EPISODE 193
February 5, 2021

The [Broken] Circle of Life

Does the post-Bezos era signal a coming lack of innovation in eCommerce? Also: the “Selfie Industrial Complex”, digital dysmorphia. And — are we no longer post-truth? Are we now post-grief? Listen now!

this episode sponsored by

Jeff Bezos Steps Down & Starting Small

  • When Tim Cook took over at Apple, nobody knew who Tim Cook was and now he’s a household name. Andy Jassy will experience the same.
  • Jeff Bezos started small with Amazon—by selling books. Marc Lore started small with Diapers.com—by selling a diaper. Now he’s building “a city of the future.” We have a new Insiders piece about this.
  • Lean Luxe put out an email recently that mentioned Monocle’s “Digital Decency Manifesto” which was a better take of our Late Stage Retail where we toyed with the idea of a ‘consumer’s Bill of Rights.” This article also mentioned an Air Mail article about self documentaries. 
  • These “Me-Documentaries” started small—with Facebook and documenting our lives in a deeper way. Brian finds this both narcissistic and compelling: “I expect that we’re all headed towards having our own documentaries at some point.” 
  • StoryCorps has created kiosks to dive into stories with family members. Someone created a tech service that sends prompts to someone in order to compile a book that helps them to tell their story. 

Post-Truth Society

  • This documenting of life can lead to narcissism, but it could also lead to untruth—for example, making an AI chat bot from communications with a lost loved one to be able to cope with their loss. 
  • “Effectively, you can memorialize someone in such a way that even death itself can be post-truth.” - Phillip Jackson
  • In our new report, Vision 2021, we discuss some of these topics of post-truth: digital dysmorphia, the selfie industrial complex, and other trends in the future of consumerism.

GameStop, the New Occupy Wall Street, and the Dark Before the Dawn

  • Linking back to our Vision report, GameStop became a brand as performance art. “It wasn’t the brands themselves that were doing it, but they became the performance art because we made them so.” - Brian Lange
  • This feeds into our new culture of cynicism where we’re not actually reckoning with real issues and problems. What happened with GameStop stocks, AMC stocks, and others is a cynical rebellion. 
  • People often fret over automation and technical innovation posing a threat in the job market, but we’re watching this take place digitally during this pandemic. A lot of retail is being consolidated into more powerful hands. GameStop, for example, is a retailer of products that are now increasingly going digital and subscription-based. 
  • This is all leading to a consolidation, an oligarchy/oligopoly of brands, which we talk about in our “Changing of the Guard” Insiders piece. 
  • On a positive note: in times of adversity, real innovation happens. The next Amazon, Google, Apple, is being born during this time. All of the tools needed are easily available for this to happen.

Links


If you have any comments or questions about this episode, you can reach out to us at hello@futurecommerce.fm or any of our social channels. We love hearing from our listeners!


Brian: [00:00:36] Welcome to Future Commerce, everyone.

Phillip: [00:00:38] Yeah, welcome. And how do you even start a show on the week that Jeff Bezos steps down or announces that he's stepping down? How do you start that show, Brian?

Brian: [00:00:54] Man. Man. I mean, we did.

Phillip: [00:00:54] I think we did. We just did.

Brian: [00:00:56] We just started it. {laughter} You know the world spins on. And Jeff will have a lot of input and control. And I don't think he's going to extract himself so easily. I don't think Jeff just says, "I quit," and then he's done. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:01:14] I don't know if it was the day... It's funny because how many people knew who Tim Cook was when Steve left...

Brian: [00:01:26] Tim Cook? Tim Apple?

Phillip: [00:01:27] Apple. Exactly. Tim Apple. {laughter} How many people? Tim Cook was not a household name at that point and is Andy Jassy... Andy's got to be celebrating something because when you type A N into Google today, Andy Jassy autocompletes.

Brian: [00:01:44] He beat out the word "and."

Phillip: [00:01:46] He beat out the word "and."  He beats out a lot of things that start with A N. Anderson Cooper. The only two names that came to mind in that order were Anderson Cooper and Marc Andreessen. Anyway, big news. We wrote a piece about it, if you want to check it out. I mean, this is going to be done to death this week. But if you're looking for a slightly different take, hey, Brian and I put together a piece called "The Changing of the Guard..." But is it also the signal of the end of the innovation age of the Internet?

Brian: [00:02:32] Or at least of eCommerce? I mean, the Internet's...

Phillip: [00:02:36] I mean, the Internet is effectively everything now. So I mean, but it's the end of the innovation age of digital commerce. There isn't much left to innovate in digital commerce as far as we understand it in the Internet. Now, you look at what Marc Lore I guess now ex-Walmart, the diaper guy...

Brian: [00:02:58] The New City. The New City.

Phillip: [00:03:00] He's going to go innovate and build new connected cities. He's going to reinvent cities. That's his new job. So the real world...

Brian: [00:03:08] Not cities. He's just going to reinvent just a city.

Phillip: [00:03:10] A city. He's going to take the best of every city and he's going to put it in one place. It's not called Epcot. So while Marc Lore is reinventing a city and creating with first principles thinking. Jeff Bezos is trying to take off to go to a different planet with Blue Origin, and pretty soon you will be an interstellar species thanks to the Titans of eCommerce. But we're not going to go too deep into that. If you want to check that out...

