3 Factors Will Determine the Future of Verisign Inc. (Tech Strategy – Podcast 191)


This week’s podcast is a deep dive into Verisign, Inc (Nasdaq: VRSN). It focuses on the biggest factors for the future of the company.

You can listen to this podcast here, which has the slides and graphics mentioned. Also available at iTunes and Google Podcasts.

Here is the link to the TechMoat Consulting.



Related articles:

From the Concept Library, concepts for this article are:

  • CA16: State-Granted Competitive Advantages
  • Standardization Network Effects
  • Substitutes

From the Company Library, companies for this article are:

  • Verisign Inc

Photo by Joshua Sortino on Unsplash

——-–Transcription below

Welcome welcome everybody. My name is Jeff Towson and this is the tech strategy podcast from Tecmo Consulting and the topic for today Three factors that will determine the future of VeriSign So this is a company deep dive on a digital infrastructure Company that is kind of widely known for having a moat Warren Buffett has been a major owner of this company for over 10 years, well Berkshire Hathaway has been. And so I thought I would go into sort of a bit about what the competitive advantage is with this company and what I think the factors are that are gonna determine its future in terms of a business model and ultimately valuation. So that’ll be the topic for today, we’ll be VeriSign which is publicly traded on the NASDAQ. Now no major announcements for today. The… One Hour Motes and Marathons book is available on Amazon. This is kind of, I’ve been saying this for a year, I published basically six short linked books on how do you measure competitive advantage in digital businesses, which I think is pretty comprehensive to say the least, but not terribly readable unless you’re really into it. So this was a slim down. you know, short book version that had kind of the main points on digital transformation. So anyways, this is a speed read version of the whole series, hence the one hour title. You can read it in an hour, available on Amazon for the last couple weeks. And I think it’s pretty good. Actually, I feel pretty good about it. Anyways, that’s there. If you’re interested, anything else? Standard disclaimer, nothing in this podcast or my writing or website is investment advice. The numbers and information for me and any guests may be incorrect. The views and opinions expressed may no longer be relevant or accurate. Overall, investing is risky. This is not investment, legal or tax advice. Do your own research. And with that, let’s get into the content. Now in terms of tech news, there’s really only one item on my list that I’m paying attention to this week, which is that open AI has released, i.e. this week, uh, it’s app store. And people have been waiting for this. I mean, it’s a big deal. There’s a couple of big events coming up in generative AI. The release of Gemini is a big deal. Pika Labs, which is cool. That’s text to video, very powerful, pretty awesome. And then the other one is okay, OpenAI basically turning GPT into an innovation platform, creating an app store. So that would make it a lot more like an operating system. You know, the business model, we would call that an innovation platform where people build on this. And there’s only a handful of these out there. Microsoft Windows is an innovation platform. All the developers write software. They connect those developers with the users, hence Microsoft Windows. Android, Google Play is another one. iOS App Store is another one. You could say Epic Games is similar in that they have their own sort of innovation platform. So the question is, is OpenAI’s App Store gonna create a new innovation platform? I suspect not. I think it’s gonna be important. I think it’s gonna increase usage. Developers are gonna start to write on it and distribute their good. Most innovation platforms require an entirely new sort of tech paradigm, like going from PCs to the web, going from the web to smartphones, going from smartphones to… IoT and a range of connected devices. All of those are based, and cloud would be another one. All of those are sort of new tech paradigms that people can build on, and usually there’s one or two innovation platforms that dominate. It’s not clear to me that OpenAI, GPT, the foundation models are their own platform in that sense. I think they’re gonna feed into other apps, but I’m open, I’m watching to see, but I put it as a solid maybe, but I’m kind of doubtful. Anyways, that’s kind of the news for this week that got my attention. Big deal. I’m going to play with it as soon as I can get my hands on it. All right, let’s talk about VeriSign. Now, VeriSign, back story on this. Eight years ago, I actually looked it up. I sat down in a cafe in Chiang Mai, Starbucks, and I just started reading annual reports. And I started to think about one question, which is, how do you build a competitive advantage that’s durable? in a world where digital transformation