I love this, and like Maria I definitely need it. I wish you guys all the best!
You mention issues with content acquisition – is the idea that you would sign certain chefs up to provide exclusive content? I think you’re right that this is a really big challenge, especially because so many of the ‘blockbuster’ chefs have their own brands beyond recipes-on-the-page and must be reluctant to share their info at anything other than a very high price! I guess I might go even further and suggest that one or several of these chefs might be well placed to introduce a competitive product, that allows users to specify numbers, other recipes and timings and so on- and that, given their resources and following, is surely a potential threat. I can see, for example, an Ottolenghi, Heston Blumenthal, Ina Garten or Jamie Oliver version of this being super popular. (That just shows it’s a good idea!)
To guard against it: have you guys thought about easing customer adoption, one of your other operational focuses, by offering a cooking tutorial, from the basics onwards? Something akin to Coursera? I would think that marketing it as a teaching tool rather than a recipe aggregator and cooking algorithm might capture share where chefs catering to (ha,ha) experienced cooks and passionate foodies might not be able to.
I completely agree with AJ; while I don’t disagree that this was an approach that looked to benefit Facebook, I believe that some limited internet is better than none. You could easily say that governments restricting access to internet or specific sites is similar. Or indeed that Google taking money from companies to prioritize certain search results skews a customer’s experience of what’s online just as much. I am not saying this is philosophically ‘right’ – I agree that equality of information is the ideal – but given that it happens, and happens legally, I don’t necessarily think this shouldn’t have been allowed.
I also think that Facebook were one of only a handful of companies that had the resources and technology to provide such a service; with the exception of Google and perhaps one or two others, it’s hard to think of a non-governmental power that could have rolled out internet so quickly to low-income users in India. Is there an argument to be made that they were taking some sort of responsibility here?
I too initially loved Groupon – until it started to drive me absolutely crazy and I sent all emails automatically to spam.
I think your point about ‘targeting’ was absolutely key. To my memory, there was no way to even filter for preferences (correct me if I’m wrong), so to Lindsey’s point above, people weren’t able to say wine-tastings-only or spin-classes-only. I think if it were launched now, it might have been able to take advantage of the more sophisticated software (perhaps, to your point about posting on social media, partnering with these networks) to source data and come up with highly personalized, narrow-geography, timely recommendations, that would push a notification to your phone rather than send an email.
But I also think your point about technology vs. personnel-heavy sales would ultimately still be the killer for a company like that, unless they could automate deal sourcing a bit more. And it’s hard to see, on a global scale, how that could work. RIP Groupon!
I also love TransferWise!
I think your point about bank partnerships is really interesting. We see this all the time in the FinTech space – FinTechs started out as enemies and existential threats, and now they are – if not friends – then at least taken a little less seriously by the banks. I can see that a partnership would make sense here, because the key thing banks hold which these startups don’t to the same extent is customers, and more specifically customer data. If TransferWise wants to increase penetration (which they probably do, especially given Pallavi’s point above about aggressive competitors), or if they want to introduce spin-off products, then these customers and their data make banks a really valuable partnership prospect. The issue is: is that really smart? Is it really viable? From a ‘smart’ perspective: a large-scale, public bank partnership makes the customer promise for TransferWise seem a bit sketchy. Their entire value prop is set up antithetical to banks. From a viability perspective – are we talking about one partnership? If so, how to choose? If not, are we talking about this technology being in place in all banks? If that happens, are TransferWise really value-add at all, or could the banks not all develop a uniform system (like they’ve done with regular transfers)? To me, TransferWise are potentially stuck between a rock and a hard place here. But I am rooting for them!
Thanks for this Danny!
I totally agree with you that even though the follow-up costs are already significantly reduced, lowering the upfront price of these will be key to Phillips’ success. I also think, given as you say that IoT and environmental consciousness are both burgeoning ideas, that the company will need to think of something that helps them stand out from other bulb producers in future. One thought would be whether they could customize the entire lighting fixture (rather than just the bulb) to be Phillips-specific. This could work in, for example, new build homes. But then I guess you return to the question of whether that’s truly scalable, or whether the inconvenience of not being able to run to the store to fetch any new lightbulb, and again the upfront cost, would deter any consumers.
