In this episode of Rule Breaker Investing -- Blast from the Radio Past, the old gang reunites. Tom Gardner, David Gardner, and Mac Greer have a blast revisiting some of the more memorable interviews from the past almost two decades. We have clips from Amazon's (NASDAQ:AMZN) Jeff Bezos from 2002 and Netflix's (NASDAQ:NFLX) Reed Hastings from 2003. Find out where they were and how they have progressed and how we fared with our predictions about them.
We also have clips from Roger Ebert, Fred Rogers (Mister Rogers), and many more.
To catch full episodes of all The Motley Fool's free podcasts, check out our podcast center. To get started investing, check out our quick-start guide to investing in stocks. A full transcript follows the video.
This video was recorded on Feb. 11, 2020.
David Gardner: For three years on AM radio, coast-to-coast, a live call-in back in the day. My brother Tom Gardner and I hosted The Motley Fool radio show Saturdays, three hours through the afternoon. Thanks to our celebrated producer, longtime fellow Fool, Mac, Greer. Celebrated-I mean, we at least celebrate the guy. We did dozens of interviews with bright lights from Jeff Bezos to the San Diego Chicken.
Our profile then rose higher, when with Mac, we transitioned The Motley Fool radio show from the world of AM radio to National Public Radio. For several years we were an NPR show and we began to bring in even more amazing guests.
Well, that was then, this is now. We eventually transitioned our on-air presence from radio to podcasts, which we've loved bringing you for ten years and counting. But what should never be forgotten, the interviews we did with celebrities major and mostly minor from back in the day. It is a deep vault of audio gold. And in this third episode of the recurring series "Blast from the Radio Past," we go back in time to listen in once again to the wisdom of Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, as a younger man, say, or to Dr. Ruth. Listen in, and Mystery Science Theater 3000-style a little bit as we listen again and opine.
So a special treat for you this week. The gang's back together: my brother, Tom Gardner; our producer, Mac Greer, and me and you, only on this week's Rule Breaker Investing.
And welcome back to Rule Breaker Investing, a very special episode of this podcast. In fact, I know I told you last week that we were probably going to go with "Great Quotes Volume 11 -- Community Edition." And you've sent in some great quotes and I do look forward to featuring those on an upcoming podcast.
But I had this prospect, this possibility to get the gang back together again for "Blast from the Radio Past." This is episode 3. And Mac, Greer said, "Yes, David, I have time to put in to dig back into the deep vault of audio gold." And, Mac, you did it.
Mac Greer: I did it, David, we went in deep here. Now, originally, we had talked about a Valentine's Day theme, love, and it's kind of morphed into what I will call, "Things that people have said on the show." So that's kind of the work and fame.
David Gardner: And, of course, you're hearing my brother, our CEO here at The Motley Fool, Tom Gardner. You know him, you love him. I'm so happy, Tom, to have you join. I can't believe that we last did this in July 2018, so somehow, I was remiss to miss 2019, but this is a great way, still early in the year, to kick off 2020.
Tom Gardner: When you say, the gang's back together, are you referring to since the last time we did this, or we going all the way back, the gang is getting back together from the live AM radio?
David Gardner: That's it.
Tom Gardner: What were the years of live AM radio?
Greer: '98 to 2001.
Tom Gardner: So we're going back 20 years. And so, when we say "The gang's back together," Mac, how would you compare/contrast the gang coming back together to the Beatles reunion? Beatlemania.
Greer: You know, I missed most of the Beatles. I was a big Wings fan when I was young. But my understanding is that our reunion is much bigger, but I don't want to -- you know, I don't know, but I could be wrong.
David Gardner: I will mention, and so, Mac, you've got something like, I'm going to say at least eight clips cued up for us to cover. Mystery Science Theater 3000-ish. We might even do something more like that in a future "Blast From the Radio Past." But I want to mention that at the end of last time, we may have left our audience a little bit on the horns of a dilemma, because we were debating whether anyone owned MacGreer.com at the time. And we were saying, none of us would go purchase it, in respect of Mac, but if one of our listeners wanted to go purchase MacGreer.com. And was that ever resolved? A year and a half later, what is the status of MacGreer.com?
Greer: You know, sadly, I have not followed up on that, but I don't think there's been tremendous interest in MacGreer.com, but I could be wrong.
David Gardner: All right.
Tom Gardner: Congratulations. Register.com tells me your domain MacGreer.com is available! for the base rate. It's got to hurt a little bit. It's like the base rate. It is the same value as zzx479348xyl.com. It's the same price.
Greer: Yeah. Whoever buys it is overpaying. And I don't even know how much it is.
Tom Gardner: I challenge listeners today, someone please buy MacGreer.com and do whatever you want to with the site.
David Gardner: All right. So we're trying to close the loop that we left open two summers ago, and we'll see if that happens. But more to the point now.
Greer: I'm missing the great quote show now I really wish we were doing great quotes. [laughs]
David Gardner: [laughs] "Blast From the Radio Past." Mac, let's cue it up, you got our first clip. What do you have for us?
Greer: Okay. Our first clip is from Amazon Founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos. Now, we interviewed him several times between '98 and 2002. And this exchange is from January 2002. Now, as you may remember the dot-com crash has happened, but there's still plenty of skepticism about Amazon and about dot-com companies. So let's roll this exchange with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos from January 2002.
David Gardner: Over the course of the last three years in particular, a roller-coaster ride for so many businesses. Jeff Bezos, did you ever imagine doing anything different?
Jeff Bezos: No, I am a change junkie, I love what we're doing. This is incredible fun. During the year 2000, there was extreme in the year 2000 on the downside as they were on the upside in '99. And everybody thought the internet was dead. I guarantee you that's not the case, I guarantee you, this is still the very, very beginning. It may not be Kitty Hawk anymore, but nobody has even thought of the DC-9, much less the jet engine. And there is a lot of innovation that's going to happen. This is just an incredibly fun place to be.
