Every company has a story. Learn the playbooks that built the world’s greatest companies — and how you can apply them as a founder, operator, or investor.

Episode 19: Jet

Episode 19: Jet

Mon, 29 Aug 2016 13:00

Ben & David break down’s meteoric rise, culminating in Walmart’s blockbuster $3B+ acquisition of the company just two years after its founding. Will we look back on this deal as an ‘Instagram-like’ bargain or a ‘'-sized blunder? And most importantly, can *anyone* compete with Amazon going forward? We speculate wildly.
Topics covered include:
New section: Hot Takes! (thank you @cteitzel on Slack for the idea)
The Carve Out

Listen to Episode

Copyright © Copyright 2022 ACQ, LLC

Read Episode Transcript

90 plus percent. I don't think we rode together 90 plus percent of that ride. Yeah. Yes. Yes. Oh yeah, yeah. Who got the truth? Is it you? Is it you? Is it you? Is it you? Who got the truth now? Who? Is it you? Is it you? Is it you? Sit me down. Say it straight. Another story on the way. Who got the truth? Welcome to episode 19 of Acquired, the podcast where we talk about technology acquisitions. I'm Ben Gilbert. I'm David Rosenthal. And we are your hosts. Today's episode is the big news in the last few weeks. Walmart acquiring I think this set a new record in terms of episode requests that I got Ben. Yeah. If you combine email, Slack, in-person, Twitter, I think I personally saw North of 10. We got to give the people what they want. That's true. Before we dive into it, I want to do a community spotlight. We have a listener. His name is Chris Laurent. And he has an app called Now Do. Invoicing like it's the future. So Now Do is to do super fast invoicing for teams. It's actually a Slack app powered by Stripe. And if you're interested in doing some invoicing for your team, you should go check them out. They're at Now Which I love those AI TLDs. Absolutely. The listeners out there let us know. Get out of us at acquired FM at on the website, on Twitter. If you would like to be on the next community showcase and we'd love to tell everyone what you're up to. Yep. Or on Slack. And if you're not in the Slack community, go to our website to join. Lots of good discussion from lots of people. That does better me. A breath of fresh air from David and I. 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 founder. 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 and to acquired because all of history's greatest entrepreneurs 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. But I think this is one of the reasons why people love both of our shows and there's such good compliments. And 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 his ideas. And so I think what requires doing what a founder 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. So on to this week's topic, David, you want to do the acquisition history and facts? Because always. So blockbuster acquisition this month by Walmart over $3 billion for a company that was two years old, but it only been public for a year. But the story actually starts and not gone public, but it has been launched publicly for a year. But the story starts way before then actually back in 2005 when Mark Laurie, who is one of the co-founders and CEO of jet, founded another company called Quidsey, which you may or may not have heard of, but you may know it's main operating business, which was Killer domain. Killer domain name. And the Quidsey story actually starts even earlier than that when Mark started his first company, which got sold to tops, the trading card company. And he moved out here to Seattle to run this new division of tops. And when he was here in Seattle, he was thinking about going into e-commerce and starting and his daughter went to a private school here in Seattle that Jeff Bezos' children just happened to go to as well. And so they met it like a school picnic one day and chatted about e-commerce. And little did they know the intersections that would be to come. Wow. So this is 2001 before he started Quidsey. Jeff was obviously what, six, seven years in full force with Amazon. Yep. Sometime between 2001 and 2005, this happened. Wow. Okay. So e-commerce was a thing. Amazon was, you know, they were not a startup anymore. This was a very real company. It's not like they were both ideating that maybe e-commerce will be a thing together. No, Amazon was a thing. Yeah. Public company. And Lori was thinking about jumping into the fray. Which he did in 2005 when he started And there is a great history of Would make a good episode for us someday, but it's already been covered very well in the everything store, which is the fantastic book about Amazon. And the punchline is that after a protracted negotiation during which Amazon tried to basically clone and then compete with an undercut on prices for everything and all of their other and many other properties. Amazon ended up acquiring the company in 2010 for $545 million. Do you know what that didn't work? It seems like Amazon would have the resources to continue to, you know, deep discount, win on price and then eventually put them out of business. They would, but there is an important other player in this story, which we will see comes back again the second time that Walmart was also interested in acquiring Oh, wow. So it came to the point where I'm going. And it made a bit for the company. I see. I see. So Amazon strategy maybe was working very defensive, prevent. Literally in the everything store, the Brad Stone writes about that that Bezos gave direction to his corp dev team, like do not under any circumstances allow Walmart to buy this company. Wow. Yeah, super interesting. Super interesting. So Amazon buys diapers, Lori and the many employees of QuidZego and work for Amazon. So the QuidZee was established in New Jersey, actually in Hoboken. So Mark moved. And as was jet, right? Jet space. As was jet. Yeah. So Amazon, much like they did with Zappos, left diapers alone, it's still an independently operating company fully owned by Amazon. Lori continues to run it for a couple of years and two years later in 2013, he leaves. And he starts thinking about what he's going to do next. Was that on good terms? Do you know how he left? Yeah, well, it's interesting. Especially now that the jet acquisition has happened. As chronicled in the everything store and elsewhere, the negotiations and the tactics that Amazon used and acquiring diapers were aggressive. And Lori was not a fan of Amazon and especially after having worked there. And so when he leaves in 2013, which is pretty quickly, we don't know what the terms of his retention package were, but I got to imagine it was longer than sort of two-ish years that he stayed there. He's kind of got a chip on his shoulder and he wants to gun for Amazon and pay those with inventions. Yeah, and I think he rips on when he was starting jet or talking about the reasons behind starting jet, he rips on Amazon's culture a little bit. And he's talking about among the many ways that he wants to compete with Amazon on jet being, well, I'll leave you to tell the business strategy, but he wants to create a place that's not such a cutthroat culture. Absolutely. I've got the quote right here. He gives a quote in the New York Times after he leaves Amazon and as he's starting jet, he says, I saw that it didn't at Amazon. I saw that it didn't matter how you treated people. You just paid them enough so you didn't care if you burned them out and then you got