Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

What’s Red, Black, and White But Not Green?

November 7, 2008

I just took a survey from QuikTrip about environmental perceptions. Here are the questions:

  1. Do you sort and recycle your trash?
  2. How concerned would you say you are about the environment?
  3. Do you perceive the plastic fountain drink cups sold by QuikTrip to be more environmentally friendly than styrofoam cups?
  4. Please select the following statement which best describes your fountain drink purchasing actions
  5. How do you perceive QuikTrip as it pertains to the environment?

When it asked for further comments, I left this:

Frankly, pandering to the environmental movement annoys me to no end. There is no way you’re going to be “green enough” for the crazies given that you sell liquefied carbon, transport goods from places distant, and contribute to an economy that prizes convenience over privation. Embrace your right to exist instead of apologizing for not being the eco-equivalent of a roadside stand. You are an amazing, modern enterprise that is only possible in the United States. Good for you!

‘Cargo Cult’ is Really Useful

September 2, 2008

This article on cargo cult management really struck me. I can’t say that I’ve seen much of that sort of thing at Go Daddy—that’s the part where Go Daddy is more startup than big business—but I’ve definitely seen that theme running throughout the business and management literature. Mike Speiser also nailed the identification of Jim Collins’ bilge, which I had always considered spurious but couldn’t name what bothered me so much about his approach. Now I’ve got a formulation to use when I see this sort of activity.

[The views expressed on this website/weblog are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Go Daddy Software, Inc.]

Poof Goes the Ads

November 25, 2007

When they finish the process of better and better targeted advertising, that’s when the whole idea of advertising will go poof, will disappear. If it’s perfectly targeted, it isn’t advertising, it’s information. Information is welcome, advertising is offensive. Who wants to pay to create information that’s discarded? Who wants to pay to be a nuisance? Wouldn’t it be better to pay to get the information to the people who want it? Are you afraid no one wants your information? Then maybe you’d better do some research and make a product that people actually want to know about. Dave Winer

After reading that quote from Dare Obasanjo’s recent blog entry, I was floored by its pregnancy. The best advertising—like the best sales tactics—is invisible: it is about matching someone’s needs perfectly. You’re no longer selling to them, you’re helping them and they can’t buy your product fast enough. What has the progression of advertising been but a long, slow march towards better and better targeting?

I think the end of advertising, this withering away of the message, occurs when the consumer tells the advertiser exactly what advertisement he or she wants to hear. At that point, it really is just information. For me, an excellent example was the fad of the late 90s: the personal agent. Back then, the vision was that people would create “intelligent” agents to go out and do their bidding. The consumer would say “tell me about flights with window seats going from Phoenix to LA leaving December 3rd around 4ish” and the agent would come back with details and ticket information. In reality, that’s the pinnacle of marketing—if the airline conceived the agent. Otherwise, it’s really more like a search engine or travel agent.

Like Dare, I think this is the future. The agent was an idea ahead of its time; the breathless contemporaneous accounts read more like science fiction when compared with the available technology. Technology has caught up, though, and this user-generated marketing is going to be big.

Costco Changes Its Tune (Ever So Slightly)

February 28, 2007

I know someone who bought a large-screen TV at Costco and returned it two years later to buy a bigger-screen TV and then returned that one a year later for a bigger, flatter one. Each time he only had to pay one or two hundred dollars over the return price.

And it was all perfectly fine by Costco. I questioned him repeatedly about it and it is actually within Costco’s return policy. I never took advantage of this glaring loophole because it seemed wrong and I knew that its abuse would lead ineluctably to a reevaluation. “No, no,” I was assured by everyone I talked to about it, “Costco charges a membership and they make up the difference somehow.”

I knew that it was too good to be true. The policy is completely ludicrous in its generosity. While Costco endeared itself to patrons who used the policy to its fullest, it simply was economically unfeasible to keep it up. At some point, someone in Costco was going to put a stop to it and my biggest fear was that they’d throw the baby out with the bath water: that they’d adopt Target or Best Buy’s draconian return policies in a penduluum move.

Looks like the party’s over. Happily, though, my fears of reprisal were unfounded. And the driving force was the Street. Makes sense—shareholders can’t stand unnecessary generosity on the part of their companies.

