Season 3 Episode 11
August 8, 2023

Don't Ignore Your Fans

Ingrid and Orchid sit down to dish out their hot takes on what is happening in the news. Does Threads have what it takes to survive? Did Instant Pot “sh*t the bed” when it came to customer retention and repeat sales? Did Vanmoof invest too much money into a niche market? Tune in to find out.

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Ingrid and Orchid sit down to dish out their hot takes on what is happening in the news. Does Threads have what it takes to survive? Did Instapot “sh*t the bed” when it came to customer retention and repeat sales? Did Vanmoof invest too much money into a niche market? Tune in to find out.

Battle for Attention

  • {00:11:32} “Whether or not Threads is going to be a place where legitimate discourse happens, based on pieces written by career journalists, or if it's just going to be an echo chamber all over again of people who have limited experience but tend to amplify each other, that's still to be seen.” - Orchid
  • {00:18:18} “You have to have an interesting relationship with the platform itself so that if users use it for something that is entirely different from what you intended or maybe envisioned for yourself, you have to be okay with that.” - Orchid
  • {00:20:27} “When you think about the cult of personality or when you think about innovation, most of the time folks lean into, "Oh, this thing has never existed before and now it exists." And if you look at the entire model in China, it is to copy and improve and optimize. And that is a type of innovation as well, which is to take one idea and apply it into another vertical or another industry, or to launch something that's a better version of X.” - Orchid
  • {00:24:58} “I really like the idea of the people who make that neighborhood Twitter what it is, if they're not treated with respect and understood that there's going to be another alternative that will allow them to have the platform that they want that they use.” - Ingrid
  • {00:40:58} “Instapot had this ability to be this cult product and lead this whole band of fans that they earned and they just didn't. And that to me is like, sorry, but whoever's like running marketing or community management there, you shit the bed.” - Ingrid
  • {00:41:42} “The takeaway is do not ignore your fans. Ignite that flame. Facilitate the conversations. They're going to buy the new version. They're going to buy the air fryer. They're going to buy all the other stuff if you're facilitating the larger conversation.” - Ingrid

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Ingrid: [00:00:19] Hello and welcome to Infinite Shelf. I'm your host, Ingrid Milman Cordy, and I'm here with Orchid Bertelsen, your co-host for Season 3.

Orchid: [00:00:29] Yay!

Ingrid: [00:00:30] Hey, hey, hey.

Orchid: [00:00:30] Oh, my gosh. You always... I love your intro because it's always so upbeat and chipper, and it makes me really excited to have the conversation we're going to have.

Ingrid: [00:00:42] Yay! Well, I'm just genuinely excited. This is has been such a fun season so far. And I just think that we've had really fun conversations and I hope the audience feels that way, too. And I think that we have hit on just kind of a good balance between hopefully educational and productive and giving people some good tidbits, but also just like some interesting talk radio of hanging out with your friends and...

Orchid: [00:01:10] Talking eCommerce. Because we have no hobbies.

Ingrid: [00:01:12] Talking about eCommerce.

Orchid: [00:01:15] Because capitalism is our hobby. Yeah, that's okay.

Ingrid: [00:01:17] I know, I know. {laughter} And on that topic, today's episode, we are going to just do a little bit of like a hot takes on the news roundup and not the news like, you know, the real, real world news.

Orchid: [00:01:36] No, God forbid.

Ingrid: [00:01:37] God forbid. Because. No, thank you. I will opt out of that and every chance I can. But more like retail, eCommerce, DTC news, like what's going on in our neck of the woods, and just some hot takes. Is that cool with you?

Orchid: [00:01:54] Yeah, I'm so excited. And it's going to be embarrassing when I tell you where I get my news from.

Ingrid: [00:02:01] So this is like... This should not be as complicated or tangled of a web of a question, or even just, yeah, it shouldn't. It shouldn't even be triggering. But I feel like it's going to be. Where do you get your news? Like this type of news from?

Orchid: [00:02:22] Oh, I'm going to actually put this out into the world. Most of it is from eCommerce Twitter. {laughter}

Ingrid: [00:02:29] I was like, "I may have bet my life on that being the answer," which like I don't think that says a lot about. {laughtere} It doesn't say nothing about you, but I don't think it says as much as you would think. But I think it's more a product of just how decentralized all news has become. And frankly, given this is a niche thing, but it's not that niche. It's not like we're into like bicycle tires or something like that. We're into retail, like, you know what I mean?

Orchid: [00:03:08] Speak for yourself.

Ingrid: [00:03:09] I know. I love it. I stan a good bicycle tire, but do you know what I mean? I feel like and there are some really great platforms like obviously, Future Commerce offers a great platform. I love some of the, a lot of the Substacks. The newsletters are starting to get really, really good but they're more like think pieces and longer-form content, which I happen to prefer. So that's always sort of where I gravitate. But in terms of just Headline News, here's what's going on. So my version of this answer is probably just as strange, but a little bit of a different place. I am good friends with a high-level executive recruiter kind of lady who places C-level executives into retail jobs. And they have actually like a really comprehensive daily newsletter where they talk about like new hires, obviously, and some that they've placed, some they haven't. But then also just little tidbits of like what's going on. So I get so much of my news from there and then I love...

