Business Breakdowns

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Chris
 Jun 23, 2021
Very informative. Thanks.

Description

Business Breakdowns is a series of conversations with investors and operators diving deep into a single business. For each business, we explore its history, its business model, its competitive advantages, and what makes it tick. Learn more and stay up to date at www.joincolossus.com

Episode Date
A Primer on Space: The Final Frontier - [Business Breakdowns, EP. 19]
55:36

Today, we will be covering the endlessly fascinating market of Space. While we typically focus on an individual company for Business Breakdowns, we thought an industry primer was the best approach for this expanding market. With Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos directing so much energy to the promise of space, it is impossible not to dream about what lies ahead. To cover this endless topic, I’ll be joined by a previous guest, Tren Griffin. While Tren’s full-time job is a director at Microsoft, his experience with satellites and endless curiosity make him ideal for this conversation. We cover how our ground economy is enabled by space today, what excites him most about the space to space opportunities in the future, and how space compares to other network foundations. I hope you enjoy this great space primer with Tren Griffin.



For the full show notes, transcript, and links to the best content to learn more, check out the episode page here.

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This episode is brought to you by Quartr. With Quartr, you can access conference calls, investor presentations, transcripts, and earnings reports – straight from your pocket. Quartr is 100% free and includes companies from 12 markets including the US, the UK, Canada, India, and all the Scandanavian countries.  Quartr is available for both iOS and Android, so check out the app today.

 

-----

 

Business Breakdowns is a property of Colossus, Inc. For more episodes of Business Breakdowns, visit joincolossus.com/episodes.

 

Stay up to date on all our podcasts by signing up to Colossus Weekly, our quick dive every Sunday highlighting the top business and investing concepts from our podcasts and the best of what we read that week. Sign up here.

 

Follow us on Twitter: @JoinColossus | @patrick_oshag | @jspujji | @zbfuss

 

Show Notes

[00:02:19] - [First question] - The current size and scope of the space economy

[00:04:42] - Important historic milestones that helped us get to where we are today

[00:12:33] - The varying levels of orbit and what they unlock for technology

[00:19:22] - How expensive launches were and what they are now with SpaceX and Starship

[00:22:08] - Overview of the Starlink project and using it to recoup infrastructural setup costs

[00:27:32] - Whether or not launch will ever become more than just a commodity 

[00:31:01] - Different types of satellites and earth-orbiting technology

[00:34:23] - Thoughts on in-space manufacturing as an emerging industry

[00:35:33] - Future colonization of the moon, Mars, and humanity leaving the Earth

[00:38:19] - The importance of dreaming big to inspire those around you

[00:42:36] - Potential reasons why space may not become a new frontier

[00:44:41] - Politics and the militarization side of open space

[00:47:19] - Legalities and the need for a space treaty 

[00:49:41] - Whether or not humans will be living on the moon by 2035

[00:51:03] - What the benefits will be of a colony on Mars if we can establish one on the moon

Jul 28, 2021
Petco: Capturing the Pet Economy - [Business Breakdowns, EP. 18]
39:28

Today, we will be breaking down pet care giant, Petco. Founded in 1965 as a mail-order business, Petco has evolved into a one-stop-shop pet care solution across its nearly 1,500 locations.

 

To help break down Petco, I am joined by Greg Kamstra, current CEO of pet care provider, Riverdog and former private equity investor. We will discuss how Petco evolved into its current big-box model, how pet care store economics differ from grocery economics, and what impact e-commerce has had on the industry. It’s always fascinating to learn about secular growth stories, and the pet care industry falls into that category. I hope you enjoy this breakdown of Petco.

 

For the full show notes, transcript, and links to the best content to learn more, check out the episode page here.

 

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This episode is brought to you by Quartr. With Quartr, you can access conference calls, investor presentations, transcripts, and earnings reports – straight from your pocket. Quartr is 100% free and includes companies from 12 markets including the US, the UK, Canada, India, and all the Scandanavian countries.  Quartr is available for both iOS and Android, so check out the app today.

 

-----

 

Business Breakdowns is a property of Colossus, Inc. For more episodes of Business Breakdowns, visit joincolossus.com/episodes.

 

Stay up to date on all our podcasts by signing up to Colossus Weekly, our quick dive every Sunday highlighting the top business and investing concepts from our podcasts and the best of what we read that week. Sign up here.

 

Follow us on Twitter: @JoinColossus | @patrick_oshag | @jspujji | @zbfuss

 

Show Notes

[00:02:19] - [First question] - What is Petco?

[00:03:06] - How much of their business is solely eCommerce

[00:03:40] - The scale of the market today and what that space looks like

[00:05:24] - Pet ownership in the US and how much it’s grown over the decades

[00:06:28] - The spend-per-pet metric and how it continues to grow

[00:06:49] - Sales channels for Petco and the big players in this industry

[00:07:31] - When and how Petco started and unique insights that led to starting the business

[00:09:09] - Unit economics for specialty brands versus generic brands

[00:09:42] - General thoughts on the economics of Petco

[00:11:03] - Viewing their revenue and customer base through the lens of a single-store

[00:13:15] - How they drive same-store sales growth and customer frequency

[00:16:22] - The ways they’ve invested in services to incentivize return customers 

[00:18:13] - Conventional retail strategies and how they’ve performed for Petco

[00:20:42] - Ways they are trying to compete with their eCommerce competitors

[00:23:50] - What their eCommerce growth could look like over the next few years

[00:25:20] - Early days of a mobile app and working on their digital-first footprint

[00:26:18] - How good of a deal Chewy was for Petsmart

[00:27:48] - Other big deals Petco has made and why they’ve mattered

[00:28:52] - Unique private equity aspects of Petco

[00:31:07] - What happened to their business during the pandemic and what trends might be here to stay 

[00:32:03] - How many non-pet owners became pet owners because of COVID-19

[00:33:11] - Reasons why their market cap could double in the next five to ten years

[00:34:19] - Reasons why their market cap could be cut in half over the coming years

[00:35:10] - Lessons for builders when studying Petco’s story

[00:37:14] - Lessons for investors when studying Petco’s story

Jul 21, 2021
Cardlytics: The Ad Platform with Purchasing Power - [Business Breakdowns, EP. 17]
01:04:39

Today, we will be diving into Cardlytics. Founded in 2008, Cardlytics operates as an advertising platform integrated with the digital channels of banks. It allows advertisers to identify potential customers from their spending habits and reach those customers directly within their mobile banking applications. Today, Cardlytics is one of the largest digital ad platforms, seeing data on 50% of every card swipe in the US.

 

To help break down Cardlytics, I will be joined by Cliff Sosin, founder of CAS Investment Partners. During our conversation, we touch on what makes Cardlytics' value proposition so valuable to the ecosystem, how Cardlytics' measurement capabilities differ from Google, and what is needed for Cardlytics to reach its full potential. Throughout our conversation, Cliff gives a great perspective on how this management team brought unique insight to this opportunity but then faced struggles as the company started to scale. His understanding of the history of the business shines throughout the discussion. I hope you enjoy this breakdown of Cardlytics.

 

For the full show notes, transcript, and links to the best content to learn more, check out the episode page here.

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This episode is brought to you by Quartr. With Quartr, you can access conference calls, investor presentations, transcripts, and earnings reports – straight from your pocket. Quartr is 100% free and includes companies from 12 markets including the US, the UK, Canada, India, and all the Scandanavian countries.  Quartr is available for both iOS and Android, so check out the app today.

 

-----

 

Business Breakdowns is a property of Colossus, Inc. For more episodes of Business Breakdowns, visit joincolossus.com/episodes.

 

Stay up to date on all our podcasts by signing up to Colossus Weekly, our quick dive every Sunday highlighting the top business and investing concepts from our podcasts and the best of what we read that week. Sign up here.

 

Follow us on Twitter: @JoinColossus | @patrick_oshag | @jspujji | @zbfuss

 

Show Notes

[00:02:33] - [First question] - What Cardlytics does and their scale

[00:06:51] - What happens from a consumer perspective when using their service?

