retail news in context, analysis with attitude

MNB Archive Search

Please Note: Some MNB articles contain special formatting characters, and may cause your search to produce fewer results than expected.

    Published on: February 14, 2013

    This commentary is available as both text and video; enjoy both or either. To see past FaceTime commentaries, go to the MNB Channel on YouTube.

    Hi, I'm Kevin Coupe and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy, posting this morning from Las Vegas, Nevada, where the National Grocers Association Show has just wrapped up.

    One of the stories that "keeps on giving," in the sense that there are either developments that lead to new stories or email from people within the organization, is the ongoing turmoil at Supervalu. In just a few weeks, if the deal with Cerberus is completed as expected, it will be a new company. it already has a new CEO. And I suspect that there will continue to be changes there as the folks in charge look to reshape the company into something that is viable and sustainable.

    I do think that, while there no doubt will be more pain felt in the ranks, we have to give these folks and little bit of room to develop and implement their plans. Clearly, because of years of mismanagement and misjudgments, Supervalu was in pretty lousy shape. It won't be fixed overnight. And it won't be fixed without more blood - at least some of it from the good, hard-working and dedicated people who have given the company their best shot. That's a shame, and I'm humbled that MNB has become a place where they've had a chance to vent their emotions and explain their positions. It will continue to be that place, as long as you need it.

    I have no idea what Supervalu will look like in a few months or a few years. I do think that management there has to pay more attention to the optics of what they do. In the end, much of the resentment within the ranks comes from the millions of dollars being paid to executives who either were not there very long or didn't seem to do the company much good. Most of the people I know don't begrudge senior executives their salaries and bonuses ... they just want to feel that a) they are commensurate with performance, and b) seem to be somewhere in the same universe as everyone else working at the company. I think that is fair.

    The big bucks being paid out are not a Supervalu problem. They are an American problem.

    I respect people like Jim Sinegal and Steve Jobs, who got most of their compensation based on stock performance ... and then never seemed to do things purely to goose the stock, but rather focused on creating companies with lasting value. I have less respect for people who seem to think that he or she with the biggest salary and bonus wins ... because these people seem to have forgotten that in order to be leaders, you have to be able to get people to follow you. And part of that means being relatable.

    Just look at the story of Don Marsh, who is on trial for essentially looting his publicly owned supermarket chain for as much as he could - accused of using company assets for his own pleasure.

    Or at the case of Jean-Marc Saubade, who, as we reported yesterday, was fired from his job as head of the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) "in disgrace" because he was apparently was so busy creating a personal empire that he forgot to lead the people who worked for him or to serve most of the companies that were his customers.

    These days, I don't think that kind of leadership - the leadership of narcissism - is sustainable. I do think that we live in a world where big salaries and big bonuses are how people keep score, and we'll need some major, high-profile downfalls for that culture to change. Executive have to be willing to say that just because they can get something doesn't mean they should get something.

    It is more important than ever to understand that leaders have to lead, and that means being able to relate to and inspire the people on the front lines. The facts have to be right, and the optics have to be right.

    That's what is on my mind this Thursday morning. As always, I want to hear what is on your mind.

    KC's View:

    Published on: February 14, 2013

    by Kevin Coupe

    Yet more evidence of how the balance of power is shifting to consumers...

    We've spent a lot of time here discussing Netflix's evolving business model, investing in original content production as well as changing the distribution model by making all of the episodes of new series available at the same time - the goal being to a) provide differentiated product, and b) put the consumption experience entirely in the hands of the viewer. As I've said, these decisions strike me as a good metaphor for what every business needs to do.

    So it was with some interest that I read in the Los Angeles Times this morning that while "The Following," the new Kevin Bacon serial killer drama on Fox, "attracted 10.4 million viewers on the night of its premiere. But the first-night figure, indicating a solid start for the show, does not include an additional 9.9 million people who watched the premiere in the days ahead, according to newly released statistics from Nielsen and Fox."

