& Synapse / Woot / Mediocre culture


We’re previewing our future plans with
over at our Mediocre Labs forum (see link below) and
I thought I’d give folks a heads up here (and a timeline!) 

I went to a Neil deGrasse Tyson talk back last month and really enjoyed it. He’s a compelling storyteller for an astrophysicist. His introduction highlighted that you don’t know your own culture and can only observe the culture of others. Others have sometimes claimed that I was good at building company culture, so Neil’s intro got me thinking about what I don’t know due to immersion. It may have clarified some value that I’ve often neglected. I’ve always had no answer to how we built our culture.

Jumping references here, you know that kids song about the little old lady who swallowed a fly? That type of verse is fittingly called a ‘cumulative’. I would propose that we are a company culture built in the same action style - ignorant of how these steps are shaping our culture because of immersion. Of course with each future step we could be hitting the verse where we swallow a horse and die but it’s all fun until then.

Here’s a cumulative breakdown of culture building to this plan (along with a handy smiley-guide):

1994: Founded a distributor (Synapse Micro) to buy closeouts and sell them wholesale

1999: Mom-and-pop retailers went out of business so we expanded to internet retailers

2001: Internet retailers went out of business so we expanded to big-box retailers

2003: Struggling with a dwindling number of big-box retailer customers pushing us around

2004: We reluctantly opened a very limited retail store, woot.​com

2006: Amazon invested

2010: Amazon bought woot

2012: Turns out being a real retailer does suck, so most of us left

2013: Founded a distributor (Mediocre) to buy
closeouts and sell them wholesale

2014: We opened a very limited store named for how we feel about retail,

2015: Facebook and other networks dominate internet socialization and traffic

2016: We started to sell our closeouts to other media audiences

2016: Turns out we’ve gotten too close to being retailers again and it sucks

2017: We’re launching to deconstruct what it means to be a retailer

More on the checkout.​org plan preview over on the Mediocre Labs Forums where I’ll answer questions about it.

As far as conversation here (meh centric), we’ll have a bit more to discuss later in the week. This was the boring update to lay the groundwork.