reduced substantially. Big fan of reducing consumption through technological innovation.

It is curious that the thing that I would think Nike has the most control over – waste – doesn’t have an explicit initiative dedicated to it. By changing the mix of their product, with the intent manufacturing a more biodegradable product, they could materially improve their global waste footprint.

Also, I would be curious as to whether Nike is committed enough to the cause of sustainability to charge a premium on each of their sneakers to offset their manufacturing footprint. I am sure that a company with the historical success of Nike would have already reduced waste throughout their procurement, manufacturing, and distribution models in order to maximize profits so any further commitment to sustainability would like have to come with an additional cost or fee charged to the customer.