    Those additional viewers include "4.7 million people who watched a DVR recording during the next six days, 2.8 million who caught an encore broadcast, and 2.4 million who watched it online or via cable on-demand services."

    (Count me among that group, by the way. I've watched every episode of "The Following" on my iPad, on airplanes.)

    What this means is that traditional metrics used to judge whether a program is successful or not not longer can be used; using only first night numbers, "The Following" was a decent success, but the additional numbers add up to a blockbuster debut.

    It means that the companies doing the measuring, and the companies producing and distributing the product, have to think differently about how people are consuming, and what that means in terms of subject matter, episode structure, and financial investment.

    Once again, for companies in the retail business, this is a powerful metaphor for what consumers are coming to expect, and what they have to deliver.

    It is an Eye-Opener.
    KC's View:

    Published on: February 14, 2013

    The sequestration scheduled for March 1 - automatic budget cuts that were agreed to by the White House and Congress, with the belief that such cuts would force them to reach a more measured and sensible budget agreement - could have a devastating impact on the nation's food supply, according to a report from

    An excerpt:

    "The U.S. meat industry may be forced to shut down for weeks as a result of the spending cuts planned to take effect on March 1, the White House has warned. The spending cuts are likely to keep meat and poultry inspectors out of manufacturing facilities for at least two weeks, according to a report from Reuters.

    "If production has not been inspected, U.S. meat processors and packers are not allowed to shop their production and sell it. The lack of the Agriculture Department's inspection seal will keep the whole production of beef, pork, lamb and poultry within the plants where it has been processed. Representatives of the industry are concerned that the effect on their business might be devastating."

    Indeed, the story says that sequestration will force the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service to furlough its employees.
    KC's View:
    It won't just be meat costs and availability that will be affected. I was just reading a piece in the Washington Post saying that sequestration “would roll back border security, increase wait times at our Nation’s land ports of entry and airports, affect aviation and maritime safety security, leave critical infrastructure vulnerable to attacks, hamper response time and weaken cybersecurity protections." And, the story says, furloughs of air traffic controllers “would result in reduced air traffic control, longer delays, and economic losses for air transportation, tourism and the economy as a whole."


    I was tending toward the optimistic, working on the assumption that sequestration would have just a negative impact on a fragile economy that our elected officials would never let it happen. But when you read commentators from either side of the aisle, you get the feeling that they're playing a game of chicken. Republicans think the White House will blink and take the blame if sequestration happens, while Democrats think that the GOP-led House of Representatives will back down for fear of taking the blame.

    My feeling is that there will be more than enough blame to go around and that there is no excuse for both sides not to reach a big deal that can resolve some of these critical economic issues.

    Published on: February 14, 2013

    The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that Whole Foods is finding itself margin-challenged because it is "offering more discounts and putting more value-oriented brands on its shelves, while also holding prices fairly steady despite its own rising costs."

    While the company has been making moves to broaden its appeal and grow its sales, by sharpening prices and opening smaller urban stores, it continues to face economic uncertainty and heightened competition, which makes it difficult to achieve the kind of growth it wants.

    Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that Whole Foods has filed two new trademarks that seem designed for use in various e-tailing enterprises - using its Bread & Circuses name for "mobile and online ordering services," and Whole Eats for "retail and online grocery services."

    The story suggests that these moves represent the first steps in Whole Foods moving into online food sales, though the company says that it is only in the "ideation phase."

    CEO John Mackey is quoted in the story as saying that Whole Foods is very aware of competition from, knows that the pure play retailer prices against it, and is convinced that FreshDirect will be the one to crack the code in terms on online grocery.
    KC's View:
    My sense is that Whole Foods probably is closer to testing an e-commerce model that they are telling us, though I'm not sure that this is going to address the problem of margin strain.

    Published on: February 14, 2013

    The New York Times reports this morning that Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate is buying HJ Heinz for $23 billion.

