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Terrific post Steph! I find’s current business model much more compelling, especially in their decision to position themselves as a mental health partner for employers and payers. I worked in financial services, where a series of high-profile employee deaths precipitated greater focus on and investment in employee wellness. However, given the stigma associated with mental health, most, if not all of the attention was given to physical wellness, with emotional and psychological needs relegated to an afterthought. I think the ease of’s communication platform is particularly valuable to a large number of patients who previously felt uncomfortable about seeking in-person treatment or were simply unable to receive treatment due to work schedule constraints. Coming from an industry where employees are already being offered financial incentives to monitor their physical well-being, I am hopeful that can shed light on the importance of mental wellness.

Thanks for the post Ellen! I completely agree with you that is enjoying tremendous success at the moment by virtue of it being the first mover. However, I have reservations about the sustainability and growth potential of the lifestyle / fashion blogger market and consequently’s ability to maintain long-term relevance. Given the almost indistinguishable value propositions of these Instagram influencers and the near-saturation of the market, how much more time does have before consumers start looking elsewhere for shopping inspiration?

On November 20, 2016, Mary Ma commented on Lost in Translation: Duolingo Makes Language Learning Mobile :

As an avid user of Duolingo (and someone who enjoys buying new outfits for the Owl mascot), I actually had no idea that they were generating revenues via crowd-sourced translations. To answer your second question – I see the value of Duolingo in its ability to meaningfully develop someone who already possesses a foundational understanding of the language, but I’m skeptical of its benefits to someone who’s never had any prior exposure to a language. For example, I use Duolingo to brush up on my French (I’ve taken several years of French in school), but found it utterly unhelpful when I was attempting to learn Russian for the first time.

Separately, I’m interested in Duolingo’s decision making process in choosing the languages to build modules for. For example, Esperanto and Klingon (in development) are offered, but not Japanese or Chinese?

On November 20, 2016, Mary Ma commented on MYMAGIC+: DISNEY’S BIG BLUNDER? :

While I agree with Roanna that mobile probably makes more sense from an infrastructure investment perspective, as a consumer, I selfishly would like to see MyMagic+ continue as I’m personally a huge fan. I was at the Orlando park when the program was first rolled out and the experience of using the MagicBand was, for lack of a better word, magical. I take your point regarding the pace of digital tech innovation, but I would argue that one centralized smartphone app was the right decision for Shanghai largely because mainland Chinese consumers are much more dependent on mobile day to day and have come to expect mobile as the primary mode of transacting, which is not necessarily the case elsewhere.

On November 20, 2016, Mary Ma commented on e-Finding Your Valentine :

Great post! My concern is that while the number of people who are joining online dating platforms is growing, so are the number of dating apps and services. Do you have a sense for whether we’re beginning to reach market saturation? If so, what steps are these platforms taking to maintain their competitive edge, if any?

On November 6, 2016, Mary Ma commented on A Melting World: Ben & Jerry’s in the Age of Climate Change :

Super informative article! I must admit when I saw the title of this blog post I initially thought you would be covering the topic from pure CSR perspective. I’m actually quite surprised that “66% of global consumers say they are willing to pay more for products that come from companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact.” Given the positive sentiment around sustainability initiatives, I believe Ben & Jerry’s can do more on the external actions front to shape consumer behavior. If Ben & Jerry’s truly wants to walk the walk, it needs to move beyond awareness campaigns where 100% of the onus is on the consumer, and instead build real incentives into its business model.

On November 6, 2016, Mary Ma commented on Hospitality in an increasingly inhospitable world :

Very interesting post! While most large corporations have internal sustainability programs in place, Starwood is one of the few that is able to truly influence consumers to behave in a more “green” manner. The loyalty points program, compared to other customer-targeted initiatives that I’ve seen, offers particularly compelling incentives.

In regards to Element, I’d be curious to see the financial metrics of these hotels versus that of the traditional properties, so as to understand whether large-scale expansion of the eco-hotels portfolio makes sense for Marriott-Starwood from a bottom-line perspective. Furthermore, does Marriott, as a leader in sustainable hospitality, have its own brand of eco-hotels? If the answer is no, why do you think they haven’t pursued that option?

On November 6, 2016, Mary Ma commented on H&M: Root of the Problem or Key to a Solution? :

What are your thoughts regarding the future of their garment recycling program? From what I understand they’re currently constrained by both the pure financial disincentives of mass-producing recycled garments and technological limitations of how much a garment can utilize recycled materials before its quality is meaningfully impacted. Do you think it can actually play a meaningful role in both H&M’s core operations and its aim to be seen as a sustainable fast-fashion player by global consumers? In addition, why do you think we haven’t seen a similar degree of dedication to sustainability initiatives from other players in the fast fashion space (aside from Zara)?

On November 6, 2016, Mary Ma commented on DELTA AIRLINES INC: REVENGE OF THE CLIMATE :

While it’s encouraging to see that Delta is taking a number of internal and external measures to reduce its carbon footprint, I would like to see the data on the savings vs. the potential unintentional negative impact these initiatives may have on the environment. For example, with a more fuel-efficient fleet, does that translate into an operational strategy whereby Delta opts to expand the number of flights and routes undertaken by each plane to capitalize on the fuel savings? Moreover, do initiatives such the carbon calculator actually impact consumer behavior? Or are they simply marketing tactics to prop up the perception of Delta as environmentally-conscious?

I echo Roanna’s sentiment that this is the most unique and thought-provoking commentary I’ve read on the subject. However, given the strong contingent of Catholics who don’t believe in our impact on global warming, how do you think the Pope will frame the discussion on climate change going forward, in a manner that will resonate with those “non-believers?” What are some tangible measures, in your view, that the papacy can take to help bridge the gap between science and religion?