tools are always emerging. And the way I sort of came at that question was, all right, we will start reading the companies that Warren Buffett has invested in, because for the most part, everything he buys has a moat, mostly. And so I will start to reverse engineer all of his companies. And I started with the Berkshire Holdings and I worked all the way back to the 50s, really. But he wasn’t really doing this until the 70s and 80s. And early on, approximately eight years ago, one of his major holdings was VeriSign, VeriSign Inc. Virginia-based company, which really does sort of domain registration. If you have a webpage or you’ve gone to a webpage that ends in.com or.net, that’s VeriSign. They have… basically the exclusive arrangement with ICANN, the Internet Registry, I’ll explain about that, it’s a little bit complicated, nonprofit multi-stakeholder private organization, and to a large degree the US Department of Commerce, for giving out these domain names and why they’re important. I’ll explain what the business is, it’s a little complicated. But anyways, I came across VeriSign and tried to reverse engineer it about eight years ago, and I couldn’t really do it. I didn’t quite have the digital frameworks, which took me many years to develop to take it apart. So it’s always been on my list and it’s still a major Berkshire holding today. The company owns about 10% of the company. They have about 2.3 billion dollars worth of shares and it’s in their top 15 to 20 holdings even today. Now was that Buffett? Was that Ted or Todd? I don’t know, but it’s been a Berkshire holding. Everyone kind of knows it has a major moat. So I’m gonna sort of detail what I think it’s moat really is and the factors that I think are gonna matter which I Don’t think I’m too far off what you’ll read. I have a little bit of a different take but it’s not Dramatically different so I’m gonna break it apart. Hence. That’s the point of today now I’ll give you a little bit about VeriSign. Here’s their description for the and for those of you who are subscribers I’m sending you a kind of a long email about this, breaking it down in pretty good detail. I’m going through a lot more US companies now, so Salesforce I did. This is another one, VeriSign. We’ll do a couple more of these. For those of you who aren’t subscribers, I’ve actually opened it up. I haven’t been taking subscribers for about nine months. It’s open now on my webpage, jefftausen.com, if you’re interested in signing up there. You’ll see a big red button. Okay, so VeriSign. Here’s how they describe themselves from their 10K. quote, we are a global provider of domain name registry services and internet infrastructure. Okay, the language here is not awesome. Domain name registry, the simplest idea of that is, you can, well, let me finish the 10K, then I’ll give you my take on it. Here’s how it goes on. Enabling internet navigation for many of the world’s most important recognized domain names. We enable security, stability, and resiliency of key internet infrastructure and services, blah, blah. Okay, so then it goes on. Next paragraph. As of December 2022, we had approximately 173 million com and.net registrations in their domain name base. Okay. Those are kind of the factoids I think that matter. Here’s a couple more. This is 2022 revenues of about $1.4 billion in 2022. Pretty flat in terms of growth, 3%, 5%, 7%, not digital spectacular growth, but their operating income on $1.4 billion of revenue, 2022 was 940 million. So this thing is an unbelievable. profit machine. It’s not a growth engine, but its gross profits are absolutely crazy. And, you know, it’s I’ll give you the number. It’s about cost of revenue, about 14% of revenue. You take out their R&D, which is about 6%, you take out the SG&A, which is about 13%. All of their cost structure, everything is about 33% of their revenue. So 67% operating profit, not gross profit. operating profit. This thing is a cash machine. It’s not huge, you know, $1.4 billion, but, and it’s not growing radically, but it is a cash machine because it turns out it is just a bunch of servers that keep lists of domain names. And there’s not really that much operational stuff. There is security and you have to worry about cyber hacking, you know, various things like that. because people always want to hack into the infrastructure of the internet. But generally speaking, it’s a sort of spectacular business model with big profits, almost no assets. The balance sheet has got like nothing on it. And it also turns out most people prepaid domain names. So it’s got negative working capital like crazy. I mean, take a look at the income statement, take a look at the balance sheet. Those of you subscribers, I’m going to send it to you tonight. It’s crazy. This thing is it’s kids got unbelievable financials minus growth no major growth, but apart from that great, okay Now how do you take all this apart now? I think there’s two important things that are happening here Okay It is