David Gardner: Tom, what do you think? Was he right?
Tom Gardner: I guess that any prediction that Jeff Bezos makes, we should take very seriously, because there we are, 17 years ago, 18 years ago, and he has predicted it perfectly.
David Gardner: Yeah. So social media showed up in the meantime. Like, that was still pre-social media. What year did people start using Facebook in earnest, Mac Greer?
Greer: I love that you're asking me that question.
David Gardner: I'm not on Facebook. Tom is.
Tom Gardner: I'm a MacGreer.com right now. Facebook, I don't know. I really don't know. Maybe 2005.
David Gardner: I mean, it was a few years before that even started. One of the largest companies in the world today. It's incredible to think about how right he was.
Tom Gardner: There have been few times where, in talking to a CEO of a company in an interview format like this, we've gone out of our way to ask them to recommend a stock, and I'd say, next time we have Jeff on one of our podcasts, we should ask him to recommend some companies that he really admires that are up-and-coming. And obviously, as Blue Origin, which he's putting a lot of resources behind and a lot of --
David Gardner: ... His outer-space company.
Tom Gardner: Yeah. So you've got a true visionary with one of the biggest transformations in human history making the right call. It's a pretty good place to be.
David Gardner: You know, a lot of people say, we're still in the first inning of the internet. In the long game, the long form, a lot of people say, "Hey, we haven't even entered the second inning. The internet is still so young and so early." I don't know where you guys are on that, but it's amazing to think about that was 18 years ago that he said that, and the market was in tatters and Amazon had lost more than two-thirds of its value at that point. And it wasn't just Amazon, it was the internet that was being counted for dead in a lot of ways.
Greer: David, I remember when I first met you all in '97. And I was producing a television show, it was Halloween night. And you were talking about Amazon back then. And I joke about thinking at the time, why would I need Amazon when I have a perfectly good Books-A-Million down the street, but you were so enthusiastic about Amazon. So playing that forward.
David Gardner: You bought the stock, Mac, and you held all the way through.
Greer: I did buy the stock eventually, but it was not in 2002. It was 10 years or so later.
Tom Gardner: Is Amazon your greatest investment ever?
David Gardner: I would say it's been the best pick for our members --
Tom Gardner: Besides your family and kids?
David Gardner: I'm pretty sure, Tom, inside baseball here you would know this. But I think The Motley Fool has been probably our best investment ever considering our cost basis and where we are today. But, I mean, Amazon, definitely the best public pick that I've made.
Tom Gardner: Best public investment you've ever made.
Greer: Okay. For someone listening right now, who cannot go back to 2002 --
Tom Gardner: What's the next?
Greer: Yes. Maybe not the next Amazon. But is there a company right now that each of you have that same level of enthusiasm about?
Tom Gardner: Okay. Well, I'll take my shot, since David is going to be the one you really want to listen to.
So recently recommended in our service IPO Trailblazers at The Motley Fool, Virgin Galactic Holdings (NYSE:SPCE). Do I think it's going to be a 600-bagger like Amazon? No, no, no, but it's a couple of billion dollar market cap. Do I think it could be a 10-bagger, as they have a long waitlist of people who want to go up into space on the Richard Branson-founded company that was a SPAC, a special-purpose acquisition company that went public and acquired Virgin Galactic, and is now running as a public company, ticker symbol SPCE -- space. And I think it could be 10-bagger. I think it's worthy to have it as a small position in your portfolio. It's already doubled for us in IPO Trailblazers in a couple of months.
So we know that the David Gardner methodology tells us that when things like that happen, that's a positive indicator, not a concerning indicator, to cause us to become interested and then decide if we really like the long-term prospects. And I think that's a fun one to have in your portfolio.
David Gardner: That's great, Tom. And yeah, and off the air, we were talking about this earlier. Tom's pointing out that if you want to have a 600-bagger, imagine a company worth, let's say, about $1 trillion 25 to 30 years from today. That means it's closer to $1 billion in market cap today. So you really are looking at quite small companies. And so, it would be treacherous to think that any company that's [...] navigate to be the next great one.
But all I would say is, a couple of companies that are already in the process of it, so you're not getting it right -- again, it doesn't have as big a vision, but Etsy. I really like Etsy, because it's kind of very Amazon-like, but it's differentiated from Amazon. It has a global possibility, it's a $6 billion company today. It's also been a big winner. And so, it's not as big a vision as Amazon. But you know, I'm just thinking about multibags and what we all like as investors.
And then, a little bit bigger, $25 billion market cap today but a bigger idea is Match Group, just Tinder. Meeting people online, that's a really big industry. It's still early days, and Match Group, the clear worldwide leader, it's just $25 billion.
Tom Gardner: I don't know that we're going to meet people in the future, anymore. It's just too much convenience. When was the last time that the Greer family decided to go out? When was the last time the Greers went out?
Greer: Define out. Like, out of the house?
Tom Gardner: Date night.
Greer: Date night. You know it's been last weekend actually.
Tom Gardner: Okay. Good.
David Gardner: We should probably go to the second of our nine clips.
Greer: Okay, well, speaking of not going out. The second clip is from Netflix CEO Reed Hastings. Now, we've interviewed Reed a number of times. Now, Netflix --
Tom Gardner: He's done pretty well.
Greer: He's done OK, stock's done OK too. Now, Netflix went public in 2002, and we first interviewed Reed Hastings in January of 2003.
David Gardner: And what about the development of new technologies that are allowing people to download movies at home? I mean, obviously, that has to be a big question. Is that something you see growing more popular?
Reed Hastings: It is. Our core investment philosophy is not to be the pioneer, that there's too many arrows in the back for that, that there are some companies doing really interesting work on downloading to the home. We're content to watch that build a very profitable business. And at a point in the future -- perhaps five years, perhaps eight years from now -- start to really get in that in a significant way.
