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Monday, September 30, 2019

#5: Breaking Bad Finale with Randy Chieco


Talking Breaking Bad finale with Randy Chieco, fellow BB friend and houseguest for the series' final episode.  Randy and Matt talk predictions right before the episode and then give immediate reaction right after the explosive conclusion.  Post-show portion begins at 22:02.

*This episode was originally released on September 30, 2013.  It was announced that Netflix will be releasing a Breaking Bad sequel movie, "El Camino," on October 11, 2019.


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Tuesday, September 17, 2019

#313: Six-Minus Podcast?


Today this podcast turns six. In honor of its birthday, Matt delves into the typical subjects, like parenthood, commitment, legacy, Mindhunter, Apple, and Eli Manning.


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Monday, September 2, 2019

Thursday, August 29, 2019

#311: I'm A Credit Card Points Addict



Matt talks about his August, the end of his first MBA semester, family vacation in Wildwood Crest, The Loudest Voice, Avengers:Endgame, credit cards, Succession, and Mindhunter.

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Friday, August 23, 2019

Southwest's Advantages

Southwest built its company on a frugal, customer-focused, cost-effective ethos, wringing out every ounce of value from its operations and assessing the market for opportunities to separate itself from its competitors.  By flying between lesser-used airports and avoiding “the traditional hub-and-spoke system,” it can bring down costs and, more importantly, flight and boarding time by avoiding highly-trafficked airports.  The airline finds further efficiencies in its boarding process, the planes it flies, and by purchasing fuel “years in advance.”  It is always looking for the edge in pricing programs and services, trying to create a virtuous cycle where innovations beget lower prices, which beget customer satisfaction and more innovations.  Southwest’s mindset and operating principles are comprehensive and focused at all times on value.  While other airlines could copy one or even several of the features that Southwest boasts, the majority of airlines could not compete with every one of them, point for point.  Southwest’s ability to do so, and the innovations it will doubtless invent moving forward, gives it a competitive advantage that is nearly impossible to match.



The risks to Southwest are that it gets so focused on value and cutting prices, that this pursuit could affect safety and security.  Perhaps there is pressure to board a plane faster than is possible, or to not perform as comprehensive a plane safety check as has always been done.  Little slips along the way can add up to catastrophe.  Catastrophe can set back the reputation of an airline in an instant and for years to come.

Or, perhaps the fleet of planes - or equipment - you bank on can become a liability, as is the case with Southwest and the Boeing 737 Max.

In tough economic times, you would think that Southwest would be well-positioned to thrive in those conditions.  As the airline that matches great customer service with lower prices and fast turnarounds, Southwest should actually benefit from ominous economic conditions.  Other airlines could certainly imitate Southwest’s business model, but the model is in Southwest’s DNA.  The question is: do the other airlines have the stomach to pivot all the way to what Southwest does?  Are they willing to completely move their operations to “second-class” cities and away from their hub-and-spoke operations?  And, if now one or several airlines are matching the model exactly, does it not play to the advantage of the airline synonymous with those services to win the business in a choice among (now) equals?

SalesForce.com & The Future

The jump from dial-up to high-speed internet was a crucial aspect to the success of a Software-as-a-service provider.  As we move towards 5G mobile internet, and internet overall that is quantum steps better than even what we have today, the applications and services made possible by that speed will change how we interact online, and off.  Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, and algorithms will be assimilated and computed in ways that are beyond our conceptions.  They will also interact with a wired world, in what is right now called the Internet of Things.  A company like Salesforce.com will certainly be on the cutting edge of what these technologies can make possible to its users.  Creating greater efficiencies will be an understatement.  

At a practical level, the company’s Platform-as-a-service, called Force.com, could yield more products as well.  This service allows customers to create their own applications atop the platform.  The intelligence that Salesforce.com can gain from these everyday innovations could power the next product, for all users or for meaningful niche audiences.

SalesForce.com & Success

Salesforce.com foresaw a world where customers would “rent” software from the connected internet, also known as cloud computing.  Today, we cannot imagine a world without cloud computing, which powers almost everything we do, from entertainment, to work, to collaboration, to basic human contact.  But, in the times before Salesforce.com was created in the late 1990s, consumers would manage and interact with almost all computer software at a local network level.  Discs would be provided once you purchased software, which would allow you to download the current iteration of that product.  This product would then sit locally on your computer, and only your computer.  You would pay a large, one-time fee at the initial purchase and then each time you wanted to update a product.  Update cycles were often annual affairs.  Even if a cloud-like service could exist at the time, (slow) internet speeds would make it a very frustrating product.  

Founder Marc Benioff was able to visualize a future where lightning-fast internet speeds would be the norm, and then leverage that knowledge to see that consumers in the future would welcome software subscriptions from a centralized platform.  This virtuous cycle would then make the product even better because software/platform updates could be distributed and pulled down in much faster increments.  

The company was also extremely customer-focused, building beautiful interfaces, welcoming and acting on customer feedback, and continually innovating and iterating the product.   And while its core product was excellent, Salesforce.com was not shy about acquiring new companies to bolster its offerings, including 19 companies alone between 2010-12.  

Salesforce.com does not rest on its laurels, either.  It is always working to improve its products, pivot towards new ones, and relentlessly seek new customers.  According to a case study about the company, it “spends 7 percent of revenues on research and development and an astonishing 53 percent on marketing to help generate leads and new customers.”