Betterment allows its users to invest in themes. For example, I can say, I think healthcare is going to be a growth engine in our country and I want to put a disproportionate amount of my assets there. It will do so (via an index of healthcare stocks). However, it doesn’t look at valuation at all. It can’t tell you – sure you think there will be growth there, but it is already priced in, and it probably isn’t a good buy.
The privacy issues are at best creepy and at worst dangerously invasive. Alexa is always listening. At best this means you and your spouse are talking about a roomba and then you get ads for a roomba. Worst case, Amazon not only knows what you buy but everything you discuss at home, and sells that information to a third party.
That said, I think millennials are actually used to giving up their information and don’t mind doing so. I think we are waiting for some event – like the FBI requesting transcripts of conversations or wiretapping, before we see the fall-out. Until then I think people will continue buying.
This is really interesting. Another thing to think about: are fish bred or do they catch fish and then fatten them? Tuna is traditionally the latter, while other species are often bred. Just because a fish is farmed doesn’t mean it isn’t contributing to overfishing. The same applies to feed. Here, Kampachi is using only GMO soy. But many farmers actually catch small fish to feed to those they are raising. That contributes to overfishing. But other feeds are often disliked by customers and unnatural and often pollute the ocean. A lot of challenges to deal with in the coming years!
I think there is an interesting dynamic where the company does make money off its customers’ laziness. I have several friends – who are extremely busy and make a lot of money – who will keep their stitch fix box of clothes even if they don’t like what is in it, because it is such a hassle to return. One has liked most things, and is a happy customer. Others haven’t and have eventually cancelled. The problem with this dynamic is it can be hard to adjust future selections if the company can’t tell the customer is unhappy with the past selections.
Great post. This is really interesting. I wonder if Omada should considering expanding as a fitness program for people without diabetes or other chronic diseases. To bring down healthcare costs, we really need to somehow prevent people from getting chronic diseases in the first place where avoidable. As we learned in StickK, the social aspect of these programs actually do help people achieve their goals. Personally, I use a workout plan in which a trainer I see only once a month can track my workouts and make adjustments remotely. Because we are also friends, I feel extremely guilty if I miss a workout, and it has been very effective to keep me on track, much more so than some monetary reward would be, or even a desire to be fit. I know Omada already uses the community but I wonder how involved they get non-diabetic family and friends, which could be quite effective.
Like commenters before me, I am skeptical that UberPOOL does benefit the environment. I, too, am surprised that only 8% of rides wouldn’t have happened had the app not been available. From anecdotal evidence, I would have assumed a much higher number. Moving beyond that point, I am wondering what the impact of Uber requiring cars no older than 3-5 years will be. While you point out rightly that older cars are less emissions efficient, manufacturing new cars is also detrimental to the environment. I am not sure where the negative impact equalizes, and would be interested to learn more.
Interesting post – and as a long-time fan of Park City I was interested in seeing your recommendations. Another possibility is to weather hedge. This acts similarly to insurance, but is based on weather outcomes rather than specific losses of property, etc. Generic weather hedging products are available on the CME, but have historically been limited to rainfall measures, and thus have been of more use to agricultural producers. A few private investment firms are starting to offer weather hedging clients in a variety of structures. For instance, MTN could pay premiums, and then get paid off if it fails to snow or if temperatures are above a pre-set level above a certain number of days in the season. Alternatively, there could be no premiums – the investment firm could pay MTN if it was too warm or failed to snow, and MTN could pay the investment firm if it was cold and did snow. This would be a particularly good hedge for MTN. Now, whether investment firms will continue to offer a product as the planet gets warmer, I do not know.
While I think Blue Apron does a great job reducing food waste, they have a long way to go to make their meals more sustainable. First, 85% of their meals come from two distribution centers, which means a lot of emissions as a result of transportation. Second, the packaging, while officially recyclable, is actually pretty hard to recycle. The plastic bags are all recyclable, but not of the sort that can be picked up for curbside . The ice packs have to be cut open and the gel removed before recycling. I have actually done this – but just once. It was a disgusting mess. I’d love to see an analysis on the impact of saving food versus the negative environmental impact. Overall though, I think Blue Apron is doing a good job and should be able to improve in the future.
It sounds like ACE is a leader in the insurance industry on this topic. Their products give them a competitive edge, so they are unlikely to wish to engage with their peers to encourage best practices for all. However, they should engage with the reinsurance community. Most reinsurers rely on catastrophe models from one of two main providers (AIR and RMS) which rely heavily on historical data. If ACE buys reinsurance from one of the main providers, all of whom rely on historical data, and then a large enough catastrophe happens that the reinsurance firm can’t pay out its policy to ACE, ACE will be left holding the bag despite its good practices. Therefore, it should help the industry move forward.
Fascinating post – I did not know the emissions impact menstrual product waste has. I think the largest hurdle here is making it easy, inexpensive, and “clean.” An above comment mentioned Thinx, a period-proof underwear startup. However, you need to rinse out the underwear by hand after using to make sure all of the blood comes out before you put it in the machine with the rest of your laundry. That is a hurdle many women in developed countries don’t want to overcome. In fact, developing countries widely use reusable (and sometimes dirty and unsafe) feminine hygiene products – often washable cloths or rags. As income and education increase, women start to use disposable products. In marketing, we’ve learned the easiest customers to capture are those without decided preferences. Therefore it could be critical to reach potential new customers there with more sustainable products such as diva cups before they get hooked on tampons.