Craig Ballard

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Amazing post, Emily! I am fascinated by the technological advances that the farming industry is seeing. I do however have a large concern regarding this revolution- the farmers, their families, and their employees. You mentioned that 88% of the 2.1 million farms are small family owned operations. I agree that Deere must be active in training and support in order to encourage these farmers to use their technology, but what if farmer’s resist? I see one potential negative implications as many agricultural jobs will be replaced by this technology. Many of these farms are family owned with deep rooted generational traditions in the farming industry. Many farmers plan on hiring their children and have a few employees that work for them. It begs me to ask the question- does this technology replace human employment? If so, I think farmers may find it very difficult to adopt. To this point, I wonder what the American Farm Bureau’s take on this technology is? As the leading organization of farmers in the U.S. I would think that John Dere must get buy-in from the Bureau before it makes any big decisions regarding the progression of the technology [2]. Although operations and profits may be positively affected by this technology, what about the millions of jobs that could be lost world-wide? Where do all these people go? In class we talked about how we must adopt to the environment and become more skilled- Artur mentioned that people must begin working for companies that are developing the technology. These are highly technical jobs that require years of experience and eduction. Farming skills do not seem to translate well into tech innovation skills.

United States agriculture is estimated to be a $400 billion industry. The global agriculture industry generates close to $2.4 trillion. Around the world, the farming industry employs nearly 40% of the population; the World Bank puts the food and agriculture sector at about $4.8 trillion[1]. 40% of the world’s population depends on farming to live! These numbers are enormous. As technology is adopted across many industries, including farming, it is the companies (John Deere’s) responsibility to ensure the advances are not having negative implications on the happiness and lives of its users and the industries they are affecting. I am all for technological advances, especially in industries that could use it, but at what cost? If the cost is higher unemployment, more dependence on the federal government for assistance, and higher economic inequality (a larger disparity in the distribution of wealth), then it might not be the best idea to allow this technology to be deployed.


On November 20, 2016, Craig Ballard commented on Zillow: Has not yet broken the broker model :

Fantastic post! One of your recommendations is: “The business model should pivot to a subscription model, where buyers and sellers pay to use the platform and its services, perhaps with a small commission to Zillow for successful transactions.” It seems as if this would be a lot harder in practice because of the competitive landscape of the industry. Other sites like and also offer the same information to customers that Zillow does. Because of the ease at which users can use both Zillow and competitors platform, it becomes an issue of multi-homing. If Zillow were to start charging customers for the service, I think consumers would immediately switch to use of the other providers. In order for this to be successful, all three of the big players would need to be on board. Furthermore, the relative price for these services has already been set at $0. Customers expect to get these services for free! To change user behavior/psychology would be very difficult unless Zillow can find additional offerings to make it worth it for consumers.

Another concern is that is actually owned by the National Association of Realtors[1]. The largest and most powerful organization in the residential broker industry, the NAR is an organization that is subscribed to by every residential real estate agent nationwide. The organization’s sway over the use of MLS information is one of my greatest concerns going forward. If Zillow ceased to have access to the MLS, it would no longer be able to offer up to date property information.

One rub point I see with Zillow and residential real estate agents is with the clients. A potential client accesses Zillow, finds all the information they need about their own home, including a valuation. This client calls the real estate agent whose ad(which they paid a lot of money for) popped up right next to their home information and set up a meeting. The agent comes to the house to have a meeting with a valuation of the home (based on market comps and other variables that Zillow can’t track). The potential buyer, because of Zillow’s algorithm and digitial valuation method, has their own idea of the value of the house. This potential discrepancy is a huge friction point between the agent and the client, and it was all caused by the company that put the two together, Zillow[2]. If Zillow wants to firm up its value prop to both sides of the deal, it really needs to look into compiling owner-specific information. For example, as you stated in your post, a remodel that the current owner of the home completed or a possible retrofitting that was completed on the property.

[2] CEO of ABC Real Estate (California Real Real Estate Brokerage. Personal Interview. Nov 30 2016

On November 20, 2016, Craig Ballard commented on Citi: Banking on a digital future for financial services :

Thank you for your great post, Ben! You speak about the competitive threat of complete online banks (no brick and mortar). Historically (in the last 10 years) these banks have not caught on as quickly as I think most people believed they would. There is a Chinese bank out of California called Tomato Bank that comes to mind- The firm I was with previously made a private placement investment in the company at its conception. The bank was able to gain investor traction early on due to a thesis based on digitization and the ability for small internet banks to disrupt large players like Citi. After three years, the bank nearly crumbled as consumers were not as excited about complete digitization of banking. The firm was able to recover and is still in existence but it was not the homerun everyone thought it would be. I still believe fully digitized banks will have the ability to capture a large share of the market in the future. I continue to believe that Tomatobank was 20 years too early to the game. As Millennials begin to make more money and represent more total bank deposits, internet banking will become more popular. As banks cut operating expenses by closing down more of their brick and mortar (Citi approach), they will be able to offer higher rates to clients- a huge value proposition[1]. The key for larger banks will be balancing their online presence for a younger generation with the brick and mortar stores for older generation clients. I believe that finding that perfect balance and adjusting accordingly will be a huge challenge for Citi going forward. Although I believe the balance will be necessary, because of the nature of banking, I do not believe our world will ever move to a completely digital banking industry. The industry still requires personal touch points. For example, when getting a mortgage for a house, customers still want very specialized personal attention. I believe that taking someone through the process of getting a loan would be very difficult to do online or over the phone. On the banking side, I would imagine that managers would want to meet clients face to face in order to get a good judgement of credit worthiness.

