Lynn Xie

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On November 20, 2016, Lynn Xie commented on Domino’s: Pizza Giant, or Tech Startup? :

Excellent and relevant read as I’ve been a loyal Domino’s online customer for several years now! What I find fascinating about your post is that because pizza is a commodity food, it’s incredibly difficult to maintain a competitive advantage and remain differentiated. Even if Domino’s invests in drone delivery services, there is nothing preventing a competitor from copying Domino’s business model.

On top of being a mass-market product, the entire category is experiencing little growth. In fact, despite the pizza market generating $39 billion dollars in revenue in 2015 in the US, the overall industry growth is stagnating at 0.2% from 2010 to 2015 [1]. In my opinion, especially as trends in major cities shift towards casual, yet healthy establishments such as Lemonade, Chopped, etc., pizza may become more challenged. As a result, Domino’s and other pizza chains should focus on targeting and building their customer base: young, tech-savvy teens, students, and millennials who have purchasing power, but are not yet in a health conscious life stage. Regardless, I see Domino’s and the category being challenged by a fractured market place, an increasingly health-oriented consumer mindset, and a fundamental lack of differentiation.


On November 20, 2016, Lynn Xie commented on Peloton: Digitalizing Spinning :

Wow! Thank you for writing such a fascinating and eye-opening post. Being an avid fan of SoulCycle, I was completely shocked by the Peloton concept of purchasing a high-tech bike in order to experience the benefits of “SoulCylce” at home. After reading your insightful post, I did have two concerns about Peloton’s business strategy.

Firstly, it seems Peloton may be competing with its own brick-and-mortar stores by developing the in-home bike experience. Unless Peloton is fundamentally targeting different consumers or planning on creating a complementary experience, I can picture the in-home bike concept taking away business from in-person classes. Secondly, the reason why SoulCylce personally appeals to me is the physical location of the class. Being surrounded by high-energy riders and a charismatic and challenging instructor is what motivates me to actually push myself beyond my comfort zone. Despite all of the technology embedded in the bike, I worry that because there is no one else holding you accountable, that the in-home bike would not be as motivational of a workout. Despite my concerns, I do believe that the Peloton bike is revolutionizing the home exercise market, but will not fundamentally replace in-person experiences.

On November 20, 2016, Lynn Xie commented on Where’s my box? :

Given my limited knowledge of the shipping industry, your post was an incredibly informative read. Given that innovation in the industry has been essentially dormant in the past 50 years, the Traxen’s “TRAX BOX” technology could be a revolutionary product. Beyond the supply chain benefits and information flow improvements that you clearly indicated, I am intrigued at what Trax Box could mean in terms of reducing pirating and theft.

Cargo theft remains a prominent issue. In the United States, an estimated $30 billion in cargo is stolen annually, with thieves exporting stolen goods to markets in South America such as Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, etc. to be sold on the black market [1]. Given that Traxen technology has GPS-esque capability, can the technology be taken one step further beyond just notifying the shipper of theft? Can Traxen be creatively embedded into boxes and used to track the complex distribution networks of cargo pirates? Perhaps the mere existence of Traxen will dissuade theft more than before or incentivize pirates to drive-up their own technical complexity. Although outside the immediate scope of Traxen’s supply chain objectives, I wonder if there are other applications of this pioneering technology.


On November 20, 2016, Lynn Xie commented on Under Armour: The Business of Sweat Goes Digital :

Thank you for the fantastic read, Phoebe! I love how you’ve integrated your own love of fitness with the subject of your post. Being an avid user of MyFitnessPal, I had no idea that UA had acquired the app nor invested a whopping $710M to develop a fitness platform. Under Armour, as you clearly delineated, has invested in teaching consumers how to become better athletes, not only by providing gear, but also by motivating them to learn through interpreting data. Under Armour is creating self-aware consumers who are seeking to improve through tracking performance.

