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On December 1, 2017, D13 commented on Breaking the walls with 3D printing :

Thank you, Caue for a very interesting article. To me, this reads as GE utilizing an asset light model to circumvent protectionist barriers, which represents a solution that may turn out to have significant drawbacks. The manufacturing industry is predicated on the fact that few players can reach the scale necessary to make this capital intensive business economical. By creating this asset light model, you destroy all the barriers to entry in the space.
As you correctly outline, 3D printing machines are incredibly polyvalent. The transition to a GE asset light model may lead to unintended consequences where clients realize that they are better off investing in those relatively cheap printing machines themselves to use for not only turbine replacement parts, but also all other manufacturing needs that may lend themselves to 3D printing technology. Customers would then only rely on a player like GE for its IP or engineering solutions, as WRK identifies above, and have the capability to produce on site. At that point, what stops them from poaching GE’s engineers to save themselves some external consulting fees? Would this eventually lead to a flurry of engineering consulting firms competing with each other for client business?
I worry that this is the classic example where customers would hold too much power.

Great work!

Thank you, JS for a very interesting article. My initial reaction is to echo much of what the above comments have mentioned, and to express a high degree of skepticism around any serious disruption in the Mexico/US natural gas trade relationship. This surely feels like a true win-win situation that it would not make sense to walk away at this point.

While there is a slim risk of disruption, I want to push back a bit on the mitigation actions that you identified, should NAFTA completely come to an end. With my limited understanding of the situation, the suggestion around ETP setting up a Mexican subsidiary seems it would be unfruitful at first glance. The assets would still be in place, and the cross-border trading would still have to occur under the new status quo.

Pushing for increased geographic presence within the US would seem like the most obvious manner to mitigate the situation, however as Grant correctly identified, the viability of this strategy would be put in question if NAFTA falls apart given a new equilibrium that would render certain operations unprofitable.

This is great work on a subject that can truly change lives. Thank you for that. After reading the article, I cannot help but to wholeheartedly agree with Sasha’s comment regarding your final question. While Zipline represents an elegant solution to last mile delivery in the healthcare space, I do not think that it should become the main answer to the problem. Traditional infrastructure can and should complement it. I believe that in an ideal long run scenario, the use of Zipline should be limited to emergency type situations, with the assumption that traditional road infrastructure can achieve scale in a way that is impractical for drone deliveries.

Traditional infrastructure also come with tremendous positive externalities, and a powerful ability to connect areas that now seem remote. With traditional infrastructure, comes better access to food, education, and other basic needs that could further contribute to the well-being of populations in seemingly remote areas.

One final thought is that while I maintain that investments in traditional infrastructure are not mutually exclusive, they may actually end up reducing the need to rely on technologies like drone deliveries. Regardless, I would be curious to observe how the situation evolves over time.

Great work!

On November 30, 2017, D13 commented on Climate Change and Chocolate – Not so Sweet :

When it comes to the sustainability of the world supply of cocoa, I do think that the main issues have been identified in this article as well as in DCS’s comment: climate change and crop diseases. While, one can always make an argument as to why an organization could be doing more, I think that Mondolez is adequately doing its part. In addition to its direct initiatives, Mondelez is an integral part of CocoaAction an initiative stemming from the World Cocoa Foundation, which also regroups players such as Cargill or Nestle (http://www.worldcocoafoundation.org/about-wcf/cocoaaction/). The importance of having a group dedicate its time to sustainability in the space is primordial, particularly given the fact that 70% of the supply is grown in Africa by fragmented groups of farmers who may not otherwise have the adequate level of foresight. One important ongoing battle is against the Swollen Shoot virus, which is destroying 15% of the yearly global production (https://www.confectionerynews.com/Article/2017/11/23/CocoaAction-Is-chocolate-industry-sustainability-push-working). Let’s hope that together, these industry leaders can make a difference for what Ivorians call the “brown gold”.

Interesting article about how a very current/relevant technology can potentially affect the food supply chain. While in my opinion, this represents an elegant demand side solution, I do think there are smart contract applications to the supply side as well, particularly in developing countries where infrastructure and payments are underdeveloped. If implemented at scale, smart contracts can allow an end consumers to purchase raw materials directly from farmers (“the owner of a small café can purchase coffee seeds directly from a Kenyan farmer”, https://cointelegraph.com/news/growing-the-garden-how-to-use-blockchain-in-agriculture). This would allow farmers in developing economies who rely on large organizations to sell their production (such as the Coffee Cocoa Board in Cote d’Ivoire – http://www.conseilcafecacao.ci/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=77:coffee-cocoa-board) to cut the middlemen, and improve their economic conditions, if they are willing to do so.
While I do believe such solutions can increase transparency on the supply side as well, questions remain about the potential use of the eventual cryptocurrencies that farmers would receive.

Thank you, Maha for doing some work around a company that truly has a global impact on food supply. I strongly agree that Cargill could be a lot more aggressive on developing targets, particularly on renewable energy. It seems like they are actively trying to move forward on that front by involving governments in developing economies, where energy demand far exceeds supply. A Cargill plant has recently partnered with the Ghanaian government to develop a 764 MWh solar solution (http://www.prnewswire.co.uk/news-releases/cargill-takes-steps-to-modernize-renewable-energy-infrastructure-in-ghana-661044483.html). While this is impressive, Cargill operates in 70 countries (https://www.cargill.com/page/worldwide), and I suspect that taking the government collaboration approach will allow the Company to far exceed its current targets.