CSC Generation has mastered the craft of transforming challenged retail brands at the brink of liquidation into high performance, ‘digital-first’ operations. By using their fine-tuned omni-channel technology platform, CSC Generation has a data-driven recipe for retail operations which is undoubtedly the driving force behind the company’s rapid expansion. Today on Conversations with CommerceNext, my co-host Scott Silverman and I sit down with the founder and CEO behind it all - Justin Yoshimura. Justin opens the hood and shares with us how his youth shaped his approach to business as well as the inner workings of CSC’s success. Together, we talk about the business of retail acquisition, entrepreneurial grit and how to prioritize company culture when scaling up your business.
Welcome to the Conversations with CommerceNext podcast, I’m your host Michael LeBlanc, and this podcast is brought to you in conjunction with CommerceNext and presented by Bloomreach.
CSC Generation has mastered the craft of transforming challenged retail brands at the brink of liquidation into high performance, ‘digital-first’ operations.
By using their fine-tuned omni-channel technology platform, CSC Generation has a data-driven recipe for retail operations which is undoubtedly the driving force behind the company’s rapid expansion.
Today on Conversations with CommerceNext, my co-host Scott Silverman and I sit down with the founder and CEO behind it all - Justin Yoshimura. Justin opens the hood and shares with us how his youth shaped his approach to business as well as the inner workings of CSC’s success. Together, we talk about the business of retail acquisition, entrepreneurial grit and how to prioritize company culture when scaling up your business.
Thanks for tuning into this episode of Conversations with CommerceNext. Please follow us on Apple, Spotify, Amazon Music or your favorite podcast platform where we’ll be sharing career advice and marketing strategies from eCommerce and digital marketing leaders at retailers and direct-to-consumer brands each and every episode. CommerceNext is a community, event series and conference for marketers at retail and direct-to-consumer brands. Through our online forums, interviews, webinars, summits and other in-person events, we harness the collective wisdom of our community to help marketers grow their businesses and advance their careers. Join CommerceNext events to meet other industry leaders and learn the latest ecommerce and marketing strategies. You can find upcoming events at CommerceNext.com
I am currently the Founder, Chairman, and CEO of CSC Generation Holdings, one of the dime a dozen "unicorn" start-ups.
*After being told that nobody would ever hire me, I quit the bureaucracy and negativity of Palos Verdes High School to start a marketplace for unlocked cell phones, which was acquired by a family office when I was 19 years old. More recently, I founded 500friends, the leading loyalty and retention marketing platform for retailers, which merged with Merkle in 2014, and was eventually acquired by Dentsu Aegis in 2016.
I also invest between $50k and $1M in interesting companies run by interesting people, eg:
*Consumer Internet Companies (excluding social networking): Hipmunk (seed, acquired by Concur), Dropoff (seed), Next Force Technology (seed), Dave (seed), Macro Ventures (seed), Imperfect Produce (seed), Flowclub (seed), Network Eyecare (seed)
*SaaS/b2b Companies: Firebase (seed - acquired by GOOG), Zencoder (seed - acquired by BCOV), BounceX (seed, co-lead Series A), Mux (seed), BigFinite (seed).
*Funds: Bling Capital, Ovo Fund, Luma Capital Partners, Dundee Venture Capital, Crown Capital Management.
Besides business and things I shouldn't be discussing on LinkedIn, I love animals, especially dogs, (many) cats (but especially Persian and Himalayan breeds), dolphins, whales, capybaras, platypus, manatees and turtles. Despite this, I am not a vegetarian, primarily because I lack self discipline. However, I do want to clarify that I do not eat any of the animals listed above, and would judge you for doing so, especially considering the prevalent belief that eating wild animals purchased at "Wet Markets" is what caused COVID (https://wildaid.org/protectwildlife/)
I've also been included in vanity lists such as the Forbes 30 under 30, Inc 500, AlwaysOn top 100, DM News 40 under 40, etc, but thankfully, I stopped advertising this in my LinkedIn headline when I was 19 after realizing I was being a DB. For a formal bio, please go here -
An ecommerce veteran, Scott Silverman has been active in the industry since 1999 and is passionate about digital retail and the innovation driving the industry. Scott Silverman is the Co-Founder of CommerceNext. Previously, he spent 10 years as Executive Director of Shop.org where he launched the Shop.org Annual Summit. Scott co-invented “Cyber Monday” in 2005 and was the founder of Cybermonday.com in 2006, a shopping site that has generated more than $2.5 million for Shop.org’s scholarship fund.
