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On November 20, 2016, Rachel commented on Fidelity vs. the Robots: The War for Millennials :

Great article. I think it will be very interesting to see how Betterment and Wealthfront compete as the big banks enter into their space. I do think it will be hard for these startups to compete as they have much less money, less of a differentiated product, and less of a competitive edge. To be honest, Betterment really doesn’t offer anything much different than an index fund does, except the index fund charges lower fees. I wonder if Betterment, etc. will feel a pressure to add in more offerings, even human based offerings, to keep up with the likes of Fidelity. We might actually see a slight de-digitization in these companies to compete.

Interesting article! I think there is a lot of unique tech disruption going on in the fashion industry, particularly as we’ve seen a rise in the influence of fashion bloggers. I am particularly interested in (and an avid user of) Liketoknowit (http://liketoknow.it/login), which originally was just a company that allowed bloggers to monetize their blogs through affiliate links, but now allows you to “like” their instagram posts and get an email with links to everything they’re wearing in the picture.

On November 20, 2016, Rachel commented on The Failed Launch Of www.HealthCare.gov :

Interesting post! I agree that a huge takeaway here is having the right resources and people in place for large technology projects, and that there could be great benefits from more public-private partnerships. Interestingly, Obama may have learned a bit from this situation and has been increasing his efforts to create connections between Silicon Valley and Washington (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/30/magazine/barack-obama-brought-silicon-valley-to-washington-is-that-a-good-thing.html?_r=0)

On November 20, 2016, Rachel commented on A Better(ment) Way to Invest? :

Great article, and this is a topic I’m very interested in as well. I do agree with the above questions about the long term viability of Betterment. Betterment really doesn’t offer anything much different than an index fund does, except the index fund charges lower fees. The concern for me over Betterment is it just seems too vulnerable to competition – there are other robo-advisors that do the same thing, potentially for lower fees, and customers could easily choose to DIY the offering. I do wonder if this is a case where digital disruption went too far to the extreme, and Betterment could benefit from more of a human touch.

On November 20, 2016, Rachel commented on Bezos, the Washington Post and the future of news publishing :

Thanks for the article – I remember reading quite a bit about this in DC when the acquisition news came out. I do agree that overall it has been a great thing for the Post. Their app is great, and you can even get an electronic duplicate of the physical paper to “flip through” on your iPad. I do wonder, as others have, about the whether the lines between Amazon and WP will be crossed. I think it’s interesting that he bought WP to remain as a “watchdog,” and yet Bezos’ other businesses could present a potential conflict of interest (i.e. what should the WP do if their is a scandal at Amazon, similar to the scathing article the NY Times published). I’m not sure there is a great answer here, but I would say using WP data to move Amazon products would blur this line a little uncomfortably for some people.

On November 7, 2016, Rachel commented on Climate Change & Major League Baseball: A Strikeout? :

Thanks! This was super interesting since, like many above, I hadn’t thought about the implications of climate change on sports. I think this article really highlights a major tension of climate change responsiveness – how do you balance between short term profits and longer term gains in sustainability, which may require a short term cost? For example, as others pointed out, moving night games to daytime ones would reduce energy consumption, but it could also reduce ticket sales and revenues from TV broadcasting, as many people wouldn’t take off work to go to the games. I am not sure how we solve this problem but I appreciate that your post called out the issues when it comes to implementing sustainable protocols.

Great topic – I think NRG is a really interesting company. NRG’s former CEO, David Crane, was very vocal about the fact that utilities would one day go “extinct” and he wanted to get ahead of the curve by heavily investing in green energy, such as their heavy investments in solar. But Crane was fired at the end of last year off of a pretty disappointing financial result (the stock tanked last year) and retail solar projects have yet to pan out for them. How do you think NRG manages their desire to invest in green energy projects like the ones you mentioned (which are more of a longer term play) with the market expectations for profit (more short term focused) that got Crane fired?

source: https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/A-Conversation-with-David-Crane

On November 7, 2016, Rachel commented on Venice – the risk of the disappearance of an entire city :

Great post! I do however wonder if restricting cruise ship access is the right approach to take here? This is especially true given Venice’s dependence on tourism. Instead, perhaps the Venetian government could consider a tax on cruise ships who do decide to enter, with tax revenue raised going towards Project MOSE. This way cruise ships who do enter can directly contribute to the efforts to save Venice. Venice could impose a similar tax on tourists entering the city. Personally, I would be happy to pay a tax to go back to Venice as a contribution to save one of my favorite places.

On November 7, 2016, Rachel commented on Apple: Reducing emissions, one target at a time :

Thanks for the interesting read – your extensive use of graphics really helped me understand what’s going on with Apple! I agree with you that just using green energy is not enough. Interestingly, Apple has built a robot that can precisely breakdown and recycle old iPhone6 models (http://mashable.com/2016/03/21/apple-liam-recycling-robot/#noplAgIA5kq3). The problem is there are currently only ~30 robots active and I believe they only recycle iPhone6 models. I would love to see Apple expand this robot, while also encouraging customers to turn in all old products for recycling. Even better, it would be great to see Apple become a place that allows customers to drop off any time of electronic for recycling, not just old Apple products.

Thanks for the interesting blog post! I totally agree with your suggestion that ski resorts begin to market year-round tourist activity. For example, Whistler is beautiful in the summer and has many great attractions even when there isn’t snow on the mountain. To me this is a better alternative than continuing to diversify, as overall climate change appears to be moving in the same direction. Perhaps I’m not enough aware, but it would seem that climate change would affect Japan as much as it does Colorado at some point, even if the point is not today. Perhaps a focus on long term solutions, such as marketing summer tourism, would be a better alternative than diversification that appears to be more short term focused.