Category: Biz


The news has been really bad for Chipole over the last 6 months or so: food safety issues, a 26% decline in sales, and then safety measures which killed the taste of the food. I’ve been a HUGE Chipotle fan for a very long time. On average I ate Chipotle 3-5 times a week for a long period of time spending thousands of dollars on Chipotle every year.

I virtually stopped eating Chipotle almost a year ago long before the crisis. My local Chipotle in Wayne, PA was so bad, I just stopped going. Every time I went there it was dirty, and ingredients were always missing due to bad employees and non-existent management. If you look at Yelp reviews for Chipotle locations they will tend to have 2-3 stars on average, and this was long before the outbreaks. 5 years ago, your typical Chipotle location would have a 4-5 star review average.

Chipotle has a customer experience problem. If I had to identify a root cause, their employee quality has gone way downhill, and management oversight has become very lax. 10 years ago your average Chipotle employee was a much higher quality employee than a typical fast food joint. Over the last five years, the employee quality has drifted into fast food territory and that is what ultimately led to poor sales and probably the multiple outbreaks too because the onsite hand prep of food at Chipotle necessitates a higher quality employee.

The United States is in the middle of a recession, with crumbling infrastructure, and the country’s global influence waning. I thought now would be a great time to discuss standard of living in America.

Since the birth of this nation, there has been one overwhelming theme which bolstered the growth of the nation. Throughout the 20th century, if there was one constant in the United States, it was the notion that the next generation would have a better standard of living than the previous.

Unfortunately for today’s youth, the idea of a constant increase in standard of living is no longer a certainty. Salaries are not keeping up with increases in cost of living. During the 20th century, upward mobility in America was driven by the educational system. Children would aspire to be physicians, attorneys, journalists, policemen, and businessman.

A four year degree in the United States today is the equivalent of a high school diploma thirty years ago. Being a doctor today is not what it was a generation ago. There is an oversupply of attorneys, since law school became the default career path for students without clear career aspirations. Perhaps the most reliable vehicle for upward mobility in the 20th century was small business, particularly the idea of a family business.

Over the last twenty years, the family business has become an endangered species. Just think about where you purchased goods 20 years ago. Groceries, gas, clothes, sporting goods, cars, and appliances were all bought from family businesses. Today, the vast majority of goods and services are purchased from multinational corporations.

While Americans watched small businesses die around the country, it seemed like progress. The prices were lower at Wal-Mart, and instead of owning their own business, Americans would work for the multinationals, dabble in real estate, and invest in stock. The financial system was going to be the overwhelming source of wealth in this country, replacing legacy methods of upward mobility. After this year, there is no clear path.

Sure, there are always going to be opportunities for Americans to be successful. There will be new markets, new technologies, and new opportunities, but the odds of success are getting worse.

Today, there is no clear path upwards for the youth of America. Its no longer a certainty that generation X and Y will have a better quality of life than their parents.

Today, people are just hoping to break even.

The New York Times has an article about the troubles social networking companies are having when it comes to actually making money.

The only potential revenue stream from social networking is advertising. The dirty little secret about social networking is the fact that it’s a piss poor platform for generating clicks on those ads. Even though social networks can tailor advertising to every stupid little like and dislike you list in your profile, people want to spend time poking instead of clicking on advertisements.

Social networking advertising is not like search engine advertising. On a search engine, the user is actually seeking something. An advertisement on a Google search can actually fulfill an immediate need, while an advertisement on Facebook is generally an annoyance.

Yahoo announced a 1000 employee layoff today. Hopefully, the layoff will serve as a wake up call to a lot of the other “web” companies out there, especially Google. Remember when Google was a cool place to work for?

Google now has 17,000+ employees. Who the hell knows what they are all doing. Both Google and Yahoo have gone insanely horizontal with their products. 2 months ago Google announced a foray in to green energy.

How long before Google has a layoff?

Bill Gates deserves a lot of credit for showing some relative restraint at Microsoft over the last 25 years. When Microsoft announced new business units or initiatives, they seemed to make some sense.

apple store nyc

The New York Times has a great piece on the success of Apple’s retail stores.

When Apple first launched retail stores in 2001, I thought was a dumb idea. Why bother with brick and mortar in 2001? I was dead wrong. Apple’s success at retail is really amazing, especially when you consider how badly other companies have failed at retail. Think Gateway stores..

There are a lot of aspects to Apple’s retail model which make it a success, but the number one characteristic seems to be attention to detail. An Apple store feels more like high end fashion boutique, than a small “electronics shop.”