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October 28, 2006



I used to eat their burritos when I lived in pac heights - Then, I discovered the freakin mission.

good point, though, why try so hard to be like everything else?


> At Google, the employees are encouraged to constantly innovate and create new and better products. Small teams are given the resources to experiment with new product ideas and have the freedom to launch new initiatives even at early stages in their development.

This is what we have all heard about Google as well... But how does it work in practice?

What I mean is, new services from Google are always launched in an orderly fashion. This implies some "culling" of ideas before they are officially launched, and it also implies that some initiatives are NOT launched. If every team truly has the freedom to launch anything, then your service offerings would, it seems to me, be a huge unruly mess.

Where/how does this culling take place? How do you avoid bruised egos from canned initiatives, if everyone is "supposed" to have the freedom to launch anything?

Steve Lerner

Ah the joy of being in the technology industry. What is the marginal cost for Google to roll out a new service? Pretty much zero. You can amortize the cost of the development... but most of Google's services have relatively insignificant marginal cost.

Food on the other hand, has costs. The food itself- especially if organic, maybe the heat required in the trays, the paper carton to take it away with, the handfuls fo fork and napkins people use...

In order to maximize profit from take-out food at Whole Foods, they have to lower the cost of goods sold by developing a national menu. They also need to make sure they guarantee a level of quality that can be monitored. If the local stores start cooking their own inventions, there will have to be national quality monitors at each store.

Add all of these elements up and you'll see why they don't have locally made items. Yet. You can break this mold by setting national standards and letting local cooks get a share of the profit from local specialities.

In fact you can even have separate marketing locally for anything interesting that comes up.

But it requires custom setups, which are the bane of operations.

I find most of the Whole Foods take out to be pretty bland. But then again, I live in New York City...


p.s. check out my new site documenting the build of hand made electronic music devices: http://streetelectronics.com

Chris Sacca

Fred - Thanks for the comment. I would suggest watching a video of the speech Marissa Mayer gave to a class at Stanford on our innovation process. In it she talks about how we try to morph projects rather than kill them.(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=soYKFWqVVzg) Ultimately, users are the arbiters. If they don't get/like something, then it won't see a broader launch.

Steve - Good to hear from an old friend. That said, you sound exactly like the MBAs I presume are at Whole Foods HQ setting these policies.

First of all, we certainly do have marginal costs of launching services at Google. Machines and bandwidth are not immaterial.

One disadvantage we have is that, in contrast to a grocery store, it is hard to localize our launches to small groups.

Nevertheless, while you may be right in stating that cost reductions may be maximized by centralizing the buying function and achieving scale, I disagree that this will lead to maximized profit. Instead, as you can see form my narrative, I stop eating there after the menu becomes too predictable.

Similarly, all of these notions that quality would somehow suffer if menu planning were localized just ring hollow to me. The best restaurants I know of are all mom and pop local operations.

By the way, one fact I didn't note above is that the Google Chefs have hardly ever repeated a dish on the menu over the 7 years that they have been cooking there. Only for the most famous and favorite meals will they allow repeats. Fascinating to me.

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Well said, such a person should be a good sentence, or the future will be more rampant.

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houghts on aerodynamic stabilization? What would a white sail with blue wedge lined by silver look like? Real pretty I recon!! Is this design known as the flying wedge?

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It is hard to say such a thing is clear.

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