Florentine Lefty

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Interesting post, Jake. I hadn’t realized that HBO Now was a different offering than HBO Go. Although I certainly agree with your points 2 (increased spending on programming) and 3 (children’s content) in your action plan, point 1 does concern me a little. Based on the numbers your provided, its hard to see how HBO could get away with lowering the price for Now to $10.99 without also lowering the price for its cable sub or significantly cannibalizing its revenue. Given that Now could probably be streamed to the TV through a number of devices as Netflix is, there wouldn’t be much reasons for anyone to subscribe to HBO through cable networks. Perhaps that isn’t the worst thing, but I think its still a risky move. Do you think HBO should abandon its legacy strategy of delivering through cable networks and try to transition its subscriber to Now? If HBO did do this, the pricing strategy could make sense as it wouldn’t have to share 50% of its revenue with the networks. Ultimately it depends how easy it is to get customers to transition from cable subs to Now subs.

Great post on an interesting topic, Zach. I’ve also seen many of the headlines this year about the decline in NFL TV ratings and have been trying to understand why. There are two potential reasons I’ve come across. Some analysts have said that the introduction of more London-based games (which typically start around 9:30 am ET) has alienated some fans and drawn criticism. From what I have read, its being attributed to the fact that the NFL is now trying to own all of Sunday, not just afternoon and evening, and fans simply cannot commit to 12-14 hours of football viewing. The other possibility, which I find true in my own experience, is the growth in popularity of NFL RedZone. I find that the only games I watch anymore are the ones of my team, and the rest of the time I just watch RedZone – which has no commercials and therefore is much more difficult to monetize due to the lack of ad revenue. Sometimes I wonder if I’d actually enjoy going back to the pre-RedZone days more.

On November 20, 2016, Florentine Lefty commented on Netflix & Chill :

Nice post Ferg. Two thoughts / comments come to mind here as a Netflix subscriber myself. The first is, how do you think about VR and 3D, which to me is a consumption method question of individual / headset (VR) vs. communal / social / living room (3D)? I think VR will eventually become important, but as you said, thinking about broader culture, Netflix feels to me like a company whose content should not be consumed individually, but rather in a group / couple / family setting. To that end, I might recommend a focus o 3D before VR. The second thing that comes to mind when I think Netflix is the necessity for a strong internet connection to stream content. For years I’ve been hoping that Netflix would release a Spotify-like download capability (even if limited to no more than X hours at a time) to allow me to consume content on-the-go, or on a plane, etc. without the need for a constant connection in order to stream. I think that would increase to customer value-prop and allow Netflix to continue its rapid growth.

On November 20, 2016, Florentine Lefty commented on Burberry: Digitizing the Trench :

Thanks for the post Irene. I think its very interesting how Burberry is trying to link its social media presence directly to sales. I had not even heard of the Twitter “buy now” button until this post. I’m curious as to how successful some of these attempts have been – I wonder how many consumers can truly purchase such an expensive item / brand in a seemingly spontaneous social way. I think the Burberry Bespoke is very interesting as well – I agree that this will be a major trend with the next generation of shoppers. We see it a lot with men’s clothing as “made to measure” has become very common at increasingly affordable price points. Company’s like Alton Lane, MySuit and Suit Supply specialize in this type of thing, however, they do it primarily in an unbranded way. As more companies enter the made-to-measure / bespoke market, it will be interesting to see how brands can protect their value – as a made to measure consumer myself, I tend to think about purchases more on a quality of fabric and construction than brand level.

On November 20, 2016, Florentine Lefty commented on EA: The Next Generation for Video Games :

Thanks for sharing Rob. I actually think in the time since it was first released, consumers have become much more used to additional in-game purchases. Call of Duty has been doing this for years with “map packs”. EA has done this with their Ultimate Team game modes as well. I agree that EA will need to adapt to an evolving world of VR and that will significantly impact their future. I also agree that sports games may be harder to adapt to VR and that it will certainly be core to the Company’s continued success.

