Tesla: Mass-Market or Niche? Both.

Should Tesla focus on the high-end of the market now and seek an immediate profit and a potentially sustainable long-term niche?  Or should it go all-out to do nothing less than become the major player in the entire worldwide automotive market, taking advantage of its high valuation to raise billions of capital to fund years of cash burn?  These are super interesting questions that I will not address today.  Tesla’s apparent choice in this question is … neither.  It has clearly gone all in, at least in rhetoric, on dominating the automotive market and Elon Musk has announced (at least on Twitter) future new products in nearly every automotive niche.  But at the same time Tesla has refused to leverage its high stock price to raise capital and actually has been cutting back on capital spending and slow-rolling expansion plans.

(emphasis mine)

Source: Coyote Blog

Like Coyote (Warren Meyer), I suspect that not all is right in the land of Tesla. While I’ve praised Elon for publicly laying out a clear strategy for Tesla in the past, launching a “semi, pickup, new coupe, 10K a week m3 [Model 3] production, china factory, Europe homologation, expanded service network, in house body shops, car carrier production, solar shingle, gen 2 supercharger” is far from focused.. or even aligned.

Too many product? Too many markets? Too many balls in the air? Not enough investment? Only time will tell with this one…

Puma is reissuing the dorkiest shoe ever made

A new generation of nerds will finally be able to get their hands on the legendary Puma RS-Computer.

Puma’s RS-Computer shoes, originally released in 1986, were way ahead of their time. For the first time, a pair of running shoes could track your steps, distance, calories burned, and running time electronically, just like your phone or smart watch does today. Now, the German sports company is re-releasing the rare sneakers for the dorks of today. I say dorks because–well, just take a look at this news report from CES 1986.

Source: FastCompany

Nostalgia is always a winning marketing play. Some of the now-adults who grew up wanting these are definitely going to grab a pair, and probably an NES Classic while they’re at it.

Personal Rebranding

Do you need a career makeover? In this episode of HBR’s advice podcast, “Dear HBR:”, cohosts Alison Beard and Dan McGinn answer your questions with the help of Dorie Clark , the author of Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future .

Source: Personal Rebranding

Good episode! Read the summary here.

The truth is, the vast majority of people aren’t paying much attention to you. That means their perceptions are probably a few years out of date—and it’s not their fault. With hundreds (or thousands) of Facebook friends and vague social connections, we can’t expect everyone to remember the details of our lives. So we have to strategically reeducate our friends and acquaintances—because they’re going to be our buyers, recommenders, or leads for new jobs.

The original marshmallow test was flawed, researchers now say

I still think self-control is a very valuable trait – even if it’s not as predictive as once thought…

A team of psychologists have repeated the famous marshmallow experiment and found the original test to be flawed. It joins the ranks of many psychology experiments that cannot be repeated, which presents a considerable problem for its findings.

Source: The original marshmallow test was flawed, researchers now say

What a Toys “R” Us Comeback Could Look Like

Toys “R” Us is being resurrected for the holiday season. After filing for bankruptcy protection from creditors in September 2017, it closed all its stores in the United States and United Kingdom earlier this year.

Source: What a Toys “R” Us Comeback Could Look Like

The Toys’R’Us saga continues… previously on Straty:

Silicon Valley Code Camp 2018

Slides


A Developer’s Guide To Strategy (PDF, Download)

Recommended Books:

Strategy

On Strategy: HBR’s 10 Must Reads – Audible

Strategy: A History (Lawrence Freedman) – Audible

Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors (Michael E. Porter)

Entrepreneurial Strategy

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future (Peter Thiel & Blake Masters)Audible

Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers (Geoffrey Moore)

The Four Steps to the Epiphany (Steve Blank)

Built to Sell: Creating a Business That Can Thrive Without YouAudible

On Entrepreneurship and Startups: HBR’s 10 Must Reads

The Magic of Thinking Big (David J. Schwartz)Audible

Business Strategy

Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies (Jim Collins & Jerry Porras)

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t (Jim Collins)Audible

Who Moved My Cheese?: An A-Mazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your LifeAudible

Competing on the Edge: Strategy as Structured Chaos

Book Reviews?

