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On December 14, 2015, rfennerty commented on TOMS – A Probationary Winner :

Loved that you wrote about TOM. I read TOMs founder Blake Mycoskie’s “Start Something That Matters” and thought he gave a really compelling rationale for why having a compelling social mission as part of your core business is a huge competitive advantage for a startup given the fierce competition for advisers, talent, funding, suppliers, etc in the earliest stages of growth. In short, his argument is that having a mission beyond profits opens doors that would otherwise not be be opened easily. You alluded to it here in your write-up, but I wonder how and whether the social mission continues to provide a boost to the operating and/or business model as a company matures. Did you see any evidence that they are measuring the value created by this social mission in terms of what advantages it provides to their operating model (e.g. lower advertising spend given given word of mouth support, better manufacturing / supplier relationships in other countries, special treatment from public agencies, etc.?). Thanks for the post!

Hey Alison – do you know what the original rationale was for the acquisition? Was General Parts Intl supposed to provide them with a footprint in markets and geographic areas where they didn’t have the same strong customer or supplier relationships? Or were they going to gain a particular competency or product mix they were not able to develop organically? Also wonder whether this is the story of a poorly executed integration of two actually complementary businesses or if this is about a management team trying to combine two fundamentally incompatible operating models and destroying their original competitive advantages in customer service and supplier networks? Thanks for the post!