KS

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On November 20, 2016, KS commented on MLB Advanced Media: The future of America’s pastime :

Phil, I am so glad that you wrote about this amazing company. It is truly remarkable that a single professional league had a foresight and execution power to build up its digital unit from scratch and devepoed solid technical capabilities to service back-end streaming that traditional media companies could not help but adapting. In fact, it seems that MLB even spun off BAM and set its mission to encompass non-baseball related business as well. (http://www.forbes.com/sites/maurybrown/2015/08/13/mlb-approves-new-digital-media-company-spin-off-that-will-create-billions-in-new-revenues/#b6da3942f01b)
And I’d be curious to know how much more active role MLB will play as a contents provider (operating MLB.tv). Its online direct to customer content distribution has already been acting as a significant counterweight to media industry’s hegemony. With dropping demand for TV consumption, mobile and online streaming is the key to the survival of these media giants. Yet, the fact that MLB is the very group that those networks have to negotiate the deal with signals that the battle is already in the league’s favor.

On November 20, 2016, KS commented on Is Facebook becoming a news site? :

Thank you Jordan for the post; I, an avid user of Facebook, read news articles almost through Facebook only and found this post fascinating. As your title suggest, Facebook indeed is increasingly expanding its boundary to media sector–a platform not just for social network but for news and video sharing. In March 2016, it even participated in a bidding to host National Football Leagues’ Thursday Night Football through its live-stream feature (http://www.si.com/nfl/2016/03/07/facebook-nfl-live-stream-thursday-night-football). While fake news articles recently were pointed out as a problem recently, there has been huge discussion about the role internet plays in creating public opinion in general. Facebook along with social network sites like Facebook, Buzzfeed, and Twitter, and search engine like Google have been criticized for manipulating which contents to be trended on their front pages (http://www.si.com/nfl/2016/03/07/facebook-nfl-live-stream-thursday-night-football). As SM mentioned, fake news–clearly contents no one wants to see–can be a subject of heated debate and regular contents with divided views pose an even bigger problem. I am curious to see how Facebook and those trending-based sites can tackle this!

On November 20, 2016, KS commented on Google Education: The Next Gen in Learning :

Great read Karla! It is fascinating how so many different products in Google’s ecosystem come into play in its Education program. (I was able to deeply sympathize with a female student’s comment in the video about how she gets frustrated when she puts her hand up in class and not gets called.) One key question I had reading this is how interactive contents customized for such new learning model can be developed and shared. I presume in order to truly make the most out of the platform and make the learning experience more interactive for students, teachers need to develop customized materials. While most instructors may choose to do it themselves, there can certainly be benefits from open-sourcing the contents. As Khan academy and many other non-profit educational organizations have developed, would there be a dedicated marketplace or platform for Google-Education-fit contents? I cannot wait to see this model to grow further and solve many issues in the education system in developing countries as well as in the US.

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

Tarran this is such an interesting article, reminding me of several cases we had on pharmaceuticals! It is amazing how digital transformation can make an impact on not just drug development process but also its approval process. You pointed out many challenges that Litmus faces such as “limited IT infrastructure, workflow of healthcare professionals, lack of training, and up-front costs.” I believe data accuracy can be an issue itself too. Not to mention the controversy around Fitbit’s measurement accuracy (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/26/technology/personaltech/fitbit-accuracy.html?_r=0), manual data input and survey completion by test participants can potentially deteriorate the quality of data compared to more controlled, direct measurement. As you mentioned, until they are able to guarantee certain level of confidence in data accuracy, wearable technology may certainly have to be used just as one of data points.

On November 19, 2016, KS commented on Under Armour: Not Just Clothes Anymore :

Thank you for such an interesting post! While having been to Under Armour’s information session few weeks ago, I was not aware of how dedicated it is to integrating digital to its brand. As you pointed out, I also wonder how UA will be able to overcome the challenge of user adoption, or more correctly, user engagement. In this digital world, having sophisticated algorithms and advanced data analytics tool like Watson certainly is a keyword for many companies’ growth, yet the underlying assumption is that there are reliable and enough data to play around with. Relying on users to manually input all the data does not fit with millenial users’ behaviors. Unless UA pushes its technology further to overcome the barrier in datafication (such as taking pictures of food at a restaurant and recognizing what the dish is), I doubt its user adoption will improve. Moreover, the price point of $300 is certainly an issue as this article points out, Fitbit–much more affordable than smart watches–still stays strong in the market. (https://www.wearable-technologies.com/2016/01/the-most-successful-wearables-for-consumers/) Especially given that hardware companies other than HTC have launched much diverse products that encompass the overall lifestyle of consumers, in light of “Internet of Things” and “Smart Home”, UA has little chance in winning the smart wearable battle by itself or just with HTC. I personally believe it may be smarter to collaborate with hardware manufacturers with stronger market presence or create modular products that can adapt to different hardware.