[00:08:14] - Numbers around the current scope of the business today

[00:08:40] - Comparing Cardlytics to Google and Facebook’s advertising models

[00:11:01] - History of the company and how they gained access to bank transaction data

[00:15:20] - Revenue splits, gross profits, and companies that have had success using them

[00:19:23] - Potential risk to the company if banks were to start offering this service in house

[00:23:02] - Possible parallels between Visa and Cardlytics as a transaction protocol for banks

[00:25:15] - Whether or not brand matters for them

[00:26:15] - Lessons learned about network effects and whether or not it applies

[00:30:24] - What opportunities excite him about improving the Cardlytics platform

[00:35:24] - The role that data and predictive algorithms could play in perfecting the user experience and business scale

[00:39:45] - Reasons that Cardlytics could slip and reverse their progress or fail writ large

[00:44:17] - What one question he’d like to answer to improve the business

[00:46:38] - Lessons he’s learned about data privacy building the company

[00:47:34] - What is impressive about Cardlytics through the lens of leaders and management

[00:50:39] - Whether or not his views on investing has changed in regards to the quality of management over the course of growing Cardlytics

[00:51:57] - What they would have to do and where they would have to spend to grow the business over the coming decade

[00:54:41] - Neobanks posing a potential threat to the tech stack they’ve build

[00:59:13] - Lessons for operators in building a business when studying Cardlytics’ story

[01:02:10] - Lessons for investors when studying Cardlytics’ story

 

Jul 14, 2021
Exxon Mobil: An Aging Energy Empire - [Business Breakdowns, EP. 16]
01:18:19

Today, we will be diving into energy giant, Exxon Mobil. The origins of Exxon date back to John D. Rockefeller and Standard Oil. Exxon was spun out in 1911 as the Standard Oil of New Jersey, and in 1998, Exxon merged with Mobil, which was the original Standard Oil of New York. To break down the rich history of Exxon, I am joined by Arjun Murti, a long-time energy analyst, and investor. During our conversation, we dive deep into the supermajor business and how that drove Exxon’s century-long success. We address the past decade of underperformance and examine the key drivers of Exxon Mobil moving forward. Arjun gives helpful overviews on how the energy market has changed across fossil fuels and renewables throughout our conversation. I hope you enjoy this breakdown of Exxon Mobil.

 

For the full show notes, transcript, and links to the best content to learn more, check out the episode page here.

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This episode is brought to you by Quartr. With Quartr, you can access conference calls, investor presentations, transcripts, and earnings reports – straight from your pocket. Quartr is 100% free and includes companies from 12 markets including the US, the UK, Canada, India, and all the Scandanavian countries.  Quartr is available for both iOS and Android, so check out the app today.

 

-----

 

Business Breakdowns is a property of Colossus, Inc. For more episodes of Business Breakdowns, visit joincolossus.com/episodes.

 

Stay up to date on all our podcasts by signing up to Colossus Weekly, our quick dive every Sunday highlighting the top business and investing concepts from our podcasts and the best of what we read that week. Sign up here.

 

Follow us on Twitter: @JoinColossus | @patrick_oshag | @jspujji | @zbfuss

 

Show Notes

[00:02:25] - [First question] - What is Exxon Mobil and its business scale

[00:04:46] - Various metrics to understand their scale and their revenue streams

[00:07:37] - How many people on average Exxon’s oil touches

[00:08:31] - Ways to think about how a barrel of oil can be used

[00:09:42] - The supply chain of oil and gas and why Exxon chooses to be integrated

[00:10:48] - What a non-integrated supply chain looks like in comparison

[00:14:33] - How technology has impacted the exploration and discovery of oil

[00:17:22] - Once the land is bought and the oil is coming out of it, what next?

[00:19:04] - Overview of what a refinery does to crude oil and its economics

[00:23:58] - Final steps of the non-integrated oil supply chain

[00:25:23] - The history of the oil industry and John D. Rockefeller

[00:29:51] - Why Exxon isn’t the largest market cap in the world these past few years

[00:38:20] - Some of Exxon’s bad capital allocation decisions

[00:43:06] - Thoughts on the XTO acquisition and rough cost

[00:44:12] - Would Lee Raymond have been able to figure out a better way forward

[00:46:36] - Exxon’s bet on renewables and climate change and whether or not it paid off

[00:51:19] - The size and consumption of the energy market today and its size

[00:55:17] - Units costs of oil and coal versus wind and solar and their trends

[00:59:16] - How this will play out on a fifty-year time horizon

[01:02:06] - Exxon’s peer set during their long career

[01:04:14] - Other factors that may have contributed to Exxon’s recent downturn

[01:06:32] - COVID-19’s impact on the oil industry

[01:09:20] - Opportunities for the future and what could cause a double in market cap 

[01:12:07] - What could have contributed to a smaller market cap in the future

[01:12:52] - Lessons for builders and investors

[01:17:05] - Resources for learning more: The Prize & Titan



Jul 07, 2021
Facebook: The Trillion Dollar Listing - [Business Breakdowns, EP. 15]
01:13:35

Today, we will be diving into Facebook. A business that requires little introduction, Facebook was launched in 2004 from Marc Zuckerberg’s Harvard dorm room. Zuckerberg has since grown Facebook into the largest social network in the world and continues to operate the business today. To break down Facebook, I am first joined by Robert Cantwell, founder and CIO of Upholdings. Rob’s unique background makes him an ideal person to speak on Facebook. Rob shared a dorm with Zuckerberg, went on to work at Elevation Partners, a large private investor in Facebook, and eventually became CFO of Everlane, where expansion was closely tied to the growth of Instagram and its advertising tools. We touch on how Facebook successfully navigated the transition from desktop to mobile, what drives the value of the network, and where Facebook may drive value in the future.

 

I am then joined by Jesse Pujji, a familiar voice as a host of Business Breakdowns. Jesse’s time as co-founder and CEO at Ampush make him ideal to break down the advertising business of Facebook. During our conversation, Jesse outlines the basic dynamics of the Facebook ad ecosystem, the economic proposition to an advertiser, and how to assess risks to Facebook's control of the digital ad market.

 

Facebook is such an interesting business, and we could likely speak for hours on the potential opportunities for growth. We decided to focus on the core advertising business today, given it represents 98% of revenue. In the future, we want to dedicate individual Breakdowns to WhatsApp, Oculus, and potentially other Facebook initiatives that are worthy of their own deep dives alone. I hope you enjoy this conversation on Facebook.

 

For the full show notes, transcript, and links to the best content to learn more, check out the episode page here.

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This episode is brought to you by Canalyst. Canalyst is the leading destination for public company data and analysis. If you enjoy our exploration of what makes a company tick on Business Breakdowns, Canalyst should be the foundation for your quantitative analysis. For more information and access to the Canalyst model on the business we break down in this episode, go to canalyst.com/breakdowns.

 

-----

 

Business Breakdowns is a property of Colossus, Inc. For more episodes of Business Breakdowns, visit joincolossus.com/episodes.

 

Stay up to date on all our podcasts by signing up to Colossus Weekly, our quick dive every Sunday highlighting the top business and investing concepts from our podcasts and the best of what we read that week. Sign up here.

 

Follow us on Twitter: @JoinColossus | @patrick_oshag | @jspujji | @zbfuss

 

Part 1

[00:03:20] - [First question] The size and scale of Facebook and how we interact with it

[00:04:59] - The best way to describe what their true core business is

[00:07:21] - Observing Facebook’s growth as an operator and how it impacts his view of it 

[00:10:46] - The ad model that they offered that wasn’t historically available before

[00:12:49] - Competitive advantages they have today that makes theory moat impenetrable

[00:15:44] - Potential impacts of the decentralization of the internet

[00:19:20] - One of the biggest risks to Facebook over the coming years

[00:23:33] - Future asset optionality that investors should be excited about

[00:28:16] - Thoughts on whether or not Facebook abuses its power given its size

[00:31:19] - Whether or not plans to establish themselves as a super app holds true

[00:34:14] - What Facebook is today and where they’re going


Part 2

[00:36:25] - Why Facebook has such an effective ad system for digital marketing

[00:41:28] - Overview of how an advertiser uses their ad platform

[00:45:39] - Key dynamics that impact bidding on certain keywords and customers

[00:49:22] - The types of companies that are being built on top of Facebook’s ad railway

[00:52:13] - What data they have and common misconceptions about it

[00:56:15] - Things Facebook could learn about cross-app system tracking  

[00:59:07] - The competitive landscape of digital advertising today

[01:01:52] - What would have to play out in order for them to stop growing

[01:04:05] - The ways in which commerce plays into Facebook’s story today

[01:07:39] - How having access to a user's payment information is a value unlock

[01:08:55] - The most important thing to Facebook and lessons to be learned from their story

 

Jun 30, 2021
Formula One: The Iconic Motor Sport - [Business Breakdowns, EP. 14]
01:26:06

In today's episode, we introduce another unique format for Business Breakdowns. We will be diving into the iconic global motorsport brand - Formula One. To break down F1, I will be joined by CEO Stefano Domenicali and investor, Arman Gokgol-Kline. 

