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On November 20, 2016, David commented on Evaluating New Drugs with Wearable Technology :

One of the main issues with clinical trials is that there’s never really enough data to draw meaningful conclusion. When I was reading my first medical journals while in undergrad, I was genuinely appalled by the scarcity of data that was used to support far reaching conclusions. Sample sizes were either too small. Ridiculously broad assumptions were made. After studying econometrics, I couldn’t help but gasp almost every time I read a medical journal!

A big challenge was always whether or not data collected can / should be thought of as representative of a larger demographic. Furthermore, whether or not a drug succeeded was difficult to accurately assess because most of the participants in the trial were assumed to be the same (i.e. since they were randomly selected). This I always found misleading because it didn’t take into account the differences that the patients had when they were in the trial phase. Did the test patients end up exercising more? Did they eat differently? Did they sleep differently? etc. These are important questions that I’m glad can be addressed with new wearable technology

On November 20, 2016, David commented on Evaluating New Drugs with Wearable Technology :

One of the main issues with clinical trials is that there’s never really enough data to draw meaningful conclusion. When I was reading my first medical journals while in undergrad, I was genuinely appalled by the scarcity of data that was used to support far reaching conclusions. Sample sizes were either too smalls. Ridiculously broad assumptions were made. A big challenge was always whether or not data collected can / should be thought of as representative of a larger demographic. Furthermore, whether or not a drug succeeded was difficult to accurately assess because most of the participants in the trial were assumed to be the same (i.e. since they were randomly selected). This I always found misleading because it didn’t take into account the differences that the patients had when they were in the trial phase. Did the test patients end up exercising more? Did they eat differently? Did they sleep differently? etc. These are important questions that I’m glad can be addressed with new wearable technology

On November 20, 2016, David commented on Is Your Next Burrito an Emoji Away? :

Great article. The one part I had serious doubts on was on the delivery capabilities that Chipotle should try to develop. Like Piriya, I’m not sure there’s a lot of added value in vertically integrating the physical delivery component of the transaction because I don’t think there’s much value add for Chipotle. Part of the reason that delivery networks work is that when they’re large enough, the scale and network effects reduce the unit costs significantly, and it’s typically easier to achieve this by working with other food delivery networks that also use the same platform. Additionally, the idea of delivering food via drones seems a bit far fetched at the moment. It’s probably in the future, but the idea of receiving a burrito via drone is a hard one to swallow. Especially if I’m in my 30th floor office in Manhattan.

In Kenya, I’ve seen similar examples of companies that use non-financial information to assess the credit worthiness of an individual and to ultimately provide loans to people. Examples include Branch.co.ke, a lending platform that uses phone data (contacts, call history, messaging history, sums of airtime pop up payments, etc. to determine how much to lend. Branched received $9m in equity funding from Anderseen Horowitz earlier this year.

I’m excited about the prospects of this since many of these ventures are actually increasing access to capital for millions that would otherwise struggle to find loans. Additionally, the fact that default rates on these platforms tend to be really high underscores the immense level of trust that exists on both parties. By the way, I am not sure that the reason default rates are low is because of the social component, because the platforms I’ve seen in Kenya such as Branch and m-kopo don’t actually have social media integration yet are able to maintain much lower than what we see in traditional systems. That said, I’m still not sure what exactly makes people on these platforms so sticky and willing to not default on their loans. This will be an interesting discussion in class, and I’ll try to read more about it.

Thanks for sharing

On November 20, 2016, David commented on Fujifilm: Transformation from a photographic film maker :

I was very surprised to find that Fujifilm is now a player in the cosmetics industry. While reading this, I kept questioning how difficult it would actually be for Fujifilm to successfully compete in the cosmetics sector. It’s one thing to be able to develop great cosmetics by leveraging the technology that’s been built up over a decade or so to generate great photography, but it’s an entirely different proposition to successfully replicate this in an entirely different sector. I wonder how they’ve gone about marketing their products and competing with established players. At the same time, if they do succeed in this sector, will it open up the industry to other new-tech providers of cosmetics solutions? For instance, in MKT class, we talked about MINK – the 3D-printed cosmetics company. Would the success of Fujifilm open up doors for these new players who’ve been struggling to gain traction in an industry that has seen little innovation? And in the end, who will win in this new battle?

