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Wed, 31 May 2017 14:19
Ben & David revisit the birth of the digital music revolution and Steve Jobs' "digital hub" strategy, with Apple's 2000 acquisition of the Mac music player SoundJam MP, which would go on to become iTunes. We relive the 90's with brushed metal interfaces, music visualizers and of course, software sold in (physical) boxes.
And iTunes sucks. iTunes does suck. Well, yeah. It's bled. Yeah. Or I won't take a position. I'll say people seem to hate iTunes. Welcome to episode 38 of acquired. The podcast about technology, acquisitions, and IPOs. I'm Ben Gilbert. David Rosenthal. And we are your hosts. Today, we are covering Apple's 2000 acquisition of SoundJam, which would go on to become iTunes. So speaking of iTunes, we love iTunes. Well, actually now Apple Podcast reviews. So this is the part of the show where, before we dive into things, I ask you, our listeners, be it a brand new one or someone who's been listening to the show for a while. If you've got some extra time, we would love a review on iTunes. It is how we grow the show and make it better. We've also got a slack. If you're new to the show, there's over 600 of us that are in the Slack channel talking about technology news, M&A, IPOs, all kinds of stuff. So if you head over to acquired.fm and you'd like to join us, there's a little widget on the sidebar to join us there. And then lastly. That was very clever, Ben. I see what you did there. I like that. Yeah. Well, most of this show is kind of unscripted. Like we have notes, but we don't actually type them out. And then you try and get too clever when you are typing out the exact words that you're going to say and listeners. We're just getting more professional here in acquired. Yes. That is one thing. Listeners who have been listening to the show for a long time, it's funny how with these things, when you decide to up level a little bit, that becomes the new bar. And then that's just the bar that you have to hit every episode after that. So if anybody's starting a podcast or a creative project, keep that in mind for the future. All these new listeners now are like, wait a minute. This doesn't sound very professional. Yeah. You guys talk about it. Yeah, hopefully we managed to. Spockets started as Ben and me drinking beer and reporting ourselves. We've come a long way. That's true. Since we started doing these morning recordings and we're in different time zones, we were either a lot more coherent because we're not drinking anymore or we're a lot less coherent because we're groggy. It's not clear. We will see. Yeah. Our presenting sponsor for this episode is not a sponsor but another podcast that we love and want to recommend called the Founders Podcast. We have seen dozens of tweets that say something like my favorite podcast is acquired and Founders. So we knew there's a natural fit. We know the host of Founders. Well, David Senra. Hi, David. Hey, Ben. Hey, David. Thank you for joining us. Thank you for having me. I like how they group us together. And then they say it's like the best curriculum for Founders and Executives. And really, as we use your show for research a lot, I listened to your episode of the story of Akiyama Rita before we did our Sony episodes this incredible primer. You know, he's actually a good example of why people listen to Founders until acquired because all of his great-sendishmenters and investors they had deep historical knowledge about the work that came before them. So like the founder of Sony, who did he influence? Steve Jobs talked about him over and over again if you do the research to him. But I think this is one of the reasons why people love both of our shows and they're such good compliments on acquired we focus on company histories. You tell the histories of the individual people. You're the people version of acquired and where the company version of Founders. Listeners, the other fun thing to note is David will hit a topic from a bunch of different angles. So I just listened to an episode on Edwin Land from a biography that David did. David, it was the third, fourth time you've done Polaroid. I've read five biographies of Edwin Land and I think I've made eight episodes of them because in my opinion, the greatest entrepreneur to ever do it, my favorite entrepreneur personally is Steve Jobs. And if you go back and listen to like a 20 year old Steve Jobs, he's talking about Edwin Land's my hero. So the reason I did that is because I want to find out like I have my heroes, who were their heroes? And the beauty of this is the people may die, but the ideas never do. And so Edwin Land had passed away way before the apex of Apple, but Steve was still able to use those ideas and now he's gone and we can use those ideas. And so I think what acquired is doing what the founder is trying to do as well is find the best ideas in history and push them down to generations. Make sure they're not lost history. I love that. Well listeners, go check out the founders podcast after this episode. You can search for it in any podcast player. Lots of companies that David covers that we have yet to dive into here on acquired. So for more indulgence on companies and founders, go check it out. David, you ready to take us into the acquisition history in facts of sound jizz? Let's do it. We're entering the time machine here at acquired. Maybe it's a hot tub time machine. Hopefully not. We're going back to all professionalism is out the window today. Harley, we are going back to the late 90s and the early days of the MP3 and digital audio revolution. And there were a couple apps or quote programs, as they were called back then, that ruled the day. And if you were a teenager in America as I was, you definitely had these on your PC, Winamp and Napster. Yep. And oh man, just to describe what my music listening setup was at this point in my life, it was Napster to get the music. I had this was on, I think is a power PC 8500. So it's like a gray Macintosh tower. So I had the Napster Mac client and you get music through that. And then. Okay, so that was after 2000 then. There was no Napster Mac client until 2000. Oh, all right. Well, I'm reshuffling my history here a bit. But I guess what I'm getting to here is my hard drive on my computer, I think was like four megabytes or no, that's wrong. What, anyway. Good. Maybe. I can't remember what it was, but the hard drive on my computer, with all the programs and the system extensions and stuff, I had let it around on it, did not have room for MP3s. Like I needed at least a hundred megabytes for my favorite songs at the moment. And I had a zip drive plugged into my computer. And then a hundred, like a series of a hundred megabyte zip discs that I could like load my MP3s onto and put them in. I didn't have wind amp cause I had a Mac and I can't remember exactly how I played the files pre-itunes, but it was a disaster. Like you're just working directly off the file system. Oh man, well, you and every other teenager in America who had a Mac and not a PC had this exact problem and luckily for you and for everyone else and for acquired, Jeff Robin and Bill King Cade step into the fray and emerge as the saviors for teenagers pirating music in America. This is gonna be a fun one. Ben and I were chatting before the episode. We're really excited to dive in here and wanna give a quick shout out to my buddy Eric over at IAC who actually we've been planning to do this episode for probably as long as the show has been in existence at this point. But Eric shot me an email a couple weeks ago and he was he said, Hey, I don't know if you explored the company Sound Jam as a topic, but it stands out to me as an interesting one because this is the app that not only became iTunes, but may have also influenced the quote metal finish of Apple software designed over the next several years. And oh boy, did it ever. What a beautiful brushed metal it was. Brushed metal and Eric says, I remember buying it and yes, it came in a box when I was in college because I was looking for an MP3 player from my Mac. Wow. Yeah, I mean, so fast forward from me playing the MP3's off my zip disk and actually playing them through an application, Sound Jam was awesome. Like I remember before Apple acquired them and we found out there was gonna be an iTunes playing with Sound Jam and the coolest thing about it was the skins. There were some really, really not tasteful, but like insane skins that would make this thing transform from like a brushed metal rectangle into like the most insane glob of like psychedelic. Psychedelic. Yeah. Yeah. And of course it had the visualizer too, which we'll get into all this, but yeah, so 90s. Yeah. So Jeff Robin and Bill Kincaid worked at Apple in the mid 90s and they were engineers and they were working on the Copeland operating system, which listeners, if you go back to our next episode that we did live at the Geekwire Summit last year, is a key part of the history of what ended up becoming when Apple acquired next and became OS 10. Copeland was what Apple was working on before that, internally and it completely failed. It was a total disaster, never shipped. But Jeff and Bill were really good engineers and Apple really highly regarded and when it never shipped and Apple acquired next, they ended