Steve Smith

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This seems to be a really pressing issue, not just for Chipotle, but for any rapidly growing company whose value proposition includes sustainable raw materials. I’d be interested to see how this plays out from a public policy point of view, as it seems one key ingredient to ensuring enough suppliers are practicing sustainable agriculture could be to tighten regulations, despite the obvious trade-off of higher prices. Has Chipotle made any efforts on this front? And if they don’t, will they be able to, as Chloe points out, sufficiently diversify their supply chain in order to mitigate risks from disease, climate change, and other factors while meeting their customers’ demands for sustainability?

On December 1, 2017, Steve Smith commented on Will Artificial Intelligence push CN off the rails? :

Hey Olivia, really cool topic and great write-up! It will be really interesting to see how it all plays out, but one question I have regards Tesla’s development efforts: are they proposing driveless electric trucks? If so, my impression has always been that the battery costs associated with electric trucks would make it difficult for them to compete on cost with rail. That being said, I think there’s significant opportunity for innovation here, since I would suspect rail to be a much easier transportation platform to automate than vehicles. CN could definitely aim to lead the way on this front.

On December 1, 2017, Steve Smith commented on UPS Aims to Deliver Last Mile Efficiencies by Drone :

Brilliant! I’m really excited to see how this plays out, but you’re absolutely right to point out the issues that you do. From my previous job I’m all-too-familiar with demonstrations that garner media attention while there remains work to be done, and while there’s certainly potential here, UPS obviously hasn’t solved the problem per se. It also looks like there could be a significant opportunity here from a tech-development perspective, as UPS and the other major couriers will likely have to have automated and integrated truck-drone platforms in order to make this truly cost-competitive. One could almost imagine each truck becoming a mini distribution center in its own right, carrying a fleet of drones to rural areas for last mile deployment.

While these tariffs could very well have a devastating impact on residential solar installers, if they take effect it will be very interesting to see their effect on the solar industry as a whole. After years of being supported by government subsidies, at the hearing on these tariffs one CEO remarked that solar is ““on a glide path to being a fully self-sustaining industry” ( Could this still be the case, even in the face of this new obstacle?

On December 1, 2017, Steve Smith commented on Sunrun: Confronting Solar Panel Import Tariffs :

Hey Mike, great write-up on a really pressing topic. I’d add that there’s another significant source of uncertainty in the residential solar market, namely, state-level net metering policies that have placed a significant damper on companies like Sunrun and SolarCity in recent years. If states continue to scale back the rate at which they offer to reimburse homeowners for generating power in the middle of the day, it could have an even greater negative impact on the residential solar industry. Combined with the tariffs, it could lead to a perfect storm that sinks these young companies. Additionally, from Sunrun’s perspective I think I might disagree with your point about increasing transparency in the supply chain, primarily because doing so could limit the spread that Sunrun captures between the manufacturer and residential customer (who would likely also have access to marketplace info), which in turn could further squeeze already tight margins.

Hey Chloe, awesome topic and write-up! I’d add just a couple thoughts.

The first regards the limits that traditional processors are currently running up against size-wise. Transistors are quickly approaching the point at which quantum mechanics won’t allow them to function properly anymore, which could lead Moore’s Law to breakdown ( This could very well force engineers to think up new solutions in order to keep chip companies like Intel and AMD competitive.

It also remains to be seen whether radical new technologies, like neuromorphic chips, will gain a foothold. Prototypes like IBM’s TrueNorth chip attempt to more accurately mimic the circuitry of the human brain, and thus use far less energy than traditional processors ( Could they be the future? Only time will tell, but I’d argue that Intel should keep an eye out.