 

To start the conversation, Arman and I frame the business of Formula One with a high-level overview of how the league operates and generates revenue. Then Arman joins me to speak to Stefano who was appointed CEO of F1 in late 2020, after the league and teams agreed to their latest Concorde Agreement which governs stakeholders across the ecosystem. We touch on Stefano’s own story growing up with Formula One, how the team, driver, and ownership worlds align, and what gets him most excited for the brand moving forward. Arman and I then wrap up by diving into the white space opportunities for F1 and what key lessons for builders and investors.

 

The origin story of Bernie Ecclestone founding and operating F1 is fascinating – and I admire how Liberty has been able to push the brand further into the spotlight. You can see a clear focus on building an aligned ecosystem across the fans, teams, and league officials. This was an incredibly fun episode where you hear from both an inside and outside view. I hope you enjoy this breakdown of F1.

 

For the full show notes, transcript, and links to the best content to learn more, check out the episode page here.

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This episode is brought to you by Canalyst. Canalyst is the leading destination for public company data and analysis. If you enjoy our exploration of what makes a company tick on Business Breakdowns, Canalyst should be the foundation for your quantitative analysis. For more information and access to the Canalyst model on the business we break down in this episode, go to canalyst.com/breakdowns.

 

-----

 

Business Breakdowns is a property of Colossus, Inc. For more episodes of Business Breakdowns, visit joincolossus.com/episodes.

 

Stay up to date on all our podcasts by signing up to Colossus Weekly, our quick dive every Sunday highlighting the top business and investing concepts from our podcasts and the best of what we read that week. Sign up here.

 

Follow us on Twitter: @JoinColossus | @patrick_oshag | @jspujji | @zbfuss

 

Part 1

[00:03:00] - [First question] - The overall size of the F1 fanbase

[00:04:09] - What one could most attribute to the size of F1’s audience

[00:05:22] - Three key buckets of revenue and their percentage split

[00:07:21] - Business economics of the race tracks and promoter incentives

[00:11:22] - Thoughts on expanding the annual race and track count

[00:13:49] - Business economics of the race broadcasts

[00:18:59] - Business economics of sponsorships and partners


Part 2 

[00:21:21] - Where Stefano found his early passion for motorsport

[00:23:32] - What it was like to run an F1 team

[00:27:14] - Why they decided to open up social media to drivers and partnering with Netflix

[00:33:07] - The Concorde Agreements and what made 2021’s agreement unique

[00:35:24] - How the budget is so crucial to a driver and their engineering team’s success

[00:38:13] - Key factors define a great winning engineering team

[00:42:26] - What makes a driver great and stand out over time

[00:46:14] - Thoughts on the motorsport industry in a world aiming for environmental sustainability

[00:48:48] - What will be most different about F1 five years from now

[00:52:09] - Stefano’s most memorable moment across his entire career

 

Part 3

[00:53:10] - Biggest whitespaces in F1 that present great monetization opportunities

[00:58:49] - Unique team dynamics and how teams are built and developed

[01:02:39] - The story of Lawrence Stroll and Aston Martin 

[01:04:35] - Why BMW dropped out of F1 and why a manufacturer would choose to quit

[01:07:34] - Reasons why Porsche has never stepped into the motorsport space

[01:09:40] - Major costs centers of the business today

[01:11:25] - The history of Bernie Ecclestone And F1 racing

[01:14:08] - Lessons one could pull from F1 and unlocking value 

[01:15:30] - Areas of content production that F1 has done well

[01:17:10] - Additional ways F1 could monetize the relationships between teams and fans

[01:21:25] - Lessons that business builders can take away from F1’s story

[01:23:00] - Lessons that investors can take away from F1’s story

[01:24:25] - Where to learn more; Drive to Survive; Concorde Commercial Agreement

Jun 23, 2021
Moderna: The Software of Life - [Business Breakdowns, EP. 13]
01:09:45

Today, we will be diving into Moderna. Founded in 2010, Moderna and its innovative RNA platform made headlines after developing one of the first COVID vaccines. We treated this Breakdown slightly different than our other episodes. I’m joined today by two guests. First, I am joined by Jason Kelly, CEO of Gingko Bioworks. He gives us a primer on the biotech industry, genetic modification, and how Moderna’s platform represents a new breakthrough in the industry. Then, I talk to Matthew Harrison, a biotech analyst at Morgan Stanley. We will cover what differentiates Moderna’s business model, how Moderna’s science could lead to faster and higher efficacy drug development, and key takeaways for investors and operators. I hope you enjoy this Breakdown of Moderna.

 

For the full show notes, transcript, and links to the best content to learn more, check out the episode page here.

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This episode is brought to you by Canalyst. Canalyst is the leading destination for public company data and analysis. If you enjoy our exploration of what makes a company tick on Business Breakdowns, Canalyst should be the foundation for your quantitative analysis. For more information and access to the Canalyst model on the business we break down in this episode, go to canalyst.com/breakdowns.

 

-----

 

Business Breakdowns is a property of Colossus, Inc. For more episodes of Business Breakdowns, visit joincolossus.com/episodes.

 

Stay up to date on all our podcasts by signing up to Colossus Weekly, our quick dive every Sunday highlighting the top business and investing concepts from our podcasts and the best of what we read that week. Sign up here.

 

Follow us on Twitter: @JoinColossus | @patrick_oshag | @jspujji | @zbfuss

 

Show Notes - Part 1: Jason Kelly

[00:02:31] - [First question] - What is a biotech company?

[00:03:50] - Defining Moderna as a company in the biotech space

[00:05:15] - Bridging the gap between biotech and genentech

[00:06:02] - Overview of the history of learning to program cells

[00:07:46] - Big milestones from the discovery to the human genome project

[00:10:03] - Technical process and tool of how one modifies and copies genes

[00:11:45] - The scale and tools of modern DNA design

[00:11:41] - Defining printing DNA sequences

[00:14:05] - What the Moderna vaccine is and how it works

[00:17:24] - The first engineered drug of its kind 

[00:18:24] - Other areas where synthetic biology appears in everyday life

[00:22:19] - How many sectors this type of technology will disrupt

[00:23:32] - The history of Moderna and how they came to be

[00:24:41] - What problem Moderna tries to solve and how they approach it

[00:27:11] - Unique deal components in therapeutics and the FDA

[00:29:06] - Key factors that will make Moderna a dominant player in the near future 

[00:30:01] - How Genentech became as big as they did 

[00:30:53] - Competitive and compounded advantages for biotech companies

[00:32:09] - Lessons for investors and entrepreneurs in studying Moderna’s story

 

Show Notes - Part 2: Matthew Harrison 

[00:34:10] - What is Moderna and how it got started

[00:36:10] - Typical route taken for a drug maker and how Moderna is different

[00:37:16] - What separates Moderna from others in the biotech space today

[00:39:12] - The role software and technology has played a role in Moderna’s success

[00:41:42] - Cementing their position through breakthroughs and capitalizing on them 

[00:42:58] - How Moderna generates their revenue 

[00:44:45] - Overview of cost of sales, expense buckets and gross margin

[00:46:20] - Factors involved in how one valuates a biotech company

[00:47:15] - How many drugs are in Moderna’s pipeline compared to others

[00:47:45] - Drugs being developed that aren’t so currently controversial 

[00:51:26] - Risks of drug development and their market potential

[00:54:01] - Internal operations of drug development and what separates Moderna

[00:55:30] - Advantages of having the ability to customize drug delivery

[00:57:17] - Comparing Moderna’s mRNA to others on the market 

[00:59:44] - High level breakdown of pharmaceutical R&D

[01:01:33] - Other P&L and financial components that arise given the nature of biotech 

[01:03:09] - Contrast between the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine

[01:04:18] - What Moderna will have to get right in order to become the next Pfizer 

[01:05:38] - What Moderna would have to get wrong to limit their growth

[01:07:24] - Company culture and the importance of management

[01:08:06] - Lessons for builders and entrepreneurs in studying Moderna’s story

Jun 16, 2021
Pinduoduo: Rise of Social Commerce - [Business Breakdowns, EP. 12]
56:10

Today, we will be breaking down Pinduoduo. Founded in 2015, Pinduoduo used a ‘team buying’ social network concept to build what is now China’s largest e-commerce platform measured by annual active users. 

