NELSON CLYDE, Is It Just Me?
At a recent gathering of friends, the topic of post-modern business came up. No one called it post-modern but that was the nature of the beast.
We were discussing the recent purchase by Amazon of Whole Foods for somewhere north of $13 billion. At some point, such discussions involve real money, but in this post-modern era, who can really know when?
You see, while Amazon’s stock price recently climbed above $1,000 per share, they have only enjoyed 8 recent quarters of profitability. How darling.
This reminds me of a conversation with my old friend, Bubba, many years ago. It went something like this:
Bubba said, “Nelson, I’ve paid cash for my house and my cars and for the education of my children. I’ve paid my taxes and been a responsible member of society, as I understand it, but somehow I’m the enemy?”
Part of Bubba’s problem is he lives in Austin. But in spite of the fact he is a Dave Ramsey poster child, the world has changed and we’re having trouble moving forward with it. Now, Bubba is a few years older than me, but when I encounter these heady business models with even headier CEOs it makes me feel perplexed, confounded and, yes, old.
The only comfort in trying to size such things up is to discuss it with people of my generation. Once we agree it is inconceivable to understand how Uber could have lost $2 billion last year, a sense of clarity emerges you just can’t get from the talking heads or pundits on social media.
Uber’s CEO just stepped down, by the way. The next leader will probably have at least double the amount of “runway” to get things right. The poor thing will probably have to eliminate the free dinnertime meals they serve to all employees and paid maternity leave for dads (no, it’s not a typo) until profit emerges (no, it’s not a typo). Plus, the new leader won’t be burdened like the co-founder, who was probably around when they had “pre-money” valuations on the company. Heady, heady stuff.
A few food experiences of late are worth note. My favorite breakfast tacos in town at this time are in the following order:
Taqueria Palacios Tortilleria - Bacon, egg, cheese and potato breakfast burrito. The sign in Spanish under the menu says something to the effect of “this is not a fast food establishment - we prepare all food when the customer orders it.”
Be prepared to wait and for the wait to be worth it. Get a filled Churro to munch on while you wait.
Los Guerros taqueria - Breakfast burrito with Mexican style eggs, add bacon.
Torchy’s - Migas breakfast taco, add bacon.
Stanley’s - Breakfast taco with bacon, egg, cheese. The bacon is crispy and perfect every time.
No one can really know but my hunch is each of these businesses operate at a healthy profit just like many companies aspired to do back in the olden days.
From the top to the bottom, there is not a lot of distance in quality or ranking but the distinction is worth noting and all are worth trying. If you are aware of others, we may need to assess. Please let us know. It may require the attention of an intern but we are up to the task.