Cold Takes

A Relationship-Backed Business

(Originally published on Cold Takes, my newsletter — more about it here.)

Given what I said last week — that basically no one reads the internet after a certain time on Friday (unless a major story about a major company happens to leak, as it did last week) — it makes sense to me to use the day as a sort of odds and ends catch-all of things I’ve read throughout the week and liked but haven’t shared yet.

Palmer Lucky

Following the passing of Arnold Palmer last Sunday, there were obviously a flood of tributes and retrospectives. The ones I found most interesting were about Palmer’s legacy not as a professional golfer, but as one of the original pitchmen.

David Gelles:

Mr. Palmer earned an estimated $875 million through endorsements, appearances, licensing and golf course design, according to Forbes. That places him behind only Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods in lifetime earnings for athlete-pitchmen. With many products bearing his name still selling briskly, Mr. Palmer’s estate will keep making millions for years to come.

That’s pretty crazy when you consider that Palmer was in his prime as an athlete in the 1960s. Many well-known athletes in that era made very little money (relative to today’s athletes) because the television and marketing dollars weren’t yet in play. But not Palmer.

Also loved this bit:

But in the fall of 1959, Mr. Palmer agreed to work with Mr. McCormack on an exclusive basis. Mr. McCormack wanted to sign a contract, but Mr. Palmer preferred a handshake.

That handshake, legend has it, was the foundation of one of the most lucrative partnerships in the history of sports. Mr. McCormack would go on to establish IMG, the powerhouse sports marketing company, which merged with William Morris Endeavor in 2013. And from the start, Mr. Palmer was among his most important stars.

Didn’t realize how instrumental Palmer was in the founding of IMG. What a legacy.

And let’s not overlook the legacy of Arnold Palmer, the drink. Victor Mather:

Palmer recalled the origin of the drink in an ESPN ’30 for 30' short documentary, saying that after his wife made some iced tea, he suggested, ‘Put a little lemonade in it and see how that works.’

He later became much more insistent on how to make the drink:

But Palmer was firm about the matter. ‘Iced tea has the dominant side; that dominates the drink,’ he said in the documentary. ‘And if it doesn’t, it isn’t really right.’ He advocated one-quarter to one-third lemonade.

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It was all yellow…


Unlike the mini Nintendo the U.S. will be getting, the Japanese version has holders for the controllers. They’re still wired unfortunately, but this makes it decidedly more portable to pack up and take to a friend’s house.

Also, “Family Computer” — amazing. WANT.

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So cute. Awful color scheme, but cute.

Speaking of Nintendo, The Economist weighs in on the company’s recent stumbles and successes (well, half or one-third successes) and the path forward. What struck me the most was the revenue chart (below), which looks eerily similar to the one being shared yesterday in light of BlackBerry getting out of the hardware business…

Now, I’m not saying the situation is the same — it’s not — but…

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What Goes Up…


Enjoyed this bit from Julia Love and Heather Somerville speaking with Kevin Abbott, a vice president at trucking logistics giant C.H. Robinson, about Uber’s move into the trucking space with Otto:

“The transportation industry is a relationship-backed business. There’s a lot more to it than just finding a piece of equipment.”

And we once again cut to former Palm CEO Ed Colligan for his thoughts:

“We’ve learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone. PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.”

(Originally published on Cold Takes, my newsletter.)

Written by

General Partner @ GV (née Google Ventures). In past lives I wrote at TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and ParisLemon. A man of few words. Except when writing. 🍻

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