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Marc Lore Walmart interview – Business Insider


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Marc Lore
Marc Lore is the CEO of
Walmart eCommerce.

AP
Images


  • Marc Lore is the president and CEO of Walmart eCommerce
    in the US.
  • He founded Quidsi and sold it to Amazon in 2011 for
    over $500 million. Then he founded Jet.com and sold that to
    Walmart in 2016 for $3 billion and stock. His first startup was
    acquired for $6 million.
  • Lore says radical transparency, choosing the right
    cofounders, knowing finance, and selling to the right company
    are key to his success as a business person.


Marc Lore’s first big startup sold diapers before it was bought
by Amazon for more than $500 million. But after it was acquired,
Lore says he felt let down.

“It was this really depressing sort of moment where we didn’t
even want to go out for a [celebratory] drink,” Lore said on
Business Insider’s podcast,
“Success! How I Did It.”
“It wasn’t a celebration. It was
sort of like mourning.”

After Amazon he went on to found a competitor, called Jet.com,
which he recently sold to Walmart for $3 billion in cash plus
stock. He’s had a number of reasons to celebrate, and now he’s
the president and CEO of Walmart eCommerce in the US. And the
stock is way up.

On this episode of “Success! How I Did It,” Lore explains how he
founded several companies with his childhood friends, and what
made the Walmart deal different than Amazon.

“So when people say, ‘Yeah, but you sold,’ and I said, ‘Well, we
sold the company, but we didn’t sell out, which we did the first
time.'”

Some of Lore’s keys to business success are:

  • Radical transparency with employees so they believe in your
    vision
  • Coming up with creative ways to launch your product (he
    gamified the launch of Jet.com by offering 100,000 stock options
    to a stranger, and got tons of people to sign up before launch)
  • Working with cofounders you like (Lore has started multiple
    companies with the same childhood friend)
  • Having a background in finance and a vision for a giant,
    multi-billion-dollar opportunity to tackle, can both help you
    keep a startup afloat, and raise venture capital
  • Choosing the right buyer if a company wants to buy your
    startup. Lore says he felt depressed after he sold Quidsi to
    Amazon but feels much different after selling Jet to Walmart. The
    key difference: he feels he’s a more integral part of Walmart’s
    organization, and his team isn’t being left alone to operate
    without help.

Listen to the full episode:

Subscribe to “Success! How I Did
It
” on
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, Google Play,
or your favorite app. Check out previous episodes with:

Following is a transcript, which has been edited for
clarity.

Alyson Shontell:
We started our conversation
by talking about how he grew up on Staten Island and went to
Bucknell University.

Marc Lore: I’d always been an entrepreneur. In
grammar school and high school I loved entrepreneurship. But when
I went to college and was graduating — this is in ’93 — there
really wasn’t this sort of tech community and startup community
that there was now. I would’ve loved that.

But then it was sort of banking or law and medicine, things like
that. I studied finance in undergrad, spent the next seven years
working in banking as the market and the whole dot-com boom was
sort of taking off right, and I sort of couldn’t take it anymore.
At one point, I knew I didn’t want to be in banking. I knew that
wasn’t my calling. I wanted to be an entrepreneur. And so I found
and contacted two of my best friends from grammar school, said,
“Hey, how are you guys doing seven years into your career? Do you
want to start a company?” And, yeah, they both did. And so the
three of us started The Pit.

Shontell: The Pit was different than what you’re
doing now; it was a trading company for sports cards, right?

Lore: Yeah, it was meant to be a sports stock
market where you can buy and sell professional athletes, like
stock using the baseball card as a proxy for the athlete. So you
never had to take delivery of the cards — we just kept them in a
vault — and people would just trade them, buy and sell. We had
market makers, we had price charts and ticker tape, and
everything. It was really fun. It was a great experience.

Shontell: The finance background is really
valuable in entrepreneurship. Money, and dealing with money, and
figuring out the finances — if you don’t know how to do that —
can be a really fast way for your startup to die. How do you
think having that finance background has helped you in your
business ventures?

Lore: There’s a lot that has to do with
financial planning, of course. But also financing the business is
critical, and being able to sort of think through the financing
rounds, and what it does to the share price, and what it does to
investor returns, and understanding risk and reward.

