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On November 18, 2016, NovChopin commented on Opternative: Disrupting Traditional Optometry :

Intriguing post! I personally support more efficient eye exam and prescription. However, I can see some issues raised by the online business model presented by Opternative, mainly being the potential future regulation interference. This is because while eye exam can differ itself from other medical exam, one can also argue that the two are essentially the same–there are health issues that could be detected through a physical visit to the eye doctor just as issues be diagnosed through visits to primary care doctors, while they are unlikely to be detected through online platform. For example. in the past there were people who visited doctors for contact lenses and left with a diagnosis for papilledemaI, followed by the emergency identification and removal of a brain tumor; there were also patient complaints of different vision between the eyes, which were revealed a retinal blastoma by the doctor. I think in future, physical eye clinics are likely to argue that the presence of Opternative undermines public health and thus pressure the government to impose regulatory restrictions on the operations of platforms like Opternative, thus challenging the profitability and sustainability of the business.

On November 18, 2016, NovChopin commented on Crowdsourcing Alpha: Can Quantopian Re-invent the Hedge Fund? :

Great post! I personally have a few friends who are professional traders and have experimented Quantopian for trading. From them I got feedback such as “too simplistic and missing a ton of features… most users are extremely unsophisticated.” I agree that Quantopian needs a lot of money, and because of this I am skeptical if it can achieve sustainable success.

I think its biggest dilemma is in its funding. Because for the amount of startup funding it has got, it is expected to get tons of users to justify the next round funding. However, beginner traders and trading experts are two very different markets. While Quantopian focusing on getting general public to on board, it seems its lack of advanced features doesn’t help professional traders much. They need to make people profitable in long term, but at the same time, the number of profitable traders are generally small. If they devote a large percentage of their company’s effort to take care of the small percentage of users, the return of investment is too low to justify especially when they need more funding in the futures. I think that in the longer term, they have to get the winning users to fund the general public playing, and get more people from the general public to the winner users and so the cycle can continues, but I have strong doubt on that with the current state of the platform.

On November 18, 2016, NovChopin commented on Is TAG Heuer Out of Time? :

Traditionally it has been a personal struggle for many watch collectors to see TAG as a real luxury watch brand.So I in fact believe there is no need for TAG to establish a separate brand for its connected watches. Personally I’ve been baffled by the intended combination of “class” and “innovation” in the TAG Heuer Connected watches–I feel it is hard to see it as either a real “luxury” watch or a real innovated watch. The industry for timepieces is extremely competitive, and in either field, in order to win you would need to compete with the most powerful brands and they are not TAG’s play fields. I remember that I saw one TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer-02T chronograph tourbillon once priced at $15,950 and to be honest with that price, it sounded nearly a joke to most of the people.

However, it is exactly this controversiality that made me think that at $1000 or a bit above , TAG can actually position themselves well for a growth in market share in both fields. This is a price point that is very accessible for young buyers looking at luxury watches but don’t want to compromise the new generation’s trend of digital watches. I can see that around this price point, TAG can successfully establish its core brand value as the “Swiss-made innovating watch” without having a hard battle with its American competitors such as apple. I would anticipate TAG’s sale growth in its connected watches for the upcoming years.

On November 18, 2016, NovChopin commented on Football 2.0 :

Refreshing topic! I think that connected footballs can definitely make television and broadcast programs more appealing and generate more viewers. In addition I think there are other areas where such sensors can be applied even more meaningfully– Im curious to see if such sensors are going to be implemented in other team sports such as hockey or soccer, based on the fact that collecting data during a game would also make such sports more appealing. In particular I wonder if Zebra would consider expanding such applications on other places during a game–for example, putting sensors onto the football or hockey players helmets, a point of interest due to the rising concern around football and hockey brain injuries (concussions) and their long-term effects.