On November 7, 2016, KS commented on Exxon Mobil and the Future of Climate Change :

I agree with Gregor in that Exxon’s lack of clarity in its pursuit of new technologies to take over the current business model reminds me of Kodak and other failed used-to-be industry leaders. I came across an opinion article on Forbes about this (http://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2016/03/28/the-very-odd-idea-that-exxon-should-become-a-renewable-energy-company/#b6cb30c39a1c) where the author argues that “if the task for which a company is constructed no longer needs doing then we don’t retask the company. We deconstruct it and repurpose the constituent parts.” He believes that Exxon has no expertise and skilled employees needed to go on renewable energy space. In other words, once fossil fuels become obsolete or undesirable, Exxon should shut down its business he claims. Yet, I wonder if there’s a way for Exxon to pivot its business, drawing few lessons from General Electric. GE is known for its portfolio management–opening up and selling off business units according to market needs and its strategic focus. Of course Exxon Mobile cannot sell off its core business, but maybe it can focus on upstream or downstream and use the money from divestiture to acquire a renewable company to start building its presence in the field.

On November 6, 2016, KS commented on What, No More Wine? :

It is interesting how recent technological advancements in areas that are seemingly irrelevant can make an improvement in viniculture! I have no doubt that sooner than expected, we may be able to see a robot taking samples from different trees, checking acidity and ripeness and coming up with harvest schedules and adequate yeast composites.
One question that came across me from the article is on the point about how warming temperatures will decrease the viniculture-suited lands by more than 25% by 2050. Wouldn’t farmers be able to move to Northern areas and use the lands in areas that were traditionally too cold to grow grapes? Is the analysis based on the assumption that land areas wineries use to grow grapes currently will not change with rising temperature? If it wasn’t the case, the effect of global warming might be much more significant and directly related to my life than I thought it would be!

On November 6, 2016, KS commented on Mars Inc Commits to Sustainability :

From the article, it seems that Mars is trying to resolve pressures from the climate change through two approaches: making its internal operations more efficient and sourcing from more sustainable suppliers. While improving its operations is within Mars’ direct span of control, requiring its suppliers, such as West African farmers, who are already struggling to meet an growing problem of yield drops to abide by more stringent guidelines sounds like adding fuel to the flame. Unless Mars’s operational efficiency improves significantly, it will not be able to subsidize its suppliers’ hit on cost surge from more sustainable way of farming. That being said, we have seen that IKEA was also faced with a similar issue and had few options to source woods in a more green way–one of which is to lease more lands and directly control forestry management. Can vertical integration, i.e. acquiring lands and farming in a more environmentally friendly manner, also be an option for Mars? If not, how should Mars go about influencing its suppliers without putting too much pressure on their profitability?

As a florist by hobby, I enjoyed reading this article very much. As we discussed during Indigo case, agriculture–which includes floriculture in broad sense–does seem to be one of the industries that are heavily impacted by climate challenge. But to the point in the article that flowers are not necessities and thus have high price elasticity, I wonder if the investment going into innovations in growing and transporting flowers is significantly less. Does the Kenya Flower Council have sufficient funds to account for all the research and development efforts needed to come up with a better solution? If not, as in the case of Indigo, can it prove opportunities for further innovation and subsequent profitability improvements in floriculture and involve outside investors?

On November 6, 2016, KS commented on Toyota’s new challenge: Fuel cell vehicle “MIRAI” :

I definitely agree that fuel cell vehicle is ultimately more eco-friendly choice given that most electric vehicles rely on electricity which are generated from fossil energy whereas hydrogen are naturally abundant and the technology to produce/capture it requires much less efforts. But as you pointed out, infrastructure is the key to the success of new alternative vehicle. A single company alone would not be able to account for all the necessary investments in infrastructure, and the more companies choose to go for FCV, the more likely investment in infrastructure will follow. Yet at the same time, increasing competition can jeopardize Toyota’s plan to take over the new market. I wonder how such competitive dynamics influence Toyota’s efforts to collaborate with other automobile manufacturers.

Nucler power surely provides “clean energy” in terms of the level of greenhouse gas emitted. Yet, after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011 reminded the world of how destructible nuclear reactors and the radioactive materials can be, there is a growing concern against nuclear power. Countries such as Switzerland, Italy, and Germany voted against building new nuclear power plants and are in the process of accelearting the shut down of old nuclear power stations. How do you think that new changes in regulations and societal perceptions on the reliability of nuclear energy affect TerraPower?