a domain registry service. What does that mean? It’s really two things it provides online identity for websites If I want to go see Disney if I want to go to jefftowson.com. How do I know that’s really Disney? How do I know that’s not just someone who’s put it up there? Well, you have to check against a widely accepted and trusted domain registry that says, okay, if you want to go to Disney, here is the accurate address you can put in your browser. Now this is all based on browsers that end in.com,.net, apps or a different thing. So it provides sort of verified, trusted online identity for both individuals and businesses within anything that ends in.com or.now. Now, if it’s.org, they used to have that, they don’t have that anymore. If you have.gov for the US government, they used to have that for a while, they don’t have it anymore. So in that sense, it’s a little bit like having a driver’s license from the DMV of California. It is widely accepted that is proof of identity. This is online identity. And when you move from physical identity, here’s my passport, here’s my driver’s license, which would be issued by the state. When you move online, it gets a little fuzzier. Facebook is kind of a type of online identity. When Airbnb launched 12, 13 years ago, It was very hard to get people to trust the idea that I’m going to let this person stay in my apartment or I’m going to stay in that person’s apartment. So before Airbnb could launch, you really had to have some version of trusted online identity. And what they used originally was Facebook. You know, Facebook would verify who you are. You know, originally with Facebook, you had to log in with a Harvard email. Well, Airbnb piggybacked that trusted identity as a way of. getting over the trust problems that you could fly into another country and stay in someone’s house and you already were trusting who the person was because you had a verified identity. And Uber was a little bit of the same. Getting in people’s cars required a bit of trust. Now dot com and dot net are important because that’s where e-commerce happens. So there’s money involved so the level of trust is higher Than someone just having a random web page with some random advice or information, okay It would be nice to know that that’s authentic and there’s a trusted identity, but I’m not losing any money So when you move into commerce the requirement for trust goes up And I’ve talked about this guy going back two to three years that When you start to do interactions online as a platform business model, let’s say Facebook, or let’s say Amazon or Taobao. The reason those interactions struggle is what we call the coordination costs. The reason you would maybe buy something down the street from a store and not buy something from another country far away is because there is an asymmetry of information. You can’t trust that person the same way. So we would call that a. increase coordination or an increased transaction cost. Well, what digital tools do is they’re very much in the business of bringing down coordination and transaction costs. So I can go on Amazon and buy something on Amazon, even though it’s shipped from China into Texas, but Amazon will provide a level of trust and identity such that the coordination cost drops enough that I can do the transaction. Okay, this is the same idea, that when you’re helping people interact online, whether it’s through a platform business model or just logging into a random webpage, there needs to be a level of trust to enable the interactions to happen, to drop the coordination transaction costs. Well, one way to do that is a platform business model. Another way to do that is what you would call a certification service. And that’s really where VeriSign, which was founded in 1995, They originally started out as a verification service, that they had a couple million, basically, patents held by a company called RSA Security where they would provide a certificate authority that you could trust that this website you were going to, when you would log into the website, you would get a ping back from the certification service saying, this is really Disney. And there used to be a VeriSign logo on there. Well, this is the same idea. So when you think about, you know, they are sort of in the next evolution of certification authority. Okay, one aspect of that is, okay, you’re providing an online identity that can be trusted, which is very important, especially for things like e-commerce. The other thing you’re doing is you’re providing almost like a phone book or a switchboard. If I’m logging into a website, let’s say I want to go to Disney and I am sitting in Singapore. I’m not really reaching Disney directly, which their servers are gonna be in California. I’m dealing with the local ISP. Well, it would be easy for that ISP to reroute me to somewhere else that I think is Disney, but is really not. So one, they’re doing online identity, but two, they’re also sort of ensuring that the phone