Johnny Appleseed

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On November 20, 2016, Johnny Appleseed commented on April Fool’s joke or dash buttons taking over your home? :

Like Rudi Gassner, Amazon wants to turn off your brain when you walk into your house. It is incredible to me that Amazon is able to so successfully make people think they can’t live without this type of technology. The thing is, with this dash button, the jury is still out with whether or not this is a product people really want/need.

As noted in one Time article [1], the reason many people became Amazon users in the first place is because of its lowest prices. By blindly buying these products now with the push of a button, consumers have no idea how or if prices have changed or if they are even getting the best value. As one user stated about the dash button, “if I have to check on the price every time, it’s not actually saving me time.” And this is why I think this product is going to fail to gain mass adoption in the long run. As soon as a user, such as the one listed above from the Time article finds that her 12-pack of Gatorade went from $9 for one order to $22 for the next, there is the real likelihood that users will not only stop blindly using this dash product, but Amazon may also destroy the goodwill it has so hard to generate [1].

For now, I will stick to getting coupons from the circulars… I have no shame in clipping a few coupons and saving myself $5-$10 on some things by making sure I am getting the best price. Based on my -$100k income as an HBS student and Spangler’s generous unsubsidized meal prices of $8-10 for a sandwich, I can take the extra 2 minutes to make sure that Amazon isn’t ripping me off on Tide.


On November 20, 2016, Johnny Appleseed commented on McDigital or McDoomed? :

Anisa – I appreciate your writing about subject matter so near and dear to my heart. I am glad to hear that McDonald’s is working on remembering preferences with these kiosks, which should help further cut down one wait times. Having used these kiosks saving preferences would make the experience even better. I would assume people are more uncomfortable waiting in line to place their order than to wait for the order to be prepared. Even if McDonald’s can’t prepare the food faster, hopefully these kiosks will help with customers’ perception of waiting time.

John Hintze touched on this, but I was going to ask if McDonald’s has considered taking the ordering process even a step further by creating an app and using beacon technology to sense as soon as someone drives into a McDonald’s parking lot and then prompting them to place their saved order. This way the order is in the system even before they get out of the car. It will make it harder and less likely for a customer to leave if there is a line, but at least they will know there meal is already being prepared.

On November 20, 2016, Johnny Appleseed commented on 100 Paper Cases … 2 Online Challenges: HBS in the Digital Age? :

Angelo – Thanks for this post. A few other comments touched on this, but as a consumer of the HBS MBA program (as we all are), I feel the value of our degree is being greatly diluted and eroded by the behavior of Harvard to prioritize profits through churning students through its Executive Education and CORe programs. Given the $200k cost of our education (not including the opportunity cost of likely $100-$400k for many of us), I think it is very unfortunate that somehow when +10,000 “students” per year are being churned through these other Exec. Ed. programs they are receiving the same Harvard degrees and alumni status as those of us who are enrolled full-time for 2yrs in the HBS MBA program. Currently, 15 Exec. Ed. programs grant full alumni status [1]. While these programs may make the administration smile with the incremental income they are generating for the school, I would really like to know how the administration thinks we should feel as those who went through the agonizing process of GMATs, applications, tuition costs, opportunity costs and 2yrs of full time education, just to come out the other end of this process only to be walking by Baker library and have someone introduce themselves as a HBS alum (and smugly tell me how HBS and the world of business works) because they just finished up the Exec. Ed. program. I for one can tell you that it doesn’t make me feel very good…


On November 20, 2016, Johnny Appleseed commented on Robots vs. Truckers :

KR – Thanks for this article. I agree there has been significant progress in autonomous trucks and that within our lifetime I easily believe driverless trucks will be commonplace. I appreciate your concern and acknowledgement of the impact to jobs from driverless trucks. However, according to the American Trucking Associations in 2015 alone there was a driver industry shortage of almost 50,000, which is actually expected to balloon to ~175,000 drivers by 2024 [1]. (see the chart in the link for source 1 which can’t be pasted in this comment). Given this shortage, even if driverless trucking becomes more prevalent over the next decade, how big of an impact do you actually believe there will be to jobs in the trucking industry since this technology will be filling a clear void in the system?