David Gardner: You know one thing before we talk about Reed is, just listening to myself, I feel like my voice was a little different than, and in particular in that clip, I feel like I was almost slurring. Do I slur?
Tom Gardner: If you want me to give my honest assessment of that, I would start by saying, your voice doesn't age. It's amazing, you don't age, Dave, vocally. You don't age in audio. You don't age in audio.
David Gardner: I definitely look different. I lost hair, but I feel like I have aged some. Or I was really tired back then, Tom, 2003 --
Tom Gardner: That was another thing, there was so much stuff going on, every time we did a radio show, we were tired going in. We actually worked --
David Gardner: I had three kids that were, like, three, five, and nine or something back then. And it's exhausting. I feel almost bad the way I spoke to Reed --
Tom Gardner: Yeah, this is a tough reunion. We're realizing what we went through. So interestingly, then fast-forward and see what Netflix did to make that transition into streaming video and the confusion around Qwikster. That even though a leader who's developed one of the great companies in American history is, as they move into an inflection point, there's still a lot of chaos around how it should all unfold. There he is, years in advance, saying it.
But when they went to it, I remember that video of them sitting on a picnic bench saying, "Well, we're going to split them in two." And it looked so unrehearsed and unprepared and unprofessional that it caused a lot of confusion. And I wanted to sell Netflix out of my Stock Advisor recommendation, and my team stopped me from doing so. Actually, the stock fell, like, 50% after I wanted to sell it. So for about two months I was looking at them like, you! you! And then it goes on to ... And David said this multiple times in Stock Advisor, but again this amazing company, had multiple times when the stock went down more than 50% and times where it looked very confusing in the moment.
And I harken back to Jack Dorsey's great line from Square, which is, "If you want to be an innovator, you've got to be willing to look like an idiot in public." And that's hard to do. You're going to go out strategically, and so that happened to Reed Hastings, and look at all the value created, and there we were and David asking him presciently, "What do you think about where the world's going?"
David Gardner: Well, it's interesting to think back to that Qwikster time, Tom. I remember watching that video as well, the guys poolside describing how you're going to have two different queues that wouldn't know your preferences from one to the other, it was definitely not customer-centric, which is obviously a big focus not just of Netflix but of Amazon, trying to be the most customer-centric company in the world. Next, you're rocking some real customer-centricity with these companies. But, yeah, Netflix from 2010 start or so, to that midpoint just before Qwikster 2011 was a six-bagger, and it dropped all the way back below zero. You lost your full six-bagger in just a few months. But it is a reminder --
Tom Gardner: How many times is it up for you now?
David Gardner: Well, it's like a 200-bagger. It's been incredible --
Tom Gardner: ... $10,000 invested $2 million today --
David Gardner: ... but it's a reminder that you have to be willing to just sit there and take that. And do you remember, guys, that even at the worst moment for Qwikster, like, some months after Qwikster, all the bad press, they did lose some subscribers, but it was, like -- I'm making this up -- it was like from $24.5 million they were down to $23.5 million, like, they lost $1 million --
Tom Gardner: ... it's a bad-looking trend for the moment.
David Gardner: Yeah. And it hurts when you're growing as much as they were, and all of the sudden you're losing, but it's not like you lost half of your customers or anything like that. It was a small percentage of people who cancelled their Netflix.
Tom Gardner: There is a pattern here for us to figure out at some point, even more deeply. And that is the pattern that surrounds companies like Tesla, which create a lot of confusion. But confusion is some of the element of a potential 100-bagger, right? Without that confusion and misunderstanding and also the willingness of leaders to do things that are unpredictable, even Bezos going out with the Fire Phone and it failing -- if you don't have a high level of confusion in a prominent way, you may not have a future 100-bagger.
Greer: Okay. Well, that is a great segue, confusion and unpredictability.
David Gardner: It's almost like Tom knew what was coming, but he doesn't, we don't know what's coming, he didn't share this ahead of time as well, by design.
Tom Gardner: Actually, I have access to Mac's email.
David Gardner: As our CEO, you read Mac's email?
Greer: [laughs] I've got nothing to hide. So I chose this next exchange because of what Hastings said. Really kind of the point he made about not needing to be the pioneer and not needing to be the first mover. Because there was some other activity going on in the world of streaming. So for that, we're going to take you back to a conversation we had on our AM show back in 2001. And there was a little company in my home city of Houston named Enron. And the CEO, Jeff Skilling, was talking about one of their new initiatives.
David Gardner: Now, in another departure from the world of energy trading, Jeff, Enron will be teaming up with Blockbuster Video this year to offer online video on demand. Talk a little bit about that venture and why Enron chose to get involved?
Jeffrey Skilling: Okay. I mentioned that we're in the process of creating markets for bandwidth. Video is -- they call it a bandwidth-hog application; it chews up enormous amounts of bandwidth. And so, once we started to create this market for bandwidth, we have bandwidth available on demand for our customers. This is a perfect fit with the needs of someone like Blockbuster, that's trying to create a video-on-demand product. So for example, you're sitting at home, Friday evening, you decide you'd like to watch a movie. You don't want to drive out to the Blockbuster store and pick up a videotape, you're tired, you just want to sit in front of the television. So you turn on the television, go to the screen -- which will be a Blockbuster screen, where we're providing the bandwidth to get it to your house. You choose the movie that you want to see. When you choose that movie, we will automatically provision the necessary bandwidth to get that movie to your house real time. And so, we'll create the bandwidth to make that happen, you'll watch the movie. When you're done watching the movie, that bandwidth will go away. So you're just paying for what you use. And we're making sure that that bandwidth is available in the quantity you need to get a great picture.
David Gardner: When am I going to be able to do that?
