Thanks MW – this was a fascinating read. I did not know about the Gemini 2RE shoe – that is an amazing product. I agree with your advice for UnderArmour that their strongest path forward is to push ahead on smartwear. I think this will drive customer loyalty and really strenghten the brand for UnderArmours core demographics. The other element of this that should be important is the marketing around this. Anecdotally, I have never seen advertisements for the Gemini 2RE shoe, but I have seen multitudes of ads for less technologically advanced Nike shoes. I wonder why UnderArmour isn’t investing as aggressively in marketing campaigns or if I have just not seen them.
Thanks for the post Lee. I think that it is possible that the business has deteriorated worse than the standard 6% that you listed above. My first thought is that it’s possible that the data doesn’t include the full blended rate – i.e. how many people are not participating in the market that are not trackable which would reduce the percentage fee. The other thing that I think may be happening is that while topline is relatively steady, sellers have to work far harder from a cost perspective to add value and so are getting squeezed in terms of profitability. This is summarized better by this writer (https://www.washingtonpost.com/realestate/commissions-of-6-percent-for-home-sales-are-the-norm-but-that-is-changing/2016/04/13/91bb758c-fb55-11e5-886f-a037dba38301_story.html)
“Zillow wasn’t as big and powerful in the past, which meant that the MLS (multiple listing service) that served Realtors was their ace in the hole. That barrier is gone. Recognizing the growing threats, the real estate industry is racing to automate and add technology. In every industry where this happens, margins contract. This industry is no exception, and commissions are dropping dramatically and quickly.”
Thanks for this post – didn’t realize UnderArmour was so aggressively pushing into the fitness space. It looks like Nike is also investing in this space, but I think they are doing more in house vs. acquiring. Apps like Nike running are used to engage users and build the Nike brand.
It also looks like Nike has invested in mobile more directly (http://www.businessinsider.com/why-nike-acquired-virgin-mega-sneakers-2016-8) with this acquisition of Virgin Mega.
Very interesting topic. It is interesting to frame HBS as a business rather than just a business school. I agree that it is important to be a first mover in virtual classrooms in order to continue generating revenues outside of the traditional MBA program. I don’t think that the situation is as dire as Professor Christensen laid out, at least not in HBS’s case specifically. I think trust and personal connections are still tremendously valuable in business and this feature of HBS is almost impossible to digitize. So while there may be value in tangential products, I think the in person case method will continue to attract talented individuals.
This is a very interesting article – very well researched. One thing that I find interesting that you mentioned is the composition of the supply side of the “P2P” dynamic.
As discussed in the article (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-05-10/lendingclub-is-turning-out-to-be-anything-but-a-direct-lender), institutional capital is a major driver of LendingClub’s business and that leaves a lot of risk that the market unwinds whenever we have another shakeout in consumer credit. I agree that the platform has a lot of potential, but I am very skeptical that these short term yield temptations are not sustainable when volatility hits.
This is pretty fascinating. I wonder how cork trees CO2 absorption compares with other trees when it is stripped and non-stripped (i.e. on a net basis are these trees better than a substitute at absorbing CO2). With that in mind, one interesting and threatening trend to this business is the use of alternatives for sealing wine bottles. Increasingly wine does not use cork on the lower end of the wine spectrum and my understanding is that the cost of shipping and manufacturing the product doesn’t offset the slightly decreased wine quality enough for the wine producer to need to purchase corks. I wonder if cork production and transportation may also be large contributors to CO2 production which aren’t immediately obvious that will be agitated against with time (unless the trees benefits stack up favorably to alternatives).
I agree that Vail’s programs in place to reduce energy use by 10% are noble, but it is clear from what you outlined that climate change will do substantial damage to Vail’s winter business model no matter what they do as a company to combat it. For that reason, I disagree that they should continue to diversify into winter resorts because this is only a temporary solution to volatility in snow patterns, when overall, all of these resorts will slowly lose snowfall and see damage to their ski business. Therefore I agree with your last points around creating other winter activities and building up the resorts value during the summer months.
Very interesting and unfortunate description of events. I agree with the idea that you mentioned towards the end of your post with regards to devising a method of raising young lobsters and then releasing them into the wild once they are better able to deal with adverse conditions. This wouldn’t work in practice however because there would be no way for fisherman to keep track of their “lobster herd” and other fisherman would be incentivized to steal rather than spend money for their own lobsters. Due to this and the apparent substantial environmental damage to existing lobster populations, it seems that the only long term option would be to begin investing in high quality lobster farming where lobsters can be raised under ideal conditions. There is another company called Marine Harvest ASA which is doing this but with Salmon. Someone wrote about it for this assignment – it’s really quite a piece.
This sounds remarkably similar to the IKEA case and I think that there are similar lessons. First, it is clear that these companies generate negative externalities that aren’t captured in their P&L and it is important that activists are forcing the public to see that this is the case in order to change the behavior and decision making at these companies. The second is that the public, shareholders and media should be very leery that any elegant solution like GreenPalm certificates somehow solve things. It is very clear that this is the easy path forward for the company to save face without actually solving anything. If Unilever could actually farm sustainably for the same price then they clearly would have done that over some roundabout method. The final lesson is that if a company wants something done right, then they have to do it themselves. In this case it requires Unilever to vertically integrate and buy palm oil farms to ensure compliance and sustainability. In the short term this will be unprofitable and unacceptable to many shareholders, but it will create a first mover advantage with activists and therefore consumers in the long run.
Very interesting lay out of the scope of Aramco and its impact on global warming. One thought that I have is that the IPO likely doesn’t have much to do with the Co. looking to slowly increase transparency (especially with regards to global warming), but is rather the Saudi government desperately trying to raise cash to subsidize its spending during the current oil downturn. In that same vein, I don’t think Aramco is able to lower its marginal cost of production on reserves through any climate change technologies and therefore is unable to keep prices too low in the long run without existential risk to the stability of Saudi. Therefore I agree that your #3 proposal is the only real way to affect positive change, but in all likelihood their best option is misinformation and using global influence to affect foreign policies towards oil and GHGs.