“I see the direction for augmented reality going into advertising. The next evolution of the internet will be to immerse yourself into an environment. Augmented reality puts you in tune with the local environment, and context is amplified.”
—Wharton marketing professor David Bell. He asserts that Pokémon Go and other forms of augmented reality can point the way to more local advertising and immersive marketing.



Loss in contracts in one quarter when a company is boycotted

Wharton management professor Mary-Hunter McDonnell and University of Texas at Austin professor Timothy Werner examined the delicate balancing act among corporations, politicians and social activists. “It is an interesting and to some extent frustrating side effect of activism that they are pushing companies into darker channels of political influence,” McDonnell says.

Source: “Blacklisted Businesses: Social Activists’ Challenges and the Disruption of Corporate Political Activity” in Administrative Science Quarterly.


Office Comedy: Smart Move or Mistake?

Should you crack jokes in the office? According to Wharton research, a sense of humor can enhance workplace status and perception of one’s competence. That’s one of the findings of the research paper “Risky Business: When Humor Increases and Decreases Status,” by Maurice Schweitzer GRW93, Wharton professor of operations, information and decisions; doctoral candidate Brad Bitterly GRW18; and Alison Wood Brooks, a Harvard University assistant professor.

“Humor is risky,” says Schweitzer, when asked about the study’s key takeaways. “Humor can signal competence and confidence and increase our status. But sometimes humor can fail because it’s inappropriate, because it’s just not very funny or because we overdo it. In those cases, we signal low competence and that harms our status. And in some cases we’ve seen people get fired because of it.” But when deftly and appropriately used, says Bitterly, “Humor can be a really effective tool for increasing status.”



Maximum ideal number of characters in a website domain name

Each additional character reduces traffic by 1-2%. When a numeral is included, a site’s search rank rises by 8.19%. A hyphen in the name, on the other hand, reduces a site’s rank by 2.9%.

Source: “Empirical Evidence for Domain Name Performance” by Karl Ulrich, vice dean of entrepreneurship and innovation at Wharton. The study ranked 1.28 million unique domains by the amount of traffic they attracted.



Addition to U.S. stock values attributed to the fracking boom between 2012 and 2014

This amounted to 10% of the total gain in stock values during that period, according to Wharton finance professors Nikolai Roussanov and Erik Gilje and the Simon School’s Robert Ready. They calculated that price declines from larger oil supplies saved businesses and households $131.4 billion per year. Over the long term, that would be enough to account for the stock market gains identified in the study.

Source: “Fracking, Drilling and Asset Pricing: Estimating the Economic Benefits of the Shale Revolution.”


Best City for Emerging-Market Startups: Dubai

Muhammed Mekki W05 is well equipped for his mission to promote a robust startup culture in the Arab world. The Iraqi-American studied economics at the Wharton School, then became immersed in the Silicon Valley startup community while earning an MBA at Stanford University. In 2011, Mekki co-founded Dubai-based Namshi, an online fashion retailer that raised more than $20 million in venture capital. Now he is founding partner of AstroLabs, which has partnered with Google to build a startup hub and training academy in Dubai.

Since its soft launch on April 1, 2015, AstroLabs has had more than 400 technology startups apply, according to Mekki, who recently talked to Knowledge@Wharton in the United Arab Emirates.

Astrolabs Dubai is the only Google-partnered tech hub in the Middle East/North Africa region, serving as a launch pad for the most scalable online and mobile startups. Our collaborative co-working space is designed by and for entrepreneurs, featuring a mobile device lab and a training facility housing AstroLabs Academy. Through a partnership with the government-sponsored Dubai Multi Commodities Centre Free Zone, AstroLabs-based entrepreneurs can obtain a company license as part of their membership with no upfront costs, making it easy to set up a bank account and UAE residency for the team. Once accepted, AstroLabs members gain access to a range of practitioner mentors, direct connections to the top venture capital funds, and curated offers from startup service providers.

We believe that Dubai is the best base for startups to access emerging markets, with one-third of the world’s population living within a four-hour flight radius. Infrastructure and lifestyle are world-class, individuals as well as companies based in free zones pay no tax, and you can easily obtain local residencies for talent recruits from anywhere globally without the lengthy immigration processes typical in other geographies. The UAE and its neighboring Gulf countries are wealthy, have the highest smartphone penetration levels in the world, and are under-served by tech companies.

We’re looking for tech-driven startups that are scalable and have a developed product ready to be launched or live in the market. AstroLabs startups tackle more than 20 industries, from food to finance. Even though we don’t take equity, we put an investor hat on when interviewing applicants so that we build the highest-quality community possible. Thus far, we have accepted more than 60 startups whose founders hail from 27 countries.

Several clusters have started to form organically, taking advantage of some of the unique opportunities presented in Dubai, a global hub for travel, finance and retail. We recently ran a travel-and-hospitality-focused startup exchange program in Dubai, which attracted top companies from all over the world to AstroLabs. With brands like Emirates, Jumeirah and Google backing the initiative, it was a first step in putting Dubai on the map as a hub for travel tech.

Dubai has evolved substantially over the past few years, from an ecosystem with a handful of modest locally-minded tech startups to an emerging international player with entrepreneurs thinking at least regionally and oftentimes globally from day one. Whereas new startup concepts used to be dominated by replicas of successful business models in more advanced markets, we are now seeing teams selecting Dubai as the launch pad for innovative businesses across multiple geographies.


Published as “Knowledge@Wharton — Data” in the Fall 2016 issue of Wharton Magazine.