book. You know, like if I want to call Disney directly, I’d open the phone book and I’d look up the number in the phone book and I would trust when I call that number in the phone book, I’m reaching Disney as opposed to a random number someone told me. So it’s the online identity, but it’s also sort of this virtual phone book and switchboard where they’re ensuring that you are not having a man in the middle problem and being rerouted to something that’s not your bank or not Disney. or not an e-commerce site that you’re trying to reach, but it’s someone else pretending you that. So it’s kind of both of those things together. Okay, that’s I think enough of the history. Let’s just sort of go through, okay, let’s talk about VeriSign today. Not really involved in the.gov registry anymore. They have a couple small countries they do, but overwhelmingly, what they do is they are the exclusive com and.net operator for ICOM. And for those of you not familiar, ICON, I’ll say it correctly, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, it’s basically a building in Playa Vista in California in Los Angeles. It’s right next to LAX. And there’s a funny history on how it ended up there that there was a famous sort of software engineer who used to basically run the domain registry in the 90s and late 80s, kind of office. He did it sort of on the fly. Well, that turned into Icon and other things. OK. They basically have an exclusive contract with Icon, VeriSign, for dot com and dot net that make them effectively a monopoly as a wholesale provider of registry services. Now, in the past, they also were a retailer. So you might go to Network Solutions, which used to be them. Or you could go to Daddy, Go Daddy or something like that. And you could log in and buy a domain name and get your renewals and all that. Well, that would be the retail side. They’re not allowed to do that anymore. By virtue of their contract with Icon, they are in the wholesale business where they provide the names to all the other retail, you know, all these companies that try and get you to sign up for their domain name and all compete on price and other things. They’re the wholesaler that supplies them these names. Pricing they can provide is set by icon You know, they have to pay icon, you know, basically a dollar per year for every domain Registration they do and then they can charge usually I think it’s eight or nine dollars Depending off dot-com or dotnet to the retailers then the retailers can charge whatever they want and play around so they’re a highly regulated monopoly, exclusive provider of wholesale domain names in dot com dot net. And they’re and they will call themselves digital infrastructure. It’s a lot easier to think about them as a regulated utility. That’s really what they are. They’re regulated by ICON by terms of the agreement and then also local laws would apply to them as well, but it’s mostly ICON. The U.S. government is not really involved in this. It’s done by this private NGO. non-governmental sort of non-public organization. Okay, so that’s what they do. And so what everyone pays attention to them is a couple of things. Number one is everyone looks at the state of their contracts with ICON and their.NET, these contracts are about six years. Their.NET contract expired in 2023. So in theory, that would be a risk if you were an investor, which it is, but these are not like contracts that go out to bid. and everyone can try and get the contract. It’s really kind of, they have the presumptive right of renewal where unless something has really screwed up, they’re renewed almost automatically about every six years. And sure enough, that is what happened in 2023 with the.NET contract. It was expired. I’m sorry, it was renewed to 2029. The.com contract will expire in 2024. So everyone’s watching for that, but I… There could be surprises, but you know, it’s as long as they are doing the appropriate security and they’re not seeing any sort of scandal, everyone thinks that will get renewed. Then the question is, are they going to change the pricing they are allowed to do? Okay, so why do value investors like this company? They like it because it has a big moat and it is pretty predictable, you know, because you can pretty accurately predict how many domain name registrations and renewals are gonna happen each year. 173 million in 2022. And you can predict the pricing because it’s set by the contracts. So there’s a degree of predictability which value investors love that stuff. Okay, so that’s kind of the basics of this and the financials are great and it’s publicly traded. Okay, so let me sort of jump to the so what. What are the three factors? How do I break this down? What are the three factors that I think matter that you know let you sort of predict what’s going to happen. Okay the first thing is basically they have a state granted competitive advantage. Now if you go to my list of competitive advantages you’ll see it right there state