up leaving the company. And so Robin left and he became an indie software dev on his own became really highly regarded, wrote this program called Conflict Catcher, which back in the old pre OS 10 Mac days, you had all these extensions for different files on your computer and different programs and it could become a really messed, the operating system didn't manage it itself. And so he hacked this software together to basically just manage it for everybody. Okay, so Conflict Catcher was amazing because there were some incredibly interesting architecture choices made in Mac OS 9. So when you would load a system extension, they would load in a certain order as you booted your computer up and that order was alphabetical. Oh, awesome. And not only that, these system extensions all shared, I think this is right, the same addressable memory space. I believe with the operating system. So there were extensions that could accidentally load in an area of memory that another one was trying to directly write to and they could totally screw with each other and make your computer unbootable. So the only way to do this was like a kind of safe mode thing where you'd go and you try and manually figure out how to turn these things on and off. And Conflict Catcher made it so that you could actually change the order that these things booted and figure out like, oh, this one conflicts with that one and see it in an interesting way and toggle them on and off so that you don't have to like manually figure out how you just horked your computer. Per usual, gonna do a quick jump ahead to tech themes. One thing, I love doing these episodes on old software cause such a reminder of like how far the world has come and how much in software you're standing on the shoulders of giants and work that has been done before you so that you don't have to deal as a user and as a software developer, don't have to deal with this stuff anymore. Yep. So that was what Robin did after he left Apple and King Cade, he goes to a startup and he's working at the startup but he also has this hobby on the side which is that he really likes to race formula cars and one day he's driving up to a race track in Northern California and he's listening to NPR on the radio as he's driving up there. He blogs about this much later and he hears on NPR this discussion of MP3s and this is the late 90s and they're talking about Napster and they're talking about this company called Rio and this player that just came out this new piece of hardware called the Diamond that they make that allows you to take MP3s that you have on your computer that you've downloaded from Napster, the internet loaded onto it and then listen to them like a walkman on the go and he's like, oh wow, that's really cool and then on the show they say, don't get excited though Mac users cause it doesn't work with Macs and he has this thought and he's like, well, I bet I can make it work with Macs. So he's still working at the start up but he immediately on the side sort of takes this challenge and the next day he starts researching MP3 people don't know about MP3s at this point. He'd never heard of it and he actually calls up Diamond, the company that makes the Rio and we should say two for listeners who weren't alive back then. I mean, these things were everywhere. You walk into a Best Buy or a CompUSA back in the day. It was that one particular model that looks sort of like a limo bean and on one side and then it was like kind of convex curved on the other side and it like fit in the palm of your hand and had this like blue and black and that one I first went to college. I think that's the one that finally had enough megabytes of storage where it could really blow up. So, so King K calls up Diamond. They're really excited. They're like, yeah, we would love to get this working with Max, we'll help you out. We'll give you access to our engineering team and he starts working on it but he quickly realizes he's not a good enough engineer. Well, he's created the backend and he can handle the backend but he's not, they also are gonna need kind of a front end and MP3 management software and that's not his strength. So he calls up Robin and says, hey, let's get the band back together and work on this. Yeah, pretty cool. And it's interesting how it started first with Necessity as the mother of invention. Somebody needs to figure out a way to make an MP3 codec that works with the max. So you can decode this MP3 file format and play it but that's not enough. Like what are you just gonna click on every file individually and finder and make it play? Yep, and you need, you know, you need a way to manage your MP3 library. Otherwise, these are just gonna be random file names sitting on your finder as he said. Yep, it's funny how we take MP3 for granted today but it was not a widely known thing people were just stripping MP3s. They had to become world experts on like reading the ISO spec for what is the MP3 file format and how would you go about decoding it? Yeah, amazing. I mean, there are no APIs for this stuff. It's not like, it's not handled natively in the Mac OS nor I think in Windows, which I think is why Winamp took off. Oh, interesting. Yeah, that makes sense. So they team up and they quickly bring on a first employee, a third developer to work on at Dave Heller who actually I don't think they worked with him in Apple. I think they knew him separately and they get cranking and they build a first version of the product. They decided to call it Sound Jam and they need to get it out to users, sell these Mac users who wanna get in on the MP3 revolution but first they need a publisher. Because in those days, if you wanted to distribute software, you needed a publisher to do it because you needed to get it on a CD and shrink wrapped in a box and delivered to Best Buy and Comp USA and all these computer stores where people bought software. Unbelieveable. I forgot that this notion existed of like, oh, you need a publisher to distribute your software. I was doing the research and saw like, Cassidy and Green would like distribute it to the software and I'm like, yep, wait, so that's who they go with. Who had distributed a conflict center for Robin before. Yeah, and I'm like, what? So who's getting inquired by Apple? Why are there two companies involved here? Oh, publishers were a thing. It's amazing how much things have changed since then. But what's, this is so awesome. What you're not gonna get these days with software and the lack and when you don't need a publisher. So Cassidy and Green, the publisher that they go with had an employee who wrote the manuals for the software that they published. His name was David Pogue, who is the David Pogue who would soon thereafter go to work for the New York Times and become the Walt Mossberg of the New York Times. And so he actually wrote the manual for Sound Jam, which is pretty awesome. Amazing. And David is what, now the editor of Yahoo Tech, I believe, that publication? Yep, I believe that's right. I think he's left the New York Times now. Pretty amazing. It's a great little Easter egg that I found to be doing the research. So on the strength of the Pogue written manual, the Sound Jam comes out in, I believe, late 1998. And it totally, you know, huge reception. Everybody, like we've been saying, who wants to get into, wants to participate in the digital music revolution on a Mac. This is by far the best software when it comes out to do it. And MacWorld, the magazine, right through review of it, and says, of all the MP3 software available for the Mac, Cassidy and Green's new Sound Jam MP, which I think MP stands for Music Player. I believe so, yeah. Is the most complete. It's the only Mac MP3 tool capable of not only playing back MP3 files, but also encoding tracks from audio CDs, all with a comfortable, customizable user interface. And it has the most baller logo. Like we will link to this in the show notes, but like this, I remember, like this, I used to use this extension called Malf on Mac OS 9. And I remember, like, loving having the Sound Jam logo sit in Malf, my little pre-doc launcher to launch this thing. It's like this bald dude with this amazing kind of like, he's got this grin on his face, but his eyebrows make him look like he's up to no good. And he's wearing these real cartoony headphones with lightning bolts coming out of him. And it's like, it's awesome. We, yeah, the kind of thing that once sound jam becomes iTunes, Steve Jobs quickly gets rid of that. Yep, yep. But the UI is, well, it's not even of itself groundbreaking, but it is the stock UI, as we were saying, you could download skins for it and customize it, which were skins for software. It was all the rage at this time, but the default UI is brushed metal. And Apple had actually pioneered, had invented the brushed metal UI look when they released QuickTime 4.0 and Sound Jam adopted it. And this is the first application that really sort of popularizes it to the world. And then we go through like a five or six year period where everything Mac is brushed metal. And so heavy, the finder is made out of like, led dipped in hot molten steel. It was, yeah, it's amazing to watch the evolution of Mac UI after that, right? You go into Aqua and then you can start to get into the, many steps along the way, but now