Acquired
Acquired

Acquired

Ben Gilbert and David Rosenthal

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Episodes

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Every company has a story. Learn the playbooks that built the world’s greatest companies — and how you can apply them as a founder, operator, or investor.

Recent Episodes

Microsoft Volume II
JUL 21, 2024
Microsoft Volume II

In 1999, Microsoft became the most valuable company in the world. And in 2019, Microsoft became the most valuable company in the world, again. But… what happened in the twenty years in between? The answer, as we discovered in our research, is probably not what you think.

In this episode we explore and analyze the browser wars and the DOJ case, Windows XP through 8, Surface, Xbox, search, Yahoo!, Bing, the iPhone, Nokia, mobile, social, Facebook… and oh yeah, a little thing called Azure and the enterprise — which ended up becoming so big that no failures mattered. Tune in for Microsoft, Volume II.

Chase Center Live Show in SF:

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Note: references to Fortune in ServiceNow sponsor sections are from Fortune ©2023. Used under license.

‍Note: Acquired hosts and guests may hold assets discussed in this episode. This podcast is not investment advice, and is intended for informational and entertainment purposes only. You should do your own research and make your own independent decisions when considering any financial transactions.

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291 MIN
Starbucks (with Howard Schultz)
JUN 3, 2024
Starbucks (with Howard Schultz)

Starbucks. You’d be hard pressed to name any brand that’s more ubiquitous in the world today. With nearly half a billion global customer purchases per week across its stores and 3rd party retail channels, a significant portion of the human population gets their daily fix in the green and white paper cup. (Including our own Ben Gilbert who famously enjoys his daily spinach feta wrap. :)

But it wasn’t always this way. Long before the frappuccinos and the PSLs and the cake pops, Starbucks was just a small-time Seattle roaster that only sold beans — and was started not by Howard Schultz but rather the guys who later ran Peet’s (!). Starting from six tiny stores when Howard took over in 1987, this quirky coffee company named after a character from Moby Dick has scaled to nearly 40,000 locations worldwide.

Today, in a first for Acquired, the protagonist himself joins us as a third cohost to tell the whole story of Starbucks. And Howard is in the perfect moment to do this — after three separate stints as CEO he’s now retired, off the board of directors, and in his own words “not coming back.” So place a mobile order (or not! as you’ll hear Howard speak about), sit back with your own favorite Starbucks items, and enjoy.

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** Future capabilities of biometric payments are under development; features and timelines are subject to change at the bank’s sole discretion.*


Note: references to Fortune in ServiceNow sponsor sections are from Fortune ©2023. Used under license.


‍Note: Acquired hosts and guests may hold assets discussed in this episode. This podcast is not investment advice, and is intended for informational and entertainment purposes only. You should do your own research and make your own independent decisions when considering any financial transactions.

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195 MIN
Microsoft Volume I
APR 21, 2024
Microsoft Volume I

Microsoft. After nearly a decade of Acquired episodes, we are finally ready to tackle the most valuable company ever created. The company that put a computer on every desk and in every home. The company that invented the software business model. The company that so thoroughly and completely dominated every conceivable competitor that the United States government intervened and kneecapped it… yet it’s STILL the most valuable company in the world today.

This episode tells the story of Microsoft in its heyday, the PC Era. We cover its rise from a teenage dream to the most powerful business and technology force in history — the 20-year period from 1975 to 1995 that took Bill and Paul from the Lakeside high school computer room to launching Windows 95 alongside Jay Leno and the Rolling Stones. From BASIC to DOS, Windows, Office, Intel, IBM, Xerox PARC, Apple, Steve Jobs, Steve Ballmer… it’s all here, and it’s all amazing. Tune in and enjoy… Microsoft.

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Note: references to Fortune in ServiceNow sponsor sections are from Fortune ©2023. Used under license.


‍Note: Acquired hosts and guests may hold assets discussed in this episode. This podcast is not investment advice, and is intended for informational and entertainment purposes only. You should do your own research and make your own independent decisions when considering any financial transactions.

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263 MIN
Renaissance Technologies
MAR 17, 2024
Renaissance Technologies

Renaissance Technologies is the best performing investment firm of all time. And yet no one at RenTec would consider themselves an “investor”, at least in any traditional sense of the word. It’d rather be more accurate to call them scientists — scientists who’ve discovered a system of math, computers and artificial intelligence that has evolved into the greatest money making machine the world has ever seen. And boy does it work: RenTec’s alchemic colossus has posted annual returns in the firm’s flagship Medallion Fund of 68% gross and 40% net over the past 34 years, while never once losing money. (For those keeping track at home, $1,000 invested in Medallion in 1988 would have compounded to $46.5B today… if you’d been allowed to keep it in.) Tune in for an incredible story of the small group of rebel mathematicians who didn’t just beat the market, but in the words of author Greg Zuckerman “solved it.”

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Note: references to Fortune in ServiceNow sponsor sections are from Fortune ©2023. Used under license.


‍Note: Acquired hosts and guests may hold assets discussed in this episode. This podcast is not investment advice, and is intended for informational and entertainment purposes only. You should do your own research and make your own independent decisions when considering any financial transactions.

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190 MIN
Hermès
FEB 19, 2024
Hermès

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 everyone else)
  • Doesn’t even have a marketing department! (they barely advertise at all)

And yet everyone knows who they are and what they represent. But, despite all their iconoclasm, this is not a company that’s stood still for six generations. Unbeknownst to most, Hermès has completely reinvented itself at least three times in its 187-year history. Including most recently (and most dramatically) by the family’s current leaders, who responded to LVMH and Bernard Arnault’s 2010 takeover attempt by pursuing a radical strategy — scaling hand craftsmanship. And in the process they turned the company from a sleepy, ~$10B family enterprise into a $200B market cap European giant. Tune in for one incredible story!

Sponsors:

Many thanks to our fantastic Season 14 partners:

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‍Note: Acquired hosts and guests may hold assets discussed in this episode. This podcast is not investment advice, and is intended for informational and entertainment purposes only. You should do your own research and make your own independent decisions when considering any financial transactions.

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249 MIN