You know, I spent most of my career in risk — financial risk. And
so it’s no different, really, in the way venture capitalists
think about the investment. They’re putting in money, and there’s
a small probability of a big outcome, and how do you create the
right, you know, risk profile for the venture capitalists and be
able to communicate it in a way that makes sense? I think that’s
a big part of raising capital.

Shontell: The Pit wound up being successful.
It’s not easy to make a first startup or any startup successful,
but it sounds like you guys were. And you exited either right
around the time the bubble burst, for about $6 million?

Lore: After the bubble burst — nine months in.

Shontell: Wow.

Lore: The bubble had burst, and we never raised
any venture capital. It was all from angel investors before that,
to start this company. And we’re doing well, bubble burst, and we
thought, “OK, time for the next round; let’s raise some venture
capital.” And the whole market was just shut down — nobody would
even take a call. The whole thing had blown up, and then we got
an offer from Topps, the baseball card, and Bazooka, the gum
manufacturer, and we took it.

How Lore founded Quidsi out of personal need


Marc Lore Vinit Bharara
Lore
founded Quidsi with his childhood friend Vinit
Bharara.

Courtesy of Marc
Lore


Shontell: And so the next company was Quidsi, in
2005.

Lore: Yep.

Shontell: And that was again with a childhood
friend — was that the same one?

Lore: It was Vinnie Bharara and Lax Chandra, the
first business, and then me and Vinnie did the next business.

Shontell: So what’s it like to found a company
with a childhood friend? I mean, you’ve clearly made it work.

Lore: Yeah, you know, it’s all about enjoying
what you do on a day-to-day basis. And getting to come to work
and build something and do it with your best friends is, you
know, it makes it that much more enjoyable and fun. And that’s
why I do it; it’s almost entirely about the fun of the
experience, and, like any experience, doing it with people you
enjoy being around makes it that much better.

Shontell: So it sounds as if the idea for Quidsi
came out of personal need. At this point you have a family and
you needed diapers.

Lore: I’d just had a baby — first baby — and,
you know, it’s sort of a pain having to go out for diapers,
usually last minute, and I was looking online, and there really
wasn’t any place to get good prices and fast delivery on diapers,
which was kind of crazy. This was back, probably in 2003, 2004.
Started doing some research and realizing that people thought
about it — obviously many, many people had thought about it — but
they said the economics didn’t work, because the diapers are too
heavy and bulky to ship. And they’re already loss leaders. So if
they’re already loss leaders, then you have to pay all this money
to ship these bulky things. You could never make money.

Shontell: What’s a loss leader?

Lore: Loss leader means products that retailers
lose money on to drive traffic into the store. So like
brick-and-mortar stores, they don’t really make any margin on
diapers, but it drives traffic into the store. Now, think about
having to ship these big, heavy boxes; you could never make
money. And that was sort of what we’d heard time and time again,
and then we thought, “Wait a second, why couldn’t diapers be a
loss leader for an e-commerce site in the same way they are for
brick and mortar?”

The loss profile might be different, but we would drive traffic
and moms to the site, and then we’d sell them everything else,
and that was sort of the thesis. And that’s how it sort of played
out. We lost money on diapers, we made money on other baby
products, whether it be baby clothes or strollers or car seats,
or baby care, stuff like that, and then we started selling pet
stuff under a different domain, Wag.com, and drug-store-type
stuff. And then toys and clothes, and in the end we had, like, 10
specialty websites that were kind of built off the back of this
core demo, this mom who had a baby in diapers.

Shontell: So how did you scale a company in
2005? This was a year after Facebook launched. It was not a
viable source of people like it is now. So how did you get people
on your site early on?

Lore: We did, obviously, the basic e-com, like
search-engine marketing, but there wasn’t a ton of search-engine
volume on diapers at the time. A lot of it was old-fashioned
direct mail, billboard, and subway advertisements. We really
focused on the big urban centers. And at one point had an
incredible share in New York City and San Francisco — that’s
where a good majority of our business was being done.

Shontell: And you didn’t have really have any
e-commerce background before now — now you’re a huge e-commerce
name, but at the time —

Lore: Zero, yeah, nothing in retail whatsoever.
And we started actually selling product, because it was
self-funded in the beginning by Vinnie and myself, and we would
just sell stuff online, and then go buy at BJ’s and Costco and
Sam’s Club, and we really had to do that because Procter &
Gamble wouldn’t sell us diapers direct.

