Interesting post! I had recently learned of how Google Maps estimates the travel time, by tracking smartphones, which really scared me. Google Maps has really revolutionized the map, by providing not only easy to read maps but also Street View, satellite photos, and route navigations. As much as I love Google Maps and find it extremely convenient, I do think the way they are using our smartphones to check traffic conditions is not very ethical. This basically shows us that Google can track our everyday movements, including where we live and go to school or work on a daily basis. Although I do believe in Google that they are only using this data to provide accurate forecasting of traffic conditions, I would support them using this data/information to fight crime and do good for society. If this were the case, I would not argue about the lack of openness on Google’s part, and allow for this tracking to continue without our full awareness.
Interesting post Amelia! As others have said, I am too a bit skeptical on the sustainability of this business, from a regulatory perspective. I can easily imagine travelers trying to get away with bringing the goods in undeclared to try and maximize their profits, and creating a big problem.
Also, the process of having to actually go to a store and purchase the goods during the traveler’s free time creates a lot of risks too. What if the traveler suddenly couldn’t make the time for the purchase, or couldn’t find the exact item? The risk of non-deliveries can be quite high. One solution of this could be, to have Airfrov be an intermediary and have the goods be pre-ordered online and sent to the the traveler’s hotel (or call the store to have them hold on to product for pick up on a certain date) , so they can mitigate this risk. In doing so, your market for travelers expands greatly by capturing the travelers with a tighter schedule, which can help in scaling the business.
Great post Cordelia! I wish I had known of this service before moving to the US since I had to make numerous JPY-USD transfers.
TransferWise is really creating value for the customer, by tapping into this space where traditional establishments have been treating their customers unfairly for far too long.
Looking ahead, I like your idea of partnering with a big bank. By getting access to the sheer volume of FX trade orders that these banks accumulate from their corporate clients, it provides liquidity and reduces the risk of a supply and demand mismatch in the long term, as JM mentions.
It is going to be exciting to see how they navigate their way ahead – however they end up, I hope this puts pressure on the banks to come up with a system that better serves its customers in overseas wire transfers.
Thanks for the post BAH! Being a BoA account holder myself, I have been reasonably satisfied with their online banking system, except for the fact that making money transfers to different accounts costs money…
It seems banks try to make money off of any little thing they can think of, but this results in apps like Venmo being widely used because of its convenience and no-fee transactions. As the trend towards cashless payments continue to spread globally, banks need to figure out a way to either compete or acquire these payment apps in order try and find ways to become more convenient – and differentiate themselves from others. The idea of having both physical stores and an internet banking platform is appealing, but can be costly. From a consumer perspective, if being able to make payments or transfer payments for free means eliminating physical stores, I wouldn’t mind. If BoA embarks on as bold a step as this one, it would surely gain popularity and send a strong message of “customer first” to the public.
Interesting post Alex! I always wondered why the trash bins on campus had solar panels on them, but now I know.
I really like the idea of these bins being able to hold 8 times more trash than standard bins. Although there still is some work to do in working with the cities to create a more efficient garbage collection process, this should get better with time as the Bigbelly diffuses to more places within the city.
I also like the idea of turning these bins into wifi hotspots. There should be more creative ideas of how to utilize these bins – one thought that came to mind was having them equipped with emergency telephones, or, leverage their wifi capabilities to allow direct access to emergency help. This could dramatically lower crime in high risk areas, while keeping streets clean at the same time.
Very interesting piece Rafi! I must say, Tesla has really transformed the image of EVs into something that actually looks cool, and people want regardless of their sustainability. However, I personally still think there are some major issues that need to be addressed before becoming the major powertrain of the future, like range anxiety, time it takes to charge (20 mins to charge half by Tesla’s supercharger), and affect it has on the auto industry. The first two issues could be resolved with a dramatic improvement in battery technology, which seems unlikely as industry professionals say there is limited upside to dramatic improvement. The effect on the auto industry, I think, is a serious issue. An EV uses a fraction of the number of parts that go into a gasoline engine or fuel cell vehicle. What this means is that if EVs were to really diffuse, it would wipe out a large portion of auto parts manufacturers, which could damage some major economies (including Japan). Countries will take this into consideration when making a decision on which next generation powertrain hey want to support, and this could become a major roadblock for the wide-spread of EVs. That is why, I believe EVs will eventually secure only a niche portion of the market, and Fuel Cell Vehicles, that don’t have the disadvantages of EVs will become the next major drivetrain for the future.
Lawrence, this is a really interesting topic! I have to say, I never thought of this as an issue – living in the densely populated city of Tokyo, I always envied American homes with a big, well kept lawn, but never thought of the negative effects it had on the environment.
I definitely see the need to develop and commercialize eco-friendly pesticides and fertilizers, and utilizing a piece of earth for the growing of fruits and vegetables to lead a more sustainable lifestyle is great. However, we should also accept the undeniable sense of relaxation and soothing of enjoying a beautiful piece of unoccupied lawn. This may be a bit of a stretch, but I think it’s things like this that makes the experience of growing up and living in the US so precious, and is a part of what makes America the strong nation it is today. I am a strong believer of the environment playing a big part of how one is shaped, and this kind of environment, I think, breeds people with more of an open mind.
Thanks Petey S. for this piece! As we talked in class about the IKEA case, even though I think the sustainability targets that these large organizations make are in part, a marketing campaign, it really does matter since they have a big affect on the environment, both directly and indirectly as leaders of their organization.
Walmart should definitely continue to pursue their aggressive targets, but as the largest retailer in the world, is there anything they can do to fundamentally change change the end-consumer so they will become less wasteful? Living in both Japan and the US, I can say that US retail stores sell more things in bulk (because it’s cheaper), and each bottle or package of goods tend to be much larger – which can relate to more waste. Now this may be because the average American simply consumes more, but what if they provided more things in smaller portions? If Walmart can come out with an strategy to influence more responsible purchasing by the individual, without seriously damaging their P&L, they could take credit for this reduction in waste and dramatically improve the situation in the US.
Thanks for the insightful post! I agree that the airline industry needs to adopt newer and more efficient planes to minimize its contribution to global warming, but also needs to scale back on their first-class and business-class seats too, since they take up more space per person. Although replacing a fleet with new planes don’t happen overnight, and the required capital can be immense, they can utilize “leasing” as an alternative way to procure these aircrafts with minimal upfront costs.
In regards to changing their pricing structure, this again becomes a trade-off for the airline as AA could lose its customers to competitors for charging on weight. That is why I think this requires not only an AA shift, but an industry-wide collaboration to address these issues – including cargo carriers and private jets – the latter probably being the worst in per person efficiency.
Thanks for this MayC! Coming from a country that loves eating fish, I couldn’t help but comment. I must say, I was a bit surprised seeing how popular sushi has become in the US and abroad these past years, and can see why, with the population increase, supply is not keeping up with demand. My old company actually invested $1.6B in a Norwegian salmon farming company 2 years ago, in light of this S/D situation (http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2014/09/22/mitsubishi-to-buy-salmon-producer-for-1-39-billion/?_r=0).
In regards to this company, I think what it’s doing is great. I just think there are a lot of challenges, in addition to regulatory issues, like the long term health effects (if any), effects on the existing ecosystem, and how to enforce correct labeling. The last issue, I think, is extremely important as we are being more and more exposed to illegal mislabeling practices by some companies. However, I do believe there are ways to enforce this and hope we never have to live a day without salmon.