Skilling: Well, right now, we're rolling out in four cities in a test phase, and that's Portland, Oregon; Salt Lake City; New York City; and Seattle.
Greer: And that partnership ended a few months later. That was in January of 2001, that interview, and by December of 2001. Actually, in December, Enron filed for bankruptcy.
David Gardner: That is incredible. I completely forgot that conversation. I did remember that part of their story, streaming ahead of streaming, Tom. In some ways, incredibly far-sighted. It sounded so good. I owned some shares of Enron in one of my child's accounts. So that went down to zero unfortunately. Sorry, unnamed child. But, yeah, he was the CEO of Enron and in 2006 he was convicted of federal felony charges.
I was checking. He was released from custody a year ago this month. So I don't know if you guys knew that or remember that, but Jeff Skilling is now back out. But what an incredible clip, Mac, to think back about streaming before it was cool, and it was all brought to you powered by Enron.
Greer: And I felt the question, the phrase I'm going to key in on is, in your question you said, "in another departure." So my question for both of you as investors is, how much leeway do you give your companies to kind of depart or stray from their core business? If Apple, for instance, if Apple said "We're going to open a nationwide chain of burger restaurants," how would you feel about that?
Tom Gardner: Well, I guess the first thing I would say is that executives can sound very convincing. I think if you strip the names of the company out and just had that be a company we couldn't even remember that we had talked to, and said, "Does that sound right and plausible?" At the time I think it did. And looking back, I would say it's pretty insightful for where the world's going. So that's kind of No. 1, is, a lot of businesses can put up a very convincing story and that's always going to be true. No. 2, you're not always going to be able to suss them out. Look at David's overall unbelievable investment returns, and he had some shares in one of his kids' account. We're always going to have some losers and that's why my next point is, I think, diversification is so important.
And then the last one, to answer your question, Mac, I would never have wanted to limit Amazon in their departures from books. Think how much value would have been kept off the table if they never went to Amazon Web Services. Who could have imagined that they would create AWS in their early years? And now look at the growth rates and size and impact of that business. It's a massive part of Amazon's overall value as a company.
So I want my companies to feel free to depart and I want my executives to be thinking about the future, and I better diversify, because some of them are going to either be proven wrong or even fraudulent.
David Gardner: So I love that, I'm not going to supplement that at all. But I know that you both have interest in another Houston institution. Discerning listeners will recognize that we are thinking about the Houston Astros and what's happened in baseball over the last six months or so, especially the last one month or so.
Mac, under the assumption that not everybody listening either cares or knows about baseball, could you briefly summarize, 30 seconds or so, what's happened since the World Series? And then we should talk a little bit about that.
Tom Gardner: And why it matters to you?
Greer: The Astros have been implicated in a cheating scandal by an MLB investigation. They were using video, and they were using it during the game in real time to get an advantage. MLB said they were using it in 2017 and a half of 2018.
David Gardner: So this is systemic. Major League Baseball saying, "You've been doing this a long time."
Greer: And that's an important time-period because they won the World Series in 2017. And one of my favorite players, José Altuve, was the MVP in 2017. And it appears from the investigation that the players had an advantage when they were hitting. Now, we don't know which players did what, but we do know that 2017-2018. And of course, it leaves the door open now. And I think they lose the benefit of the doubt for this past year as well, just because it's hard to say. It's just hard to say if they actually stopped cheating.
David Gardner: It appears, Mac, that the players were basically tipped off to what type of a pitch the pitcher was about to throw. So Altuve and his ilk kind of know, "Oh, it's going to be a curveball, oh, no, it's going to be a fast ball." That's the advantage that they allegedly were receiving systemically.
Tom Gardner: Part of that tip-off was happening through a system where a camera in center field was filming the catcher's signals and that was being relayed to the players back in the locker room, seconds between the signal being given and the pitcher throwing the pitch, you would hear a banging on the trash can. Maybe most or all of our listeners know that. But maybe you don't know that, the beauty of crowdsourcing on the internet, people have gone back and run the stats on all the banging across all the pitches to determine what percentage of all pitches drew bangs. And then, of course, you realize that those bangs are often for off-speed curveballs, that means, if you didn't get a bang, it was a fastball.
So the estimation is that, in certain games, in like the second half of the 2017 season, the Astros were essentially getting every pitch or the vast majority of pitches. Now, they also went back -- because people are passionate, and don't we love this, this is a little bit how we crowdsource investment research at The Motley Fool. They also went back and ran the numbers on which players drew the most bang signals for their pitches. And so, they don't know why somebody would get well more than somebody else. But all say, is that of all the players, it appears that Altuve got the fewest.
He only got, like -- I'm making the numbers up because I can't remember -- it's, like, 3%, whereas Springer appeared to get tens of percentage points of signals.
David Gardner: These are both Houston institutions, they were both implicated in cheating, Enron and the Astros. Both involved video streaming. These both involved video streaming, and one of them was thrown into jail and became an American disgrace, the other, it's really up in the air how this is going to be handled. Any closing thoughts before we rush to the next clip?
Greer: This reminds me of that, like, Kennedy had a secretary named Lincoln and Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy. Remember all those eerie parables?
David Gardner: I didn't know that. It's awesome.
Tom Gardner: We're living in a stimulation. This is just a video game.
Greer: [laughs] It's very disappointing. And I won't speak for Enron, but the Astros -- if you don't follow baseball -- the Astros already had one of the best teams. So the kind of eternal question is, why does a good team already feel the need to take that risk to get a bit of an advantage more? And it's disappointing, it's very, very disappointing.
Now a bit earlier we talked about Amazon. So I think it's only appropriate that we talk some eBay, because David and Tom, I remember back in the day, we'd have these debates. Amazon versus eBay. I was a very, very happy eBay shareholder, and I'm like, "Why would I ever buy Amazon?" Well, back in 2003 we had then-eBay CEO, Meg Whitman on our show and Tom asked her about eBay's success.
