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On November 15, 2018, tommac commented on Using Open Innovation to Solve the Ocean Plastics Problem :

Great article on tapping into distributed labor! Thanks for sharing it. Is there a path for this company to have a business model that is not reliant on plastic procurers who specifically want to purchase recycled plastic from the ocean at a 3x premium to virgin plastic for sustainability purposes [1]? I like the idea of applying innovative business practices (e.g., open innovation) and technologies (e.g., crypto currency) to sustainably provide a service in the market, but I worry about some actors incorporating these methods in unsustainable ways. That said, I think that the waste industry could benefit enormously from innovators looking to make waste collection and processing more efficient. I hope The Plastic Bank is successful!

[1] Anne Field, “The Plastic Bank: Using Plastic Refuse To Create A Global Currency For The Poor,” Forbes, November 29, 2017,, accessed November 2018.

On November 15, 2018, tommac commented on Love in a Hopeless Place: Machine Learning at OkCupid :

Thanks MM for the article! There was an interesting Economist article highlighting the value coming from the increased efficiency in the marraige/dating market a few months back. It’s main point was that the more compatible matches one has, the better their odds are that they end up with the best person for them in the long run [1]. Because these dating sites are in a market of sorts, there is feedback from their customers holding them accountable. If they don’t like the matches, they leave. If they do like the matches, they stay. Using data to improve the odds that high quality matches are made seems to increase the odds that any individual finds meaningful romantic relationships. Even if it knows the preferences of its users better than the users admit to themselves because of its ability to analyze user behavior, it seems as though everyone is better off.

[1] “Modern Love,” The Economist, August 18 2018,, accessed Nov. 2018.

On November 15, 2018, tommac commented on IBM’s Deja Vu in Disruption :

Thanks for the article! Like some of my section-mates, I also have a limited understanding of open innovation and initially think that making its most valuable IP would present a real risk to the value of the company. I may be missing the point, but it seems that the reference to the “relational database” article that spawned Oracle, a major competitor of IBM, may be why they are more closed with their technical advances. That said, I recognize that the culture in tech is very supportive of open innovation. Therefore, to acquire technical talent, I would consider selecting several strategically valueless, yet highly interesting, pieces of research and releasing it to the broader community. This then starts to create a reputation for open innovation, helping with recruiting while still protecting IBMs valuable IP.

On November 15, 2018, tommac commented on Printing the Future of Athletic Shoes at Adidas :

Great article! I’m looking forward to my first pair of custom shoes. That said, I wonder how healthy the use of additive manufacturing technology is for the shoe industry. My concern is that it may not cost startups enormous amounts of money to buy the equipment for 3D manufacturing and robust supply chains may become less necessary. This would happen if labor content shrinks in the cost structure and smaller lots can be produced at the same price. The result of this, I’d guess, is the invitation of significant competition (in addition to Nike). If this happens, it’s possible that industry profits decline as prices, and margins, shrink. The differentiator in the industry is likely then design. Will Adidas be able to retain its ownership of design leadership, or will technical design become commoditized as blueprints for shoes proliferate?

On November 15, 2018, tommac commented on Blackrock’s Use of Machine Learning to Deliver Performance :

Interesting article! It seems that machine learning will have a significant impact on asset managers of all strategies and sizes over the next few decades. A question that this brought up for me is who will win this game in the long run? I wonder if those with the most assets and fees today will be the ones able to invest most in this sort of technology and talent, resulting in a winner-take-all industry. Alternatively, will the old school quant funds (e.g., Renaissance, D.E. Shaw, etc.) be able to leverage their lead in the space to ultimately retain and grow market share? My guess is that the funds with the most to invest in developing these capabilities and strategies will ultimately be the ones that win, and the industry will go through a period of consolidation.

Separately, I wonder if BlackRock is planning on taking this investment in machine learning to the extreme and pull expensive portfolio managers out of the equation. Your article suggests that this technology is an aid to their portfolio managers investment decisions versus a replacement, but is that the end goal? Given that BlackRock has such a leadership position in passive strategies, it seems to make sense that their ultimate goal may be to replace costly investment managers with either passive strategies or computer based strategies. It will be very interesting to watch how this plays out.

On November 15, 2018, tommac commented on Boeing: Additive Manufacturing Adding Enough? :

Thanks for a very interesting article! It seems that the aerospace industry has been buzzing about the possibilities of additive manufacturing for the past decade, and it has encountered more roadblocks than expected. As BlueSky pointed out, aerospace is an extremely conservative industry given what is at stake. My (limited) understanding of additive manufacturing is that the metal components formed from it don’t have the same strength and fatigue properties as those milled from castings or extrusions because of the incremental way additive manufacturing forms the components. This may make it so that additive manufacturing using metals grows more quickly in other industries before coming to aerospace. Additionally, my sense is that Boeing would be hesitant to introduce new parts on a current platform (i.e. the 787) due to supply chain risks, FAA approval risks, and technology risks. That said, it will be exciting to watch this further develop and be used for future platforms, hopefully as early as the 797.