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On November 20, 2016, TD21 commented on Digitizing the globe one pixel at a time – Google Maps :

Thanks for this post, Aayesha! It is really incredible how much information Google is able to extract and leverage through Google Maps. Going forward, I think it will be very interesting to see how Google Maps can be adapted to better suit countries with restrictions, or how Google may try to pressure such countries to ease restrictions. I traveled to China last year forgetting that Google Maps would not be accessible and quickly realized how dependent I was on the service as I desperately tried to find a decent substitute. I was even more surprised when traveling in South Korea this year that Google Maps is heavily restricted, and some maps are supposedly less informative than North Korea’s[1]. Given allegations in other geographies that Google already has too much power, how does Google successfully navigate these challenges for Google Maps?

[1] Jonathan Cheng, “Google Challenges South Korea Over Mapping Restrictions”, The Wall Street Journal, 17 May 2016,, accessed November 2016.

On November 20, 2016, TD21 commented on How to Rent Your Neighbor’s Tesla with Getaround :

Great post, MayC! This “Airbnb of cars model” is very interesting, particularly since Getaround has managed to make it easier to actually borrow the car with its proprietary keyless entry system. While it sounds like there is tremendous potential upside with increased utilization and decreased need for vehicle ownership, I would be interested in learning more about how close Getaround is to viable scale. Clearly you need a lot of adopters for this model to work well, and if you have to walk 30 minutes to reach the car you want to borrow, maybe you would just use an Uber or Lyft to reach your intended destination.

I am also curious about potential negative effects of this system. For example, what if you borrow a manual transmission car but aren’t very good at driving a stick? Or could frequent switching of vehicles lead to more road accidents due to drivers who aren’t as familiar with their borrowed cars? If you think your brakes will be more responsive than they are or assume your headlights will switch on automatically because that’s what you are used to, that could lead to problems.

On November 20, 2016, TD21 commented on Can Digitization Save Healthcare? Athenahealth Thinks It Can :

Thanks for a very informative article, Ginger! Athenahealth is often cited as one of the most innovative companies in healthcare, so it was great to learn more about their model and unique initiatives like MDP.

While being cloud-based is clearly beneficial for the reasons you mention above, I would think there is also a higher risk for security breach. The mobile application for physicians to review EHRs on the go seems like that would further increase the security risk. With something as sensitive as medical records and recent, high-profile hackings such as the one at Anthem last year[1], how big of a concern is this to Athenahealth and its supporters? How does Athenahealth ensure that its systems are truly safe, and how does it reassure customers of this?

[1] Nsikan Akpan, “Has health care hacking become an epidemic?”, PBS, 23 March 2016,, accessed November 2016.

Thanks for a super interesting article, Danny! Surely these types of products will grow in importance as we shift away from incandescent blubs and become more conscious of the ongoing costs of our lighting.

It looks like Alexa is already compatible with a number of smart bulbs[1], and Phillips Hue can be used with a range of connected home solutions[2]. Therefore, how does Phillips Hue truly differentiate itself versus competitors? Should it attempt exclusivity contracts with certain smart home solutions? Should it try to develop a model that does not require a Phillips Hub or really anything other than wifi, something like the TP-Link LB100 that is more plug-and-play? Given Jorge’s experience described above, I would also be curious to know how responsive Phillips has been to customer needs and iterating on its product – not being able to turn on a light with your phone because it was switched off manually seems like a major inconvenience.

[1] Ry Crist, “Which smart bulbs should you use with Alexa”, CNET, 24 September 2016,, accessed November 2016.
[2] Phillips Lighting B.V., “Friends of Hue”,, accessed November 2016.

On November 20, 2016, TD21 commented on Groupon: A Good Deal for Anyone? :

Great article, Grace! I had never really thought about how this kind of business model could hurt businesses in the long run and even lead to losing regular customers. I still don’t know what exactly differentiates each competitor’s business model, but I am surprised to see that Groupon can take a 50% commission on prices that are already so heavily discounted.

I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on Groupon’s business model shifting from hawking daily deals to serving as more of a marketplace[1]. Do you think Groupon can carve out a sustainable path here given that there are already so many competitors in the space, from Etsy to Amazon? And why do you think Alibaba would take a stake in Groupon[2]?

[1] Dan Blystone, “Can Groupon Make a Comeback in 2016?”, Investopedia, 13 January 2016,, accessed November 2016.
[2] Olga Kharif and Spencer Soper, “Alibaba Gets New Learning Opportunity with 5.6% Stake in Groupon”, Bloomberg, 12 February 2016,, accessed November 2016.

I definitely agree that it is part of a marketing campaign, but I actually think Levi Strauss has made steps to innovate and further reduce its water footprint. While some of the jeans in the Water<Less line initially reduced water consumption an average of 28%[1], they have managed to bring that number down significantly to make some jeans requiring 96% less water. It is also trying to reduce its water footprint by sourcing more sustainable and recycled cotton; while it sourced 12% of its cotton from the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) in 2015, its goal is to use 100% sustainable cotton by 2020[2]. I think many of its efforts to decrease water consumption by engaging suppliers, consumers, and other apparel manufacturers and even spreading awareness among its workers and communities have been great. It has partnered with organizations such as BCI, the National Resources Defense Council, Project WET Foundation, and even developed its own standards and requirements to try to improve these processes (you can read more at the second link below, if you are interested.) But yes, it can certainly do more and invest more R&D into improving its own processes!

