While Orbital Insights is generating in-demand data, what are the long-term barriers to entry for this business? Over time, can’t anyone send up a satellite, or leverage someone else’s satellite and analyze the pictures? I would be concerned about investing in this business, as I don’t see sustainable grooves of differentiation — what’s their edge (as Prof. Greenwood would say). Separately, it seems they are gathering valuable information before others have it. I imagine this data is only valuable to the purchaser if it is sold exclusively to them (if everyone has the data, what’s the point?) As a result, I wonder if other stakeholders of this proprietary info, such as the government, will intervene and demand that the info become more widely available. If the insights have deep implications for society, the government is unlikely to be pleased with the info being concentrated in the hands of a few profit-seeking hedge fund managers.
There are enormous implications to self-driving cars. Based on my research, truck drivers will be the first to go. This is because highway driving is an easier problem to solve than city driving (only requires speeding up, slowing down and occasionally changing lanes). Interestingly, truck driver is the most common job in the US. What happens when they are out of jobs? What will they do? All the industries that cater to them, from road-side eateries to gas station convenience stores, will likely be decimated. What happens to those local economies that depend on truck driver business to survive? Are you worried about the truck drivers of America? I am.
Any form of entertainment that can go digital probably will. Broadway shows are no different. The question for me is not whether Broadway will go digital, but will it remain competitive with the numerous cheaper and convenient forms of entertainment that exist? Today we have network TV, premium channel content, sports, streaming movies, video games, virtual and augmented reality and much more. How does Broadway attract theatergoers in a future where content is easily and cheaply accessible? Also, when everyone can have the “best seat in the house,” (presumably when theater goes digital) why would anyone without a front seat buy tickets?
Every time you download an app, create an account on a website or enter some contract, you inevitably have to accept the “terms and conditions” in order to proceed. Personally, I cannot be bothered by the content in the terms and conditions and virtually always accept without reading them. In a world were new technologies, apps, etc. are constantly introduced with terms and conditions that nobody cares to read, what are consumers supposed to do? They are often filled with verbose legal jargon — should I get sign-off from my lawyer every time I want to use a new food delivery app? I say we just bite the bullet, let the companies do what they want to do and enjoy the food when it arrives. Maybe they’re tracking my eating habits and selling it to McDonalds, so what?
This is an interesting emerging industry. A couple follow-up questions: 1) How receptive has the U.S. government been to tele-medicine? Given the government’s fixation on lowering medical costs, I would assume they would be highly supportive of this approach. 2) It seems that this model relies on excess capacity in doctor’s schedules and matches an “unused” doctor with a prospective patient. Is it the case that an unused doctor is inherently worse? Aren’t most good, successful doctors fully utilized? Also, a random unused doctor is allocated to a patient each time, how can they be sure to know the patient’s medical history and offer advice based on a holistic understanding of the patient? Does this matter?
I am not surprised that the frequency and magnitude of extreme weather insurance payouts is increasing given the rise of global warming. You mentioned ways that AIG is trying to reduce greenhouse gases through their own captive investment managers. However, one quick fix to the increased likelihood and quantum of payouts is to raise premiums. Has this happened at AIG? It seems that would be a natural response to what is happening in their business.
Dan – what an interesting and exciting pocket within the relatively steady and staple milk industry. I understand that even though water is the most abundant resource on the planet, there are areas in the world, such as CA, that have limited access to fresh water. Given that Califa has established a brand and is leading the almond milk category in terms of growth, why can’t they begin to plant trees in other regions of the world where fresh water is more plentiful? It seems to me that they could reduce the stress on CA’s water supply by beginning to plant seeds (literally) in other regions. I wonder if they will begin to do so in the coming years as this issue intensifies.
Carolyn – the figures you noted are staggering. I didn’t realize that 51% of global greenhouse gas emissions are due to livestock and their byproducts. However, is it reasonable to argue that livestock consumption will decrease? With the proportion of the world capable of affording this relatively expensive source of protein rising, how can we expect people to give it up? Additionally, given how much people enjoy meat, I imagine it would be tough for governments to push any regulations through that limit the supply.
Claire – very interesting company overview. I wonder where else this quantification of environmental impacts could be a source of competitive differentiation. Along those lines, I wonder how sustainable this strategy is. If Everlane is really onto something, I imagine that their competition will follow suit, as there doesn’t seem to be substantial barriers to measuring this impact. Over time, if this becomes relevant to consumers and the government, do you foresee regulation that mandates such disclosure (similar to various jurisdictions requiring the posting of calories content at restaurants)? If that were to happen, I imagine that Everlane’s single source of differentiation would erode, causing this start-up to fade away (the way jeans do as they’re washed repeatedly).
It is interesting to understand VW’s approach to renewable energy in its manufacturing. Although they should, of course, be interested in how their manufacturing impacts climate change / the environment, couldn’t they have a much greater impact by developing more fuel efficient vehicles and / or enhancing electric vehicle technology? Additionally, VW is currently in the midst of a massive emissions scandal for intentionally programming turbocharged direct injection diesel engines to activate certain emissions controls only during laboratory emissions testing. While their approach to manufacturing is interesting, what do you make of these other climate issues? Should VW prioritize those initiatives over your suggestions?