new people and burned them out. It was an environment of very short-term thinking. Wow. Which is, you know, we talk about Amazon all the time on the show and we praise them for their incredible long-term thinking. Yeah, I don't think Amazon is an environment of short-term thinking, but we'll get to that. Yeah. He starts jet in the summer of 2014 and the vision, the idea that he has is that Amazon, obviously, is very, very good at what it does, but Amazon's core customer is not your average American. It's the upper class, it's wealthy individuals, upper middle class, people who actually care, they care about price, but they also care a lot about convenience and selection. Amazon's Holy Trinity, which we will come back to, and he thinks there's an opportunity to compete directly with Amazon and to compete on price, to be the low-price discount retailer on the Internet. The model that he has for that is Costco. Another great Seattle company. Another great Seattle company. The intersections are just amazing here. Another quote that he says is he's starting the company in this interview, he says there's this huge middle class of people that are going to be spending more and more dollars online, and for them it's going to be all about price, and that they'll be willing to trade off convenience and selection versus price. He has this big vision, he's going to win the core middle class of America away from Amazon, and he's not going about this small. He goes big. He raises a seed round from NEA, Excel, Bane, and WTI, as he's starting the company. July 2014, one year away from launch, just starting the company, raises $80 million right off the bat. Wow. Yeah. Anybody who's going out and raising a seed now and knowing what valuation you're getting, there are a small handful of people in the world that could do a seed like that, and still enough trust to say, yeah, my seed venture, you can have what, 20 to 25% of it or something for $80 million. That's true. That's right. And he's not done. He doesn't stop there. February of 2015, we're still months away from launch. They haven't sold a single thing. The website isn't live anything. He raises another $140 million. So before they even launch the company, launch the product, he's raised $220 million. Wow. And I remember hearing about this when it was going on, and everyone that had been burned in the late 90s, talking about, oh my God, the bubble's back. This company doesn't even have a great plan to make revenue. They haven't launched a product yet. That's calm all over again. Yeah. Well, needless to say, there was a lot of hype when they finally launched on July 21, 2015. So just over a year ago, a year ago, as we said here today. And when they launched, they spent a ton of that money on advertising, customer acquisition. I remember I was in New York City last fall, shortly after they launched. And like, Jed had bought out, like, felt like half of the subways on New York City, in New York City. And they're, you know, billboards all over the place, all over the country. They did not go, they did not play small ball here. Yeah. I think they had a pretty successful organic invite campaign too, where they gave people like six months of free membership. I think it's called the Jet Insider program. Yeah, I have it here. And refers were given up to, yeah, that's it. Six months of free site membership. And they got almost 400,000 people, 350,000 people that signed up for the early membership program. So, I mean, that's pretty incredible to be able to build a base of 350,000 users pre-launch. Yeah, absolutely. And they did it by, as you mentioned, giving away free membership for six months. So we mentioned a minute ago that the model for how Lori and Jed were going to compete with Amazon, was they were going to use the Costco model. And so the idea was that Jed was a membership site. And it cost $50 a year to be a member. Half of prime. Half of prime. Yep, half of prime. And that the company, Lori, was super explicit about this, that much like Costco, if you actually look at Costco's financial statements, and you take the amount of money that they make from membership fees, and you look at their net income, like it's basically the same thing. They make no money on everything they sell in the store. The only money they make is from the membership fees. And so that was what Jed was going to do. So again, this is like, this is an us talking. This is straight from Lori here. Quote says, the bottom line is, we're basically not making a dime on any of the transactions. We're passing it all back to the consumer. So they weren't going to charge membership fees for six months if you were part of a Jed insider. You didn't have to pay for six months, but then they were going to charge $50 a year. Which really is only a $25 value. I mean, we're actually, for those of us who are no longer price sensitive because to the membership fee like that, because we're used to paying $100 of prime a year, like giving me $25 toward that. Sure. That's interesting. It doesn't seem like a huge reward and it doesn't seem like a huge barrier to keep me away from signing up either. Like the convenience afforded by fast shipping and I guess they weren't quite doing as fast shipping, but free shipping, it seems of course worth a prime membership. Or yes, this case. Well, and so then it comes down to like, okay, so what was Jed actually doing? And the whole idea again was that price was most important. And so they had a goal that everything that you would buy on jet would be 10 to 15% cheaper than you could get anywhere else online and by that they made Amazon. So they actually built a lot of tech around this. And the whole idea was to incentivize customers to buy more than one thing at a time. So like the default behavior that Laurie saw with Amazon and that, you know, I'd definitely fall into this category. I don't know if you do, you do Ben too is that once you're a prime member, you're like, oh, I need this. I'm going to order it like right now. I want to off like I'm not going to wait and order a bunch of stuff whenever I need something. I just order it and it comes. Right. And they've slipped away from that a little bit with things like prime pantry or add on items where I know long or feel like which they got from Oh, interesting. Yeah. With those kind of mechanics, I'm a little bit less confident in Amazon. Actually, then I was call it three years ago before those things when I would just be like, oh, I'll just prime it. I'm sure it will get here and I'm sure I'll be able to get it free and right now. And you know, when you, when that's the promise for so long and then you, you have a couple of these things where it's like you need to buy something else to get the free shipping. It does actually sting you a little bit. It does. And so what jet did a couple things, you had to hit minimum order amounts to get free shipping. And also as you added more items to your cart and in particular items and they would incentivize surface these items and incentivize you to do it that were log physically located in the same fulfillment center. So it costs less to assemble this package and you could send it all in one box. They would then drop the price on your items in your total order as you were basically doing these behaviors that they were incentivizing. And the idea was another thing that they did and still do is I believe is if you use a debit card instead of a credit card, you'll get a one