 

In this breakdown, we’ll explore Pinduoduo’s value proposition to a niche but incredibly large merchant segment and its role in the daily lives of hundreds of millions of consumers. We’ll cover what made Pinduoduo attractive to buyers and how the team buying concept creates scaled demand. We’ll touch on their fascinating network dynamics, from the creation of trust ecosystems to the role of gamification in WeChat to the sheer scale of the digital and physical logistics required to make what Pinduoduo has made possible. 

 

For this episode, I am joined by Xin Yi Lim, the company’s Senior Director for Corporate Development. Xin Yi’s experience as a financial analyst covering the sector prior to joining Pinduoduo makes her perspective particularly valuable.

 

For the full show notes, transcript, and links to the best content to learn more, check out the episode page here.

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This episode is brought to you by Canalyst. Canalyst is the leading destination for public company data and analysis. If you enjoy our exploration of what makes a company tick on Business Breakdowns, Canalyst should be the foundation for your quantitative analysis. For more information and access to the Canalyst model on the business we break down in this episode, go to canalyst.com/breakdowns.

 

-----

Business Breakdowns is a property of Colossus, Inc. For more episodes of Business Breakdowns, visit joincolossus.com/episodes.

 

Stay up to date on all our podcasts by signing up to Colossus Weekly, our quick dive every Sunday highlighting the top business and investing concepts from our podcasts and the best of what we read that week. Sign up here.

 

Follow us on Twitter: @JoinColossus | @patrick_oshag | @jspujji | @zbfuss

 

Show Notes

[00:02:46] - [First question] - Overview and history of Pinduoduo

[00:07:25] - Analysis of the user experience of social shopping  

[00:13:22] - Using internal flywheels to optimize supply chain efficiency

[00:16:10] - How Pinduoduo is a combination of Costco and Disneyland

[00:19:47] - Overview of Pinduoduo’s business model and how it has changed over time

[00:24:08] - How Pinduoduo Grocery fits in alongside their existing revenue streams

[00:29:20] - Making large-scale decisions while managing such a vast infrastructure

[00:32:44] - User base splits between secondary and primary cities

[00:36:42] - What categories of goods their platform serves

[00:40:06] - The relationship between discovery options and intentional buying

[00:42:38] - How they manage to create such a deep experience with so many brand options

[00:44:41] - The most defensible of Pinduoduo’s platform against competitors

[00:47:53] - Growth objectives for the company as they look out to the future

[00:53:38] - Learn more: Stories.Pinduoduo-Global.com, Agri Matters Podcast

Jun 09, 2021
Invisalign: Patents, Patients, and Profits - [Business Breakdowns, EP. 11]
59:39

Today, we will be breaking down Invisalign. Founded in 1997, Invisalign pioneered clear aligners as an alternative to metal braces. Today, Invisalign generates over $2bn of revenue and accounts for roughly 20% of the orthodontic market.

 

To break down Invisalign, I am joined by Nick Greenfield, CEO of Candid. Nick co-founded Candid in 2017 as an e-commerce solution to teeth aligners. Candid now offers a broad range of clear aligners and teeth whitening solutions across retail, e-commerce, and the professional market.

 

Nick's experience in the industry makes him an ideal person to explore Invisalign. We dive deep into the origin of the business, the unique relationship between Invisalign and orthodontists, the economics of orthodontics, and how Invisalign successfully used its patents to maintain its lead in the clear aligner industry.

 

For the full show notes, transcript, and links to the best content to learn more, check out the episode page here.

-----

This episode is brought to you by Canalyst. Canalyst is the leading destination for public company data and analysis. If you enjoy our exploration of what makes a company tick on Business Breakdowns, Canalyst should be the foundation for your quantitative analysis. For more information and access to the Canalyst model on the business we break down in this episode, go to canalyst.com/breakdowns.

-----

Business Breakdowns is a property of Colossus, Inc. For more episodes of Business Breakdowns, visit joincolossus.com/episodes.

 

Stay up to date on all our podcasts by signing up to Colossus Weekly, our quick dive every Sunday highlighting the top business and investing concepts from our podcasts and the best of what we read that week. Sign up here.

 

Follow us on Twitter: @JoinColossus | @patrick_oshag | @jspujji | @zbfuss

 

Show Notes

[00:02:43] - [First question] - Overview of Align Technologies and their scale

[00:03:31] - What Invisalign is and the problem it solves

[00:04:43] - The footprint Invisalign has in the dental industry

[00:08:40] - Defining orthodontics and the size of the market

[00:09:49] - Why market penetration may double over the coming years

[00:14:42] - What the market was missing in the 90s and allowed Invisalign to arise

[00:16:20] - Unit economics across the value chain of orthodontics

[00:19:40] - Economics of an entire practice built on Invisalign

[00:20:34] - How they came to dominate and cement their market position

[00:22:44] - Vertical integration and other ways held a majority in the clear liner space

[00:25:02] - Branding, distribution and further means of competitive advantage

[00:27:05] - Why not move further up the value chain and buy orthodontic businesses

[00:28:40] - Invisalign’s P&L in gross margin and major item categories

[00:31:49] - What share of chair means and why it’s important

[00:32:56] - How many cases can currently be handled by clear alignment trays

[00:34:52] - Orthodontists will remain employed once aligners achieve widespread adoption 

[00:37:16] - Driving factors for Invisalign doubling over the next five to ten years

[00:39:03] - China’s push for training orthodontists and clear aligner adoption

[00:39:50] - Other reasons Invalisgn may double their market cap over the coming years

[00:40:26] - Competitors and disruptors that may hinder their growth

[00:42:01] - Joy dichotomy between patients and businesses

[00:43:40] - What happened in 2017, how it changed the marketplace, and the road ahead

[00:45:08] - Market share and penetration in today’s landscape

[00:46:23] - An analog that can be used to explain Invisalign writ large

[00:47:31] - What could revert Invisalign’s growth and market share

[00:50:22] - uLab and orthodontists making aligners themselves 

[00:51:53] - Other potential threats to Invisalign

[00:53:26] - Patenting your IP and gaining an advantage in healthcare

[00:55:28] - Lessons for builders and entrepreneurs from the Invisalign story

[00:56:39] - Lessons for investors watching Invisalign’s growth over the years

[00:58:07] - Where you can learn more; dentaltown Podcasts

Jun 02, 2021
Wix: The Internet Storefront - [Business Breakdowns, EP. 10]
49:10

Today, we will be breaking down Wix. Founded in 2006, Wix was created to make building websites easier. Fifteen years later, the Wix platform boasts over 180 million registered users and 4.5 million premium subscribers worldwide.

 

In this breakdown, we will explore how the company helped to lay the rails for small businesses to get on the internet. We cover the development strategies that linked Wix to the creator economy. We touch on the evolution of the freemium business model, and we analyze what differentiates Wix as a one-stop-shop from an increasingly competitive market.

 

For this episode, I am joined by Dave Ambrose. Dave is a seed-stage software investor focused on the skills and knowledge economy. Dave focused on the digital creator economy well before it was a widely adopted investment thesis - and as a former co-founder and operator - he is an expert on web-based businesses.

 

For the full show notes, transcript, and links to the best content to learn more, check out the episode page here.

-----

This episode is brought to you by Tegus. We created Business Breakdowns to uncover the lessons and frameworks behind every business, and that's what makes Tegus our perfect launch partner. Much of the foundational prep for these episodes starts with research on the Tegus platform. 

 

With Tegus, you can learn everything you’d want to know about a company in an on-demand digital platform. Investors share their expert calls, allowing others to instantly access more than 15,000 calls on Coinbase, Hinge Health, Farfetch, or almost any company of interest. All you have to do is log in. If you're ready to go deeper on any company and you appreciate the value of primary research, head to tegus.co/breakdowns for a free trial.

 

-----

Business Breakdowns is a property of Colossus, Inc. For more episodes of Business Breakdowns, visit joincolossus.com/episodes.