A few more detailed book reviews

Silicon Valley Code Camp 2018

Welcome to Silicon Valley Code Camp, 2018!

I’ve been invited to speak at Silicon Valley Code Camp again – this time in the business management track.

I’m scheduled to speak at 5PM on Saturday Oct 13, 2018 in Fireside D. My talk is titled: A Developer’s Guide To Strategy

I hope to run an improved version of the simulation I ran with the MBA class at Saint Mary’s earlier this summer but I’m not sure I’ll have enough time during the presentation (or even between now and then).

Register here (giant red button).

Note: I wasn’t able to speak or attend last year so I haven’t seen the new space but I understand that there’s only room for about 800 people now (vs 3k previously). I don’t think they’ve sold out yet, but they definitely will.

“What is Strategy?” at Silicon Valley Code Camp 2018

I’ve been invited to speak at Silicon Valley Code Camp again – this time in the business management track. I’m not sure if I’ll be on the big stage live-streamed again but I’m excited to give my “What is Strategy?” talk for the 4th or 5th time and to continue to incorporate the incredible feedback I’ve been getting.

I hope to run an improved version of the simulation I ran with the MBA class at Saint Mary’s earlier this summer but I’m not sure I’ll have enough time during the presentation (or even between now and then).

The dates for the weekend are Oct 13-14, 2018 at PayPal Town Hall in San Jose, Ca. I’ll post my specific speaking slot and location once I have that info.

Register here (giant red button).

Note: I wasn’t able to speak or attend last year so I haven’t seen the new space but I understand that there’s only room for about 800 people now (vs 3k previously). I don’t think they’ve sold out yet, but they definitely will.

1992 Debate with Ross Perot, Bill Clinton, and George H. W. Bush

Controlling Outcomes by Controlling Table Stakes

Nielsen estimates that 84 million people watched the first presidential debate of the 2016 election. That was 36.4% of eligible voters and 60.5% of actual voters. Given how many US voters watch the presidential debates, participating in the televised debates is considered a table stake for having a shot at being elected president.

The official sounding ”Commission on Presidential Debates” decides who gets to be on the debate stage. It’s formation and stated purpose is interesting:

After studying the election process in 1985, the bipartisan National Commission on Elections recommended “turning over the sponsorship of Presidential debates to the two major parties”. The CPD was established in 1987 by the chairmen of the Democratic and Republican Parties to “take control of the Presidential debates”. The commission was staffed by members from the two parties and chaired by the heads of the Democratic and Republican parties… (wikipedia)

The League of Women Voters had been the previous host of the debates.

In 1988, the League of Women Voters withdrew its sponsorship of the presidential debates after the George H. W. Bush and Michael Dukakis campaigns secretly agreed to a “memorandum of understanding” that would decide which candidates could participate in the debates, which individuals would be panelists (and therefore able to ask questions), and the height of the lecterns. The League… released a statement saying that it was withdrawing support for the debates because “the demands of the two campaign organizations would perpetrate a fraud on the American voter.” (wikipedia)

Ross Perot’s 1992 bid for president as an independent was disruptive. Perot took 19% of the vote and many believe that had he not run, Republican incumbent George H. W. Bush would have been re-elected instead of Democrat candidate Bill Clinton.

The CPD excluded Perot from the televised debates in 1996.

Changing the Table Stakes

Four years later, the commission changed the rules of the game entirely, requiring that candidates have at least 15% in 5 national polls in order to get on the debate stage. Which polls count are consider to be “national polls”? The CPD decides.

The creation of the Commission on Presidential Debates (a cartel) and the 15% rule clearly benefit the candidates of the two major parties in the United States at the expense of all third-party (or independent) candidates and the voting populace. This legal collusion has been extremely effective at controlling who has a serious shot at running for president and who ultimately becomes president.

So not only is being on the debate stage a table stake, but having 15% in “5 national polls” approved by the CPD is considered a table stake as well.

When structured in this way, table stakes can be a form of moat or barrier to entry. So whoever controls the table stakes can have tremendous control over the outcome. Check out Jeffrey Pfeffer’s Power: Why Some People Have It and Others Don’t for a few great examples of establishing and controlling tables stakes in corporate environments – even if you’re at the bottom of the power hierarchy.