and a half percent. Well, they give you half the interchange back. Yep, they give you half the interchange back. If you, this is super interesting. If you wave your right to return anything, then they'll give you an extra discount on, if you wave your right to return certain items, they'll give you a discount on those items. That's so interesting. I mean, all these things are wildly ambitious, very interesting. They're intuitive. And require a lot of technology actually. Right, right. A lot of technology and a ton of financial modeling. I mean, you have to imagine that they're figuring out what return rates are, what it's worth to them. If they're going to make the trade-off between customer, maybe getting dissatisfied with something they have in blaming the jet brand versus how much it costs them to facilitate the return and actually accept the thing back. All this is very ambitious and interesting. Maybe too short of a time frame since it's only been a year, but did it work? Interesting. So let's remember all of this, the stated goal is all the savings that we're going to get operationally from this. We're going to pass back to the consumer. Our starting prices are going to be so low anyway that we're basically now making any gross margin anyway. And the whole idea was the membership fee would make up for that. Well, a couple months go by. We get to October 2015 and the other shoe drops. And for whatever reason, I got to imagine the internal data was showing that it was a flop. And that's not like three months after they launched. Yeah, three months after they launched. Jet announces that they're dropping the membership fee. So it's now completely free, open to anyone to shop on jet. And the prices are still going to be really low. So they basically said our only profit engine we're killing. I'm reminded of the quote that people often, they don't really anymore, but they used to talk about Amazon. The equity analysts would say that when they were down on Amazon that it was a charity being run for the benefit of the American consumer, would jet literally became a charity being run for the benefit of the American consumer. Wow. And so Lori's statement on this was that they decided that on some items, the data showed them that they actually didn't need to discount 10 to 15%. They would only discount four to five percent. And that's how they would make money. But remember, again, they're discounting four to five percent relative to Amazon, which already has like incredibly low prices and can get those prices through massive scale and negotiating power with suppliers and their incredible supply chain and everything. So with all those advantages, Amazon still maintains this razor thin profit margin. So the fact that the idea that you could take Amazon's profit gross margin on items, knock it down by another four to five percent, do all the fulfillment yourself and still make money. Perhaps suspect here. But nonetheless, the very next month in November of 2015, they managed to raise another $350 million round that Fidelity leads. This time it was publicized at a $1.4 billion post money valuation. Okay. So David, you are a venture capitalist. You get Mark Lori approaching you for this round. Why would you... And the... I got to imagine like, if not slide one, but somewhere in the pitch deck is the slide that says, oh yeah, our profit model, we just killed that. Right. Right. So what could possibly be the thing where you're like, you know, we painted it as a pretty negative story so far? Why would you do it? Here's why you'd do it. So they announced the round in November 2015, another $350 million in December 2015 in Q4 holidays, you know, the big moment for retail. At the end of December, they announced that they now have two million active customers and that they did 33 million in revenue in December alone. This is for a company that only launched six months ago. So this is incredible, incredible growth. So it's growth even though, you know, even at this point in history, you would have been still suspect on the unit economics of the business. It still seems like a good investment opportunity. Go, go, go, Ben. You know, I mean, I'm sure this was the still wasn't. He's still the story that to compete with somebody like Amazon in e-commerce and in retail, you need to acquire customers and you need to make a huge splash and you need to just make this massive investment in that customer acquisition plus the infrastructure. And to do that, you're going to have to lose money for a long time. And Amazon itself lost money for a long time as we all know. Yeah. And I wonder too, like, is it, is Mark Lary going into making that pitch without any hedges and saying, you know, this is a hundred year company we're going to be enduring, we're going to serve the middle class, or is there something in there where you're like, oh, this could be a quick turnaround, like something like this Walmart thing could happen. Yeah. Well, that's what I was going to say, you know, whether this was a slide in the pitch deck, literally or metaphorically, we'll never know. But I got to imagine going through all of these investors' minds are, hey, this is a get to scale play. And if jet can get to scale, maybe there's some chance that they can build a, you know, sustainable standalone business here. But there are a lot of people in this world who are very threatened by Amazon and who would love to have an opportunity to bring into their fold an at scale e-commerce business of which there are basically one in the world in the US right now, which is Amazon. Right. Right, right. So we'll get to that in a second. So that was December 2015, May 2016, so a couple months ago, jet announces again that now they did 90 million in revenue in May of 2016. So they've tripled revenue, monthly revenue from the December holidays and December, of course, is the biggest revenue month for any retail. So their year of a year would have been way up. Way, way, way, well, it was, it was infinite because they weren't even launched in May of 2015. Right. But presuming that they could compare it to a quarter. Right. The growth is, the growth is incredible. No doubt about that. But what was interesting is shortly after that announcement, last month, so July 2016, Laurie does another interview with Fortune. I think it's clearly PR was one of their customer acquisition strategies. And Laurie is very good at that and has always been. But it is interesting this quote that he says in this interview last month, he says, Well, this being American retail e-commerce has never been a winner take all market, which, he wasn't exactly saying it was before, but he was kind of like, hey, Amazon, I'm coming for you. I'm going to beat you before that. He says, this has never been a winner take all market. There will be a really large number two, three, and four, and we can be one of those. So he's basically said, I give up, I can't be number one. So this is a good time. I mean, a lot of times we pause and wait for tech trends to later. For new listeners, we've got our sections coming up, our acquisition category, what would have happened otherwise, what tech theme does this illustrate for you, then we grade the acquisition. And rather than saving this for what tech themes, you know, David is he wrong about the future, that the economics that the internet creates can turn retail into a winner take all market? Well, I think, you know, if you go back to our favorite analysts