granted competitive advantages. I talk about this in countries like China and Saudi Arabia all the time. We don’t talk about it nearly as much in the U.S. State granted competitive advantages when the government basically says you are the only company that gets a mobile license in China Well, there’s three actually or you are one of nine state, you know You have one of nine banking licenses in Saudi Arabia, which was the case from like 1980 to 2005 or something I know when the government sets the rules like that. That is a hard competitive advantage. That is just game over there are nine companies or there are three companies and That’s it. It’s arguably the most powerful competitive advantage you can have is when the government mandates. Now, the flip side to a government-granted competitive advantage is they’re not as predictable. If you have a commercial competitive advantage, like economies of scale of Coke and Pepsi versus a smaller company, that may decline over time, but you will see it coming over time. A state granted competitive advantage can disappear next Tuesday. A new regulation can happen, a new change, the advantage you have, it’s gone. Patents on drugs are like this. If you have a patent on a drug, you have a real hard competitive advantage right up until the day that patent expires and then it’s gone. Well, that’s what this is. Now in this case it’s a little different because we’re not talking about a state-granted competitive advantage. We’re talking about a competitive advantage given by ICANN. But I mean ICANN, it’s really a quasi-state organization. The U.S. government has sort of delegated to ICANN the running and management of this, but they could take it back any day. You know, one move and it would be back under the Department of Commerce or whatever. So they’ve sort of outsourced their role as a regulator to a private entity. And so I mean, I basically view ICANN as a quasi-state monopoly. They’re acting with state power for the most part. OK, and VeriSign is basically piggybacking the monopoly power of ICANN. So it’s a regulated, state-granted monopoly with a state-granted monopoly. Pretty specific rules on what VeriSign is allowed to do in terms of things like bundling. They actually have rules against bundling. You can’t lump this together with other services, which would be very profitable. Pricing power, how much they can raise the prices per year, which is usually between seven and 10%. What kind of behavior they can do. What other businesses they can be involved in. They can’t vertically integrate to become a retailer. So. You can see this as state granted competitive advantage by virtue of ICON. I view it as basically a regulated utility. I view it the same way I view the electricity company. And that’s actually kind of interesting because Warren Buffett has a long history of investing in power plants and other regulated utilities. However, what he does do, I think, is he diversifies away the political risk having lots of them in different geographies. So it wouldn’t be one power plant for one state. It would be lots of power plants in lots of states. So if the government does act, it only hits part of the business. Now ICANN wouldn’t be that way. ICANN is a national entity. And really it’s global, because they kind of set it for a lot of the world minus China and some other places. So that would be kind of number one. you want to keep an eye on sort of a state-granted competitive advantage for this highly regulated utility. Okay, that would be sort of factor number one you keep an eye on. Factor number two, I would call it a standardization network effect. As sort of mentioned, when you have sort of trusted online identity, there is a network effect that happens. The reason everyone trusts a driver’s license from California, well one, it’s state backed, that’s part of it, but two, everybody knows it. You know, you can take it into any store, every shopkeeper, if you’re going to buy alcohol, will look at it and will accept it. This is trusted. And the more people that trust this version of online identity or regular identity, the more valuable it becomes. That’s why we don’t carry around 20 different types of identity. in our wallet. Most people carry one or two that everybody accepts. Now we would call that a standardization network effect. This is an online version of that and I think we do see that in a couple companies. When Reid Hoffman founded LinkedIn, one of the network effects, I mean that thing was built to capture network effects and there were three he was going for. One of the ones he talked about very early on was having a LinkedIn profile will be a standard identity in the professional world. If I wanna know if someone’s a lawyer or where they work or what their history is or what their CAV is, everyone goes to LinkedIn to look at your background. That’s sort of an online trusted CV. It plays that role. Now you can say Facebook in many ways is also an accepted version of online