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On November 20, 2016, Robert commented on Soon, Traditional Restaurant Management Systems Will Be Toast :

Great post, Nick. Thanks for sharing! It seems that this Company has a unique ability to collect, analyze, and store data. You are right on about saying that most POS software and hardware is still from the 80s and 90s. The issue that Toast may face is that it is extremely difficult to sell POS systems to restaurants. They are extremely price sensitive, have slow buying cycles, and insist on having rugged hardware. There have been many innovative POS systems that have come before Toast, but restaurants typically keep their NCR hardware and Aloha software because it is “good enough”. Perhaps Toast’s ability to tackle procurement issues will be a key differentiator.

I’m curious how this is better than Square. Also, I saw that Open Table was moving into Mobile Payments. I wonder how that will impact the restaurant POS industry.


This is a great post. Amazon is not the first digital-first company to venture into brick and mortar. Warby Parker and Bonobos are both retailers that started with online only distribution. I believe they realized that the brick and mortar shopping experience was actually not dead and there were benefits from having a physical presence. There is a big advantage for digital-first companies to have their own physical stores instead of establishing a physical presence through a department store or another big-box retailer. The companies are able to still maintain their culture. It actually is an opportunity for these companies to better demonstrate their customer promise.

I think Amazon will be able to do a brick and mortar store better than anyone else because their data is so strong. They can glean customer preferences and understand exactly what books will be in demand. Additionally, Amazon’s distribution network is so strong they can probably find ways to pass on inventory related savings to customers who visit the stores.

This is very interesting. I was actually not aware that Verizon had been pursuing growth in this market. I was aware that the Company wanted to diversify away from their core consumer wireless business, but I thought that was primarily through a push into content through acquisitions of AOL and Yahoo!. The industrial logic here is sound as Verizon can leverage its existing network to improve the fleet management technology.

One of the points of friction of the AirBnB process was handing off keys. Previously, hosts would meet the guests and hand them the keys and take the opportunity to go over some rules. However, AirBnB has started to make it easier for to operate their properties remotely. I have included the link for August Lock below. I have seen many AirBnB hosts use August Smart Lock in order to grant virtual keys to guests and track when they are coming and going from the property. This makes the transactions more seamless as guests simply use their phones as keys.

It seems that the NFL has many issues that it is facing. It’s good to see that they are addressing some of the key issues such as viewing experience as well as climate change. It seems that attending games is becoming less appealing because the viewing experience at home is so enjoyable. That is something that the NFL needs to balance. However, they may target to maximize TV and online viewing because it is more profitable. There are several other factors that are contributing to why NFL ratings are suspected to be declining including, election year, concussions / health issues, stories of domestic abuse, on-field protests, on-field celebrations, and improvements from other forms of entertainment.

On November 7, 2016, Robert commented on Big Data Could Mean Big Problems :

Jessica — Awesome article! Although I was aware that the cloud datacenter market was growing significantly, I did not know that data centers account for ~2% of the US energy consumption each year. I am impressed with Amazon’s targets to reach 100% renewable energy eventually. It seems that the solar and wind farm projects that they have planned will be the next right steps to reach their targets.

One other thing to note is that cloud datacenters may be more energy efficient than the alternative of locating servers on premise. According to their website, Microsoft Azure claims that moving to Azure services can reduce energy usage 30-90% versus using on-premise services.

On November 7, 2016, Robert commented on Morgan Stanley’s Attempt to Capitalize on Climate Change :

Ryan – This is a great post. I like how you are highlighting a company that is finding ways to make positive impact to address climate change. I am impressed by the green bonds that Morgan Stanley issued. Morgan Stanley is going a step further than simply reducing their carbon footprint and publishing the results. The company is finding ways to support projects that will help reduce our dependence that do not provide environmental benefits. Because Morgan Stanley has such a strong reputation in the financial services industry, other banks and finance firms will likely follow the Morgan Stanley’s lead. Additionally, I appreciate how this post gives me a better understanding of the size of the market for green bonds. I was surprised that the market for these bonds was greater than $40 billion in 2015. I believe that there is still room for this market to grow and expand. Morgan Stanley and other banks could use this industry to drive their own growth as they struggle to find ways to increase revenue year over year.

Beth — This is a great post. I actually addressed the issue of assessing risk caused by climate change, but I used a different type of company. I looked at this risk from the perspective of property and casualty insurance companies who would insure against loss of property from storms and natural disasters. Similar to what I wrote about, it seems that S&P faces similar challenges assessing these risks. It is important for S&P to properly evaluate and attempt to quantify these risks. I agree that financial markets could be in trouble if storms become more frequent and more severe. I am glad to see that S&P is taking steps to better predict the probabilities of these events and incorporating these risk into their ratings.


Jake — This is a great post. I like how you highlighted the exposure that the Company has to the various types of catastrophic risk related to weather severity. I am impressed by the innovative and environmentally conscious insurance products that AIG offered in order to address climate change. Additionally, I like how you highlighted some the discounts that AIG offered to hybrid drivers. I wonder if AIG found evidence that showed that hybrid drivers were less likely to get in an accident, and therefore, less likely to file an insurance claim. I think another risk that AIG faces related to climate change is the increased unpredictability in weather patterns. Global warming may cause storms and natural disasters to be more severe and occur more frequently. AIG may have trouble predicting these types of events. There is a risk that they would not price their premiums for these events and would be in financial trouble if the storms were worst and more frequent than expected.


This is a great post. I like how you hit on the various issues the NFL is currently facing. Domestic abuse and concussion protocols seem to be on the issues that are demanding most of the League’s immediate attention, but I am happy to see that environmental and sustainability initiatives are also efforts that the League is pursuing. You made some good points about how new stadiums are playing a role in sustainability. In addition to Levi’s Stadium in San Francisco, MetLife Stadium in New York is also a model for sustainability. According to the website for the stadium, 40,000 tons of recycled steel were used to build the stadium. Additionally, 20,000 tons of steel and 30,000 tons of concrete were recycled from the previous New York stadium when it was demolished. Further, the vehicles used during construction were powered by clean diesel fuel. These are just a few of the environmental initiatives that were used when constructing MetLife Stadium. Hopefully, more teams will follow the example set by the construction of MetLife and Levi’s stadium and will pursue environmentally conscious ways of constructing new stadiums.