 

Stay up to date on all our podcasts by signing up to Colossus Weekly, our quick dive every Sunday highlighting the top business and investing concepts from our podcasts and the best of what we read that week. Sign up here.

 

Follow us on Twitter: @JoinColossus | @patrick_oshag | @jspujji | @zbfuss

 

Show Notes

[00:02:52] - [First question] - The customer journey on Wix

[00:05:44] - How a businesses relationship with Wix progresses

[00:09:24] - Revenue model for Wix 

[00:10:08] - The addition of the app marketplace to the Wix platform

[00:13:06] - Their customer acquisition strategy

[00:14:10] - A business that creates the rails for other businesses

[00:16:52] - The stickiness of their customer base

[00:18:47] - First major turning point - when Wix started charging customers

[00:20:39] - Second major turning point - shift to mobile browsing and getting away from Flash

[00:23:50] - The full landscape for website builders

[00:28:13] - How the companies he invests in build their web presence and the challenges of building on Wix

[00:30:52] - The Wix vs WordPress battle

[00:33:41] - Wix’s horizontal integration strategy

[00:37:14] - Being the rails for small businesses to get onto the internet

[00:41:49] - What other business operators can learn from Wix

[00:45:21] - What investors can learn from Wix

May 26, 2021
Ethereum: Into the Ether - [Business Breakdowns, EP. 09]
01:12:18

Today we will be breaking down Ethereum. Launched in 2015, Ethereum is an open-source, blockchain-based platform with a native cryptocurrency, Ether. Today, ETH stands as the second most valuable cryptocurrency to Bitcoin, and Ethereum is the preferred platform for blockchain projects.

To help me break down Ethereum, I am joined by Justin Drake. Justin is a researcher at the Ethereum Foundation. During our conversation, we cover what differentiates Ethereum from Bitcoin, the increasing number of projects being built on the Ethereum platform, and what a shift from proof of concept to proof of stake means for Ethereum. I particularly enjoy Justin’s framework for defining money and various analogies to better conceptualize the blockchain. I hope you enjoy this breakdown of Ethereum.

For the full show notes, transcript, and links to the best content to learn more, check out the episode page here.

-----

This episode is brought to you by Tegus. We created Business Breakdowns to uncover the lessons and frameworks behind every business, and that's what makes Tegus our perfect launch partner. Much of the foundational prep for these episodes starts with research on the Tegus platform. 

 

With Tegus, you can learn everything you’d want to know about a company in an on-demand digital platform. Investors share their expert calls, allowing others to instantly access more than 15,000 calls on Coinbase, Hinge Health, Farfetch, or almost any company of interest. All you have to do is log in. If you're ready to go deeper on any company and you appreciate the value of primary research, head to tegus.co/breakdowns for a free trial.

-----

Business Breakdowns is a property of Colossus, Inc. For more episodes of Business Breakdowns, visit joincolossus.com/episodes.

 

Stay up to date on all our podcasts by signing up to Colossus Weekly, our quick dive every Sunday highlighting the top business and investing concepts from our podcasts and the best of what we read that week. Sign up here.

 

Follow us on Twitter: @JoinColossus | @patrick_oshag | @jspujji | @zbfuss

 

Show Notes

[00:03:02] - [First question] - What a blockchain is on a fundamental level

[00:04:36] - A core overview of Bitcoin and the Bitcoin blockchain

[00:06:40] - Proof of work and why security is so important

[00:08:38] - How much miners spend to secure the network

[00:10:20] - Early days of Ethereum and what separates it from Bitcoin

[00:12:02] - Vitalik’s role in the rise of Ethereum

[00:13:14] - What can currently be built on top of the Ethereum blockchain

[00:16:28] - Gas fees and an overview of ETH as a triple point asset

[00:19:42] - What generates ETH and decides its value

[00:22:36] - Defining proof of stake, how it works, and staking incentives

[00:25:10] - Yields from staking ETH in the form of newly minted tokens and tips

[00:29:15] - Load to power ratio of the Ethereum network

[00:33:38] - Terms for staking your ETH and how much is expected to be staked

[00:39:19] - Sequence of events when using ETH to buy an NFT

[00:43:13] - Transaction fees how they’re calculated when buying and selling ETH

[00:46:11] - Pros and cons of high network demand while trying to scale the Ethereum blockchain

[00:50:41] - Defining money and why Ethereum’s design makes it optimized to become an economic engine

[00:55:11] - Defi Pulse - The Decentralized Finance Leaderboard

[00:55:47] - Ethereum’s rigorous decentralization standards and best in class proof of stake

[00:58:57] - Overview of Bitcoin Wrapped and ETH as the native currency writ large

[01:01:16] - A further in-depth analogy to better understand the Ethereum network

[01:05:19] - Potential competitors and new DeFi blockchain innovation

[01:08:27] - Key lessons for builders when studying Ethereum and decentralized finance

[01:11:03] - Bankless, Epicenter.tv, Zeroknowledge.fm, Into The Ether

May 19, 2021
Calm: The Sleeping Giant - [Business Breakdowns, EP. 08]
56:10

Today, we will be breaking down Calm. Founded in 2012, Calm is the leading app for sleep and meditation. Today, Calm has over 4 million subscribers and has been generating cash flow since its inception. In this Breakdown, we touch on how Calm used data to unlock a non-obvious source of demand, how the upfront subscription cost has allowed for pure operational focus, and what the competitive landscape looks like moving ahead.

 

To break down Calm, I am joined by my brother, Vinny Pujji, Partner at Left Lane Capital, an early-stage investment firm.

 

For the full show notes, transcript, and links to mentioned content, check out the episode page here.

-----

This episode is brought to you by Tegus. We created Business Breakdowns to uncover the lessons and frameworks behind every business, and that's what makes Tegus our perfect launch partner. Much of the foundational prep for these episodes start with research on the Tegus platform. 

 

With Tegus, you can learn everything you’d want to know about a company in an on-demand digital platform. Investors share their expert calls, allowing others to instantly access more than 15,000 calls on Coinbase, Hinge Health, Farfetch, or almost any company of interest. All you have to do is log in. If you're ready to go deeper on any company and you appreciate the value of primary research, head to tegus.co/breakdowns for a free trial.

 

-----

Business Breakdowns is a property of Colossus, Inc. For more episodes of Business Breakdowns, visit joincolossus.com/episodes.

 

Stay up to date on all our podcasts by signing up to Colossus Weekly, our quick dive every Sunday highlighting the top business and investing concepts from our podcasts and the best of what we read that week. Sign up here.

 

Follow us on Twitter: @JoinColossus | @patrick_oshag | @jspujji | @zbfuss

 

Show Notes

[00:02:37] - [First question] - What is Calm and what its businesses do

[00:03:31] - How people pay for it

[00:03:55] - The top use cases and value proposition for customers

[00:05:19] - Who started Calm and the unique insights that led them to create it 

[00:05:30] - Major inflection points that drove their business forward 

[00:07:54] - An investor’s perspective on freemium funnel models

[00:10:01] - Key factors that led to Calm’s success 

[00:10:56] - Breaking down their subscription offer

[00:12:34] - Analysis of customer retention and breakdown of unit economics

[00:15:36] - The difference between their unit economics and other consumer businesses

[00:17:28] - What’s unique about Calm from a cash flow perspective

[00:19:40] - Capital efficiency when it comes to customer acquisition

[00:21:02] - How they learned that sleep was a primary use case and making a shift to provide more content in that area

[00:23:09] - Competing with and surpassing Headspace’s popularity 

[00:24:19] - Ways that the future might play out for Calm and the mental wellness industry

[00:25:38] - Other insights that led to a shift from a meditation focus to a sleep focus

[00:26:47] - Designing content with a utility and enrolling celebrities

[00:30:06] - Productizing and monetizing on pre-existing consumer habits

[00:32:07] - Variable versus fixed cost models

[00:33:09] - App distribution and generating widespread brand adoption

[00:36:28] - Simultaneously, a software and a consumer business

[00:39:19] - COVID-19’s impacts on Calm and how it drove their growth

[00:41:19] - Potential contributing factors to Calm’s growth over the coming years

[00:44:12] - Practical brand extensions already being implemented 

[00:45:24] - Risks and challenges that may be faced in the coming decade

[00:46:50] - Integrating new features and other risks that may need to be solved

[00:49:27] - Whether or not switching behavior will affect Calm’s trajectory

[00:51:09] - Bigger players in the ecosystem who could beat out Apple’s app store

[00:53:02] - Lessons for builders and investors when studying Calm’s story

[00:54:52] - Where you can learn more about Calm

May 12, 2021
Visa: The Original Protocol Business - [Business Breakdowns, EP. 07]
56:40

Today we will be diving into Visa. Starting in 1958 as a BankAmericard credit card program in Fresno, California, it then became a non-profit consortium of banks that operated the Visa network. Over the first few decades of its existence, Visa became the protocol layer that allowed essentially all the banks in the world to communicate with one another.