Brian: [00:03:42] Wait, wait, wait.

Phillip: [00:03:43] What? I'm trying to close the section out.

Brian: [00:03:46] You're closing it. I don't want to close it quite yet.

Phillip: [00:03:49] Go read the article, Brian, that we wrote.

Brian: [00:03:52] I want to talk about Marc Lore for a little bit longer.

Phillip: [00:03:55] Do you really? I thought you had a whole like anti piece about city of the future. And it's time to build.

Brian: [00:04:03] Yeah, that's what I want to talk about. I want to talk about my response to Marc Andreessen. Speaking of him.

Phillip: [00:04:09] Aren't you going to.. Just write the piece.

Brian: [00:04:13] I already wrote the piece. It's out there. We just didn't put it on Insiders. We put it somewhere else. And I feel like it applies like almost word for word for Marc Lore.

Phillip: [00:04:22] What's the gist?

Brian: [00:04:25] You know, if we're going to be doing this in America, then why not take stock of what America actually has for its resources? We talk about cars in the sky. We talk about, you know, the perfect system where you have all the culture of New York, the perfect efficiency of Singapore in one place. And it's like this sort of like utopian idea. And my take is, if we can't do things small first. Then how are we going to do them in a big way? So we have an incredible network of smaller cities throughout the US.

Phillip: [00:05:06] We have to start very small. You have to start small. That's what you're saying.

Brian: [00:05:09] Right. Start small and work your way up. How did Jeff build Amazon? He started by selling books online.

Phillip: [00:05:16] Selling books online. How they Marc Lore acquire Bonobo's? He sold a diaper on the Internet.

Brian: [00:05:25] Right, exactly. And then he applied that thinking to a lot more stuff. And I feel like we have people...

Phillip: [00:05:34] Well he's going to build a city. He has to start with a house first. Or a fire station. I don't know. What do you start with in Civ 5? Did you ever play those games? Did you ever play real time strategy games?

Brian: [00:05:48] First of all, Civ is not a real time strategy game. And second of all, yes, I did. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:05:56] I was going broader. It's in the genre of RTS.

Brian: [00:06:00] No. It's turn base. One hundred percent turn based. It's the opposite of RTS. It's like turn, turn.

Phillip: [00:06:10] Turn, turn based.

Brian: [00:06:11] Yeah. Yeah. I know because I bought Civilization for my kids, and they love it. It blew my mind.

Phillip: [00:06:20] I'm getting schooled on so many things this week.

Brian: [00:06:20] It's way slower than anything else they play on the Nintendo.

Phillip: [00:06:24] It's so funny. Our producer, Chris Harry, who's probably listening to this right now. Shout out to Chris producing podcast with me now for like seven years. I think his wife is a big Civ head and like has an emulator on her laptop, just for Civ.

Brian: [00:06:42] That's so cool.

Phillip: [00:06:44] Yeah. It was not big into Civ, but the point that I was trying to make is how do you get to a city?

Brian: [00:06:54] Man, you got to build a lot of stuff first. It takes time.

Phillip: [00:06:55] You have to build a lot of stuff first.

Brian: [00:06:57] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:06:58] Right?

Brian: [00:06:59] That's right. That's right. And also, I think that there's so much more. Go read the article. It's on our website. I think it's under our opinion section or something like that. We'll link it up in the show notes. It's in the opinion section. We'll link it in the show notes. All right. Brian's a hater. When did you become a hater? I used to be the hater.

Brian: [00:07:20] We switched places. You can actually... If you've listen to this show, you go back and listen to all four and a half, almost five years now of this show.

Phillip: [00:07:30] Two hundred plus episodes.

Brian: [00:07:33] Oh, man. Are we at two hundred plus?

Phillip: [00:07:36] Well, this is 193. I think.

Brian: [00:07:38] Ok. Almost 200.

Phillip: [00:07:39] But if you count all the bonuses and Step by Step...

Brian: [00:07:44] Bonus episodes. Yeah.

Phillip: [00:07:44] If you count it all... The entire oeuvre of the Future Commerce multiverse, then yes, it's over two hundred episodes.

Brian: [00:07:52] There you go. So go back and listen to over two hundred episodes. You can actually catch the arc where I think we switch places.

Phillip: [00:08:01] Think about a point in time where that might have been. What caused that?

Brian: [00:08:04] Probably about 18 months. Eighteen months ago.

Phillip: [00:08:06] Eighteen months ago?

Brian: [00:08:07] Yeah, yeah. I don't know. It was pre pandemic, so it wasn't the pandemic, but I don't know. I don't know. It's been a crazy world.

Phillip: [00:08:17] Shifting gears.

Brian: [00:08:17] Moving on. Why don't we get back to what we were recreating? We were going to recreate a moment.

Phillip: [00:08:22] We were going to recreate a pre show moment. There was something that came across in... I have to bring something up. So I subscribe to Lean Luxe.

Brian: [00:08:34] So do I.

Phillip: [00:08:34] And I don't open every single... This is why I'm not allowed in the Slack, by the way. I'm totally not bitter. My open rate's got to be terrible because I get too many newsletters.