On November 7, 2016, Florentine Lefty commented on Vote with Your Wallet and Race to the Top :

Kent, thank you for sharing an interesting topic. Chris’ article on Patagonia and brands like Starbucks are other examples that consumers are clearly willing to pay a premium for products, brands, and companies that deliver on sustainability and market that successfully. However, I think it will be very difficult for Pepsi to implement such a strategy as effectively for a couple of reasons. First, Pepsi operates a number of brands, each of which is largely marketing independently. Second, I would argue that Pepsi and its brands tend to be “mass” products within the “consumer staple” sector – premium pricing may be difficult here. While I do not think these two facts will preclude Pepsi from making positive sustainability investments, I fear that for the time being, they may be unwilling to pursue opportunities that do not return a requisite financial gain on their investments.

On November 7, 2016, Florentine Lefty commented on Hunger in the time of climate change :

Saksham, thank you for your post, this is a topic I’ve been interested in for years. A couple incremental thoughts and observations. As you mentioned, the scarcity of food is going to not only be exacerbated by climate change and weather patterns, but also by a rising global population that will put increasing stress on the system. Water, food, and population are all intricately linked as one might expect – but another element of this is that livestock, which serves as food for humanity, also consume a disproportionate amount of water. I came across a TED talk a couple years back on a Company called Modern Meadows – I recommend taking a look at it (I think the stat they have in the video is that in order to sustain a global population of 10 billion, we will require 100 billion animals / livestock). The Company started by trying to find ways to 3D print synthetic leather that had the same look and feel of the real thing. From there, they are trying to do so with meat. I think their technology, and others like it, could have a huge impact on this global issue in the future.

On November 7, 2016, Florentine Lefty commented on The Education of a Reluctant Businessman :

Chris, thank you for sharing. I find myself going to Amazon to order the book you so glowingly and implicitly recommended. I myself am an avid consumer of Patagonia wear, especially the vests and nano puff jackets that are SF resident staples. I like to think of Patagonia as a great proof of concept – clearly their consumers are willing to pay a premium for a product they know has been produced with the utmost integrity. Its also a great example of a business who’s mission, consumer, and actions are totally aligned. I’m surprised that I had never actually heard of “Worn Wear”. That leads me to agree with you on wanting to see them do more, and perhaps advertising “Worn Wear” and the mission some more. (Unrelated, I just went to the website and it looks like they are giving their employees the day off to go vote).

Zach, interesting post here. I hadn’t thought about the link between climate change, amateur sports, and the long-term health of the NFL’s business, but I certainly remember playing football in school and hearing about collapses at practices across the south. While I agree that if the NFL takes this seriously they can curb their own use at stadiums (like the 49ers), that might have less potential impact than some more aggressive avenues. NFL owners consist of some of the wealthiest individuals in the country, many of whom own or manage outside businesses. Furthermore, each stadium is named by a sponsoring company, and the NFL may have one of the strongest marketing and PR machines in the nation. If the NFL and its owners took a stance and promised to enact sustainability measures beyond just their teams and stadiums, but also in their outside business interests, and ultimately demanded that all sponsors have similar initiatives, they could have a much more drastic impact.

Danny, thank you for sharing. I totally agree with your perspective here that energy companies, especially those in coal, need to start diversifying their portfolios. While coal may certainly be on the decline domestically, it is unfortunate that on a global level, consumption is estimated to be largely flat through 2040 (per Exxon global demand projections). Murray Coal would undoubtedly benefit from diversifying into natural gas as did Black Hills, however, that in theory is a shorter term solution than foraying directly into renewable sources like solar, as you alluded to. Given the recent explosion of investment behind natural gas fracking, it has become relatively crowded and competitive. I’d argue that it would actually be more prudent for Murray to start investing directly in renewable energy from the outset and be one of the first traditional energy producers to foray into that space aggressively. Murray Coal generated $200M of operating cash flow in 2015 and paid out $152M in dividends. While this may be great for short term investor returns, if the Company wants to survive in the new world of energy, perhaps those dividends should be cut and re-invested in new sources of energy.