Great post Sam. Interesting to see how digital technology can potentially disrupt an industry like construction. I was thinking of what other industries might benefit from the implementation of Rhumbix’s technology, for example, could a retailer use it to track how efficiently their sales employees are? Or a car manufacturer to optimize productivity at their factories? My gut feeling is that this technology could have a large number of applications, some of them unrelated to construction. If so, Greylock’s investment looks pretty promising. What do you think?
Interesting to learn about how the Daily Mail’s online strategy has evolved over time. As the percentage of readers that “consume” content through online channels increases (vs. print), the question around how to monetize this user base will become more relevant. I found it surprising that you mentioned that a subscription model is “out of the question”. While I agree that making customers pay will deter a number of readers, as long as the content is high quality there should be a user base willing to pay to get access to it. Other publications like The Financial Times, The New York Times and The Economist have opted for this model and been moderately successful (http://aboutus.ft.com/files/2016/03/FT-2015-Results.pdf, http://www.economistgroup.com/results_and_governance/results_at_a_glance.html, http://s1.q4cdn.com/156149269/files/doc_financials/annual/2015/Bookmarked-2015-Annual-Report.pdf). So the question, in my opinion, is how to make sure that the content that the Daily Mail generates online is sufficiently relevant to justify having to pay for it.
Interesting post Michelle. I find it difficult to see how Playboy can dissociate itself from its image as a porn magazine to become a “safe-for-work” read. I wonder how viable that re-positioning really is. Perhaps re-branding could be a way of leaving behind that pornographic heritage.
I do however completely agree with your suggestion around finding the Marilyn Monroe of the 21st century as a way of becoming relevant and increasing awareness among customers. I was thinking of who that might be, someone like Emma Watson maybe..
Interesting post Sam. While I agree that adding streaming services to their offering can act as a hedge for Comcast in the short to medium term, I wonder whether it will remain a source of differentiation in the long run. I would expect other cable providers to add this content to their offering sooner rather than later. When that happens any competitive advantage that Comcast may have built by integrating streaming services into their network, will be eroded. Netflix and other streaming platforms, also have a clear incentive to partner with as many cable providers as possible. So, in the long run I would expect streaming content to be included in every cable provider’s offering rather than act as a differentiating feature.
Great post. My biggest concern with these apps is how they can monetize their user base. As you mention, there is a clear tension between offering access to the platform for free to create a “thick” network and profitability. Hinge’s decision of going for a subscription model I would say is risky given how important network effects are for these apps, especially seeing the increase in competition in the space. Other apps like Bumble, Happn and Tinder have chosen to let users access the platform for free and charge for additional features such as being able to see who has liked your profile, allowing you to extend the time that a connection remains active, and giving the user the ability to “charm” other profiles (which sends that user a notification). By increasing the size of the funnel these apps benefit from the positive network effects that a large user base provides but instead have more difficulty generating revenues from those users. However, given the surge in the number of dating apps available, I would say that creating a large enough user base quickly is critical to ensure the long term viability of any one of them. Perhaps at the expense of short term profitability.
That is definitely true and probably the reason why climate agreements in the past have been somewhat unsuccessful. But this is precisely what makes the Paris agreement such a breakthrough. It is effectively the first time that the two biggest emitters in the world have been able to agree on a common target. While China may have in the past made the argument that they should not be “paying” for the pollution that the west caused, I think they have also realized that climate change is likely to have more damaging effects on them than on the US in terms of climate-led mass migration. And that has led them to agree to the Paris emissions reduction target.
It is also true that in many emerging countries that have a higher percentage of their population living in rural areas that are not connected to the grid, renewable technologies present a much more viable option for electrification. For instance, to get electricity to a small town in the middle of China it is much easier (and cheaper) to build a few solar panels or a windmill next to the town than to embark on a huge infrastructure project to expand the grid so that it will reach them. I think this is also playing a part.