Billy brings up a very interesting point (comment above). He states that in his experience he has seen great customer service as a client of the USAA completely digital banking system. I would love to speak further with him and you as I believe this is online banking’s biggest challenge. It takes tremendous trust for customers to give an organization their money. I personally believe it is nice to know there is a brick and mortar store that I can go to if for some reason something happens and I have a question, concern, etc… The customer psychology behind this will be very difficult to change going forward. I believe that banking is one industry that still requires human touch points and I don’t see it ever becoming completely digitalized in our lifetime.


On November 20, 2016, Craig Ballard commented on Rolls-Royce: Embracing IoT on a wing and a prayer :

Great article, Mitch! I find this subject very fascinating- especially the idea of using technology to achieve real time feedback on flight efficiency. One of your recommendations was for RR to, “investigate the potential of mid-air feedback to pilots who are aren’t optimizing engine performance.” With a 1% reduction in fuel usage leading to $250,000/plane/year, this technology could prove to be very impactful on an airline’s bottom line. United Airlines for example has a fleet size of 724. That 1% reduction in fuel usage would lead to $181 million in savings/year[1]. Mid-air feedback would be very helpful to pilots, but I also believe that airlines would want to incentivize captains to fly their planes more efficiently. I wonder of the negative implications for optimal engine and fuel usage- could it cause flight times to be longer, impeding on the customer experience? If so, airlines may have issues justifying some of these new initiatives.

Live AVO, I feel like this type of technology could also prove to be a security risk. If RR and Microsoft were to develop this technology, I would imagine that a lot of thought would have to go into making sure the risk of hacking was completely mitigated. Your post encouraged me to do some additional reading on this subject. This article does a great job of explaining the risks of in flight hacking- As a society, we must be cautious as we implement new technological advances that we aren’t opening up new vulnarabilities to our safety in the process.


Thank you for your great post, Francisco! Like Adam, I have very similar concerns of the ETC system. Being from Los Angeles, I definitely believe there is a large benefit of reducing traffic, etc… by implementing the ETC system. I am however concerned about the implications of an application of the technology to enforcing the law. It reminds me of the book 1984, in which the government becomes overly-invasive in the lives of its constituents. I do however understand that there are positive implications of safety for those driving on the roads. In this regard, I believe society must find a balance between government invasiveness and government’s responsibility to protect inalienable rights- one of those being safety. Some argue, and I agree, that things like cameras and the potential use of ETC to issue speeding tickets is less intrusive than a traditional encounter with a police officer. Many argue that a police stop is a “seizure” or a temporary deprivation of liberty- It is a lot more invasive than say getting a ticket in the mail. I do like the government using ETC technology to enforce certain traffic laws but I do feel at a certain point (perhaps enforcing curfew laws with cameras) there may be over reach.

I found this article by a University of California Los Angeles Law School Professor to be particularly useful when thinking through your blog post and possible future implications-

On November 7, 2016, Craig Ballard commented on Time for Marriott to ‘Check-in’ to Climate Change :


It is interesting you bring up the LEED certification process. See my above comment for more info but the problem becomes Marriott as a management company trying to convince owners/investors to take the extra cost of building or rehabbing properties to be LEED certified. This is a huge undertaking as it costs 8%-12% more in construction to fit the LEED criteria.

On November 7, 2016, Craig Ballard commented on General Motors: Navigating the Road to a Sustainable Future :

Great post, Jordan! I really like your take on the two threats- regulatory and competitive. As far as the regulatory piece goes, I had no idea that the car industry was regulated so heavily. The competitive piece makes me think one thing, Tesla. Tesla has done such an incredible job in this space of appealing to the high-end segment with the introduction of the model S. That will only trickle down to even more robust market share when the model 3 ( officially hits the market. This, combined with the very weak showing (7,641 units sold in 2015) of the Volt, makes me believe that GM has some work to do.

I am very impressed with the perfect CDP score that GM received on data disclosure. This is remarkable! It is nice to see, especially with the controversy of VW this past year, a car company being fully transparent with respect to its carbon footprint. As I compare GM to other companies I have read about in this exercised, I am convinced that the firm is truly doing everything in its power to reduce its carbon footprint. The world is going electric, and if GM can’t find market share it may not exist in the long run.

It would be interesting to be able to quantify the affect of President Obama’s speech at the State of the Union last year on the electric car industry. I find it interesting that there was such a surge in electric car development and plans of development after the speech. President Obama has talked about global warming legislation in the form of a variant of cap-and-trade laws since taking office. I wonder if this “threat of regulation” has also been a key driver in GM’s sustainability efforts.

