Episode 0072 · September 7, 2023

The podcast about what to do next.

Triple Play

[Unedited Transcript]

Paul Ford: [00:00:00] Hey, Rich, how you doing?

Rich Ziade: I’m doing well, Paul. How are

Paul Ford: Well, you know, we were at the end of the day here. We’ve had a real busy day. Things are hopping at our company. our sponsor, Aboard, aboard. com. Check it out. It lets you organize and, and it will let you collect all kinds of information, organize it, and then collaborate on it, on it with your friends.

So we love it. It’s good. It’s actually hopping. We got a lot of signups, like things are kind of moving.

Rich Ziade: It’s exciting.

Paul Ford: we’re busy. And at the, so I thought we could do like three quick hits at the end of the day.

Rich Ziade: Okay. You don’t mean punching me in the face, do you?

Paul Ford: Nah, you know, I used to want to do that, but now I just kind of love you.

You’re just my

Rich Ziade: Aw, shucks. Thank you. I appreciate that.

Paul Ford: I wanted to punch you in the face a couple of times. Actually, I’ve never wanted to punch you in the face. I don’t want to

Rich Ziade: me neither. Me neither.

Paul Ford: I say that, but honestly, we’ve never been there. Okay. I have, uh,

Rich Ziade: Thank you.

Paul Ford: I have a, I have a classic Ziade Ford conversation, which is the importance of marketing, which is that everybody in software thinks [00:01:00] that code is the most important thing.

And it’s a horrible, horrible lesson. But when you look at these companies, there’s a zillion marketers for every company. And I think the, the other two topics that we have really going in the room

Rich Ziade: We’re doing three.

Paul Ford: we’re going to do three, I would like you to just go ahead and talk about the Yankees for two minutes, because that’ll be entertaining for the audience.

Rich Ziade: Okay.

Paul Ford: And then the third is that Google is settling antitrust, uh, uh, litigation brought against the, uh, it by the United States government. So let, let’s get into it. Let’s do like a daily news type of like topic driven thingamajig.

Rich Ziade: All right, let’s do

Paul Ford: All right.

Rich Ziade: one.

Paul Ford: So let’s get the corporate one out of the way and then we’ll talk about the fun stuff.

Rich Ziade: Okay.

Paul Ford: Um, this is something that’s coming up a lot. So we’re, we are transitioning. We just launched the product. If you go there now, you can sign [00:02:00] up.

Rich Ziade: For free.

Paul Ford: Lots is coming, lots coming, mobile’s coming, so on and so forth. And what’s happening, we were hiring and we’re moving forward on like. actually getting word out. And I think this is something that not a lot of people know.

Let me, let me give you an example. Monday. com.

Rich Ziade: Yes.

Paul Ford: go to YouTube, or you did for a

Rich Ziade: you’ve been on public transit,

Paul Ford: know about Monday. com,

Rich Ziade: know about monday. com.

Paul Ford: And, and so like Monday. com, uh, probably, I don’t know the real numbers here, but I can tell you the numbers from other

Rich Ziade: Many millions of dollars have been spent marketing monday. com.

Paul Ford: Let me, but, but also let’s be really clear. The amount of, when you think of a software company, What do you think people do at a software company? Not you, but what do you think most people think of

Rich Ziade: Engineers coding.

Paul Ford: it’s like Dilbert, like they sit at their desk and they type and then people draw rectangles and they say, that’s where the data goes.

Okay. [00:03:00] That, that’s what people think of it. So there, I’ll give you an example. There was a point where somebody was like, why does Twitter? have 1, 500 people working for it. Right now, you know, things got a little weird over there, Twitter, regardless. But the answer was that most of them were doing things like building custom ad implementations for the NFL.

Alright, like it was like not,

Rich Ziade: A lot of sales relationships. A lot of sales people. A lot of specialists taking care of big clients. A lot of marketing. A

Paul Ford: of which translates in the code, but an awful lot of it is literally like, did you call Mike? They said they’re going to send us the logo. So that we, you know. Things like that. And so what, how are you thinking about this? Because I’m seeing us transition into this moment. We’ve been in similar moments like this before up until about now, building a thing that people could use and click with their mouse was the primary focus of the organization.