Orchid: [00:04:18] That's so interesting.

Ingrid: [00:04:20] Yeah, I know. Lindsay Stephens is my gal, but she's part of Kirk Palmer. So their hot take is a really good daily newsletter. I'm like outing myself. So that's more embarrassing than your answer, by the way.

Orchid: [00:04:38] No, no, no. I think that's really interesting because I think there are the publications, the eCom publications. You've got Dan Frommer's New Consumer. You've got Kale over at Modern Retail. I was looking up to see where I read the News of Interior Define's bankruptcy at the end of last year, and that was like Business of a Home and you wouldn't really call that DTC, but like sort of, so you have that kind of mish mash of publications.

Ingrid: [00:05:08] Right. And then in fashion you have like, your Women's Wear Daily and Business of Fashion. Those are like the two big powerhouses. Right. But they're industry-specific, not like overall retail.

Orchid: [00:05:19] Exactly. Yeah, not like broad-based eCom. And so Twitter, I go for breaking news, right? You know, obviously, everybody has an opinion, but that's when I heard of Liquid Death's IPO. It was an article in the information about how Liquid Death had tapped Goldman Sachs to kind of lead their IPO. So that was really interesting.

Ingrid: [00:05:43] Which is very credible and like a big dream for a lot...

Orchid: [00:05:46] It was behind a paywall. But I did access the article and then I was like, "Oh, the title kind of just says everything." And so that's kind of the problem with Twitter and why I'm a little embarrassed to admit that sometimes because I'll tell my husband something was like, "Oh, did you hear this happened?" He's like, "Where did you hear that?" I was like, "Twitter." And he's like, "Was there an article?' I was like, "Yeah." And he's like, "Did you read the article?" I was like, "No, I just read the tweet." {laughter}

Ingrid: [00:06:09] Oh, I know. Well, okay, so sort of a tangent, but also just genuinely curious. So Threads obviously like a huge unveiling.

Orchid: [00:06:22] That's a thing.

Ingrid: [00:06:22] It's a thing. Like what was it, like 30 million within the first day? Like over 100 million. It's kind of incredible, right?

Orchid: [00:06:29] Yeah, absolutely.

Ingrid: [00:06:32] Well done, Zuck. Yeah. It doesn't undo a lot...

Orchid: [00:06:35] You win this round. Ding, ding.

Ingrid: [00:06:37] You win this round. Exactly. But. So. Okay. As someone who is way more on Twitter than I am, which the bar for that is quite low.

Orchid: [00:06:48] I've been on Twitter since 2009. Been through a lot.

Ingrid: [00:06:52] Yeah. Jeez. So like, you have a Twitter presence. You have a following.

Orchid: [00:06:58] Sure.

Ingrid: [00:06:58] You exist on Twitter as a personality, which I think is very admirable and very cool.

Orchid: [00:07:05] It might be admirable. It's not cool. {laughter}

Ingrid: [00:07:09] Okay, fine. You said it, not me. No. {laughterr} But it's a thing.

Orchid: [00:07:16] It's a thing that happens.

Ingrid: [00:07:17] It's a thing. No, but you work at it, right? So you put effort and it's a community that you're building. And I think anywhere that you can build a community, I think is inherently cool, FYI. But so from the inside, what is the grounding now that Threads is a place? Are you duplicating content? Are you seeing creators or do you even call people on Twitter creators? Are you seeing writers and journalists and the people that you follow? The reason why you go to Twitter? Are you seeing the shift or what's going on there?

Orchid: [00:07:55] I mean, the shift happened far before the Thread unveiling. I mean, there was Mastodon, there was Bluesky... Twitter by nature of me having been on it since 2009 and I think it launched not long before that, either 2008 or... It was probably 2008. There's been a lot of back and forth about the discourse that is allowed and what that platform is for. And so we could spend an entire hour and a half talking about the idea of free speech, of what constitutes free speech and what doesn't and what should be censored and what should be not. But at the end of the day, you know, Twitter was described as the town square, was that you could share your thoughts. And then, of course, over time, you have people who the blue checkmark was intended to verify journalists and heads of state or whatever it was. And I remember joking to a friend that blue checks were so hard to get. I was like, "Oh, should I go work for a publication and then get my blue check and then leave?" And so there was a thing and it felt like it was a place for journalists. Although of course, whenever you have a platform where you can create an alias, you know, that opens you up to all kinds of bullying and hate speech and things like that. And so Twitter, in essence, carried a lot of baggage with it, and Meta has, too. And so, you know, I think the Threads release has been interesting because it is the first new social platform that we've had in a very, very long time. Now, you could argue that TikTok, by way of Musicly was the new platform, but now TikTok is old news, right? It's like the distracted boyfriend meme. You've got TikTok on the one side and everybody looking at Threads. And I think what was really interesting about the first 24 hours of Threads and even that rollout was really fascinating because there was almost a little bit of an Easter egg in your Instagram for the early adopters, for people who are really interested in the platform to get on there first about 24 hours in advance. And it was smart because Zuck needed people to create content so that when you go to the Threads, it's not completely empty and just like tumbleweeds everywhere. And so what's really fascinating now is that Threads is inherently built differently from Twitter at launch because it's just like an algorithmic feed. You don't really see people who you follow pop up. So it's a little different. But what is interesting that you see are known personalities, like known journalists trying to figure out how to use the platform. Right. So you've got like the Mike Isaac and like the Taylor Lorenz's of the world, very famous well-known journalists trying to see, "All right, what is this new place?" What kind of content is the algorithm actually prioritizing? Is it meant to be like a happy place where you share pictures of your home decor? Or is it a place where you start to establish a voice of authority and then you all of a sudden become this thinkfluencer? You see so much of it that's so prevalent on Twitter. So I think the jury's still out because the platform is still fairly new, even as we record this, it's what is it, a week old even? I don't even remember.