On November 18, 2016, NovChopin commented on CHOPCHOP – Smart Cooking Backed by Artificial Intelligence :

I very much enjoyed reading the idea of applying AI in cooking and could actually imagine cooking maybe the first best implementation of AI even before driverless cars. CHOPCHOP’s ability of Recipe Discovery is especially impressive! Yet I cannot help wondering the level of competition in this field , because just a while ago, I read that the Watson computer (what we discussed in TOM class this Friday) has actually already been applied to cooking along its most interesting feature: Recipe Discovery . Chef James Briscione, who has co-authored a cook-book with the Watson computer, gives an example of the sort of thing which Watson’s targeted customers can discovery with the help of Watson: Apples are usually cooked in butter. In American cooking it is most associated with Northern European styles, where cooking with dairy products is more common. In Mediterranean cooking, which typically uses olive oil in the place of butter for frying, and rarely involves apples, which can struggle in arid climates. Yet, Watson doesn’t care about any of that. In fact, Watson found that apples share more flavour profile with olive oil than butter. So Chef Watson readily recommends mixing the two ingredients, leading Briscione to discover the joy of poaching apple sous-vide in olive oil with sage as a condiment for roast duck.

I can imagine the competition level in the AI cooking industry to be high in the near future, and I would be curious to hear how CHOPCHOP would prepare itself for this market with great potential as well as challenges.

The number of comments on Tesla has clearly “trumped” that of my post on BMW i-series. So I guess this must have proven that Tesla still grabs the majority of attention in the world of EVs–and I guess that the fact that Im commenting here shows it grabs mine as well. Needless to say, as the first mover in EV industry with very limited product diversification, Tesla has been assuming enormous financial risks since day one. It didn’t come to me as a surprise when it reported the 13th straight quarterly loss in this past August, as a rise in sales of its Model S and Model X electric cars failed to make up for the huge cost of ramping up production.

That being said, it is very exciting to read from this intriguing post about Tesla’s endeavor in the solar power storage for e-mobility. What I did not see being pointed out in my post is actually what I would like take some space below your post and point out here: technically, Electric cars ≠ Sustainability. This unequilibrium is backed by the fact that in California, which has one of the highest proportions of clean electricity in America, the electric vehicle would produce only 100g/mile, half that of the hybrid. Whereas in the midwest and south where coal fuels the bulk of electricity generation, a hybrid produces less carbon dioxide than an all-electric car. In fossil fuel–dependent Minnesota, an electric car would actually emit 300g/mile of greenhouse gases! If we stretch our map a bit further to Asia: driving an electric car in China, where coal is by far the largest power plant fuel, is a catastrophe for climate change.Thus EVs are great for eliminating oil from transportation, because very little U.S. electricity is generated by burning petroleum. Yet electric cars may or may not help the world combat climate change, because it all depends on where the electricity comes from.

Coming back to Tesla’s currently operating model, I still consider it quite debatable if the company is successful, and it is even more of a miracle that it has become one of the centers of attention in corporate America where, we the elite bschool MBAs are taught to be driven by the maximization of shareholder’s value. Apparently, the current Tesla is burning its shareholder’s money. No one knows if it were not shareholders who have been pouring money into Tesla by good faith instead of good logic, Tesla would still sustain, not to mention its value proposition of “sustainability”. While you talked about its plan to go “mass market”, I see its main challenge to go “mass profitability” remains product diversification, whose root cause was lagged infrastructure development. In 2014, I saw Tesla’s smart move to go open source, i.e. Musk decided to open all its electric car patents to outside use. With EVs only taking up about 1% of all vehicle sales at conventional car manufacturers, this move seemed to be feasible to achieve “mass market” by the whole auto industry in order to push the government endevour in infrastructure development. Toyota then followed Tesla, made its hydrogen fuel cell technology open source. The upset thing here is Tesla were losing time during the whole process. As conventional car makers kick in who have sufficient capital and more diversified product lines, it is becoming increasingly challenging for Tesla to be profitable. Today, both North American and European conventional car makers are entering the market at a fast pace, and in China, domestic manufactures are gaining advantages in developing government relationships to popularize power charging system specially tailored for their products. I am seeing Tesla has been losing its most valuable thing -the time to lead ahead –as it continues to stay at the top of the stream to develop the most innovative technologies.

This is why I am leaning towards the formation of strategic partnerships between conventional car makers and Tesla. I see this as a win-win situation for both in future.