on this show, Ben Thompson, and, you know, the idea of aggregation theory, this kind of is the underpinning, you know, sort of ideology of the internet and internet business models is that you can take all of these industries that before the internet were by necessity fragmented and could have multiple winners because you needed physical store space in, you know, every market in town and that led to, you know, some companies would do better in some locations and others and others. All of a sudden, there's only one storefront and it's a website and that can lead to just this huge ability to aggregate, you know, if you can create the best customer experience and we'll get back to this a lot, I want to talk about the idea of the customer experience of Amazon versus the customer experience of jet that the best customer experience is going to win and be a winner take all. Yeah. And I'm trying to look at the stat here. Ecommerce has a percentage of US retail revenue in 2012. I'm sure it's only a few percentage points more now, but in 2012, it was like 5%. Like, there is so much of retail that is transacted physically that has yet to move to online. And you and I are talking about this the other day about I'm doing the dumb thing where I try and time the market and wait for a little dip in Amazon so I can buy it and then realize that short term little gain and then hold on to it for the long point, the long while. And you're making the obvious point that then there's so much retail that still has to move to online. There's 10X or 100X more growth left in this company if they continue to conquer the way that they are. And I do wonder as all this, you know, the 90% of retail that's left physically as it moves to online is that Mark Laurie comment is history going to disprove that, right? Is it maybe it will be a winner take all market because if you vertically integrate and have all of the distribution centers and the best customer experience and the best customer experience. Yeah. And you have all that under one roof like Amazon or maybe what jet could be maybe retail is a winner take all in the future. Well, I think we should talk a lot more about that. We'll just wrap up real quick acquisition, acquisition history in fact because we're at the end here. So August 8th last week as we're recording this, bombshell announcement while Mart requires jet for $3.3 billion, $3 billion in cash and $300 million in stock retention incentives for employees. So a couple of quick things on this. One Mark Laurie is going to continue to run jet. It will be a standalone property taking the Amazon model here like Zappos and like diapers. But he's also going to run And they have a pretty significant lockup on him. So a huge portion, it's been reported that a undisclosed but huge portion of his financial outcome from this deal, both in the stock incentives that were the $300 million. And I think also a big part of what he would earn from the cash up front is going to be subject to him staying at Walmart for five years. Wow. This is quite long compared to traditional lockups in tech acquisitions. Right. Right. And he owned a tremendous amount of this company still, something like a quarter or a third even after all this money. Even after all that money raised. Yeah. Don't know exactly because we don't know the valuations on the early rounds but he definitely owned a lot. It's super interesting and so much of the press and the actual statements from Walmart about this deal are clearly a lot is about. Yeah. The fact that they're putting in the acquisition announcement that he's going to run It's like obviously you don't pay $3.3 billion for a person but they really wanted Mark Lorrie. Well, we'll get into that next in acquisition category. We have to come back to this idea of is there going to be a really large number two, three, four in US retail e-commerce? Man, it is really hard for me to imagine that. Yeah. I think right now I was trying to do some research the other day and who is the number two to Amazon right now? Is there a meaningful second large e-commerce site? What it comes down to is that there are category by category. I was talking to a friend who used to work at Amazon and he was saying that in electronics there's obviously your best buys of the world that dominate online in that category. Still generally way behind Amazon but there is no massive horizontal platform like Amazon is that gives you a strong number two. I think let's continue this discussion and tech themes but let's do category first. It's the tough one. Where are you going to put it Ben? Yeah. So I sort of have a little flow chart here. I don't believe that Microsoft, that's a good Freudian slip. I don't believe that Walmart will independently operate forever. I think that they take the learnings from that and roll it into their business. They could do something really insane and bet the farm on jet that they actually keep jet alive and pour all the resources into that. But I don't think they'll do it. I think what ends up happening is they run jet as a standalone thing for a few more years. They take the learnings from it. Maybe even they take the entire model and rebrand as and keep that entire model as the way to do Walmart e-commerce. If they had permanently kept it alive, I would have said business line but since I have low confidence in that, it's a people and a technology acquisition. I think it's actually more the people that know how to build the technology. I think they've probably built a tremendous amount of interesting technology now. But it's really the fact that other than Walmart Labs who built the mobile app, but that's much less sophisticated, doesn't have in their DNA a strong technology background. I think with buying such a large group of people who are running such a fast growing business, like can we overcome this tipping point of making this actually a place for technologists to go like Amazon is rather than what you usually see in these scenarios of buying a smaller company and those people are just a trick at some point. It's like, is jet a big enough buy that we actually can tip the scales and say, you know what, you are a sophisticated developer and architect that can person or whatever. Yeah. Is interested in building the future of this stuff. This is the most interesting place to be. No question there's that part of it. As I was thinking about this, I was going through the standard rubric of categories and I kind of went down the list. I'm like, okay, well people, there's definitely a big aspect of that in Lori and the other people at jet technology, also exactly as you were saying, a big aspect of that to this deal. Product, I don't think there's really a lot of product here because I mean jet was a retail platform, not a product itself. So maybe not that one as much business line, yep, they're adding the business line and then asset to the category we added last time with ways. Very much. In the press release that Walmart puts out here, they note that they make sure to like, I think the second bullet that they call out about the rationale is that jet has a growing customer base of urban and millennial customers. Boy, that doesn't sound like Walmart's base. Who does not shop at Walmart, urban and millennial customers? So there's definitely a asset by here in the customer base. I think you're right though, at the core, the two biggest reasons are the people and the technology, but it kind of could fit