Really interesting post Corina. Being a catholic and coming from a predominantly catholic country which was once a leader in renewable energy generation (Spain), I would have perhaps framed the issue differently. Not so much as the Church seeking to revamp its popularity among the environmentally-conscious millenial generations, but rather as a largely disinterested attempt to raise awareness about climate change among a group that is – as you point out – resistant to the idea that humans can influence climate. To me it has always been surprising how many catholics make a connection between religion and meteorological science! They would argue – in simplistic terms – that because God created Earth, only God can influence something as intrinsic to Earth as its climate. Well, Laudato Si quickly changed that opinion. On the other hand, I have not come across many environmentalists that have become “more catholic” as a result.
Carlos, I think that your post raises an interesting point about the short-term vs. long-term effect of investing in climate change-mitigating initiatives for companies across different industries. As you imply, for Suzano, setting higher standards in terms of FSC certification and seeking for new funding structures could come at a cost in the short-term. However, I completely agree with you, that by doing so they are likely strengthening their long-term competitive position by pre-empting probable future regulatory changes in Brazil. Very much like what we saw IKEA was doing, by getting ahead in the sustainability game, companies like Suzano are much more likely to succeed in a high carbon price and more stringent environmental regulation scenario. Unfortunately a lot of companies are yet to come to that realization.
Interesting to hear about Aramco’s perspective on the issue of climate change. You mention a couple of times that one the of ways through which Aramco plans to minimize (or says so at least) the risk that the trend toward cleaner sources of energy poses, is by investing in the development of renewable energy technologies. How realistic is that? Do you really see Aramco diversifying away from fossil fuel by investing in wind and solar for example? Would they not be cannibalizing their own $2 trillion business?
I think that your post raises another interesting point around the role of the price of oil. In a high oil price scenario investments in certain renewable technologies – such as off-shore wind or biomass – become more attractive. How important of a role do you think that dis-incentivizing investment in these technologies played in Aramco’s decision to sustain a scenario of over-supply in the market? Also, do you think that the Paris agreement and the foreseeable regulatory changes that will come with it are helping keep oil prices low? Or is it a purely supply driven situation?
Great article Alex! I think the Maldive’s situation highlights one of the most worrying aspects of climate change: while economically developed countries are the ones responsible for causing the problem and are better prepared to withstand its consequences, poor countries are likely to suffer most. And the paradox, clearly exemplified in your post, is that developed countries (as well as a number of large emerging economies – China, India and the likes) are the ones most capable of determining whether we, as a society, solve this problem. Small developing countries like the Maldives are not only likely to be hit the hardest by climate change, but their ability to influence it is almost negligible.
That is why I would say that the agreement reached in December last year in Paris was a crucial milestone towards coordinating action against global warming. It was the first time 195 countries ranging from the largest emitters – US and China – to the smallest and most vulnerable – the likes of Maldives – agreed upon a common climate objective. Let’s hope the action that these countries take thereof will be enough to avoid places like the Maldives from disappearing.
Great post. I wonder what the long-term impact of climate change will be on agriculture in Europe. While average temperatures have been increasing over the past few years, a widely held theory suggests that melting ice caps are likely to disrupt the Gulf Stream – known to contribute to Europe’s mild weather – by adding a large volume of cold fresh water to the oceans. There are different versions as to what effect this will have on the continent’s climate. Some scientists believe that Europe could in fact get much colder – some go as far as saying that it could bring about a new ice age. However, a recent study by the University of Sussex, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and the University of California, Berkeley holds that while Europe will continue to warm up, it will do so a slower rate than other parts of the world. This could in fact result in higher yields for a number of crops. It may not be the case for certain types of grapes grown in Bordeaux given their sensitivity to weather conditions, but the overall impact may not be so bad from an agricultural perspective after all – at least for us! That is not to say that climate change is not the biggest challenge that we face as a society: from a social, geopolitical, economic, and even from a moral perspective the need to act now to solve this problem is imperative. Europe should lead the way.
I would argue that while there may be a cost disadvantage in the short-term, in the long-run companies that have operated under the EU ETS will be better off. There is a clear global trend towards implementing carbon pricing schemes and those companies that have started investing in increased energy efficiency – in the case of utilities, in clean sources of energy – early, will have a stronger a competitive position when the cost of carbon increases.
If by this you mean investing in renewables, I don’t think Iberdrola is forced to do so inside or outside of Europe. I would say that they have chosen to invest (both in European markets and outside), among other reasons, to diversify their generation base in anticipation of a hike in the price of carbon.