Brian: [00:08:46] Dude. Me, too.

Phillip: [00:08:46] I had to go back and re-enable in my Gmail settings, the promotion's tab. I must get probably 20 newsletters a day.

Brian: [00:08:57] It's an addiction. You read a lot and you don't even read everything that comes in.

Phillip: [00:09:03] It's insanity. So I put it out on Twitter. I was like, "What we need is..." Emily Singer had... Shout out. I do read every single issue of Emily Singers newsletter, her sub stack.

Brian: [00:09:17] Chips and Dips.

Phillip: [00:09:19] Chips and Dips. That's right. The name was escaping me. It's late right now.

Brian: [00:09:22] For you. {laughter}  

Phillip: [00:09:24] {laughter} "For you." I read every issue of that, but I don't catch every single issue of Lean Luxe. And, you know, I queue these things. There are some that are just so good. I want to read them, but they just queue in my inbox for like a month before I get around to it. And she was saying, like, "There needs to be some kind of like bundle delivery service that brings the morning paper to you and a warm pastry. I would totally pay for that." And I jumped in and I was like that. "I need that exact thing. But on Sunday but print out all of the newsletters that I have queued in my inbox."

Brian: [00:10:01] And the warm pastry.

Phillip: [00:10:03] And I mean and the warm pastry. Nespresso, but make it pastry.

Brian: [00:10:07] Ooh. Ooh.

Phillip: [00:10:07] That's what I need. And she was like, "You could do this with if this then that." So I've been like trying to make it happen. This is basically impossible. Google Cloud Print apparently would have been the way to do it with Zapier, but it's been discontinued.

Brian: [00:10:25] Yeah what was that all about? Why did that happen?

Phillip: [00:10:30] I don't know. I have no idea. Google likes to kill things that make life easy.

Brian: [00:10:32] Ugh.

Phillip: [00:10:32] I mean, RIP Google Reader. Anyway, whatever.

Brian: [00:10:39] It's like the things that no one uses that Google just like they hang on to those things forever...

Phillip: [00:10:46] Well they put all their energy into shoving Google Meet into literally every facet of your existence.

Brian: [00:10:53] Right. Exactly. Like everything that no one uses they just hang on and push. And then all the things that they put out there that we're all like, "Google, never discontinue this," and then it's just gone.

Phillip: [00:11:05] So the point being, I have a terrible open rate for Lean Luxe, but because of reasons and but I did open this recent one came in today, actually. And the headline article that popped out to me was Monocle, put out a manifesto called The Digital Decency Manifesto, which is effectively a much better, much, much better take and more expertly written take of a phenomenon that we called Late Stage Retail about a year and a half ago. And we had toyed with the idea of like, how would we put together almost like a consumers Bill of Rights or an online shopper Bill of Rights. And even after Nine by Nine, it felt like folks didn't really grok what we were trying to say, and that was...

Brian: [00:12:00] I think the Late Stage Retail term it just wasn't the right way to put it. I think that might have been it.

Phillip: [00:12:05] I think the problem is like Late Stage Capitalism doesn't bridge into retail. Many people have not heard of Late Capitalism or Late Stage Capitalism. They just haven't heard that term before. So making the leap to retail... And also this is broader than retail. I mean, digital decency I think is a really catchy... First of all, it's alliterative. So you freaking love that I'm sure.

Brian: [00:12:27] In fact, I do. I'm in.

Phillip: [00:12:32] Yeah. Brian... Your name isn't alliterative, but it should be. Brian Blange.

Brian: [00:12:41] There it is.

Phillip: [00:12:41] Brian Blange.

Brian: [00:12:42] That's my name.

Phillip: [00:12:43] He loves him some alliteration. Anyway. Digital Decency Manifesto. Check that out. But there was another link in this particular newsletter that really jumped out at you.

Brian: [00:12:55] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:12:55] I was like this is sort of dubious, like how this relates to Future Commerce. But we're going to tie it in.

Brian: [00:13:00] It absolutely does.

Phillip: [00:13:02] Tell me why. What is it?

Brian: [00:13:03] Yeah. We haven't talked about Lean Luxe too much on this show before, but this is... The Grab Bag. Or he might have renamed it The Culture Pulse or something like that. I don't know what he's calling this section in the newsletter anymore, but there's always like this hidden gem of a link in there.

Phillip: [00:13:26] He has like this link soup, which is pretty good. It's pretty good.

Brian: [00:13:30] Yeah he curates a pretty good, like a pretty broad selection of stuff, which is pretty cool. But anyway, the thing that just jumped out at me like well beyond anything else in this newsletter, like it just it screamed in my face. It was Bespoke Documentaries Are the New Status Symbol. And this is an article in Air Mail about Me Documentaries are the new status symbol. Who wants to read a family history? The rich are hiring directors to tell their stories. And there's so many things about this that just like they disgust me and resonate with me in every way possible because there's something actually really alluring about this. Like having someone tell the story of your life in, like a dramatic documentary style would be really interesting and of your family, because we all have stories and we all have things that we like to relate to people about ourselves. And I start thinking about it. I was like, wait a minute, Facebook was basically the beginning of this. It's like us documenting our lives in a deeper way, in a way that everyone could do it. And it was like this documentation that we could share. And it wasn't even... What's interesting about Facebook at least a while back, was it was beyond just about sharing with other people. Like Instagram, I feel like, is just push, push, push. But there was something about it that was for yourself. It was about documenting you for you. And I think there's something really, really narcissistic about this. But also...