Rich Ziade: yes,[00:04:00]

Paul Ford: That is what we did all day long. Now we have to continue to do that. We’re by no means done with that. There’s actually just as much work to do on that front as there used to be. But now we have to tell the story to and the, you know, I’ll tell you the metric I use in my head. I have to tell a million people about a board.

Right now I’ve told about 10,

Rich Ziade: I think that’s about right. Um, I’ll tell ya, you know, marketing is… a means to an end,

Paul Ford: 000. Mm

Rich Ziade: Um, we haven’t built a product that’s relying on viral growth. That’s not what we built. We built a product that could have some word of mouth growth but that’s not viral, as in like oh my god, it just caught like a brush fire

Paul Ford: Twitter was the archetype. They were at South by Southwest. You know, here’s Twitter, check it out. People signed up and then it was part of culture like a year later.

Rich Ziade: And the feature set was literally optimized for virality.

Paul Ford: going to [00:05:00] retweet. Um, uh, Facebook was like a social graph based

Rich Ziade: talked about aspects of a board that we could sort of Weaponize into being more viral like the remix ability of boards and cards if you go check out a board calm You’ll understand what I’m saying, but we’re not that effectively And so when I think about marketing I think I think about what does it mean to close a deal?

Paul Ford: Right. Well, how do we get a deal is a conversion. It’s a conversion of somebody who goes, and we’re like, I don’t know if I need this to somebody that goes, I really could use this.

Rich Ziade: I need it and I badly need it enough to give you money potentially if that’s our model. We don’t we’re still discussing that Let’s go through a super easy example. Um, there’s a very basic math that goes on. If I designed a cool iPhone case that actually has a, um, a mirror on the back of it.

Paul Ford: Very exciting. Yeah.

Rich Ziade: no, it has velcro, not velcro, what is it?


Paul Ford: iPhone case.

Rich Ziade: So that you could kind [00:06:00] of brush the suede back and forth and soothe yourself with it. And, um, I got my pricing. It’s about 4 out of China if I order 5, 000 of them. 4 a piece. I’m gonna sell them for 20 a piece. That’s 16.

Paul Ford: Boy, it’s all money now. It’s a gravy train for you. Except

Rich Ziade: now I have to go get those customers, right? And I got to buy Instagram ads.

I’ve got a really cool video where someone jumps off of a scooter and holds the iPhone case in your face. It’s very clever.

Paul Ford: This is so we’re, you know, we’re always headed towards advice, little sub piece of advice. Everybody looks at stuff like that and assumes that if they’ve sold one, that they’ve made a zillion dollars. The worst thing. Literally you sell five of those cases and you’re operating at an absolutely terrible loss.

Rich Ziade: Yeah, absolutely. And so, but what’s beautiful about that kind of business is that the measure of success, which is You sold a case that is closing the deal. [00:07:00] Can I get 3% of the Instagram viewers to click through? And of those that click through, can I get 10% of them to finish the transaction?

Paul Ford: as long as the cost to acquire one of those customers is somewhere less than 16,

Rich Ziade: right,

Paul Ford: there is a chance you could build a successful

Rich Ziade: That’s right. And you know, that starts to get into things that have absolutely nothing to do with the quality of your product.

Paul Ford: No, that’s

Rich Ziade: It has to do with. How catchy was the song?

Paul Ford: Well, and, but, and then there’s

Rich Ziade: attractive was the person? I’m allowed to say that. Attractive people tend to sell things.

Paul Ford: iPhone case, you know, just like that. That’s the moment.

Rich Ziade: All of it. And, you know, Twitter has kind of become this kind of as seen on TV.

Paul Ford: Oh, the ads have gotten gross, yeah.

Rich Ziade: It’s a weird, uh,

Paul Ford: got that CEO, Linda Iaccarino, who’s like a definite like, Pumpkin spice season is here, you know, she’s very…

Rich Ziade: Yeah, but even before [00:08:00] her it was a lot of like, you know, the fried egg sliding right off the pan type of ads.

Paul Ford: what they’re really into now is stuff where it looks like someone is, is exposing their anus, but they’re actually, the way it’s cut, it’s actually just a chair being cut. Like they’re putting a new surface on the chair, but when you see it out of the corner of your eye, it’s been cut such a way that it looks like a horrible anatomical disaster.