Tom Gardner: Meg, I want to take a look back here over the past couple of years. eBay eToy, I bid, you bid. Why is it that eBay has succeeded where the others haven't? What one or two things do you think the management at some of the other internet companies didn't get a couple of years ago?
Meg Whitman: Well, I think No. 1 was an understanding of whether these businesses actually could make money. You know, was there really a business model associated with these different entrepreneurial ideas? And from the beginning, there was a business model associated with eBay, long gross margins, profitable actually since February of 1996. So the financial characteristics of this business were very real and very profitable.
Secondly, I think we -- eBay -- and Pierre Omidyar, the founder deserves a lot of credit for this. He created a company that could not have existed without the internet. That eBay, as we know it today, could not exist without this revolutionary new medium. And many other businesses were simply taking what you could do offline and taking it online. And this I think was a revolutionary new concept that was uniquely suited to the web, and in fact has no land-based analog.
Tom Gardner: It's an interesting world that we live in that if you get the major trend right, there actually a number of winners. It's also something I've learned from David, like, don't feel that it's necessarily one versus the other. So probably one of the mistakes that I made in this category was to think it was in some way one versus the other. They both ended up winning big. eBay has been a wonderful investment; nothing on the order of the success at Amazon, and we can talk about why that is. But it's still been at a great stock from its IPO. I mean, it's 20% annualized return since coming public, all the way through for 20 years. So that's amazing. But it's a much smaller company at a $29 billion market cap than Amazon has become. And maybe we should ask David why that is.
David Gardner: Well, I really haven't thought about them as kind of paired companies for a long time, Tom. And I think that's because probably Amazon started to take off somewhere past that Bezos interview we heard earlier, but became so convenient, right? And that's something you've always emphasized and something we're always trying to get better at The Fool. But we love it in the company's stocks that we pick, the company that provides real convenience. And think about one click and not having to wait for the end of an auction, for example. I mean, again, both of these are great businesses and I love what you said earlier. Because finding multiple winners in fertile fields is a big Motley Fool thing that we do.
I also just want to briefly think about Meg Whitman, because of what an interesting career she's had. She went on from eBay, she went on to become CEO of Hewlett Packard. She ran for Governor of California unsuccessfully in 2016. Do you know what she's doing today? She's the CEO of _____. Do you guys know? They advertise a lot at the Super Bowl.
Greer: It's the short-video company Quibi.
David Gardner: Quibi. Q-U-I-B-I.
Tom Gardner: I didn't know that.
David Gardner: Did you see their Super Bowl ad.
Tom Gardner: This is awesome. This is like a sports fan, when you see, like, the player you loved through all those years is actually playing baseball in Japan right now. And so Quibi is probably a pretty small company relative to eBay and Hewlett Packard.
David Gardner: Yep. But backed by Jeffrey Katzenberg and led by Meg Whitman and short form mobile video platform. And Tom -- nobody loves YouTube that I know more than Tom Gardner. So it would be interesting to see, like, if Quibi has a leg to stand on within that industry. But anyway. So I also love just following the people; I know we all do. The human interest around this -- that's part of what you're doing, Mac, it's you're just finding really interesting people.
But to think about the transitions that Meg Whitman has made versus Jeff Bezos, kind of, steady-Eddie still doing the same thing, kind of like, Tom and me 20+ years later. But it's still really impressive to me who Meg Whitman is. And, you know, eBay, which, by the way, spawned PayPal, which has been an amazing company. And when you combine those market cap, it starts looking closer but still not near Amazon.
Tom Gardner: I will make an observation as an investor between eBay and Amazon, because I was on the other side of that, through those years, feeling that eBay was the better of the two investment opportunities. And I would observe that what Meg was highlighting in that interview is, well, you need to be able to prove that you can generate cash from your business, you need to be profitable. And while that is true, I think we're learning that that is more eventually true, particularly if you are a business with an enormous market opportunity around which you could create tremendous daily convenience for people. So a smaller market opportunity for eBay, that's more cash flow positive early on, looks better and starts to get the accolades and credibility on Wall Street of analysts, because they've done it again quarter after quarter, whereas the one that looks silly and absurd but is actually creating the habit and avidly reinvesting their cash flow to grow their market opportunity is Amazon. And we should remind ourselves of that when we invest.
David Gardner: Tom, that's really well put. As we transition to the next one, I will mention guys that Quibi hasn't launched yet. If Wikipedia has a right, it launches on April 6th, as we record today, on Tuesday, February 11th. That's 45 days' time, your birthday Mac Greer, Quibi launches.
Tom Gardner: Okay. I have an idea, sorry, but I see Mac on his birthday on a Quibi video, explaining what the Astros should do at MacGreer.com. I saw a Quibi video about the Astros on MacGreer.com on your birthday.
Greer: I thought you're going to say, I see Mac Greer doing the Hustle.
David Gardner: Next clip. [laughs]
Greer: [laughs] Okay. Moving on to our next exchange, we are just coming off the Academy Awards. And when I think movies, and I think when you all think movies, a lot of us think about the -- I think he's the greatest film critic of all time, the late Roger Ebert.
David Gardner: The late, great Roger Ebert. And, of course, in real life, we're also just coming off the Academy Awards right now. So how many years ago exactly was this interview?
Greer: This is from March of 2002. And we talk to Roger Ebert about two of our favorite subjects, movies and money.