Phillip: [00:15:17] You think? {laughter} What makes you say that, Brian?

Brian: [00:15:17] But also I'm really compelled by it.

Phillip: [00:15:22] You kind of want to do it?

Brian: [00:15:23] Like I kind of want to do it. I kind of want to go tell the story of my family. One of the ideas that I... My cousin works for Netflix, and I've always... There's this one idea... I think I've only told her once, but I've told her in my head many times. And it was this idea for my family to do like a mockumentary style family show about my family that contained all the people in my family, their real selves, where they all kind of leaned in on their personalities. But the storyline was fictional. And so it would be about these crazy situations and things that happen in my family. But it would be like a reality TV in that it would all be real interactions. And a lot of the actual footage would happen just in my real life. And I thought that would be hilarious because there's a lot of characters in my family and all of my family would agree with that. And so I just like this whole idea of documenting ourselves. I think it resonates with us at a deeper level than we even know. And I expect that we're all headed towards having our own documentaries at some point.

Phillip: [00:16:31] But OK, so let me poke at this for a second. First of all, I think it's kind of cool, but there are services out there that do this. While you were talking, I was listening, but I was multitasking.

Brian: [00:16:48] Yes and... Yes and...

Phillip: [00:16:48] I was like trying to find a service that exists that does this. This exists.

Brian: [00:16:54] Yeah. No, totally. That's what this articles about. It totally exists.

Phillip: [00:17:00] No, it's like hiring a Hollywood director is one thing, but there is a version of what you might hear from... There's a Friday segment on Morning Edition on NPR that goes to public archives. I forget the name of it right now. It's too late for me to be recording a podcast. I'm sorry, Brian. I cannot think about... Nothing is coming back to mind. People are screaming at their headphones right now because... StoryCorps. Crying out loud. And StoryCorps has these kiosks set up where you can come and tell your story with your family member who has something really interesting to share. And someone created a tech service that does this, that sends story prompts to a loved one, presumably a family member who's older, maybe your mom or your dad or your grandparents to capture and get them to jog their memory once a week to...

Brian: [00:18:04] I've seen this.

Phillip: [00:18:04] Over the course of a year or longer, then they compile a book that helps them to tell their story and prompt them to tell stories that they might otherwise have forgotten or would have been lost. And I think that that's a really beautiful thing. I want to pull at this thread of narcissism because I really love this thing that you're drawing out. Which is more narcissistic? To hire a creative to memorialize your story or for you to sit down at a keyboard for two years and write your own memoir?

Brian: [00:18:44] This is like the lesser of two evils joke.

Phillip: [00:18:48] I think that anyone who sits down to write a memoir of their own accord has a thread of Narcissism. There's something going on.

Brian: [00:19:01] Isn't that what we're all doing though right now? By documenting your life.


Phillip: [00:19:04] You're talking to the guy who's been podcasting for seven years, who thinks he's so important that people must listen to what he says. So I'm the wrong person to ask.

Brian: [00:19:11] So here's how this ties into everything we've been talking about. I mean, we've been talking about this for a while, but...

Phillip: [00:19:15] It's the attention economy and the creator economy that have come together at a perfect moment in time where people have too much money...

Brian: [00:19:24] And they've been looking at themselves in the zoom camera for 18 months or whatever.

Phillip: [00:19:27] Yeah, for a year now, they've been staring at themselves. They're fascinated with themselves.

Brian: [00:19:33] I've lost track of how long this has gone on.

Phillip: [00:19:35] It feels like eighteen. It feels longer than 18 months. January alone, of 2021, was 18 months.

Brian: [00:19:40] I had to estimate how long it was because I really don't know.

Phillip: [00:19:43] You don't even know. It was a good guesstimate.

Brian: [00:19:46] Thank you. Yes. Anyway, that's it. This is the moments of like of peak narcissism. This is it. Like we're there.

Phillip: [00:19:55] This is the moment? I don't know. It could get so much worse from here. But this is definitely a way point. This is a signpost along the way.

Brian: [00:20:07] Oh, boy. You're probably right. This is not peak narcissism. We're going to have our deceased people that we talked with...

Phillip: [00:20:16] Oh we went through this... Oh, this. I would love to necro this topic for people who haven't listened to the show, that are like for three plus years ago. But there was a story ages ago, which I'm not even going to try to go find. But there was a story ages ago of a computer engineer whose father had passed away and he took every text message in like AIM chat and every written communication that he had ever had with his father. And he trained an AI chat bot to respond as his dad as a means of coping with the death. And I thought that this was just such an interesting phenomena of it's on one hand, it's this really interesting way to cope with loss. On another hand, it's sort of interesting that we don't like if you have certain means and certain skills, you never have to cope with loss. You don't have to cope, right? you can create whatever world you want to live in, where your father is still alive and whatever news you want is true despite all the odds and despite every other verifiable fact. We live in the post Truth Society...

