user123213

user123213

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user123213
On November 19, 2016, user123213 commented on Is The New York Times on its way to becoming old news? :

Thanks for a great article. I agree that the NY Times has not been the most proactive with respect to transforming its business model for the digital age. Your post mentions an investment in virtual reality. If they can reimagine how people consume the news via VR, I think they can be really successful in the future. I can’t even imagine how incredible it would be to be transported to a breaking news event around the world with a VR headset. This would be a serious way for the NY Times to differentiate itself from competitors.

I think they should also have invested in new platforms like Periscope which allow people to live stream events around the world. It has unleashed crowd-sourced journalism. I think they should learn more about this model of journalism and see where they can fit into this new rapidly growing ecosystem. CNN has already entered this space via their CNN iReport module. Check out this article that talks more about crowd-sourced journalism: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/7-citizen-journalism-websites-crowd-sourced-news/.

user123213
On November 19, 2016, user123213 commented on GO-JEK: Motorbike taxi changing the landscape in Indonesia :

Thanks for a great article. I’m really interested on why Go-Jek did not expand as aggressively as Uber or Grab Taxi initially. It seems like scale is the key in these types of business models, and Go-Jek could potentially be displaced by competitors. I also wonder how scalable the motorcycle concept is in other parts of South Asia. While Grab and Uber went from cabs into motorcycles, I think it would require changes to the operating model if Go-Jek goes from motorcycles to cars in some of the other target markets.

I think Go-Pay is Go-Jek’s competitive advantage and how quickly they got adoption of digital money in the mainstream. Here’s an article where the CEO talks about this advantage in more detail: https://www.techinasia.com/go-jek-gopay-tipping-point. I wonder if there are other ways to leverage their digital money platform for other business lines (e.g. pay-as-you go financing for solar, healthcare, agriculture in rural areas).

user123213
On November 19, 2016, user123213 commented on Fitbit Finds Its Fit with Digital :

Great article. I’m concerned that the push into consumer devices that can make lightweight medical diagnoses might be out of Fitbit’s element and require significant changes to their operating model. It seems like Fitbit is looking to become a medical device company which is a much more regulatory-intense business requiring FDA approval than their current consumer fitness tech focus. I found an article that talks about this potential business model change (http://weinberggroup.com/fitbit-develops-medical-grade-device/). I think your recommendation of expanding into integrated apparel makes more sense than getting into devices such as blood glucose meters. If they are going to go in the clinical and medical direction, it will require a lot of changes they will need to manage and think strategically about. Most importantly, they will have to bring on clinical researchers, lawyers, regulatory affairs people and physicians to help them in this endeavor.

user123213
On November 19, 2016, user123213 commented on Epic and the Health Records Business :

Thanks for an interesting article. I’m curious as more EMRs enter this space, what Epic will do to maintain its advantage over its competitors? I would think that getting into big data and analytics tools for population health management would make sense as we transition to a more value-based healthcare system and capitation models. I did some research and it looks like Epic has built out a software module called Healthy Planet that helps healthcare organizations manage patient populations giving them the tools necessary to coordinate care delivery, monitor quality and cost (http://www.epic.com/software#PopulationHealth). Precision medicine is another area that I think makes sense for Epic to explore. Because they have so much data, they should be able to derive insights that could be used by healthcare practitioners to better treat diseases. Finally, I’m curious on what the software solution is to fix the patient-doctor interaction given the amount of time spent on EMR documentation. Is it some combination of artificial intelligence and voice recognition software that can automatically record the appropriate notes and codes necessary for billing?

user123213
On November 19, 2016, user123213 commented on A Better(ment) Way to Invest? :

This is a fascinating article. As someone who uses Intelligent Portfolio, the Charles Schwab equivalent of Betterment, I was particularly interested in your analysis. I think another cause of concern for the robo-advisory model is the initial assessment of a client’s risk profile.

The survey that a client fills out to help Betterment come up with an optimal portfolio could be a limitation. I think it is hard for individuals to perfectly communicate their own risk tolerance to an application. I think that is where a conversation with a fund manager actually might be superior to a robo-advisory model. Without a more sophisticated risk assessment process (i.e. analyzing all of a customer’s financial data which is challenging for many reasons such as privacy), Betterment might be creating and managing portfolios that do not actually optimize an individual’s investments for their particular financial situation. Here’s an interesting article by a skeptic of the robo-advisory model who shares concerns about improperly assessing individuals’ risk tolerance (http://www.thinkadvisor.com/2016/02/17/why-robo-advisors-will-fail-finametrica).