    According to the story, Buffett "is teaming up with 3G Capital Management, a Brazilian investment firm that owns a majority stake in a company whose business is complementary to Heinz’s: Burger King."

    The story notes that "Heinz fits Mr. Buffett’s deal criteria almost to a T. It has broad brand recognition – besides ketchup, it owns Ore-Ida and Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce – and has performed well. Over the last 12 months, its stock has risen nearly 17 percent."
    KC's View:
    So let me get this straight - a company owned by a guy named Buffett now owns another company that makes both Heinz 57 and french fried potatoes?

    Time to start buying Vlasic stock...

    Published on: February 14, 2013

    Not a good time to be a horse in the UK. Or, for that matter, a beef eating human.

    The Associated Press reports that the British government is saying that three horse carcasses have tested positive for bute, a painkiller that is used on horses buy can be harmful to people if ingested.

    The problem is that meat from the horses may have entered the human food chain as part of the ongoing scandal that has revealed that beef contaminated with horse meat has been sold in the Uk and in a number of European countries.

    Investigations are continuing.
    KC's View:
    I'm not sure who is going to come out the worst on this one - the horses that ended up as human food, or the horses' asses that either allowed this to happen or conspired to make it happen.

    Published on: February 14, 2013

    The New York Times this morning reports that NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, "whose regulatory lance has slain fatty foods, supersize sodas, and smoking in parks, is now targeting plastic foam, the much-derided polymer that environmentalists have long tried to restrict." In his final state-of-the-city address today (term limits prevent him from running again), Bloomberg reportedly "will propose a citywide ban on plastic-foam food packaging, including takeout boxes, cups and trays. Public schools would be instructed to remove plastic-foam trays from their cafeterias. Many restaurants and bodegas would be forced to restock."

    According to the story, "Officials at City Hall said a plastic-foam ban could save millions of dollars a year. Plastic foam, which is not biodegradable, can add up to $20 per ton in recycling costs when the city processes recyclable materials. The city handles about 1.2 million tons of food waste each year; the mayor’s office estimated that the city’s annual waste stream included about 20,000 tons of plastic foam ... Mr. Bloomberg’s proposal is one element of a larger environmental protection effort he plans to pursue during his final year in office. In his speech, he will also pledge to install 1,000 recycling containers on sidewalks, doubling the current number."

    “We can live without it, we may live longer without it, and the doggie bag will survive just fine,” Bloomberg reportedly plans to say in his speech.
    KC's View:
    We all can differ on whether NYC has become a kind of nanny state, and I would agree with those who would suggest than when it comes to things like jumbo soft drink bans, it has gone too far.

    But as someone who was born in Greenwich Village and spends a fair amount of time in NYC, I have to say that NYC is a far more livable place today than it was before Bloomberg became mayor.

    On balance, from smoking bans to bicycle lanes, Bloomberg has been good for the city's residents.

    Published on: February 14, 2013 reports that Starbucks has begun selling its Evolution Fresh packaged juices in its Boston and New York City stores, replacing the Pepsi-owned Naked Juices that it has been selling there.

    According to the story, the move comes 14 months after Starbucks acquired the Evolution Fresh brand, and is seen as just the beginning of the eventual plan to stock the juices in all Starbucks' US stores.

    For those who don't understand the Evolution Fresh value proposition, BevNet explains:

    "Evolution uses high-pressure pasteurization (HPP), a process that uses pressure instead of heat to inhibit bacterial growth in raw foods and beverages, to make its ultra-fresh juices safe to drink. HPP also extends the shelf life of the products – which are blended and bottled in California – albeit only by a couple of weeks. The shorter shelf life is likely one of the reasons that the line of cold-pressed juices has been sold exclusively on the West Coast.

    "However, it appears that Starbucks is ready to leverage the sales and volume strength of its stores in the New York and Boston markets, which could limit the amount of time that the juices sit awaiting purchase.