Veronika Sonsev is the Co-Founder of CommerceNext. She also leads the retail practice for Chameleon Collective and is a contributor for Forbes on how to grow retail and ecommerce in the age of Amazon. Having spent the last 10+ years working with some of the largest retailers and direct-to-consumer brands, Veronika has intimate knowledge of the challenges facing retail and ecommerce today. She is also an advocate for women in business and founded the global non-profit mBolden, which is now part of SheRunsit.
Michael LeBlanc is the Founder & President of M.E. LeBlanc & Company Inc and a Senior Advisor to Retail Council of Canada as part of his advisory and consulting practice. He brings 25+ years of brand/retail/marketing & eCommerce leadership experience, and has been on the front lines of retail industry change for his entire career. Michael is the producer and host of a network of leading podcasts including Canada’s top retail industry podcast, The Voice of Retail, plus Global E-Commerce Tech Talks and The Food Professor with Dr. Sylvain Charlebois. You can learn more about Michael here or on LinkedIn.
CSC, brands, stores, people, eCommerce, culture, bought, retail, retailers, learn, company, podcast, customers, years, Sur La Table, shared, scale, continue, thought, platform
Justin Yoshimura, Michael LeBlanc, Scott Silverman
Michael LeBlanc 00:04
Welcome to the Conversations with CommerceNext podcast, I'm your host Michael LeBlanc, and this podcast is brought to you in conjunction with CommerceNext and presented by Bloomreach.
CSC Generation has mastered the craft of transforming challenged retail brands at the brink of liquidation into high performance “digital-first” operations.
By using their fine-tuned-omni-channel technology platform, CSC Generation has a data driven recipe for retail operations, which is undoubtedly the driving force behind the company’s rapid expansion.
On this episode of Conversations with CommerceNext, my co-host Scott Silverman and I sit down with the founder and CEO behind it all, Justin Yoshimura. Justin opens up the hood and shares with us how his youth shaped his approach to business as well as the inner workings of CSCs success. Together we talk about the business of retail acquisition entrepreneurial grit, and how to prioritize company cultural. When scaling up your business.
Justin Yoshimura 00:37
The fact that you know if you’re going to spend the majority of your day working that you, you really should be at somewhere where you not only are you learning or harvesting whichever one right your is your priority but then somewhere where you really enjoy in thinking about that where you’re enjoying yourself.
Michael LeBlanc 00:41
Let’s listen in now.
Scott Silverman 01:01
Well, welcome Justin, to the Conversations with CommerceNext podcast. So, Justin Yoshimura is the Chairman and CEO of CSC Generation, which is the holding company for Sur la Table, One Kings Lane, Z Gallerie. We're going to learn more about that.
Welcome, it's we've had our, our paths have crossed infrequently over the past 10 years, but it's great to catch up with you. I know that whenever I have had a chance to chat, it's always an interesting conversation, you always have lots of opinions.
And I'll, I'll talk a little bit later about some culture in, in leadership issues that inspired me to reach out to you from something you wrote on LinkedIn.
But with me today, is our, my podcast co-host, Michael LeBlanc. How are you, Michael?
Michael LeBlanc 01:52
I'm very well. I'm actually a little freaked out because I'm here in the Great White North and it was 63 degrees yesterday, the week before Christmas. So, I'm not quite sure what that means. Justin, where are we reaching you today?
Justin Yoshimura 02:04
I'm in Napa right now.
Michael LeBlanc 02:05
Justin Yoshimura 02:06
Michael LeBlanc 02:06
That's a nice, (crossover talk) a nice, nice temperature.
Justin Yoshimura 02:09
Much better. I'm usually actually in Chicago during this time of year.
Michael LeBlanc 02:14
Usually, I mean, it were probably the same degrees right now, kind of weirdness of, of weather, but (crossover talk), so great to meet, so great to meet you and welcome.
Justin Yoshimura 02:21
Great to meet you as well.
Scott Silverman 02:23
Let's start with your background, and you have quite an interesting background. We don't normally do this, but I want to go all the way back to hi-, your high school days because, you know, as I've heard you describe it, it, it, it did play a role in your entrepreneurial journey. So, I love to maybe help everyone understand a little bit about your background.
Justin Yoshimura 02:43
I, I've been an entrepreneur my whole life. And when I was an early teenager, I had bought something online. And I thought that, that, basically, actually, before I started, before I bought something online, my parents were really annoying, and they would go to Costco every weekend for like, and go shopping, you know, at these for, for a whole day to buy things that they needed during the week.