Fantastic Post! Coming from the real estate industry myself I find this very interesting. All of the risks that you laid out are exactly what Related must be thinking about when doing their diligence on their Miami projects. Related is mostly building condominiums in Miami which means they are selling them to customers who take a lot of the risk (you mention this in your article from a demand risk perspective). BUT, Related is still on the hook as the developer long after the project is all sold out. Most states across the country require a 10 year minimum complete warranty on projects. A lot of projects (especially in Miami) can be 5-10 years just to plan, develop and complete. That means when these deals are being underwritten, they are looking 20 years out on the “global-warming” risk. With the rate at risk global temperatures are changing, this could prove to be detrimental at some point to Related’s development strategy.

I also wonder how Related is approaching the LEED (environmentally sustainable buildings) certification of their buildings. I would imagine that they would take an aggressive approach to building LEED certified, as they are doing a lot of development in an area of the world that could very well be hit hard by the negative affects of global warming. After looking at their website ( however, it doesn’t look like they are pushing for more LEED certified projects- most real estate developers heavily pushing the initiative are very quick to publicize it on websites, etc… Related is most likely not pushing it because these projects typically cost 8%-10% more in construction. This can be a lot of money when talking about a $100 million project with potential investors.The biggest thing we grappled with at my last firm was finding the benefit of additional cost in building LEED Certified. I wish it were easier to justify it- Especially when running the risk of global warming putting your whole project “under water”!!!

On November 7, 2016, Craig Ballard commented on Coca-Cola – Corporate Greenwashing or Genuine Change? :

Great post, Rajit! I am shocked to learn how incredibly active Coca-Cola has been in its water sustainability initiative. It is refreshing to learn that many of the world’s largest companies (including Coke) are taking measures to reduce their carbon footprint even when not mandated to do so by the government. Your post gave me reason to ask, “what drives Coca-Cola to take a responsible approach to carbon emission and sustainability efforts?” Coca-Cola, one of the largest and most successful companies of all time does not necessarily have to be taking these measures? Is it the threat of future government regulation, the perception by the end user(customers), possibly it is the investors that require Coca-Cola to take this hardline approach? In a perfect world, I believe it would be out of virtue and integrity- a pure desire to want to see a better future world. I wish I could believe that. It would be very interesting to delve deeper into what motivates Coca-Cola. My first thought when it comes to motivation for large companies like Coke is the CDP(Carbon Disclosure Project) score ( This score is used by investors when investing in the business and by organizations like Forbes that do “Best Companies To Work For” awards. So my biggest question is this- when the Board of Coca-Cola has its quarterly meeting and the topic of sustainability comes up do they talk about it from a “The project in India is really helping our perception. Keep up the greenwashing efforts!” Or do they talk about it from a “How else can we continue to truly help our world” angle? I hope it is the latter!

Thank you for your insightful article! I look forward to discussing this topic with you further.

Great piece, David! I really enjoyed learning about an industry (and company) that I know very little about. I am shocked at the extent of Nestle’s initiatives toward reducing its carbon footprint.
One thing that really stood out to me about your post was the recommendation for Nestle to form stronger relationships with governments to help implement some of these policies. When it comes to climate change, I feel like the current approach is (as we discussed in class) a hedge by companies to try to forecast where government regulators are taking the fight on climate change.
With the Kyoto Protocol, the American Clean Energy and Security Act, and other “cap-and-trade” type regulation popping up across Europe, I wonder if the general sentiment between municipalities and private companies has been too contentious- a big brother type of approach. I personally believe that this was the case in the first decade of the 2000’s. From my research, around 2010 there was a tick up in the number of companies that began to take it upon themselves to be more sustainable and carbon-friendly. I fear that a lot of the motivation, however, was due to government pressure and a feeling to “stay ahead of regulation.” I believe you offer and effective “next stage” for the relationship between private organizations and governments- a collaboration between the two to effectively tackle the problem together. I fear that too much of the time it is Government OR Private Companies. Why can’t it be Government AND Private Companies?

On November 7, 2016, Craig Ballard commented on Time for Marriott to ‘Check-in’ to Climate Change :

Great post, Eric! Like you, I believe that Marriott is doing a tremendous job in becoming a more sustainable and responsible company when it comes to its carbon footprint. One thing to consider is the constant friction between Marriott and its owners. One of your recommendations you provided was:
“Enhance sustainable prototype – With less than 4% of its portfolio LEED certified, Marriott should consider re-evaluating its existing prototypes or offering enhanced incentives to developers for achieving LEED certification. These incentives should come in the form of reduced franchise fees, access to financing, or key money”

My one concern with this is convincing owners that this is the best option for them. Unfortunately, most owners are only concerned with one thing, returns. LEED certified construction in the hotel industry costs 8%-12% more than traditional construction. I worry that Marriott will have a very hard time convincing owners to take this additional step. Furthermore, Marriott incentivizing owners to take measures to build LEED certified properties (i.e. more key money, lower franchise fees) seems impractical and could be a tough sale to shareholders and the Board. Financially, I could see it getting to the point where something has to give. I believe that unless regulated by the government, LEED certified construction or rehab might not be at the forefront of the owner’s or Marriott’s mind.