    "Starbucks introduced six varieties of Evolution Fresh to the stores: Sweet Greens and Lemon, Pineapple Coconut Water, Orange, Apple Berry + Fiber, Mango + Fiber and Super Green. The products will range in pricing from $3.95 to $5.95."
    KC's View:

    Published on: February 14, 2013, which offers online coupons to consumers, is out with a Harris Interactive survey saying that "15 percent of U.S. adults have shopped for groceries online. An additional 19 percent said they don’t currently, but plan to in the future ... . In fact, nearly four-in-ten (39 percent) of U.S. adults wish their local grocery store offered a delivery service."

    The survey results suggest that 65 percent of respondents said that ordering groceries online would save time, 56 percent said it would make them less likely to make impulse purchases, 41 percent said it would help them save money, 38 percent said it would help them plan menus in advance, and 36 percent said that ordering online would help them eat healthier.
    KC's View:

    Published on: February 14, 2013

    The New York Times reports this morning that Patrick R. Donahoe, the US Postmaster General, is asking the Congress "to give the Postal Service permission to run its own health plan for employees and retirees, modify a Congressional mandate that requires the agency to pay $5.5 billion a year into its fund for future employee health benefits, and end Saturday mail delivery. Mr. Donahoe said the changes would allow the agency to save $20 billion by 2016."

    The request is being made despite the fact that the USPS already has announced its intention to end Saturday mail delivery in August, believing it does not require Congressional permission to do so.

    The USPS already is facing some pushback from Congress on that decision - with some Senators questioning whether it has the legal authority to make that decision, some asking if it will have an outsized impact on rural communities, and postal unions saying that the impact will be negligible.

    Donahoe says that the USPS "debt could reach $45 billion by 2017 if Congress does not act," according to the Times.
    KC's View:
    Anybody who gets in the way of allowing the USPS to make these changes simply are contributing to its ultimate demise.

    Published on: February 14, 2013

    The Australian reports that discount supermarket Aldi plans to build as many as 50 new stores in the Adelaide region there, an expansion from its current footprint of close to 300 stores.

    The cost of the Aldi invasion is expected to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and the retailer has not yet said when it expects the first one to open, nor where it will build a distribution center to service all the Adelaide region stores.
    KC's View:

    Published on: February 14, 2013

    ...with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary...

    • The Los Angeles Times this morning reports that the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has filed a petition with the US Food and Drug Administration (USDA), asking that the government "require beverage makers to reduce the amount of high-fructose corn syrup and other sweeteners," saying that "current levels of high-fructose corn syrup are unsafe for daily consumption."

    In response, the American Beverage Association (ABA) released a statement that said, in part: "Everyone has a role to play in reducing obesity levels — a fact completely ignored in this petition. This is why the beverage industry has worked to increase options and information for consumers."

    • The Newton Tab reports that the new Boston-area Wegmans store slated to be opened in the Chestnut Hill Square Development is likely to be opened between October and November 2013.

    • The Sacramento Bee reports that David John Magana, a former Raley's advertising director, "has pleaded guilty to his role in a complex scheme to defraud the West Sacramento-based supermarket chain of more than $2.5 million ... According to court documents, Magana conspired with others to defraud Raley's through a scheme that involved kickbacks, selling Raley's paper inventory to third parties at a discount and supplying paper to Raley's at an inflated price." reports that Apple plans to close down 20 of its stores so they can be moved to larger locations that can handle the influx of customers; Apple says that 10 million people per week visit its 400 stores around the world.

    Apple CEO Tim Cook says that the retail model has been a major driver behind the company's success. "I’m not even sure ‘store’ is the right word anymore – they’re much broader than that," he recently told an investor conference. "They are the face of Apple for almost all customers."

    Cook's comment is worth paying attention to ... because it signifies what great retailing should be about.
    KC's View:

    Published on: February 14, 2013

    Yesterday, we reported here that the American Psychological Association has published a new study saying that 18-to-33 year olds, the so-called millennial generation, tend to stress out more than older generations, with more than 50 percent of those surveyed saying that their anxieties keep them awake at night.