On November 7, 2016, NovemberChopin commented on Walmart: Save Money. Live Worse? :

It is actually interesting to see how many pieces of “sustainability”-related news are published everyday about Walmart. Daily updates (almost) makes me wonder if such corporate “sustainability” initiatives will very soon become part of our government legislation. As a matter of fact, in Massachusetts, forced sustainability legislation has ensured that we are given no bags after shopping; if you go shopping at any H&M store in the country, you will notice how much more a t-shirt made with cotton from sustainable plant costs than a normal t-shirt. Increasingly, I am afraid that with monopolization creating mega corporations such as Walmart, “market efficiency” will be a thing of the past with constrained natural resources and that government relations may even kick in in certain regions of the world to play a key role in market competitiveness, as we have already witnessed this through the high cable and internet fees. Further consequences can also include reduced transparency in market competition. After reading this post, what Im actually afraid of is if the world of corporate America is increasingly about to ensure business entities to maintain through forced sustainability initiatives even at the price of market efficiencies.

Being a big fan of fashionable jeans, I remember once Levi’s CEO reportedly said:”Your jeans should never see the inside of a washing machine.” It is interesting that you mentioned:”…doing so would reduce the wear and tear, thereby lengthening the replacement time and hurting Levi’s sales..” Jeans, as casual fashion essentials, may not be replaced only when it’s broken. I remember there were countless times I opened my wardrobe and decided to donate some of my old-love jeans simply because they went out of style –among them were even some really expensive ones; I also remember there were many times I went shopping and decided to buy a couple of new pairs of jeans just because I wanted to collect the new styles, while knowing I already have jeans at home.

So I wouldn’t assert there is a conflicts between pushing sales and urging people to wash their jeans less. I also question the viability of charging a premium for jeans that are stain- and smell- resistant as they may push people to just buy regular-priced jeans. I think the key driver of sales still rests within the design of the jeans, which are essentially fashion essentials.

Intriguing post! You mentioned that it is surprising why Coca-Cola hasn’t taken more effort in desalination, and Erica has also mentioned that desalination may not reduce Coca-Cola’s margin much as it does not cost much. Yet I would argue that desalination is not very environmental friendly merely for sustainability reasons:

Desalination is an energy hog: desalination plants around the world consume more than 200 million kwhs each day, with energy costs an estimated at 55% of plants’ total operation and maintenance costs. It takes most reverse osmosis plants about 3 to 10 kwhs of energy to produce one cubic meter of freshwater from seawater, in contrast to traditional drinking water treatment plants which typically use well under 1 kwh per cubic meter.

Desalination also causes environmental problems by potentially displacing ocean-dwelling creatures to adversely altering the salt concentrations around them.

So I would say that Coca-Cola company, as one of the most respected brands in the world, may be fully aware that obtaining fresh water by desalination has much more profound impacts on our environments than most of us are aware of, and thus has rejected the idea proactively.

On November 7, 2016, Hawaii commented on Science Fiction Will Save the World :

In 2005, American author Thomas Friedman published what later has become an internationally regarded piece of work: The World is Flat. Starting from globalization, the book narrated the author’s perspective that each country in this world should accept the particular role the global economy has assigned to her. For example, China, as “the world factory”, should accept the “permanent job” of being a third-world manufacturer, utilizing its low-cost labor and industrial resources. However, what Friedman forgot to point out to our readers explicitly was that the root cause for third-world countries’ cheap labor and resources is due to their lacks of intellectual and technological prowess to battle social issues including the challenging environment problems. With this premise given, United States, as a country founded on the principle of free capitalism where many of the industrial capitalists have accumulated enormous wealth by transferring polluting manufacturing activities to third-world countries to gain cost advantages, may not want to relieve themselves completely of the global climate change responsibilities.

I raise this argument because I believe the upstream manufacturers in developed economies should be well aware of the reason why they could make the profits their domestic counterparties who insist on local manufacturing are not able to make. It would be logically unfair to gain economic advantages from technologically disadvantaged parties while blaming them later for the consequences. Otherwise, why would a technologically advanced country be providing hardworking human capitals at such a low cost? As a matter of fact, such a country should already become one of the developed economies itself who would be providing labor at a price comparable to that of U.S.

This is an interesting post with a provocative question dropped in the end. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it yet couldn’t help pushing back your point as I discussed above. China, having a populating 4 times as big as U.S.’, yet “emitting nearly twice as much carbon dioxide per year than the second largest producer in the world, the United States”, is apparently not the No.1 producer of carbon dioxide per person in this world while nurturing the biggest number of world’s capitalists by being “the world factory”. I have been frequently amazed at how people in developed economies have been holding developing countries solely accountable on a series of environment issues including climate change. In fact, I consider it a solid statement that the developed economies have a joint responsibility to solve the climate issues together with developing countries.