How Dollar Shave Club came to be worth $1B

Great piece from Stratechery on Unilever’s acquisition of Dollar Shave Club. Thompson makes the case that the creation of Amazon Web Services and YouTube a decade ago created the opportunity for Dollar Shave Club to disrupt a giant like Gillette. I find it just as interesting to read about how P&G came (and tries to remain) in the dominant position.

Probably the most important fact when it comes to analyzing Unilever’s purchase of Dollar Shave Club is the $1 billion price: in the world of consumer packaged goods (CPG) it is shockingly low. After all, only eleven years ago Procter & Gamble (P&G) bought Gillette, the market leader in shaving,for a staggering $57 billion.

To be sure Gillette is still dominant — the brand controls 70 percent of the global blades and razors market — but there is little question that Dollar Shave Club is a much better deal, in every sense of the word. Understanding why Dollar Shave Club was cheap means understanding why its blades are cheap, and understanding that means understanding just how precarious the position of P&G specifically and incumbents generally are in the emerging Internet economy.


Bring your own bot

It might not be too long before knowledge workers invest in artificial intelligence to become more productive, take on more work and save their jobs.

When it arrives, your colleague may become twice as productive and effective as you, and motivated enough to spend his found time cooking up innovations and other clever ways to serve the company’s customers better. He’s a superstar. Can you follow suit fast enough by bringing in your own robot helper? Maybe — but it’s doubtful that everyone in your department can. Will there even still be enough work to go around? If not, the most technically astute are the most likely to keep their jobs.


Mary Meeker: Hey online advertisers, get with the program!

Regarding the ineffectiveness of online advertising: I’m sure Mary feels like a broken record at this point. Users are annoyed with the current state of online advertising and they have a right to be. There are ways to make them better (i.e. being more authentic, entertaining, useful, non-interruptive and viewer controlled), it’s just that advertisers don’t care or aren’t willing to make the change.

Quartz has outlined highlights from the presentation. I think the video does a better job, but if you’re interested in diving into all 213 slides, here’s the link.

All the apps you’ll never use

Hammer meets nail courtesy of Charlie Warzel at Buzzfeed.

We’ll wait hours in line in the cold/heat/rain/snow for a shiny new piece of Apple hardware, but once we get it, the first thing we do is fill it with third party services.

I’m sure Apple understands that a majority of their users will never pay for or venture to the app store for an alternative to the default apps. The apps that come with the phone are more than enough for most.

…Monday’s WWDC keynote, there was something noticeable lacking: namely, the notion that any of the new technologies on stage were truly transformative and thereby a convincing reason to buy any deeper into the Apple ecosystem. Instead, WWDC’s highlights felt perfectly competent but hollow: table stakes in a game with a bottomless pot.

Look at it this way. Because Apple’s default apps are so bad, it does open a market for developers (where Apple takes a 30% cut). But, how long can Apple stay in the game with just superior hardware?