into multiple buckets here. Yeah, I agree. It's funny as you say that the millennial generation and the urban dwellers are more of the jet base and that's so obviously not Walmart. I saw a couple comparisons on a couple of other podcasts I listened to and then Instratekari to Walmart being this generation's seers and kind of fading into irrelevantcy because the factors that made them big are not aligned with the current generation. And you see this incredible trend toward urbanization and in a very meta way, Amazon setting the trend for what is a modern urban campus look like rather than being out in the suburbs and industrial parks and jet just caters to that demographic and plays on that trend so much better than Walmart's existing business. So do we think that this means that we're going to see bio domes in Hoboken? Nailed it. It's exactly what I mean. For those of you not in Seattle, Amazon is building these super crazy. Biosphere. Biosphere, yeah. Yeah, yeah. Obviously bio domes then. Is that yeah. Oh, sure. Yeah. But the, yeah, it's like an indoor or like an indoor central park type thing for Amazon employees and people in. I think it's going to be open to the public really in right and downtown Seattle. Yeah, that's awesome. Yeah, right here in the middle of Amazon's campus. We yeah, I'm trying to like take off my obviously were huge fans of Amazon here. So like I'm for I'm really trying to take off my Amazon's going to take over the world hat when when looking at this thing because I think more and more even over the past year with Amazon's tremendous growth and just having a lot more faith in their their long term plan. I just started evaluating things as are they really going to compete with Amazon and I think that's a pretty fair assessment. But in the generations, Microsoft like, you know, right. In the 90s, you know, any company that was trying to raise venture capital like the first question would be like, well, what are you going to do when Microsoft starts competing with you? And then Google that was like the question. You fell on the Facebook. So here's this is like a great allegory. So mobile and did Microsoft or at least an old Microsoft way like what will be the thing that pushes Amazon into a relevancy? Yeah, great question. I mean, I think this is like, obviously, you know, self admittedly. We're both huge Amazon fanboys here. But like, I don't think it's jet, you know, I think it's something and I think there's also a good chance that what it wasn't the Mac. Yeah. Yeah. I think there's a good chance that whatever that is comes from Amazon itself, you know, you know, they're making big investments into drones with primary. Like that could be hugely disruptive because that changes the economics of delivery and fulfillment. You know, it could be voice that they're doing with Alexa because that changes the customer experience of how you order. You know, it could be 3D printing, right? With like you products that you're buying don't get made at a factory anymore. They get made, maybe they get made at your house, but maybe they get made locally. And then, you know, just last mile delivered to you. Amazon's investing in that too. Like it's hard to see, you know, what the blunt maybe virtual reality like, I don't know. Yeah, it's interesting. The other lens to look at that through is maybe we're just mixing tech three themes all through here this episode. But it's one of the things that that has talked about with why Apple nailed mobile is because Apple like skipped a generation and lost the previous war. So it's like who's sitting out this one and will be like way behind and gas. And it's like asking their last breath to come up with something truly innovative that unseats Amazon. I've been thinking about this too. There's a great article that will link to in the show notes series of articles that have come out this week on Apple interviews with the senior team. They're doing a ton of PR. They must be trying to hide something. Get ready for the September 9th film. Yeah. But there's a really good one with Tim Cook and he kind of talks about this a little bit and I love this because in tech, it's so easy for us to always be thinking what's the next thing? What's the, and he talks about this. The interviewer asked him, iPhone growth is slowing. It actually was down last quarter. What's next after mobile? It's in a car. Is it AR? And Tim makes this great point. He's like mobile is the greatest market that technology has ever seen. And we are still so early in it. Every person on the planet is going to have a smartphone and half of them do already. And so many people that never had computers. Exactly. You can't even compare, like, yeah, okay, let's look at the auto industry. It's way smaller than the phone industry. And his point is that he says, mobile still has so many amazing years of growth ahead of it. To use an Amazon phrase, it's day one, you know, still 10 years into the smartphone. And I think Amazon is kind of the same thing. Like that's their phrase, it's day one. Like, you know, e-commerce is day one. You know, there's still so much ahead of it. Yeah. It's 5% of US retail. Like, there's so much ahead of it. Yeah. I was going to refute the Tim Cook thing because like two and a half billion people or three billion people or something have smartphones. So there's like two to three X more growth left in it. Well, his point was that his point wasn't so much that it was like think about all of the corners of your life that your smartphone is going to be a critical part of in the future that it isn't today. Like Uber, great example. Like, who would have thought the smartphone would have like been your taxi a couple years ago? And now it is. But like, is the smartphone your doctor today? No. Will it be in five or 10 years? Maybe. Right. You know, is the smartphone, you know, whatever was the smartphone, how you bought stuff on Amazon five years ago? No. Is it how you buy stuff on Amazon now? Yes. Yeah. Interesting. Yeah. And you make a great point on the retail thing. Like, it really, it's cheesy, but like it really is day one. Like, people overwhelmingly still don't buy their stuff online. So yeah, I mean, I think of course there are things that, uh, waves that will come along that could disrupt Amazon. But it's also like the, the, the, Bezos has architected that company so well that like, they're out at the front of every wave I can, I can see at least. All right. Let's get into what would have happened otherwise. Yeah. Um, well, I can tell you one thing that would not have happened. Yet would not have sold Amazon under any circumstances. I mean, I can't, I can't imagine Lori, you know, working for Jeff again. Yeah. And okay. So that's not a possibility. Uh, so the Walmart thing falls through. Let's say Walmart's just not willing to pay the price tag. Is it like to target or one of the other sort of bigger? Yeah. Or Google retailers. Well, why a technology company? Like why, why a Google or? Well, Google's been experimenting in many ways over the last couple of years with trying to compete with Amazon in different ways. You know, there was Google shopping express, which has never really been. Never taken up. But they sunk a ton of money into that. And a whole bunch of initiatives. I don't think any of which have really worked, but that they're working on. Yeah. And so you could imagine that, I mean, because I don't know if they still are, but for a long time, Amazon was the