Monthly Archives: August 2012

Ouch – Blackberry not “cool” enough for Yahoo!

So rumor has it that new Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer is looking to make another interesting change at the tech giant. She is apparently looking to bring some cool and some Google like changes to the work environment. I will have to say that I am quietly optimistic and impressed at some of what she has done so far… I realize we do not have a huge sample size and providing free meals does not equate brilliant business

Not in Marissa’s world!

strategy. But clearly she understands that to change Yahoo!, and get it out of the dumps, she must change the culture. Simple acts like providing, as many other tech players do, such “perks” as free meals is key to the cultural shift. The other decision – not returning the cash from Alibaba investment – demonstrates a vision and a willingness to do the necessary.

The latest one struck a cord with me, the news that every Yahoo! employee will receive an iPhone or Android. Seems like a message from the CEO that everyone needs to think about mobility. Everyone needs to be on the mobile devices that are a cornerstone of any mobile strategy. Notice the one device not offered…yup the Blackberry. And to quote the article:

Yahoo should be innovating for the future, and BlackBerrys are not part of the future. They are part of the quickly fading past.

Ouch. Once again another example of the death knell for RIM. Good for Marissa to push forward some interesting ideas and force the Yahoo! culture to shift. Too bad another tech giant cannot grasp the reality of innovate or die. If Yahoo! realizes you aren’t “cool” you have trouble ahead.


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The end of money as we know it…Dunkin Donuts empowers app

As someone who cannot really function without some coffee, I go to both Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts on a regular basis. Both have their uniqueness. One aspect that bothered me was the lack of a Dunkin Donuts app, similar to the Starbucks one which allows you to pay directly from your iPhone or Droid. Now Dunkin offers the same service! About time!

Aside from the fact this will make my purchases oh so much easier…it is another sign of why most people are more concerned about losing their smart phones than their wallets. The trend will be for more vendors to leverage smart phone apps to empower transactions. For vendors this has a multitude of advantages:

  • Free cash flow – when I put another $100 on my Starbucks card (the scary part is that amount doesn’t last nearly as long as it should) that is $100 of free cash that Starbucks gets to leverage. Clearly I do not get $100 worth of Starbucks immediately, Starbucks gets cash before having to deliver the product.
  • Data data data – through the app the likes of Starbucks and Dunkin have a great opportunity to mine very specific data related to their customers. What stores they go to, what are their favorite products, at what cadence do they reload their cards…and so on.
  • Channel opportunity for up sell – they are on your phone. Imagine those opportunities when it comes to pushing promotions and the likes.

I could imagine other firms moving in this direction, think about any company that has some type of customer loyalty program. Empower it with purchasing power. Makes one wonder what the future of cash is…

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Another shopping list…for an unexpected candidate – Yahoo!

A good article about what Yahoo! could do with a new cash infusion – granted this is not the vast sums of cash Apple has that we have been spending. But we are still looking at $4billion of cash that Yahoo will get once they sell their shares in Chinese internet firm Alibaba. Business Insider has a great shopping list for Yahoo, click here for article. So here is an acquisition not on the list, and one that I suggested Apple should acquire – Barnes and Nobles.

Why? Again, similar to the reasoning behind Apple getting their hands on it, the Nook. But this is even more juicy for Yahoo that has zero device in the market unlike Apple, Microsoft and Google. This would also thrust Yahoo into a position of importance when it comes to eBooks and content. Yahoo would also have a new eCommerce/distribution network. Granted this might add complexity that they do not want, but I think for the upside it is worth the venture.

Another target – RIM. With the news coming out of Canada being very negative these days about the future of the Blackberry maker being in serious question. This would give Yahoo a footprint in the mobile space, and could be an interesting partnership with some of Yahoo’s assets like – Yahoo finance – tie this into a device that remains the most business centric platform and you have a fighting chance. The marriage would also grow the messenger features both companies have to offer. Granted the valuation of RIM, might stretch Yahoo’s ability to acquire. But it might a gamble worth making.

Yahoo should not look to chase Google on video with a Vimeo acquisition, nor try to tangle too much on the search side – look at what Bing has done for Microsoft…not much. I do think that such assets as Yelp and Foursquare would help on the local search front as well as mobile.

However to really make themselves relevant again, Yahoo must make a push in the mobile/device space. Get themselves into that arena, they are already behind but it remains a space.

Shopping with others’ money is fun, even if it is only $4billion!

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Hey Apple, add this to the shopping list – Sirius

Many of us have had fun with spending the piles of cash Apple sits on – click here for my list. But here is another asset I did not think about – Sirius satellite radio. What made me think of them is their new mobile version – which allows the listener to hear content that can be listened to on demand. Hmmm…sounds a bit like iTunes and downloading content…on demand. Now the Sirius market cap is about $8.4b, so not “cheap” but I am sure that share holders in Sirius would love nothing more than being gobbled up by a company such as Apple. So why would this make sense for Apple?

  • Access to new content – Howard Stern, NFL play by play, MLB play by play to name a few. The ability of Apple to add this content to their existing offerings would enhance iTunes since the content is streaming daily, making iTunes much more of a daily destination.
  • Push Apple into new areas – such as the car. This might seem trivial, but the car, much like the home entertainment center is a place that companies and content providers want to get. Think about it, when you are in the car you are a capture audience. Of course your first priority should be driving!
  • Leverage another channel to push iTunes content. Picture this, you are listening to the 80s on 8 on your Sirius app and boom you hear a song you really like…tied in with iTunes would allow you to instantly download the song. Great opportunity for iTunes and impulse sales.

I have pitched the idea that Apple should buy Netflix….put Sirius on the list right next to the video content provider!

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Chick-fil-a: talk about flash demand!

Much has been said and written about the furor over what is happening with Chick-fil-a, I will not get into the politics of it in this post, for that click here. But what is of interest, is the impact this has had on the Chick-fil-a supply chain.

Talk about flash demand!!

From all reports, Chick-fil-a had a record day of sales yesterday. Great for business. But what about the supply chain? When it comes to the food distribution there are a number of elements you need to take into consideration – handling and safety of the product is vital.

Unlike shipping flip flops to Old Navy, you are moving around perishable items. And from someone who has suffered from poorly prepared chicken, I can tell you that not preparing poultry properly is not good for your health! It would be interesting to get some insight into how Chick-fil-a was able to handle the demand spike through their supply chain. Did they anticipate such a spike in demand? How did the actual demand compare to what they predicted? How did they optimize their distribution capacity?

The other lesson this shows is that demand can really come from the most unexpected sources. As a business the chain enjoyed a huge spike in demand…based on a political statement! This shows that supply chains need to be hyper sensitive to demand and especially the demand that comes like a bolt from the blue.

How soon before we hear other fast food chains making politically charged comments???

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