The @reformedbroker drafts his Executive Dream TeamJune 28, 2012: 1:34 PM ET
The investment adviser and financial blogger Josh Brown discusses the thinking behind his Executive Dream Team roster.
Josh Brown, aka Downtown Josh Brown, who tweets as @reformedbroker, is an investment adviser at Fusion Analytics in New York. As his well-followed Twitter handle suggests, he's also a former Wall Street broker, and now an influential financial blogger who contributes to a number of business magazines, including Fortune on occasion, and frequently appears on CNBC. March saw the publication of Brown's book Backstage Wall Street: An Insider's Guide to Knowing Who to Trust, Who to Run From, and How to Maximize Your Investments. Brown's investing chops and knowledge of The Street make him an ideal "expert" for the Fortune Fantasy Sports Executive League (Anyone can play, and scoring depends, in part, on how closely the player's picks match those of experts like Brown.) Brown shared his team with Fortune's Daniel Roberts, along with the logic behind his picks.
Josh Brown: My overall strategy was big personalities, big names, and big company experience over other factors. Like most people that play fantasy sports, I was looking for an all-star team. I did think about how they'd perform together but in general, I kept thinking that everyone wants to win anyway, so they'll figure out how to get along.
These are all people with proven wins already. You look at a guy like Jony Ive, for example, he had to work with Steve Jobs for many years. And as much as we lionize Steve Jobs, it's hard to find someone who would say he was a sweet man. So, sure, I have no idea if Jony Ive would play well with Trevor Edwards, but part of being a superstar in business is working well with people, regardless of whether you get along with them.
For non-exec chairman, you want a big vision kind of guy. Obviously Costco (COST) is something that, out of nowhere, took over retailing. So I go with Jim Sinegal. You saw existing retailers change their strategy just to cope with him. So it's a vision thing -- you want him in that slot because the other executives have to buy into the vision, first and foremost, Also, Sinegal has been around forever and that's key. He brings such good experience. I also think the state of the economy is such that people who can deliver value at low prices will continue to win.
At chief strategist, same kind of logic. As a strategist, you have to have a roadmap to figure out what everyone will be doing a year, two years, three years from now, and then you have to position the company accordingly. Larry Ellison has done that better than anyone else. The other thing is: you can't always innovate, sometimes you have to buy. And Ellison has made magnificent deal after magnificent deal. He doesn't necessarily overpay, he doesn't make promises that he can't hit. To me, that's been the big success of Oracle (ORCL): his ability to see the roadmap quicker than other people and then figure out what pieces he's missing.
Reid Hoffman as my utility player, because I look at a utility player as an unsung hero, and you never hear his name outside of people in the know and people in the Valley, but he is everything that Zuckerberg is. Very quiet, not a lot of ostentation or sexiness, but what he has put together is massive and has become part of the plumbing of the Internet. He seems to have his hands in everything important.
For design, it has to be Jony Ive. There is no one that's advanced technology design in the last 10 years that even belongs in the same conversation. He's an artist. There's always the argument of form over function or function over form, but he's the guy that merges them. He's A-Rod. Once I saw his name, no one else mattered.
I picked Trevor Edwards for CMO because I'm very familiar with the way Nike (NKE) is transitioning from TV and print commercials to social. I think what they've done with the fitness band has been this incredibly brilliant strategy, releasing only a few at a time and have people clamor for them and line up at stores, having it be almost a luxury to buy one. I know people at Nike's ad agencies who are witnessing firsthand how much of their budget is going toward social and away from traditional media, because it's more measurable, controllable, and has a better chance to become viral than anything in a print ad.
My CIO is Manjit Singh for a couple of reasons. I know he's somewhat new at Las Vegas Sands but he has that combination of international experience and smart IT spending. He's known to be an early adopter of new technologies that are efficient.
David Viniar was a really easy choice for me at CFO. The organization he's with, how complex it has to be, and he's kept it head and shoulders above the competitors through difficult times. And managing that level of complexity is pretty special. Not that the other organizations aren't complex, but Goldman is Goldman (GS). The other thing is that he believes in what he does -- even if I don't necessarily believe in it -- and he doesn't back down.
At CEO, Jeff Bezos was a no-brainer. What I like the most about him is that he really doesn't care what Wall Street analysts who watch quarterly earnings think about his business. He was very early into the Internet, saying the opportunity was too big to worry about profits, that instead they have to worry about scale first, and profits will come. Now he's doing the same thing with the Kindle. When they report earnings, everyone wants to know what the margins are on the Kindle, and to him it's irrelevant, he's thinking he has to get a Kindle into everyone's hands first. I like the approach of being long-term and putting blinders on, for now, to what Wall Street's expectations are.
At COO I went for Don Thompson. It's a global business, he's worked under Skinner, and Skinner is a legend. For some reason, McDonald's (MCD) just keeps finding new ways to grow. It's astounding a company that large can keep putting up 6% sales numbers, 5% growth of stores, and keep entering new markets and winning. He exemplifies what you'd want for a COO of a global organization. McDonald's rarely has missteps; they don't miss earnings, they don't disappoint the Street, they don't enter new markets and fail. And that has to be a credit to the operations of the company.