we're in this sort of like, there was intense translucency, and now we've taken a step back and we're like moderate translucency. And it's, it really is, you see this over and over and over again with Apple where they come out with a new UI like iOS 7, they go way too far, they go hard on something. And then they need to ease off and head back towards center. But this is continually the pattern that they do is go all in on some new crazy paradigm and then get back towards something, something modern. Yeah, and I wonder, this is total speculation here, but I wonder, Scott Forstill must have been an Apple at this point. I think so, because Phil Schiller was. Yeah, and I wonder how involved he was in the brushed metal UI, because he was famously or infamously the skew amorphism champion with the angel of skew amorphism within Apple before he got ousted and then it was exized from iOS from, it was iOS 7, right, hon? I believe it was even buff, it was, so it was after the maps debacle on either five or six, but he left right after six and then seven was a very clear Johnny I have taken over software and hardware responsibility and doing, I think it's like this crazy seven month scramble to do a complete UI redesign and get that out the door. And I think that's sort of why we saw so much shock and surprise is it had less big time than usual. Yeah. The other main famous and now in hindsight, infamous UI element of sound jam was the visualizer and Apple included this when they launched it in iTunes, but this was, looking at this took me back, took me back 15 plus years at this point, all the MPs, I think Winamp, I think pioneered this, but when you would listen to digital music on a digital music player on your computer, you could have the option to have a visualizer where it would take the sound waves from the MP3 you were listening to and then put it through all these transformations and make it into this psychedelic landscape that you were watching in time to the music and Steve Jobs loved this. Talked about how it reminded him of doing LSD and his youth. Yep, and he talked about it when he announced it, we'll get here, but when they announced iTunes at Macworld 2001, talked about it like they invented it. Like, wouldn't it be cool if you could visualize your music? Well, we've done it and announcing it on stage and the folks familiar with sound jam or here's an early hint, we're gonna talk about a company called Audion or a product called Audion here in a minute, just like sitting there with their head in their hands. Like, we did that, we've seen that. Well, you know, reality distortion field and all that. Yep. Yep. So pretty quickly Apple takes an interest in Steve Jobs and Apple realizes that, hey, digital music is here to stay and there is now a big wave and big opportunity for computer companies and technology companies to invade the music business. And this coincides actually right at the time where jobs, so Apple had acquired next. Steve had come back to Apple in 1997, right? And in 1996, early 1997. But it wasn't until early 2000 when Steve took the permanent CEO job. He had been an interim CEO for a few years and they finally make it permanent in early 2000. And the first thing that he does after this has happened is he starts to initiate the grand master strategy that would be really what sets Apple on the path to being relevant again and becoming the largest company in the world, which is music and first iTunes and then shortly thereafter the iPod. The digital hub strategy. This was a major, major key ingredient. I mean, when you talk about ecosystem business models, Apple is like the perfect case study of the behemoth that they've become today. All being bootstrapped off this idea of iTunes was the software hub for everything. The iPod was an incredibly successful consumer product. Even before the iPhone was the most successful technology consumer product of all time. And the whole thing was predicated on this idea that you can take your music with you. You've got this iPod. It's all managed there on your computer on iTunes. It syncs, quote unquote seamlessly. And then you can take it with you, bring it back to your Mac. And for a long time, especially when iTunes was Mac only, like this was a reason to get a Mac. Like you buy the iPod showed you in the door and then you became a Mac user. And they really, really grew a user base with kind of this iPod as lead generation strategy. Yeah, I mean, I remember all this happening my first couple of years in college and so many of my friends switching from PCs and Windows to Macs just so that they could get an iPod. Pretty crazy. I mean, that is like a, that is using incredible, an incredible product as a really, really high leverage position. Yeah. So going back to early 2000, this is all just a dream and Steve job, a very, very prescient dream in Steve Jobs's head. But he knows he needs to move fast. And he decides that Apple, rather than they're going to start developing what will become iTunes, of course, I'm sure they started working on it in house. But they really wanted to buy one of the existing players in the market and accelerate development. Apple actually released something in June of 2000 called Music Player that was six months before iTunes came out. And it's like the most basic sort of the finder. When you look at it, you're like, that's a separate app. It's a pretty bare bones thing. Yep. So there's Sound Jam, obviously. And then there's also as Ben alluded to another product at this point in the market called Audion. And Audion was made by an indie dev shop in Portland, shout out to the Northwest called Panic. Called Panic. Yeah. And Panic was run by cable sassar and Stephen Frank. And there's so much fun stuff to come from this in the interplay between these two companies in Apple. Yep. And Panic has just an incredibly rich history for anybody who's a Mac OS developer out there. They've done, it was called Transit. And I believe now it's Transmit. Coda, Coda 2. If anybody's played Firewatch, they had a hand in building the game Firewatch. And they're truly like a gem of the Northwest, of Indie Mac and iOS development, just an awesome software shop. And they have this, they're just quirky people. It's an interesting little aside. But cable releases this whole area's blog post every year that's the most amazing Fireworks packaging he's found for the 4th of July. And he's like a connoisseur of ridiculous Fireworks packaging. They have all kinds of just crazy company traditions. There's this incredible blog post that they've put up about how they created the super unique sign that's on their building now as they've grown. And they have a shop in downtown Portland. And I remember I've been following Panic for years. And we're about to dive in a little bit to the story of how Audion was competing with Soundjam. And the different fates that they ended up taking. But there's this incredible blog post. Anybody that's interested in the story should go and read The Long Story by Cable Sassar of Audion's sort of history and story all the way through to its resting place that they have on their website. Yeah. And we're going to quote liberally from it in a minute. But it's so funny to think about it. If all of this were playing out today, Apple's going looking to buy a company to get into what's clearly a big technology wave, which is digital music and digital audio. And their two options are two indie dev software shops. Today, there would be 15 VC funded companies all pursuing the same thing, all having raised 50 million plus. Yeah, David, why weren't there? Like there was venture around at this time. We were pre-d... Was it all going into internet companies and an MP3D coder with a desktop UI just not splashy enough? Well, yeah, I mean, there certainly was venture at the time. I mean, this was the middle of the tech bubble. Yeah. But I think a couple things. Like, one, we're talking about Mac only. And that was just a tiny, tiny portion of the market at that point, at least from a VC perspective. And two, I mean, I think we're also just really early in the consumerization of the internet. I mean, Amazon is around and e-commerce is a thing. Pets.com is a thing and Cosmo and WebVan and all those. But the idea, like there's no Facebook, there's no MySpace, the idea of consumers doing things sort of for free and quasi legally. Napster, of course, is around and AOL has bought Winamp at this point, which we'll get into. But for whatever reason, it wasn't a huge focus area for VCs. Yeah. One way that you can operate as a VC is put on your hat of what's going to be, what's the world going to look like in five years? What's the world going to look like in 10 years? What's the world going to look like in 20 years? And people believed in the digital music revolution, which now seems obvious in hindsight. But what's not clear to me is, did people besides Steve Jobs, who has always had this passion for music and say it's part of Apple's DNA and part of who they are as a company is loving music, did other people, including technology investors, also believe that the digital music revolution was coming? Or did this catch just everyone completely by surprise? And that's why you see no funded companies in the space. Yeah, I don't know. It's a great question. I'd love