 

In 2007, Visa completed a corporate restructuring that took it public and now boasts a larger market cap than all of the banks that previously owned it as part of the consortium.

 

In this Breakdown, we set the stage with Visa's role in a card transaction, describe the lifeblood of Visa’s revenue, interchange, and then dive into its unique history as a consortium turned multi-hundred billion-dollar public business. We then explore Visa’s unique moat and network effect, how Visa makes money today, and look at the potential threats from other businesses and macroeconomic forces. Visa is a fascinating business, and I recommend you check out our website at JoinColossus.com, where we provide additional articles, books, and podcasts for those who want to keep unpacking the Visa story.

 

To help me break down Visa, I'm joined by Alex Rampell, a general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, where he focuses on investing in financial services. Prior to joining Andreessen, Alex co-founded multiple companies, including Affirm and TrialPay, which was acquired by Visa in 2015.  



For the full show notes, transcript, and links to mentioned content, check out the episode page here.

-----

This episode is brought to you by Tegus. We created Business Breakdowns to uncover the lessons and frameworks behind every business, and that's what makes Tegus our perfect launch partner. Much of the foundational prep for these episodes start with research on the Tegus platform. 

 

With Tegus, you can learn everything you’d want to know about a company in an on-demand digital platform. Investors share their expert calls, allowing others to instantly access more than 15,000 calls on Coinbase, Hinge Health, Farfetch, or almost any company of interest. All you have to do is log in. If you're ready to go deeper on any company and you appreciate the value of primary research, head to tegus.co/breakdowns for a free trial.

-----

Business Breakdowns is a property of Colossus, Inc. For more episodes of Business Breakdowns, visit joincolossus.com/episodes.

 

Stay up to date on all our podcasts by signing up to Colossus Weekly, our quick dive every Sunday highlighting the top business and investing concepts from our podcasts and the best of what we read that week. Sign up here.

 

Follow us on Twitter: @JoinColossus | @patrick_oshag | @jspujji | @zbfuss

 

Show Notes

[00:03:20] - [First question] - Key players and functionality of a credit transaction

[00:05:50] - How $3 would be split up amongst the network after a $100 purchase is made

[00:10:55] - How Visa came to be a central player and why banks don’t talk to each other

[00:16:26] - Other businesses that have dominating protocol effects in fragmented sectors

[00:19:47] - What the internals of a business like Visa looks like and 

[00:24:48] - Visa’s topline revenue is almost entirely exclusive to transaction fees

[00:26:11] - Thinking of Visa as a tax and simultaneous enabler of commerce writ large

[00:30:48] - Why concentration poses a risk to their business model

[00:34:56] - How international standards may play a role in Visa’s future

[00:41:52] - Would it be worth it for merchants to build something competitive 

[00:44:33] - Thoughts on new value transfer tech companies and their relevance to Visa

[00:48:59] - Plaid’s role in the payment ecosystem and as a potential competitor

[00:50:40] - Parallels between the crypto space, their protocols, and open-source payments 

[00:52:54] - Business lessons for entrepreneurs when studying Visa’s history

[00:54:44] - Lessons learned that can be applied to investing when studying Visa’s history

[00:55:37] - Books to learn more; A Piece of the Action, One for Many 

 

May 05, 2021
Twilio: Messaging, Margins, and Markets - [Business Breakdowns, EP. 06]
39:23

Today we will be diving into Twilio. Twilio was founded just over a decade ago by Jeff Lawson, with the vision of enabling developers to access the world's communication infrastructure through APIs. Twilio has over 200,000 customers and powered nearly 1 trillion interactions last year through SMS, voice, video, email, and more. 

 

In this business breakdown, we'll cover Twilio's unique approach to distribution, how lower gross margins versus peers can actually be a moat, and why Twilio's revenue model aligns incentives with its customers. We closed with the bull and bear case for Twilio over the next five years and what investors and operators can take away from studying Twilio more closely. 

 

To help me break down Twilio, I'm joined by Ro Nagpal, a senior investment professional at the Holocene advisors.

 

For the full show notes, transcript, and links to mentioned content, check out the episode page here.

-----

This episode is brought to you by Tegus. We created Business Breakdowns to uncover the lessons and frameworks behind every business, and that's what makes Tegus our perfect launch partner. Much of the foundational prep for these episodes start with research on the Tegus platform. 

 

With Tegus, you can learn everything you’d want to know about a company in an on-demand digital platform. Investors share their expert calls, allowing others to instantly access more than 15,000 calls on Coinbase, Hinge Health, Farfetch, or almost any company of interest. All you have to do is log in. If you're ready to go deeper on any company and you appreciate the value of primary research, head to tegus.co/breakdowns for a free trial.

-----

Business Breakdowns is a property of Colossus, Inc. For more episodes of Business Breakdowns, visit joincolossus.com/episodes.

 

Stay up to date on all our podcasts by signing up to Colossus Weekly, our quick dive every Sunday highlighting the top business and investing concepts from our podcasts and the best of what we read that week. Sign up here.

 

Follow us on Twitter: @JoinColossus | @patrick_oshag | @jspujji | @zbfuss

 

Show Notes

[00:02:53] - [First question] - What is Twilio?

[00:03:36] - How the world received text updates before Twilio

[00:04:14] - The scale of Twilio today

[00:05:02] - How expensive designing infrastructure of this magnitude can be

[00:05:34] - How to use Twilio and gain access to its functionality

[00:06:33] - The insight that led to developing the company

[00:08:37] - Other aspects of Twilio’s services beyond SMS

[00:09:50] - Unit economics of the business

[00:12:01] - Case studies of likely and unlikely customers to use Twilio

[00:15:17] - Original use cases and how they’ve evolved since

[00:16:12] - Developer insights and what innovation it’s led to

[00:19:19] - Twilio becoming a pioneer in the user software API space

[00:22:15] - How big the TAM can be and why it’s bigger than people may think it is

[00:23:38] - Why the API data and growth rate of Twilio separates it from its competitors

[00:26:02] - How having a lower gross margin actually works to their benefit

[00:27:28] - Who their competitors are and why Twilio beats them out

[00:29:11] - Strategic acquisitions they’ve made like SendGrid, Segment, and Syniverse

[00:31:18] - Unifying themes in their M&A strategy

[00:32:08] - Fees associated with using iMessage and WhatsApp

[00:32:43] - Improving margins as SMS becomes less pivotal in their operations 

[00:33:21] - Things about Jeff Lawson that makes Twilio so special

[00:35:25] - What’s their bear case is

[00:36:19] - Lessons for builders and investors

 

Apr 28, 2021
Cinnabon: The Omnichannel Approach to Indulgence - [Business Breakdowns, EP. 05]
52:40

Today we will be diving into Cinnabon. Founded in Seattle in 1985, Cinnabon is the market leader among cinnamon roll bakeries and is owned by parent Company Focus Brands. Cinnabon currently operates in almost 50 countries with over 1,500 franchised locations, primarily in high-traffic venues such as shopping malls and airports.

 

In this breakdown, we start with Cinnabon's scale and an overview of the franchise's fascinating history. We then dive into what really makes Cinnabon special - its omnichannel ecosystem and how it balances franchisees, licensing deals, and distribution through other retails while maintaining its differentiated and relevant brand. 

 

To help me break down Cinnabon, I'm joined by Kat Cole, the former COO and President of North America for Focus Brands. Before that role, she was the president of Cinnabon. Kat's operating and investing experience in this space and her deep understanding of the brand make her the perfect guest to break down Cinnabon. Please enjoy this Business Breakdown.

 

For the full show notes, transcript, and links to mentioned content, check out the episode page here.