On November 20, 2016, David commented on Behind Moneyball 2.0 Stands STATS :

Great article KS – this is a field that has always fascinated me and I’m glad you highlighted this level of detail. The issue with sports at times is that there’s a delicate balance between the ‘science’ part and the ‘art’ part. While athletic capabilities can certainly be horned through insights from data and analytics, there are some elements of sport that tend to be very intuitive and second nature to the athletes. How an athlete dribbles is more art than science. How Steph Curry shoots free throws is more art than science. There’s always a lot of data being generated for sports but I wonder to what degree they actually end up being useful. For instance, would showing Shaq data on his free throw strategy help him do better, especially after say 15 years in the game? Perhaps. Would it enable him to get to the level of Steph Curry? Almost absolutely not.

On November 7, 2016, David commented on Sinking the Subway: The MBTA Confronts Climate Change :

In some ways, I can empathize with the MBTA’s focus on reducing emissions rather than addressing the fundamental revamp that is needed to make it able to operate in a world with more and more extreme climate change. From the MBTA’s perspective, both actions are necessary, but one is a quick-win whereas the latter presents an incredible financial and operational challenge. It is difficult to address the latter in the context of the MBTA alone, without addressing the need for the entire city to be more climate-change proof. The fact is, making the MBTA suitable for the predicament we’re in requires very heavy investments, many of which are outside the scope of the MBTA, and which cannot be paid for by passenger fees, even if those fees are hiked in the future. For the buses to operate, there needs to be heavier investments by the Roads department to make sure that the roads are more snow/ice free. To reduce flooding in the T, we may need additional dykes around Boston that reduce flooding for the entire city. While some of the investments needed for the MBTA are internal (e.g. upgrade the railway network, the transmission, etc.), the broader question of who bears the bulk of the burden remains, and it would be interesting to see how this plays out in the policy spheres.

Thanks for sharing the info on how Suzao has adapted its strategic goals and processes to address the impact of climate change. However, I was concerned about the fact that most of the info presented above as to what the company’s doing came almost entirely from the company documents of the firm. While it may be the case that the company is actually executing against what it has laid out in its company reports, I wonder how objective those statements are, and what the quantifiable impacts have been. I would have loved to see some more assessments of Suzao’s strategy done by an independent party to give more credence to the company’s words. I tried looking for some external research but most of the articles are in Portuguese [my Portuguese has gotten considerably worse over the years], but it would be great if you could share some third party research.

On November 7, 2016, David commented on Coca-Cola: Keep Your Soda Cold (Sustainably) :

Great article – I hadn’t realized how much of an environment impact my can of soda could have! On one hand, it’s ‘refreshing’ to hear that Coca Cola has shifted to CO2 based refrigeration techniques from HCFs, and given the scale of the firm I anticipate that this sets a precedent for other firms globally to rethink how they can make positive contributions to limit the scale of greenhouse emissions. On the other hand, given how soda is typically stored and consumed in the different supply chains, I wonder how successful this program has been for the majority of coca cola drinks consumed. For instance, should Coca Cola leverage it’s power in the market to force local retailers to shift from CFC based refrigeration techniques to CO2 based ones, even when those retailers carry products other than Coca Cola’s?

On November 7, 2016, David commented on The Climate Change Challenge for Institutional Investors :

That was an interesting article to read. I don’t necessarily buy the fiduciary duty argument that you proposed because there’s an underlying assumption that fiduciary duty applies to time-frames of that magnitude. I think most investors would argue that, even in a long-holding strategy, they typically look at investments on a shorter time horizon, in which case the argument breaks down. That said, I agree with the spirit of the case that we do need to divest from fossil fuels in general, while strategically balancing that with the need to have better oversight and control of companies in the non-renewable sector.

On November 7, 2016, David commented on Coal. The Next Big Tobacco? :

The challenges that Cloud Peak Energy face highlight the inherent difficulties in engaging with carbon capture and sequestration. While I do see DK’s point that the world needs to move to clean energy, I do appreciate a more practical approach that really takes into account the realities that we face here and now. And at the moment, the fact is a third of all the energy produced in the country comes from coal, and it’s unrealistic to assume that we can very quickly reduce this to 0%. People will continue to burn coal over the next coming decades, so there is underlying value in trying to limit the harm that the coal generates.
That said, while reading the CPE example, I thought a bit about the costs involved in sequestration, and whether there were actual sustainable benefits that could be generated. It seems the jury is still out (see https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100627155110.htm), but I’d definitely hope to see more investments in the future. Realistically, the only way sequestration would work at a large scale if there’s very thorough regulation that forces all coal companies to engage in the practice – in which case the cost of renewable energy may look a lot more attractive. But this I suspect is continually stymied by the coal lobby in Washington.