Given Under Armour’s position, I’m intrigued by your description of competitor initiatives. As you mentioned, despite Nike FuelBand’s flop in 2014, Nike has managed to partner with Apple Watch, incorporating Nike+ on Apple’s wearable device platform [1]. Apple and Nike just announced Apple Watch Nike+ last month (October 28) [2]. In addition, Nike is playing in the fashion space, featuring an exclusive Nike Sport Bands and watch face inspired by the brand’s iconic style and colors. Furthermore, the Apple Watch Nike + introduces a whole ecosystem of apps, including Activity Rings, Heart Rate, Stopwatch and Weather to help inform runners [2]. Even if UA partners with Apple, UA will not be the first mover. As a result, are there other existing players that UA can leverage? Perhaps UA can also play to fashion, creating one-of-a-kind Fitbits, etc. to appeal to the tech-savvy and fashion-forward consumer.


On November 20, 2016, Lynn Xie commented on OverDrive and the Digitization of Public Libraries :

Fascinating and informative read, Yujie! I did not realize OneDrive was instrumental in introducing e-books, audiobooks, etc. to the public and school library space. One of my concerns for the company’s business model is the existence of major competitors such as Audible. Despite Audible being in the direct-to-consumer space for now, the company could expand to the library market if lucrative. Given Audible’s name recognition and 180,000 titles [1], Audible is likely negotiating with the same publishers as OneDrive. Especially given that Audible is Amazon-owned, Audible has financial resources at its disposable and could become a competitive threat to OneDrive.

In addition to competition, my second concern for the digital library industry as a whole involves equity. In my opinion, the concept of audio and e-books necessitates a secondary device in order to consume the content, whether it be a tablet, laptop, or kindle. All of these devices are luxury tech goods and are reasonably expensive. As a result, is there a socio-economic divide that e-books introduce that did not exist in traditional libraries? For underprivileged neighborhoods, could the shift from hard to e-books potentially reduce access to content?

[1] Audible Website,, accessed November 2016.

On November 7, 2016, Lynn Xie commented on To Shop, or Not to Shop: Depends on the Weather :


Thanks for a thought-provoking read on how climate change has impacted the retail industry!

In addition to the sustainability initiatives that Macy’s has taken on in the short-run, the company can also emulate the business model of its stores on the West Coast in anticipation of milder winters. Having lived in Los Angeles for the past two years, I have witnessed Macy’s pushing holiday inventory despite being located in a warm and dry climate. The product mix is less winter apparel heavy and leans more towards holiday decor, nostalgia, etc. As winters become warmer in many locations, Macy’s can perhaps alter its inventory to better reflect the product mix of its stores in warmer climates.

However, as Yujie thoughtfully mentioned, longer term solutions are necessary to combat the consequences of climate change. In addition to hiring a meteorologist and influencing suppliers to be more sustainable, Macy’s can also partner with brands that promote sustainable products and increase consumer awareness of the issue. Macy’s has the power to influence the shopping experience of a consumer through the brands that it buys – by purchasing brands that use eco-friendly inputs, Macy’s can not only promote sustainability in the minds of consumers, but also influence them to shop for environmentally-conscious products.

Amrita, this post is particularly fascinating to me given my experience working for the company.

In addition to the potable water, lowering emissions, and waste reduction initiatives, Disney has also employed technology to increase sustainability. For instance, the introduction of My Magic Plus bands in Florida has replaced tickets altogether. Now, Disney visitors can have a commemorative, re-usable wrist-band to wear. Whether it’s booking rides in advance, accessing your hotel, or entering the park, My Magic Plus allows to have a one stop shop that’s functional and eco-friendly. However, theme parks can be an environmentally costly business. For instance, Disney is one of the largest consumers of fireworks, which release carbon and pollutants in the air. Disney has massive firework shows every single night at every park, spending (to the best of my knowledge) upwards of $50M+ on fireworks annually.

On November 6, 2016, Lynn Xie commented on McDonald’s – is the Big Mac in BIG trouble? :

Thanks for an excellent read on an industry I did not immediately associate with impacting climate change!