Ingrid: [00:11:11] Yeah, probably just over a week.

Orchid: [00:11:12] It's probably just over a week. And so I don't think anybody has cracked the code yet, which is why it's so funny how 24 hours later there were people already sharing Threads that said like, "Hey, here's how to crack the code on Threads." I was like, "I call bullshit on that. You've been on it for like two seconds. No one has any idea." And so [00:11:32] whether or not Threads is going to be a place where legitimate discourse happens, based on pieces written by career journalists, or if it's just going to be an echo chamber all over again of people who have limited experience but tend to amplify each other, that's still to be seen. [00:11:55]

Ingrid: [00:12:41] Yeah, that's fascinating, and thank you for kind of going into that. I almost think that, to me, observing it as being someone who is fluent in media, understands the landscape, and understands social channels, but Twitter is just not a neighborhood on the Internet that I hang out at. Truly, that's how it feels.

Orchid: [00:13:05] {laughter} It's like you're walking down a dark street and you look around the corner and it's Twitter. You're like, "I'm going in the other direction."

Ingrid: [00:13:11] It's kind of like I like to hang out in Nolita or the Lower East Side. And Twitter is like, I don't know...

Orchid: [00:13:21] The Hudson River.

Ingrid: [00:13:23] Or like Midtown or something like that where I'm just like, I don't know, maybe there's like some cool restaurants or two that are popping up, but like, I don't really need to go there. That's literally what my Internet experience is like with Twitter. But I know that people really, really dig that neighborhood on the Internet, including my husband. My husband's been sort of...

Orchid: [00:13:43] Is he a lurker, though? Does he post or does he just consume?

Ingrid: [00:13:47] He's a musician. So he posts. But I think he uses media in the right way where like, Twitter isn't really the medium for that type, for his content, so like he'll use it. He definitely, I would say lurks more than he posts, but he posts.

Orchid: [00:14:03] My husband only lurks. He never ever, ever tweets. He's actually private.

Ingrid: [00:14:09] I think that's the majority of people on Twitter. Right? And that actually is what is leading me to what I'm going to say next is I have to assume that Zuck's intention in launching Threads was to sort of like put the final nail in the coffin for Twitter. Right? Lots of drama has been going on.

Orchid: [00:14:30] Sure.

Ingrid: [00:14:32] To say the least. We don't have to like rehash that, but like, things are not so great in Midtown Twitterville. And so he goes and hires up all the people that Twitter fired or laid off and all of these things. And it was very obvious, especially with timing and all of that. But I almost feel like unless you have the people who people go to Twitter to listen to and hear from and hear their point of view, to switch they almost have to be part of the launch. The people like you were saying, them trying to now figure it out and we're still early days so like grace period. Sure. But had there been a little more time and a little bit more thought I would have hired like a shit ton of PR people and people to reach out to those key writers, creators, tweeters, to have them be part of the launch and create the foundation of what this new platform was going to be. So we are not left to our own devices of like, "Is this going to be kind of like Instagram? Is it going to be like a shit show, like Facebook? Is this boomerville? What is this? What's your identity here?" And part of it, you can't totally force because humans are going to do what humans are going to do. And I think the echo chamber is inevitable in some ways, no matter what.

Orchid: [00:16:05] It's really comfortable. The echo chamber, from a human psychology perspective, it's a very comfortable place. I will say that what you're describing actually reminds me of the Clubhouse launch back in 2020. So Clubhouse, I was a part of the Clubhouse launch. I was the first like 10,000 people on the platform. And it was a really interesting experience, and I have not been on Clubhouse in like over a year at this point, but heavy during Covid I was on Clubhouse like probably 6 to 7 hours a day. Like it was egregious, obviously, because I had nothing else to do. And that was like a way to make human connection. I have some of my closest friends these days actually came out of those Clubhouse days. But I will say when it was the first 10,000 people, none of the rooms had titles. You literally had to just jump into a room and you would listen for a while to understand what the conversation was before you actually engaged in the conversation.