identity that has a network effect. Sort of, I think it’s less powerful than having the one you use for work. But there’s various forms of sort of trusted online identity. So I think there’s a standardization network effect at two levels that plays out with VeriSign. The first is it is a standardization network effect for the authentication of a dot com or a dot net website. If you want to be trusted as one of those two labels, you’re going to have to have some sort of authentication happens. That’s what VeriSign and ICANN provide. Second to that,.com and.net themselves have a standardization network effect. It would be very easy to create a website with some random tag at the end, jeffthousand.io. jeffthousand.io, I don’t know, some random company, some random African company, Madagascar. No, everybody uses.com and.net to do business and commerce because those are the two that are trusted. So there’s sort of a standardization network effect at the.com and.net level and then there’s also at the individual authentication online identity. So I think it benefits from both of those but I don’t think it’s that particularly powerful. I think it would be relative if I can choose to go with another name. Let’s say they give it to Google and not VeriSign or let’s say Google were to provide a authentication service and online. I think a new player could emerge relatively quickly. So yes, I think that’s factor number two, the strength of their standardization network effect and you want to think about it at two levels. I don’t think it’s as strong as. You know, do I think everyone in China speaks Chinese? That is a standardization network effect. I don’t think everyone’s gonna switch languages to speaking something else. So I don’t think it’s as strong as other ones. Which brings me to the last one and then I’ll finish up. I’m trying to keep these within about 30 minutes. This is the one I think is most important, which I don’t talk about nearly enough, which is low cost substitutes. I talk a lot about competitive dynamics, Coke versus Pepsi versus another cola. You always have to keep an eye on substitutes. The best businesses don’t have substitutes, and the really good businesses don’t have low-cost substitutes. One of the reasons generative AI is so powerful. is because it is providing a very low cost substitute to human labor. Maybe I don’t need to hire a graphic designer to design my logo, I’ll just go over and use GPT. Maybe I don’t need to hire a lawyer to review this basic simple contract for leasing a building, I’ll just run it through GPT. Now those low cost substitutes did not exist a year ago and now they do. That’s a major thing. And I think this is actually one of Warren Buffett’s biggest factors. I think he avoids businesses that have low-cost substitutes. So it’s not a cola like Coke, but it is an alternative to drinking cola, which could be drinking water or drinking orange juice. It’s not a lower-priced version of a lawyer. It’s an alternative to using a lawyer at all. There are lots of interesting technologies that can create alternative substitutes to using online verification, like VeriSign verifying every.com.net by its registry. An example, you don’t need any of this if you are building an app on a mobile phone. If I wanna do e-commerce in China, e-commerce in the US, I can create an app. within the iOS store for Apple or within the Google Play Store for Android, I don’t need a webpage at all. There is no.com.net involved in that. Well, that’s a clear substitute. That’s a problem. If I only wanna sell within Facebook, and maybe I have a little merchant store in Facebook, or let’s say not Facebook, let’s say Amazon, and I create a merchant account in Amazon to sell things, They are going to effectively verify my identity and allow the transactions to happen within Amazon. I don’t need a dot com website. I don’t need a dot net website at all. There are lots of interesting technologies that are creating alternative, or basically creating substitutes, the idea of even having a website that needs to be identified. WeChat mini programs. You can build a business within WeChat. You can create an identity in WeChat, whether as an individual or as a business. You don’t need a webpage at all. Don’t need.com, don’t need. It looks like you can do this stuff on cloud services. It looks like you can do it within mobile phones, smart phones. It looks like you can do it within lots of platform business models like Google, Facebook, Amazon, Taobao. All of those are substitutes. That worries me a lot because the tech keeps changing very quickly. When blockchain was kind of a big deal last year, when Web3 was gonna be a thing. One of the businesses I took a look at was basically a way of creating online identity without having your registry service. That you could create, you know, you could, I basically own jefftowson.com on Ethereum. It’s not dot com, but I own the jefftowson name within Ethereum. I don’t need a webpage. If you