• Alumni

Activity Feed

Thank you for the insightful post on what I believe to be one of the biggest (and most contentious) issues facing our country at the moment. As you are aware, the margins in food production are quite low and the historical reliance on lower cost labor is now putting many US domiciled companies at risk due to competitive disadvantage. While the human consequences of this hardline immigration policy are clearly palpable and upsetting, I side with Alejandro in his response, that the net-impact of this legislation will be negative for US Food production as a whole. I therefore think this immigration policy is short-sighted, immoral, inherently Un-American, and most importantly, dangerous.

On December 1, 2017, Darius commented on The post-Brexit hangover: One big headache for Diageo :

I found your post very insightful and relevant given my interest in the effects of Brexit on global markets and publicly traded companies. Indeed, Diageo was one of the more vocal companies in voicing its concerns about Brexit, and as you concisely delineated was impacted negatively in many ways. This being said, Diageo also benefited from Brexit in that the depreciation of the British Pound helped fuel greater profits in overseas sales (Source: https://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/brexit-bonanza-diageo-weak-pound-leads-surge-profits-revenue/1440630). I therefore wonder how the longer term likelihood for depreciation in the British Pound (particularly in the event of a “Hard-Brexit”) might adversely impact Diageo’s profitability.

On December 1, 2017, Darius commented on Starbucks: the rise of mobile orders :

Terrific post Sahael. I have witnessed firsthand the inefficiencies and disruption of this new mobile ordering platform, as the demand becomes less predictable and drinks build up. This being said, I have also benefitted from the online ordering platform, and find it a convenient way to bypass the ordinary lines that are expected around peak times.

Beyond these two anecdotal points, I share your concern with the blanket strategy of implementing a digital platform without thoroughly considering the implications. This being said, I also see the digital platform as a great asset, particularly as it is a source of very valuable data. I wonder if Starbucks will seek to monetize this data more accurately going forward as they likely can predict when and what specifically a particular customer wants. For example, they may be able to employ predictive analytics to better cross sell items and promotions at Starbucks and more optimally route customers to the store at less busy times.

Pranjal this was a brilliant piece that is incredibly apropos in this day and age, particularly as Amazon is perceived as an industry leader on the forefront of digitalization and innovation. Your assessment of the importance of picking the right battle vis a vis ambitious projects versus value add is at the core of the debate around Amazon’s near-term profitability and growth prospects.

While I am confident Amazon will continue to innovate along the spectrum of supply chain, logistics, and digitalization, I am skeptical of several factors that were not explicitly addressed in your piece. More specifically, there is growing political concern around the anti-trust and monopolistic threat that Amazon poses as it continues to grow, and I wonder how this may disrupt or stymie future innovation. Clearly, the current administration in the U.S has vocally criticized Amazon, and I wonder how a concrete political agenda against the company may manifest over the coming years. As you say, we may just have to wait and see!

On November 30, 2017, Darius commented on Monsanto’s Battle for the Future of Farming :

This was an excellent post on a truly pressing issue that I have spent some time on in my prior investing role looking at the Ag Chem space. Monsanto is more acutely focused on the impact of climate change on Agriculture than many of its peers; and the string of acquisitions the company has pursued, coupled with their continued innovation is clear evidence of this commitment.

This being said, I wonder if the merger with Bayer will derail this strategic focus, particularly as Bayer looks to divest many assets to consummate the deal. What is more, with looming anti-trust issues delaying the merger (Source: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-monsanto-m-a-bayer-review/bayer-says-antitrust-reviews-going-into-unimaginable-depths-idUSKBN1DT155) many innovative projects within Monsanto have been put on temporary-hold. And while investors and public markets may be unhappy with the delays, the clear loser is the environment as innovation is pushed out pending deal closure.

This was a very insightful essay that is near and dear to my heart as an avid coffee aficionado. I strongly agree that Starbucks – as the largest purchaser of coffee beans – has a responsibility to set the standards for sustainability and that innovative solutions (like bio-engineering more sustainable coffee beans) are necessitated.

While Starbuck’s immense supply chain is predicated on 300,000 growers, I wonder if the incremental costs – for example, pushing more sustainable bean production – that Starbucks would pass on to these growers will be viable longer-term. My concern arises from the fact that the largest coffee producing geographies are Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia, Indonesia and Ethiopia – all of which are developing countries with pronounced economic sensitivities in the farming communities (Source: National Coffee Association). I therefore think that Starbucks would likely have to eat much of the incremental costs associated with sustainably sourced beans, and I wonder if the company’s public investors would support thinning margins (particularly as Starbuck’s growth prospects begin to wane globally).