number one advertiser on Google. They spent more money on adwords than anyone else in the world. Oh, man, I totally believe that because that you, it's amazing when you search for a product now, how your, your organic search result and your paid search result are both for that product on Amazon. And like neither Google nor Amazon are happy about that. You know, Amazon is aggressively trying to move, do everything they can to reduce that dependency. And Amazon is paying the Google tax. Yeah, exactly. And Google is like, oh man, that's a huge opportunity. And like that's the biggest part of our business. How can we just do that directly? Yeah. And oh man, this is really interesting fact. So I've been using for a long time. Yeah. They basically take the affiliate fee that you would be giving to, you know, whoever referred you, like clicking through from the wire cutter or something and donate that to the charity of your choice. And I was like, that's so interesting. I was wondered like, what's the motive for Amazon to do that? And they basically are trying to give you a strong enough incentive to book market so that you hit Amazon as direct traffic instead of going through Google and paying that customer acquisition. Because even though they'll then pay that affiliate fee on everything you buy, they won't be paying the abward tax to Google. Yeah. It's like we'd rather donate this money than give it to Google. Yeah. Seriously. Interesting. And so I mean, I think somebody else buys this company like, yeah, like they were not going to be able to continue to raise the amount of money that they would need. No. Which is, it is so interesting that it, I mean, Amazon did. But Amazon did it in the public markets. And Amazon did it before, like when there was no Amazon to compete with. Yeah. Right. They built that business over a very long period of time. Right. And they did it financed by the public markets. Yep. And they had to do it super fast. And they had to do it from private market investors. Yeah. And they definitely get picked up because investors have put a ton of money into this thing. It's not, it's not going to zero. Like this company is going to get picked up at some point for some kind of favorable outcome. Yeah. I mean, you got to imagine that that was a huge part of the investment thesis for all the VCs and the mutual funds that invested in, in jet. Yeah. And you start to wonder too, like a few months ago, do you start getting, if you're Mark Laurie, do you start getting investor pressure to be looking around? Yeah. Like it's clear you're burning tons of capital. Like growth is there. You're getting building a customer base. But like, you've explicitly told the market you have no profit engine. Right. And then you've explicitly told the market that you no longer think you can beat Amazon. Right. And something's got to happen. Yeah. Yeah. Well, another thing that was going through my head is, okay, so like, why is this, we had Taylor Barrett on last week. And he was talking about the acquisition that he thinks, the acquisitions that he thinks go the best are the ones where the founder of that company, the acquire, the company to be acquired is excited to get their hands on the assets and resources of the larger company to make their, their original vision fulfilled and successful. And what are Walmart's assets that Mark Laurie would be happy to get his hands on to make that dream come to fruition? Yeah. Like, why is that a good place to land for jet? Well, I think, I think it's a couple of things. One, a lot of money. Yeah. Well, Walmart has way more money than jet would ever be able to raise. So yeah, that's an interesting thing that like, if it really is true that they're going to let jet continue to be its own thing and they, I mean, it's a tall order to hold Walmart to their word of continuing to pour money into this thing. Like we don't know what promises were made, but like this thing needs a ton of capital to grow. Walmart's effectively the best private investor or maybe the best since they didn't have access to the public markets and definitely couldn't have IPO'd. It's like, hey, this is actually a great place to, if they're committed to it, fulfill our mission and just pour a ton of money into growing. And I think that's number two, which was Doug McMillan, the CEO of Walmart, you know, clear? Well, at least if you listen to the interviews after the acquisition and the press release, it clearly has a man crash on Mark Loris. So, you know, and Doug has said, you know, Mark's basically going to have carte blanche to do what he needs to do to make this a successful business and all the resources he needs. And then I think three, the other, the third asset that if I'm Mark, I'm excited about is the customer base of Walmart. Like, the vision of jet originally was like, serve, you know, the middle class Americans that are price conscious and that's Walmart's customer base. Yeah, that's true. And then before we move on, there was one other thing I was thinking is it's really difficult to compete with Amazon now merely because of how razor thin their margins are. And Amazon, you know, famously, your margin is my opportunity. It was a Jeff Bezos quote from a long time ago when they were starting Amazon. And he was saying that about Walmart. You know, that they were making a few, what, three, four, five percent of profit margin on each sale. And Amazon makes in the neighborhood of one or less. And they, Amazon was growing up in this world where there was opportunity to compete on price there. And jet had a really hard time obviously competing with Amazon price since there just wasn't much margin left. But you know of any historical precedent where there was already a race to the bottom, one company became dominant because they were incredibly cheap on razor thin margins. Like how were they upended? How did they, because presumably you have to compete with them on some other access or some new technology comes around and upend them? I don't know. It's hard to imagine like, I think about like Microsoft's, you know, or traditionally, you know, the whole, your margin is margin is my opportunity quote applies to harm high margin businesses. Right. Like Microsoft's problem was they made so much money on windows that they couldn't transition to a world or transition fast enough in the last generation to a world where the operating system is commoditized by the browser. But if you already are operating in a world where you know you're a commodity, it's super hard to get disrupted. Yeah. And that goes right into my tech theme. This is such a classic innovators dilemma. Yeah. I mean, for 20 years now Walmart has watched and their, their biggest fear or materialize where Amazon just grows and becomes as mega behemoth and starts stealing their business. But they can't seem to compete because what that would involve is, is cannibalizing their incredible business and building a super low margin business. And you know, that might be a long term strategy and might be the necessary long term strategy to say alive. But they're a publicly traded company. Like how do you tell your shareholders, you know, the next 10 years are going to be pretty rough going because we're, you know, we're undercutting ourselves and building this thing that makes way less money for a long time. Yeah. Super hard. I mean, again, we're in a minute we're going to grade this. But, man, it's hard for Walmart out there right