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On November 20, 2016, Exxon commented on The startup trying to save a media dinosaur :

Thanks for this fascinating post Rob. The dilemma faced by the newspaper industry is a truly daunting one. Blende seems like it offers a very consumer friendly way to get consumers to pay for news content, but I question if their strategy will help with the biggest problem facing the newspaper industry which is the rapid decline of print advertising spend. I’m concerned that allowing consumers to only pay for individual articles would allow advertisers to further squeeze content providers on advertising spend and the industry would continue to struggle. I looked at the NYT and was fascinated to learn that overall subscription revenue is actually up! So the problem that Blende is solving for… falling subscription revenue, may actually not be the key to helping major publishers. The real question is how can news content providers retain the advertising spend that has historically fueled their profitability.

Thanks for this fascinating post Rob. Really interesting to learn about the metrics that are changing the way all basketball players are judged.

My question after reading this post is how do the Rockets attempt to quantify the qualitative aspects of players, like being a good teammate? We often hear that the best teams win because the team is better than the sum of its parts and certain players are great leaders, or great for team chemistry. Are there any metrics that account for this qualitative aspect of team sports? How do the Rockets take less quantifiable aspects of players in to their evaluation of players and do you believe that they are undervaluing the importance of these qualitative aspects?

On November 20, 2016, Exxon commented on Bras in a Digital World :

Hi Avtar! Thanks for this fascinating post about Peach. This seems like an interesting company and the notion of fundamentally changing the shopping experience by adding personalization via online fittings is quite innovative, but I question how practical it is. Beyond the obvious issues of women being uncomfortable having a filmed conversation about their bra size, I question how scalable this idea is. It seems like if this company ever grew you would need a very large force of qualified fitters who could fit a woman by simply looking at them in a vide wearing a t-shirt which seems quite challenging. How does Peach plan to scale these virtual fittings and how do they train these fitters?

On November 20, 2016, Exxon commented on Starbucks: A Technology Pioneer :

Thanks for this very thoughtful post. Its clear from your post that technology has modernized the Starbucks experience, but I’m concerned that the efficiency and technological advances, most notably the mobile ordering and my pay could actually take away from the intimate customer experience that Starbucks hopes to cultivate. Starbucks was built on the idea of creating a coffee shop that helped people relax, contemplate and get away from the craziness of our modern society… will the digitization of Starbucks fundamentally change the feel of the coffee shop? Is there any upside to actually forcing customers to wait and interact with baristas?

On November 20, 2016, Exxon commented on What is the way forward for Coursera? :

Thanks for this fascinating post. The ability of MOOCS to increase access to truly world class education is an exciting frontier. I think the biggest question is how different is a MOOC from a digital textbook? Are these classes really just digitally enhanced textbooks or is there enough interaction between students and teachers to make it an enriching classroom experience?

On November 7, 2016, Exxon commented on Nestlé: Conserving Water as a Strategy to Sell More Water :

Thank you for the very insightful and thoughtful post. I’m curious to know if the actual expense of ground water has gone up significantly in recent years to reflect any of these climate change concerns? Although this is a bit of a heartless way to look at this situation, if Nestle actually owns groundwater or the rights to groundwater could this be viewed as a potential opportunity in the future? As water becomes more scarce is there an opportunity for Nestle to capitalize on owning an appreciating asset?

On November 7, 2016, Exxon commented on Shell: The Impact of Climate Change on an Oil Major :


Thank you for this thoughtful and insightful post. Your experience clearly makes you an expert on this subject. I’m curious to know how Shell has communicated the risk of climate change to its shareholders and how big of a risk they view sustainable energy to their untapped oil reserve investments? If Shell has so much money tied up in fossil fuel reserve investments how committed can they be to creating renewable energy sources which would cannibalize and devalue these untapped reserve assets? They seem to be stuck between a rock and a hard place, where the world is demanding reform, but they are actually pretty heavily invested in a future that still relies heavily on fossil fuels.

On November 7, 2016, Exxon commented on Traveling to Iceland? Perhaps think twice. :


Thanks for this insightful and provocative post! My main question for you is how do you suggest countries like Iceland balance the need to attract tourism for economic growth with the environmental impact all these flights may have? You have clearly articulated the negative effects of tourist air travel, but the importance of the economic stimulus these tourists provide to Iceland and many other small countries cannot be overlooked. In many of the countries most effected by climate change tourism is a crucial part of the economy. If you were the head of Iceland’s tourism bureau or economic department, how would you handle this question? Would you actually be willing to reduce the number of tourists and give up all the stimulus that comes with them?

Thanks for this insightful post! You have done a great job outlining the extreme impact climate change will have on many small, struggling nations in the Caribbean. Do you think these nations have the capital to really make an impact or is their limited capital actually better spent attempting to lobby larger nations (like the U.S.) to advocate for regulations? Put in simpler terms, where do you think these nations can get the best ROI on their investments in climate change prevention?

On November 7, 2016, Exxon commented on Coffee: Hotter is Better, Right? :

Thank you for this insightful post! You note that the effects of climate change could have a real impact on Starbuck’s coffee yield, but has climate change had any effect on their financial results? It would be interesting to know if investors have factored climate change into the valuation of Starbucks? My initial reaction is the actual risk posed to the coffee industry seems pretty minor and Starbucks has little monetary incentive to address climate change in a major way other than from a PR perspective. Do you believe their efforts have had a real impact or is this a corporation looking to appear environmentally conscious to maintain a certain brand image?