Ingrid: [00:16:59] Yeah.

Orchid: [00:16:59] And it was interesting in that it was small enough where you started to see the same names come up time and again, and you would kind of like bump into people and wander into rooms and bump into your friends.

Ingrid: [00:17:10] So fun.

Orchid: [00:17:10] And Clubhouse did try to create a creators fund or some kind of network because, in those early days, Clubhouse didn't have a plan either in the type of discourse that they wanted. And so there were rooms that you would bounce into. One was, you know, obviously eCommerce kind of organized itself into a room. But you had one of my good friends, Rian, she had trivia hour where it was she just read Trivial Pursuit questions and people would just answer. And it was a little chaotic. But it was so fun. There was also a group of friends who started Clubhouse After Dark, which was like kind of like taxi cab confessions. And so I do see a point in saying, "Hey, here's the technology. We don't really want to dictate how you should use it, but let's see what comes out of it, and let's see what actually really resonates well." It's almost like you are getting a focus group, like you're launching this like agnostic technology platform and you're like, "All right, focus group. How would you use it?"

Ingrid: [00:18:08] Totally.

Orchid: [00:18:09] Now, I do think to your point, it's a tough game to play. And I think that you have to be comfortable with [00:18:18]... You have to have an interesting relationship with the platform itself so that if users use it for something that is entirely different from what you intended or maybe envisioned for yourself, you have to be okay with that. [00:18:30]

Ingrid: [00:18:30] Well, 100%. But here's the thing. The reason why I started my tirade on the fact that he created it to be kind of like really, really, really compete with Twitter in like a meaningful way with the power of his, what, 2 billion users or something like that worldwide... You're not coming in and creating something new. Right? You're using a template for a proven system and format that people love, frankly. Twitter, as frustrating as it can be or whatever, it is a well-loved platform. And the people who use it daily, of which there are many, have been kind of mourning it or just like frustrated by some of the changes or some of the new ads that they're seeing or all these new rules and breaking the foundation of the blue check that it actually meant something other than you pay $8 a month or whatever. There are all these fundamental things that have changed that have made people who love this part of the Internet frustrated. And so I don't think, first of all, Zuck is not known for being the innovator. He's an operator. He's like incredibly good at seeing something that works and just operationalizing it and stealing it.

Orchid: [00:20:00] Very pragmatic.

Ingrid: [00:20:02] Super pragmatic. He's not your Steve Jobs. He's like, "I'm going to take a good idea that exists and I'm going to operationalize the shit out of it," which frankly, is really, really impressive.

Orchid: [00:20:14] Well, it's funny because, to your point, that is almost frowned upon when it comes to the United States culturally.

Ingrid: [00:20:23] Oh, big time.

Orchid: [00:20:24] Right? Because there is...

Ingrid: [00:20:26] We're the innovators.

Orchid: [00:20:27] Yeah. [00:20:27] When you think about the cult of personality or when you think about innovation, most of the time folks lean into, "Oh, this thing has never existed before and now it exists." And if you look at the entire model in China, it is to copy and improve and optimize. And that is a type of innovation as well, which is to take one idea and apply it into another vertical or another industry, or to launch something that's a better version of X. [00:20:55] I mean, look at Calendly. Calendly was launched because Google... Why am I calling it Google Maps? It is not. Google Calendar. Google Calendar. Although my calendar is kind of like a map because it's the only reason I know where I'm going during the day. But they didn't do that. But now, you know, Google Calendar has actually launched an embedded like almost Calendly functionality.

Ingrid: [00:21:21] Finally.

Orchid: [00:21:22] Yeah. And so there is, I think in the US, the American mindset is that in order to be truly put on the pedestal of innovators or of even like the most amazing operators, there's a part that is visionary that is completely net new. That being said, I do think Zuck... Do you like how we're on like a nickname basis?

Ingrid: [00:21:43] Yeah.

Orchid: [00:21:45] Mark, you know, whatever. But I think to your point, Zuck is a pragmatic guy. And so when you think about the launch of Threads and why Threads was launched when they just made the announcement and the rebrand to Meta is that it is a battle for attention. I think what's actually going to be really interesting for me is whether or not Threads actually grabs Twitter users and reallocates that attention time from Twitter to Threads and/or it actually cannibalizes from Instagram and also Facebook. Because if you look at Threads in its purest form, that's Facebook version one.

Ingrid: [00:22:26] Mhm. Well, no because it's algorithmic.

Orchid: [00:22:28] Like your status. Well no, no, no. But I mean like the experience.

Ingrid: [00:22:32] Oh right.

Orchid: [00:22:33] That it's text-based. It's text. It's text. You're like throwing a thing out there and update on yourself and update on your life. And so it's really interesting because it's almost like the very pared-back version of Facebook 1.0.

Ingrid: [00:22:45] That's such a good insight. I hadn't put that together at all. And I think you're right. And maybe that's also like when we liked Facebook the most.