I am disappointed to hear that McDonald’s is contributing to global warming in a multitude of ways, from purchasing only 13% of palm oil from deforestation-free sources and engaging in less-than-ideal cattle processes. Especially being the largest player in the fast food market, McDonald’s is not leveraging its brand power to entice suppliers to follow sustainable practices. For instance, in the IKEA case, the company uses its status to influence suppliers to abide by IKEA sustainability standards. I feel that McDonald’s has even more brand recognition and dominance than IKEA, allowing them the opportunity to make a real difference; however, they seem to be resorting to PR initiatives rather than long-term sustainability.

On November 6, 2016, Lynn Xie commented on Hershey’s Profits May Melt as the Earth Warms :

Nancy, thanks for the interesting read on one of my favorite topics: chocolate!

The Learn to Grow program really resonated with me while I was reading your post. In my opinion, Learn to Grow is a long-term strategic program that gets at the root of the problem: how to cultivate cocoa beans in drier and warmer climates. Purchasing these cocoa beans at a premium not only contributes to Hershey’s social impact, but also incentives local farmers to retain cocoa beans as their primary crop. I wonder if this program can be self perpetuating in the sense that farmers who learn this skill-set can teach others in their community and the next generation.

Beyond Learn to Grow, I see potential roadblocks with engaging consumers in sustainability. Hershey’s, in the mind of consumers, is a mass market commodity brand. Most chocolate brands that do promote sustainability usually sell at a higher price point and are considered premium. For instance, Endangered Species Chocolate asks consumers to “Indulge for a Cause” by donating 10% of gross profits to various wildlife foundations. Given its social cause and premium ingredients, Endangered Species Chocolate is able to sell at a higher price point; however, Hershey’s caters towards the mass market chocolate buyer. Will they be willing to pay more for the same quality chocolate?

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On November 6, 2016, Lynn Xie commented on Killington Ski Resort :

Thank you for the insightful read, Sujay!

Having grown up in New Hampshire (in close proximity to Killington), I have personally witnessed diminishing rates of snow at multiple resorts in the area. I completely agree with idea of re-purposing ski resorts to optimize revenue, but my concern is that without a long-term solution, these ski resorts will have to fundamentally change their business model to that of a hotel similar to the Von Trapp family lodge or Mount Washington Hotel. Unfortunately, the public already associates Killington with being a ski resort, so making the transition would be a drastic re-positioning.

In terms of a longer term solution, I agree with “Maniglass’s” post above. There is only so much one small ski resort such as Killington can do on its own. Banding together with competitors to create a unified voice would bring more attention and weight to the issue; however, the key challenge will be to convince the resorts who have benefited from climate change to join the fight. Having received feet upon feet of powdery snow, will Vail, Tahoe, and the other West Coast players voice their concerns?

On November 6, 2016, Lynn Xie commented on Your Morning Cup o’ Joe: Yesterday’s Luxury? :

Having been a Starbucks barista in my previous life, I’m terrified by the mere prospect of losing my morning Java.

Starbucks sets itself apart from other mass coffee brands by maintaining quality and social consciousness through sourcing its coffee from small-scale farms globally. In fact, images of sun-soaked coffee plantations and smiling local workers are scattered throughout Starbucks locations, serving as both a reminder of the company’s roots and a marketing ploy. Now that global warming is directly impacting Starbucks’ source of differentiation, the company will not only incur higher costs but potentially lose brand equity as a result.

As Phoebe so eloquently describes, Starbucks is targeting the root of the problem by educating farmers directly on the impacts of climate change, insulating its supply chain, and providing monetary and agronomist resources; however, to challenge the argument further, climate change is an issue targeting the entire coffee industry. How are competitors such as Peet’s Coffee or Dunkin’ Donuts responding? As the industry leader, does Starbucks have a responsibility to leverage its brand name to influence the industry to adapt these preventative measures or will being the only mover give Starbucks a competitive advantage?