    The Los Angeles Times coverage said that "a dour economy is top of mind for young people, with work and job stability sending their stress levels soaring. And no wonder -- their unemployment rate is 13.1%, well above the overall nation's 7.8%. A recent survey of 2010 college graduates found nearly half were in jobs that didn't require a university diploma ... Nearly 40% of millennials said their stress shot up in the last year, compared with 33% of baby boomers and 29% of those 67 and older."

    My comment:

    I'm afraid that I'm a little unsympathetic on this one.

    In part, this is because I find it hard to believe that stress can keep anyone awake at night. (Mrs. Content Guy says that I don't have trouble sleeping even at those times when I should have trouble sleeping. I say it is because of clean living ... but she's dubious.)

    I get that young people have concerns about their professional futures, because an economic resurgence has taken so long and been so slow. But I would suggest that if they're being kept up at night by these concerns, I worry about how they're going to respond when they're married, with kids, paying off mortgages and putting your kids through college and dealing with aging parents and worrying about graying hair and receding hairlines and expanding waistlines and all sorts of other stuff.

    I think it is fair to say that some folks disagreed with me...

    MNB user Jenefer Angell responded:

    I’m so accustomed to your ordinarily balanced, well-reasoned perspectives, I am actually a little shocked at your “a little unsympathetic” response (understatement) to this item.

    Firstly, you dismiss that anxiety can interfere with sleep – apparently because it never happens to you? Dismissing common collective experience based on a single personal observation is an extremely narrow viewpoint—not to mention that the connection between anxiety and sleep disturbance is so well established that it’s not even up for debate. I am a good sleeper and I tend to lead a fast-paced life, but when my anxieties are high, staying asleep becomes difficult. In my early 30s, when life was boiling over, I had a couple years of difficult sleep and guess what? I learned to use it as an indicator that I am too out of balance and a directive to make life changes. The Millennials, too, will learn.

    Secondly, you imply that Millennials getting worked up about their predicament is an overreaction because just wait until they have “real” problems (subtext: like you?). That is unfair for a couple reasons: (1) you did not face the particular hurdles and pressures of this era when you were just out of college (and I’m not saying yours were less, but they were different), and (2) it is perfectly age-appropriate to be concerned about jobs in the 20s and early 30s, when you’re supposed to be establishing a career. (And who’s to say they’re not worried about those far-away middle-age problems too, when they can’t see how to create the foundation that will even allow for all the later activities that you suggest are so worrisome even under more optimal circumstances?)

    Look at it this way: When a two-year-old is on the floor despairing over not getting a cookie, we find it amusing (except the parents, maybe) because from our expanded view, we know the cookie is a trivial problem. But in that moment, for a two-year-old, the cookie issue is truly and profoundly affecting—and that’s totally age-appropriate and not an indication that this child will not be able to handle the rigors of kindergarten. Think back, Kevin. I do not believe that in your 20s and 30s you sat around reflecting on how great it was that you didn’t have anything to worry about, because all the grown-up problems that really matter were years away. I expect that you had your everyday concerns that matched your world at the time—which a middle-age pundit might easily have dismissed and trivialized.

    MNB user Mike Sommers wrote:

    You have got to be kidding me.  Tell me how you would not be stressed out if you went to college to earn a degree, acquired student debt, graduated, and then find yourself in a job that you didn't even need to go to school for!  Then every month the student debt payment comes due, of which you are not even using your education that you are now paying for.

    Throughout the entire recession the story has always been that of sympathy for those that were 10 years or less away from retiring and lost their jobs.  While it is unfortunate, the thing that is truly unfortunate is these people then took on jobs that were below their qualifications, thus taking jobs that those younger than them would normally have filled.  Insert domino affect, and far fewer entry level jobs are available for college graduates than their used to be.  Now while I consider myself lucky and found work in my career field which required my degree, I have plenty of friends that needed to find work below their qualifications to pay the bills in the meantime.  This only prolongs recent graduates from purchasing homes, vehicles, and other economic stimulants which then affects the country as a whole.  I think this stress is warranted.