to go back and have been a VC back then and thought about it. But the reality is, too, none of these companies were big exits. I mean, not even Napster and Winamp. Nope. Really interesting, just how much the infrastructure around these companies, the platforms that enable them to build big businesses. I mean, maybe not in music today, as we'll get into later in the show. But certainly, you know, you think about Facebook, you think about Instagram, you think about Snapchat. There's how much that's changed over what is a long time in technology, but not that long relative to other businesses. So Apple tries to meet with both Sound Jam and Audion. They're obviously successful in meeting with Sound Jam. And they know the folks there well, since they were all former Apple employees. But Audion and Panic, they've separately been negotiating with AOL, which owned Winamp, and was considering also acquiring Audion and bringing it into the fold and having it power sort of the Winamp version for Max. And they, when Apple reached out to them, they didn't realize what Apple wanted, that they wanted to buy them. And so they asked, they thought that they needed, even though they had yet been acquired by AOL, they thought they, it was only right to ask AOL to be part of the meeting, too. Yep. You think about the Panic guys. These are not like business tycoons. Like the stories that we've talked about where you have incredibly savvy sort of investment-minded CEOs running these empires. Like this is a couple of guys sort of working on this thing out of a passion project, and just a burning desire to ship the best software for this use case that they possibly could. And so for them, they didn't think about, do we have a no shop clause or anything like that? It was much more like, well, we've already started talking with these guys AOL. So even though it's AOL and they're not the most benevolent people in the world, and we're not even sure we want to go work for them, probably a good idea to like, see what they think first. You're good at this, yeah. And it's so funny. At the same time, of course, there's also it's a corporate bureaucracy at AOL, and executives are changing, and they can't make the meeting happen. So it just doesn't happen. They audio on, and Panic never meet with Apple. Well, they meet later, but at this point in time, they don't meet with them. And then the deal with AOL ends up falling through, too, so they don't get acquired by AOL either. And it's unclear that they actually would have wanted to, especially given all the corporate bureaucracy that was going on there at the time. But instead, Apple needs to move forward. And so they acquire Sound Jam. At some point during mid 2000, and Kincaid and Robin and Heller all come back to Apple, joined, and they start basically ASAP turning it into iTunes, because they find out that Steve Jobs wants to launch iTunes at Macworld in January 2001, six months later. And they're doing this very quietly. Sound Jam users got no notification. There was no public announcement that nobody really knew that Apple owned Sound Jam, and it wouldn't be around for the foreseeable future at this point. Yep. And there's some rumors in the industry that start leaking. But nobody really knows what's going on. And the Panic guys definitely don't know what's going on. So they come January, go to Macworld like every in the... There is one absolutely amazing little tidbit in here. And that's when cable got, cable sassar at Panic got word that something may be going on with Sound Jam, and it wasn't totally clear what. He called the tech support line for... For Sound Jam. For the publisher. Yep. Yeah. Hey, is it like a good idea for me to buy the next version of Sound Jam? Like implying like, is it going to continue to maintain? Yeah, you supported it. And got this like shaky like, oh yeah, I don't see why not. Yeah, yeah. So they're worried. Super funny. This blog post is great in it. It's so kind of cable to history and to the community to write with such candor about everything that happened. And he's such a great writer too. And you really get the sense that he and Steve at Panic were doing this because they love making great software and still do. Yeah. So they go to Macworld in 2001. And the rumor is that Apple's going to do something big in music. And they're sitting in the audience. And jobs comes on stage and announces iTunes. And they're like, well, that looks a lot like Sound Jam. And it has visualizers. It's much more full-featured. And we should really harp on this point, because it's easy to lose that point today with the bloated behemoth that iTunes has become. But it was beautiful. It was revolutionary. It was so revolutionary for the time. Yeah, define new user interface paradigms that would come back into the Mac and Finder and standard APIs later. It was always the bleeding edge by a year or two on what we would see in the OS in the future. And it was so well thought through. But with all of the great cool features that existed in Sound Jam. And a lot of them, I mean, Sound Jam and Audion had this war back and forth of releasing a new feature, trying to make mine better than the other guys, trying to make mine more beautiful and more well thought through. And suddenly, then iTunes comes. And it's like the messianic incarnation of what both of them had been striving for. Yeah, and not to mention free. So included in Mac OS and completely free for download, whereas both Sound Jam and Audion were box software that you had to go to Best Buy and pay $40 or $50 for. So. Both free and bundled with the platform, like shipping with the OS. Yeah, huge, huge announcement. So, but cable and Steve at Panic, they're undeterred. And after this is all in the blog post, which we'll again link to in the show notes, after the keynote, they're walking around on the floor at Macworld and they see Steve Jobs. Now, they actually have a meeting. Jobs had reached out to them. And Apple, well, I don't know if it was Jobs. Apple had reached out to them. This is amazing how this happened. Cable emailed Phil Schiller. That's right. To get a meeting, or I think I can't remember exactly why emailed Phil, but didn't really get a response back. And then emailed Steve, just like I think they always emailed Steve whenever they released new software, hoping that maybe he'll take a look. Oh, they emailed Phil because he was an audio-on user, and they had him in the system. That's right. He was a registered user, yeah. Yep. So then they emailed Steve and they're like, hey, Steve, just as usual, we ship some new software. We think you really like it. Before the iTunes announcement. Yes. Yes. And they get a response back that ended up setting this meeting from Steve Jobs. And one of the fascinating things is it's the mail client that is encoded in the headers is still the next email client. He's not, he's like Mac OS 9. Yeah. And it's not from Steve at Apple. It's from Steve at Pixar. Yeah. And it's just like a little one-liner email that's basically like, hey, are you interested in throwing in with us at Apple? Yeah. And like, what is that? Is that an acquisition offer? Does he want to hire them? Like, it's just so. Yeah. Oh, it's such a only Steve Jobs. He's been CEO of Apple on an interim basis for four years at this point. He's not using a Mac. He's emailing from his Pixar email address. And he makes an acquisition offer with one line in a response only Steve. Yep. So now they've got this second meeting set. So the first one sort of fell through in. So they get a second meeting set up for a couple days after Macworld. But they were there. And in the audience, they see Steve on the floor afterwards as they go up to him. And they say, hey, Steve, it's us. We're the Audion guys. And cable transcribes this in the blog post. Steve says to cable's recollection something like, oh, hey, Steve, nice to meet you. So tell me, what do you think of iTunes? And cable says, well, I think it looks great. You guys have done a great job. But I still feel that we'll do all right with Audion. And then Steve says, oh, really? Well, that's interesting because honestly, I don't think you guys have a chance. So Steve jobs. And then cable says, well, Steve, I really think it'll still find an audience. We've got a lot of higher end features that you guys probably won't ever add. Steve says, yeah, like what? And then cable's like, well, you can keep count of how many times you've played a song. And you can even rate your songs by popularity. And Steve responds, why the hell would anybody want to do that? And sure enough, they ship that in iTunes in the near future. Yeah, iTunes 2.0 in the near future. So then a couple of days later, they have the formal meeting at Apple headquarters, at Infinite Loop, and Steve's there. Well, actually before Steve walks in, Phil Schiller's there. And Phil says to them, you guys remember the last time we tried to meet with you. It was actually because we wanted you guys to make iTunes, not the sound jam guys. And they're kind of stupified by this. And then right after that, Steve Jobs walks in, and supposedly throws his feet up on the table and gets right to the heart of things. He asks him a bunch of questions. He wants to know how big they are, how long they've been doing this, why they're doing