Thanks for this MicMacMan. I think you’re absolutely right that O-I are relatively well positioned to set a new standard for sustainable glass production.
What I find so compelling is that the use case for glass is so strong and also fairly broad. Wine bottles, perfume bottles, water bottles, drinking glasses: all these could benefit from a new sustainable manufacturing process, and one that could eventually be rolled out globally, if O-I sets a new benchmark and shares its technology. As you say, since glass is the most sustainable packaging, it seems certain that there will be more and more opportunities to use glass as a substitute for a less permanent receptacle, so the opportunities abound. I guess the question is: how insulated are O-I from the competition presented by other glass-making companies? Will they definitely produce the best technology, and do they have the furthest reach? Or may they be wiped out by companies that can produce environmentally-friendly glass much more profitably?
Thanks for this post!
I do wonder whether UPS will really have to face up to the impact of climate change on their business, or whether in fact development of 3D printing will be a bigger concern for them, or even potentially their downfall, long before taxes and temperature take their toll in a meaningful way.
Right now it seems inconceivable that people would stop sending packages through a service like UPS, but just as email has challenged snail mail, I wouldn’t be surprised if in 20 years, the demand for UPS’ services had shrunk dramatically, with people printing all their online purchases at home on a 3-D printer. This trend isn’t even exclusive to new purchases – I printed a key off a kiosk in New York last week off from a photograph taken in Chicago. As this technology proliferates, surely the need to send items through the mail will decrease?
What’s interesting is that if that’s true, UPS might actually worry less about sustainability from a climate perspective and more from the perspective of the viability of their product long term. However, it’s all guesswork right now – so they cannot afford to neglect the climate question entirely.
I wonder a little bit about driverless cars in the context of this article.
I think it’s possible that however well developed VW’s electric car is, the introduction of driverless cars may soon render all this research and hard work pointless, not just for VW but for other auto companies. Google’s self-driving cars are well into a pilot stage in many different parts of the country, and are planned to be in the market as soon as 2018. We’ve seen in the past that where Google goes, others tend to follow; so will having a really good electric car- but one that still requires a driver – really be a competitive advantage for long? And will VW meet its goals for 2025?
I’d echo Siddharth’s comment here – I think in principle this is a great idea, but clearly the level of return promised by these bonds will be critical to expansion, or lack thereof.
Additionally, and to build on what LST has written, I would query whether banks are really best placed to design and sell these investment products. Clearly the resources and client base they have at their disposal are advantages, but I wonder whether more narrowly-focused firms might have a better incentive to work on green bonds than banks which already sell so many other products to investors. This new market reminds me a little bit of social impact bonds, which are also an emerging new class of investments. Goldman Sach’s attempted a large scale investment project to tackle prisoner re-offending, and encountered so many roadblocks along the way that the project failed. On the other hand, specialist firm Social Finance has had much more success with its equivalent projects. I wonder whether specialist environmental firms might be better placed to grow the green bond market in the long run, given the conflicting incentives and client needs that banks have?
Sebastian, I think this article makes a really compelling point about how large companies such as P&G have both a responsibility and an intent to increase sustainable business practices throughout their markets. Its great to see that P&G have committed to these goals and, across some products such as Pampers, made real progress.
I guess my question would be: how is this plan progressing, and is it realistic? For example, on their plan towards starting to source 100% renewable energy, and throw zero waste to landfill: how far have they progressed vs. that goal? Is there not significant variability in how far that is being achieved depending on geography and product line? What are the profitability implications? I would mount the same challenge to your excellent additional suggestions. For instance: it’s one thing to recommend recycling in a market where the underlying infrastructure for recycling already exists; then I would think it is fairly simple to advertise the benefits of recycling on TV, in schools and on packaging. But in geographies where recycling is not commonplace, and thus the municipal support for recycling practices is nascent or not available, is it really realistic (or fair) to suggest P&G alone moves the needle?
To me this seems like a situation where P&G would get further if they partnered with other companies to commit to these practices. That’s partly because the potential environmental impact would increase, but it’s also partly to share the load of responsibility with competitors, so that P&G isn’t disproportionately hit by the cost and resource implications of these impressive efforts. The question is: is it feasible for competitors to form an alliance on this basis?