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On November 20, 2016, Tiana commented on Otto and Uber: Pioneering Autonomy in the Shipping Industry :

Really interesting update on how Uber is evolving! With Uber’s investment into robotics to further explore self-driving cars and it’s acquisition of Otto, Uber is essentially mitigating the risks that labor presents to the Company. If Uber’s policy of categorizing drivers as independent contractors is ever successfully challenged and uber is forced to recognize its drivers as employees, this will present significant additional costs on the Company. However, by investing in self-driving cars and acquiring Otto, Uber is positioning itself to operate in a world where it doesn’t need drivers.

My question is how does a world without drivers impact Uber’s operating model? One of Uber’s greatest competitive advantages right now is that the business is able to operate in an extremely asset light model by not owning any of the cars and employing its drivers as independent contractors. But in a world without drivers, will Uber need to own the self-driving cars and fleet of autonomous 18-wheelers? How does owning the assets alter Uber’s financial profile and competitive advantages?

On November 20, 2016, Tiana commented on Data-Driven Dress Dealing :

EDITED is providing a truly unique service. As we discussed in class, the quality of the output here is truly dependent on the quality of the data that is provided. Interestingly, on EDITED’s website they highlighted while anyone can provide this service in theory, not everyone can provide the same level of quality data. What measures does EDITED have in place to ensure the quality of the data? Additionally, how helpful is this information when analyzing historical patterns given the time period of data that EDITED has? Finally, retailers are increasingly working to utilize omnichannel and provide a more seamless integration between their online offerings and in-store offerings. But I wonder, if analyzing websites provides the most representative picture of a retailers offerings? Do all retailers show the full catalog of offerings on their websites and how much flexibility do individual stores have in determining prices / when to promote? If there is a meaningful difference between in-store offerings and online offerings, is the data that EDITED uses for its analysis truly compelling?

Additionally, are customers able to customize the data that they view by retailer? In other words, can customers request data from a curated list of competitors. And as you noted, what problems may this present if EDITED moves towards requesting proprietary data from retailers in the future? How will EDITED resolve the potential conflicts of interest that may result from having access to data from competing retailers.

Interesting post! In many ways, instacart offers more synergies with existing supermarkets than services such as Amazon Fresh or Pantry. Instacart is really more of a personal shopping service because they are sending a person in to a store to pick up your order whereas services such as Amazon Fresh or Pantry completely bypass the supermarket retailers all together. However, because Instacart is sending a shopper in to a store there are some challenges with this operating model which are not present in other competitor offerings. First, the website does not instantly sync with the stock in the store. Therefore, a customer may purchase an item on the website and then when the shopper arrives at the store, they discover that the item is not available. Additionally, when an item is not in stock in the store there is no instant feedback from the customer tot he shopper. The shopper does not have an opportunity to indicate what item they may want instead.

Retailers are increasingly trying to utilize omnichannel to integrate and more efficiently manage stock. Is Instacart working more closely with retailers to identify ways to better sync the in-store offerings with the items listed on the website? Also is Instacart working to identify ways to allow customers to provide real-time feedback to shoppers? These adjustments to the operating model would serve to greatly improve the customer value proposition and further differentiate Instacart from competitors.

On November 20, 2016, Tiana commented on Can Aaptiv Digitalize the Boutique Fitness Experience? :

Great post! This is a really interesting product offering. You discussed in your post how one of the risks is that the market may become oversaturated. I think competition is definitely a huge issue here and what concerns me most is the pricing pressure that this business model may face. You mention the boutique fitness studies and how this is affordable relative to those. I think that many consumers will see this business as more of a competitor to other fitness apps than boutique studios. As many self-directed fitness apps are free, such as the Nike Training Camp app or Nike Run app, and users have the ability to listen to their own playlists while using the apps, I wonder if this app will face pressure to offer a free service. Additionally, many high end gyms, such as Equinox, have their own apps and nothing is really stopping them from further developing their current offerings to compete with standalone fitness apps. As these other free fitness apps increase in sophistication they will offer compelling competition to Aaptiv and even the $10 price point may be too high for many consumers when free/lower priced apps are available.