For at least two years they said no. They didn’t think that was a
viable business, so they weren’t going to sell us, so we had to
continue to buy from the club stores. Until the clubs eventually
[realized] we’d clean them out. So many clubs would beg Procter
& Gamble to sell to us, because their customers were coming
in and they weren’t getting any diapers. And they couldn’t stop
us from buying it. And it was not until they called Procter &
Gamble and said, “Please, would you sell to Diapers.com?” that we
got it. That was sort of funny.

Shontell: They would stop you in the store and
be, like, “Who are you guys, and why do you keep buying all
this?”

Lore: Yeah, and we’d tell them. In the beginning
they’d say, “Listen, here’s the deal: Leave us some diapers, and
we’ll help you put it on the truck.” And so we did that for a
while, and they were happy and we were happy, but we weren’t
getting and going direct. It was harder and harder to buy
truckloads and truckloads of diapers, like, every week. So then
we said, “Let’s take a different strategy here. Let’s clean them
out and ask them to call Proctor and Gamble,” and the strategy
worked.

Lore decided to sell Quidsi, and regretted it


FILE PHOTO: Amazon boxes are seen stacked for delivery in Manhattan, New York, U.S., January 29, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo
Lore
sold Quidsi to Amazon, and came to regret the
decision.

Thomson
Reuters


Shontell: In 2009, that’s the first time Amazon
got on the radar. It sounds like a vice president was sent in to
have lunch with you. Is that what happened?

Lore: We did meet some executives from Amazon
considerably early, a year or two earlier than when we sold,
ultimately.

Shontell: So what happened in that meeting?
Because the way that the tale goes, Amazon began to kind of
threaten you and be, like, “You must work with us, or else we’ll
kill you on price.” Is that what happened, or has that just been
blown up?

Lore: Yeah, that has just been blown up. It
expressed an interest in learning more, and it was a good
conversation, and we said we’d stay in touch. They said if we
were going to do anything, with anyone else, please let them know
first. That was really it. It was a pretty standard conversation
that one would have with the startup that you were interested in
staying close to.

Shontell: Was that interesting? Were you
thinking about selling? Does an entrepreneur ever really not
think about selling?

Lore: At that point we weren’t thinking about it
at all. I mean, we were growing, doubling each year, having fun,
really enjoyed coming to work, enjoyed the people we worked with,
hiring great people. There was no interest whatsoever at that
point.

Shontell: You guys would do experiments on the
site where you felt like Amazon was changing the price based on
what you were doing: You would toggle the price on your site, and
then you’d go watch Amazon toggle their prices to kind of
undercut later. That has to be kind of daunting as a startup to
be, like, “Oh, my God — Jeff Bezos is literally making his prices
based on my company.”

Lore: Yeah, my memory’s sort of vague at this
point, because it’s starting to approach 10 years ago. But I
remember it being yeah pretty competitive, pretty intense, every
day. It was a battle.

Shontell: So how do you survive a big company
that wants to play in your space?

Lore: We sort of doubled down on the brand and
the emotional connection, and just kept pressing the tiny little
touch points that we did for customers that were differentiated
so that it wasn’t about price, so that even if we had higher
prices we’d still have a very healthy business.

And so that’s what we did, and so after they did drop prices
pretty significantly — like, unheard of in diapers — it didn’t
impact us as much as it did other people, including themselves.
We didn’t lose that much business — we lost some, sure, but you
could argue that what was left were the customers we wanted
anyway. The people that were spending a lot of money on the site.
It wasn’t just about the price of diapers: They liked the
service, they liked the brand, and everything we stood for in
terms of the values and stuff.

So actually, after that happened, we withstood that, we actually
had a new sense of confidence that, “Wow, we’ve really built
something here that goes well beyond price,” and that’s really
what a brand is, right? It’s price-defensible. You can’t beat a
brand by just depending on price; that’s what private labels do
all the time. Same quality, lower prices doesn’t mean that people
still don’t want Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes, because the brand has
a meaning, right?

Shontell: Eventually you did sell, for a hefty
price. I think both Walmart and Amazon, it sounds like, were
interested, and ultimately you went to Amazon for more than $500
million, a massive exit. So that is probably a game-changing
moment in your life, right? Your last company had been sold for
$6 million. This is like life-changing number, a life-changing
thing for your company. How do you process that? How do you
decide where to go?