David Gardner: Because we're a business and money show, is there a single movie or one or two movies that stand out in your mind as being extraordinary films about business or money that our listeners --
Roger Ebert: Well, you know, I think the funniest line of dialogue that David Mamet has ever written was about money. And it came in his movie of 2001 called The Heist. Danny DeVito was trying to convince Gene Hackman to pull one more job, and Gene Hackman says, "He doesn't want to do it, he'd rather go sailing." And Danny DeVito says, "You got to do it." Then Hackman says, "Why do I have to do it?" And DeVito says, "For the money." And Hackman says, "I don't like money." And then DeVito comes up with this classic Mamet line, which ought to be the motto of The Motley Fool. "Everybody likes money. That's why they call it money."
David Gardner: And you know what, the great thing about audio, Roger, is that we can just clip that now and you have delivered our motto for the show this week.
Ebert: There you go.
David Gardner: And that is amazing, because, of course, every episode of Motley Fool Money, our weekly podcast/radio show starts with that quote. And, Mac, I didn't realize is that where you pulled it from, Roger Ebert's advice?
Greer: That's where I got the idea. Now the interesting thing is, he actually got the quote wrong. The quote is "Everybody needs money. That's why they call it money." But you get the idea.
Tom Gardner: Is that audio clip actually the audio clip at the beginning of the show?
David Gardner: It could be.
Greer: From The Heist. We use the Danny DeVito --
David Gardner: We use the real thing, but Tom suggested, maybe occasionally, we surprise our listeners with the Ebert line.
Greer: So keeping it on the lighter side a bit, another one of our favorite guests is basketball great Charles Barkley. And you know, we're not just about financial advice, we're about self-improvement -- and for lack of a better word -- maybe beauty tips. So back in 2002 we talked with Charles Barkley.
David Gardner: Next one up Charles, my brother has been contemplating them, I want to a buy/sell/hold from you on hair plugs for men.
Charles Barkley: Oh, you know what, there's nothing worse than a bad do.
David Gardner: Thank you, Charles. I haven't really seriously been considering hair plugs. But how about, I'm about 5'8" I'm a scrawny guy. Should I shave the rest of my hair? Should I go Barkley?
Barkley: You know what I call it? You should come on home. Every time I see a guy who needs clothes and trying to fight it, just come on home.
David Gardner: Oh, my gosh! This is incredible.
Tom Gardner: I think we could structure a debate between Charles Barkley and Larry David, because I know Larry David thinks that shaving your head is hiding the fact that you're bald. This is a violation for Larry, but it's actually it's a religion for Charles.
David Gardner: Tom, were you inspired by that? Do you remember him saying that to you and did that matter to you or not?
Tom Gardner: I think it was life-changing advice for me.
David Gardner: That's amazing. So Roger Ebert basically gave us the start to Motley Fool Money, and Charles Barkley gave Tom his handsome look.
Tom Gardner: I mean, I love our parents, they did an amazing job, but I would say most of the changes in my life have come from radio show guests at The Motley Fool.
David Gardner: We should have Charles back sometime. Don't you love Charles? I really so enjoy his -- I don't watch the NBA commentary --
Tom Gardner: Can we just remember -- among other things -- what a great rebounder Charles Barkley was and why would he not be Chairman of the Board of The Motley Fool?
Greer: Nice. Strong.
David Gardner: Wow! It's always an open position. Tom and I can step down at any time as co-chairmen. I'm not sure we even really make much use of that. I think Charles would crush it for us.
Tom Gardner: If anyone listening has a way to get in touch with Charles, we're ready to have this conversation.
Greer: Guys, we're going to keep it in the world of self-improvement and we are going to listen to an interview we did with Mister Rogers back in 2002. Now, earlier in the show, we played the clip from Enron CEO Jeff Skilling. Well, in 2002, we talked to Mister Rogers about a number of things, and one of the areas we explored is corporate corruption and what had been playing out in the business world. And Tom asked him about that.
Tom Gardner: Let's talk a little bit more about justice just briefly. Some of our listeners may not know that you're also an ordained Presbyterian minister. And as someone who spent your life talking about values, living those values, what's your take on some of the scandals that have played out in corporate America over the last few years? Speaking about not taking care of the people that we work with in many cases.
Fred Rogers: Exactly. What do you think it is that drives people to want far more than they could ever use or need? I, frankly, think it's insecurity. How do we let the world know that the trappings of this life are not the things that are ultimately important for being accepted? That's what I've tried to do all through the years with The Neighborhood, you know:
It's you I like,
It's not the things you wear,
It's not the way you do your hair—
But it's you I like
The way you are right now,
The way down deep inside you—
Not the things that hide you,
Not your fancy toys—
They're just beside you.
But it's you I like—
Every part of you,
Your skin, your eyes, your feelings
Whether old or new.
I hope that you'll remember
Even when you're feeling blue
That it's you I like,
It's you yourself,
Greer: That is good stuff.
David Gardner: Wow! Of course, Mister Rogers has only gotten more popular since his sad departure from our lives, although not at all because Tom Hanks is now Mister Rogers and Mister Rogers in a remarkable documentary is Mister Rogers. But that, it's you I like, I remember him saying that to a little boy who was sitting in a wheelchair. That's a poem, of course, he could trot that out any time he needed to, and he did it many times. I'm delighted that he did on The Motley Fool radio show.
Greer: I think the Mister Rogers interview may have been my favorite interview of all the ones we've ever done. I watched him as a kid and it was just so great to hear Mister Rogers and to really realize that what you see is who he is.
David Gardner: There are a lot of fans of that interview. In fact, we've run it before on this podcast as a full audio extra. So if you just search and you want to hear Tom and me fully interact with Fred Rogers back in the day, you can.
I will mention, before going to our last two clips, Mac, that it was always kind of fun to talk to the guests off the air, maybe just before they were coming on, because you could really kind of see who is authentically themselves or at least in common conversation still seem to be the person that we thought they were. I was really grateful, for example, Dave Barry, the very talented comic writer, longtime Miami Herald columnist, such a good guy off the air, he did a couple of audio extras just for friends, who're Dave Barry fans.
Tom Gardner: Who violated that for you? Who violated that principle for you?