After realizing the potential of eCommerce of not having to spend one day a week in stores, I, I wanted to, I, I really just became hooked. I also learned, or realized, that I wasn’t learning anything about the internet, software development, digital marketing, or eCommerce in high school, or in college, right. Or that rather, even if I went to college, I wouldn't learn about any of those topics. And instead, you know, we were talking about like, the Oregon Trail.
And so, I just, you know, realized that I really would be better off learning about things that I was interested in, and things that I thought would be the future, on my own, rather than staying in school. So, I essentially got my GED and I left school and, and due to me leaving school, my Japanese mom had a freak out. And so, there was some, some time where there was a lot of conflict. And so, I had to leave my parents’ house. And I, so I moved out as a teenager, and I've been involved in mainly eCommerce and marketing tech and, re-, eCommerce retail and marketing tech related companies ever since.
Michael LeBlanc 04:35
So, it, it's as Scott said, such an interesting journey. Do you, what do you think of the unique characteristics? I want to jump into that, I'm kind of usurping the questions a little bit, but just following up on your comments. What, what are the, you know, you've learned so much. Is it, is it a path that is unique to you? Do you think it's a path that more people should or could take? I mean, how do, you know, when you advise, meet with youth and say, do what I do or don't do what I do. How do you think about that?
Justin Yoshimura 05:02
You know, I think it's very circumstance specific, you know. And so actually, I didn't go to college either. But I had actually applied after I sold my business. I applied to go to a bunch of colleges, because like, you know, I still thought that maybe that's what I should do, you know. And I've tried the Harvard and Stanford, and UPenn. And I didn't actually get into any of these schools, so I just said, okay, well, I guess I didn't get into college, so I might as well start another company. And then, I started another company, and then that ended up doing well. So, that's just it kind of, I kind of fell into it in a way as well, but,-
Michael LeBlanc 05:44
Yeah, (inaudible) yeah.
Justin Yoshimura 05:45
And so, I wouldn't necessarily advise someone to do that, or to not but, but you know, but what I would say is like, school isn't for everyone, you know. I think a lot of people are able to get a lot out of school, but a lot of people, like I have ADHD, and the other thing too, was that I've, I've had ADHD my whole life. But my parents, this is like, some time ago, right? Where it wasn't, people didn't really, ADHD is actually, it wasn't really recognized. I'm 31 now but, you know, like, 20 years ago, right, it wasn't as like, developed in terms of the study of ADHD. And so, I had ADHD in school. And, you know, but it was, like, even my psychiatrist that I saw said, hey, I think, you know, you have ADHD, but really, nothing was done about it. And so, I wasn't really able to, you know, and school really wasn't for me, right? Because I'm very interested in learning about certain topics, but not interested in other things,-
Michael LeBlanc 06:43
Justin Yoshimura 06:44
And in school, you kind of have to do the whole curriculum. And I just was like, why do I have to? Why can't I only take like, you know, math and computer related classes or something, right? I didn't really, I wasn't really interested in other ones, be-, right, like. So I think that high school has really been the same. High school, college has not really changed that much, you know, for so long that, right. But the world has changed so much that, you know, I think for a lot of people, you know, you don't have to go to school, it, right. School isn't the most efficient way to learn. But you know, for other people it is.
Michael LeBlanc 07:17
Well, let's, let's fast forward to more or less current state. I mean, you've been so successful. I want to learn all about CSC Generation, the origin story, how did that start? Where was the idea? What was the thesis, so to speak, behind what is a platform that brings together brands? So, tell us all about that.
Justin Yoshimura 07:38
So, when I was, 19, actually. So, I met Scott when I was like, I think when I was like 20 years old. This is back when I had a fake ID because I couldn't even like, I couldn't go to like, your, you know, there would be events at like, Shop.org, you know, that Scott would have, but it would be like at a bar. And I wasn't 21 so I needed an ID to get into Scott's events.
Justin Yoshimura 07:51
And, and so, I, back then I started a software company, a cloud-based software company called 500friends that enabled retailers to launch cloud-based Omni-, Omni-channel loyalty programs. So, our customers were people like 1-800-Flowers, L'Oreal, Abercrombie, Eddie Bauer, Sony, Michael Kors, in, but and, those are the customers that were doing well, and they were happy with the platform.
