• Alumni

Activity Feed

On December 1, 2017, Paul Toomath commented on The Disruptor: the Costco of the Internet :

Great article, Kaye. I think the biggest challenge that Jet faces in its competition with Amazon snd other e-commerce players is determining how to make customers ‘sticky’ to the platform. We have seen Amazon do this with incredible success through the combination of the Prime subscription model and an integrated supply chain (warehouses, planes, and even some ‘last-mile’ delivery through the PrimeNow service). I agree that Jet should absolutely seek to build out their own distribution network in partnership with Walmart, as this is the only way they will be able compete with Amazon on a cost basis. That said, I also think Jet should consider introducing a subscription model so that customers don’t join for a single purchase but then churn back to their ‘anchor’ retailer, Amazon.

Great article. Clearly, the impact of climate change on very temperature-sensitive crops like grapes is severe. While clearly there is interest in protecting the existing vines through accommodating actions, the other side of that coin is the opportunity to plant vines in areas that are likely to become the new prime wine-producing regions. Your article paints a dire picture for consumers – rising prices and fewer varietals – but wouldn’t there be a simple substitution with new wines grown in the areas that now have the best climate for wine production. Further, with the efforts of the incumbent growers to adapt to the changing climate, the overall supply of wine could in fact increase. Could this in fact be a situation where disruption actually creates value for wine consumers?

On December 1, 2017, Paul Toomath commented on Collaborative Robots as a hedge against Isolationism :

Great article, Harshit. I very much agree with your suggestion that this type of technology will help companies deal with isolationist trade policies. Unfortunately, it seems likely to exacerbate the challenges in the labor market that have driven the rise of isolationist trade policies. By making automation cheaper than offshoring workers, it simply increases the incentive for firms to substitute local workers for robots. Further, jobs that had previously been more protected from offshoring (e.g. service industry jobs) now become exposed to replacement by robots. I find it hard to envisage a world where the political influence of workers replaced by worked continues to be felt, potentially leading isolationist-like policies that restrict the use of the robots themselves.

Great article, Fuad. Determining the stance multi-nationals should take with regards to shareholder value is interesting. . For the past decade, the world has largely looked to government to create policies that force companies to internalize the externality of the impact of their emissions. However, I see two elements driving increased direct engagement from multinationals. First, the efforts of government to form a coordinated response to the climate change have been uneven (as seen most recently in the US withdrawal from the Paris agreement). Second, the scale of multinational companies continues to grow, such that they are larger than some small countries. It follows that climate change presents a direct threat to the continued operations of the multi-national companies themselves. Thus, I feel it is consistent with the fiduciary duty of the board for companies like ECL to take direct actions to mitigate emissions, even at the cost of short-term profitability.

Great article, James. As you flag in the article, Nordstrom faces a huge risk here of being cut out by the end customer going straight to the supplier. Nordstrom seems to feel it is an advantage that a customer could order a Nike shirt and have it be dispatched directly from Nike to the customer. For me, this just gives Nike a huge incentive to make the customer come directly to Nike next time, and since they don’t have to pay a margin to Nordstrom for direct-to-consumer products, they can undercut on price.

Amazon may initially look like an example of why Nordstrom would not get cut out by the Nike and the end customer. However, it is successful because it has the opposite strategy, it houses the majority of the products it sells its own warehouses and uses its superior distribution network (and subscription pricing model) to make customers ‘stick’ with them.

On November 30, 2017, Paul Toomath commented on Solar Panel Import Taxes: The Death of Tesla and the U.S. Solar Industry? :

Great article Katie. This highlights how something that would have been seen as an unambiguous ‘good’, the sharp reduction in production costs of solar panels, a few years ago has actually created a few ‘losers’ along the way. As you highlight, those ‘losers’ are unafraid to use their political sway to improve their circumstances, even if it harms the industry as a whole across the supply chain.

Further, it’s interesting how the rhetoric around the solar industry has followed political winds in shifting focus from the environment and climate change, to domestic jobs. Hopefully, I hope that the importance of the propagation of clean energy and the positive externality that solar panels provide are also being considered in the creation of new trade policy.