Brian: [00:21:41] The ultimate alternate facts and data.

Phillip: [00:21:44] Effectively you can memorialize someone in such a way that even death itself can be post truth.

Brian: [00:21:56] Holy moly.

Phillip: [00:21:56] Anyway, we had a whole thing about that a few years ago, and I thought that that was really interesting. Then we got distracted with deep fakes, but what a time to be alive. There's such an interesting... Yes, this is a really weird and meandering show, but I'm loving it right now.

Brian: [00:22:50] I'm having a good time.

Phillip: [00:22:50] And so let's just keep on. If you want to hear more about a couple of these themes, we would be remiss to not... You heard about it in the cold open, in the pre roll bumper, I guess, is what they call it in the trade. I say that like I don't know. And we have a new report that just came out. It's called Vision. And there's a few of these topics that I think are really that aren't tangential. They're actually, it's right on the nose. We actually talk about digital dysmorphia and the selfie industrial complex that ties right into this phenomena that we've been talking about here. If you want to read more about that and many other topics, we have ten trends, ten things that you need to know that we think will shape... Themes that are recurrent, that will shape the future as we know it of retail and everything else that we interact with. And you can find that at FutureCommerce.fm/Vision. And yeah, go download it. And I would love to hear what people think about it. People have been collectively sharing how their minds are all blown.

Brian: [00:24:02] {laughter} Oh yes.

Phillip: [00:24:03] Which is cool. I love seeing emoji versions of people's minds exploding when they read our reports. It's pretty awesome. So FutureCommerce.fm/Vision and we will have an entire deep dive on this, a 90 minute digital deep dive with some friends. Stay tuned. We're going to have a big family get together. Future Commerce family meeting where we're going to talk about all of these topics in depth. And so keep an eye out. And if you want to be notified of when that lands and when that's going to happen, so you can be the first to register because we do have limited space for that engagement. You can get that by signing up for our newsletter. Go get it at FutureCommerce.fm/Subscribe. OK, all of that stuff aside.

Brian: [00:24:49] Plugs in. Yes.

Phillip: [00:24:50] Yeah, yeah. I mean, who needs a memoir when you can just plug your newsletter? Actually you know what's funny is like that's literally... It's the same thing.

Brian: [00:25:02] We're getting meta now. We're getting meta.

Phillip: [00:25:05] Yeah, we're just we're complaining about things that we ourselves do every day. We haven't covered GameStop on this show. I think we'd be remiss if we hadn't mentioned GameStop. So there it is. There's your SEO point for everybody. Did you buy any GameStop, Brian?

Brian: [00:25:27] No, man.

Phillip: [00:25:28] I didn't either.

Brian: [00:25:29] I bought the S&P 500. That's the kind of guy I am.

Phillip: [00:25:33] Oh good for you. You're an index fund guy. I like it. I like it. Get me the SPY. Have you changed brokerages since this whole thing happened? Did you abandon Robin Hood?

Brian: [00:25:45] No, I never was on Robin Hood. Dude, I'm such a... It's bad. I'm on JP Morgan.

Phillip: [00:25:52] OK, no there's nothing wrong with that.

Brian: [00:25:54] I'm just doing the normal thing, you know.

Phillip: [00:25:57] Yeah.

Brian: [00:25:57] It is what it is. I haven't gotten crazy with my investment strategy, so that's what I'm getting at.

Phillip: [00:26:02] He says JP Morgan. He's like "I'm Chase, private client, so I'll just let someone else worry about all of that stuff." It's fine.

Brian: [00:26:10] And what about you? You tell me.

Phillip: [00:26:13] No, I love... I actually after the Robin Hood fiasco, I still have money in the Robin Hood account. Takes a long time for stuff to settle out, by the way. It takes a long time for funds to settle and get it out of your brokerage.

Brian: [00:26:28] Not with JP Morgan.

Phillip: [00:26:29] TD Ameritrade has... Yeah go to JP Morgan with our code Future Commerce.

Brian: [00:26:35] That's not real. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:26:38] That's not real. But I did sign up for thinkorswim, which is TD Ameritrade's free trading platform.

Brian: [00:26:46] Nice.

Phillip: [00:26:47] It has this really like nerdy graph capability and a desktop app, which was pretty cool.

Brian: [00:26:54] Desktop app! Ooh.

Phillip: [00:26:56] Love me a desktop app.

Brian: [00:26:58] You know, it destop's the new hotness. That's all I'm saying.

Phillip: [00:27:01] You know what's interesting? There are a lot of analytics reports that show that desktop is the new cool because people spend so much time on desktop computers now at their home because they're working from home.

Brian: [00:27:17] You know what they're doing though? You know what they're doing? They're either... Well, a lot of people are just screening. But there are also a lot of people out there that are looking at things in a compressed window view as they side by side stuff that they're working on.

Phillip: [00:27:30] Oh, yeah. The screens are so big. How could you not? I have a window manager on my Mac. I have keyboard shortcuts to move that junk around, dude.

Brian: [00:27:41] Exactly.