Except for we had actually 10 to 15% of our customers every year would file for bankruptcy. And I realized that like, you know, so actually, and I'm also on the board of Wunderkind, which formerly was known as BounceX, and right. And we, we power, you know, we're the fourth, third or fourth largest revenue channel for major eCommerce brands, and still 10% of our customers would file for bankruptcy every year. And so, right, I, I, I said, you know, so like, you could sell them really good software, right. But, you know, whether it's Buy Now Pay Later, or Wunderkind, or 500friends, or whatever it may be, right. But these, these retailers really, that, that, as, as basically, you know, the cost of, com-, competing with Amazon, is, is, is increasing every single year. And so, for most brands, if you don't actually have scale, you just can't ever make money.
Justin Yoshimura 07:51
That, I think that's why if you look at even during COVID, right. You know, the brands that actually grew eCommerce the most were actually the stronger ones, and the weaker ones actually lost market share. And so, I saw the opportunity to build this shared core platform, everything from accounting, ERP, warehouse management, to eCommerce, and not necessarily build everything, right. But really build the glue to take the best software, let's say that's on the market, builds take the best open-source software, but actually create a modern operating system for Omni-channel retailers, so that they could then, you know, right, when we can leverage our scale from shipping, payment processing, customer acquisition, retention, cross-selling, direct importing, right,to really save these companies from, from going extinct.
Michael LeBlanc 08:24
It's both, really its scale and expertise, right? And-
Justin Yoshimura 08:50
Michael LeBlanc 09:24
It, it's also adding a layer of sophistication that you can kind of, as a shared service, blend across all the brands, right? That's, that's part also the philosophy. Yeah?
Justin Yoshimura 10:47
Yeah, exactly, you know, for example, right in, in, you know, again, because all of these brands, right, if you're, let's say, Sur La Table, you know, Sur La Table had so much infrastructure, right, this whole management team, you know. Sur La Table was a 200, a little, a brand doing over $200 million in revenue, with 120 stores. And they could never like, but what they really needed to do was have 60 stores, you know, right.
Because we, like, stores are still relevant in today's world. And, you know, and stores are very important to see a CNR brands, right. But like, does Sur La Table, does the world really need Sur La Table, does the community need that, need Sur La Table to have three or five stores in one city? You know, probably, right, like, maybe if it's Chicago, right, or, or LA, you know, makes sense to have three cities, three stores or four stores, but not in every single store, you know, as right. Like, we don't need to go into how retails has been over built in the United States.
And so, because CSC has expertise and the scale, we closed down half of Sur La Table's stores when we acquired the business. Which is obviously a difficult decision to make, right. But that ultimately allowed the other stores to be successful, because rather than having four mediocre stores in a city now Sur La Table has two great stores, right. Where the sales transfer from the remaining stores and the investments that we can make in having a smaller (inaudible) allows us to be more profitable.
Michael LeBlanc 12:25
So, so then, so basically, the bet you make on that, and it's interesting we flesh this out, the bet you make is you can make the two stores instead of five as destination stores, that they're not relying on just organic traffic, right? And I guess that leads me to the kind of the next question as we think about the brand Sur La Table, and One Kings Lane and, and Z Gallerie. They're clearly integrated, as you've been describing in a common platform. How integrated are they at the brand level or the consumer level? I don't see a ton of integration when I go to the individual sites, but how do you think about that?
Justin Yoshimura 12:57
So, we, we've continued to gobble up more and more brands and, and, and stores. We're, we're approaching, actually, (inaudible), we're, we're, we're now in excess of a one and a half billion dollar run rate. And,-
Michael LeBlanc 13:13
Justin Yoshimura 13:14
Thank you. And, you know, and so, there's a lot of work to be do-, to be done. Where, I would say that we're still in the early stages of all the integration work. Because, you know, these things take years to do. Like, for example, right now, right, all of our warehouses are still largely operating each brand independently. So, we have 11 warehouses, and we have 11 brands, you know. And so, right, like, there's other things that are integrated, but to, let's say, have multiple brands in one warehouse, you need to run the same software. And so, you know, that right, and you have to rip out the old software from all the places and so we're not finished with that yet.
Justin Yoshimura 14:00
On the consumer side, you know, there's still a bunch of like cross-selling and so on that we do behind the scenes, but we haven't, you know, launched like a shared loyalty program, for example, a shared private label credit card, across the brands, right, in order to maximize cross-sell, we're still, you know, in er-. er-, er-, early, early in that and it's a big growth driver for us.
Michael LeBlanc 14:23
And you, and you might see that kind of, last question. You might see that then as your point of arrival, you just haven't got there yet, but you do.