now. Like on the one hand, like they spent a lot of money for something that I think at least Ben and I feel like is still going to lose to Amazon. Like Walmart's still going to lose and yet still going to lose. But they spent $3 billion, $3.3. Like that's not a lot of money to Walmart. So you know, it's a shot. It's a better shot than they'd have on their own. Right, right. I was thinking about that in the lens of like, how do I want to evaluate this? Uh, it definitely puts them in a more favorable position than they were. But unfortunately, I think we've do evaluated on the lens of is this actually worth that much money? Where that falls flat and I think what my real position is is you kind of have to do an expected value calculation and figure out like what do you think the chances that this thing actually succeeds are? The, the, the jet will return in profit dollars more than $3.3 billion. Yeah. And like taking a 20 year time horizon, I mean, this is like a potentially trillion dollar category. Yeah. So, I mean, there is a non-zero chance that jet can, can, you know, can either beat Amazon or become a meaningful number to like, we could be wrong. Yeah. Right. Right. Let's, let's say this becomes a trillion dollar business. I mean, if there's a 1% chance that it succeeds that expected value is still 10 billion, right? Yeah. That it actually kind of, it's great. Three X. Yeah. Exactly. Exactly. You know, this is the art of being an investor versus the science. Right. What are these probabilities? Yeah. And, you know, assigning 1% and assigning a trillion are super arbitrary. Right. Right. The, the magical nature of the whole thing is it's binary. Like, either it's really going to work and it's going to be company saving, which we're both saying is the very unlikely. Or it could happen. Yeah. Or it's definitely not going to work. And we know for a fact, or let's like say that it was the far more likely outcome if they didn't acquire jet is that Wal-Mart just was going to totally lose. Like, it could not have competed with Amazon. Well, back to the people thing, right? Like, man, $3.3 billion is an expensive aqua hire. But like, who's going to, who would Wal-Mart be able to recruit? To go be a senior leader at Wal-Mart, who would see them through, you know, guide them through this like, you know, last stand that actually really knew how to do e-commerce and knew it from the best and knew it from the inside of Amazon. Like, nobody. Yeah. And if you're recruited to be that exact you, this uphill battle of recruiting all the people that you know are talented to come work at Wal-Mart with you, this way you get to bring like a world class team. Yeah. Yeah. Even if you're rearranging the deck chairs and the tight tie that we're, I feel like we're bleeding into conclusion, which will get you real quick. But two tech themes I wanted to mention quickly. One, we've touched on a bunch, but I just think this is such a like, in terms of handicapping, jets, chances for success. Like, I so totally believe in aggregation theory and Bentomson's aggregation theory and the idea that on the internet, the best customer experience wins. And this is where I think the logic of jet was flawed, which is that, oh, like, there's a segment of customers that care about price more than anything else. And they don't care about the other two parts of the Holy Trinity of, you know, the Amazon Holy Trinity of retail, which is price convenience selection. On the internet, I think that's wrong. I think everybody cares about all of those. And Amazon can offer all three to everybody, to lower class people, to middle class people, to upper class people. And like, who wants to think that they don't deserve great convenience and great selection, like nobody, you know? So I think, again, I could be wrong, you know, but I think the logic behind jet was flawed in that all three are important to everybody. So that's one, two, I also think like, this also, we've been really hard on jet on this episode, but it also is a little bit of the faster horse thing to me too. Like we were talking about like, what's gonna actually disrupt Amazon? I don't think it's jet, you know? Jet is a faster horse. Like what's, what'll disrupt Amazon is like drones, you know, or 3D printing or virtual reality. Right. And it's so interesting to look at Walmart acquiring jet. It's like, okay, cool. Jet can be competitive on price. Much like Walmart was already always competitive on price and their business model was to make a little margin. Amazon has this different business model where they've created this incredible flywheel where they make a small margin on third party sellers for using the platform. Oh, yeah. And then they also charge those third party sellers that use fulfillment by Amazon for like leasing space in their warehouses. They've created this totally different. And running their websites on AWS. Right. Right. They've created this totally different business model that's not making a couple pennies on every transaction. It's like having a percentage of every piece of the backend and the logistics leading up to that transaction. Yep. And I think they're playing a different game. Yep. Whereas Jet fundamentally was playing the retail business model. Yeah. Okay. Conclusion. D. Like it's not an F because Walmart had to do something. Yeah. I'm going to go see for the reason that I was saying a minute ago, which is like they had to do something and this I think was the best that they could do. Like again, they weren't going to hire like what search firm in the world is going to take on that job of like, you know, hey, the JD says build Amazon within Walmart. You know, like nobody who's actually capable of that is going to take that job. Yeah. Yeah. So you think this is just as good as YouTube. Okay. Okay. Okay. That's what we got for Jet. Hopefully you enjoyed it. This was a lot of fun doing. Got a couple sections. Couple sections to wrap up quickly here. Follow ups. Ben, did you watch? Did you see the new Star Wars trailer during the Olympics? Lucasfilm follow up alert. Oh my god. So my spoiler alert. Let's give about five seconds of me talking to spoiler for the trailer. Not for it. It's still there are there are there are dedicated people who don't want to watch the trailers. My favorite tweet of the whole thing. So obviously there's this incredible moment at the end where you get about a half second where you see Darth Vader and it's like. It's amazing. Right. And I don't I don't know how much we want to get into this on the show, but you know, there's become this place that is not necessarily the greatest place to hang out all the time for for all people. And I'm going to look up the actual tweet. Here it is. It's from Craig Hockenberry, the developer of Twitterific. Everyone's worked up about seeing Darth Vader for half a second. Seeing a strong female protagonist for the other two 15 is more important. Yeah. I love that. It was awesome. It was like. I like drop. I know. Like I saw that right after I saw the trailer and I'm thinking. Oh, like I and the rest of America in the world are all worked up about Darth and there's this incredible shift going on in like the world where the most anticipated movie of this year has amazing strong female lead. Yeah. As did the previous Star Wars movie. Yeah. Yeah, Disney just continues to be a stellar steward of Lucasfilm and Star Wars and like man, two Star Wars films in two years. And then we're going to get three in three years. Awesome. And we're like so amped up about this trailer with strong female protagonists. Right. And we've never met any of these characters. Like these are entire except for that little quick clip of Darth Vader. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It's just any universe that we're invested in but we are an invested in a single one of these, these characters. So, yeah. I'm a tremendous job to Disney as usual. Okay. A new section that we're adding. This will be very quick. But we got several requests for this is hot takes. Yeah, thanks. Thanks for throwing this out in the slack as an idea. Yeah. There have been a ton of M&A transactions happening recently. It's like they're coming hot and heavy. should do an episode just based on like what is going on in the market. Yeah, we could we could do some fun stuff. So four that we have today for the idea here is we're going to do 30 seconds or less quick takes on these deals. Number one, Verizon acquiring Yahoo. Yeah, I feel like we just did that episode. So we don't have to do that. I saw these great more great tweets about like that that Verizon that Yahoo is going to be like the fabric that holds all of Verizon's AOL assets together. What's that? It's like I have no idea what that means. That's like that's like random startup generator. Right. You have a history in been. Oh God. Oh yeah. We won't get into that here. Yeah. Okay. Number two, lift turns down acquisition offer from GM. Reportedly. It better have been really low. Like to me, I don't know if there's a strong place for a second player here. I think that ride sharing lends itself to a winner-take-all dynamic because density is so important. Customer experience. Yeah. Like if if I wait too minutes for an Uber versus 10 minutes for a lift, I'm opening up Uber every time. Yeah. I remain bullish. I try to start a company a few years ago called Red Ride that was a ride sharing aggregator. And I remain bullish on aggregating all the other options. But I don't think there is a way that you can be almost exactly like Uber but slightly worse without like a different value. That's never been a winning value prop. I'm going to be exactly like X. But I'm going to be slightly worse. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Close to home. Microsoft acquired local Seattle startup beam. Yeah. I'm super curious to see what they're going to do with it. I mean, I we don't know how big the deal was. Beam was an incredibly fast growing Twitch like service that enabled interactivity and a lot of features that weren't that you could actually play games or you could you could influence influence things that were happening in the game while somebody else was playing. Yeah. Great job to that company to for building something that caught on so fast. Techstars and all their other super young folks incredibly talented founders. Big big congrats to everybody there. Yeah. To me, I think they're it's they're going to meld into whatever is part of the broader gaming strategy right now. Yep. But I don't think that they're going to like bet on beam being this distribution vehicle to completely not twitch. I mean, twitch is a twitch is a juggernaut. So, but we'll be great as part of Microsoft. Okay. Final one getting acquired by around stock. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Yeah. It's so funny thinking about like early days of LinkedIn when that was getting started that that monster was the thing with the Super Bowl commercials right monster was the place that before I was thinking about the deal sizes people over four hundred million dollars. Yeah. Yeah. So it's what a 50th less than a 50th the size of the LinkedIn deal. Yeah. And you know, the trend there like let's call it is network effects are so powerful. A flat site like monster is just never going to compete with a site that has all the right network effects and incentives that LinkedIn does network effects. They are a thing. We should just rename the podcast. That's what we see. Yeah. Aggregation theory network effects flywheel. Perfect. Boom. We don't have to do any more episodes. Okay. Carve out what you got been. All right. So another podcast for me it is another a previous car that I had was a talk at Google by Michael Moboson. Oh, so good. Yeah. Incredible. And he has this great book untangling skill and luck the success equation. He has a podcast episode where he is on the masters in business podcast. There's a Bloomberg news publication and really, really good. He talks about a lot of the same things but applies it more to fund management about luck versus skill. He talks about a lot of the things that we all know but get caught up in the glitz and glamour of what company is hyper growth right now and he kind of like brings it home and makes you realize investing is more about identifying misprice assets and places where you have an information mismatch and then using that information to your advantage. And everyone is very, very focused on, you know, will Amazon go up so I'm going to put money into Amazon but how there's all these other strategies around using using information to your advantage to identify and embed on misprice assets. Oh, man. You set my heart a flutter. I thought you were going to say that that Michael was starting a podcast of his own and that would have been like the most amazing thing I've heard all month. Sadly, sadly, no, but Michael, if you're listening, you got to get on here. But just to add on to that really quickly, he also did release about 20, 30 page piece this month or last two with sort of 10 top, you know, eternal truths of investing and it's so good. He is, he is just a treasure. Are we both following Bill Gurley on Twitter? I think we are. I think that's both of our source. Yeah, I think that's both of our source. I have a, I have a non-Bill Gurley car route though. All right. Mine is actually Strava, which is an app for iPhone and Android designed for working out for bicycling, for running, for swimming. And it is so fun. I bet a lot of our listeners are already on it. But Ben and I went for a long, at times ill-fated, but really fun bike ride this weekend. And we both use Strava to track our ride. And it's just like the app is so well done back to customer experience. Like it's the little things like we didn't have to tell Strava that we were biking together. But at the end of it, because it knew that we were, it was tracking us our rides and that it was 90% plus together, it joined our rides together. And then to all of our friends who are following us on the app, like it was Ben and David rode together and your friends give you kudos and just like the, all of the little, the segments, their leaderboard, the leaderboard, so well done. And it makes working out and exercising in outdoors, which I love to do anyway, just that much more fun. And it makes you feel like you're part of a community, which is super cool too. And they're, they're marketing and brand is just like, so on point. If you like to bike or run, like just go watch all their videos that they've produced, it'll make you like literally go out the door and start running. Yeah, it's awesome. All right, that's it. If you aren't subscribed and you'd like to hear more, you can subscribe now from your favorite podcast client. And if you feel so inclined, we'd love a review on iTunes or a tweet or a post on Facebook. So thank you so much and have a great day, everyone. We'll see you next time.