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On November 20, 2016, LS commented on Smart City of Dreams :

Great post! The idea of a smart city is very interesting. This article seems to suggest that we are wasting energy just because we do not have full information about how we are using available energy sources. It is great to see that Silver Spring is tackling the problem from two angles – 1) energy source and 2) energy usage. I normally think about energy conservation as being driven by #1 and changing the types of energy we use. Silver Spring seems to be tackling the whole picture starting with energy usage which is a fascinating approach to the challenge.

That GIF is amazing and leads me to think that in addition to the convenience factor of a Roomba there is also a subtle entertainment factor. Partnerships and integration do seem critical to the Roomba’s success especially in the broader context of the connected home. I wonder if iRobot has thought about expanding outside of vacuums? My guess would be that if they could diversify their product mix and have them run off of one central app, they would be better positioned in the market because they could create a captive audience off of the app. I also wonder if the integration with Echo actually benefits Amazon more than iRobot because it allows the Echo to become the central point of control (I’m guessing the Echo also integrates with other devices such as Nest, Ring). As a result, Echo gets the secondary product benefits and positions itself in a new way, as the central remote control for the home.

On November 17, 2016, LS commented on The Changing Face of Makeup Purchases :

Where can I find this? So cool and this is what I’ve needed for a long time. I think your point about stickiness is very interesting and definitely poses a long term problem. What would be interesting to see is whether this product can serve as a customer acquisition tool in the short term. As long as Sephora’s platform has the best UI / tech, they might be able to steal customers away from other online players such as Ulta or even brick and mortar beauty counters at places like Saks, Bloomingdales etc.

Price shopping is definitely a threat, however, I just did a quick search for mac lipsticks and they all showed up at about the same pricepoint which would suggest that there is little price differences in the market today. This does make me think that if places like Ulta understand consumers are buying online, maybe they have room to flex their prices down to encourage people to try out makeup virtually at Sephora and checkout at their store.

I also really like your idea of using the data to bolster Sephora’s private collection. This seems like a surefire way to control for people price shopping around and will enable Sephora to expand its likely higher margin, private label business.

On November 17, 2016, LS commented on Digital Farming :

Excited to see this post because I’m a big proponent of applying tech to agriculture (an industry that has been super slow to adopt advances historically). What is neat to see is how well Drones and Agriculture practices go along together. Although agriculture has really benefited from using spatial imagery provided by drones, what is interesting to see is how much the agricultural benefits have helped support the rationale for using drones and provided a proof of concept for drones.

The opportunity I see here is to create a platform that “talks” to all the different hardware / database systems. For instance, how can the data the drones collect and the data the field sensors collect be combined to give a farmer a holistic view of a crop’s yield. It seems like right now these are distinct systems and it’s up to the farmer to collect the data from all the sources and make a decision based off of multiple data points.

Additionally, it would likely be helpful for farmers to form collectives or something similar to a credit bureau to combine data and see farming results across different farms. The farming industry is composed of siloed farms and by giving farmers access to data across farms, we may see big results in yields. So much is yet to come here!

On November 17, 2016, LS commented on Meet Amy, an AI Enabled Assistant :

A cool and useful opportunity for AI! It was really interesting to hear your opportunities for X.AI. There does seem to be a number of opportunities in the travel and hospitality segment where a number of tasks performed revolve around reservations and a person confirming / checking through a database. I wonder if this could also be used as a recommendation engine. For instance, if X.AI knows that you are consistently meeting a person for coffee, if they could suggest coffee shops or other relevant places in the area.

Additionally, it seems like X.AI is branding their product right now but I wonder if they have thought about white labeling the technology out for other players to use. That way X.AI could be the engine and likely scale much faster than convincing companies, people to use a branded product.

On November 6, 2016, TOM_LS commented on A Yogis Approach to Sustainability :

It was interesting to learn about Lululemon’s dependence on water. It made me wonder what they can do to the water supply once they have identified that dye or other toxins are present in the water source. My concern is that Lululemon would test for these issues when choosing suppliers and sift out any suppliers with poor water quality.

It is great that Lululemon is taking steps to incorporate sustainability initiatives across all aspects of their business. Lululemon’s popularity and positive perception are likely linked to its sustainability initiatives since it is in line with the company’s image and narrative. That being said, I was impressed by how deep their sustainability practice runs – from in-house shipping to supply chain coalitions.