Lore: You think we would’ve been celebrating,
like, “Wow, we just made enough money that we never have to work
again,” that sort of thing. “Family is set, grandkids are set,”
and everything. And it was this really depressing sort of moment
where we didn’t even want to go out for a drink. It wasn’t a
celebration; it was sort of like mourning. That’s what it felt
like. And it was really weird. We were like, “Why do we feel so
bad right now?” Like, we just sold this company and made a lot of
money, and we just didn’t feel great.

Shontell: Why do you think that was?

Lore: We had a real purpose. I think a lot of
entrepreneurship is about, like I said, having fun building
something, being empowered to make decisions and run, build your
own unique culture, hire the people you want to hire, watch them
grow and develop, and go on to bigger and better things, and
learn while they’re there. It’s, like, there’s a lot of benefit
of doing it that go beyond dollars and cents.

And I think that hit us, like, “Hey, in this new structure, this
new world, a lot of the things that made us happy are not going
to exist anymore.” And so you start to realize there’s not any
amount of money that can buy your substantial drop in happiness,
right? There’s really no price for that. I think that’s we kind
of realized. It’s like, “Hey, nothing’s really going to change.”
We had a nice house, nice cars, clothes, food, like, we were
living fine before. It wasn’t like the money was going to
suddenly bring us from poverty to sort of sustainability, right?

And we knew we’d always be able to make money; we had good, you
know, salary earning potential outside of this. So I guess the
money really just didn’t do it. And people ask, “Well, then why’d
you sell if you knew this beforehand?” We didn’t exactly know how
we’d feel, and we also knew at that time it was much harder to do
$100 million and $200 million raises; nobody was really doing
that back in 2010. I think the venture community was more
skeptical at the time about what would happen in the future, how
much more aggressive might they get things. And we were thinking
that it would be a safer way to go, I guess, at the time.

Shontell: So it wasn’t long before you were
thinking about the next thing.

Lore: I learned a really good lesson: both how I
approached acquiring companies, and also how I think about being
acquired. I think traditionally what you hear when companies
acquire companies, they say, “Let’s just leave the company alone,
let them do what they were doing, don’t mess with the culture. Of
course there will be things that poke at it, but they will be
really happy, because we’re not sort of interfering at all.” And
that on the surface sounds pretty logical, but if you’re suddenly
part of a bigger organization, and you’re left alone, it feels
sort of isolating, and the acquirer feels like they’re empowering
because you’re doing exactly what you’re doing before, because
you don’t have the latitude to sort of operate completely
independently.

And at the same time, you know that there’s a bigger mission and
vision that you sit underneath that you’re not a part of. It’s
kind of like depressing, right? So, empowered to do what,
exactly? Right? Like had Amazon said, “Hey, don’t leave them
alone, give them the keys, they know baby, let them run baby for
the whole mothership, let them drive this whole mom strategy.”
Totally different. Would’ve been excited probably, probably
would’ve gone down a different path completely.

How Lore took on Amazon by founding Jet.com


Jet.com Marc Lore
Lore
founded Jet in 2014 as a competitor to Amazon. He’s pictured
above with the original Jet leadership team.

Courtesy of Marc Lore

Shontell: So you’re almost too isolated.

Lore: Yeah. And one of the things we did when we
went out here at Walmart and bought these different companies,
Hay Needle and Shoes.com and Mod Cloth. We’re trying to empower
the leaders to actually impact the overall organization. And
that’s hard to do, but empowering people, I think, is the magic,
as opposed to isolating. And that’s a lesson I learned, because I
felt it, and now I’m trying to use the lesson on myself here at
Walmart.

Shontell: So let’s go back to Jet for a second.
So you come up with this idea. You and I actually met at a party,
you were excited, you were like, “I got this idea on pricing and
I’ve got this innovation on price, I think I can just get really
low prices that haven’t been seen before.” And what you were
ultimately talking about was this company, Jet.com. So what was
that innovation you felt like you had, where you could do
something that hadn’t been done before in e-commerce?

Lore: When you think about what prices you can
charge online, it’s directly correlated to what your costs are.
If your costs are lower, you can charge lower prices, and a big
portion of the costs are centered on logistics: shipping and
fulfillment. And shipping and fulfillment are incredibly volatile
on e-commerce transactions. Shipping could be just a few percent
of sales or it could be 50% of sales; it really depends on the
size of the basket, the weight of the items and things.