Phillip: [00:27:41] All four quadrants of my screen.

Brian: [00:27:44] Exactly. Yeah. No I mean like that's what the best of us do. And the thing about it is we're all looking at it in some like tablet broken up... It's like a tablet broken view, which is funny because you know most websites are optimized for phones and desktop. But tablet always...

Phillip: [00:28:05] Half desktop. It's half desktop.

Brian: [00:28:08] Exactly. Which is like the worst experience ever on the Web.

Phillip: [00:28:11] It's basically the iPad experience.

Brian: [00:28:14] Exactly.

Phillip: [00:28:15] That's kind of what you get. Or it's like the top two thirds of the iPad.

Brian: [00:28:19] It's in between the Kindle and the iPad experience. And so you get like this weird break point and everyone's browsing the web in the least optimized way.

Phillip: [00:28:27] Did you see the Kindle? Who is optimizing for Kindle?

Brian: [00:28:31] Nobody. That's my point.

Phillip: [00:28:33] This is the ex-Amazonian in you coming out at the moment.

Brian: [00:28:39] Yeah, that's probably true. Yeah, my Fires are almost all in the trash. That's true.

Phillip: [00:28:44] My kids have Fire tab's. That's about it.

Brian: [00:28:47] My kids have them. They don't use anymore. It's interesting.

Phillip: [00:28:50] Really?

Brian: [00:28:50] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:28:51] That's like sad. They're like outgrowing it, I think maybe.

Brian: [00:28:56] They're all about the desktop.

Phillip: [00:28:57] There's something about Amazon Free Time... Taking a little side jaunt here. But this idea of like all you can eat apps and like management for...

Brian: [00:29:10] The bundle?

Phillip: [00:29:10] It's so good.

Brian: [00:29:11] It's bundling.

Phillip: [00:29:12] It's bundling.

Brian: [00:29:14] We're back to bundle life.

Phillip: [00:29:15] That's it. The whole world is bundling and unbundling. That's it. I was told by The Lion King that the circle of life was how... It was a beautiful song, but it was death and life and how it's this beautiful reinforcement of everything from the food chain to ecology and conservation. In reality, it's just how Internet giants grow and then break apart and then re-coalesce. That's actually what it is, the circle of... We found a show title. The Circle of Life. That's it.

Brian: [00:29:55] It's pretty good.

Phillip: [00:29:56] We did it.

Brian: [00:29:57] Except for we're kind of breaking that circle with the mortem people. Trying to break that circle.

Phillip: [00:30:07] {laughter} The broken circle of life.

Brian: [00:30:09] The broken circle of life. Now that is a show title.

Phillip: [00:30:13] Yeah. So did we close the loop on GameStop?

Brian: [00:30:23] No not really. We didn't actually talk about it. Where is GameStop right now as of this moment?

Phillip: [00:30:29] It was at one hundred dollars the last I checked, which was earlier today, which is down off its high of $480 or something. I'm the last person that should be talking about this. I have no idea. I will say it's such an interesting thing and such a nerdy concept that could be part of the cultural zeitgeist. That people know something is happening with this retail chain that sells video games and that people are "making money" on it in the stock market. And I find that to be such an interesting... When you look at the nostalgia stocks that were also being gamed at the shorts... AMC theaters was one. BlackBerry was another. Nokia was another. And these are interesting companies of a bygone era who they in and of themselves had some mark on the culture. AMC certainly still could have been considered relevant in a pre pandemic world.

Brian: [00:31:41] Sure. Sure. And I think that there's something about them that has worked its way into our psyches. The lasting power of brand. But I think it's probably more than that. I feel like this actually relates back to some of the things we talked about in Vision, like this idea of brands as performance art almost. It wasn't the brands themselves that were doing it, but they became the performance art because we made them so. It's this constant idea of irony. Irony having a real impact in our world. I think this is...

Phillip: [00:32:25] Is it irony or is this cynicism?

Brian: [00:32:28] Both. Yeah, both. I think the irony stems from cynicism. And actually Retail TouchPoints just quoted me on that.

Phillip: [00:32:38] Nice little drop there, Brian. You dropped this name. I'll pick it up for you.

Brian: [00:32:43] {laughter} I did. So I think what's really, really interesting about this is we've just gone through a period of 18 months...

Phillip: [00:32:50] Bad Boy Brian Blange. Quoted in Retail TouchPoints. Sorry. {laughter}

Brian: [00:32:57] It's this weird moment. It's not a weird moment. It's kind of it's a very sad moment in our history where, like we were already a cynical culture. We were already a cynical culture. If you look at the way that we look at humor and the way that we look at a lot of things. Relationships and we even have states whose motto is the Show-Me State. We're cynical, right? That's in our DNA. And then you put us through 18 months, I mean, 12 months of like of death and isolation.

Phillip: [00:33:38] The crucible. Right. Yeah.

Brian: [00:33:40] Right. We are probably I'm not going to say it peak cynical because I was totally wrong about that with peak narcissism.

Phillip: [00:33:50] It can get worse.

Brian: [00:33:51] It can get worse. But we are in a state of deep cynicism and depression at this moment, as a country.