it. And then he says, do you have any other ideas for apps you want to work on? And cable replies, well, we've got an idea for a digital photo management platform. And Steve replies, yeah, don't do that. That one. And then everybody laughs. And there's this team of Apple people in the room that all laugh. And the panic guys look at each other like, okay, they all know something we don't. And then I think either Phil or Steve at that point is like, we're building that. It's gonna be called I photo. Yeah. And so the panic guys at this point are probably literally an panic. And so Steve continues and he says, hey, so here's how I kind of see this playing out. If you stay independent and try to compete with us, it's like you guys are a little push cart going down the railroad tracks. And we're a giant steam engine about to run you down. And then he follows up with, but we want you guys to work with us. You guys have shown us that you can do a lot with a little, you guys kick ass, your software totally kicks ass, cable, your marketing kicks ass. We think you do incredible work and we want you to join us. So. And that yeah, I mean, I mean, imagine getting that offer. They have complete autonomy now. They have no idea what it looks like if they join Apple. It's hard to know like to really have an negotiation about what those details could look like. And so then they're faced with this like, and I think cable goes into this in the post that basically it should have been a hard decision, but they both already sort of knew that the answer was no. And that they were independent by, it was kind of their nature and that's what they were gonna go and keep doing. And so I think this was largely before the term aquahire had been coined, but you know, that attempted aquahire. Yep. So they end up turning Apple down and cable doesn't talk about it in the blog post, but I wonder if Steve repeatedly telling them that he's gonna basically insulting their chances and telling them he's gonna steamroll them, which he was totally right. Right. Had something to do with it too. Wait, Steve Jobs was kind of a jerk but completely right about something. I've never heard that narrative before. Yeah, never. Yeah. I mean, that's all these, I love going back and covering these Steve Jobs stories because both of those things are true. He was a jerk and he was right. Really, for all his personality foibles, he really was a visionary. Yep. And so it's interesting, there's not much of what would have happened otherwise in the story that we haven't really covered. I guess what would have happened otherwise? There's one fork where maybe they acquire an audio on instead of sound jam and then sort of the same thing happens where the two parties are switched. You could imagine the audio on guys instead of shutting down the software a few years later end up quote unquote throwing in with Apple and joining. And maybe those guys go on to VP positions at Apple. But really, like Apple was gonna make iTunes. They had some expertise in house that they'd already started with music player but really wanted to build on top of product that already had some market validation and some of the hard work done and a lot of the MP3 decoding and file management. And there were two companies doing it. They wanted to grab one. They could have grabbed both and we are what we are today. Yeah, but they did grab sound jam. And as best as we can tell, all the sound jam guys are still 15, 17 years later, all at Apple. And Jeff Robin is actually his VP of consumer applications. He remains the lead software designer for iTunes. He worked with Tony Fidel on the iPod. Supposedly he actually led the TV project that kind of never came into being that Steve was his pet project right before he died. But ended up, I mean Apple TV and the new Apple TV did come out but I don't think that's the sort of full vision of what they were working on. And another fun little Steve Jobs aside, Robin was so important that in 2005, Time Magazine wrote an article, I think about probably about iTunes and the iPod and referred to Robbins, but Steve wouldn't let them refer to him by name, only describe him because he was worried about competitors quote, poaching his talent. It became a famous, one of the many famous Steve isms. That couldn't be a more a perfect segue into what I believe the acquisition category is. And for me, I was debating between whether this is a people or a technology acquisition. And I think when you hear comments like that and you sort of take a step back and look at what was going on here, yes, they forked the sound jam code base to ship iTunes. It's based on a lot of sound jam code, but this was a people acquisition. Apple was going to do this regardless. Yeah, and it's not like some insane new piece of technology that needs to be developed in a research lab where they're actually acquiring the technology itself. It's really the people that have played around with this new ish MP3 software, right? And really understand that file format and really understand how people want to interact with music. And they really acquired the expertise of the sound jam folks. Yeah, I mean, really it was, as we were talking about in the beginning of the episode, both the sound jam and the panic folks, I mean, they'd spent years in the guts of the MP3 codec, audio technology and all of the guts of making this work. I mean, this was not something that was baked into operating system. So they're really in terms of people who knew how to do this and make great music software for the Mac operating system. I mean, you were looking at five people in the world and three of them were at one company and two of them were at the other. Yep. It's funny. The timing of this episode is interesting for a couple of reasons. Listen, there's a lot of the time we'll try and do an episode specifically timed with a news event or a tech trend that's going on. I thought when we picked this episode that we weren't doing that at all, I was like, you know what, it's about freaking time that we do sound jam. And when I was doing a little bit of research for this, I found, this is a good blog post on Markov our immense website, Markov dot org, that the MP3 file format patents actually expired last month. On the 16th of April, the MP3 technology has referenced originally in US patent number 6,9,399 and administered and held by Technicolor expired. So MP3 for the first time is a patent-free file format. And it's funny how I don't think it was ever really a big issue before. Like I didn't really look into if there were major lawsuits or if Apple had to license the MP3 technology, but it's interesting that now, you know, you can build an MP3 app and feel completely, legally on solid ground to do so. Interesting. Yeah, I never would have thought about that. I mean, we just take it for granted at this point. Oh, it's a standard. Yeah. I mean, when we started doing this show, is the first time I actually thought about and had to deal with MP3 file formats and different types of digital audio formats, you know, for the first time in years. Yeah, I can get hairy. By the way, if you're ever producing a podcast, there are so many file format things that can make it go wrong. It is so freaking touchy. Oh, yeah. Fortunately, consumers don't have to deal with this anymore. Should we move into tech themes? Yeah, let's do it. So one big obvious one for me is comparing the world of 2000 to 2005 to the world today. I went from being the music on a zip drive person to a music on an external drive person to having every single one of my files on my computer itself. And I remember buying CDs and buying CDs and downloading music and just having this like incredible, huge music library and being so proud of it. Like I would go over to friends house and we would hang out together and like show off cool songs that we had and like what, I had the entire Beatles CD collection imported into my computer. This was the version of your album collection, you know, when our parents' generation growing up, you know, so important to us, such a stamp of who you were or your cassette tape or a track collection in the 70s. And today, yeah, I mean, today, I have a very loyal Spotify user and it really exemplifies how much of ownership and much of products that I would buy have shifted to subscription in my life. Like I don't have a car, I use Uber. I don't buy movies, I subscribe to Netflix, I don't have a music library, which was a part of my identity for a while because I subscribe to Spotify and it's all available on demand and I can stream it and I can get it anywhere on any device. And it's really this world that we live in of everything as a service and everything as a subscription. And I think, yeah, you don't have collections anymore. Totally. And I think that's only going to continue to happen. And I think, honestly, that's when we, at Pioneer Square Labs, when we think a lot about like new businesses to start, it's like, where's their additional white space and things that people buy now that they could subscribe to? Yeah, well, I think a super interesting question for you is, and for all of us is, as those signifiers of identity have disappeared with the transition from ownership to renting to subscription of content. What are the new signifiers of