Per My Last E-mail #9
Shopify, Yeezy, Product-Market Fit, Dos Hombres, and Black Dahlia
Hi Friends 👋,
Happy Monday! It’s going to be a scorcher across the country this week - stay hydrated, wear your sunscreen, and keep the AC blasting.
The last couple of e-mails have been a bittt on the longer side, so this morning, I’m going to get right to it.
What I’m Reading
This year, I’m trying to alternate fiction & non-fiction reads. After finishing A Gentleman in Moscow (fiction) this past week, I’m on to Secrets of Sand Hill Road (non-fiction) by a16z partner Scott Kupor. The book is an experienced operator and venture capitalist’s attempt to demystify VC. I’m only a quarter of the way in, but I’m taking notes and will share them when I’ve finished the book.
Links & Listens
🛍 Shopify and the Power of Platforms by Ben Thompson in Stratechery
Shopify, the platform that powers an increasing number of ecommerce brands, is one of my favorite companies, and Ben Thompson, who I’ve written about here before, is my favorite person to read on tech strategy. So I was really excited to see Thompson write about Shopify on Thursday.
In the piece, Thompson follows up on his Tuesday post on Walmart’s approach to competing with Amazon (hint: trying to out-Amazon Amazon wouldn’t be his first choice) with his thoughts on why Shopify’s approach actually makes more sense than Walmart’s:
This is how Shopify can both in the long run be the biggest competitor to Amazon even as it is a company that Amazon can’t compete with: Amazon is pursuing customers and bringing suppliers and merchants onto its platform on its own terms; Shopify is giving merchants an opportunity to differentiate themselves while bearing no risk if they fail.
This one is also special because it fulfilled a years-long dream of getting Ben Thompson to reply to me on Twitter. And they say never meet your heroes…
👟 Kanye’s Second Coming: Inside the Billion-Dollar Yeezy Empire by Zack O’Malley Greenburg in Forbes
Kanye West’s Yeezy sneaker line is expected to do $1.5 billion in revenue in 2019, already half of Jordan Brand’s $3 billion, all while taking home a 15% royalty on wholesale from Adidas vs. Jordan’s 5% from Nike.
Kanye has had a topsy-turvy decade - from interrupting Taylor Swift’s VMA acceptance speech, to tweeting at Mark Zuckerberg to ask him to pay off his $53 million in debt, to posing with / stanning Donald Trump - but this profile shows offs his savvier, more creative side. After reading it, I’m more impressed with Kanye than I’ve been since seeing him on the Watch the Throne Tour at MSG.
🤑 A Quantitative Approach to Product-Market Fit by Jonathan Hsu of Tribe Capital
I came across this post in Alex Danco’s Snippets 2.0 interview with Jonathan Hsu, Danco’s former Social Capital colleague and current Tribe Capital founder. Product-market fit is a term coined by Marc Andreessen in 2007, when he said that “Product-market fit means being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market.”
But product-market fit is largely discussed in a similarly qualitative way. Hsu shares a more quantitative way to determine where on the spectrum of product-market fit customers fall by looking at Growth Accounting, Customer Cohorts, and Distribution of Product-Market Fit.
So how do you know if you have product-market fit?
If you have high growth with healthy cohorts and reasonably distributed demand then you probably have product-market fit. If you have the cohorts and distribution but only tepid growth then maybe you do and maybe you don’t. The goal here is to replace the binary question of “do you have product-market fit” with a more nuanced and actionable framework for addressing the question.
☠️ Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul are Launching a Mezcal Brand by Marco Marandiz in a Twitter Thread
Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, the stars of one of the greatest TV shows of all time, Breaking Bad, had been teasing fans on Instagram with simultaneously-released pictures of the two of them together with captions like “Soon.” and “Even sooner.” Fans thought that they were hinting at a reboot of Breaking Bad, or preparing to drop more information on the rumored Breaking Bad movie.
Instead, the two announced the launch of a new Mezcal brand, Dos Hombres. Cranston and Paul’s pre-launch posts worked. In just 5 days, Dos Hombres has racked up 98k Instagram followers.
The thread linked above is from Marco Marandiz, who just joined the eCommerce media company 2PM. Marandiz uses Twitter threads to dive into DTC companies and industries that might be impacted by DTC. Check out his threads on Away and … toilet paper.
It remains to be seen how Dos Hombres sells, but as Marandiz points out, Cranston and Paul’s successful launch portends even more celebrities using their fame, following, and storytelling skill to launch new brands.
🔪 Root of Evil: The True Story of the Hodel Family and the Black Dahlia [Podcast]
This weekend, me, Puja and our friend Skyler drove to Avalon and back, about 3 hours each way, and needed a podcast to keep us company. We stumbled on Root of Evil, and our rides took a crazy turn.
The series, told by suspected Black Dahlia murderer George Hodel’s granddaughters, and consisting mainly of interviews with Hodel family members, is creepy, disturbing, shocking, and riveting. It intertwines the stories of the Hodel family’s sad and bizarre history with the story of the famous 1947 Black Dahlia murder. Don’t listen if you have kids with you or before bed if you want to fall asleep without fear of nightmares.
One thing that stuck out to me was how much easier it was to get away with a crime in the 1940s than it is today. We’re about halfway through the series, and we’ve already heard at least three things that George Hodel did that would have given him away to an army of Redditors in less than 24 hours today.
I’m working on a couple of new posts, and will send them out in the next few e-mails. I’m also going to be putting together the details - date, location, rules, etc… - for the first NYC Debate Club.
If you like what you’re reading, please forward the newsletter to someone you know who would enjoy it as well.
Thanks for reading and have a great week,
NYC Debate Club’s first debate is happening in September! Sign up here to get involved.
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