Founder of Photoways/Photobox, co-Founder of Inspirational Stores/Motoblouz, Co-founder & President of Day One Entrepreneurs & Partners (ex L'Accélérateur), a unique structure which provides capital, lifelong nurturing and inspiration to entrepreneurs who thrive to build big !
My core entrepreneurial values : ambition, humility, commitment & integrity.
Proud father of 4.
http://www.dayonepartners.com Twitter : @DayOneEP
After the elusive hints about the hyper exclusive 1.5M€-priced One-77, Aston Martin yesterday made another bold move, announcing that it would revive the 20-year dormantLagondabrand !
This decision stems from a simple and pragmatic reasoning as expressed by CEO Ulrich Bez :
“Aston Martins are currently available in 32 countries, but we remain limited in our market penetration by the pure character of our cars - sports cars. We have now investigated and concluded that the revival of the Lagonda brand would allow us to develop cars which can have a different character than a sports car, and therefore offer a perfect synergy".
In short, the aim is to broaden the product range and move beyond luxury sports cars - Aston Martin's sweet spot - a positioning which de facto today limits the customer reach. The Lagonda marque is associated with luxurious 4-door sedans.
Lagonda was founded in 1906, named after a river near the hometown of its founder, Wilbur Gunnield, an American from Springfield, Ohio. Right after purchasing Aston Martin, David Brown brought the company in 1947 to gain access to its engine designed by Mr Bentley, but its only in 1974 (after the David Brown era) that a Lagonda-branded car was produced. In October 1976, Aston Martin shocked the world by unveiling the fabulous and futuristic Lagonda Series 2, with its very specific design (below) and unique digital dashboard.
Lagonda cars are very rare as only a few hundreds were built between 1974 and 1989, when the last car was produced.
According to CEO Bez, the new Lagonda could reach the market in 2012 but the first concept should be presented next year. I look forward to it.
Though the economic underlying fundamentals are crystal-clear, reviving a brand is no easy task, all the more than the Lagonda marque hasn't such a great heritage after all (contrary to Aston Martin), though cars have a high recognition factor due to their very particular shape.
These days, I have lots of discussions about e-commerce, trying to convince some people that the Inspirational Stores' model is rooted in a fundamental market need.
Well, let me share with you a deep conviction. To put it plain and simple, e-commerce is intrinsically much more complex than physical retail for 2 reasons :
- To conduct it right, the set of competencies involved are far broader. - Reactivity needs to be at its extreme
Say you want to open a profitable store: find a good location (that's a one-off), have the right design and product display (also a one-off, every 3 to 4 years), manage a bunch a professional store people, here you go.
Now, go online, what do you need : design and IT people to build the webstore, bunch of online marketing people in all acquisition channels (SEO, SEM, affiliation, etc), webstore management people to animate, call center people, logistics people all the way from warehousing, order preparation and shipping. And as it's a very fast moving environment, you have to be flexible and act very quickly to fine tune your merchandising, your online marketing, etc.
As a consequence, I'm deeply convinced that most brands will be better off having their e-commerce channel managed by specialists with the right infrastructure and mindset. They may not understand it at this point, but they will, it's simply a matter of time.
As an individual, I very much fancy good food and great products. As a customer-driven entrepreneur, I pay attention and admire those concepts which are both well tought-over and perfectly executed to deliver a great experience with a flawless service to customers.
Thanks to my friend Fabrice Grinda I enjoyed a lunch a Ted's Montana Grill on 110W 51st St at 6th av which perfectly illustrates the above.
Fresh, good and tasty hamburgers, excellent service (quick, professional and friendly), spacy restaurant, inspirational design, and very decent prices ! When a hamburger at "l'Atelier Renault" on the Champs Elysées in Paris costs €18, ie $28, one will end up paying about 50% less here in the heart of Manhattan at Ted's Montana Grill 51st !
This 50-unit chain was co-founded and launched just 6 years ago by Ted Turner, the well known media entrepreneur, founder of CNN among other ventures and husband of Jane Fonda. In his Montana ranch, Ted Turner raises bisons whose meat you may eat at his restaurants (you will also find beef and chicken).
Have a look here at the founders' video where the roots and directions of the chain are thoroughly explicited. Pretty inspirational !
