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Subject:  Re: What is a Sustainable Business? Date:  5/14/2002  12:16 PM
Author:  Inahaze Number:  1645 of 1656

So Coke bought a company that they saw value in as it was being run. Not to change it and assimilate it. Yes, they still sell expensive sugar water as their main product, but it's a step in the right direction IMO,

Absolutely, assuming it continues that way. My cynicism comes in part from first-hand experience at Little, Brown, the independent publisher that, at 150+ years old, was purchased by TimeWarner (pre AOL), with the explicit intent of not altering L,B's approach to acquisitions, etc.; maintaining the company's Boston-based presence; and not trying to wring $$$ out of a notoriously low-margin industry. I began working at L,B a couple of years later, by which time the entertainment elements of TW were driving corporate policy and "synergy" was on everyone's lips--and in the understanding of very few. By the time I left (1994),sales & marketing for all of L,B had been moved to New York, as had the trade editorial functions. Soon thereafter, L,B's sales/mktg div was all but subsumed by Warner Books, the only book division of TW that fits the high-margin requirements of movies, television, pop music, magazine publishing. As of last month, all but L,B's back-office has been moved to NY.

Coke may have no intention of doing this with Odwalla--indeed, may never do so--but management changes, those with enlightened attitudes move along and are replaced by clueless number-crunchers. (Imagine that the person with final say on book acquisitions seldom reads anything that does not come formatted as a spreadsheet and you get the idea--also a big part of my reason for leaving and starting my own business.)

I will be first to praise TW for the good it did for what had become a stodgy, hidebound publisher. Ultimately, however, L,B was re-created in TW's pop-culture image and shows very little improvement in the venerable publisher's bottom line to pay for the tremendous erosion in respect and good will it has undergone. With a company like Coke, the potential for doing good is enormous--then there's that flip side.

I will admit that my generally grumpy attitude vis a vis Coca Cola is now a bit less critical, thanks to your info. Thanks!
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