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While reflecting on 2011, I thought back on some of my favorite stories and interviews of the year.
Not surprisingly, most of those are in Executive Edition, where we place our best stories – stories with depth, interviews with key industry leaders, our best enterprise reporting, stories that take time and resources to produce.
A note about Executive Edition: We launched Executive Edition in late 2088 for a few reasons. Since we are a small, independent company that is not part of a large media organization, we needed a viable business model. We also were committed to keeping our editorial conflict of interest minimized by not seeking advertising from industry brands or retailers.
Our model now relies on our generous sponsors, who provide services to the industry, and our readers who support our reporting efforts and in turn, get access to our best information, interviews and insights. We also host Executive Roundtable events.
Thanks to everyone for helping us this year and for all the interesting conversations and insights. I wonder what big industry news will happen in 2012?
Whatever it is, I look forward to covering it.
Back to my favorite stories of the year – here’s my list in no particular order, with a short description of why I liked each story.
Stussy owner on the past and the future – Frank Sinatra describes in detail how Stussy has evolved, its strategy, what is wrong with the industry and where Stussy wants to go. Frank is a very smart guy, and he is very outspoken in this interview.
Nike Action Sports: Global Marketing Director Bastien Renard, Global VP Sandy Bodecker and Global GM Dan Burris.
No more Nike 6.0 – I had an amazing interview this year with the three Nike executives in charge of action sports. They discussed Nike’s entire action sports strategy from the beginning, and why and how they were changing it. It was very interesting to hear them outline their plans, and to glimpse how a company of this caliber strategizes.
Chris Carter keynote at IASC Skate Summit – I had the pleasure of interviewing Alien Workshop Co-Founder Chris Carter in front of an audience at the skate summit. I taped the interview, and transcribed it here. Chris is super interesting and brutally honest in this talk, which traces the rise of Ohio-based Alien workshop, its successes and some of the interesting theories the company founders believed in.
Major players – Nike, PPR, VF. After PPR bought Volcom, I decided to compare the major players that are now very involved in the industry. I compared the companies on nearly 20 key metrics, from revenues to retail penetration, from margins to annual marketing spending. It definitely makes for interesting reading.
Spending time with Bob McKnight at the Quiksilver house at Pipeline. There are photos from my visit there, but the best part was spending time with Bob watching a scrum of surfers on a huge day at Pipeline, the day before the Billabong Pipeline Masters officially started. It was fascinating to see the competition for waves, who caught waves and who didn't, how into every wave Bob, the Quiksilver crew, and everyone on the front decks of all the houses on the beach were. Plus, I got to learn more about the history of the Eddie contest and how it came about.
Jake Burton talks business – I had a long talk with Jake Burton at SIA this year, and enjoyed his openness. Jake talks about mistakes made in the past, how he was approaching his return as CEO, and about succession at the company.
Hurley’s Bob Hurley and Roger Wyett at the Shop-eat-surf Executive Roundtable – Bob and Roger talked about a wide range of topics at the roundtable, and we have some video clips from the event. Topics included industry consolidation, securing the Phantom patent and what that means, how Hurley lost and regained its focus, do Hurley and Nike want it all and the charming story of how Bob acquired the Billabong license back in the day.
Michael Tomson: Where’s the weirdness? Michael’s essay on what’s wrong with the industry, and where it should go, generated a lot of buzz this year. The beauty of Michael is he’s been there, having built the groundbreaking Gotcha brand with Joel Cooper and lived through the rapid growth and the eventual decline of the company. He’s a creative thinker and he’s a great writer. He’s also independent and says what he thinks.
See Page 2 for more of my favorite stories of the year