Matt Simpson

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On December 15, 2015, Matt Simpson commented on Harley-Davidson: Being Bad Can Be So, So Good :

Considering I’m currently in the process of finding employment there, I will be sure to let you know as I discover. One would hope that a deep understanding and appreciation for the brand would be priority one.

On December 14, 2015, Matt Simpson commented on William Morris Endeavor (WME) and Proprietary Technology for Agents :

My only exposure to this world has been Entourage, so very nice to read a bit about the real industry. This is a business that I imagine will always have a high requirement for human interaction; these are big, complex deals that people need to work through together. But that doesn’t preclude automation where it’s not needed. I think it’s impressive in how they’ve scaled a technology solution to have their agents focus on the actual value-add activity – namely securing projects/talent – and gotten rid of the low-value admin work. Doing so not only reallocates costs to more appropriate activity, but also improves the efficiency of the employees.

On December 14, 2015, Matt Simpson commented on Speedo: Inspiring Everyone to Dive In :

This was very interesting. Like others above, I had no idea of their presence in the market for more casual swimmers. I think the biggest challenge they face is actually as a victim of their own success, perhaps some people make that false assumption that Speedo is actually beyond their ability, when in fact it should be completely accessible to the common customer. In any case, it’s fun to learn about a company who has become so associated with their product that people refer to “Speedo” when a lot of times they’re just talking about swimsuits. With that strong of an association I think they’re in good shape.

On December 14, 2015, Matt Simpson commented on Harley-Davidson: Being Bad Can Be So, So Good :

I have seen women shorter than you riding bikes. So yes, you can/should get one. And remember the customization – it’s a relatively easy update to lower the bike. My first bike was actually lowered a couple inches…not because I needed it, but because it looked cool.

On December 14, 2015, Matt Simpson commented on Tesla: Redefining a Trillion Dollar Industry :

So first of all, no need to apologize, as I’m a big fan of Tesla’s business. I think you hit on several reasons why they’ve been successful, namely:
– Rethinking what an electric car can be…they didn’t build a great electric car, they built a great car, period, that happened to be electric. By not handicapping their design they were able to create mass-market appeal.
– Dealer network…this I think might be their biggest edge. The traditional selling process of automotive is very antiquated. Dealers are given far too much discretion which makes it hard to control the brand at the most important part – the actual customer experience. Not to mention cost control issues. I guarantee every OEM in America would rather have Tesla’s model right now, but the incumbent dealer lobby is extremely strong. Tesla is right to stand by their model and lead the political fight to overturn the existing structure.
– Vertical integration, as the guys above mentioned, is huge. Electric is a viable technology, but it still can’t compete with the internal combustion engine for convenience. Until you can “refuel” an electric in a couple minutes, the convenience factor will be a huge obstacle. Tesla has done well to develop the refueling infrastructure…the overall electric market is small, so capturing a huge piece of that doesn’t amount to much. But if they can increase the size of the market they will see huge dividends down the road.

Couple causes for concern that I see:
– Quality…the original Roadster, while a great proof of concept, had numerous problems with build quality. They’ve largely addressed a lot of this, but electrics do have some big long-term question marks that we won’t fully know for several years. I recently read a report that the powertrain may only have an expected life of 60,000 miles…significantly lower than conventional drivetrains. Whether that’s true…who knows. We really need to see a 10-year lifecycle to know how sustainable the product is. There’s also the question of when and how to dispose of the batteries – it’s one of the most harmful things to do to the environment. Tesla must get the disposal right to avoid ruining all the green street cred they’ve built.
– Operational efficiency – Tesla still loses money on every Model S, making their profits through other sources. While it’s getting better, the last estimate I saw was about $4k per car. Despite the massive media attention, they’re still small. And they still haven’t mastered production – they’re playing catch up with the established OEMs here. I think they’ll get there, but they need to keep focus on operations as well as their development and marketing.

On December 14, 2015, Matt Simpson commented on Harley-Davidson: Being Bad Can Be So, So Good :

The safety question is an important one, though one really out of control of Harley and bikers themselves. But I think Harley does a great job with their Riding Academy to train new (and experienced) riders in the best and safest ways to ride. I think really reaching their customers through the whole lifecycle is their edge – from training, to purchase, to ongoing lifestyle, through gear and branding. So I think they are best positioned to address that.

The broader implication here is what happens as cars start and then continue to go autonomous. Maybe that makes it safer or more dangerous for bikers. Since motorcycles exist purely for driving enjoyment, the autonomous movement shouldn’t directly take away sales, but it’s going to be an integration between driven and autonomous. I honestly don’t know how it will play out with bikes, but I think because of their lean production and ability to respond quickly to demand they’re well positioned to ramp up and down to control costs. I think the next extension of this is if they can more accurately adapt particular models to trends in the marketplace…I could see certain bikes become less favorable as infrastructure changes and they’ll need to produce accordingly.

On December 14, 2015, Matt Simpson commented on Goods Doing Good: Sustainable Luxury at Maiyet :

This will be a huge surprise to you, but I know next to nothing about high fashion. This was a fascinating case though. When I first started reading I immediately thought of Gone Rural as Montero mentioned, and I do see a lot of similarities in the business model. Both focus on the business as well as the social, and ultimately do more than simply providing a wage or better working conditions, but empowering the workers and teaching them how to effectively manage their own business. What is really interesting here is that Maiyet seems to compete at a much higher level of fashion. Many organizations like this provide authentic goods or trinkets, but it’s really quite remarkable and speaks to their procurement strategy and assessment that they are finding these workers capable of producing with the best in the world. I wonder how scalable this is when so much rides on the individual producers, but perhaps that is their secret sauce and they have developed standard criteria for what makes a successful artist.

On December 10, 2015, Matt Simpson commented on Pottery Barn–Inspire beautiful decorating for every room :

Interesting to learn about the design-focus of Pottery Barn. Clearly a differentiating factor to be forward-thinking and collaborative with customers and trends as opposed to simply putting things on shelves for the customers to imagine. Seems akin to a real estate agent staging a home for sale. I do wonder how they are able to convey a consistent experience when it seems such a huge percentage of their workforce is rotating. It’s apparent that the sales associate is a significant factor in the customer experience, but given they are not hired for design expertise, and might be new on the job, how does Pottery Barn ensure they have the appropriate expertise and engagement to work with customers? Is this through consistent processes, training, or do they have a highly defined talent pipeline to more accurately identify good fits?