Rich Ziade: it’s it’s bizarre, right? And look that’s marketing. That’s the most naked sort of pure form of marketing, which

Paul Ford: actually naked. It’s a chair,

Rich Ziade: it’s a chair.

Paul Ford: yes, I know. One of the hardest things to do is to

Rich Ziade: You know, and so We ran an agency before this business. And one of the hardest things to do is to measure what success was. Whereas iPhone case, I sold the case. I’m getting more people to the site.

The shopping experience, a little tough. I see where the friction

Paul Ford: can articulate this really clearly. And the tricky thing with the agency is everybody’s like, why do we have to do any [00:09:00] marketing at all? We’re really good.

Rich Ziade: That’s right.

Paul Ford: And our marketing was very focused on career advocacy. And, you know, if you show up and you have contact with this organization, you should feel like we’ve pushed your career along.

And I felt like the goal of the

Rich Ziade: You got to get out

Paul Ford: But the way you market an agency is you try to talk to about 100, 000 people, knowing that maybe two of them can afford your product.

Rich Ziade: And that getting in front of that large number of people for anything is hard because. Because especially if you’re using the internet, look, put TV ads aside. Nobody’s got the, I mean, most don’t spend money on TV ads. Though, there’s a, Monday was all over YouTube at one point. They felt like they bought half of the YouTube ad, ad spots. But it’s so noisy. The internet is so noisy and, and, and it’s so hard to get noticed and it is, why is Google a 1. 5 trillion dollar company? It is because you keep having to try to rise above that noise and it’s very expensive [00:10:00] to do so. It’s very

Paul Ford: you have to pay Google and in fact, let’s come back to that in just a minute. But the point that, um, I was aiming for with all of this, right, is like when you are looking at these organizations and thinking about software and thinking about how to interact with the world of technology.

Rich Ziade: Mm

Paul Ford: Most of technology is marketing. Most of what Microsoft does is not write code

Rich Ziade: It’s marketing.

Paul Ford: and sales and sales success and so on. There are a million ways into technology and there are a million aspects of technology and the thing is, is once you’re inside of these organizations from the outside people are like, well coding is the only thing that matters.

AI is what matters. But from the inside of the organization that these are the processes that matter the most. So anyway, keep your

Rich Ziade: is, frankly, that’s what businesses do. Whether they’re selling software or they’re selling… What’s that company, WeatherTech? You ever see these

Paul Ford: Oh, yeah,

Rich Ziade: They like put layers of anything you want on your car. Like there’s a coating [00:11:00] for your steering wheel. There’s a coating for your seat. It just… And, and I think they’re probably massive.

Because people like to take care of their

Paul Ford: Hell yeah. Alright, so you mentioned Google. What’s going on with Google?

Rich Ziade: Well, I thought we were going to be talking about this big, momentous… Antitrust case that was going to come at them, but we opened the news to sort of get the latest. It looks like they might have settled it.

Paul Ford: Uh, look at that. See, Google’s smart. They’re like, they figured, you know, they ran, they ran it through Google Sheets.

Rich Ziade: They ran it through Google Sheets. Look, I, uh, By the way, last minute settlement is a thing. Um, it’s a real thing. Uh, the big, uh, uh, Dominion voting. It was like, I think the weekend before the trial was about to

Paul Ford: Oh, sure.

Rich Ziade: they just saw the car fly off the cliff. And they’re like, uh, why don’t we not

Paul Ford: Well, I [00:12:00] also, it’s like, let’s avoid that discovery process. You know, let’s avoid that sort

Rich Ziade: It was going to be utterly devastating in all respects, right? Um, and so,

Paul Ford: losses, pay 700 million instead of. Four billion to Dominion and just call it a

Rich Ziade: I, and also the, the, the, the I think the c e o is gonna, was set to testify.

Paul Ford: So, wait, what was Google in trouble for?

Rich Ziade: I mean, Google dominates

Paul Ford: Boy, do they.

Rich Ziade: get anything to get anywhere on the web. You go through Google and also Google’s ancillary products have been under a lot of scrutiny lately because, um, they’ve overwhelmed a lot of startups that tried to do ratings for restaurants and ratings for products and ratings for things.