Orchid: [00:22:56] Well I mean to be fair, we were what? How old was I when that launched? I was like, what, 19? So I would argue I didn't even know any better.

Ingrid: [00:23:04] Well, sure. And the Internet was still starting, but I don't go...

Orchid: [00:23:08] It was great. It was great.

Ingrid: [00:23:08] We liked it. Right? That was a good experience.

Orchid: [00:23:14] I remember... Yeah, well, we had Myspace. That was our only other competitor.

Ingrid: [00:23:34] Just to kind of put a pin in the Threads comment, at least from my end, and then feel free to add your last thought here. But I would really love a world that Threads does actually replace Twitter because I do think that there is power in the community coming out and saying like, "Look, I don't appreciate what you've been doing to this platform that I love. I don't think that you're respecting us as users." It feels like, and I'm an observer, so I'm probably stepping out of bounds here, but it just feels like Elon Musk is trying to force his view of the world onto this platform, which that's a tale as old as time of billionaires buying up media outlets and trying to force their views on the world. So it's not like this innovative new thing to do, but the fact that this is not an actual media outlet, this is a social media platform. And there's a huge difference in that. And I think there's the nuance on that has probably been lost to a certain extent.  [00:24:58]I really like the idea of the people who make that neighborhood Twitter what it is, if they're not treated with respect and understood that there's going to be another alternative that will allow them to have the platform that they want that they use. [00:25:15]

Orchid: [00:25:15] And that's the free market. I mean, and so this is, and again, we could go on an entire tangent about anti-competition or competition or what that looks like to have a monopoly on attention. But I agree. I think Twitter was a really... When Elon took over Twitter, it had been in existence for what... I'll do the math here...

Ingrid: [00:25:41] 12 years. 15 years.

Orchid: [00:25:42] Twitter wasn't growing. Twitter hadn't like properly monetized their product in a way, and they hadn't really innovated new features and functionality. A lot of what they did, a lot of what they introduced was reactionary. So when you think about Twitter spaces, that was reactionary to Clubhouse. You had, what was it called? It was Twitter Fleets? That was short-lived. It was similar to Instagram stories.

Ingrid: [00:26:13] Oh yeah.

Orchid: [00:26:13] Yep. And then like LinkedIn copied Instagram stories. It was bananas. But part of it was that Twitter hadn't meaningfully innovated and it hadn't grown. And it's interesting as a business because you could say if they were private, you could say like, "All right, maybe it just is a product that allows these people to do a very limited set of things. They don't need to innovate. Maybe that's okay." And I think that two things happened when Elon brought it private. One was that he tried to grow it. He at least tried to make it profitable. So this goes back to our growth and profitability.

Ingrid: [00:26:51] Definitely tried to make it profitable.

Orchid: [00:26:52] Certainly tried to make it profitable. And the first thing he did was cut costs. And so it was really interesting because he was almost heralded in some operator circles when he made the first round of very, very drastic and steep cuts at Twitter and the product was still working fine.

Ingrid: [00:27:07] Yeah. I would argue that he set off the whole larger tech, social media employment layoff. He kind of like gave them permission to just no one's going to do 80% like Elon. So you do 15% and you end up looking like the good guy or something, which is bananas.

Orchid: [00:27:25] Yeah. And I think the signal that it gave was that, and I had gotten this piece of advice from other operators and C-suite folks too, is like, "Hey, if you're going to do layoffs, cut them deeper than you expect."

Ingrid: [00:27:40] Yeah.

Orchid: [00:27:40] And I think by nature of Elon cutting that large of a percentage of the Twitter workforce and the product was still standing and operating as well as it ever did, obviously, in some pieces it fell apart. But I think that signaled to a lot of executives like, "Hey, we were going to cut 15%? Maybe we should cut 20. Maybe we should cut 25."

Ingrid: [00:28:01] Sure.

Orchid: [00:28:02] And so I think it certainly did that. And then I think too, what he did was it felt chaotic. And I think because it's an exaggerated version of this. But he started... Do you remember when he allowed people to vote on whether or not he should continue to be CEO of Twitter?

Ingrid: [00:28:20] I do. I very much do. {laughter}

Orchid: [00:28:23] {laughter}

Ingrid: [00:28:25] It all feels like such a political stunt. Some of the things that he's done, though, those things I think are what, and I'm not suggesting you are, but like that's the stuff that Elon stans that are going to die hard for him say like, "Oh, he kind of made it interesting and he made it..." Blah, blah, blah. And I do think that there's a lot to observe in...

Orchid: [00:28:52] I wouldn't call it... I think the path I was going to go down was that it wasn't necessarily interesting, but it was what he did and through subsequent versions of that was to solicit public opinion on the future direction of the product. And he actually... It was interesting. The perception is that he democratized that because in the best scenario, he democratized it because he solicited ideas from anybody. In the worst-case scenario, you're like, "All right, why are you soliciting opinions from everyone, especially when hate speech is running rampant on this platform as well?"