David Gardner: If anybody came to mind, I wouldn't say right now, Tom, because that's the kind of guy I am, but what you? [laughs]
Tom Gardner: That's good. I'm just looking in your eyes to try and remember. Actually, one of the things I've been thinking about, during this whole program and reviews of all these, I ask myself -- and maybe only the two of us can answer, Dave -- I ask myself whether Mac was compensated fairly for the incredible variety of booking he was able to pull off. And I answer it this way: "Mac, it's not the things you have. It's not the money you've made, it's you I like, it's you I like, Mac. It's OK. You may not have been compensated fairly, but it's you I like."
Greer: Don't you think Mister Rogers got paid well, though?
Tom Gardner: I think Mister Rogers, probably quite well.
David Gardner: I think Mac is diverting attention from feeling gloom himself perhaps.
Tom Gardner: I think Mac did so many great bookings, there's got to be a stipend for him to get Charles Barkley, Mister Rogers, Jeff Skilling, Reed Hastings, Jeff Bezos.
David Gardner: That was not right. Not right.
Greer: I wasn't. It's OK. I do it for the love.
Tom Gardner: Who would be the one person Mac could book that would cause you to say, "That's unbelievable." Right now, for the world that we're in today, what is a classic Mac Greer booking?
David Gardner: Queen Elizabeth. That would be amazing.
Greer: That's interesting. I thought you were going to say Linda Lavin. [laughs] Okay so.
David Gardner: [laughs] More nearly. I should say. Hourly.
Tom Gardner: That's good. That was good.
Greer: Okay. So as we wrap up here, this seems of one piece with the Mister Rogers exchange, and so I thought it was a good time to reflect back on this. Loretta Lynn, country music superstar. And just such a wonderful interview. We talked to her back in 2002. If you don't know about her, she was born in poverty -- there's a great movie about her life story called Coal Miner's Daughter, because she was in fact a coal miner's daughter. And Tom asked her about happiness and what life is really all about.
Tom Gardner: Doesn't money buy happiness, Loretta?
Loretta Lynn: No, it doesn't. I think if you've got a good bed to crawl into when you're sleepy and you have a good warm meal, I think that's about as good as you can get it. I wouldn't ask for more.
Tom Gardner: Very well fit.
Tom Gardner: I'm kind of the dark angel in that scenario.
David Gardner: [laughs] Was that authentic on your part, did you think that money did buy happiness when you asked that or was that written by Mac Greer?
Tom Gardner: It's time for the full reveal. I was Mac's puppet for about eight years. I think I invited Ken Lay to be our CEO, but that wasn't me. Yeah, no, I mean how can you not love this human being? What a great person she is and what a great interview it was. For me, it was the interview with her and with Bob Geldof, those were probably my all-time two favorite interviews. And who doesn't agree with her point. Once again, Mac: As long as you've got a good bed to crawl into and some food on the plate and it's not the compensation you got, Mac. It's not the trappings, it's not the toys, they're just beside you, Mac; it's who you are I like.
Greer: But those can help with the bed and the food.
Tom Gardner: It's true.
David Gardner: Eighty-seven years old these days, Loretta Lynn.
Tom Gardner: Another person who should join our board.
David Gardner: Our board is going to be amazing by the end of this year.
Greer: Well, there you go. Well, I've got one more potential addition, and she's older than 87. And she's just an amazing presence. If you don't know about her, she came to fame and came to the kind of the public attention as, well, a sex therapist.
Tom Gardner: I had a sense as to where we're going.
David Gardner: Back when that wasn't cool. There were no other sex therapists that I can think of in popular media.
Greer: And so, like, in the spirit of Valentine's Day --
Tom Gardner: Can I guess the clip?
Greer: You can guess the clip. Dr. Ruth Westheimer. We begin with Dr. Ruth talking, and then one of you ask a question.
David Gardner: Asked Mac Greer's question.
Greer: That is not Mac Greer's question. I did not write that question, I don't think.
Tom Gardner: What percentage of all questions asked on radio shows were Mac Greer?
Greer: When you all hosted, I don't know, I would say maybe 25.
Tom Gardner: Probably closer to 81. I was frustrated, I wanted some freedom to ask a question.
Greer: I know. I apologize.
Tom Gardner: Are you saying this great question was David's creation? Really, you do believe that?
Greer: I will say this, I would have been OK with you asking more questions had you compensated me more.
Tom Gardner: That's also a very fair point.
David Gardner: [laughs] Instead, Mac had you asking, "Doesn't money buy you happiness, Loretta?"
Tom Gardner: And, Mr. Lay, would you like to be our CEO? [laughs]
Greer: [laughs] Sorry. Maybe the Loretta Lynn --
Tom Gardner: [laughs] Doesn't money buy you happiness? Okay, yes, good, I see what you've been doing.
Greer: That's more of a device, I know you didn't think that. Sorry.
Tom Gardner: These are all excellent points, but let's get to the Dr. Ruth clip.
Dr. Ruth Westheimer: If a relationship is a good one then even if there are some worries about money, that should actually lead to intimacy, to hugging and kissing and to say to each other, "Look, I'm here for you, I'm here for you not only when you can buy me diamonds and champagne, I'm here for you also when there is some trouble."
David Gardner: But, Dr. Ruth, can you have good sex in a bear market?
Dr. Westheimer: Yes.
David Gardner: Okay. I needed to have the definitive word.
Dr. Westheimer: Yes. And you have to make sure that you're not too tired, you have to make sure that you're not exhausted and you also have to make sure that you help at home. Do the dishes. Bring flowers.
David Gardner: Oh, these all read like condemnations for me.
Dr. Westheimer: Do something that is of interest to your partner.
Tom Gardner: Wow! It's hard. I mean, I challenge anyone to not laugh during that clip.