Really interesting post! What stands out to me most from reading your analysis is that yes, climate change poses a significant challenge to Colombian coffee farmers. However, this challenge is exacerbated by the fact that much of the coffee is produced by smallholder farmers. It would have been helpful to know how much of the country’s production is coming from smallholder farmers. The main challenge here is that any response to the problems created by climate change will be extremely decentralized and possibly ineffective because each farmer will attempt to respond individually. As you point out, one of the keys to remaining a viable coffee producer for Colombia will lie in its ability to organize and educate the smallholder population on how best to respond to these threats. The issue of how best to increase efficiency and responses among smallholder farmers is a big question facing other areas of the world as well. It would be interesting to see if countries in other regions of the world have implemented successful strategies among smallholder farmers which can be exported and implemented in Colombia.

This is a really interesting post on the Northwest Passage and actually aligns really nicely with Dori’s post on the Panama Canal! You bring up great points about how NBC can best position itself to take advantage of the opportunity on the Northwest Passage. However, do you have any concerns about the viability of the Northwest Passage? You focus on the positives that climate change affords for travel through the Northwest Passage, but how do you think the interplay between political concerns will impact travel on the Northwest Passage? The article below references disputes between the US and Canada on how the Northwest Passage should be viewed and indicates that there has been a lack of investment in the route. Additionally, a lot of capital has been invested to expand the Panama Canal for the new generation of ships. Do you believe that the melting of the ice caps are enough to make the Northwest Passage a viable shipping route or do you think that the political and capital investment issues around the Northwest Passage may also pose significant challenges to NBC’s business model?

How the Arctic Ocean could transform world trade

On November 7, 2016, Tiana commented on The Panama Canal: The “Bottleneck” of Global Shipping? :

Really interesting analysis! I think you raise some great points on how the Panama Canal may be impacted by climate change. I appreciate how you brought up some of the alternatives to the Panama Canal such as the Northwest Passage. Since the impacts of climate change may differ on a regional basis, another interesting analysis may be to look at how the Panama Canal may be impacted by climate change relative to some of the other shipping options. Are other shipping routes impacted by climate change and if so, is it possible that adverse weather conditions on other routes may drive traffic to the Panama canal? Also, you mention the Northwest Passage, but is this really a viable option to the Panama Canal for shipping companies? I hadn’t considered it before, but the article below discusses some political disputes around the Northwest Passage and references a lack of investment in the route. Is it possible, that given the recent investments in the Panama Canal plus adverse weather conditions in other parts of the world, it could remain an attractive route for the foreseeable future?

“How the Arctic Ocean could transform world trade”

On November 7, 2016, Tiana commented on Creepy Crawlies & Climate Change at the CDC :

Great post! As you point out, climate change will make it easier for certain organisms which carry infectious diseases to thrive in less common areas. I think the key point is that we need to consider outbreaks in a more global context, especially for diseases which can spread from person to person. Therefore, we need to consider the impact of diseases not only in the regions where mosquitoes thrive, but globally. To that extent I completely agree with you on the point about investing in infrastructure. I would expand that to say that we need to think about global infrastructure. In other words, how can we create systems which track infectious disease outbreaks and research on a global level to better protect and combat populations. Here are some interesting articles which touch on the need for a global pandemic response which links many of the related parties to create more effective responses to outbreaks.

“The Zika Virus: Pandemic Preparedness Is Needed Now!”

“The need for global R&D coordination for infectious diseases with epidemic potential”

On November 7, 2016, Tiana commented on Is It Right to Benefit from the Apocalypse? :

The comments above do a great job of highlighting some of the issues around GMOs. Another interesting point which you touch on in your post is highlighted in section F of the diagram. The impact of climate change will vary by region. While large portions of the world will experience extreme drops in productivity, other portions will actually experience increases in productivity. How is Monsanto preparing itself to compete on a regional basis given the dynamics in productivity? As you’ve noted, the Company has focused its product portfolio to increase crop resistance vs. yield. However, is this the right approach to make the Company more competitive on a global scale? How big of a market opportunity do regions which are expected to experience a large increase in productivity (and may therefore be more focused on yield), compare to those regions which may experience productivity declines? Do you think that Monsanto is truly shifting it’s strategy from yield enhancements to crop resistance, or do you believe the company is simply broadening it’s focus so that it can target both customers that are focused on crop resistance and those that are focused on increasing yield? Are these issues mutually exclusive?