Paul Ford: Europe is a little more sensitive to this than we are, like,

Rich Ziade: they’re also much more aggressive about regulating it, uh, over there. But like, you know, Yelp. Essentially has been suffocated. I’m sure Google tried to bribe them a few times, and they said no, and they’re like, okay, well, we’ll do it this

Paul Ford: Yeah, that’s a great product, Yelp.

Rich Ziade: when [00:13:00] your launch pad to anywhere else on the web is Google,

Paul Ford: Yeah.

Rich Ziade: and you also have competing features with other destinations on the web, Google can strangle you.

And they will strangle you in a lot of ways. Um, uh, and so, what you start to get to, which is the crux of antitrust law, uh, law is… It’s anti competitive. You’re not, you’re, you’re using your industry position and dominance to effectively suffocate competition. Yeah.

Paul Ford: You’re using everything. They see everything that’s coming down the pike. And then they can use their Death Star level atomic money machine to buy or destroy anything.

Rich Ziade: They can. And, and they do. And, and, and, uh, I, I, I don’t know the, the, the exact contours of this, um, uh, antitrust case. Like there’s so many [00:14:00] aspects of where Google can cross a line. Like, I think it was also related to the Play Store, which is frankly a gateway, like, it’s the only way in to getting an app and, you know, unlike, uh, Apple, which is tied to its hardware, think about this, a third party has absolute control over apps across all hardware, of all hardware companies, it’s…

Whether it’s LG phones or Samsung phones or whatever. And that’s a hell of a place too. So you have all these ways and you know,

Paul Ford: How does Apple avoid antitrust?

Rich Ziade: they get heat too. Um, uh, Apple’s interesting because, um, they, they. are not dominant,

Paul Ford: Yeah, you know, that’s true. There’s, there’s,

Rich Ziade: Android phones in the world

Paul Ford: there’s way more, um, Windows laptops sold every year.

Rich Ziade: Windows laptops. So there’s, there’s that. Um, but the, I think the other aspect of it is, you know, do, do, [00:15:00] are they the toll booth, unlike Google, which is truly the toll booth, like you have to go through

Paul Ford: Takes a penny every time you wake up, yeah.

Rich Ziade: And, you know, Chrome dominates now. So people don’t distinguish the URL bar from the search bar. It’s all through

Paul Ford: See, Google likes to skate right up to the edge and then see what happens. Apple’s

Rich Ziade: All companies, by the

Paul Ford: yeah, but I think Apple to it, like, is like, we’re going to keep a little moat between us and where the antitrust stuff happens.

Rich Ziade: Yeah.

Paul Ford: They like a little more barrier.

Rich Ziade: That’s right. Now, look. They have said, you know, there’s been a lot of friction from, like, app store rules that are onerous. They’re 30% and whatnot. But that’s not really anti competitive. Because you’re not competing with Apple there. What you’re essentially saying is,

Paul Ford: you are

Rich Ziade: an unfair marketplace, but Apple’s response, which is not an Not an unreasonable one is, it’s our app store.

Paul Ford: Well, it’s like I can’t go to, I can’t tell the mall that they have to give me a place to put my chest Kings door.[00:16:00]

Rich Ziade: You don’t have to be in the mall. And, and, and Apple’s response is, there’s, there’s the Google Play Store, which frankly is a crime in and of itself. The Google Play Store is not a good place to

Paul Ford: Maybe that’s, maybe that’s why Department of Justice is going after them.

Rich Ziade: Let’s end this with like an anecdote. Tim Cook, um, uh, Google has its own messaging protocol called iMessage. And they’ve, it’s been, it’s

Paul Ford: Wait, Apple. Apple has a,

Rich Ziade: I’m sorry, has iMessage. And it’s very murky how they bridge between SMS like they’re green when they there’s also kind of a rotten green

Paul Ford: for years.

Rich Ziade: on for years and apple started to get heat from it and someone asked him cook It was like a press conference or something.

He’s like my mom can’t message me Because i’m on iMessage and if she’s not if i’m not I don’t have SMS bridge turned on. I can’t talk to her. You know what he said to him? Get your mom an iPhone.