Justin Yoshimura 14:29
Michael LeBlanc 14:30
Like a shared gift card or credit card-
Justin Yoshimura 14:31
Michael LeBlanc 14:32
That's where you are going, you got a lot of other things to get done first, right?
Justin Yoshimura 14:35
There was so much to do. The one thing you know, Scott had emailed me asking, I think, you know, what advice or what like, right, like what, what, you know, what has been different from what I expected sort of, sort of line of questioning. And essentially, right, what I will say is that, so when I was selling software to retailers, I was at Merkel after Merkel bought 500friends and, at, at Wunderkind, I thought that, you know, this would be easier to do than it has been. You know, to, it is really, really hard. This business is just a very intense, competitive, fast moving, challenging space.
Michael LeBlanc 15:16
If you're enjoying this podcast, please be sure and hit that subscribe button on your favorite podcast platform so you don't miss another great episode. We'll be right back with our interview with Justin Yoshimura after this important message.
Michael LeBlanc 15:28
Bloomreach is the world's number one eCommerce experience cloud. Empowering brands to deliver customer journeys so personalized, you feel like magic. It offers a suite of products that drive true personalization and digital commerce growth, including discovery, offering AI driven search and merchandising, content, offering a headless CMS and engagement offering a leading CDP and marketing automation solution. Together these solutions combine the power of unified customer and product data with the speed and scale of AI optimization, enabling digital commerce experiences that convert on any channel and every journey.
Learn more at bloomreach.com. That's bloomreach.com.
Michael LeBlanc 16:10
Yeah, it's, it's, it's harder than it sounds to rip out multiple OMS's, order management systems, and you know, and the other problem going on at the same time, as Seth Godin said, you know, the problem with the race to the bottom, sometimes you win. You don't want to be in that position either, right? As you, -
Justin Yoshimura 16:25
Michael LeBlanc 16:26
Compete against the fists of stone of some pretty big competitors
Justin Yoshimura 16:29
Scott Silverman 16:30
So, I want to, you know, kind of transition into the, the culture and leadership. But, just for context, for CSC Generation, can you give a little bit of a timetable, you know, which brand you started with, and what, what year that was, and just so everyone can under everyone, all of our listeners can understand a little bit about when you got involved and when some of these brands joined CSC Generation?
Justin Yoshimura 16:54
We really got started in 2016. And that's when we raised our first institutional round of capital. I think we raised like, $4 million back then. And everyone thought that it was really crazy. But, and we, we didn't. And then shortly thereafter, we bought this company called DirectBuy in Merrillville, Indiana. And we, we, we bought the business for $150,000. But it was about to implode. I mean, it was, it was they had taken a bunch of customer orders and they had basically been running the business on the customer orders. And so, we needed someone to just fulfill the orders. And so, there were millions of dollars of outstanding liabilities. And so, we said "hey, we'll basically take care of the customers, but we're not going to pay you anything". And then they said fine, and we bought it out of bankruptcy for $150,000. And so that was a first deal that really got us to scale because DirectBuy was actually doing over $100 million in the US and Canada selling home goods and home furnishings. We implemented, started building, we have been building our tech platform for a couple years now.
Justin Yoshimura 18:16
We, and we basically learned a lot from buying DirectBuy. Using that, our learnings we then bought Z Gallerie in 2019. In 2019 was our first Omni-channel, so with DirectBuy we had three stores. So, we learned a bunch about Omni-channel, you know, the legacy systems. The DirectBuy ERP system was like 40 years old. Yeah, and so, and we learned about bankruptcy legacy systems and sto-, some stores. And then we, in drop shipping we became really good at drop shipping and, and marketplace, really.
And then, we bought the Z Gallerie in July of 2019 where we took over 30-something stores, and that was even hard-, that was harder than we expected. So, basically every deal we've done has always been, is always, you know, teaches us something new.
Justin Yoshimura 19:17
But after we bought the Z Gallerie we bought One Kings Lane during, during the midst of COVID. And I think we closed literally in, at the end of March or something when. So, I, we never even met the team a single time in real life before we bought the business. We just had some Zoom calls, and we bought the business. And then we bought Sur La Table over the summer, also during peak COVID. So, we, I, I, we visited one time.
Justin Yoshimura 19:47
And then we bought the Home Consignment Center, which is a chain of consignment furnishing stores. And then we've bought a bunch of mom-and-pop smaller brands doing three million, 4 million, and then also this larger company called lakeside.com, w-, which is do-, doing over 300 million in, in a lower end home decor category online.
Scott Silverman 20:15
Well, you've been busy.