[1] Levi's, "Levi's Water<Less Jeans Finishing Process",, accessed November 2016.
[2] Levi Strauss, "Sustainability: Planet",, accessed November 2016.

Thanks, Maria! I agree that Levi Strauss could charge a higher price. My concern is that it could be challenging for them to raise the price of these jeans now that they are already on the market, as customers are likely to be sensitive to such an increase if they are already accustomed to paying a certain price for that product. However, if they were to add features or somehow innovate on the first iteration of the Water<Less products, perhaps they could charge a higher price without much disruption. Stain- and smell-resistance are just a few potential features that could be added (as stains and smells are common reasons for more frequent washes, according to the Levi Strauss CEO) but there are certainly other options!

On November 6, 2016, TD21 commented on Pampers (P&G) use of wood pulp :

Alexandros, this had some really helpful background on the history and manufacturing of diapers, something I know very little about! I agree with Lindsey that it is challenging to see how P&G’s disposable diapers could really be environmentally friendly or sustainable. It also seems like Earth’s Best may be a very similarly priced diaper (just a few cents more) and better functional item along dimensions such as fit, leakage, absorbency, and comfort[1].

Even if it has reduced the wood pulp content, does P&G have plans to reduce its use of other materials in its diapers that may not contribute to their environmental sustainability? For example, is it planning to substitute particular synthetics for biodegradable counterparts? I would also be curious to see how P&G was able to recover from its “disastrous” 2013 launch of the new diaper, and if that has reduced its willingness to try to innovate with future diapers.

[1] Juliet Spurrier, MD and BabyGearLab Team, “Green Diapers vs. Traditional: What’s the Best Choice?”, February 13, 2015,, accessed November 2016.

On November 6, 2016, TD21 commented on “The Chocopalyse”: Imagine a World without Chocolate :

I agree with Chris – would be interesting to see if cacao producers have been considering modified or coated (a la Indigo) seeds that could help the seeds grow in drier conditions. There also appears to be a practice called cabruca in which planting (or retaining) trees to provide shade to the cacao trees could reduce temperature and evapotranspiration[1].

The situation you have described in Ghana makes it sound like they are in a tough place – do you have a sense of how aware they are of the issue/what steps they are taking to address it? For example, is the government considering other crops that current cacao farmers could shift to in order to maintain their livelihoods? Or have they begun discussions on how to weigh the trade-offs between preserving the protected land and maintaining their cacao production? Do the farmers themselves know what is likely to happen over the next few decades?

[1] Michon Scott, “Climate and Chocolate”,, February 10, 2016,, accessed November 2016.

On November 6, 2016, TD21 commented on Dean Foods: Udderly Sustainable? :

Really interesting post, especially when you consider that methane emissions from agriculture increased by 11% from 1990 to 2013 while the contribution from the energy decreased over that same time period[1]. I like Sam’s suggestion of adjusting the feed mix to include less thirsty plant inputs – perhaps it could also be altered to yield less methane production from the cows? The article cited above mentions that as a possibility, as well as using antimethane additives, experimental vaccines, or even using genetics to develop and breed cows that naturally produce less methane. However, some of those options (e.g., vaccines or genetic alterations) could surely be controversial and potentially have other side effects.

[1] Laura Beil, “Getting creative to cut methane from cows”, Science News, November 18, 2015,, accessed November 2016.

Ginger, thanks for a very helpful article! Given the potential climate change has to increase other diseases spread by mosquitoes – from dengue fever (as Stefan mentions above) to West Nile or chikungunya[1] – this could be a huge problem.

I am curious about why you think investing infrastructure would necessarily be better for Roll Back Malaria than investing in new drug development. I would argue that something like what the Gates Foundation is doing in trying to develop a vaccine or drug for complete cure and prevention[2] could have just as much impact, if not more. Even if the projected growth in malaria does not take place, we are still far enough away from worldwide eradication that such drugs would surely have tremendous positive impact. In addition, since RMB is focused on malaria and other organizations are already working to improve healthcare infrastructure, I am not convinced that it would be the best to overindex on step three just because the benefits could be realized by other health initiatives.

[1] Molly M. Ginty, “Climate Change Bites”, Natural Resources Defense Council,, accessed November 2016.

[2] Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, “Malaria: Strategy Overview”,, accessed November 2016.

On November 6, 2016, TD21 commented on Uber: Climate Change Hero, or Villain? :

Laure, I really enjoyed your post as this is something I think about often when I am debating whether to take an Uber or Lyft somewhere. My friend in Chicago told me about a new platform called G-Ride that only uses eco-friendly vehicles (hybrid or electric) and plants trees for every ride[1], so it would be interesting to see how much traction a company like that could gain against the big players in the market.

What are your thoughts on how Uber should implement its “green car” option? Should they only be deployed as a true ride-sharing option, where you travel with other passengers as you would with Uber Pool or Lyft Line? Should they charge a premium over UberX or UberBLACK? Should there be multiple pricing tiers? Should they start rolling out green cars in areas where there are already eco-friendly taxis or those where there are not? Even though I often take Ubers instead of taxis, when I traveled to Amsterdam and saw that they had so many Teslas as taxis at the airport[2], it made me far more inclined to take a taxi. But perhaps that would change if Uber also had a solid eco-friendly offering.

[1] G-Ride Website,, accessed November 2016.

[2] Christopher DeMorro, “Amsterdam Airport Enlists 167 Tesla Taxis”, CleanTechnica,, accessed November 2016.