Phillip: [00:33:58] I believe that to be the case. Absolutely. Absolutely. That is the case. We're not reckoning with the actual issues and the problems. And we keep you know, at some point in history, maybe some future generations, somebody is going to have to... There's a day of reckoning. We're going to figure that out.

Brian: [00:34:24] There is a day of reckoning, and I wonder... Something you said earlier actually resonated where we are trying to create systems by which we don't have to reckon with things. Like the computer program.

Phillip: [00:34:36] Oh, yeah. I mean, quantitative easing forever.

Brian: [00:34:42] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:34:42] There's all it's quantitative easing, but for the soul.

Brian: [00:34:45] Exactly.

Phillip: [00:34:46] There's a great title. Yeah.

Brian: [00:34:51] So I think this is all pushing us towards this ironic, these ironic moments. And like having AMC and GameStop of all the stocks in the world, to be the ones sort of like put our money on it. So it is rebellion. It's a cynical rebellion. It's ironic in that rebellion and actually in many ways this might have a bigger effect on our culture than even Occupy Wall Street. It's more like this is the new Occupy Wall Street is what it is.

Phillip: [00:35:22] I'll deal out a little cynicism. And by the way, like this is an important moment for retail because so much of retail is imperiled due to the pandemic. And I'm gesturing broadly. You can't see me. This whole situation that we're all in. There's such an interesting and sad fallout here, which is there are real people who have real jobs who work at these real places, who are caught in the middle, and they... I think we tend to forget that there are people who actually depend on these places to stay in business and there's real livelihood at stake.

Brian: [00:36:19] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:36:19] You know, while some people probably fret over how automation and technical innovation cause issues in the job market or have a future threat in the job market, we're actually watching that sort of take place in the digital shift during the pandemic. I think we're seeing that accelerated right before our very eyes, where a lot of retail is being consolidated into the some more powerful hands. And the world has changed dramatically, too. I mean, GameStop has had its own troubles, a business that existed as much to sell and be a retailer of new products, but also used products in a world that's going increasingly digital and subscription based. You look at what Xbox Game Pass does, and you can play literally any game you want for a low, low monthly price growth. You don't need physical media anymore. And a business that depended on the resale of used, discarded items in no small way, the writing was on the wall. What's really interesting is just how much of this is really just consumer brands. These aren't tech giants.

Brian: [00:37:52] Right.

Phillip: [00:37:52] I mean, maybe they're legacy tech businesses, but Nokia and BlackBerry and and GameStop, they are consumer brands or retail outfits. Bed, Bath and Beyond was another that became a sort of a meme stock. These are places where, you know, retail happens. This is this place where the exchange of goods happens, where people go and buy things. I think that is something that we should all be taking note of here, because if those places go away and they probably will at some point in time. If those places go away, is anyone mourning the loss of a Bed, Bath and Beyond? You're going to find your soap dispenser somewhere else, but that somewhere else is likely to be Amazon.

Brian: [00:38:51] I think this is such a good point. And actually, it's something you brought up in the article on Jeff Bezos, which is...

Phillip: [00:39:01] The Changing of The Guard. That we mentioned at the top.

Brian: [00:39:03] Right. This consolidation, this oligarchy or oligopoly of brands?

Phillip: [00:39:13] Kind of both. Yeah.

Brian: [00:39:14] Yeah. Like maybe we talked about this as we were putting it together as opposed to actually putting in the article. No, I'm actually...

Phillip: [00:39:21] I think it's in there. I think it's in there. We were kind of hashing ideas back and forth. It's the maintainers come in and Tim Cook grew Apple to be a two trillion dollar company.

Brian: [00:39:37] Exactly. And actually, you put that up against a period where we've seen so many businesses go under. Due to COVID, a lot of small businesses were the ones that were hit the hardest.

Phillip: [00:39:51] Let's flip the script. I'm kind of feeling the weight. We were just talking about cynicism. And this does feel like a sort of dark thing. At the same time, we have never seen a period of entrepreneurship like the one that we have just lived through.

Brian: [00:40:08] Or that we're going into right now.

Phillip: [00:40:11] And that's and that is something that we talk about in another theme in Vision, which is the K Shaped Economy is really the DIY economy and maybe the creator led recovery. And I think that there's a moment here where the next Amazon, the next Google, the next Apple, 20, 30 years from now, is born during this time, because I think out of hardship is when those...

Brian: [00:40:41] So good.

Phillip: [00:40:41] That's when real grit is formed. That's where real determination is created. And that's where real innovation happens, is in times of adversity, and we've never had more tools at our disposal. You can launch a brand from your couch. You can. You can go on Alibaba right now. You can find a supplier in China. You can get on WhatsApp or WeChat and text them. I know you can do this because I've done it. And you can launch a Shopify store and launch a bunch of Instagram ads and bang, you're up and running. You may not be ultra successful.

Brian: [00:41:27] Right.

Phillip: [00:41:28] Yet. But you can do that today. And that was not possible even just ten years ago.