    From another reader:

    Kevin - I generally agree with you but I think you're living in a remarkable little personal bubble and demonstrated a surprising amount of insensitivity when you claimed it's hard to imagine stress keeping anyone awake.  Maybe you were just being glib.

    There are lots of people out there, in transition, over 50, who have bills to pay and no idea where or what their next job will be.  I count myself among them.  I have never had sleep issues but after stretches of waking in the middle of the night with sweats and a racing heart, now require meds to be able to get a good night's sleep.  I have always actively avoided medication of any kind and stay in good shape, but this has now become necessary.  And I'm one of the lucky ones - I'm not facing foreclosure or major health issues or issues from an aging parent.

    I realize the little article was about kids and your implication is that they're a bunch of whiners, but they feel the pain of a parent who might be stressed, and the job market for them, even with excellent degrees, is crowded.  And they don't have the perspective yet that allows them to put their stress in context relative to what they might encounter later in life.  But I think a lot of them are now beginning to realize that they may not be able to reach the standard of living that they grew up with.

    Sorry, but this one totally rubbed me the wrong way.

    And another reader:

    I wanted to write to you about your Wednesday Morning Eye-Opener...  While I agree with you about being a little unsympathetic, I disagree with you regarding the reason.  I think they do not have the maturity or life experiences that older workers have and it results in higher stress.  I know when I first started out in my career, even small things (down to constructive feedback) stressed me out and I would lose sleep over it.  As I've grown older and more experienced, so many things roll off my shoulders because I finally get that it's not the end of the world.  Also, becoming a wife and mother has actually decreased my stress.  Having a sympathetic partner has helped me tremendously.  But having an amazing child to come home to that demands my attention so much that I am forced to disconnect from work has had the biggest positive impact on my stress level.  I can't stay mad or worried when I'm looking into her face.  I'm not saying I don't get stressed so don't get me wrong.  I am saying though that career experience, life maturity and family have all decreased the way in which it impacts me.  I'm not worried about these younger workers - they'll be fine and their stress will level out.  That is why I'm unsympathetic.  They're over-reacting and will one day realize this.  They just need the life and work experience to get them there.

    And another:

    I can't make you empathize with millennials, but I can tell you that the APA study does resonate with me.

    I'm someone who sits on the cusp of being a millennial, and I often feel stressed.  Fortunately, I have a job that I enjoy, but the lines between work and play have been blurred thanks to technology that enables 24/7 communication.  For those without jobs, it is easier than ever to read on social media the stories of successful friends who have charmed lives.  We're still of the age where we are "paying our dues" and proving ourselves in the workplace, but doing so requires far more than working 8-5 Mon-Fri as many of our parents did.  Unlike most of my older colleagues who have spouses staying at home with kids, my husband and I (who have a mortgage!) don't have the luxury of returning to a home-cooked meal and having our errands run while we're at work.  It is also very presumptuous to assert that we don't have health problems of our own or aren't dealing with the health issues of our aging parents as well.  Check both of those boxes for me!
    I don't mean to sound ungrateful, and I am not looking for sympathy.  I'm very thankful that my husband and I have job security, but this comes at the price of higher stress.  The last thing we deserve is your criticism for it.

    And, from another reader, perhaps the most pithy response:

    Interesting take on stress levels. It's two weeks until you are yelling "get off my lawn."

    To be absolutely clear, these are just some of the emails ... but I think they pretty much capture the broad disgust with my opinion.

    I'd like to offer a full-throated defense of my position, with quotes from Shakespeare and Jimmy Buffett and Robert B. Parker that back me up and reinforce my perspective.