David Gardner: I mean, what an amazing woman and just a great American. And you're right, I'm really happy to note she's 91 years old. It's fair to say, you're someone who sounds condescending. Here I bet it's true, 91 years young today Dr. Ruth Westheimer. Wow! Her family got her to Switzerland in 1939, got her out of Germany.
Greer: She's a Holocaust survivor. Yeah.
David Gardner: Yeah. But what a joyful spirit. And I love the definitive, "yes," "yes," right away. Signature.
Tom Gardner: And in a way, that question is like asking, if money can buy happiness. In a way, it's kind of a -- yeah.
David Gardner: Synonymous.
Greer: That doesn't feel like a question I wrote. I'm disappointed that you asked it. [laughs]
Tom Gardner: The timing was so beautiful. I don't know where it came from, but I will say that, Dr. Ruth, if you're listening, you also will be a great board director at The Motley Fool.
Greer: She would be fantastic. So one of the things that I love about that exchange is the bear market. It's been a while. But that question, at the time, made a lot of sense, because we're in a bear market. Now, there are people today who may not even know what a bear market is.
David Gardner: Did we book Dr. Ruth almost each Valentine's Day?
Greer: We did.
David Gardner: She was a return multiple --
Tom Gardner: Was she on the Larry Malkowski Valentine's special?
Greer: And Elvira the week of Halloween. I had a soft spot.
David Gardner: Mistress of the Dark. Absolutely.
Greer: Yeah. Dr. Ruth and Elvira.
David Gardner: Well, guys, it sounds like there's another "Blast From the Radio Past" coming sometime later this year and maybe another one after that. Because I never grow tired of these things. I hope that each of our listeners this week has treasured this time together. There's a chance at some point we lost somebody -- like, maybe my opinions about baseball weren't of that much interest. I don't know. I hope you're still listening to us. And if you are, I hope you loved it and we're definitely going to bring this team back for our next "Blast From the Radio Past" in a while. But, Tom, why do we do this?
Tom Gardner: Well, for me -- and it could be kind of corny to trout this out, but our mission at The Motley Fool and our purpose is to help everyone and to make the world a smarter, happier and richer place for everyone. And so, when we go back and revisit the Bezos interview, the Reed Hastings interview, the Meg Whitman interview, and look at the performance of those companies as investments in Motley Fool recommendations and out there in the world for other people -- richer, happier -- "Can you have great sex in a bear market?" -- and all of the humor that emerges from all these conversations, check. Smarter, I don't know if we got that one, but happier and richer, I definitely leave the show.
David Gardner: Very well put. But I'll just say, for my own part, it's a pleasure having Tom back on the show, it's really fun to listen back to all that work we did. Guys, we spent so much time together on the road and around Fool HQ, multiple different Fool HQs. Mac, I want to thank you, in particular, because once again, just like the previous two episodes, which are all findable. If you want to hear the Bob Geldof interview, some great clips, that's in the last one from July 18, 2018. But, Mac, you're the one who goes back, listens to it all and grabs these wonderful clips. Thank you for doing that!
Now before I ask Mac, the significance though, Rick Engdahl, you've been here all the way through this podcast, but at The Motley Fool, you've been doing this kind of thing for years. Why do we do this?
Tom Gardner: How many years, Rick?
Rick Engdahl: I've been here 20 years, but not in radio 20 years, I have been in radio for, like, 6 maybe. So I'm --
Tom Gardner: That's 20 years right there.
Engdahl: [laughs] Feels like it. I'm more forward looking, so I'm wondering, who are the next guests going to be? Mac, you need to get on the ball here and get some of these guests back in, some of these --
Tom Gardner: Some of these Queen Elizabeths.
Engdahl: Yeah. Because I bet if you do, you might get a raise or at least a compliment.
Tom Gardner: Yeah. What is the most valuable nonfinancial thing for you, Mac? Most valuable nonfinancial. Love?
Greer: Love. Yeah.
Tom Gardner: Okay. If you're able to book Queen Elizabeth, I will purchase for you and your family three puppies that you can take care of for the rest of your life. That's love.
Greer: How about a Disney cruise instead?
Tom Gardner: And a Disney cruise.
David Gardner: I thought you were just going to lightly muss his hair, because that's all Mac really needs.
Greer: That's true. My gray hair, my silvery-gray hair.
David Gardner: Mac, why did we do this this week?
Greer: You know, for me, I love investing. And, for me, the most interesting part of investing is the people and it's the stories behind it. I'm not a wizard when it comes to the financials, but what I do love and what I'm passionate about is the stories. And you just hear these incredible stories, not just with the CEOs, but with the Dr. Ruths with the celebrities, everyone brings something different to the equation. And I think part of The Motley Fool is that relentless search for better solutions and this idea that every single day, we can indulge our curiosity, and we can become better.
David Gardner: All right. Well, thanks again to Mac and to Tom. And boy, I hope you had at least half as much fun as we did, because if you did, you had a lot of fun.
All right, well, coming up next week. It is not going to be "Great Quotes Volume 11," you're going to hear in a sec what we will be doing. I want to mention, I'm kicking that too early March. Now, we've already gotten a lot of great submissions, but our email addresses RBI@Fool.com, you can always tweet us @RBIPodcast. If you have a great quotation that you'd like to share with me, that means something to you and you feel speaks to the purpose of the show, which, as my brother, Tom, said earlier -- we're here to make the world smarter, happier and richer. So if you have something that you think would fit, it's our all-listener edition for "Great Quotes Volume 11," coming up in early March.
But coming up next week. Two years ago, I picked five stocks the world needs right now. Did it? Has it? And one year ago, I picked five more stocks to feed the next bear. Well, the bear hasn't showed up since, so how have these stocks done? So yes, next week we will review these two five-stock samplers with full performance numbers, Review-a-Palooza, next week. Fool on!