Paul Ford: Honestly, I mean, like antitrust aside, [00:17:00] just get your mom and I find just like, just, just to end these conversations. All right. I want two minutes. There we go. There we go. We have solved.

Rich Ziade: looks like they settled it. I also, by the way, I feel like the DOJ can kind of ring up the cash register every time things are looking a little tight and just go after someone. I, I don’t know where the money goes when they get like a billion dollars. So where does it

Paul Ford: I’ll bet you if you go to the DOJ headquarters, it’s just amazing. Like there’s just a statue of like

Rich Ziade: Money?

Paul Ford: like, yeah, you can, or whatever else. Yeah, no, there’s, yeah, just money.

Rich Ziade: Yeah. I don’t know where that goes. I guess it goes back into like the treasury maybe.

Paul Ford: It’s all weird with that stuff, right? I get to see anyway.

Rich Ziade: it. Like, you know, the, the, the Purdue Pharma settlement, the whole point was the money was going to go to a fund that like rehabilitated families and communities. So that made sense to me, but I don’t know what the DOJ does with them.

I think they order really good

Paul Ford: No, they get, yeah, they get, they get amazing Chinese and then they, um, get, get, get, get an extra [00:18:00] order. Get five egg rolls. And then, um, they, uh, they, nah, yeah, I’m sure, I’m sure it goes into a, you know, maybe a fund for distressed, uh, belly fat advertisers. So, all right, so wait, let’s close this out. I want to hear about the Yankees.

You were complaining about the Yankees and I feel that we should. Share some of those thoughts with the broader audience.

Rich Ziade: The Yankees, I’m a Yankee fan.

Paul Ford: Yeah, boy, are

Rich Ziade: not a bandwagon Yankee fan. I joined the Yankees fan base in 1980.

Paul Ford: When they sucked.

Rich Ziade: And I went through 16 years. of no championships, no nothing. So nobody can say I’m a guy who jumped on the best

Paul Ford: hmm.

Rich Ziade: And then in 96, they had an absolute dynasty. Just dominated all of baseball for five years.

Like, they won four out of five years. They won the World Series. Spectacular team. And, uh, today, [00:19:00] fast forward to today. Uh,

Paul Ford: Uh,

Rich Ziade: they kind of suck. Uh, and… Uh, my view is that, um, the baseball is very analytical, bringing it back to tech, and the Yankees, um, aren’t caught up to it. The Houston Astros, who I despise, who I think are cheaters, and if you’re a Houston Astros fan please stop, unsubscribe from this podcast, um, uh, have an excellent front office.

They, they, they went all in on the stats, uh, and, and using Saber metrics and all of that stuff. The Yankees have just, I, I think it’s probably a bit of arrogance is in the mix

Paul Ford: Caught up with him.

Rich Ziade: you know, the Yankees have a rule that you can’t put the name on the, it’s only a number on your back

Paul Ford: Oh, that’s annoying.

Rich Ziade: because they’re, you know, the Yankees and it’s historic.

Paul Ford: the guy who

Rich Ziade: You can’t have facial hair either, by the way.

Paul Ford: Who’s the guy who just [00:20:00] hits the, like, hits the booth with the…

Rich Ziade: we’re not going to end this on Brett Gardner. Brett Gardner is a spectacular baseball player. He brought raw energy to the

Paul Ford: But he just hits things with bats.

Rich Ziade: He hits things with bats. He’s a, he’s hot headed and he’s passionate, Paul. Okay, let’s leave it at that. He cares deeply about his

Paul Ford: I’ll tell you, YouTube… What’s his name?

Rich Ziade: Brett Gardner,

Paul Ford: Gardner, um,

Rich Ziade: search savages in the

Paul Ford: world class

Rich Ziade: Who knows what savages

Paul Ford: baseball, just like five inches of plate metal in his head kind of guy. He’s world

Rich Ziade: Look, I think a team like the, there actually was a great criticism that came up recently. The Yankees averaged second highest in the seats in this, in the Hall of Baseball. 41, 000 attendance average.

Paul Ford: Baseball.

Rich Ziade: They, if you look at them as a business, They’re doing spectacular. The Yankees have their own network

Paul Ford: attendants average. Sure. If you look at them as a

Rich Ziade: because people, there are Yankee fans around the country and around the world.