I am also equally concerned about what Betterment will do in the face of competitors like Charles Schwab who are offering no fees at all. I think as the offering becomes more of a commodity, Betterment will have to figure out ways to deliver additional value. One option might be to give people the ability to customize or personalize their investments in some way without jeopardizing the target allocations required to create an optimal portfolio.

user123213
On November 7, 2016, user123213 commented on Allstate Insurance Group and Climate Change :

Thank you for the post. I really like your recommendations and agree that Allstate needs to be proactive not reactive. I particularly agree with your view that they need to incorporate climate change in their investment strategies (Principle 4). One area that I would be curious to get your thoughts on is the impact that the rising shared economy will have on Allstate’s business. The climate implications seem favorable (e.g. less pollution) but what would happen to Allstate’s auto and home insurance businesses? I imagine they would suffer if they just offered traditional products since less cars are being used because of Uber and Lyft and more people are sharing residences via Airbnb. What steps could they take to plan ahead for this future? Does it involve reimagining what a shared-economy insurance product would look like? I did some quick research and it looks like they are going down the path of designing new products to meet this new demand.(http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2016/05/25/409819.htm).

user123213
On November 7, 2016, user123213 commented on SolarCity at the Frontier of Climate Change :

Also, I came across an interesting editorial / article that shares the view that the merger is a bailout and not strategically driven. Worth checking out if you have some time! http://www.forbes.com/sites/greatspeculations/2016/06/22/elon-musks-solarcity-bailout-is-painful-for-tesla-shareholders/#311998d43aa0

user123213
On November 7, 2016, user123213 commented on An unexpected renewable energy revolution in the Mediterranean Basin :

I think what’s going to really help Morocco achieve the targets you outlined above is their recent approval of net metering and their use of auctions to attract renewable developers.

As proposed, their net metering scheme will allow systems to sell up to 20% of their surplus electricity back into the grid. Net metering schemes are critical for residential and commercial solar to take off which will help supplement the large utility-scale projects Morocco is looking to do (http://renewables.seenews.com/news/morocco-amends-renewable-energy-law-507698).

Regarding utility-sponsored auctions, here’s an interesting report that has a section on Morocco’s use of auctions for renewable projects (https://www.irena.org/DocumentDownloads/Publications/IRENA_Renewable_energy_auctions_in_developing_countries.pdf). By bidding out capacity to developers, it allows the utility to figure out who can build the project at the cheapest price and with the least amount of execution risk. It’s a popular mechanism that’s being used especially in emerging markets to attract renewable developers.

user123213

This is a really interesting example of a company thinking ahead. I agree that community solar could hold a lot of potential for sub-scale, remote islands. I would be curious to better understand how you’re thinking about community solar in this context. If I understand correctly, this community solar model is not an off-site grid-connected project that generates electricity which is sold to a utility and then a customer receives a credit on their bill for the share that they subscribed for. That is the community solar model used in the U.S. Are you referring to more of a SolarCity type of model in which Horizon would go and do on-site installations on people’s houses? I think if it’s the latter, I agree with your assessment that there will be a number of challenges. It is an entirely different business model which is a lot more customer-centric than utilities are traditionally known for. It seems like this model is growing in Australia (https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/dec/08/australia-community-solar-energy-project-take-on-the-big-energy-companies).

For areas that already have grid connectivity, I would recommend the first type of model which I think aligns better with a utility’s core operating model. By using a regulatory scheme in which the customer doesn’t actually have to put solar on their roof but instead can purchase a share in an off-site project, Horizon can avoid having to deal with a range of customer challenges and instead stick to what they know which is generation, distribution and retailing. This is a popular way that large utilities in the U.S. are trying to play in the solar space without actually having to dramatically change their business model (http://www.powermag.com/press-releases/xcel-energy-breaks-ground-on-solarconnect-community-project/).

user123213
On November 7, 2016, user123213 commented on Can an Oil Refinery Refine Its Carbon Footprint? :

I agree that it makes sense for BP to explore partnering with universities to think about technologies of the future but I wonder if those research efforts will be in vain. Given how ultra-competitive the industry is and how the low oil price environment might not disappear, I am curious about how much capital BP realistically can allocate toward new technologies even down the line.

It exited the solar business in 2013 amidst fierce competition (http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/articles/2013/04/bp-exiting-us-wind-unit-pares-renewable-energy-interests-to-fuels.html) and then exited the cellulosic ethanol business in 2015 (http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2015/01/18/bps-exit-from-cellulosic-ethanol-the-assets-the-auction-the-process-the-timing-the-skinny/) amidst similarly difficult industry conditions. I would argue that the environment now and the future is going to be even more challenging than it was back then. It seems like it might be a difficult time to start thinking about investments for the future outside of their core business. That’s why I think your 2nd and 3rd recommendations make a lot of sense.

user123213
On November 5, 2016, user123213 commented on SolarCity at the Frontier of Climate Change :

I think the big question is whether the merger is a bailout of SolarCity by Tesla or a necessary strategic step. Your argument is that it is a strategic step because of the synergies that would be unlocked by the deal. I disagree with this assertion. Currently, SolarCity and Tesla already have a partnership that allows customers to benefit from both company’s services, so the deal seems unnecessary and does not create a lot of additional value for either company. I see this merger more as a financial bailout for the financially troubled SolarCity by Tesla at the expense of Tesla shareholders. We shouldn’t forget that Elon Musk also has personal interests in both companies. While I hope the merger goes well and that the company’s integrated offering of solar PV, batteries and electric cars is popular, I did not think the merger was the right move.