GooTube

October 10, 2006

So Google’s going to buy YouTube for $1.65 billion. This really doesn’t surprise me. Oh sure, there’s thorny copyright issues to overcome and YouTube’s revenue scheme is practically non-existent. But there’s three points that made this is a certainty to me: 1) Google already has Google Video; 2) Google blew it with MySpace; and 3) Google needs ad growth.

The fact that Google has already done Google Video indicates that the company realizes that it needs to be a player in this space. It has gone through several revisions, uncharacteristic of Google’s fire-and-forget product development cycle. They’ve even negotiated exclusive deals with several content providers. This is an area that Google wants to own; my gut tells me that it’s because it was largely wide-open when they got into it. Music was (and is) dominated by Apple, but movies and video is a nascent market.

I remember when News Corporation bought MySpace for $580 million reading that Google was an early suitor for the social networking site. My guess is that Google decided that MySpace just wasn’t worth it at the time—up to that time, by my recollection, all of their acquisitions were pretty small potatoes compared to ones by Yahoo and Microsoft. That passing proved to be a huge and costly mistake for Google since they then ended up paying $900 million to be MySpace’s exclusive search partner later that year. And that’s not even including the revenue they could have kept in-house through advertising sales on MySpace’s notoriously page-inflationary site.

The management at Google probably views YouTube in a much different light because of that blunder. While $1.65 billion might seem dear to us, 100 million videos per day could yield untold amounts of advertising revenue that would be kept within the company. Further, Google could keep YouTube’s search functionality for itself. If Google didn’t buy YouTube, it’s pretty clear that someone else would and the number of companies that could pull off such an acquisition is pretty exclusive. In other words, Google saw another MySpace in the making and acted decisively to stave that possibility off.

The addition of 100 million video-based ads and some smaller number of page views for serving textual ads would rejuvenate Google’s ad growth in a very big way. With Yahoo’s shares tumbling recently on the announcement by its CEO of falling ad revenue, Google could quickly stand out from its peers on that front and watch its stock soar as Wall Street rewards its discovery of a new advertising mine.

It should be interesting to see how Google integrates YouTube into its orbit. I suspect that the press release’s statement that YouTube will remain as it is is the best move Google could make. Why tamper with what’s working? Adopting a ham-handed branding could kill YouTube’s popularity and there are certainly any number of players in this space that could bleed YouTube dry if its fortunes changed. In fact, the distinct corporate identity could allow Google to try different ad variations that it couldn’t readily do under the AdWords or AdSense umbrellas. In due time, these questions will be answered of course.

Building Trust

March 18, 2006

The other day I was at the neighborhood QuikTrip and I got $5 over on my transaction. The next day at work I went to use the money but it wasn’t there. It seems that the QT cashier neglected to give me the money. I’m sure something like this has happened to you before.

After work, I stopped by the store and told the manager Jim of my problem. Without a further question, he popped over to the nearest register, opened it up, and handed me a sawbuck. I was flabbergasted. I’m pretty sure it had something to do with the fact that I go there once or twice a day but I was still very impressed at the customer service.

Free Idea

January 26, 2006

I bet you could make a mint selling a comforter that was split into two sections but still connected at the bottom. Then one bed occupant could have the comforter all the way up to his neck while the other one could have it completely off. I’d buy one—I’d make a business out of it if I had any notion of what it would take to get into textiles. Since I don’t, you’re welcome to it. (Just send me a link to where I can buy it once you get it going.)

Hosting Industry

August 13, 2005

I love my current host, Dreamhost, for so many different reasons, but this blog entry about their business model made me grin. I’ve never seen a business actually state that it earns a 2,000% margin! And not apologize for it or downplay it at all. It’s refreshing and makes me glad that I’m with them. (Actually, I wish that I could be starting right now so I could say that that entry is the reason.)

Wanna Buy a Report?

May 15, 2005

This is an intriguing publishing model.

[UPDATE (5/16/05): For those keeping track, this is entry number 900. Not the 1,633 I’ve done over at Found on the Web, but it’s a respectable number.]

Parsons’ Principles

January 31, 2005

As I’ve mentioned previously, I’m a big fan of GoDaddy CEO Bob Parsons. Well, not such a big fan that I knew he had a blog. Perusing its content, I found his 16 rules for survival in business. They’re nothing particularly new, but they give some interesting insight into a local success story.

Reading that previous entry, I said that I’d work there in a heartbeat if my ASP skills leaned towards .NET. And so now they do. More on that later.