go onto Ethereum and you can look it up, I actually have that little blockchain. So people talked about alternative. forms of identity that you could build in web3 that would not be subject to anyone’s control. You know if the DNS server removes you, you’ve lost your domain name, you’ve lost your identity, it can happen on a blockchain in theory. So there’s all these alternative technologies that are bubbling around to create all you know identity and that’s interesting. I mean VeriSign, this will be my last point I’ll finish up. VeriSign is very much a creature of its time. It was founded in the 1990s when all the interactions that were happening were between webpages in a browser on a laptop or a PC. Well, we are way past that phase. A lot of the interactions happening in the digital infrastructure are not using webpages. They’re not using any of this. Smartphones, cloud, blockchain. gaming companies like Epic Games, you know, they can verify you and you can sell your game within Epic Games and you don’t need a webpage at all. So anyways, that’s kind of the most interesting question within all of this. I do like the fact that VeriSign, these are alternative forms of identity substitutes, but they’re not lower cost. One of the reasons of making movies by a studio or hiring a lawyer. Okay, the.com.net are fairly cheap, $8 per year, $10 per year. So you’re not gonna be able to get under them in terms of price, that’s good. But there are alternatives out there, substitutes that are worth giving you. Okay, those are sort of the three factors I look at. What is the state of your state granted competitive advantage, that’s the icon contracts. How strong is your standardization network effect? And then three, what is the state of substitutes, particularly lower cost substitutes, which technology is always throwing up. Those are my three main concepts for thinking about this, or at least three factors. If you go over to the concept library, jefftausen.com, you’ll see all three of those factors mentioned in the list. I actually think about. Anyways, that’s my sort of breakdown of this company. I hope that is helpful. That’s kind of the content for today. I’m pretty much on schedule. Yeah, but I hope that is helpful. As for me, it’s just been a good start to the year working away. No major news. I’ve been watching this TV show called Singles Inferno which is kind of a South Korean, I don’t know, dating show. My girlfriend really likes this show. She’s like super excited about it, so I kind of watch it. And I admit, I get it. It’s one of these, I mean, I think it’s interesting from a business point of view. It’s basically singles meeting, ooh, I like you, you like me, and it’s a series, and who’s going to, you know, but it’s on an island in South Korea. I find the consumer aspects of it interesting. Like why do these shows have so much traction? with certain types of people. Like I really like consumer phenomenon that I don’t understand. Like I understand superhero movies. I get them because I like them. It’s weird, but I get it. And then there’s other consumer phenomenon I don’t get, but I can see that they clearly have power. A gambling has tremendous power, but I don’t gamble ever. These sort of reality dating shows, like there’s something deeply psychological happening. I don’t get it. Maybe just a little bit I can kind of get it. But yeah, I find it fascinating from that regard. Anyway, so I watch her watching the show and she is just totally into it. So I find it interesting in sort of a businessman’s hat. But yeah, I’ve been watching that show. It’s pretty good. It’s not as, I do have only one understanding of it. Like if I watch like a reality dating show like Too Hot to Handle, which is very Western, it’s horrifying to me. Like I find it horrifying on so many levels. The behavior of everybody, what they’re doing, I’m just like, like culturally horrified. But if you ever watch one of these sort of dating shows from South Korea or Japan, they are actually very civil and like almost respectable. Everyone is behaving like, like I, I kind of admire the behavior, but the contrast between that and like the Western ones, it’s totally horrifying. Like if you watch, let’s say, Love is Blind, Love is Blind Japan, it’s actually kind of sweet and people are very kind of, they seem like decent folks. And then you watch like Love is Blind Brazil and it’s absolutely horrifying. Like it’s just the worst. So I’m not sure what that says about me, but the dating reality TV shows out of Asia, I think are kind of nice, but the ones out of my own home country, I’m horrified by. Anyways. That probably says more about me than anything else. But anyways, that was my, that was how I spent Saturday night. Anyways, that’s it for me. I hope this is helpful and I will talk to you next week. Bye bye.


I write, speak and consult about how to win (and not lose) in digital strategy and transformation.

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