Published on: November 13, 2019
Yesterday, I noted in a commentary that Uber CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, did an interview on "Axios on HBO" in which he referred to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by the Saudi government as "a mistake" that is comparable to Uber's self-driving accident in which a woman died. Needless to say, there was a lot of coverage of the statement, forcing him to backtrack, saying, ""There's no forgiving or forgetting what happened to Jamal Khashoggi & I was wrong to call it a 'mistake' … I said something in the moment I don't believe. Our investors have long known my views here & I'm sorry I wasn’t as clear on Axios." The reason the question was being asked is that Saudi Arabia is Uber's fifth-largest shareholder, with a representative on the company's board of directors.
I suggested that this could be a problem for the company.
One MNB reader responded:I read yesterday in AXIOS that Dara Khosrowshahi actually backtracked @ one hour after the interview concluded – not sure that it really makes a difference that he realized on his own what he said was patently offensive or that he needed the social media outrage to comment…
To be clear, I did include his quote in my piece.
But to be equally clear … it makes a difference to me. America's intelligence agencies have concluded that Jamal Khashoggi - a working journalist - was assassinated inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey, that his body was dismembered before being removed, and that the killing was ordered by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. (He may be rich and have strategic value to the US, but that does not make him any less a murderous thug.)
I cannot imagine any circumstances under which anyone would describe this as a "mistake."
MNB reported the other day that in an op-ed piece published in the New York Times
, Walmart criticized the Trump administration's decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord as "deeply unfortunate," and said that it will not affect its commitment to the goals of the climate change agreement.
"Walmart is one of over 3,800 American businesses, states, cities and other entities that have joined together in the coalition We Are Still In to continue our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement," the piece said. "Together, these entities represent nearly 70 percent of the country’s gross domestic product and two-thirds of its population. If this group were a country, it would be the world’s second-largest economy — behind the United States but ahead of China."
The op-ed piece was co-written by Kathleen McLaughlin, executive vice president and chief sustainability officer of Walmart and president of the Walmart Foundation, and Andrew Steer, president/CEO of the World Resources Institute.
It prompted one MNB reader to respond:When reviewing the increase in carbon in the atmosphere, it is important to remember that carbon makes up .04% of the atmosphere (www.climate.gov). If carbon increases 2,500 times it's current level, it would make up just 1% of our atmosphere. We all need to be good stewards our environment in all we do, but the dire predictions of doom based on increases in very small numbers relative to our overall environment seem to be more politically motivated than scientifically relevant.
Regarding a possible acquisition of Walgreens by private equity group KR, one MNB reader wrote:The first step to formulating any private equity deal is anchoring in the exit strategy that takes effect after you have sucked all the cash and life out of the company and abandoned all customer and employee investments. This is why your team will invest to begin with. It is not always 100% this way, but history shows It is close when a retailer is involved. PE folks are about finance and cash, not about operations and customer experience. If you own stock, hold it until the deal closes. If Walgreens holds your prescriptions, move them now. If they were thinking about you, they wouldn't be thinking about this transaction!
MNB reader Andy Casey wrote:Another possibility is what might be called the “Sears scenario”. I wonder what the various pieces and parts of Walgreens are worth?
From another reader:It seems that a better solution might be for Walgreens and Kroger to try and find a solution to merge the two companies. With the investments that Kroger is making in Ocado, having these 9500+ additional brick ‘n mortar stores for pick-up would provide them with a national footprint unmatched. Plus the current partnership of Kroger providing their P/L and branded products for the food pantries within these Walgreens locations would dramatically increase their P/L penetration.
And responding to some emails about some of Kroger's issues, one MNB reader wrote:I was somewhat enlightened to read that my experiences at a few Central Ohio Kroger stores in my small corner of the world was not an aberration but rather indicative of a more widespread failure to live up to the promises of their "Customer First" positioning. I suspected that was the case due my limited interaction with Kroger headquarters such as their consumer affairs department and the absence of any response to letters directed to Kroger Management. No one there seems to have ever read the book "A Complaint is a Gift'. Perhaps Kroger's attitude is the way to maximizing short term profits. Long term I think it will come back to bite them. And a change in their logo design is essentially meaningless.
Another fail - today's Kroger website had a notice that there were no time slots available in the next 3 days for pick-up or delivery at the E. Broad Whitehall, OH location. (Whitehall is a separate city surrounded by Columbus.). Screen shot to follow.
I am waiting for their stock to go a little higher before I sell my holdings.
Regarding yesterday's Eye-Opener about the Mini dealership who gave my daughter a video tour of her car being serviced, one MNB reader wrote:I saw the same thing on my last two visits to my Toyota dealer and was as impressed as you are. It is a great tool to connect with customers.
And from another:My husband subscribes to your MNB blog which he shares with me on a continual basis. We had the similar “WOW” experience with our BMW. We’ve since shared it with many of our friends who were equally “WOW’ed.” As you mentioned, it’s not often that you are wow’ed over innovative customer service, one that makes you feel you are appreciated as a customer.
Last comment, the gentleman from our service bay was so professional in his guided tour, that when he opened the video, he called us by name while providing us with the date of the service and model of our car. During his video tour he experienced the hiccups and apologized repeatedly for it.
P.S. Love your restaurant and wine recommendations. Unfortunately, we are unable to try or purchase Carlton Cellars in our state so “unfortunately” we will have to make a trip to Oregon’s Willamette/Tualatin Valleys very soon.
Enjoy. And say hi to Dave Grooters, Robin Russell and Brandon Harlacher for me.
Happy to make other recommendations when you decide to make your trip.