So, Justin, I mentioned that the, you know, I reached out to you after reading your post on LinkedIn, about culture. It's a topic, I think is super important. You know, I always think of that quote from Peter Drucker that, "culture eats strategy for breakfast", and you had some great points in there, where you were distinguishing between company culture that is focused on more of the input than necessarily the day-to-day actions. And I, I thought it'd be great if you maybe could summarize some of the things that you, you talked about, and, and what you think are important related to culture.
Justin Yoshimura 20:55
You know, so, so I really right, the, the key thing is, you know, I think a lot of people try to talk about culture. Culture really is, are, are really the decisions that the company makes every single day, you know, it's what the company does, that really drives a culture. And I think so many people talk about the inputs or outputs of culture, you know. Like, ‘oh, we have a great culture, because of this’, or ‘this part of our culture, is really good’, right. But it's really, you know, and, and culture is very important. Because, in the early days, right, like, if you have a company of 10 people, you know you could all be involved in all the decisions, you know? So, you can make sure that, right, right? Like that, that you're do, you're building your good business, because you know, everything that's happening as the CEO or the founder.
Justin Yoshimura 21:43
But as a company, you know, now, for example, we have thousands of team members in the US, Canada, Mexico City, with our, right. With our scale, you know, so many decisions are being made that I really am just not involved with, it with, right. I in fact, I'm not involved with most decisions and so, you know, right. Like, it's. it's very important that, you know, that, that, that as you scale, right. Companies, if a company doesn't focus on its culture, you end up basically with the, most times with a bad culture. Because every company ends up having the culture, right. You can't not have a culture as a business. It's like, how every, you know, society, or every country has their own culture. And so, if you don't think about what you want your culture to be, you basically, more likely than not, will end up with a bad one.
Scott Silverman 22:00
For, for CSC, some of the, you know the areas that you’ve implemented, you know, the I know, there was one around long-term thinking, but it would be, I think It would be interesting to hear you talk about the way that you’re looking at it and, and how you approach it at CSC.
Justin Yoshimura 22:51
Yeah, so one of our key cultural values, right, is long term thinking. I think one of the reasons why right,I mean, you guys know this, retail, retail and eCommerce is just plagued with short term thinking. In short term, like, right. Just the average CMO tenure is like 18 months or something like that, right. It's just completely, it's just insane. And so, and, and a big part of that has historically been private equity, right. So, private equity companies come in, and they generally want to buy a company and flip it in like three to five years, maybe seven years, is considered long holds. But the thing is that, you know, let's say right, in retail, if you have to upgrade the WMS, the OMS, the ER-, or the counting system, or the eCommerce platform, I mean, that, that those are like two year projects. So, you know, it takes like, right, six months of planning, a year of execution, and then you see the benefits a year later. And so, you really need to think in terms of 5 years, 10 years, 15-20 years, not like three to six in this, in this business. And in, but because people think so short term, you know, they try to force these retailers and these brands to grow faster than they should naturally be growing.
Justin Yoshimura 24:11
So, like the, you know, I kind of described it right. It was like what a lot of people do when they come into these companies, it's like trying to like force feed your children by getting them to eat more and grow faster, but it's like, you know, there's really this natural rate of growth that they have that maybe they could exercise more, right. But you could grow a little bit faster. But most brands should not be growing at, you know, a certain, like, a wish.com is just a prime example of just, you know, VC and private equity fueled money to grow top line as fast as possible.
Justin Yoshimura 24:48
And CSC now, does more revenues than Wish. I mean, Wish just blew through over a billion dollars on marketing right. Just to keep top line high so that they could go public. Because the public market investors look at, well, what's your revenue growth? The problem is, right that it's basically like a Ponzi scheme, because you eventually run out of new customers to acquire at, at, if your whole game is just simply a customer acquisition arbitrage, right, you end up with new, you, you can't have new customers acquired.
Justin Yoshimura 25:19
So, going back to the cultural point, you know, we think that our culture is different than 90 plus percent of retailers and brands and eCommerce companies, because we're, you know, we really are focused on the long term. So, I would say that's one of the most important things, right. So, we really focus on hiring people who are, you know, yeah, I want to build a great business, and I know, it's gonna take five years or eight years to really make these brands really great again, right. And that's totally fine. Because I'm not looking to, you know, I don't need (inaudible) when two years or three years even right. And, and, and, and because of that, I think that, you know, right, like, we're just so much less focused on, on, you know, all, all the short-term pressures that a lot of people have.
