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On November 20, 2016, N_N commented on Streetline – Leading the way for ‘Smart Parking’ :

Interesting business model! Driving around to find a parking space in a busy area is always a painful experience. I can see the real benefit for drivers brought by Streetline. With the data collected, cities can also analyze parking lot utilization rate and facilitate future city planning to control traffic.
In terms of revenue stream, I think the biggest potential is with mobile payment commission and charging private parking lot operators a fee for monitoring and publishing real-time parking spot availability information. As the platform attracts more drivers, private parking lot operators will have more incentive to pay for the service and publish their parking spot on the platform.

On November 20, 2016, N_N commented on Uber’s Bet on Self-Driving Car :

This post smells dangerous. While I have always been excited about self-driving car and what the world will look like when that comes to life, recently I can’t help to think about the “negative” impact it may bring. This is essentially another machine replacing human story. Bus drivers, taxi drivers, delivery man will all lose their jobs. Cyber security is another concern. If the control system is hacked by terrorists, I can’t imagine what will happen to all the driver-less cars on the road. Will they crash into each other?

On November 20, 2016, N_N commented on H&R Block: A Taxing Fall from Grace :

Interesting post! Can’t imagine such a market leader in personal tax still lagging behind in digitization. I totally don’t understand why they would hire so many people and open physical branches everywhere to provide such a standardized service. For services that are so standardized and rule-based, software is certainly the best solution in terms of performance and cost. Another thing I don’t understand about this business is that after people use this service for once, why don’t they do it themselves the next year following the previous template? I assume their tax situations don’t change much after 1 year. If so I would imagine services like this to experience high customer churn rate.

On November 20, 2016, N_N commented on A Brief Survey of IoT Solutions for Agriculture :

Interesting post! Would love to see some results of yield improvement / cost saving after adopting this. Another IoT application to agriculture I’m aware of is drone. DJI (largest drone company globally) Agras MG-1 is an octocopter designed for precision variable rate application of liquid pesticides, fertilizers and herbicides, bringing new levels of efficiency and manageability to the agricultural sector. The powerful propulsion system enables the MG-1 to carry up to 10kg of liquid payloads, including pesticide and fertilizer. The combination of speed and power means that an area of 4,000-6,000 m² can be covered in just 10 minutes, or 40 to 60 times faster than manual spraying operations. The intelligent spraying system automatically adjusts its spray according to the flying speed so that an even spray is always applied. This way, the amount of pesticide or fertilizer is precisely regulated to avoid pollution and economize operations.

On November 20, 2016, N_N commented on GS Bank: Goldman Sachs’ Online Retail Banking Business :

Good job in making it exactly 800 words! Very interesting post, wasn’t aware GS has retail bank before reading this. As you mentioned, the value proposition is very clear – making a higher return on savings comparing to other traditional retail banks without any minimum balance requirement. But I find it difficult to picture a target customer group that would be attracted by this offering, especially in the US. Bank account penetration is already very high in the US and it’s hard to imagine people opening account with a new bank with only savings account provided. After all, the saving rate in the US is very low and this 1% increase in interest rate would probably only transfer into a few hundreds dollars a year for the account holder. Africa on the other hand would be a good choice for online banking as people are under-served by traditional banking due to the high cost to return ratio for opening physical branches and mobile penetration in Africa is high enough to provide an attractive potential market for mobile banking.

On November 7, 2016, N_N commented on Sunny Days Ahead for SolarCity? :

Very interesting post. I totally agree on the subsidization point and wonder whether there is any solar company in the world that is self-sustained right now. Technology is still an issue, i.e. how to increase energy conversion efficiency. Different countries are at different development stages and if I remember correctly, the US is currently leading on this by a significant amount comparing to the rest of the world. But even that, SolarCity still live on subsidy. So there’s definitely still a long way to go before solar can contribute meaningfully to the world power usage. I would also like to know how much energy the panel production and installation process consumes and how feasible it is to transmit electricity produced by each customer to the other end users through grid. My concerns are on the cost efficiency, safety, infrastructure front.

On November 5, 2016, N_N commented on Chocolate Endangered :

Like the title and the picture! Three thoughts related to this.
First, can they invest in or partner with agricultural technology companies to work on new method that can increase cocoa yield?
Second, can they substitute cocoa with something else to make it taste similar and add tryptophan to it so that chocolate still have the same effect of releasing serotonin? Food/ingredient substitution technology is developing fast and can be safe and healthy for some kinds.
Third, can they educate consumers to consume more low cocoa level chocolate? Not sure whether this is feasible as dark chocolate is proved to be more healthy.. Or can they expand into related snack categories to diversify their product mix and reduce the risk brought by low cocoa yield in the future? Or can they “attack” other industries/users of cocoa to reduce global cocoa demand in the future so even with lower supply price can still be in the same level as today?

On November 5, 2016, N_N commented on So Hot Right Now! The Levi Strauss Climate Change Agenda :

Really enjoyed reading this! Nice pictures, helped a lot with understanding of details/processes. Got another idea to reduce climate impact/promote social responsibilities from the IKEA case, I think Levi’s can also recycle jeans. Probably not to use it to produce a new one but to donate it to people who need clothes in underdeveloped area or just homeless people in the local area where the clothes are collected. This reduce the pollution from landfill and incineration and help people in need at the same time.

Ride sharing sounds eco-friendly at first, but give it a second thought, there’re several scenarios that could make it more problematic.
1. Who are the riders? What’s their usual way of transit before Uber?
For countries where public transportation is very well developed, many of these Uber riders take subway or buses before they have Uber. Maybe less so in U.S. where public transportation doesn’t work very well and car ownership is high, but such group of riders definitely exists in Uber’s user base. Because of Uber’s low price and easy access, many riders who used to take public transportation now rider with Uber. This increase pollution and lowers transportation efficiency.
2. Who are the drivers? What did they do before Uber?
Many of these people were doing another job (rather than driving) and some didn’t even own a car. There are many drivers who buy cars or lease cars from Uber in order to do this job. This adds more cars on the road and creates pollution. And if they create traffic jam (in cities like Bangkok and Beijing this happens every day) there’s even more pollution.
3. What’s the waiting time when pick up riders?
Similar as traffic jam, cars waiting at the pick up location without turning off the engine creates pollution. There’s not much waiting time for self-owned car, taxis, and public transportation but there is for Uber. 0-5 min for each rider, times the billions of rider each year, the carbon emission may not be small.

So yes UberPool is reducing pollution by combining people’s transit needs, but is the whole ride sharing business actually reducing total carbon emission comparing to the time before Uber is here? I don’t know.

On November 4, 2016, N_N commented on Apple Reacts to and Leads in Climate Challenge :

I didn’t think of Apple as a big polluter before. But this let me realize how much power they use in production and also retail. I wonder which part in Apple’s China operation is the solar power used for and whether that’s an efficient and sustainable energy solution from a cost perspective because as far as I know most of the solar companies (if not all) in China are losing money, some went bankrupt in the past few years and those survived still live on government’s subsidy. Basically if you exclude subsidy, then the more you produce the more money you lose. Electricity transmission is also a big problem in China. There is over production in electricity but not all can be transmitted through the gird as there’s a cap on that from the government. I hope transmitting the power out from West China to its operations across the country didn’t create Apple much problem..