Episodes
In luxury, there’s Hermès… and there’s everyone else. Stewarded by one French family over six generations, Hermès sells the absolute pinnacle of the French luxury dream. Loyal clients will wait years simply for the opportunity to buy one of the company’s flagship Birkin or Kelly bags. Unlike every other luxury brand, Hermès: Doesn’t increase supply to meet demand (hence the waitlists)Doesn’t loudly brand their products (IYKYK)Doesn’t do celebrity endorsements (stars buy their bags just like...
Published 02/20/24
Published 02/20/24
Last year Novo Nordisk, the Danish pharmaceutical company behind Ozempic and Wegovy, overtook LVMH to become Europe’s most valuable company. And the pull for Acquired to finally tackle healthcare (18% of US GDP!) became too strong for us to resist. While we didn’t know much about Novo Nordisk before diving in, our first thought was, “wow, seems like these new diabetes and obesity drugs mean serious trouble for big insulin companies.” And then… we realized that Novo Nordisk IS the big insulin...
Published 01/22/24
Ben has some big news. Actually, double big news! On what has become a holiday tradition here at Acquired, we cozy up to the fire to do our annual review of the show “in public”. We reflect on what can only be described as an absolutely mind-blowing 2023 (LVMH! Jensen! Costco! Charlie! Half a million plus listeners!) and look ahead to some big things cooking for 2024. Plus as always, we wrap with extended carve outs (joined this year by some surprise guests) for anyone still shopping for...
Published 12/18/23
To paraphrase Visa founder Dee Hock, how many of you know Visa? Great, all of you. Now, how many of you know how it started? Or, for that matter, who started it? Who runs and governs it? Where is it headquartered? What’s its business model? For the 11th largest market cap company in the world, Visa’s history and strategy is almost shockingly unknown. A huge portion of the world’s population uses their products on a daily basis (you might say Visa is… everywhere people want to be), but very...
Published 11/27/23
We sit down with the legendary Charlie Munger in the only dedicated longform podcast interview that he has done in his 99 years on Earth. We’ve gotten to have some special conversations on Acquired over the years, but this one truly takes the cake. Over dinner at his Los Angeles home, Charlie reflected with us on his own career and his nearly 50-year partnership at Berkshire Hathaway with Warren Buffett. He offered lessons and advice for investors today, and of course he shared his speech on...
Published 10/30/23
We finally sit down with the man himself: Nvidia Cofounder & CEO Jensen Huang. After three parts and seven+ hours of covering the company, we thought we knew everything but — unsurprisingly — Jensen knows more. A couple teasers: we learned that the company’s initial motivation to enter the datacenter business came from perhaps not where you’d think, and the roots of Nvidia’s platform strategy stretch back beyond CUDA all the way to the origin of the company. We also got a peek into...
Published 10/16/23
It’s a(nother) new era for Nvidia. We thought we’d closed the Acquired book on Nvidia back in April 2022. The story was all wrapped up: Jensen & crew had set out on an amazing journey to accelerate the world’s computing workloads. Along the way they’d discovered a wondrous opportunity (machine learning powered social media feed recommendations). They forged incredible Power in the CUDA platform, and used it to triumph over seemingly insurmountable adversity — the stock market...
Published 09/06/23
Costco is not only Charlie Munger’s favorite company of all time (plus he’s on the board, natch), it’s an absolutely fascinating study in how seemingly opposite characteristics can combine to create incredible company value. For instance: Costco has the cheapest prices of any major retailer in America — and also the wealthiest customer base. They pay their hourly workers 30% above the industry norm (and give them excellent healthcare + 401k benefits) — and are almost 3x more profitable on...
Published 08/21/23
Nike — it’s perhaps the most iconic and most prolific brand of the modern era. On any given day, swooshes adorn the feet of more people on earth than any other footwear company — by a long shot. If you read Shoe Dog or watched Air, you may think you know its history. But Shoe Dog ends in 1980, and Air… well let’s just say it’s an enjoyable piece of fiction. And it turns out (as always) that the real story is filled with far more drama, twists and business lessons than either of those...
Published 07/25/23
Nobody’s perfect — including Porsche. Despite that phrase appearing in their famous 1983 magazine advertisement, they managed to get damn-close to the perfect luxury business (even Bernard Arnault would be jealous!). Porsche is both quality AND quantity, owning the most prestigious brand in its market, while at the same time churning out almost half a million mass-market soccer mom/dad SUVs per year. And like any good luxury brand, it’s packed with enough juicy family drama and creeping...
Published 06/27/23
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi dropped by the Acquired studio for an Eats delivery, so we broke out the cameras and asked him to hang out for a wide-ranging conversation. :) We talk about his 20 years working with Barry Diller, starting his career at Allen & Company, how the Uber CEO search process ACTUALLY went down… and oh yeah, the massive transformation that’s happened at Uber over the past few years. When Dara took over the company it was bleeding huge sums of cash, losing share to...
Published 06/13/23
Today we bring you two absolutely incredible stories. The first is Lockheed’s legendary Skunk Works division — the elite team of aviation geniuses who produced some of the greatest airplanes in history: the U-2, the Stealth Fighter, and the incomparable SR-71 Blackbird. The second story is arguably even more important, but not widely known! It's the secret and true origins of Silicon Valley — and Lockheed’s primary role in it. We take you from WWII to the Cold War, all the way to today to...