In Florida, a lot of [00:21:00] retired New Yorkers want to watch the Yankees. They pay extra for this channel that just shows the Yankees. So they make money like crazy, but what you have with the new ownership, which is the son effectively of the old owner, George Steinbrenner is I don’t think he has that passion to win.

George Steinbrenner. I mean, to a flaw.

Paul Ford: No, he hire

Rich Ziade: people

Paul Ford: mean, he, he was known as just an absolute disaster of a human, like a tornado.

Rich Ziade: But, you know, he, people loved him. Warts and all,

Paul Ford: a character, you know, on, on Seinfeld. Like, I mean, it’s just like in New York City. Yeah, right.

Rich Ziade: Like, I want to win. We are the Yankees and I want to win. And, and with this, this new ownership, I don’t think you have that. I think you could go, when things are bad, you can go talk to them. And then you could smooth it out in a meeting.

Whereas with Steinbrenner, he’d be like, fire him.

Paul Ford: Fire him. Fire him. Didn’t he fire one coach like 20 times? Fired him all the time.

Rich Ziade: He would, he also had a like, he would call the dugout, which he’s not supposed to. You shouldn’t call the dugout during a game. He would call the

Paul Ford: [00:22:00] Alright, alright. So here we are. What advice do we, or what are you extrapolating? You’re extrapolating, what should the Yankees do? Fix it. You’re an

Rich Ziade: to the fans first. Stick with your team. Okay, it’s easy to bail on your

Paul Ford: You’ve been there. You’ve been there for them.

Rich Ziade: I’ve been there. I don’t mind the hate. Uh, that’s

Paul Ford: This season is an absolute gift to every other baseball team. Watching the Yankees suck is very

Rich Ziade: Yeah, it’s fortunate the Mets suck too. So that worked out for

Paul Ford: No, it is. But like, one of your best friends is a huge Cincinnati Reds fan. This is the best year he’s ever had. Just watching, you know, watching your team fail is

Rich Ziade: have the same budget as the groundskeepers

Paul Ford: Yeah, that’s

Rich Ziade: Stadium and they’re doing better than the Yankees. 100%. Um, what should the Yankees do? I think, I think you gotta fire people. Let me tell you something. It’s hard to communicate anymore when you want to shake things up and get people to work

Paul Ford: Yeah.

Rich Ziade: Because it’s hard to say anything anymore.

Paul Ford: Yeah, sure.

Rich Ziade: ends up in other places and you get yelled at. There’s, you gotta fire someone. That’s general advice.

Paul Ford: want to fire?[00:23:00]

Rich Ziade: I’d fire the manager and the general manager, just start fresh.

Paul Ford: Alright, there we go. There’s some advice. Finally, we got to a place. Yeah.

Rich Ziade: is the general manager, he’s the head of the front office. He might be invincible because he was during that dynasty

Paul Ford: God bless us all. Everybody’s a good person in their heart, but you want to fire

Rich Ziade: You know, things align fast. This is good advice for any company. When things aren’t going right, when you fire people… All kinds of things start lining up.

Paul Ford: them. It’s true. It happens in White Houses too.

Rich Ziade: It’s just

Paul Ford: There’s always that Chief of Staff who’s on the way out and this and that.

Rich Ziade: Yeah. Look, if you’re, if it’s a toxic place and you’re firing for like power trips, you’re kind of screwed.

That’s not gonna help you. But sometimes you don’t know what to do next. Just turn it, just shake it up. It’s the same thing as like, release it. Just release the damn thing. Let’s see what we got. It’s the same kind of disruption to the S system that is often needed. What is it gonna fix? The Yankees, they make tons of money.

Who? Nobody cares. Fire people. Get some young [00:24:00] person, he’s like, Oh my god, you’re giving me the job? They’ll be like, they won’t sleep. You need someone who can’t sleep.

Paul Ford: Alright, hello, it’s ZiadeFord. com. Thanks everybody for listening

Rich Ziade: started this,

Paul Ford: no, no, I’m glad we got there. Uh, we’ll, uh, we’ll talk to you soon. Let’s get back to work.

Rich Ziade: Have a great

Paul Ford: Bye!

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