Lastly, I was surprised by how much space they have to grow in packaging because, as their consumer, I see their packaging as much more eco-friendly compared to competitors.

On November 5, 2016, TOM_LS commented on Cashmere Catastrophe :

The actions laid out are interesting to think about, especially given how materials providers have adapted in the past. It seems like #1 is the traditional method – raise prices, however I am concerned that at the high price point Kering is selling its products at, that demand for these cashmere goods is inelastic. #2 is a great option for the company to fight the rising cost, but I wonder if it would have a positive impact on the climate change since it only provides more wool supply.

Number 3 seems highly compelling and also represents an opportunity for Kering to have a positive impact on climate change from a supply chain standpoint and material development standpoint. From a supply chain standpoint, cashmere comes from areas far away from where it is ultimately sold, as a result, I would imagine that a lot of energy is used to get the fabric from the goat to the store. If there was an opportunity to use a substitute product that was produced closer to retail locations, that could be an exciting way for Kering to minimize its supply chain costs and environmental footprint. I do not have much information on the energy costs of producing cashmere versus other comparable materials but it would be interesting for Kering to examine the environmental impact of their fabrics and adjust production in a sustainable manner.

Super interesting! I had never before thought of the health implications and taxes on our healthcare system resulting from climate change. It is great to see that MGH has 1) recognized its impact on climate change and adjusted its resource usage and 2) has been proactive in thinking about how it can better prepare for environmental changes.

What I really took away from this is that it takes a lot of stakeholders to encourage energy saving measures. It concerns me because MGH is so large and it seems that it took the entire Partners network and mayor of Boston to put energy saving initiatives in process which makes me think this will be a challenge for smaller hospitals to be encouraged to adopt similar initiatives. I wonder if there is a way Partners could systematize their efforts and encourage smaller hospital networks to adopt these positive environmental actions.

The first point about growing the healthcare system as a result of climate change is fascinating and I would love to learn more about how globally the healthcare system is preparing itself for an increased need for space and care. In one of the first cases we learned about a Heart Hospital that had a series of traveling doctor units that would essentially provide “pop-up” hospitals / care centers. I wonder if this solution could be applied in other areas of the world in the short term to deal with any health problems resulting from major weather crisis.

On November 5, 2016, TOM_LS commented on For Elon Musk and Tesla, the Future is All About Timing :

It seems like Tesla dominates so much tech and business news that it was really surprising to hear that they are in such a need of cash! This was a very interesting investigation into potential headwinds the company could face due to operational choices it has made. On first glance, I would imagine that case 1 is much more serious since it also signals issues in product market fit. Additionally, it would also mean that all of Tesla’s efforts to combat climate change with new technology would in fact have a negative impact on climate change since there would be excess / unsalable inventory representing a massive waste of resources.

Judging by public interest, it seems that Tesla is more likely to face case 2 in which there would be additional market opportunity for competitors to take advantage of. Thinking about climate change generally, I would love to see case 2 play out since it means the public is receptive to energy saving technologies.

Lastly, you bring up an interesting point with vertical integration and Tesla’s relationship with suppliers. Since Tesla and Elon Musk’s other companies are so focused on creating energy saving technology, I would love to learn more about their supply chain to see whether sustainability is a major factor when choosing suppliers.

On November 5, 2016, TOM_LS commented on Going bananas over climate change :


It is very interesting to learn about the potential opportunities and challenges companies like Dole face in the banana market. Specifically, it left me to wonder if they could benefit from owning the banana farms or forming JVs with their banana growers to better help them sustain their banana production. By only procuring bananas, Dole can is limited to how much they can actually impact and oversee the farming efforts of their growers. This would add additional risk to Dole’s mode, for example, they would be directly exposed to pest risks rather than having the second hand procurement impact.

I also was struck by the data that suggests climate change will push banana farming north. Personally, I was excited by this since it means that my bananas will be traveling a little less far and using a little less energy to reach me :). Giving it more thought though, it is concerning that this land currently used for banana farming is at risk for becoming abandoned. I would be very curious to learn about what any abandoned banana farming land could be used for down the line (and hopefully it is not for deforestation / urbanization)!