On November 20, 2016, Johnny Appleseed commented on Electronic Toll Systems: Connectivity, Convenience, and . . . Collections? :

Phil – Thanks a lot for sharing this post. As you point out, one of the keys to success here is on the collection side. I have some exposure to the electronic tolling systems. The adoption of EZPass by drivers is going to be a crucial component of realizing the cost saving efficiency of switching to electronic tolling. The MassDOT is lucky that EZPass is so prevalent and highly adopted on the East Cost. There is limited training required for drivers to realize that these roads are not free just because there isn’t a physical toll booth. In other parts of the country where electronic tolling is newer and primarily done through a pay-by-plate system, the results have been a disaster for those roads because collections are so hard [1]. In fact, from personal experience with one pay-by-plate toll bridge I worked with in Virginia, they do not even bother sending invoices to cars with out of state plates. Being a first mover with electronic tolling without local experience or expectations around tolling can make for a lot of lost collections. However, I think given the prevalence of EZPass in the area, MassDOT should be net better off with electronic tolling.


On November 7, 2016, Johnny Appleseed commented on Wait, Why Waste Waste? :

Thanks for this posting and background on WM’s efforts. I can tell you from personal experience that the waste industry absolutely hates recycling. They don’t do it by choice, they do it because they are required to, generally by local regulation. In fact most waste businesses will tell you that recycling is actually environmentally inefficient in many instances, especially glass. Even WM’s CEO, David P. Steiner, stated in one article that “there’s a crisis to confront” if we unquestioningly believe that recycling is great for the planet [1]. Also, the hauling fleet conversion to natural gas really was a play on energy prices, not environmental sustainability. Lastly, these landfills naturally produce methane gas as the waste decomposes. Many landfills actually flair their methane rather than sell it because it can be so dirty that the costs and cleaning required to make it salable do not make the economics worth the trouble.


On November 7, 2016, Johnny Appleseed commented on Let Them Eat Lobster! :

I appreciate this article since I really enjoy lobster. I don’t expect to live to 2100, but I am a concerned consumer. I agree with others that I think Luke’s is conflating its responsible sourcing with sustainable sourcing. This is a huge misrepresentation to its customers. If Luke’s really wants to take more sustainable action, it should actually move towards aquaculture farming and sustainably growing its own lobsters. The advantage of this is two-fold: 1) Luke’s would actually be doing what it says it is doing by sustainably growing its own lobsters, and 2) Luke’s can actually almost completely ensure the quality and safety of its lobsters for its patrons if it farms its own lobsters in a closed aquaculture ecosystom – there won’t been any pollution or unknowns in the lobsters’ feed or environment. In general, consumers tend to think that wild fish and seafood is fresh and safe, when in fact you have no idea what environment that seafood has been living in or what pollution it may have consumed or been exposed to.

If you want to pass this along to Luke’s, I was able to quickly google a 5 step set of instructions for how they can make their own aquaculture farm.

Thanks for this informative posting. Clearly the world is changing fast not only environmentally but also technologically. Given the challenges of not only transporting but also storing LNG, do you believe that LNG will continue to be an economically viable fuel source for consumers vs. other fueld sources? There is significant competition from other energy forms that can be more easily transported and require lower capital costs. Has the shipping industry’s perspective on the economic business potential for LNG transportation changed in the last few years given low energy costs and constant technological advancements? Thanks

On November 7, 2016, Johnny Appleseed commented on Hearing the Cry of the Orangutans: Unilever and Sustainable Palm Oil :

Thank you very much for this informative article. I knew little about palm oil prior to reading this but based on my personal experience trying to buy palm oil once I am very surprised that Unilever is as large of a consumer of palm oil as it is without being a more critical purchaser. Last year I tried to buy palm oil at a Safeway grocery store for a new recipe I was trying. When I wasn’t able to find it in the store, I googled the product and found out that many grocery stores such as Safeway are forcing their suppliers to switch over to 100% sustainably sourced palm oil because of these exact environmental issues you outlined. . It is clear though that many of the largest corporate purchasers of palm oil can be doing more. Thanks.

On November 7, 2016, Johnny Appleseed commented on Maker’s Mark: Seeing the Forest for the Trees :

Angelo – Thank you very much for this post. I had never thought about the sustainability initiatives that bourbon producers might be taking. When I first started reading your post, I expected that Maker’s Mark would have substantially figured out how to be a fully sustainable producer, given that they are the leader in sustainable bourbon production. As you pointed out, there is quite a lot left to be done with closing this environmental gap. Do you know if Maker’s Mark intends to get to a net-zero environmental footprint, and if so how? Thanks.