J.Crew (Who?) Expanding in Asia


Different brands stand for different things.

The Gap evokes a certain image. Banana Republic another one. And, Victoria’s Secret, quite another one.

But I’ve always been confused about what J.Crew stood for…either that’s a reflection of my socio-economic status and shopping habits or ineffective branding on J.Crew’s part.

Anyway, it appears that J.Crew, which counts First Lady, Michelle Obama amongst its fans, is now looking to expand into China and Japan slowly, over the next couple of years.

But how will Chinese consumers react to J.Crew? Not much at all, reading between the lines of a Wall Street Journal article. The first problem of course is that the Chinese luxury market is slowing down. The next thing is that J.Crew is not a well known European luxury brand:


Yahoo’s High Profile Departure


Like I was saying in my recent post, retaining high achieving employees is not very easy. And when a high performing exec filling a role on an interim basis is “passed over” in favor of an outside hire, its likely a foregone conclusion that you “win some, lose some” – literally.

Just this morning, Yahoo’s one-time interim CEO, left but without anything specific lined up (was he that unhappy about being passed over?)

As Kara Swisher on All Things D says, 

While Mayer might have benefited from Levinsohn’s close ties with key marketing players and his content experience, her intense focus on products and not on media likely means that she will rely on a more tech-heavy leadership team going forward.

Bad for Levinsohn but I think the departure might be a good thing for Mayer, who needs to turn Yahoo around – quickly. And doing that by becoming more (a lot more) product-centric as opposed to going the Huffington Post route is the way to do it. 

Companies like Google and Facebook grew because they followed this value creation strategy:

Innovation –> Product –> Audience –> Monetization

Yahoo, sadly, has been badly lagging in the first two areas. Whatever audiences it had are largely because of user inertia and products that attracted users back when dinosaurs still roamed the earth. No wonder monetization (and profits) have been slumping so badly over the last few years.

As an early Yahoo adopter (I signed up for a Yahoo account in 1997 and yes, I know I’m dating myself quite nicely here) and fan, here’s to hoping Mayer can turn things around.

Differentiation Via More Gears



Gasoline did not hit $5 or $6 this summer in the US this summer as some hoped and others feared.
In time though, the immutable laws of supply and demand are bound to collide with growing global demand. One way for automakers to future-proof themselves is to create hybrids, electrics and go away from hydrocarbon based locomotion.
But the problem is that such technology is still expensive and despite tax subsidies (in the US), hybrid cars and electric cars are at least a few thousand dollars more expensive, and consumers need to drive 10-15 years just to break even on the premium paid. So except for a small slice of consumers that is gung-ho about green technology, the vast majority of consumers here and likely elsewhere are technology agnostic and what they really want are more miles from the same gallon of gas or liter of petrol they pump into their cars.
Chrysler, under CEO Sergio Marchionne may have just the solution to this conundrum: More gears. 


Rockstar Employees, Rockstar Salaries?

Rockstar Employees

In most companies, if payroll data were ever to be leaked all hell would break loose.

That’s because employees hired for the same type of work might get paid wildly divergent salaries, based on any number of reasons and factors. Since wage standardization would create other headaches, this practice has largely been left alone (but somewhat contained, with salary ranges and bands and such).

But what about rockstar employees?


NBC Wins Ad Revenue Gold Medal



NBC announced recently that its advertising sales for the Olympics hit the $1 Billion mark – a record for a single TV event, to date.

And from another New York Times story, we learn that NBC paid $1.18B for the US broadcast rights. So that leaves about $180 million that still needs to be made up. So is this event going to be break-even (or zero NPV, kind of…) or profitable for NBC?

The picture is less clear there. NBC has cited the high cost of doing business in London (which would increase its production costs – crew, rentals, equipment, facilities, bandwidth, etc.) as a reason to think that NBC will actually lose money net-net:

There’s no indication about what crossing the $1 billion threshold means to NBC Universal’s bottom line. The company, citing the high costs of doing business in London, has said it expects to lose money presenting the coverage.


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