identity? Oh, identity, yes. Is it the filters you use on Snapchat? But those are available to everyone at any time too. You're essentially subscribing to those. Right. How can people be creative in a way that defines themselves and express their individuality? Yeah. In a world of so much wide availability. I mean, I think this is a consequence both as you were saying of the shift to everything on demand and subscription versus ownership. But also of the massive, massive broadening of reach of social networks, of Instagram, of Facebook, and of Snapchat in its own way too. I mean, I think a lot of, while it opens up, communication and the possibility to be seen and heard to so many people, to so much wider of an audience, it also at the same time has a homogenizing effect. Yeah, totally. I mean, it's interesting to start thinking more about things that haven't been homogenized yet that could be. You see signs right now, everyone gets the same opportunity to post an Instagram shot. And you just get to pick what pixels are you lighting up what colors in that square that make you an individual. And there's all these people doing food photography. And then on the other side of the coin, there's people drinking soilin. And deciding that what that guy eats is, I don't need to differentiate myself on what I eat. And I don't actually take that much joy in it. So whatever, I'll just drink soilin. And it is quote unquote nutritious and everything that I need. And it's interesting to start thinking about, there's people that pride themselves on taking the photos of food and there's other people that have written that off. And they're like, nope, that's the way that I'm going to be the same as everyone. And it's almost like, you know, when you think about a business, like where are we going to differentiate and where are we going to be world class and where are we going to just try and outsource our non-core competencies or be table stakes in these areas that are not core competencies. As you port that to people, do you think that we're getting less and less opportunities to be different and define our own core competencies because there's an ease of availability to be table stakes and everything else because there is everything as a service or you sort of can outsource everything? Yeah, I mean, I really think so. The really interesting question is like, are we at the crest of the wave here or the nature of the wave in terms of his individuality and individual expression, especially in physical things and collections, is it going to continue to decline? Or is there going to be a reaction and a pushback to this homogenization to the extent that people are feeling it and people are going to want to go back? I think this might be why you're seeing physical album sales and LPs vinyl is coming back. Final continues to grow 50% year over year, yeah. Yeah, I think it's why you're seeing a really vibrant pen and pencil paper notebook, Mulskin's another Mulskin is corporate now, boutique notebooks, all sorts of things. You're seeing it in clothes and fashion. I wonder if there is something similar digital and tech enabled sort of root to more honest and individual expression that can start to emerge. Yeah, that's really interesting. I've got a couple more that are not nearly as ethereal. Yeah, we've waxed philosophical on that too. Go ahead, you want to do yours quickly and then I'll jump in with a couple. Yeah, so it's interesting that companies acquiring former employees theme. When we started acquired, as long time listeners know, we do this to try and find common threads between successful acquisitions to really understand what makes successful acquisition and IPO. So that as we build companies in the earliest stages, how can we build with those things in mind that you need a very successful integration or very successful IPO and you don't want to like build something that's great early and then sucks when it's acquired or something. So one thing that I totally thought was going to be a theme that we have only seen once besides this episode is companies acquiring people that used to work for them. And that previous one is Steve Jobs and Next. Yeah, right. And we talked about that it could happen in the jet episode where like potentially Mark Laurie could end up back at Amazon and there's a bit of war with Walmart because Walmart really wanted to keep jet out of the hands of Amazon. But like we really haven't seen it. And if you would have asked me a couple of years ago, like is that a common thread of someone leaving the company starting a thing and getting bought and bringing them back in? It seemed like it was a common thing but it has not been the predominant story of these very successful IPO's that we've been talking about. Are these very successful acquisitions? If anything, it's kind of the opposite. I wonder if I think a lot of big tech companies are buying companies that are started by people from their rivals. Like I think about Facebook buying Instagram and obviously that is our benchmark here at Acquired. I mean, there is even as Instagram just continues to crush it, I mean, that is gonna go down as one of the best purchases of all time in any industry, technology or otherwise. But Kevin Sestrim came from Google and there's so much Google DNA that has come into Facebook through acquisitions. And similarly, Apple DNA into Google or Facebook in Amazon or what have you. Yep, all right, I've got one more. And that one is this rising tide lift-solved ships concept where if any of the listeners are familiar with like the IndieMac ecosystem, there's this concept of getting Sherlocked where Apple introduced search, sort of Sherlock the feature. And that was a third party utility before. And when it got built into the platform, that we're very sorry, thank you for the idea. Thank you for building on our platform. We've destroyed you. And there are times where that is terrible. And there are other times where they do a barebone supplementation on the platform level and it gets better for everyone. And an example of that, I mentioned Mark Arment before but he built InstaPaper before doing overcast. And with InstaPaper, Apple came out with Safari reading list that was baked into the operating system and into the browser. And that actually raised awareness of the category of the concept that you could save things to read later and was good for InstaPaper. And it's interesting to think about how sometimes that's the case but sometimes it kills you. And in this case, Audion guys were hoping, well maybe Apple did sort of a barebones thing here and for pro-sophisticated users, they can find out about music management through Apple and then come and buy our software. And that totally didn't happen. iTunes was two full featured number one. It was free and it was bundled into the platform. And it's something where I've always thought before, well maybe it's people freak out too much when a platform launches a thing and they should think more about the InstaPaper strategy of how can you create something that the platform buy their nature by needing to serve a wide variety of people aren't gonna serve the narrow band. Like how can you thrive in that narrow band? But you really need some serious pro features and serious narrow band differentiation in order to make your thing worth paying for when it's competing with free and big into the platform. Yeah, oh man, this is such a great lead in into my biggest tech theme I wanted to discuss. But I'm wondering thinking about this, how much this has to do with Steve Jobs. Like when you think about, I mean, Sherlocking was like happening in the Steve Jobs era and certainly iTunesing, which absolutely killed Audion as they wrote about in the blog post. Steve was right and he told them to their face when he was launching iTunes, he was like, yep, we're gonna steamroll you guys. You should throw your lot in with us. And he was right. And then it's later in the tail end of Steve's tenure and then after Steve with stuff like podcasts, talking about Marco and the Apple default native podcast app but I use overcast now that Marco makes and so do so many other people. And it's the indie software that's so much better or like with maps, when Apple launched maps and it was like, oh, are they gonna kick Google out and like no, the best thing that ever happened to Google Maps on iOS was Apple launching maps. And I wonder if it's really that both the focus that Steve had on really, well, on A, doing individual apps right and having a ton of focus on them, B, having them be key parts of his overall vision. I mean, his vision for the digital music revolution and making Apple relevant again wasn't just iTunes. It was fitting into a whole piece of an ecosystem that he was building. And Apple's really not done well on that since Steve. Yeah, that's interesting. iTunes is relatively deep. Like they're not taking a broad shallow approach. They took a full featured approach and that full featured approach resonated with like everyone. Like they did this amazing job of making it deep without being complex. And part of that is the praise of the UI design. But another part of that is the fact that maybe Steve kind of was the every man in his interests where when he decided this is a passion of mine and music as a passion of mine