Ingrid: [00:29:28] Right. And that's the thing he's made... He did do that, but then he made about 20 to 30 other really major decisions, completely unilaterally in a vacuum of his inevitable room of yes people. Do you know what I mean?

Orchid: [00:29:47] He just went full send on everything.

Ingrid: [00:29:51] Right. And so it's mind-boggling to me how someone who does that can hold 1 or 2 polls that are meaningful, not taking that away, and then be fucking called like the democratizer of Twitter. Are you kidding? No way. On what planet?

Orchid: [00:30:11] On the planet Earth in the year 2023 when our society looks more like Idiocracy than anything else.

Ingrid: [00:30:19] Oh my God. My husband hadn't watched that movie ever, and I forced him to watch the first 15. I tried to force him to watch the whole thing. He got through the first like 15, 20 minutes and was like, "This is too depressing."

Orchid: [00:30:33] It's too real.

Ingrid: [00:30:34] But I was like, "You don't understand. When this movie came out, it wasn't depressing. It was absurd and hilarious." But it is now genuinely depressing and watching it through my 2023 vision... Yeah, it's depressing. Things are cyclical and things will get better and we will figure it out and things will get better. I really genuinely believe that. But right now things are a little bit scary. And so that's where I do have this instinctual passion behind calling bad behavior out on and trying to move with whatever teeny tiny bit of influence I have, people in a direction that just feels... And look, please, there's a ton of like icky, icky, sticky stuff that Zuck gets himself into and has toppling democracy and things like that.

Orchid: [00:31:33] Yeah. Like his thirst traps. His thirst traps are what's going to end democracy, I think.

Ingrid: [00:31:40] {laughter} But it just feels like the lesser of two evils for me, at least.

Orchid: [00:31:44] Well, the last thing I'll say about it is that when you say lesser of two evils, it's like this trick that you play when you have a toddler. You don't ask them whether or not which jacket they want to wear. You ask them, "Are you going to wear the red jacket or the blue jacket?"

Ingrid: [00:31:59] Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Orchid: [00:32:01] And then if you are my daughter, she will say, "I want no jacket." I'm like, "Well, that wasn't even an option." But that very much feels like the choices that we are given as in which billionaire are you going to support? Is it Elon or Mark? And you're like, "Well, I don't really care about either of them." It's like, "No, no, no, choose one."

Ingrid: [00:32:19] Yeah.

Orchid: [00:32:19] And I was like, "Well, I guess if I had to choose one..." But the reality is we don't have to choose either one. Like we don't.

Ingrid: [00:32:24] We can just be cold.

Orchid: [00:32:26] You could also just not use social media, I guess.

Ingrid: [00:32:31] I mean, yeah, this is the problem with the larger system and then that's like a whole other thing. But yeah, if I were to dig not very deep into why I'm like sort of cheering for Threads to become a thing and like I want them to...

Orchid: [00:32:45] Well, you got to use it.

Ingrid: [00:32:47] I know. You're right. You're right.

Orchid: [00:32:49] It's like how I think that climate change needs to be reversed while I'm like drinking my Starbucks through a straw, you know? So that's not going to fly.

Ingrid: [00:33:01] Yes. No, that's true. It's very true. I do need to use it for more reasons than one. But I know this turned into a conversation about...

Orchid: [00:33:10] What about the news? We were going to talk... We had headlines we were going to talk about.

Ingrid: [00:33:14] Let's get one piece of news in. But I'm glad that this conversation took this turn. And I'm curious to hear what the audience thinks, too.

Orchid: [00:33:21] I agree.

Ingrid: [00:33:21] So thank you for taking me on this...

Orchid: [00:33:23] This journey.

Ingrid: [00:33:24] For joining me on this journey.

Orchid: [00:33:26] We're like Willy Wonka.

Ingrid: [00:33:27] Yeah.

Orchid: [00:33:29] All right. So the biggest piece of news today was VanMoof, an Electric Bike company, and their bankruptcy that I saw on Twitter.

Ingrid: [00:33:37] So again, what? Electric bikes? I mean, I get it. Maybe. But what's the difference between maybe this isn't... Okay, tell me about this company. I know nothing, so talk to me like the whole Reddit. Teach me like I'm a child.

Orchid: [00:33:57] Oh, yeah. Explain it to me like I'm five?

Ingrid: [00:34:01] Yes.

Orchid: [00:34:03] I also... The problem... I know my mental state when I'm really deep into Reddit. So good news. I haven't been deep into Reddit lately but into young adult novels. Okay, so. VanMoof. So VanMoof is a Dutch electric bike company. Their e-bikes are really beautifully designed. There's really no battery pack that you see. It just really looks like a sleek bicycle that happens to be electric. What's really interesting about them was actually their guarantee that if your bike was stolen that they actually had tracking on it and they would actually go out and recover it for you.

Ingrid: [00:34:41] Wow.

Orchid: [00:34:42] So like, that was their proposition. Sounds expensive, doesn't it?