If you were shipping something that was heavy, and low dollar
value, like a $15 heavy bag of dog food, it could easily be $10
to ship that. Whereas you can pay $5 to ship, you know, $150
worth of apparel, right. Like, it changes dramatically. It also
changes based on location and proximity to the customer.

And I realized that everything was being priced to the average
logistics cost, in general. And what I thought was, “Could we at
Jet sort of untangle that and really make these costs transparent
to consumers as they shop, and then empower them to make choices
around saving money by pulling logistics costs out of the
system?” And so, for example, in the easiest, most basic case, in
a third-party marketplace, you go to buy in a marketplace and
there is the seller with the best price. If that seller is
located across the country, they get killed on shipping. If the
customer’s located down the street, they’re really happy. So
shouldn’t customers know that? And shouldn’t the retail be able
to change its pricing based on proximity?

And so making that transparent is easy for an item, but at the
basket level, if you’ve got two things in your shopping cart —
like a bag of dog food and a dog bowl and you search for a dog
leash — surfacing products that can ship in the same basket from
the same warehouse in close proximity is going to be way cheaper
to ship than if the leash has to split-ship, like in a completely
different package from a different place. And so we built these
algorithms to do this in real time, and we created this concept
of smart savings, where we’d give customers at the product level
incentives to choose certain products over another, when the
marginal cost to ship was lower. The result was bigger baskets,
lower shipping costs, and ultimately the ability to charge lower
prices.

Shontell: And did you find that that ultimately
worked? Adding a lot of transparency to shopping carts?

Lore: It did. The basket size was higher, the
shipping cost were lower. Yeah, it absolutely worked.

Shontell: One of the original ideas you had was
this $50-type Costco model where you had a membership and then,
pretty soon after the launch of the company, you did away with
that.

Lore: We never actually launched it. We were
trialing it early on. So my thoughts around competitive advantage
is always, if you have a competitive advantage, see if there’s
ways to double down on it. And then we thought, “Wait a second.
If we charge for membership, charge customers $50, we don’t have
to make any profit on the products we sell, we’ll just make our
profit on the membership. So we could take prices down even
further.”

So sort of doubling down on an advantage we already had, that was
the original thesis. And then as we got into it and we were
testing early on — this was really early on — the economics just
worked better to have more sales and make less margin and not
charging membership than charge it.

Shontell: I feel like sometimes founders start a
company based on an idea and they’re hesitant to say that it
doesn’t work, and do away with it. Was that a hard decision or
was it just based on numbers?

Lore: Not at all — it was just really logic. You
can’t get married to these decisions at all. I mean, you have to
be open, constantly rethinking. I think it’s one of the things
that I’m learning here being at a big company versus a startup.
At a startup, you’re changing your mind so quickly because you’re
processing information in real time. And as you get more
information, it’s almost like machine learning. You get more
information, you change your decision. You get more information,
you change it again. You get more information, you change it
again. And in a small company you can bring everybody along
pretty easily, because there’s, like, 10 key people, and they’re
sort of involved in every decision, and they sort of track, where
in a really big company, it’s much harder to do that. And that’s
been a big challenge is just balancing that, you know, “Get
information, adjust, move fast,” with the communication piece. I
think that’s always a challenge, and I’m learning that lesson and
how to sort of deal with that every day.

Shontell: So scale was really, really important,
and you had a cool innovative thing that I didn’t even know was
possible to do, to gamify getting early signups. You offered
100,000 stock options, I believe, to whatever stranger was able
to get the most people to sign up for Jet, before it really even
launched.

Lore: Yeah, we had an app with a ranking system,
and the more people you got to signup, you can see where you
ranked relative to everyone else. And it was like a fun
competition; people liked to see their ranking go up and down
depending on who they told.

Shontell: But that brought in, what, hundreds of
thousands of users?

Lore: Hundreds of thousands before we launched,
yeah. Before the stock was worth anything.

Shontell: Those guys probably got a pretty good
exit when you sold to Walmart.

Lore: The top person is probably around $1
million.

Shontell: That’s amazing. Well, that’s a cool
strategy. It seems like it worked really well. I guess Quidsi,
you had raised a lot of money, but this one it seemed as if you
were just, like, “Let’s go big really fast.” I think you raised
something like $80 million before it even launched.