Brian: [00:41:34] Yes. That is such a great place to take this. I think that is the truth. I believe that that's sort of the positive side of the K Shaped Recovery, and I don't want to diminish the negative sides of it. We've already kind of dove into some of that here. But the positive side is that there's a lot of people right now that are ready to get out there and get after it. And I agree with you. I think we're going to see some big stuff. In fact this gets back to what we talked about in Retail Rebirth, the report we put out with Gladly back in late July. We talked about the 30 year cycles. We've seen similar things happen back in the 70s, in the late 80s, early 90s. We saw these different things kind of come out of those places. The Internet and then Microsoft and periods of a big boom perhaps actually, that is where we're headed. I think if we can weather this storm and kind of come out on the other side, we might see a lot of really incredible things happen. Maybe even Marc Lore's city. You never know.

Phillip: [00:42:53] Maybe. Maybe. Maybe even Marc Lore could reinvent a city. When I'm looking at... I'll throw another very well known person in the ecosystem. 2PM. I'm a member of 2PM. Executive Membership. I'm a big fan of it. Web Smith, in his brilliant mind, he's created a list that's the digitally native vertical brand, or DTC Power List. And the DTC Power List was just recently updated using some really interesting like proprietary data and Charm IO data. When I look at the top 10 of the DTC Power List, there are at least three brands that I had never even heard of. Pretty Little Thing. Shocking, it's number four in the DTC Power List. Doesn't rank on Internet retailer. It's PrettyLittleThing.US. Had never heard of it before. They're on a custom cart. They have five hundred and some employees there.

Brian: [00:44:17] I think they might be on Magento.

Phillip: [00:44:23] Are they really?

Brian: [00:44:24] Yeah. I think they're on Magento.

Phillip: [00:44:25] Is that true? Hold on. Let me look.

Brian: [00:44:27] I'm like 90 percent sure they're on Magento.

Phillip: [00:44:32] If anyone should know, it's me. Hold on.

Brian: [00:44:35] {laughter} That's true.

Phillip: [00:44:39] No.

Brian: [00:44:40] Are you sure?

Phillip: [00:44:43] No, I'm not sure. They might be on Magento 1 actually.

Brian: [00:44:47] I think they're on Magento 1 open source, actually.

Phillip: [00:44:50] Wow.

Brian: [00:44:51] Yes.

Phillip: [00:44:51] Ok, I will ask Web to update that information. So that's one of them. Another is Moda Operandi, which I had never heard of.

Brian: [00:45:03] That's a good one.

Phillip: [00:45:06] Yeah, that's another one. Not in the top 10, but Viori is at number 15. Like these are brands... Minted at number 14. There's so many and I know that there is a lot. This is not by volume. It's a custom list that's you know, it has its own weighting and its one subjective look at how to rank or rate brands by some criteria. But these are brands that have launched in the last handful of years. They're gaining traction. They have hundreds of employees. And I know that hard work... It's like any overnight success does not happen overnight. But they've become household names seemingly out of nowhere, and the tools are at our disposal now to have and create a mark on culture and reach people at scale right now in greater supply and with greater ease and greater access than ever before, and in fact capital access is in greater supply than it has ever been before.

Brian: [00:46:25] Such a good point.

Phillip: [00:46:25] If you need capital... It used to be that you would raise money so that you could build servers so that you could hire engineers. You don't need to do much of that anymore. If you have a startup, you can go to AWS or Google and they will give you like a year's worth of hosting credits for free. And Shopify, you can be up and running and you don't pay anything until you transact. What an incredible time to be alive.

Brian: [00:46:55] It is. This is a great way to sort of take the show out. Even though we're experiencing a lot of depression right now, there are a lot of reasons to have hope. There's a lot of things coming. And it does, sometimes, as cliche as this is, feel darkest before the dawn. And so I really I'm feeling it. I am feeling it. I know a lot of people out there are feeling it. There are good things coming. So there you go.

Phillip: [00:47:29] Wow. Thanks for listening to Future Commerce. Brian has the last word. We want you to enjoy the show and never miss a single episode of it. But there's so much more than just this show. We put out two essays a week. One happens over our newsletter that's called The Senses. It comes out every Friday. Another one happens on our website at FutureCommerce.fm. It's called Insiders. You can get both in your inbox on Tuesdays and Fridays every single week, and you can get that by going to FutureCommerce.fm/Subscribe. And we have another show. Lee Greene, our partner in crime and multi time Founder and now venture capitalist. Lee is launching a new series called The Investor Series and will be compiling a definitive set of interviews and data around what the capital markets look like right now for Founders. And if you don't listen to her podcast, you should. It will launch very soon. So go to StairwaytoCEO.com or Future Commerce.fm/StairwaytoCEO. And she has an amazing show over there that is part of Future Commerce family. And last but not least, go get our newest report. It's called Vision and you can get it at FutureCommerce.fm/Vision and its ten trends, ten themes, that you need to know that will shape the future as we know it. And that's it. Thank you for listening. Thanks, Brian. This has been really fun.

Brian: [00:48:58] So good.

Phillip: [00:49:00] I miss you.

Brian: [00:49:01] I know, man, I miss you, too, man.

Phillip: [00:49:06] Let's do the like Don Lemon and Chris Cuomo thing and just like bro out at the end here.

Brian: [00:49:14] Aw.

Phillip: [00:49:14] Not quite what I expected. All right. That's it.

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