Ingrid: [00:34:45] It does.

Orchid: [00:34:47] Yeah. Well, the bikes themselves, e-bikes obviously have grown in popularity, especially, I think, because of the climate crisis. But what happened was that... So I think their bikes... I'm actually pulling this up right now. I think their bikes are about $4,000.

Ingrid: [00:35:05] Oh my God. While you were describing it, I was trying to have a number in my head.

Orchid: [00:35:09] I should have just asked you. I should have asked you to guess.

Ingrid: [00:35:11] Well, I will tell you what it was in my head. It was between $1,500 and $2,000.

Orchid: [00:35:16] Yeah, e-bikes are really interesting because they were wildly, wildly expensive. And I think you have a lot of entrants in the space. So like Rad Wagon is another one. Or Rad Bikes is another one where largely the price points around $4,000 rather than, you know, closer to $10,000 like it was a few years ago. So if you look at VanMoof, they're roughly about $4,000 for their "entry level." And it was interesting because actually when I was living in San Francisco, I was in Hayes Valley and there was an e-bike store in Hayes Valley that actually I think VanMoof had a bike shop in the Mission, like an actual retail location. But I think some of their bikes were also sold in this bike store in Hayes Valley. But at the end of the day, they announced today that they actually are going bankrupt.

Ingrid: [00:36:02] So what is it? Is it another situation of like an Instapot where their products are too good? So like they can't...

Orchid: [00:36:11] We should talk about Instapot.

Ingrid: [00:36:12] I mean, oh, man, the Instapot thing drives me bananas. But I want to finish. Do you have thoughts? So any idea why the electric bikes aren't, why are they claiming bankruptcy?

Orchid: [00:36:25] Well, it's interesting because a) I'm going to admit this publicly that I only read the Twitter headline about it. And I thought it was really interesting. What I need to do is read the article about the Dutch court's decision that led to this. Oh, yeah. So it's interesting because they once bragged that they were the most funded e-bike company in the world.

Ingrid: [00:37:01] I don't know if I would brag.

Orchid: [00:37:02] Well, it's an entirely interesting thing about eCommerce and tech ecosystem where you see the news where people celebrate that someone just raised their series A, and in my head I was like, "You just took on more debt and you probably just gave away more equity."

Ingrid: [00:37:15] Totally.

Orchid: [00:37:15] So I don't really understand why we were celebrating this, whereas cash-rich companies and profitable companies, you never hear from because they haven't had to raise money. So it's like a really interesting thing about the US system that I think is a bit upside down. But I think VanMoof, without reading more into it, it's this idea that when you are fairly early stages in terms of broad adoption in a really tough and capital-intensive vertical, you have to be funded. But you can only grow as fast as larger customer adoption, so VanMoof probably still served a very niche e-bike category within the e-bike category. And because they were so expensive and that market is so small, they just couldn't expand fast enough and they had to continue to feed money into it without an end in sight is my guess. Yeah, my read on that.

Ingrid: [00:38:14] Is a very, I think, astute, hot take. So read the article and let us know if that's true. {laughter} No.

Orchid: [00:38:21] No, the article is just going to be like the Liquid Death IPO article. It'll be like everything is ensconced in the headline.

Ingrid: [00:38:28] Yeah. And also they're not going to be able to like get into that level of detail.

Orchid: [00:38:31] Well, maybe AI wrote it anyway.

Ingrid: [00:38:34] Oh, that's so sad.

Orchid: [00:38:36] I know it is.

Ingrid: [00:38:38] Okay, So the Instapot thing, we'll wrap with this. There's been sort of at least in my circles, there's been a very polarized view of the Instapot thing.

Orchid: [00:38:52] Well, what's the Instapot thing?

Ingrid: [00:38:53] Okay, so Instapot also declared bankruptcy, I think like a few weeks ago, a little older news. So hopefully this isn't the first time you're hearing it. If you are, then I'm sorry. Santa Claus is not real.

Orchid: [00:39:05] Every Instapot is now bricked. I'm just kidding.

Ingrid: [00:39:11] People are saying, "Oh, well, they kind of killed themselves because their products just lasted so long. They were so good that you didn't have to replace them. And so, therefore, they didn't have this recurring revenue that they needed to constantly demonstrate like the growth and whatever." And I think there's so much like sadness to unpack there where companies now are starting to learn that you have to create a product that by design has an expiration date or something like that in order to remain being a company which is so toxic and just like stirs so many bad precedents to be set there. But as an Instapot owner.

Orchid: [00:39:57] I have one too.

Ingrid: [00:39:59] I mean, I love my Instapot here's my critique. It's not that it's because it's still working. I love that about Instapot. That makes me a loyal Instapot customer. But there are so many ecosystem-oriented things that Instapot did not do as a company that I actually think is a bigger reason for them not being as successful as they could have been. You get an Instapot and you want recipes, you want a community...

Orchid: [00:40:34] There are massive Facebook groups dedicated to Instapot.

