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On December 1, 2017, Test commented on Iran Air: Sanctions and Sanction Relief :

To the question about the media exposure, I agree with MC and Thomas about the risks associated with media exposure. Trying to put myself in the shoes of people around the country, watching media coverage about a US company dealing with a country that has been vilified for decades would likely make me come out strongly against the deal, rather than for, even if I would personally gain via my job. I think that approach would just play more with the emotions of people than they intend.

To respond to Richard Richardson above, I am not surprised at all that they decided to do a deal with Boeing. They were clearly trying to generate favor with the US by doing a deal with one of their largest companies. I think the concern about the ability to get parts in the future is extremely valid, but given the dire situation that Iran Air was in already it seems like the upside related to dealing with Boeing (and using that as negotiating leverage against Airbus) is way larger than the downside.

On December 1, 2017, Test commented on CARNIVAL CORPORATION: Cruising To A Cleaner Planet :

For the question about federal regulations, I’m not sure how much more will realistically be done. While it certainly would be ideal for the government to do so and enact regulations on the amount of water they use, there are already enough concerns about whether the government will enact more regulations on buildings/companies actually based in the US, let alone ships that simply dock in the US.

Given that these cruise ships are constantly exposed to sun and wind, I wonder if there is a way for them to increase their investments in renewable technologies on the ships themselves in order to help cover some of their smaller costs. Even if it doesn’t make a ton of economic sense, I think it would help as a way to attract the more eco-conscious among their potential customers to choose them over brands.

On November 26, 2017, Test commented on Another Grocery Delivery App? :

Totally agree with your points about groceries and farmers markets. While not their original intent, they are increasingly adding local bakers, including those who already have their own storefront, to their platform. Do you think that aspect could scale better across the country or do you think it’s still subject to the same limitations you mentioned above?

That’s a really good point about the revenue sharing – reminds me of the Indigo Agriculture case as well. I can imagine a situation in which, as a drone pilot, I may only own one drone but have the ability to fly multiple over the course of a given day in a few different locations. In that case, it would make sense for me to use my own drone in one farm, but lease a bunch of other drones from Farm Friend (which shares revenue associated with those leases with the drone manufacturer). Farm Friend would then get revenue from the drone lease on top of the revenue already being generated via the other services they provide.

I thought this was really interesting, because it’s a cool example of how even the oldest brands can revolutionize their approach using new technologies. It’s going to be fascinating to see how Aquabio continues and if they find a home outside of the relatively small market in Scotland.

While I certainly wish it would happen, I think the likelihood of distilleries allowing others’ researchers to come visit is quite low. Maybe instead as part of the suggested council they can put third-party audited numbers around their sustainability and their wastage, which would properly allow the whiskey manufacturers to compete against each other.

One of the interesting aspects of these industries is that everyone knows each other, so whenever one gets press for something positive it really spurs the others to action to catch up. Hopefully that happens here as well!

When looking at the map, it’s interesting to note that one of the few other countries with as restrictive a setup as Russia is China, which is another country that Facebook is desperately trying to enter. It’s going to be fascinating to see how Facebook’s approach differs between the two countries. There have been a lot of recent reports about how Facebook is optimistic about finally entering China (properly) in the next year, and that does not have the political risk that Russia does. Could Facebook make the decision to go into China but not Russia? What about vice versa?

I agree with Boaty that Facebook is justified in resisting the laws, but if their future growth potential is hampered because of saturation in the markets they have already entered, they will ultimately need to capitulate and enter those new markets.

On November 25, 2017, Test commented on Convoy: ‘Uberization’ of Trucks :

My (relatively uninformed) opinion of their choices for showing the sustainability of their business model are: 1) continue with smaller players but expand geographically, 2) move to a larger player but remain the same geographically, or 3) go big or go home. While it’s unclear what all the details are of their partnership with Anheuser, it seems like they have opted for option 3, so I’d be really curious to understand from Convoy why they chose to sign on so quickly with a larger player.

Given all that, I think the second suggestion mentioned in this article about refining the pricing model is incredibly important. In order to properly scale to handle larger customers, it’s vital that they have the proper supply.

To the point about Amazon, it seems unlikely that in the long term Amazon will want to partner with anyone as they continue to innovate and vertically integrate across their entire chain, but the plus for Convoy (and their competitors) is that everyone trying to compete with Amazon will be incentivized to use Convoy’s service (assuming it works).

Based on reading this, it seems like Maersk is 5 years ahead of the curve on adopting some of these technologies. However, that could easily be a negative when trying to deal with their partners, most of whom are not as savvy with respect to emerging technologies. For example, using blockchain to have properly-tracked orders across the entire chain sounds great in theory, but my understanding of the reading is that it would require other companies to also commit to adopting it, which seems pretty unlikely in a short time span.

On the other hand, the adoption of emerging technologies within Maersk, like the RCM, sounds really cool and promising. Given the emergence of companies like Flexport which may reduce the competitive advantage of Maersk, investments in new technologies are going to be important to drive costs down further and make their operations more and more efficient.

On November 24, 2017, Test commented on Coca-Cola: Original formula in an IoT world :

I think the first open question is a great point. Because of how frequently IoT technology is changing (both on the hardware and software side), managing such developments is going to be difficult. To me, the point about creating explicit positions for IoT makes a lot of sense, because whoever is responsible will have a really important decision to make – whether to develop these capabilities in-house or to use 3rd party providers to do so.

The advantage of developing these services in-house is that they will have a complete understanding of it and be able to customize the solution to their needs. However, it is less likely that Coca-Cola will be able to attract the tech talent needed to build this out and more importantly, to remain properly up-to-date from a security/privacy perspective. Given the number of companies that specialize in building these exact services, it may make more sense to do that instead. No matter what they decide, these are the types of difficult decisions that require dedicated c-suite members.

I really like the comparison made to Uber, because I think a similar playbook can be followed here in order to mitigate the threat of DJI. Similarly to how the actual auto manufacturers are only now scrambling to increase utilization of their fleet of vehicles by partnering with on-demand apps or autonomous driving ventures, I don’t believe that DJI will try to move into this area in a timely fashion since it is so far outside of their core competency.

The two suggestions in the article I like the most are to 1) increase market liquidity, and 2) partner with government agencies. For the former, aggressively doing so is the only way to ensure the long-term survival of this company, and the latter may help build a sustainable competitive advantage for the company.

Given the nature of drones and the increasing commoditization of them, I believe it would make sense for them to eventually partner directly with a drone manufacturer, customize those drones specifically for this application, and then rent/sell these drones to pilots. This is analogous to how Uber is increasing supply of drivers by partnering with car rental companies to use their extra cars in the fleet.