Lore: It was $55 million in the seed round —
that was with the business plan. And then before we launched we
did another $100 million.

Shontell: You had a business plan? I feel like
people don’t do business plans anymore.

Lore: No. We had a business plan.

Shontell: I guess if you want to raise $55
million on seed round, then maybe have a business plan. What was
the thought process behind that? Was it just, like, “We need to
get to scale really fast, and I need as much money as possible”?

Lore: Yeah, being a mass merchant, scale’s
incredibly important. So we knew we had to spend a lot of money
in marketing, and we knew we had to get big fast. And we needed
to get and generate billions of dollars in revenue, and get on
that sort of trajectory to get to a number where the business
economics make sense.

Shontell: If you can raise that much money
pretty early on, it can’t be just because you’re a great serial
entrepreneur. How do you get investors sold, and employees sold
on this huge vision that you’ve got?

Lore: Part of it is having the big vision and
not being afraid to take risk and go for it. The asymmetric sort
of risk profile of sort of the possibility of a big outcome, I
think, is really key. It’s just not that interesting to say,
“We’re going to spend the next five years and build a couple of
hundred-million-dollar businesses,” like that’s not that
interesting from an investor standpoint. I think in terms of the
financial planning, being meticulous about what the long-term
plan looks like, what do the at scale economics look like, and
how you’re going to execute and work backward from that. Right,
so being really clear about “This is what we’re going to do, then
we’re going to raise more money, and then we’re going to create
more value, and we’re going to do this.” That was a big part of
it, too.

How core values influence a company


Marc Lore Jet.com
Lore said he founded Jet
with three core values: trust, fairness,
transparency.

Courtesy of Marc
Lore


Shontell: I think that you had three
philosophies when you were starting Jet. Trust, fairness,
transparency.

Lore: Yeah, those were our core values.

Shontell: So easy to say, hard for some to do in
practice.

Lore: Yeah, this is another lesson I learned
after doing a few companies. I wanted the values to be values
that the company lived and exhibited in the way in which it
operated and the moves the company made. And so a great example
of that would be in terms of transparency: The company was very
transparent with financial information, about how the company is
doing. We created an app where people could follow along the
daily performance of the company. We were transparent with
salaries; everyone knew what everyone else was making in the
company.

Shontell: Like even you?

Lore: Yeah.

Shontell: Wow.

Lore: Everyone. It was posted. It tied into the
fairness where everybody at the same level in the company made
the same amount. So whether you were a man, woman, doesn’t
matter, like everyone gets the same, and I thought that was
really important that there wasn’t any sort of weird unconscious
bias happening, that everybody at the same level got the same
amount. And when we hired somebody from the outside, we would
basically size that person up and everyone would interview them
and say, “Yep, director.” And then we’d go back and say, “OK,
everyone thinks you’re a director, go on LinkedIn, check out the
other directors, we really feel like you’ll feel like you’re a
director. Here’s what you make.” And people would say afterward,
like, “I just really appreciated not having to negotiate, knowing
that it was fair.” I think a lot of times people just want to
know that it’s fair, right? Like, most companies you don’t know
what people are making, and then you find out, and then you’re
like, “Wait a second — that’s not fair.” I’ve heard that word
over and over and over being used. We eliminate that, because
it’s open, everyone’s making the same, and so that’s one example
of how we live those values.

Shontell: How interesting. Can you still do that
at Walmart?

Lore: No, we can’t.

Shontell: It’s a massive company.

Shontell: So pretty quickly into the company,
first off, you get to a billion-dollar run rate, so you do scale
really fast. But then, these offers come back. You have Walmart
knocking on your door. What was it within a year of launching?

Lore: Within a year, yeah.

Deciding to sell a second time


Marc Lore Doug McMillon
Marc
Lore, right, said that he knew he wanted to sell to Walmart when
he spoke with CEO Doug McMillon and saw they had a shared
vision.

Courtesy of Marc
Lore


Shontell: So how did you weigh things at this
time, going from an experience where you sell and you don’t even
want to get a drink with your cofounder because you’re kind of
depressed, to this, where Walmart comes knocking?

Lore: It was really interesting … So I met
Doug.

Shontell: Doug McMillon, the CEO of Walmart?

