Swoosh: Unauthorized Story of Nike and the Men Who Played There

I’ve been on a non-fiction kick lately with a focus on biographies of great companies and great people. I just finished Swoosh: Unauthorized Story of Nike and the Men Who Played There and although its not as well written as Walter Issacson’s Einstein or Jobs or even as good as In the Plex or The Everything Store,  the birth and growth of Nike is still a very interesting story. 

Ive always admired Nike’s marketing and think they make many of the best athletic shoes around (along with a lot of crappy ones). Like a George R.R. Martin book, Swoosh introduces too many minor characters and it would have benefited tremendously by more contact with Phil Knight. 

Some thoughts on the book: 

Billion dollar companies don’t always start out like billion dollar companies. Phil Knight started Nike, then Blue Ribbon Sports, as a distributor of Japanese Tiger, now Asics, shoes and he sold them out of his trunk. It took years for Nike to even be interesting enough for Phil Knight to quit his job as an accountant and focus on Nike full time. 

Hiring the best people with a passion for the brand is everything. I don’t know if it’s because the author didn’t interview Knight but it seems as though Knight did very little and simply gave minimal instructions to his lieutenants and they went out and did what they thought was best. It sounds like Knight wasn’t even in the picture during many of the pivotal moments of the company. It was passionate employees who made things happen. 

Starting a company and running a large mature company are very different things. Nike stumbled as it grew because it became complacent and hired a bunch of middle managers that wanted the Nike lifestyle but not all the hard work that got the company to where it was. Nike also didn’t have any of the processes in place to get new innovative products through the bureaucracy and to market. 

Reading a physical book is not nearly as nice as reading on a Kindle Paperwhite. Swoosh is one of the few books that still hasn’t made it into the Kindle library so I was forced to read a paperback for the first time in years. I definitely missed not being able to highlight passages, read in the dark, or instantly get a definition. The paperback is about four times the size of the kindle too. 

Ill try to post more book thoughts in the future. 

Buying Into Bitcoin

I finally took the plunge and bought one bitcoin. Coinbase takes care of all the messy wallet security so the purchase was pretty painless. A little over a year ago when they were about $25 I almost bought 4 of them but decided it was too risky (big mistake). 

To me the purchase is like taking out an option on the future. Bitcoins will either go to $10,000+ or 0. If they catch on and become widely accepted their value will skyrocket. Alternatively a major damning security flaw could be found and bitcoin will be a blip in history. 

The promise of cheaper transaction fees in the 1% range instead of the 2-3% we currently see with credit cards is long overdue. Milton Friedman predicted their rise back in 1999. 

All the press and the increasing merchant acceptance of bitcoins points to a bright future. Hopefully my option pays off. 

Apple Mulls Launching Spotify Rival

Billboard:

Apple has opened exploratory talks with senior label executives about the possibility of launching an on-demand streaming service that would rival Spotify and Beats Music, according to three people familiar with the talks. Apple is also thinking about adding an iTunes App for Android phones, the Google rival that has been growing faster than the iPhone, these sources said.

Apple needs this to salvage iTunes. No software has gone from indispensible to forgotten faster than iTunes. Even MS Word is still holding on.

I used to be all about building and maintaining my iTunes until I discovered Spotify. Why waste your time when you can have access to everything for a low monthly fee.