business news in context, analysis with attitude

Amazon CEO Andy Jassy posted his annual shareholder letter yesterday, and I wrote:

In the letter, Jassy concedes that Amazon has not found the grocery format that it believes will drive sales and innovation in that segment, and write that "we must find a mass grocery format that we believe is worth expanding broadly."

One MNB reader responded:

To me KC, this means buying a large grocery retailer, which is never going to pass FTC muster. 

I agree with you about the FTC, but disagree that acquiring a chain will be Amazon's solution.  Maybe, but I don't think so.

From another reader:

Maybe Jassy’s shareholder letter will convince the federal regulators that the definition of grocery industry “competition” should include Walmart, Amazon and Costco.    Just a thought – their model of a local, “mom & pop” industry is very outdated.

Yesterday I pointed to a Wall Street Journal piece about how Uber Technologies CEO Dara Khosrowshahi last year "made dozens of trips as a ride-share driver … ferrying people around the hills of San Francisco."  I commented:

I bring this up not because of the details of what Khosrowshahi found and how it is impacting Uber, but rather because what he did was so important - getting out from behind the desk and experiencing the company's value proposition on the ground.

That's what every CEO should do - get out in the stores, push carts, run checkouts, sweep floors, stock shelves.  It gives them not just street cred, but actual street knowledge.

And it should be both an ongoing and regular effort - I would argue that CEOs also need to do this in stores that aren't in headquarters' back yards, but in stores located far from home that maybe don't get the attention they should. 

MNB reader Mike Starkey responded:

KC…I couldn’t agree more!  Back in my Lucky Store days, I worked for a SVP of Merchandising who required all of us to be out in our stores as a reminder that our cash registers were NOT in our offices in Buena Park.  As a result, and based on feedback from our stores, our business decisions were often much, much better than what any spreadsheet was telling us.

Thanks for all you do, very much appreciate the MorningNewBeat!!

My pleasure.

Finally, just to follow up on something:

The other day, responding to an MNB reader who wrote in about the need for better and more effective gun legislation, I wrote:

“Oh, come on.  Are you seriously suggesting that our nation and culture ought to prioritize the banning of some people from owning guns, or banning unqualified or untrained people from owning guns, over the banning of books and drag shows?

How can you suggest such a thing and consider yourself a serious person?”

Which led another MNB reader to write:

I would love to know what % of readers didn’t realize you were being sarcastic.

I responded:

Not enough.

And now, from another reader:

I really hate weighing in on politically divisive comments, but I certainly understood you were being sarcastic.  And while I agree that there needs to be more common sense gun legislation, there also has to be enforcement.  And at the risk of wading into the divisiveness, gun ownership has not changed drastically over the past five decades but mass casualty events certainly have.  Isn’t it fair to contemplate what societal changes have been occurring and how that might be impacting the destructiveness of this issue?

Sadly sarcasm is as poor of a solution as thoughts and prayers until we address what are the real issues driving these horrible situations.

To be honest, sarcasm is all I've got.  (In addition, of course, to my vote.  And a ton of attitude.)

As long as we live in a society where people cannot go to school, church, the bank, the movies, a concert, or a store without being in danger - and where, as you say, mass casualty events have skyrocketed - I'm willing to entertain a wide range of solutions when it comes to addressing the problem.  That includes greater investment in mental health programs and more stringent requirements to gun ownership.  And, of course, better enforcement of current laws, though I'm open to new laws - how about a national law that says if you commit a crime and are carrying a gun, you get a minimum 10 year sentence?  And if you commit a crime and you fire a gun - regardless of whether anyone is injured or killed - you get a minimum 20 year sentence?

I don't have school-age kids, but I do have a daughter who is a teacher, and there is something deeply wrong with a society in which I have to worry that she could get shot while protecting her students.