Concept looks right and execution just seems flawless ! Retail - which includes the restaurant business - is detail, and I could feel at Ted's Montana Grill that they have thoroughly thought over all issues. Well done, a great address in the crowded theather district where good and decently-priced restaurants are in extreme scarcity.
"Rain & Shine", 45th St, 45 East, claims to be "New York only umbrella and parasol shop". Truth be told, it's no competitor to Alexandra Sojfer's high end fashion umbrellas which simply are the best in the world. Nothing wrong about Rain & Shine, simply not in the same league.
Macaroons have become a hot and fashion product here in New York. Here's the recently opened "Cafe Macaron" on 36th St between 6th and 7th Av. Thruth be told, despite a hefty price tag ($1.75 each), it's no competitor to Laduree's fabulous macaroons. Dear New Yorkers, you may expect a Laduree store sometimes in 2009 !
Truth be told, the Noukies' department at FAO Schwarz on 59th St, just opposite the Apple "Cube" Store, yields one of the best $/sq ft ratio !
Another one asleep, at Herald Square (9:10AM) ! People work hard over here, sometimes with 2 jobs at once, no unemployment security as we have in France - with the abuses one may regret as I mentioned here, and employees seeking to be fired !
True piece of art isn't it (Apple Store Union Square) ?
It ain't a lipstock ad, just Belvedere Vodka's "glamorization" !
Half a billion bucks, that's almost what Clinton and Obama have spent to run against each other !
The Primary season is now over (or so it seems, Clinton has "suspended" her campaign, she hasn't released her delegates to Obama - I suspect the 2 of them are negotiating), but for the Democratic Party it has been the longest, the closest and the most expensive nomination process ever. They'd better get their champion elected in November...
The "winner takes it all" process that Repblicans use at the State level for nominees leads to a much faster nomination. What's more, the Super Delegate system that was put in place 2 decades ago proved that in some circumstances it could be counter-productive.
Anyway, Obama's nomination is an historical moment for the US, Americans can be proud of it !
Many people are trying to outsmart the stock markets, trying to guess how it should move in the future and trying to time it.
This will fail most of the time, leading to poor returns, as it is virtually impossible to predict how markets would move. Don't try to outsmart and time the stock market !
The only thing which is certain for me is that acquiring for a bargain price a company with a strong and sustainable competitive advantage will mechanically lead to higher returns overtime - if you have the patience to hold - no matter when you invest.
Buying cheap means buying companies with lower PEs, PEGs, EV/EBITDAs, etc, all the more than they yield higher returns on capital.
Bottom line : do your due diligence on companies, forget all the rest !
The major difficulty in stock market investing is to remain rationale and cold-blooded all the time (as Buffett would put it, the secret is in managing one's emotions, I fully agree). If in the short run the stock market may behave eratically and irrationnaly, in the long run it will always act as a "weighing machine" and behave rationnaly. So patience is also a pre-requisite to succeed (you may also call it guts).
A few days ago, my take was that Jerry Yang and Yahoo had made a mistake not accepting the $47bn offer from Microsoft. But walking out suddenly from the Yahoo deal obviously was the best tactical move for Microsoft to ultimately reach its goal !
10 days after Microsoft dropped out, famous investor Carl Icahn is now vowing to oust Yahoo Inc.'s board of directors for "irresponsible" and "unconscionable" actions (his words) that led Microsoft Corp. to withdraw a $47.5 billion offer to buy the Internet pionneer.
Icahn has so far invested more than $1.3 billion to acquire 59 million Yahoo shares, ie a roughly 4 percent stake in the Sunnyvale-based company, and he's likely to double that investment, which gives him some leverage.
I'm convinced Yahoo's fate should change during summer. Not only its market position is by no mean sustainable as it is, but many shareholders, led by Icahn, feel that enough is enough and that the Yahoo Board has not worked in their best interest. There are lousy CEOs but there are also lousy Boards.
For his 4 and a half year tenure as Yahoo's CEO, Terry Semel received a total compensation of $258M, not including the same amount in non-exercised options, while creating no value.
Investment-wise, I feel it's a smart move by Carl Icahn : if successful, he could earn a few hundred millions bucks in a short time frame.