Ingrid: [00:40:37] Right. But none of them are Instapot-oriented. People created them because they have such an avid...

Orchid: [00:40:45] They're like Swifties. They're like the Swifties of home appliances.

Ingrid: [00:40:48] Exactly. Except for Taylor doesn't completely ignore them.

Orchid: [00:40:52] Also true. {laughter}

Ingrid: [00:40:53] Do you know what I'm saying? That's the big difference. That's such a good example because it highlights the difference. Yeah, [00:40:58] Instapot had this ability to be this cult product and lead this whole band of fans that they earned and they just didn't. And that to me is like, sorry, but whoever's like running marketing or community management there, you shit the bed.  [00:41:18]

Orchid: [00:41:18] Oof. That is a burning take.

Ingrid: [00:41:18] You took a cult classic, a product that people take really love. And I know it's a burn take. You're right. That's a burn take. But it's true and I really hope that what we take away from it as retail operators and owners and people that are executives within retail companies is not that you need to build faulty products. Please don't take that.

Orchid: [00:41:39] No, no, no. That sounds insane.

Ingrid: [00:41:40] But a lot of people are [00:41:42]. I think the takeaway is do not ignore your fans. Ignite that flame. Facilitate the conversations. They're going to buy the new version. They're going to buy the air fryer. They're going to buy all the other stuff if you're facilitating the larger conversation. [00:42:01]

Orchid: [00:42:01] Yeah. So two thoughts come to mind when we think about Instapot. I think number one is that this is why it was such a huge I will call it a trend that when you were selling hardware like a Peloton, you were also selling software like the programming and the subscription. And you have a lot of competing home appliances like connected devices, right? Which is like a whole other thing that we can spend hours talking about. But you had the June oven where it was most compatible with meals that you would order from them as well. But all of a sudden, in an effort to have recurring revenue, you ended up creating two wildly different business models that were really hard to operate simultaneously. Because all of a sudden you have a hardware business and you're trying to stand up a software business or you have a hardware business, and now all of a sudden you're a food and beverage company as well. And so very, very few companies can actually pull that kind of feat off without a massive, massive amount of cash in order to get the experience. And the second thought, which is connected to this is Apple. Apple, in a search for additional revenue, recurring revenue, is trying all of these content plays because at a certain point you have sold an iPhone to every single person in the world. I mean, they haven't, but you know what I mean. And so maybe people like have multiple iPhones. And so that is where you either choose to pivot into recurring revenue in the way of streaming software or content in that case, or you continue to innovate on the hardware side and take, let's say, a really powerful, proprietary silicon chip, as well as advanced camera technology. And you're like, you know what? I'm going to stick it in a VR headset now.

Ingrid: [00:43:53] You have to have to have to. And today's late-stage capitalism world, you have to be this polymath and you have to have diverse revenue flows. And yeah, that creates massive operational complexity.

Orchid: [00:44:10] That's growth. It's probably not profitable though.

Ingrid: [00:44:14] For a period it won't be. And then hopefully there's a plan to sort of shift the boundaries and listen to our previous episode on growth and profitability. But yeah, so I think this is sort of a very, very interesting new dynamic that companies and brands and corporations probably need to pay attention to. And it is just figuring out, are you going vertical, are you going horizontal? But you definitely need more than 1 or 2 revenue streams and people that can manage it. That's all I've got for today.

Orchid: [00:44:49] That's it? {laughter}

Ingrid: [00:44:53] Just that little...

Orchid: [00:44:54] Just some light thoughts.

Ingrid: [00:44:55] Just some light thoughts to end your day. Orchid, it is super, super fun to chat with you. And I think this is episode 11.

Orchid: [00:45:05] Noooo. That was so quick.

Ingrid: [00:45:07] We have Episode 12 where we wrap it up with Phillip and Brian, which I think will be hella fun. I hope in some ways that I won't be there because I will have given birth.

Orchid: [00:45:19] Had this baby.

Ingrid: [00:45:19] At some point. Maybe this baby will show up. But I just wanted to, if I don't have the opportunity to wrap the season officially with you, just let you know how grateful and how much fun it's been doing this with you. And just think the world of you.

Orchid: [00:45:37] Oh, same. We're best friends for life.

Ingrid: [00:45:39] Yeah. BFFL

Orchid: [00:45:40] We should get matching tattoos. I'm just saying.

Ingrid: [00:45:44] I mean, it doesn't take that much convincing.

Orchid: [00:45:46] We would. Okay, We could probably do a growth and profitability one in a single image, and you would have half of it, and I would have half of it. But then we would have to decide which half you wanted and which half I wanted.

Ingrid: [00:45:58] I mean growth, baby.

Orchid: [00:46:01] Really? I was going to say profitability.

Ingrid: [00:46:02] That works perfectly. {laughter} Well, genuinely. Thank you. You've been such a great partner in crime in this season and I hope to do this again with you.

Orchid: [00:46:13] Thank you. The pleasure was all mine. See you next time.

Ingrid: [00:46:16] Bye.

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