-----

This episode is brought to you by Tegus. We created Business Breakdowns to uncover the lessons and frameworks behind every business, and that's what makes Tegus our perfect launch partner. Much of the foundational prep for these episodes starts with research on the Tegus platform. 

 

With Tegus, you can learn everything you’d want to know about a company in an on-demand digital platform. Investors share their expert calls, allowing others to instantly access more than 15,000 calls on Coinbase, Hinge Health, Farfetch, or almost any company of interest. All you have to do is log in. If you're ready to go deeper on any company and you appreciate the value of primary research, head to tegus.co/breakdowns for a free trial.

-----

Business Breakdowns is a property of Colossus, Inc. For more episodes of Business Breakdowns, visit joincolossus.com/episodes.

 

Stay up to date on all our podcasts by signing up to Colossus Weekly, our quick dive every Sunday highlighting the top business and investing concepts from our podcasts and the best of what we read that week. Sign up here.

 

Follow us on Twitter: @JoinColossus | @patrick_oshag | @jspujji | @zbfuss

 

Show Notes

[00:03:04] - [First question] - The operational scale and complexity of Cinnabon

[00:05:48] - Origins and humble beginnings of Cinnabon

[00:10:07] - Diversified stakeholders involved in franchised businesses

[00:14:44] - A focus on brand relevance and differentiation

[00:19:38] - Building brick and mortar traffic during a recession and partnering with Pillsbury

[00:23:21] - Cinnabon’s ability to thrive and support an omnichannel brand ecosystem

[00:26:57] - Partnering with Burger King and fast-food market exposure

[00:32:55] - Building successfully collaborative equity buckets

[00:36:52] - Focus Brands and advantages of being part of a bigger ecosystem

[00:41:52] - Balancing licensing opportunities while maintaining core channel partners

[00:45:37] - Lessons for operators and investors we can take away from Cinnabon

Apr 21, 2021
Costco: Relentless Focus on the One Thing - [Business Breakdowns, EP. 04]
41:01

Today, we will be diving into Costco. Costco is a favorite business story and model for many operators and investors. It was founded in 1983 in Seattle, and it has grown into a juggernaut with over $169 billion in sales and almost 60 million members globally. To me, Costco is the best example of doing one thing for customers and getting better at it constantly for decades.

 

To help me break down Costco, I talked to both Zack Fuss and Chris Bloomstran. Zack is an investor at Continental Grain, a 200-year old family-owned business that is focused on investing and operating businesses throughout the food and agriculture ecosystem with assets across the US, Latin America, and Asia. Chris is President and Chief Investment Officer of Semper Augustus Investments Group and a long-time shareholder in Costco.

 

In this Breakdown, we'll start with Zack by diving into the Costco business model, examining the relentless focus on efficiency that separates Costco from its peers, and exploring the secrets behind its private label brand, Kirkland. I'll then talk to Chris about Costco's growing international opportunities and the lessons that operators and investors can take away from studying the business and founder Jim Sinegal. I hope you enjoy this Breakdown of Costco.

 

For the full show notes, transcript, and links to mentioned content, check out the episode page here.

-----

This episode is brought to you by Tegus. We created Business Breakdowns to uncover the lessons and frameworks behind every business, and that's what makes Tegus our perfect launch partner. Much of the foundational prep for these episodes starts with research on the Tegus platform. 

 

With Tegus, you can learn everything you’d want to know about a company in an on-demand digital platform. Investors share their expert calls, allowing others to instantly access more than 15,000 calls on Coinbase, Hinge Health, Farfetch, or almost any company of interest. All you have to do is log in. If you're ready to go deeper on any company and you appreciate the value of primary research, head to tegus.co/breakdowns for a free trial.

-----

Business Breakdowns is a property of Colossus, Inc. For more episodes of Business Breakdowns, visit joincolossus.com/episodes.

 

Stay up to date on all our podcasts by signing up to Colossus Weekly, our quick dive every Sunday highlighting the top business and investing concepts from our podcasts and the best of what we read that week. Sign up here.

 

Follow us on Twitter: @JoinColossus | @patrick_oshag | @jspujji | @zbfuss

 

Show Notes

[00:03:03] - [first question] - The fundamental equation that makes Costco work

[00:04:02] - Dynamics of a shared scale economy business

[00:06:45] - Jim Senegal’s devotion to perfecting one model for decades

[00:10:10] - Examples of how far Costco is willing to go to provide value for its members

[00:12:27] - Analysis of a private label strategy, and why Kirkland is such a success

[00:15:35] - Key differences that separate Costco from their competitors

[00:18:19] - An open-source retailing relationship with suppliers

[00:21:10] - How they maximize sales per square foot over time

[00:25:45] - Thoughts on leverage in unit-concept stores and why Costco doesn’t use leverage to accelerate growth 

[00:28:02] - Lessons that can be learned and applied to other businesses   

[00:30:47] - How Costco approaches international expansion

[00:33:54] - Why Jim Sinegal is such an exemplary CEO

Apr 14, 2021
Alibaba: A Giant Among Giants - [Business Breakdowns, EP. 03]
47:26

Today, we will be breaking down the world's largest e-commerce company, Alibaba. Alibaba was founded in 1997 by Jack Ma and almost 20 other co-founders as an online bulletin board that allowed small Chinese manufacturers to tell buyers around the world that they were open for business. Today, Alibaba operates a sprawling ecosystem of businesses that includes e-commerce marketplaces, cloud computing, food delivery, logistics, and financial services. 

 

In this breakdown, we discuss the staggering scale Alibaba's business, how Alibaba went from copycat to innovator, the looming threat to Alibaba from the next generation of Chinese juggernauts, and how competition is viewed differently in China versus the West. 

 

For this episode, I'm joined by a special guest host, Claire Cormier Thielke, who many of you will remember from her appearance on Invest Like the Best. Claire is the managing director of Asia Pacific for Hines and brings her first-hand view of what Alibaba has built in China and her daily experience using the company's products. 

 

To help us break down Alibaba, we're joined by Ram Parameswaran, the founder and managing partner of investment firm Octahedron Capital. Ram has invested in some of the biggest Chinese companies of the past decade, including Pinduoduo and Bytedance, and is the first person I thought of when wanting to discuss Alibaba.

 

For the full show notes, transcript, and links to mentioned content, check out the episode page here.

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This episode is brought to you by Tegus. We created Business Breakdowns to uncover the lessons and frameworks behind every business, and that's what makes Tegus our perfect launch partner. Much of the foundational prep for these episodes starts with research on the Tegus platform. 

 

With Tegus, you can learn everything you’d want to know about a company in an on-demand digital platform. Investors share their expert calls, allowing others to instantly access more than 15,000 calls on Coinbase, Hinge Health, Farfetch, or almost any company of interest. All you have to do is log in. If you're ready to go deeper on any company and you appreciate the value of primary research, head to tegus.co/breakdowns for a free trial.

 

-----

Business Breakdowns is a property of Colossus, Inc. For more episodes of Business Breakdowns, visit joincolossus.com/episodes.

 

Stay up to date on all our podcasts by signing up to Colossus Weekly, our quick dive every Sunday highlighting the top business and investing concepts from our podcasts and the best of what we read that week. Sign up here.

 

Follow us on Twitter: @JoinColossus | @patrick_oshag | @jspujji | @zbfuss

 

Show Notes

[00:03:13] - [First question] - What Alibaba is

[00:04:29] - Tmall and Taobao

[00:06:48] - The many faces of Alibaba as a country-scale business

[00:09:58] - What defines a company as being country-scale

[00:11:29] - Adaptive business models for cities of multiple tiers and mimetic behavior of other large-scale companies

[00:18:15] - Alibaba’s ability influence the physical infrastructure of cities and China as a whole

[00:19:01] - Full stack solution company JD Global

[00:21:03] - Tencent

[00:21:47] - Key players in the monetization of commerce in China: JD, Pinduoduo, Meituan
[00:26:35] - Reducing friction may be the number one reason for internet businesses to scale

[00:31:15] - Is it worth it for Alibaba to explore the social media space?

