Great piece! I suspect Tesla’s open innovation policy is less open than it seems. As noted, battery innovations are likely mostly commoditized, and as such, open innovation can only benefit Tesla through battery improvements. However, Tesla’s true advantages come in its ability to manufacture (the Gigafactory) and its excellence at product design and safety. These competitive advantages are not accessible through Tesla’s open innovation policy and thus remain its major points of differentiation. Although Tesla is a new entrant in the industry, it has already surpassed the world’s carmakers in on-board electronics, software features, and safety. These are the cutting edge innovations that drive adoption as much as the cars’ identities as electric vehicles. But this “secret sauce” is not patented, it’s driven by internal design processes that are not easily copy-able.
Fascinating look at an under-reported part of Boeing’s supply chain! It strikes me that many of the parts Kim Smith mentions as currently 3D printed for Boeing commercial aircraft are internal or passenger facing components: stow bins, sidewalls, furnishings, etc. I would be curious to learn more about the inherent limitations of additive manufacturing and its ability to create components that have the requisite tensile strength and resilience to serve as structural components for aircraft. You note that the FAA has approved the first structural additively manufactured part; is it feasible that one day all parts could be additively manufactured?
I also wonder, as larger and more complex parts are created through AM, are there still meaningful supply chain improvements over subtractive manufacturing? It’s not clear to me that additively manufacturing an entire wing results in lead time or transportation efficiencies over subtractive processes.
Stacy above notes that click ad rates are higher for Toutiao articles than for Baidu search results. But I wonder how successful continued monetization of Toutiao will be. The company may face a reckoning with its own content providers. These content producers and news organizations face a devil’s bargain with Toutiao. The more they allow the company to use their content, the less relevant their own homepages and the more personalized and sticky Toutiao will be. Sooner rather than later, they must recognize that serving content to Toutiao is only speeding their own demise. You draw an analogy to Netflix, and as we’ve seen, Disney has decided to pull its own content from Netflix to create its own distribution service and take control of its own destiny. Toutiao must successfully navigate this narrow path to appease its content producers while buying enough time to create its own content.
Great look at how the military is using AM! I’ve consistently heard about cost overruns in major military procurement projects. Some explanations I’ve read attribute this trend to the rapidly growing complexity of major defense projects. It sounds like additive manufacturing will continue to add complexity to the military hardware supply chain. As you note, there will be licensing requirements as well as the need to transmit plans to various forward battlefields. I would be curious to understand how AM can be managed in a cost-effective way or perhaps be used to untangle military procurement costs.
The Grand Challenges seem well suited to the non-profit sector where transparency does not erode competitive advantage, and altruism can drive interest alongside financial reward. That said, I do wonder if the lack of profit motive and competitive capital allocation can result in outsized waste and bloated budgets or even rent-seeking on the part of grantees. For example, I recall Bill Gates’ previous toilet and condom challenges, but I don’t believe any major innovations or success emerged from them. Does open innovation allow for non-expert or long-shot ideas to move farther than they ought to? On the flip side, perhaps Mr. Gates does not mind if his money is allocated inefficiently, as long as there is potential for immense societal impact. I imagine he would argue that lives inefficiently saved are better than lives efficiently not saved.
Fascinating look at disruption and machine learning in a traditionally backwards area! From a policy standpoint, it sounds like CityMapper and technology are scrambling the implicit public transportation bargain: government is granted monopolies on bus, subway, and light rail service in exchange for fair access, funding from progressive taxation, and sustainability of the market. Machine learning has given CityMapper the ability to provide a differentiated service good and cheap enough to draw users away from TfL. This is remarkable. But I think, however, that CityMapper should be forced to pay for the externalities it is imposing on public transit networks. The continued existence of public transit requires the cross-subsidization you mention. In unwinding it, CityMapper is shifting value from the public to itself (and to be fair, the people who use the adaptive bus). But, it sounds like Londoners have agreed to this bargain before. Citizens should rightfully ask CityMapper to cover some costs of access for those worst off.