and we're gonna go deep into music and be a music company, that actually it was something that just did resonate with tons and tons and tons of people and that he was kind of like a symbol for the every man. Yeah, this is the tech theme I wanted to discuss and bring up is one we've talked about so many times on this show, which is when you're making a product and I think this just illustrates it so well, you need to make something that people want and the best way to do that is and to know you're making something people want is to make what you want. And especially if what you want is aligned well with mass market. Like those are the key things. But mass market and the timing of waves and technology. Yep, of which digital music at this point in time was a huge one. Yep. You know, I was thinking is doing the research and prepping for the show and like we just talked about, you know, Steve, say whatever you want about his personality, some people love him, some people hated him. But he was someone who was very often right about things and right about things in a big way like this. And I think this is a key component of why he was so right was he had an experience in his mind that he had a vision of that was so clear to him and that he wanted and then he was so exacting in managing the products to really, really solve that need and bring delight to what he wanted and that aligned with technology trends and with what lots of people wanted. And I think there's a real danger in if you take the opposite approach and you manage a product just to either feeds and speeds and specs or to just try and time a wave without thinking about solving the problem. That's when you can run into a lot of trouble. Yep, agreed. Okay, that's my philosophical waxing for tech the Ibson. The other two ones I wanted to hit real quick, I mentioned earlier in the show, every time I love doing these throwback episodes, cause it just reminds us how far technology has come. And I cannot imagine having to muck around in the depths of MP3 code X and we are standing on the shoulders of giants here and we'll continue to and 5, 10 years from now people will be like, gosh, I can't believe actually, you had to write in swifter in objective C. It's this self reinforcing and improving cycle and technology that makes magic happen. Yeah, the layers of abstraction that you know, you used to have to write assembly language and or even before that, you know, the hex or the binary and then you get the avenue machine language and then ever since you just keep building more abstraction layers on top of the stack and then it's, you know, you get hypercard and you get these visual forms of programming languages and you get playgrounds where you can see your iOS code sort of move around in real time. And we have yet to, there have been many times where people have envisioned the way that we will program visually and easily in the future and you don't actually have to know about the guts but often to do the specialized thing or to do the best thing, you really do need to know a lot about the guts. And I'm very curious to watch and see like, I think to do the easy thing, we're gonna have platforms but to do the hard thing, no one who built the platform envisioned the really hard differentiated thing that you wanna do. So I think there's always space if you wanna be different at the difficult product level, there's always a space to know what's under your layers of abstraction. Again, Steve Jobs is back to his favorite Alan Kay quote, you know, if you really care about software, you should really care about hardware. Yeah. Okay, last one I wanted to make real quick is just this whole idea that again, we've talked about on this show and this episode and others is it's really hard to compete with free in technology and if you have a utility app and it's just a utility, somebody, if there is a big enough market for that, somebody is gonna come along and make it free and you are not gonna be able to capture a longterm value just from utility, but what does capture a longterm value is either an ecosystem like iTunes and the iPod and the Mac and the digital hub, you know, and sort of bundling. There's two ways to make money in business, bundling and unbundling as we talked about on the last show or taking an approach of creating a network around it like Instagram did. I mean, Instagram was heapsdomatic. It was a photo filter utility, but they created a network around it, not just a utility and I think there's a big lesson there. Utilities can be agreed wedge of an entry as a product into building a customer base, but you can't stop just there if you wanna build a sustainable business. You have to create either an ecosystem or a network around it. Yep, yep, love that point. All right, should we go into grading? Let's do it. Okay, so the financials are silly on this one. We don't even have numbers to run. Like the purchase price of this thing was so small. For all we know, we might not even, they might not have even really called it. They might have just hired the company. Yeah, totally, totally. And getting an opportunity, if you're those guys and they say, hey, we'll pay you a little bit more than you're making on your own right now, you'll get a stable wage and we're gonna distribute it to way more people and give you some team members. It's like, all right, done, deal. It sounds great. And you get to be the key architect on, what became grew into the most powerful and best product ecosystem and business in the history of technology. Yep, yep. And so just for fun, I went and looked at last quarter's financials. They break out services revenue. So Apple has the Mac, Ipa, no, Mac iPhone, they break out a few different product lines. And one of them is services. And that's basically recurring revenue that comes from iTunes related things. So it's Apple Pay, it's Apple Music, iCloud, those sorts of things. And that alone last quarter was $7 billion. So just on those sort of services, really, this things that were born out of iTunes. But really, I think the fair way to assess this is like it kind of allowed, along with Mac OS 10 and next generation operating system, iPod, an amazing piece of consumer hardware, the iPhone, the most revolutionary consumer technology product of all time. It kind of enabled the way that they were going to do the digital music revolution and the digital hub. And like when you... No, I mean, let's be clear, no iTunes, no iPhone. Right, right. And last quarter, they did $52 billion in revenue, last quarter across all their product lines. And we talked about this that the numbers are almost silly when you look at the next acquisition. It's like, well, you know, I think Apple had done like a trillion dollars of revenue since buying next, almost all of it in some way, attributable to the next. It's sort of that same ridiculous thinking. So I was like, okay, duh, a plus. But I'm going to walk it down to an A for this reason. Apple was going to do this with or without either of these two companies. Yeah, they were going to do this anyway. No, they would have figured it out. They would have found a way to hire the right people. This is square in their core competency. It's not like they needed Instagram that came with a whole network effect. It's not like they needed, you know, Pixar that came with IP. It's not like they needed some core research-based technology. Like they were going to do this. So A plus on the foresight and the vision and the plan to create iTunes and have this strategy. Also, freaking brilliant acquisition. Like great, it was sort of the obvious thing. And it was, you know, good on them for doing it. Give me an A because of the outcome of what that small investment has really become. But I don't think all of that value is attributable to the acquisition in the same way that it was for next. Yeah, I mean, I think this is everything you would want and an A plus in an aquaire, which is what it was. And in terms of our, you know, sort of greeting benchmarks on this show, yeah, I mean, I think I give it a name minus just like great, super great execution. Probably had very little impact on the internet trajectory here. But it did accelerate things. You know, if Apple had had to build iTunes from scratch, then would it take in longer? Maybe it would have given time for somebody else to really emerge and whether it was Rio or Microsoft or somebody else with digital hub strategy. It was something to be said for acceleration, yeah. Definitely something to be said for acceleration. But on the balance, you know, this is in and of itself no Instagram, but is a component of, as we've said, many times on this show what has become the best business and business model of all time. Yep. OK, follow ups real quick. So Amazon, a contender for the throne of business and business model of all time, so much going on over there, so much innovation and the latest being of the Echo show. We talked about the Echo Look on the last episode. First camera now is green and shout out to other friend of ours and friend of the show, Rob Katz over at Amazon for being one of the key PMs on the Echo show. Yeah, and it's interesting as more of this Alexa hardware starts to roll out. It's interesting thinking about what's a clear core evolution of what Alexa is for the