Published 05/30/23
We sit down with Spotify CEO Daniel Ek live in Stockholm at Spotify’s amazing HQ studio (check out the video version of this episode — which plays natively on Spotify!). This was an incredibly special and timely conversation: for those who haven’t been paying attention over the past few years, after revolutionizing music Spotify has now ALSO completely transformed our own industry in podcasting. Starting from way behind with ~zero market share in 2018, Spotify has now aggregated the listener...
Published 05/18/23
We sit down Benchmark’s legendary gaming investors Mitch Lasky and Blake Robbins (now also of the excellent Gamecraft podcast fame) to discuss the history and future of gaming business models. This episode is the perfect bookend to our Nintendo/Sega gaming series this season on Acquired — no one is more qualified than Mitch and Blake to breakdown how the business side of the industry has evolved so radically from the Periscope quarter-drop days to the forever games and platform based...
Published 04/26/23
Sega and the Genesis was THE underdog story of the early 90’s. In a single console generation, Sega went from ~zero to 50% US market share and dethroned Nintendo’s seemingly invincible global monopoly. But — somehow — it all then died. Two console generations later Sega was out of the hardware game entirely, and the company was sold off for pieces to a pachinko manufacturer. How on earth did this happen?? Today we’re launching Acquired Shorts in order to tell this story and others like it:...
Published 04/18/23
In the 1980’s Nintendo was on top of the world, with the NES achieving over 90% market share of home video games globally. So how did they fall ALL the way down to ~10% in just a few short console generations? And how did they then build themselves back up (and down and up again) to the top of the world again? Spoiler: it all hinged on one very small, yet very large and durable platform… the Game Boy. Fire up your favorite portable entertainment device and tune in for the epic story of...
Published 04/11/23
7 Powers author Hamilton Helmer and his Strategy Capital colleague Chenyi Shi join us again to discuss their latest research on a topic that’s highly relevant to the recent Acquired canon: how to build a second business line. This incredibly important “transforming” question faces every great company who has achieved initial product success (as well as their investors). Do we continue solely along the established path, or do we attempt to grow new branches on the tree? Some companies grow new...
Published 04/04/23
ACQ Sessions returns with David Senra of the Founders Podcast. David is one of our very favorite people in the world — it’s impossible to spend an hour (or 3!) with him and not come away inspired to go take over the world. This conversation is an “extended, IRL version” of monthly calls that we do together where we share stories, swap life and podcast advice, and just genuinely enjoy sharing time with someone who shares our outlook and enthusiasm for the history of entrepreneurship. Pull up a...
Published 03/29/23
You may think you know the Nintendo story: a plumber named Mario, a princess named Zelda… and didn’t they buy the Seattle Mariners at some point? We thought we knew it too. And then we started researching and were blown away. The lovable Disney-like Nintendo that we know today is a 130 year-old a playing card company (i.e. gambling), forged in the shadowy world of the Yakuza and shaped by a four-generation cycle of bitter family betrayal. And its unlikely transformation into a global...
Published 03/16/23
You may think you know the Nintendo story: a plumber named Mario, a princess named Zelda… and didn’t they buy the Seattle Mariners at some point? We thought we knew it too. And then we started researching and were blown away. The lovable Disney-like Nintendo that we know today is a 130 year-old a playing card company (i.e. gambling), forged in the shadowy world of the Yakuza and shaped by a four-generation cycle of bitter family betrayal. And its unlikely transformation into a global...
Published 03/16/23
We tell the full history of LVMH, and how Bernard Arnault turned a $15m investment in a bankrupt French textile company into the world’s largest individual fortune. It’s a story that’s equal parts Berkshire Hathaway, Steve Jobs and Barbarians at the Gate… and wholly under-appreciated for the genius business model innovations that enabled it. Whatever industry you operate or invest in, there’s so much to be learned from Bernard and LVMH’s complete reshaping of the luxury sector over the past...
Published 02/21/23
We tell the full history of LVMH, and how Bernard Arnault turned a $15m investment in a bankrupt French textile company into the world’s largest individual fortune. It’s a story that’s equal parts Berkshire Hathaway, Steve Jobs and Barbarians at the Gate… and wholly under-appreciated for the genius business model innovations that enabled it. Whatever industry you operate or invest in, there’s so much to be learned from Bernard and LVMH’s complete reshaping of the luxury sector over the past...
Published 02/21/23
The NFL — it’s almost synonymous with America today. And its history is a fascinating lens to explore the nation’s development over the last 100 years, from WWII to TV and suburbs to the Internet and social media. What began as a quasi-illicit league in small midwestern towns is now the single largest media property in the world today by revenue. And whether you watch football or not, this is one incredible business story. Acquired is ready for some football — let’s kick this Season off...
Published 01/25/23
The NFL — it’s almost synonymous with America today. And its history is a fascinating lens to explore the nation’s development over the last 100 years, from WWII to TV and suburbs to the Internet and social media. What began as a quasi-illicit league in small midwestern towns is now the single largest media property in the world today by revenue. And whether you watch football or not, this is one incredible business story. Acquired is ready for some football — let’s kick this Season off...
Published 01/25/23