[00:34:05] - Why Chinese companies are naturally more competitive and aggressive than North American ones 

[00:38:46] - How China perceives and adopts language such as the Seven Powers framework

[00:40:23] - What the West can learn from China and Alibaba

[00:43:28] - Adopting Chinese practices for Western brick and mortar stores

[00:45:35] - Connectography: Mapping the Future of Global Civilization

[00:45:51] - Learning more about Alibaba; The House That Jack Ma Built

Apr 09, 2021
Chipotle: Simplicity as the Recipe for Success - [Business Breakdowns, EP. 02]
47:32

Today we will be diving into Chipotle, the fast-casual food chain known for its burritos. It was started in 1993 by Steve Els, an entrepreneur who is actually a classically trained chef and dreamed of opening a fine dining restaurant. 

 

He started Chipotle to earn cash for that dream, but the well-known chain took off and made TexMex fast-casual food an American staple. Over the past two decades, Chipotle has expanded nationwide to over 2000 owned and operated stores. Its significant growth is tied to its simple restaurant decor and efficient operations. Nevertheless, the beloved fast-casual chain was plagued with a series of foodborne illnesses from 2015 to 2018. Since then, the chain has been adapting rapidly to regain the trust of customers nationwide. 

 

In this breakdown, we discuss Chipotle's origin stories, its hypergrowth, its focus on simplicity and innovation. We'll also go into details around how they navigated COVID and their national food safety outbreaks. 

 

To help me break down Chipotle, I'm joined by Zack Fuss, an investor at Continental Grain and an expert on all things food and restaurant-related.

 

For the full show notes, transcript, and links to mentioned content, check out the episode page here.

-----

This episode is brought to you by Tegus. We created Business Breakdowns to uncover the lessons and frameworks behind every business, and that's what makes Tegus our perfect launch partner. Much of the foundational prep for these episodes starts with research on the Tegus platform. 

 

With Tegus, you can learn everything you’d want to know about a company in an on-demand digital platform. Investors share their expert calls, allowing others to instantly access more than 15,000 calls on Coinbase, Hinge Health, Farfetch, or almost any company of interest. All you have to do is log in. If you're ready to go deeper on any company and you appreciate the value of primary research, head to tegus.co/breakdowns for a free trial.

 

-----

Business Breakdowns is a property of Colossus, Inc. For more episodes of Business Breakdowns, visit joincolossus.com/episodes.

 

Stay up to date on all our podcasts by signing up to Colossus Weekly, our quick dive every Sunday highlighting the top business and investing concepts from our podcasts and the best of what we read that week. Sign up here.

 

Follow us on Twitter: @JoinColossus | @patrick_oshag | @jspujji | @zbfuss

 

Show Notes

[00:03:13] - [First question] - What is Chipotle

[00:04:24] - Chipotle’s scale compared to its competitors

[00:05:36] - The origin story of Steve Ells and Chipotle

[00:06:47] - Carving out the fast-casual restaurant niche

[00:09:02] - Unique themes that have been carried into today

[00:10:22] - Unit economics in fine dining versus fast-casual dining

[00:11:56] - Gross margins and their similarities across establishments

[00:14:53] - An ideal payback period for a restaurant

[00:16:00] - What allows for Chipotle to have such an optimized payback period

[00:18:29] - Owned and operated versus franchised 

[00:20:49] - Pros and cons to franchising or being an owner-operator  

[00:22:11] - Key factors to consider when choosing to franchise or not

[00:23:31] - Chipotle taking $350 million in growth capital from McDonald’s

[00:25:58] - Differences between McDonald’s and Chipotle’s food

[00:27:08] - The E Coli outbreak in late 2015 

[00:28:17] - Sweetgreen, Cava, Zoes Kitchen, Noodles & Co.

[00:30:09] - Pershing Square’s investment in Chipotle post-outbreak 

[00:31:51] - Technology and its effects on the restaurant industry

[00:33:39] - Digital orders and profit margin variance

[00:35:53] - Launching a Digital-Only quesadilla menu item

[00:36:33] - Internet aggregators, dark kitchens, and future food tech trends

[00:39:52] - How Chipotle beat out Qdoba

[00:41:32] - Blaze Pizza, Tasty Made, Panda Express 

[00:43:38] - Dark kitchens and network expansion

[00:45:01] - Lessons builders can take away from Chipotle’s story

[00:45:01] - Lessons investors can take away from Chipotle’s story




Apr 07, 2021
Shopify: The E-commerce On-Ramp - [Business Breakdowns, EP. 01]
01:02:34

Today we will be diving into Shopify. Shopify was founded in 2004 by Tobi Lütke and Scott Lake around their original problem of why it's so hard to build an online business when they struggled to open an online snowboard equipment store. Today, Shopify's goal is to make commerce better for everyone and it's essentially an on-ramp for people looking to sell online. 

 

To help us break down Shopify, I'm joined by co-host Zack Fuss and our guest Alex Danco, who works on the Money team at Shopify.

 

To really understand Shopify, you have to understand its different business units -- Core, Merchant Services, Ecosystem, and the new Shop platform -- and the role they each play in making commerce easier and better for merchants. We begin this breakdown by covering each of those business units and how they compare to Apple's business lines. We then dive deep into how Shopify makes money through the first and second derivative of their merchant success and how Shopify thinks about friction in e-commerce. We close with an incredible analogy of Shopify and StarCraft and the tools that Shopify has built into the still-nascent world of e-commerce.

 

For the full show notes, transcript, and links to mentioned content, check out the episode page here.

-----

This episode is brought to you by Tegus. We created Business Breakdowns to uncover the lessons and frameworks behind every business, and that's what makes Tegus our perfect launch partner. Much of the foundational prep for these episodes starts with research on the Tegus platform. 

 

With Tegus, you can learn everything you’d want to know about a company in an on-demand digital platform. Investors share their expert calls, allowing others to instantly access more than 15,000 calls on Coinbase, Hinge Health, Farfetch, or almost any company of interest. All you have to do is log in. If you're ready to go deeper on any company and you appreciate the value of primary research, head to tegus.co/breakdowns for a free trial.

 

-----

Business Breakdowns is a property of Colossus, Inc. For more episodes of Business Breakdowns, visit joincolossus.com/episodes.

 

Stay up to date on all our podcasts by signing up to Colossus Weekly, our quick dive every Sunday highlighting the top business and investing concepts from our podcasts and the best of what we read that week. Sign up here.

 

Follow us on Twitter: @JoinColossus | @patrick_oshag | @jspujji | @zbfuss

 

Show Notes

[00:03:03] - [First question] - What Shopify is as a product

[00:04:58] - Product pillar 1: Core
[00:06:58] - Product pillar 2: Merchant services
[00:09:02] - Product pillar 3: Ecosystem

[00:11:04] - Product pillar 4: Shop

[00:13:08] - The evolution of commerce with the rise of the internet

[00:20:01] - Differences between high and low trust commerce

[00:24:48] - The role of friction and trust in stakeholder variety

[00:29:18] - Overview of all four product pillars’ business models

[00:32:10] - Shopify App Store

[00:33:16] - How Shopify competes and partners with their competitors

[00:35:53] - Shop Pay expands to Facebook and Instagram

[00:37:49] - Key areas where Shopify will continue to grow across their product pillars

[00:41:52] - Affirm, Klarna, Afterpay

[00:42:56] - Potential pitfalls of having such a high self-imposed quality bar 

[00:44:12] - Conway’s law
[00:44:12] - Aggregators versus platforms

[00:52:35] - Unique marketing aspects for Shopify’s sales and marketing with their subscription model 

[00:55:37] - Shopify: A StarCraft Inspired Business Strategy

 

Apr 05, 2021
Business Breakdowns - Trailer
02:44

Welcome to Business Breakdowns, a new Colossus podcast featuring deep-dive conversations on individual businesses. In each episode, we will dissect a new company with investors and operators that know it best. We believe every business has secrets and lessons to learn from, and these conversations are designed to deliver that content in an entertaining and narrative format.

 

The series launches on April 5th with Shopify. 

 

Make sure to subscribe for new episodes and leave us a 5-star rating on Apple Podcasts if you like the show. 

 

With each new episode, we will be releasing full episode transcripts, show notes, and the best content we could find on that business from across the internet. Check out www.joincolossus.com for more. 

Apr 02, 2021
Welcome to Business Breakdowns
39

Business Breakdowns is a series of conversations with investors and operators diving deep into a single business. For each business, we explore its history, its business model, its competitive advantages, and what makes it tick. Learn more and stay up to date at joincolossus.com

Mar 18, 2021