mass market and what these Echoes are for the mass market and what is like a side project. Like when the Echo Look came out, I was thinking, OK, narrow use case, but this Alexa voice service is something that is cloud based and you can put on a variety of hardware. So why not put it on some specialized things, especially if you can manufacture them cheaply and ship it with economies of scale. The Echo Look to me, I'm sorry, the Echo show to me feels like, hey, we released the Echo, and now this is Echo version two, and this one has a screen because there are so many freaking use cases when I'm yelling at Alexa that I'm like, boy, do I wish I could see the product that she's trying to describe to me before I commit to paying money for it. Or there's a variety of things. Like see the song that's playing. See the timer count down. Like the device needs a screen. Yeah. So great timing in this episode too, and talk about the power of a digital hub strategy. And you can see the potential here for something like the show and future versions of Alexa and the Echoes to become the hub of Amazon, the hub of e-commerce. I mean, what is Amazon? It's an e-commerce company when you're buying things and buying things through the Echo. Gosh, it's really helpful to be able to see it. Yeah, even the hub of messaging, crazy. They're their Trojan Horse communication platform now. Yeah, next follow up, relevant to right on the heels of our last episode on Bam Tech. Facebook announced yesterday that starting today, they have done a deal with Major League Baseball to stream live 20 games, 20 Major League Baseball games on Facebook this season. Very interesting. And I think, well, I'm not sure. Details are scarce. I guess we'll find out later today when the first one happens. But I would assume it will be done on Facebook's infrastructure, not Bam Techs, which is interesting, given Bam Tech is now an independent company outside of Amazon. Yeah, it's interesting. Now, as soon as they split, there's competing business interests. And MLB should do what's an MLB's best interest, which is make their content available on the most places to generate the most revenue for them. And so suddenly, Bam Tech is an interesting thing for them. It's a great utility. It's an asset that they own a lot of and can the majority of and can guide what it does. But when it's in their own best interest for their core business, suddenly, it's Facebook's infrastructure. Yep. Which let's continue to harp on the fact that the horizontal versus vertical problem that we touched on last episode, that so many people fail at. Major League Baseball is doing a great job at knowing, hey, our main priority is our main priority. And this Bam Tech thing helps us when it helps us, but otherwise go be your own business. Yep. And this is a great, we talked about on the show. Why would, why is it an MLB's interest to spin this off, can see why it's in Bam Tech's interest. But this is a great example of why it was an MLB's interest to do this. Now they can focus on the main thing and serve their customers where they are. Yep. Yep. One more piece of follow up. Yep. Yeah. Snap had their first earnings call, where they in a single day dropped from 2229 down to 1805. You know, after being up even higher before that, they announced they had a $2.2 billion loss, two billion of which could be attributed to stock based compensation related to restricted stock units with a performance condition. So everyone's freaking out. It's back up to over $20 now. Everyone's freaking out about this loss. And like, yes, they're losing a lot of money. Yes, that's true. I'm much more concerned about the potential slowing of user growth from the Instagram. All the Instagram features really cutting them out before they have a chance to grow to a large audience. But I think that the $2.2 billion loss was very overhyped. Like it's a one time event with a lot of these RSUs. Much of it, the public already knew about that it was the $7,800 million CEO bonus. That is a very weird thing that go listen to the snap episode if you're interested in that. But basically, like all that should have been priced in and expected. It happened, I think it vested like a little bit earlier than people thought, which is why it came as more of a surprise. But it's a lot of hype. There's still a long game here. Let's see what the next eight earnings calls look like. Yeah, to me, the snap earnings calls, I guess unsurprising. I mean, these things take time. But it's like, OK, well, that didn't really answer the question. We got to wait until the next one. And the question is user growth. And can they reignite it? And it ticked up a little bit from the last couple quarters. But not enough that it was, snap has not yet and will need to in the next six to 12 months, maybe slightly longer. But I don't think they have that much time. They're going to need to definitively answer, yes or no, and how they are going to reignite user growth. And this is like we talked about on the episode. I mean, just the exact same situation that Facebook was in right after their IPO with totally missing mobile. And it'll be very interesting to watch. And of course, that was when Facebook acquired Instagram. And as of yet, snap has not made any major either internal product announcements or acquisitions along those lines. But I think these next six to 12 months are really when the next few years of snap are going to be forged. Maybe they'll ship free ARVR spectacles to everyone, get everyone on their platform, and then I don't know. Well, that's one way to use your idea of cash. That's right. All right. Should we move on to carve outs? Let's do it. So mine is accidentally very aligned. I was looking through the way that I generally do carve outs as I look through my Insta paper and say, what I read this week, and I'll flip through my overcast and say, what podcast I listen to this week. And the one that stood out to me is the most interesting thing I consumed was the internet history podcast, shout out to Brian McCullough, friend of the pod, and the Napster story with Jordan Ritter. Oh, yes. So great. I'm so glad that episode came together, or both of them, friends of us and friends of the show. And that was a great episode. Highly recommend everyone go check it out. And Jordan, it's very relevant to this episode, talking about early days of the digital music revolution, and Napster and MP3s. And Jordan is just a fantastic guest. He's very honest and open about the dynamics at the company and in the industry, and how Napster played out, very worth listening to. Yeah, especially if you are listening to acquired because you like narratives and you like hearing the back stories of this stuff and the details and what went down and inside baseball, it's all there. So also, thank you, David, for doing my carve out explanation for me. I'm going to send mine. Sorry about that. I just totally. I'm going to send mine to you. I jacked your carve out. I'll send you my carve outs beforehand now, and that way you can prepare a little something. I couldn't help myself. I'm sorry. Well, myself a glass and just listen. Do you want to do mine? Well, I don't know what it is. Mine is actually, well, I don't know if you could do mine. Fun, totally unrelated. As we've talked about on this show, my wife Jenny and I have been on a bit of a travel expedition over the last few months. And we wrapped it up. We just kept back to the States yesterday, which again, is probably why if we're less professional on this episode, we can blame it on the jet lag. But one of our last stops before we came home was Israel. And neither of us had ever been before, and was just such an amazing eye-opening experience in so many ways. And so glad we went and just really would recommend everybody. If you have a chance, if you live in America, or you live in Europe, or elsewhere in Asia, or Africa, and you haven't been to Israel, you haven't been to Middle East. But basically, if you don't live in South America. Yeah, well, if you don't live in the Middle East, let's put it that way. Highly, there's so much going on. I feel like I understand so little still about that place. But I understand so much more about the world and about our own country having actually been and seen what's going on there. And even though Israel is just a small part of the Middle East, it makes me want to go back, see more felt completely safe the whole time as safer, safer than any major American city. And just can't recommend enough to go see it with your own eyes. It's an amazing place if you haven't. I felt very, very similar after my trip a few years ago. It's something to understand there for everyone. Yeah, regardless of what religion or lack of religion you are or political persuasion. I mean, literally, it is the cradle of Western civilization. And it is worth seeing with your own eyes. Yep. All right, listeners, I think that'll do it for today. We appreciate you listening as usual. If you are not subscribed and you want to hear more, you can subscribe from your favorite podcast client. And if you feel so inclined, we would love a review on iTunes. You can find us at acquired.fm, at acquired.fm on Twitter. We're on Facebook. Search for acquired podcast or acquired. Thanks for joining us. We'll see you next time. Music