Lore: The CEO of Walmart. And we had a few
discussions, and it was really in the beginning just about
partnering. How can we work together? And we both realized that
we shared a similar vision of wanting to create this e-commerce
business that customers absolutely loved, and so we shared a
similar vision, we were sort of building trust.

And then at one point he said, “Hey, we have the same vision, we
both are looking to do the same thing. Do you think, given our
assets, your assets and stuff, that working together, we have a
higher probability of getting there faster?”

And I just thought about it and felt, like, “Yeah, definitely.”
The assets of Walmart were incredible. I did feel like we can get
there faster; I felt like we can do more; I felt like it would be
fun. The one piece was I didn’t want to go down this path that we
did last time, which was, “Hey, we’re going to let you do your
thing.” Because I learned that lesson before. And Doug said, “No,
we actually want to give you the keys, and have you, your team,
take the best of both worlds and drive this thing forward.”

And so that was incredibly compelling at the time, and we built a
lot of trust and realized at that point, like, that slight
difference in sort of mentality meant everything — that was the
difference between being depressed and being really happy. And so
when people say, “Yeah, but you sold,” and I said, “Well, we sold
the company, but we didn’t sell out, which we did the first
time.” We didn’t sell out because the vision we had is the same.
Now we can get there faster with a higher degree of certainty.
And that’s all it comes down to is, like, can you achieve the
vision you had set out to achieve? That’s when it really clicked
for me, I was, like, “Wow, that’s everything: You buy a company,
you have to make sure that the vision is intact and can get there
faster than they would’ve on their own.” And if you can solve
that, that’s going to be super successful in the future.

Shontell: Were you able to be transparent with
the team as this was going on?

Lore: Could not. It was really tough. We were
super transparent, and for legal reasons we obviously couldn’t
talk about it. That was really, really tough. Even after it
leaked, we couldn’t talk about it, and that was tough.

Setting priorities as a leader


Marc lore jet.com
Lore made setting a clear
vision his top priority when transitioning to his leadership
position at Walmart.

Jet

Shontell: Acquisitions are really easy to mess
up, but it seems like everything has been smooth sailing, and
stocks up 40%, you’re now running all things digital e-commerce
at Walmart, CEO and president of Walmart.com. So what was the
state of Walmart when you came in, and what was your first order
of priorities?

Lore: Early on, it was just to assess the
organization and the structure and the people, and set a clear
vision, make sure we have the right people in the right spots.

Then, after the first six months, we started doing things to
change the customer value, like going to two-day free shipping
with no membership, launching easy reorder, and pickup discount,
start to leverage Walmart’s unique assets. And did a few
acquisitions to help drive some of the long-call categories,
bought a couple of digitally native vertical brands, Bonobos and
ModCloth, that’s more about playing offense, and giving us access
to unique assortment.

And then we built Store 8, which was really about preparing for
the future. We really wanted to help shape the future of retail,
and I didn’t want to have the same people thinking about the
business today also thinking about the future, so we said, “OK,
let’s segregate that from the rest of the business, call it Store
8, and we’ll build startups.” It’s a sandbox to kind of play
around with potential innovation concepts. It was really to say,
“No, let’s treat it, like — what startup would we build today
that we think has a chance to change the future of retail? What’s
the vision?” And that’s what really got me excited about coming
to Walmart.

Shontell: You’ve got a long career ahead of you,
but you have an impressive career behind you. If you were to give
advice to someone who was a budding entrepreneur, kind of wants
to take their first big swing, knowing what you know now, what
would you tell them?

Lore: I think the very first thing is that you
want to surround yourself with the absolute smartest, most
capable people that you possibly can, both hiring, also advisers
and investors. Those relationships you make are not only helpful
in the business you’re currently in but will be the next one and
the one after and the one after that.

And so if you’re going and willing to work super hard, and be
tenacious, and take risk, and surround yourself with great
people, then even if that business doesn’t work out, you’ll know
pretty quickly, especially if you’re taking risk and being
aggressive. And you’ll take those learnings, take those
relationships, and be able to start again from a higher platform.
You keep wanting to move to a higher platform each time, right? I
didn’t know this at the time, but I was fortunate to make a lot
of good relationships early, and those relationships stuck with
me each venture that I did beyond that, right? So, I’d probably
say that’s the most important thing.

Shontell: Great. Well, Marc, thank you so much
for your time. It’s been fun.

Lore: Thank you so much, Alyson. I appreciate
it.


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