    But I can't.

    I was wrong. And I have no excuse for my utter myopia when it came to that story.

    Maybe it was graying hair, a receding hairline and expanding waistline that got to me. Or, maybe it was because it was my fourth night in Las Vegas, and the neon was affecting my brain.

    I have no idea what I was thinking, nor why I was so unsympathetic. I spend enough time around young people - my own, and the kids in various classes that I talk to around the country - that there is no rationale for being so hard-hearted. (Hell, I'd just finished judging a contest among college students at NGA, and I remember thinking to myself how hard it would be for many of them to get a job.)

    Forgive me.

    However...I'm not backing down on the whole Brussels sprouts thing.

    Got yet another email on the issue yesterday, which said, in part:

    You’re an open minded adventuresome eater…can’t believe you won’t even try.

    You're right. I am an open-minded and adventurous eater. And I happen to be the oldest son of a man who almost always orders chicken parmesan when he goes to Italian restaurants, because, well, that's what he likes. So give me some credit here.

    But ... I don't like Brussels sprouts. Or nuts. Or liverwurst, egg salad, or beets.

    While I appreciate you urging me on, I do think that sometimes you have to allow people to not like stuff that they don't like.

    That said, if I go to a dinner next week at a friend's house, and they serve either Brussels sprouts or beets, I'll eat them. Because I'm a good guest and I would not want to be rude. (If they serve liverwurst or egg salad, though, I may have to leave the room...)

    On the whole Netflix / "House of Cards" paradigm shift, MNB user Lisa Pierce wrote:

    As a loyal reader of, I am truly grateful for both the industry commentary.  Many of my colleagues and former colleagues are now "hooked" on it, and a week doesn't go by that we are emailing each other to discuss the topics!  It makes for great dialogues, "comedy pyramids" and just great learning opportunities among ourselves.

    But aside from that, I look forward to your "outside the lines" (I know, trademark ESPN noted) recommendations and I rejoined Netflix to see "House of Cards".  I love it!  I am a notorious "binge" viewer of TV shows (my current favorites are "Justified" and "The League"...a bit crude for some, but I love them!), but I canceled my cable TV because I couldn't find the time to watch shows.  Yes, I had a DVR, but somehow, the cost didn't make sense for the number of truly good shows.  At $7.99 per month (and I can cancel for the months that I'm slaving over a consulting gig), it is really worth the price paid.

    You're absolutely right about "Justified," by the way ... it is terrific this season.

    And from another reader:

    I watched the House of Cards in a marathon while out sick not that long ago. I would say two things…

    First, great show.

    Second, great delivery! Finally I can watch what I want on my time without any forethought or waiting for the next release.

    Netflix has taken what HBO and Showtime started with quality exclusive content and they are starting to deliver it on the consumer’s terms.



    Finally, one MNB user took note of the fact that last week I was critical of the Catholic Church hierarchy (which is, to be completely clear, vastly different from being critical of people who believe in the Catholic faith), and this week, the Pope resigned.

    He wrote:

    Now you've done it!

    I'd like to take credit, but...

    At the risk of alienating a few more people on this subject, I would suggest that there even is a business lesson in the Pope's resignation. I firmly believe that one of the reasons he is resigning is that he knows that if he dies, and the College of Cardinals chooses a new Pope, they could pick someone who is moderate or (gasp!) progressive. By resigning, and because he knows that he's stocked the college with fellow conservatives, I think he feels that he can influence the direction of the church for years to come. Look for a 50-year-old conservative to get the Papal skull cap, and be the face of the Catholic Church for a quarter century or more.

    Now, as a former Catholic, I'm not in favor of this. I think it is likely an unsustainable path, because the numbers suggest that as the church gets more conservative, fewer people go to church on a regular basis. (I really liked the headline in The Onion this week: "Resigning Pope No Longer Has Strength To Lead Church Backward.")

    But he may be giving us a master class in management.
    KC's View: