A weekly podcast with the latest e-commerce news and events. Episode 281 is a discussion with Mark Mahaney Senior Managing Director at Evercore ISI and author of Nothing but Net: 10 Timeless Stock-Picking Lessons from One of Wall Street’s Top Tech Analysts.
Mark Mahaney is Senior Managing Director at Evercore ISI, Research Division, he’s one of the original and longest lasting internet analysts on Wall Street. He recently published “Nothing but Net: 10 Timeless Stock-Picking Lessons from One of Wall Street’s Top Tech Analysts.”
We cover a variety of fun topics including the beginning of his career with with Mary Meeker. His initial evaluation of EBay. His long positions on Amazon, Netflix, and Priceline, and butting heads with Jim Cramer over Google. We also discuss what’s next for Amazon, and where the best investments of the future might be.
Episode 281 of the Jason & Scot show was recorded on Thursday, November 18th, 2021
[0:00] Welcome to the Jason and Scot show this is episode 281 being recorded on Thursday November 18 20 21.
I’m your host Jason retailgeek Goldberg and as usual I’m here with your co-host Scott Wingo.
[0:16] Hey Jason and welcome back Jason Scott show listeners.
Jason as you and the listeners know I am a huge scene in b.c. junkie and you can’t turn on CNBC Durning Earth during earning Seasons without seeing Mark mahaney he is one of the top internet analyst.
He was actually on recently talking about the artist previously known as Facebook meta
Mark has a new book out called quote-unquote Nothing But net and is joining us tonight give listeners an early peek of what is sure to be the best seller in the bookmark covers some of our favorite companies including Amazon Apple Facebook / meta Google Netflix Twitter and Uber
Mark welcome to the show.
[0:56] Thanks for having me on guys.
[0:58] Mark we are thrilled the chat with you is you know Scott is a huge Amazon fan boy so I anytime he gets a chance to talk Amazon he’s excited.
And I’m super excited because after tonight show I’m going to be smart enough to get rich like you and Scott so that’s pretty pretty exciting for me.
But before we jump into all that we always like to give listeners a little bit of a feel for our guests background and in your case I know I think you’re officially the the oldest analysts on Wall Street is that true.
[1:29] Well that’s the oldest and longest lasting internet analyst on Wall Street but I don’t look the part
so how about we do that yes I’ve been covering Internet stock since 1998 do a series of bank said I started,
working with this tremendous analysts her name was Mary Meeker her name is Mary Meeker and started the first Friday I was on Wall Street I got a call from the CFO of this tiny little online auction company that sold Pez dispensers and was looking to see whether any banks would be interested in their IPO that company was
eBay so I wasn’t there at the beginning of the internet but I was there pretty close to the beginning of the commercial
for the public market to internet and it’s been a fascinating ride and I thought there were a lot of lessons I could draw both from the successes the market and failures in the market and my personal successes
and failures as a stock picker.
[2:20] Cool what’s so name some of the firm’s so in my recollection you’ve probably worked at six firms like how many firms have you worked out over or that career.
[2:30] Yeah now I don’t want you to think I you know I jump around too much but I started off at Morgan Stanley also worked at Citibank Royal Bank of Canada.
A small boot wonderful Boutique called American Technology research and I’m currently at evercore isi but I’ve been doing nothing but net.
Hence the title of the book that’s been my email tagline or always online is one of those two it’s been my email tagline for 25 years but nothing but net and that’s just
doing my best to try to stay ahead of these internet stocks the early ones the the eBay’s the Amazons the Yahoo excite if you might remember them infoseek.
And then and then AOL and then and then later on some of the more Dynamic ones
came out ended up with names like uber including most recently one you talked about Warby Parker so it’s been a fascinating span and arguably one of the most dynamic.
Parts of Wall Street I guess if you were working as an analyst on Wall Street.
Or portfolio manager portfolio manager if you could have picked two sectors to be a part of to track over the last 25 years one of them has to have been the internet just how explosive it’s been a been plenty of
– explosions in there but there’s been some wonderful wealth creation the other sector would probably be software just just too wonderful Industries I got lucky I was I was part of the internet.
[3:49] Yeah I’m glad you didn’t pick Mall Focus treats that would have been a bad choice.
So you know as Jason mentioned there’s kind of this auspicious title that you have of the oldest
I would say wisest and most longest lasting internet unless.
Tell us about some of the as you reflect in the book is kind of got some really good stories and you’ve been kind of on the front row seat of a lot of cool stuff maybe tell us what was your worst pick and best pick in the span of the career there.
[4:22] Well I had a sale on Google it close to its IPO
I was brought on to CNBC show and told by none other than Jim Jim Cramer that I was an analyst with a three-egg omelette on my face because of my cell phone call he was right I was wrong
so you know one doesn’t pretend one doesn’t tend to forget moments like that on public television being told that you know you’re pretty much an ass.
But it does happen you know there are axes and then there are you know others and so I made plenty of mistakes I had to buy on Blue Apron
although the lessons from that turned out to be different than I thought I got the call wrong but the lessons were different than I thought I kind of dissect that a little bit in the book.
So those are some of my some of my worst calls I think my to my three best calls have frankly been sticking with a buy on Amazon for pretty much the last 15 years
Netflix for the last 12 years and Priceline and now now booking for.
[5:18] For a solid 12 years both Netflix of all three of those were really decades-long S&P 500 Best in Class stocks for a variety of different reasons and in the book I try to call out
what were those reasons what were the what’s that what’s the pattern recognition so that
you know we as investors can find the next Netflix and the next Amazon doesn’t mean and Amazon and Netflix can’t perform well from here but what are the things you can see in common that can help you as a stock picker you know kind of see ahead what really kind of started a lot of the the insights the idea of the book was this wonderful book that was written in 1980 called that one up on wall
by Peter Lynch kind of a Bible
or primer for anybody really looking to invest invest in the market with some wonderful advice and I really had any wrote it based on some wonderful examples of successful stocks and companies of his generation
and I thought somebody needed to write one about our generation and you know these phenomenal money-making we know wealth-creating stocks that have.
[6:19] That have soared the charts top the charts over the last 20 10 5 and even two years that have been dramatic dramatic winners from the covid crisis to I try to keep it long term in duration and frankly that’s one of the big lessons I have in my book is.
Is you know long-term I’ve found stocks do follow fundamentals they just do companies get bigger more Revenue more profits their stocks go higher
almost always that’s the case if you’re a patient long-term investor so you can make money just investing you don’t need to day trade and I think that was the last thing that really inspired me to write this book there about 15 million new.
[6:53] Trading accounts that have opened up over the last two years you know the mean Traders the Robin Hood accounts
and I just wanted to step back and say look you can have very good returns in the markets by buying high quality
companies especially Tech and growth companies you don’t have to day trade you can sleep better at night I got plenty of examples of companies that created wonderful.
Shareholder returns over time and their stories you can take your time and really understand and stick with
and anyway that’s it this is this book is a little bit of little bit of personal Memoir but really more of a history of the Great.
Companies and the ones that failed and then what are the lessons you can draw to apply going forwards.
[7:32] Got it so I know it’s not in your coverage area but you would have a buy on GameStop is that what you’re saying no.
I Nostalgia requires me to ask though I am staring right now at a pets.com.
Puppet still in the box that’s like sort of a Memento I have on my on my desk like we’re you covering like those guys at the at the.
[8:00] No no I didn’t but I refer to that in the book and I make this I draw the comparison
you know pets.com and smoke you know pets.com went public with trailing 12 month month revenues of 5 million I don’t know if you heard that right five million dollars.
[8:16] Trailing 12 months they had been an operating company for under
two years I mean how that thing got out you know in hindsight is is is pretty shocking but wait a second go you know go forward 15 years and what came out.
To e.com chewy.com went public with 3 billion in trailing sales and you knows the same sort of
basic value proposition to Consumers it’s just that the market was a lot bigger it allowed for a lot more scale and a bunch of other things came out o like cell phones smartphones cloud computing which allowed companies to scale up at much lower costs and so the markets really were proved out at that you know the time of pets.com there were three unknowns is there really an internet Market are there really good management teams
and other really good business models
today the first question is emphatically yes they are huge Market opportunities and they’ve been proven in in the Internet space advertising retail entertainment a lot of different ways you can cut it and there’s some business models have generated enormous amounts of free cash flow and then there are yes of course there’s always a few select
excellent management teams who find that right combination it can be it’s proven to be a great path to making money in stocks and chewy
has been a stock that I’ve really liked since its IPO even though it’s the next pets.com and that’s the cynicism that people be placed in front of it when they went public.
This was a very different puppy.
[9:39] Yeah it does it seems like timing it seems obvious but timing is such a big.
Part of all that you referenced Peter Lynch and I know you know there’s.
There’s all the old Netflix stuff I actually started my career at Blockbuster entertainment and so in my in my industry everyone makes fun of Blockbuster that we got Netflix stand and all those sorts of things and I always have to point out.
You know we sold Blockbuster for 18 billion dollars in 1995 like five years before Netflix was invented.
Then it was a good business with a good exit you know every every business has it it’s it’s moment and it’s time and you know the the railroads aren’t the investment that they once were either.
[10:28] Netflix is a fascinating story so let me let me let me jump to it a little bit you know one of the things the punchline of I asked people if you’re going to remember one thing for my book I hope you’ll still buy it but
if you’re going to remember one thing from my book it’s dhq it’s not DQ That’s Dairy Queen dhq is dislocated high-quality companies and.
You know time you mentioned timing I was thinking in terms of stock timing I thought those were your going to take us I think it’s very hard to
the time stocks but you know you can clearly see when stocks are dislocated I either traded off twenty Thirty forty percent so that’s usually you know time if you think it’s high quality asset and it dislocates them they all dislocate from time to time even the best highest quality names.
That’s when you can kind of Step In add the positions by the stock knowing that you in a way mitigated some of the valuation risk as investors your tries an investor you’re trying to do two things
mitigate valuation risk and mitigate fundamentals risk you know the chance that Revenue falls off a cliff margins get crushed the way you mitigate that fundamentals.
Risk is to focus on companies with large Tam’s excellent management teams
great product Innovation and superb customer value prop and Netflix screen so well for me on those four things I’ll just take this off super quickly if you don’t mind.
[11:42] The industry Vision so let’s see Reed Hastings invented or started Netflix back in 1997 Netflix the name itself sort of
implies that somehow we’re going to be doing some streaming thing and this is a 1997 when it would have taken you four hours to download the first five minutes of Terminator like there was no streaming Market there but yet.
[12:02] That was the premise of the company in 10 years later you know you look at the first initial interviews with Reed Hastings I mean this is where he was going to take the company all along so I was just giving him kudos for
industry vision and the fact that he was willing to cannibalize his existing DVD business first dreaming business
very few entrepreneurs can do that so management you know checks My Box customer value proposition the best way to tell whether a customer a company has a great value proposition is
do they have pricing power will do people love it so much that they’ll pay more for starting in 2014 Netflix started increasing pricing just about every other year
and there’s some ads accelerated that’s a compelling that’s evidence of compelling value proposition third is this product Innovation and you know they just don’t have a lot of things not just streaming but there’s a lot of these little tweaks that the side like binge watching
you know kudos to Netflix for just rolling out new series all at once I mean practically invented binge-watching and of course you know they sort of invented the streaming thing or the people who
founded music really did that but but Reed comes in a close close second on that and then you know I’m finally in terms of Tam’s large Tam’s total addressable markets.
[13:13] You can add it up a couple of different ways but you know home entertainment video consumption it’s
it’s a couple of hundred billion dollars in total you know Market opportunity and then who knows these things come along like smartphones and all of a sudden the majority of usage is on smartphones
that tells you that these markets could be a lot bigger than we traditionally thought just like Spotify blew out the market for what really could be
music advertising revenue and music subscription Revenue
Netflix is did the same thing with me with Video subscription Revenue they blew up the tan they made it a lot bigger so that’s right
you know I love that story about the stories about Netflix I gave him a tremendous amount of Kudos I think the sometimes people under appreciate just because it’s kind of a singular company just you know video video streaming I think they I think they don’t get enough credit for what they’ve done and what they could still do because I think there’s still one more
one more trick up Reed Hastings sleeve and I think it’s gaming and he’s reached they’ve received such so much skepticism about this
pivot or missing expansion in the gaming but you know management team to figured out dvd-by-mail streaming original content International expansion mount give them the benefit of the doubt that they can figure out an Innovative new way.
To deliver gaming and therefore further increase their value proposition you’d want to stick with a company like that I stick with the stock like that.
[14:34] Ever kind of a random question let’s say there was I’ll pick something at random a company that was Reinventing Car Care and making it mobile and digital would you call that a dhq.
[14:45] I think that yes yes absolutely.
[14:51] All right leading the witness.
I do have to give you Kudos because in the Netflix section you do have a Star Wars reference you talk about the Disney death star which is which is appropriate because they now own the Death Star it’s got a part of there is one of their IPs.
[15:09] But by the way that was you know there were a couple of Netflix there’s a rocky stock Rocky stock here that’s right
that’s a that’s a rocky stock for you it’s had there were two times they miss Subs because of
uncertainty over the price increases and they got some pushback it was an obvious that they had pricing power but they proved it over time and then they’ve got this great competitor risk with Disney and I think what the market missed on that
this is just kind of leaving aside the book of just talking about stock picks is you know
people are going to sign up for multiple streaming services now not now not five six or seven but they’ll sign up for two or three if there’s original content and they have original content I mean there’s some things you will you have to sign up for Disney Plus for if you if people are like use God and you know dramatic.
[15:52] Star Wars fans of course you can sign up for Disney plus but you know there’s because its original content
if you want to watch squid game there’s one and one only place you can go for that and you know there’s going to be another squid game or you know another show that just
kind of breaks through the site-geist and by the way that’s where Netflix is so I’ll leave Netflix aside but I’m so struck by is this company
shapes the Zeitgeist whether they can cause a run on chess board sales worldwide with the Queens Gambit a year ago where they can cause
more people start studying Korean on Duolingo a language app which I actually like is the stock because they can you know they’ve introduced this show squid games like when a company reaches the Zeitgeist when they when they become almost like a lucky lexicon like they become a verb like I’m gonna google that or you know it’s the Uber of this that or that
you know that’s that’s something special and those are usually stocks that have gotten very long runways.
[16:44] Yeah and I’m here in North Carolina and we have all these MBA we have all these universities and I was actually speaking earlier this week at MBA class over at Duke.
And you know I have this whole little joke track that I do where I talk about my first company was profitable and I learned I could never raise VC because
get the TV season that’s a your profit we don’t invest in property companies so yeah I often joke that I’ve been doing it wrong and ever since then I haven’t made a dime.
And I kind of thought it was those funny because you kind of.
The internet sector was kind of early before SAS where and you point this out where there’s kind of
you know what we learned is there is an investor that loves Revenue growth and in a way that the opposite side of that coin is it can actually hurt you if you start to make profits
maybe share with listeners that that you know probably many of them come from traditional businesses where that sounds nonsensical maybe maybe explain kind of what happened there.
[17:41] Well I want to be I want to be on to get nuanced here which is you know I that chapter that says the most important thing out there is revenue revenue revenue you know for tech stocks and growth stock.
But of course earnings and free cash flow matter
it’s that sometimes the public market is a lot longer term focused than people give it credit for Netflix is a great example that also is Amazon.
I mean those those businesses had if you look at near-term valuation PE metrics price to free cash flow there’s no way you would have bought those stocks.
But what I think long-term growth investors realized is there’s this you know when these get these assets that can grow their Top Line twenty to thirty percent Plus.
From scale for multiple years like that can
that creates an enormous amount of value over time and it’s so rare I came up with something of a 20% rule you know it’s one to two percent of the S&P 500 that can consistently grow at from scale their Top Line 20% which is like five times faster or six times faster than Global GDP growth so it’s rare for good reasons
but those companies dramatically outperformed the market because they’re rare and it’s not like growth and scale solve everything but
geez they solve a lot of things I’ve yet to see it’s got you know you go way back on this I’m sure you
had these comments like Amazon will never turn a profit my first year on the street.
[19:04] There’s a person who’s not one of the most influential investors out there put his finger in my chest.
And said you know Amazon will never be profitable and you know I guess he must have been writing he was so smart but he was wrong because he didn’t realize just what how powerful Amazon could be as it’s scaled over time I mean you generate billions and billions in revenue and
you can you can run over a lot of your fixed costs as long as you’re not selling dollars for 95 cents
you know if you’re you know if you’re selling them for a dollar and two cents and then you get scale against your fixed cost yeah scale will solve just about anything and I look at what happened with Amazon
and I’ve looked at more much more recently its bring it up to up to date to Uber Uber just printed its first free cash flow quarter ever even though it’s Rideshare businesses like down 40% since Pre-K covid levels how the heck did they do that
because it took a lot of costs out of the business and then they had this delivery business that really scaled so look earnings matter it’s just that when we look at tech stocks and growth stocks you know especially early on is IPOs they rarely go public.
As profitable businesses the question you have to answer yourself is can they be profitable long-term are there companies that are already you know similar business models that are already are that’s one way or their segments of the business that are already profitable.
[20:19] Is there a reason that scale can’t drive profitability for the company and the fourth what I call profitability Action question that detail this in a book is
yo Are there specific steps steps that the management team can take to bring the product the company to profitability so I’ve yet to see a company.
[20:36] And I’m sure there are some but I’ve yet to see one that hit the public markets that couldn’t scale itself to profitability now some blew up.
Well you know that’s because they couldn’t hit the enough scale so that’s that’s kind of my
answer to the question of yes of course earnings and free cash flow matter at the end of the day that’s what they’re going to be valued on but just watch these companies that they really execute well they can take what looks like really aggressive valuations and overtime
those valuations can turn awfully awfully attractive and a lot of times the stock wealth creation goes from point A to point B it doesn’t start at point B.
[21:10] Yeah the you know it’s you mentioned then the Netflix.
Effect on the cultural zygous fun fun stat on Queen’s gamut it drove the sale of millions of chessboard and caused hundreds of people to start playing chess.
I do one of the things that comes out strongest in in the book to me and that you alluded to upfront is sort of the difference between trading and investing.
You know I always have people come up to me and they’re like hey you know a lot about these retail companies what’s a good investment and I’m like.
I have no idea can you can you talk a little bit about sort of what you mean by sort of fundamental investing versus trading.
[21:56] Well I sum it all up in the pithy expression
don’t play quarters I find playing quarters is almost a Fool’s game the number of times I get questions you know what should I buy for the quarter
and for little sophisticated institutional investors that could be I’ve got a position in.
[22:15] Amazon or Google or Twitter and you know do I should I be you know heading into the position prior to earnings or you know
facing back and adding to it more afterwards okay that’s a different setup but if you’re just playing a company for that quarter pop the problem is
quarterly earnings reactions there’s two things that drive them.
Fundamentals great get the fundamentals right that it’s expectations so the quarter trades are really about expectations you may get the quarter right you may be right that
Nvidia or Roblox are going to have super strong quarters because I see how many of my friends kids are all over Roblox you maybe
well right on that but you have to know you know what the market is actually expecting and numbers can go Revenue can accelerate
but if the bar is higher than that then you’re going to see these stocks trade off it happens a lot so I just unless you’re unless you’re a pro less you’re in day in and day out.
You know working working these stocks and really have a sense of where the expectations are.
I think it’s just a Fool’s game to play play stocks just four quarters instead you know you want to stick with stocks for the you know you want to find an asset that you think is going to be.
[23:29] Materially bigger in two to three years down the road and you think it’s high quality based on some of the screens I threw out then stick with that name and don’t try to play around the quarters and it’s in fact sometimes you can use weakness or strength around the quarter
to adjust your position but don’t use it too
initiator close out a position at the then you fall trap to these expectations game that is very hard to participate in if you’re just a regular you know retail investor and you can make just as much money just staying invested in some of these great assets.
[23:59] That is great advice and it’s I certainly resonate with the sticking with the Investments I am curious though on the other end of that on the really long Horizon you mentioned you’ve you’ve been had a buy on Amazon for like 15 years.
Like are you going to have a buying them for the next 15 years is that how I mean like does there come a point when they achieve their potential and you have to start worrying about them getting on the other side of the Hill.
[24:26] Yeah I think you can I think you can one look for the fundamental towel and so I’m going to I’m going to spin over to another stock I talked about in the book Priceline.
Which is actually the single best performing S&P 500 stock for like a 10 year period 2005 to 2015
phenomenal stock travel name everybody knows it William Shatner excetera although they’re real secret sauce with what they did in European markets but.
But that’s a company that you know sustained premium growth like they were growing their bookings in the revenue 40 percent year over year for years and years and years and years and that’s what powered that that
that stock and when it stopped materially ah performed Market was when the growth rate decelerate it below 20%.
[25:10] And so I don’t want to you know create a hard and fast rule but I do feel strongly about this twenty percent rule 20 percent you know we’re close to it
you know don’t don’t Nick me at 19.8% you know could close to twenty percent is unusual rare growth.
[25:23] And the markets usually pay up for that and when you see a company over time either because of Miss execution it happens
or Market maturity and their growth rates you know kind of slide below 20%
then that’s when you reconsider your position that’s a simplistic rule as a lot of caveats to that when I see with Amazon here is despite the size of this business I think they’re still growing 20% for the next five years so in that if that’s the case.
[25:48] You know the simple rule of thumb is companies that can grow like.
They can I like to see stocks that can double in in three years in order to do that you kind of have to do you know 20 to 25 percent earnings growth that’s what a Maps out too.
And you know you can double a stock in 3 years your handily beating the market in almost all time periods.
And so when I see what it’ll change my opinion really on Amazon is if I believe that
this company is going to go X growth it’s going to go you know well below 20 percent Revenue growth I just don’t see that in the next couple of years given how much growth they have in retail in NE ws and cloud computing and in some of these really newer areas that I’m really interested in
whether they really can crack the code on groceries and they can that’s a large opportunity and business supplies Industrial Supplies I think that’s a very underappreciated part of Amazon’s business so I don’t see myself changing my opinion on Amazon although
you don’t want things that we talked about this earlier that I love to see your founder LED companies
that’s no longer the case with with Amazon so that’s you know at some level I’ve got slightly less conviction than the in the by case but I’m going to stick with it as long as the numbers prove out right and long as I can see this path that’s consistent 20% Revenue.
[26:59] Yeah and this is kind of breaking out of the book thing but since you brought up Amazon it wouldn’t be a Jason Scott show if we didn’t
kind of double click on that what did any thoughts on the Q2 and Q3 earnings feels like they’re slowing down a bit and feeling some of the labor and see what we call Supply pain on the show
are you are you getting nervous about it or you think it’s just a little one of their little kind of investment phases.
[27:23] I called the six billion dollar kitchen sink that’s how much lower their guidance was for operating income in the December quarter
then then what the street was looking for like she was looking for close to eight billion and they guided to billions six billion dollar kitchen sink and they threw it all in there
wage inflation you know you right you drive that route 95 on the east coast and you’ll see Amazon Amazon is hiring Billboards up and down the East Coast Seaboard I did it recently
so yeah they’re aggressively hiring at higher wages that’s impacting their margins there still some covid related cost shipping they’re just not able to a sufficiently source and bring in
product and so they have to bring in product into the the ports that aren’t optimized for their distribution Network so just a lot of.
[28:14] Positive blowing up now the question you have to ask yourself as an investor is are those are those cost increases elective structural
discretionary temporary it’s kind of like which of those are they the more that you can make a determination that the cost bikes are temporary
the more you stick with the name if you think there’s something structurally changed about Amazon okay that’s different I don’t think there’s anything structurally changed about Amazon and certainly not its competitive position and then the last thing what I really like to see.
[28:44] Frankly is this company.
I mean the level of investment this company is making its distribution Network you know you talked about Facebook earlier they’re dumping 10 billion into the metaverse which I think there’s a there there but I don’t know
Amazon is dumping billions and billions into its own Logistics Network like they’re doubling down on their core competency you bet I’ll stick with that and what they’re going to what’s going to come out of that
is even faster and faster delivery and they’re going to prove out this concept what I call shipping elasticity the faster you ship the more that people are going to use you in a more of their of the more of their wallet and per-share you’re going to Amazon’s going to get so we’re going to actually going to Super up one day delivery and then they’re going to Super up super same day delivery
and I think they’ll be able to just grab more and more and offer more and more products to people so I like those kind of investment initiatives so I think a lot of that
margin pressure by the way it was really due to these kind of elective investments in the infrastructure they added more distribution capacity the last two years than Walmart has in its history.
That’s how aggressive Amazon is being an eye you know my guess is that
third we’re going to see dramatic market share gains from Amazon in the next 12 months so I like those companies that kind of really lean in bendin and the double down on our core competency that’s what the Amazon is doing now.
The Press is making a lot of noise around Shopify versus Amazon and Shopify is kind of amplifying that with they’re arming the rebels and everything.
Jason Connor makes our I won’t say his thing but he’s not a believer in that I think it’s kind of interesting in there’s definitely no love lost between the company’s what what’s your take on that is that a real battle or is that just kind of genda by to kind of raise awareness for Shopify.
[30:26] You have a quick point of view on that Scott.
[30:29] I think Shopify becomes a Marketplace adjacent thinks that’s crazy Jason what do you what I’ll let you state your own opinion.
[30:38] Yeah I mean I think Shopify is a phenomenal company and a good executor so I’m not throwing rocks at Shopify.
They’re to me they’re not a competitor to Amazon they don’t acquire customers they have no traffic there there.
Piece of infrastructure and a great valuable piece of infrastructure but a piece of infrastructure.
Doesn’t draw any customers in so I call these people that are like oh man they’re like Amazon they have all this aggregated gmv and they could sell ads to it and they can you know recruit more sellers because they have this
this audience and all these things will they don’t have any of those things they don’t have a single b2c marketer.
In their company and I would argue that’s that’s been one of Amazon’s Court competencies is they’ve they use the flywheel to build this this huge audience that they get to sell all the.
Their goods and services to so I just I don’t think.
They compete in any in any meaningful way and I think if Shopify were to try to become a true b2c company like Amazon.
It would just be a phenomenal pivot it would be you know.
Can’t you know obviously they have the resources to fund trying for it but I’m not sure that’s the best move for them.
[31:57] Yeah I don’t so I Do cover Shopify I’ve been really impressed with them I don’t know them as well as I know Amazon but I’ve been super impressed.
With them and terms of the product development and they are just providing more and more services to small Merchants so I think there’s an are now bigger than eBay in terms of GM vo but I can never
there’s not enough disclosure to figure out so where’s that GM D coming because I think some of that probably does come through eBay so a little bit of double counting that goes on in there but it’s really impressive what they’ve pulled together
whether they can actually aggregate demand in a way that Amazon has
I think that’s I think that’s unlikely I think that’s a very hard thing to do it’s possible they do have a shop app I just,
yeah I guess that’s the action question we often ask ourselves do you think you’re going to use the shop app to shop.
[32:45] I don’t think so I don’t think people are going to do that but you know if they can get enough people to do that boy they will have really
they will have some really circled it that you know because they got the infrastructure
okay they’re talking about building out fulfillment and doing fulfillment for people and spending a billion dollars on it
sorry my friends you’re gonna have to spend a heck of a lot more than a billion if you if you really want to you know compete.
Because the bar is getting higher it’s not getting lower it’s getting higher in terms of funeral the speed of delivery eBay learn this the hard way and so shockfights Memphis spend a lot more than that so anyway there’s a lot of wonderful things about
Shopify and I don’t know whether if you listening to slammed on by if you think they can build up an aggregate an audience I don’t think they can so does it make doesn’t make it a slam dunk by it’s it’s you know it’s a deep three point shot put it that way.
And you’re not Steph Curry.
[33:41] I think we’re going back to the basketball references in the book.
Yeah it you know I tend to agree I’m not I don’t think the shop app you know has attracted an audience that uses it for shopping yet it’s a shipping trapping tracking app at the moment.
But the it is funny like there are lots of companies that facilitate huge amounts of gmv so I think of like.
Excuse me and Akamai is a.
Is a CDN that’s that used by almost every retailer to help help sell stuff right and so if you said well what’s the CD the gmv of Akamai well it’s bigger than Amazons.
Um but that doesn’t mean that Akamai can compete with Amazon so yeah I don’t know.
[34:28] I do want to go back to Amazon earnings just briefly because I you know I think a lot of the Slowdown is kind of a covid blip and I don’t know if you ever think of it this way but.
They’re there their times in history when.
It feels like the external factors aren’t a big influence and and you know some companies perform really well and other companies struggle so you know there could be a year when you see Home Depot doing really well and lows struggling and you say.
There’s something special about Home Depot that I might be interested in investing in at the moment it feels like the external environment for retail is having a.
[35:07] Sort of a consistent effect on everyone right and so you look at the industry average is you look at all of them is on Spears and they all have sort of the same shape of deceleration.
That Amazon has so it’s to me it’s hard to attribute that to some.
Some fundamental flaw in Amazon but there is one thing I noticed this quarter that it was interesting and I wanted to get your opinion about because I know as an investor you like seeing companies that have pricing power.
And you know of course Amazon famously raise the price of prime a while back and seems like that was wildly successful this quarter.
They’ve raised the price for grocery delivery there now charging ten dollar delivery fees even for Prime members.
And then this week we saw that they made a pretty substantial increase to the cost of f ba which is you know the fundamental service used by almost all marketplace hours
and they they just raise the price of that by like five percent and I’m curious do you look at that as a good sign that hey.
They have pricing power and they’re doing so well that they can command those prices or to me it’s a potential warning sign because I feel like Amazon is so.
Zealous an advocate of the flywheel in the flywheel is all about driving costs down to get scale up I just was surprised to see some of these like price increases in in you know.
Especially grocery which isn’t super mature yet.
[36:33] Well I’m not sure really of the answer to your question Jason it’s a it’s a it’s a really good thoughtful question on the on the groceries I think they raised it because the unit economics were just not working for them in terms of grocery delivery
that’s that’s my guess they also you know yet to have that get to really crack the code on the grocery business and so I sort of see that as
they tried it and it just can’t right size the economics of they got to charge more for it so I read that kind of negatively
what did the raising fees to sellers.
But my guess is it’s a mixture of things but it’s largely driven that my guess is that this largely driven off of Just Rising.
[37:17] You know Rising infrastructure costs have been rising shipping costs I mean Rising the two costs that they called out specifically on the earnings call my recall is correct is our steel costs
because of all of that dish construction they’re doing with their fulfillment centers and trucking services
and so my guess is that they’ve they’re doing is not necessarily the right size the economics is I think the economics are working but because they want to try to keep their unit economics relatively intact.
And that’s sort of the way I think they thought about the raising the price of prime it wasn’t they did it because they could.
It’s they did because they sort of had to like the costs are rising it’s just that what I found interesting in terms of pricing power is
van acceleration in in Prime ads you know post that price increase like that and so does Netflix to me Netflix is
essentially raise fees use the fees to you know generate more Revenue by more content is like a flywheel that they’ve worked with their make the service more bringing more users
allows them to get a little bit raised money just a little bit more so it’s not so much raising fees to extract excess profits
it’s raising fees to further accelerate growth and the value proposition is strong enough that they can do that and not lose customers that’s
that’s that that there’s this is subtle nuance and maybe it’s too salty but but I think it’s an important it’s important difference it’s not it’s no it’s raising pricing not to raise margins
it’s raising pricing to fuel growth.
[38:46] And when you so either way it’s good I happen to think you you want to the the better one is the latter one is a more impressive the latter one is more impressive because you’re raising pricing just to Goose your margins you know you just put a Target on your back.
[39:03] Reading the book made me nostalgic and maybe we’ll do a little bit of a lightning round but one of the companies you wrote about that I kind of forgot about and those interesting was Zulily I remember when they came on the scene and we were all like.
They were all blown away by how fast they could just get product up right they had this thing where they could.
They could have most of those kids so they’d get like all these little kid models in there and throw some clothes on them take a picture and then like changed outfit take another so they could do something like you know thousand different products an hour or something.
What’s your recollection on Zulily.
[39:40] She really is that was one of my calls that didn’t work and.
So I and I learned some lessons from that I think to me the lesson I drew a to do with value proposition
they had wonderful cohort disclosure in their S1 when they went public I mean it was truly impressive.
And you know the they also raise kind of an analytical question because the first it’s not too dissimilar to stitch fix today
the first three or four million customers were extremely happy the question is.
Were there another three to four million customers that could be extremely happy and the problem that Zulily faced is that it
customer value proposition had one major flaw which is that you couldn’t return product if you didn’t like it
they didn’t they didn’t accept returns oh I’m sorry there were two problems and there was no Speedy Delivery you know you could get stuff in seven days and 20 days.
That was good for the first day of the first three to four million customers who are fine with that you break into the mainstream and you mean I can’t return something if I don’t like it you mean I gotta wait how many days until I get something like that ended up.
[40:45] And it was very hard being the survey you really had to go with gut instinct on that to realize in advance that they were going to hit a wall in their growth.
Geez when you saw what happened to their growth rate when they went public it was Triple digits six quarters later they were doing 10 percent Revenue growth they hit the wall because the value proposition.
Wasn’t strong enough and then they end up going going private that to me was kind of a lesson which is you know the.
[41:10] Growth was impressive but that value proposition if it’s not if they hadn’t they didn’t have it nailed down and you knew from the beginning I knew from the beginning what the two Falls were I just
I didn’t know when it would hit them and hit them earlier than I thought so you know it gives us another reason to really focus on how compelling do you think this value proposition is how many you know will that can the can a customer base double given the existing value prop.
And that’s one of the big lessons if I spin it a little bit I mean that’s to me is
and Scott you look through this entire history like you know the first decade of the internet the king of online retail wasn’t Amazon it was eBay and they had like six times seven times the market cap of Amazon that’s completely changed
and why is it change and I think in part it’s because of the value prop I mean Amazon just beat him on price selection and convenience year in and year out and that really mattered but a more recent example in my book.
[42:02] In literally and figuratively is doordash and GrubHub and that’s example many people will
will know but grub have that great business model wonderful investor Centric business model High margins and doordash had this you know generating tons of losses but they had the better value prop because they had more restaurants selection and
the end of the day that they want and they were able to scale up and generate serve reasonable profits over time that was the case where my quick tag line is you know customer-centric companies.
Beat investor Centric companies most of the time in market cap and market share Amazon versus eBay,
GrubHub versus doordash those two examples really drilled that less than to me.
[42:48] Yeah I’ve been fighting those companies because you know there.
They’re like increasingly overlapping with a lot of my Commerce clients and like you know a big.
A big sort of disruption and commerce right now is all these ultra-fast delivery services and you know it seems pretty clear that doordash and Uber are both gonna want to play directly in that space so it seems like some of those those sectors are on a collision course to chase that Tam.
[43:15] I think you’re right Jason I also think Amazon I mean you’re talking about logistics like that’s Amazon’s competency so whether you need to.
Whether you’re going to vertically integrate and do that or whether you going to do that virtually you know Foo you know a gig economy Network.
I don’t know which which is going to work better long-term but yeah and you know it’s going to raise the bar and make it more and more expensive for anybody to operate in that
in that segment I have a bias that Amazon in the end wins that but it’s big enough of a market it’s so early stage that you can have multiple winners for the next five years I don’t know that you can have multiple winners for the next 10 years.
[43:56] Yeah there was a funny question in the Amazon earnings call someone asked about ultra-fast delivery in the CFO kind of I thought brilliantly threw some shade on it he’s like.
He said something to the effect of we like where we are and ultrafast like we have one hour delivery on about 178,000 skews right now and we’re you know we’re going to continue to scale that
and I don’t know how many people follow this but all of the competitors in this space are are desperately trying to figure out how to do one hour delivery for like 7000 skus.
So so like they’re you know they definitely are gonna be able to leverage the infrastructure there and I’m sure they’re making some big investments in that space too.
Another area that’s that’s been kind of interesting lately and I know you’ve been following this little bit is obviously there are all these privacy changes and the depreciation of the third-party cookies and especially the IDF a you know mobile privacy changes.
That Apple has instituted and that obviously had a pretty pronounced impact on the value of some companies like Snap recently A View you have a opinion there is that.
Is that a blip or is that a systemic change.
[45:08] I think it’s a big pothole in the road.
But it’s not there but the but the it’s a big pothole in the road but it’s not a bridge that it’s not a collapsed bridge that get that mountain out.
Yeah so poor that hey yes.
Yes it is yeah that’s it that’s pretty I mean that’s a big pothole that idea Fay allowed Facebook to offer amazing attribution to millions and millions and millions of businesses
and now that’s gone and and and to their credit to Facebook’s credit they warned about it for a year two snaps discredit
they didn’t warn about it ever
and so that’s why their stock went off you know 22 decline 25 percent whereas Facebook stock even the numbers came in weaker than expected you know kind of fell off to the 3% and by the way then is traded up above where it was at earnings time so
what I mean very intrigued by is I think it will be a son of that idea of a.
[46:12] You know child of idea say I like I think there’s so much at stake here both from the advertising platforms like Facebook you know and Google’s to some extent a little bit and Snapchat but also for you know the millions of marketers out there who
you don’t you were able to thank thanks to Facebook use of people’s privacy data
you know from right or wrong I mean that’s what that’s what they they did I mean this help Merchants really know which of their campaigns worked and allow them to you know run creative
and that creative could be automatically you know a be tested abcdefgh like 8 times 8 different ways in which ever those creatives work best.
You could actually beat successful one of them then you can just pivot all of the dollars behind that one campaign you know campaign h
for campaign be your campaign e.e. and that’s just a wonderful way to help these small businesses you know really succeed
and that’s been taken away now you know there’s I think there’s first a little bit of shock shoot I can’t get the attribution I had I’m going to pull a my marketing dollars but marketers got a market.
[47:13] And I think you’re going to see those dollars come back and my guess is that Facebook and other companies are going to find some way to do.
Better targeting they may not quite get to idea that a type of levels
but they were going to be able to do some sort of audience targeting they also have a lot of first-party data but they’ll be able to do it in a way that doesn’t that you know respect people’s privacy and yeah you’ll see those dollars come back so that’s why I referred to as a pothole I
it’s a big pothole it’s but it’s not that it’s not a bridge that just collapsed you know you’re going to be you can they can they got stuck in that pothole more than anybody else
but you know the cranes there whatever they’re getting a tow trucks they’re they’re getting out of it they got to do some nobody work they’ll fix the car and it’ll be back on the road
in part because
they’ve got the talent to do it but in part because there are millions of small businesses that are given to going to give them the incentive to do it because they’ll get those marketing dollars back once they figure out some of the idea that a.
[48:09] Yeah I always like to remind people that are like The Skys Falling on the advertising industry that you know.
It wasn’t very long ago that we had much worse targeting than than we have in digital even with idea of a I mean targeting used to be deciding which publication you were going to print your ad in.
And they still got a lot of money in the advertising industry so like I kind of suspect that that marketers are going to figure out you know the best ways to invest their money even if it maybe isn’t quite as.
As real-time as people got used to for a short while.
[48:42] I think you’re right Jason.
[48:45] So Mark you in the book you recap kind of this awesome 25-year career and you know one of the things
I’ve learned is if you’re in the game of making predictions you know that it’s kind of humbling
but then you kind of slowly but surely get better at it right you never get to kind of you know a hundred percent but over time you get better and like like for example you learned the lesson of.
The companies that are customer focused to do better than investor focused think founder based in that kind of as you as you take those
backward 25-year learnings and project them forward what are some of the things that you get excited about looking out the next five or ten years.
[49:23] Well in terms of Trends even the next year or two I think whoever solves.
Marketing attribution is going to be worth a lot more in two years than they are today just because there’s so many businesses so many marketers that will pay for that.
So I you know so that’s that’s kind of a debt that whoever whoever fills in the pothole that’s going to be a very valuable company it’s going to be a lot more valuable to years and it is today
my guess is that there’s gonna be Facebook so I’m interested in that then there’s thing this thing called The Medic verse
which I don’t know this is just virtual reality just renamed do a Google Trends search on metaverse just watch that just spiked up in the last love so you know you kudos to the person who came up with that idea may be excited maybe Jason or Scott maybe was you I.
[50:09] It’s just a rebranded second life.
[50:12] Okay and.
But but you know the fact that it was two things that kind of struck me there’s some pretty big companies throwing a lot of big money at metaverse you know Facebook Microsoft there’s a bunch of others and then there’s this Roblox generation
people young people who are perfectly comfortable living in the meta verse in virtual reality and.
[50:38] You know participating in concerts safely and you know and shopping and communicating and entertaining and learning.
[50:49] And learning through the metaverse and so you know we knows 8 18 year olds you know get out into the real world
you know they’re going to be perfectly comfortable in the meadow verse maybe not the way you know not the way that we will naturally be but you know though they’ll help us figure it out
and so so I’m really intrigued by the metaverse I think it is going to take 5 to 10 years
because that to really develop and I’m trying to trying to figure it out who the big winners are but but I’m very intrigued by that.
[51:18] Yeah I’m also got one of those oculist you know I’ve gotten two different versions Generations the it’s the iterations of the Oculus Rift and you know i-i’ve always
it’s kind of like when I first saw the Kindle you know the first Kindle I ever got was pretty darn
kludgy but you know I just love the idea that you could just download any book on the your kludgy device will you know whenever you whenever you were
in a Wi-Fi area and and I and you and you just saw how that device got better and better each iteration and so I just think about that with these with these virtual reality headsets I mean
they’re clumpy their clunky their kludgy it’s kind of embarrassing to be have a picture of you taking them but you know just you can imagine already know how much they’ve improved
over the last couple of years and just think ahead is it possible the next five to seven years it’s going to be just it’s going to be like putting on a pair of sunglasses
I think that’s what we should be thinking about if you can easily put on a pair of sunglasses and and enter the metaverse and have
you know share a virtual you know in presence experience that sounds but that sounds odd or not but you can do that,
I think a lot of people will do that and you know the education the work applications around that so I’m very intrigued by that.
[52:28] So you’re saying that that could be chewy.com to Google Glasses pets.com.
[52:36] Yes yes I love that yes I hadn’t thought about that way yeah and by the way I’ve got my Google Glass here you know I’m.
Got that I got that early version I got the Amazon Fire Phone you know but just be the the early failures sometimes see these I mean they’re kind of in the right direction
I don’t know exactly what there’s a there’s a backstory to Google Glass that
we only partially know but anyway they have the concept is there and and you know the big iterations that these products do get better and as they get better easier cheaper lighter cooler
you know like Main Street cooler not Silicon Valley cooler then then markets can appear.
[53:17] I think that’s something the three of us have in common I think the three of us are probably the only people that ordered and probably still own an Amazon Fire Phone.
[53:29] And I’ve Got My Socks.com puppet to it’s in my office I put the hits I got it as a warning.
[53:31] I have one of those too yeah we all I guess we all have one of those too.
[53:36] That that puppet ended up being the most valuable asset from pets.com sidenote like I don’t know if you followed it but there was there was there was a whole intellectual property fight with Triumph the comedy dog and all that stuff yeah.
Unattended value unintended value creation.
[53:53] Mark were you you know we’ve used up about an hour of your time we really appreciate you coming on the show to tell us about the book
when’s it come out where can people find it do you do you want them to order from that Seattle bookstore that we’ve been chatting about.
[54:09] So yeah and thanks Scott Jason I’ve always enjoyed listening to your show I did tell you it beginning I
your analysis recently all birds and Warby Parker I took the heart because I initiated Warby Parker as an analyst but I after
after I’ve seen what your thoughts were on it.
So thanks for having me on the show and to talk about the book nothing but Net 10 Timeless stock-picking lessons from one of wall Street’s top Tech analyst I just like to nothing but net on a big Hoops fan.
And my kids are hoops and that’s been my email pack lines there’s a lot of meaning for me in that
that title it is available wherever fine literature is sold it is available on Amazon it’s the it’s a top bestseller now and in the business category so I’ve been I’ve been just it was just a it was a labor of love for me and
throw like a chance to talk with both of you about it because you’ve lived through the sister just as much as I have and it’s fascinating the lessons we can draw from.
[55:01] Well Mark is been entirely our privilege and it’s a great sign that you know just halfway through your career you had enough material for an amazing book so I can’t wait to read the the sequel after the next half.
[55:13] All right I will talk with will do it again in 25 years.
[55:18] I’m booking it right now.
[55:20] Bring our sock puppet are and pets.com puppets in our Amazon Fire Phone.
[55:25] Yeah everyone else will be living in the metaverse at that point in no one’s going to get it but it’s cool.
But Mark really appreciated your time and until next time happy commercing!