Michael LeBlanc 26:02
It's, it's a really great articulation, because I, I was a CMO brought in by private equity to help turn around a, a brand that was in trouble. And they said, ‘How long is it going to take?’ And I say, ‘Well, listen it, it took you 10 years to get this bad. It's not going to be, I can't turn it around overnight’.
Justin Yoshimura 26:17
You know, listen, they gave me six months, and then they pulled the plug, I'm like, ‘Yeah, listen, I can't do, I could change, I could paint a few stores in six months, I can't do much else’.
And let's, let's transition and let's transition to the, a bit of a career advice. So, you've had a, a, an such a successful journey on, on your terms, if we put it that way. If you must be asked for advice, you're, you're, you're a thought leader, very successful. When, when you're asked for advice, career advice, what, what do you say? What's one of the things that you would advise, even yourself? I mean, even if you look back, you know, in your early parts of your journey, would you, you say, Well, I look back, and I tell myself do, do everything the same? Or maybe a few things different (inaudible) talk about that for a little bit.
Justin Yoshimura 27:01
You know, what I would say, right, is that a lot of people need to know whether or not, first of all, right, like, is your objective, really, you know? People need to think about what is my risk tolerance, right. And also, am I looking to harvest? Or am I looking to learn, right? And so, that's like, the big difference where, you know, like, again, if you are at a certain point in your career, right.
Where you have, you know, two kids, and you have to pay for college, right. And you're really, you know, and, and so you're really trying to harvest the fruits of your labor, it makes sense, let's say to focus on, you know, the jobs that would, you know, right. Like, one of where compensation is one of the more important aspects of what to do, right. But so many people, you know, went early on in their lives, like, I don't know. And, and it's not, it's not just age, by the way, you know, right. You could be older, you could be younger, and you might have reasons why you need to focus on harvesting, right. Making the most money versus, you know, where learning, right. Is less of a, you know, is, is, is a lesser opportunity.
Justin Yoshimura 28:10
And obviously, right? Like your ideal scenarios where you could harvest the most and be learning the most. But oftentimes, that doesn't happen, right. Where, if you could do that, where the perfect opportunity came up, and then you should really take that opportunity. But, if not, right, I think people don't really think about in terms of like, what is really the most important thing?
Justin Yoshimura 28:33
And right, like, and then also, once you think about that, the second, second question is really, right. Like, what is the company going back to the culture, right, and going back to the fact that, you know, you, if you're going to spend the majority of your day working, that you, you really should be at somewhere where, you know, not only are you learning, or harvesting, whichever one right, is your priority, but then somewhere where you really enjoy, right. And then, in, in thinking about that, where you're enjoying yourself, while learning or harvesting, whichever one it is. And, and, and if you frame your, you know, thought process kind of in, in that sort of, you know, dynamic, I think people would really, you know, make potentially, right, make different decisions.
Justin Yoshimura 29:20
And for me, you know, early on, right, what was really nice was I had no obligations to anybody, basically, where I could just do, I, I didn't have any children that I, I had to pay for their schools or anything, right. No mortgage payments. And so, I could-, I was just like, I just want to, you know, learn how to start companies and, and I didn't really need a salary or anything. And so, you know, right, like, that was a focus. But you have to, you know, right like there, there's obviously, you know, tradeoffs there.
Michael LeBlanc 29:53
It's that intersection of, of risk tolerance, and if not, ambition, confidence, right? That, that everything will be all right. But I can take on more risk and, -
Scott Silverman 30:03
Right, I mean, I, I, it, it really interested to hear your thoughts. I think 2021 was obviously an interesting year and it, it followed an, a very interesting year as well. You know, we saw a lot, this year, a lot of DTC's going public like Warby Parker, and Allbirds, and Rent the Runway, and a few others in there, Brilliant Earth and so on. You know, do you think that's going to continue? You know, there's all kinds of emerging technologies, like Headless and Livestreaming, like what, you know, what do you think, you know, if we're talking a year from now, in December of 2022, what do you think the, the, the big headlines will be?
Justin Yoshimura 30:48
You know, so I, I think that the big headlines for next year will probably be a continuation of 21. Where there'll probably be bigger headlines in 23. And is, is what I, is what I think. I'm not much, I, I wouldn't say that I'm really good at, you know, these, these sort of predictions. So, you know, take it with a grain of salt, but, you know, basically, right,
Justin Yoshimura 31:16
Like, I think the big things that are going to continue, are like the supply chain disruptions, the labor market, the inflation, where, by the way, if you look at the earnings calls of all these big shippers, you know, that right, the ocean freight carriers, they're saying that they have contracted labor, not lab-, prices, right for, for ocean freight until the second half of 22, in that high prices will stay and put in, that prices might go down a little bit, but it will be high for the foreseeable future. That's what they're guiding in their earnings calls.
And so, right, if you think about that, with this inflation and, you know, right, the COVID, the, the constant, you know, the, the higher cost of operating under a COVID environment, and the ocean freight and the trade disruptions continue.
Justin Yoshimura 32:05
And by the way, China's already said that until Q2, that, at the earliest, they're not going to allow flights to start coming back. Well, retail products, you know, all the products that we sell in our stores, a, a lot of them are on come via air, right? A lot of it come via ocean, but some come via air. And if there's no passenger traffic now, that completely disrupts the supply chain, because there's less planes flying from China to the US.
And right, I mean, and so, if you think about that, I think 2022, people are going to be able to hold on, and just kind of manage, and they're going to be banking on Q4 of 2022 saving the day. And if Q4 of 2022, is not good, because of all this craziness continues. I think that in 23, there'll be a lot of shakeouts, and a lot of bankruptcies. And so, you know, throughout 22, retailers will probably continue tapping the capital markets getting their IPOs in, you know, because they, they probably are seeing this as well. And the people that don't tap the capital markets this year that needed to, well you know, we'll, we'll probably be in a world of pain a-, a,- after the holidays.
Scott Silverman 33:17
Alright, that's, that's a good juicy prediction,
Michael LeBlanc 33:20
Yeah, it's great.
Scott Silverman 33:21
You know, thought about what's coming down the road. Thank you for that. So, now that we put you on the spot with your predictions, here's your chance to give a shout out to all the great openings at CSC Generation. Tell all our listeners why they should consider joining the team and, and, and where can they learn more to do that?
Justin Yoshimura 33:41
Thank you. So, you could, on, on our careers page, you could defin-, people can definitely learn more. We're hiring for over 100 positions across digital marketing, to merchandising, to planning, to data analysts, data science, engineering. I mean, it's just, it's, and basically, we would be doing way better, if your listeners were on our team, is what I would say, you know, right. We, we need, you, you mentioned Natalie is very involved in the community. We need more people like Natalie.
And, and that's why, that's why we're, you know, obviously we've been doing very well, and we've been growing very nicely, but, but we just have a crazy bottleneck due to, due to, you know, difficulty hiring now. I mean, we're, I would say we're doing very well from a hiring perspective, but you know, still not meeting our objectives, right. I, I think very few people are actually hitting their hiring objectives.
And, you know, the, the reason why I would say, right, one, one should join if, you know, I would describe CSC as kind of being a mix between being able to have a lot of the upside, of, right. Like, of, both from a learning perspective, and also, you know, from a compensation perspective, right? Because it's not like we're a very high risk early stage startup. We're, we, you know, we're profitable, we established ourselves, we have a clear track to like an IPO or some sort of exit at some point. But we're not in a rush. And, you know, we really empha-, emphasize on, on hiring great people. And so, you know, what I can guarantee you, right, I can't guarantee that CSC will be successful. I obviously think that it will be, but I what I can guarantee is that the people that you will work with will, will, will be good people that you would, you would enjoy.
Scott Silverman 35:30
Well, I mean, you, it, it's, I, I think it says a lot of how thoughtful you are about culture, and the emphasis on long term thinking. It sounds like that is, you know, it can be a really rewarding environment for a lot of people. So, I hope our listeners do decide to, to look at you guys a little more closely and you get to work with, with Natalie and the others there. So, thank you so much for, for joining us on Conversations with CommerceNext, our podcast. Thank you, Michael, for co-hosting, as always, and have a great 2022.
Justin Yoshimura 36:14
Thank you. Thanks for having me. It's a lot of fun.
Michael LeBlanc 36:17
Thanks for tuning into this episode of Conversations with CommerceNext. Please follow us on Apple, Spotify, Amazon Music or your favorite podcast platform, where we will be sharing career advice and marketing strategies from eCommerce and digital marketing leaders and retailers and direct to consumer brands each and every episode.
Michael LeBlanc 36:33
ConmerceNext is a community event series and conference for marketers at retail and direct to consumer brands. Through our online forums, interviews, webinars, summits and other in person events, we harness the collective wisdom of our community to help marketers grow their businesses and advance their careers. Join CommerceNext events to meet other industry leaders and learn the latest eCommerce and marketing strategies. You can find upcoming events at commercenext.com. Have a fantastic week everyone.