There is nothing better, than a Coke. It is the perfect product. It is so many things and all of them are wonderful. Coca-Cola is a beautiful, simple, quality, affordable, durable product that serves a real need, is available all over the world and appeals to pretty much every human alive, as well as many animals and single-celled organisms. It is liquid life. It is happiness it is joy it is comfort it is love. Everybody loves Coke. It is the most loved brand in the world. It creates stable, gainful employment for countless farmers and factory workers and managers and truck drivers and scientists and innovators and executives all over the world. It has stood the test of time. It has grown and evolved and made a lot of people a lot of money.
Growing up in Atlanta did not feel like being in Coke's shadow, the way being in San Francisco felt like being in the shadow of Apple. It did not tower over us. It did not charge us lots of money. It did not require special skills to enjoy. It was our friend, our family practically. You could buy it pretty much anywhere. Just open it, drink it, enjoy it. Or don't. That's fine too. It was so easy to enjoy a Coke and yet it was not a sinister giant corporation. It was a great company that people loved working for.
Everybody in my family and every one of my friends regularly drank Coca-Cola products. There was something for everybody. I drank Coke with practically every meal. My mom liked Diet Coke and my dad liked Coke Zero and one sister drank Fanta and another Dasani and and another Sprite. Coke would even come to my school, Georgia Tech, and let students try fun new products and get our feedback. It was cool! It was fun! We didn't even realize what sorts of beverages were possible. That is the way companies should innovate. Talk to your customers.
But what my dad really seemed to love, was Coca-Cola stock. I didn't really understand what "stock" was at the time but my dad worked in finance and Coca-Cola had made a lot of ordinary people with families and careers a good amount of money. They did not become billionaires, no, but largely thanks to Coca-Cola, a lot of honest, hard-working people in America, by patiently investing their savings over many years, had made lots of money in the growth of the value of the company's stock and the dividends they paid. When I did start to learn more about the market I was surprised to find out that the giant tech companies are just squatting on countless billions of dollars. None of them pay dividends? Then what's the point of buying their stock? Coca-Cola shares their wealth with the world.
Coke turned ordinary people that did not live in Silicon Valley in to investors, investors with a sound portfolio. No it wasn't the fastest growing stock, but if you were just starting out, or wanted to be absolutely sure the money was kept safe, the first stock everybody would tell you to buy, was Coke.
I remember the first time my dad brought me to his office and showed me a computer. I had no idea what it was. But it was really interesting. He explained that it did not just do things on its own. You had to interact with it. You had to ask it questions. It knew things. I asked him to show me, so he started a "program" and typed in a stock symbol, "KO" of course. And up came the price of a share of Coca-Cola and all sorts of other information about the company. The point of the computer to his company, Merrill Lynch, was to follow Coke.
Coke could be a trillion dollar company. Before long something will happen that will cause all the funds in finance to stop buying those fake tech stocks on the west coast. There will be a "flight to quality". And nothing is more quality than Coke. They will realize that they want Coke. They love Coke. Analysts will feel like they have uncovered some incredible insightful new idea: dividends! And safety. People are going to want to feel safe. Do you think people are going to stop drinking all beverages? They can't! They would die. Coke products appeal to everyone. Coke has been around forever and has never let us down. No they don't grow like a hockey stick. Maybe that's not the right way to run a business anyways. But they do grow, and they do pay dividends, rain or shine. "Buy and hold" strategies will become all the rage and Coke stock will soar. Don't they already worship Warren Buffett? Hasn't he been telling them to buy Coke all along? They will finally listen.
As this happens it will be very important that you do not let the finance people push you around. You will be assailed by activists and strategists and journalists and analysts. Somebody who does nothing but gossip about and buy public stock is not a genius. The legacy stock exchanges are just a casino. Do not listen to them. Do not let them distract you. Do not let them take over the company. I can help you cut through the noise. I can help you stay focused. I can help our investors focus on the big picture, the long term, and comfort them in times of struggle. Did you even know there was a stock exchange designed exactly for this? The LTSE! I know the founder, Eric Ries, he is a very nice person whose motivations are pure. You are going to love him. You should list on there.
Do you know why people buy Tesla stock? It is not for the dividends. It is not because they produce the most cars. It is because they are innovative. And it's a good strategy! Innovation has always been a good investment and always will. You are not Pepsi. Pepsi is General Motors. You are Tesla. No you are better than Tesla. Imagine Tesla with billions and billions of profits and decades of dividends. You are much more interesting. You have much more potential.
I know a lot about beverages. I love beverages. While I initially thought I wanted to make hardware and software, I eventually found my path when I embraced my love for beverages. It makes sense, the inventor of Coca-Cola did not work in the beverage industry. He was a chemist! A scientist. I have always loved science, and people. There is a ton of science in beverages, and unlike most areas of science, this science was something that ordinary people could afford and use every single day.
I love making beverages. The beverages I have made through the company I started, Soylent, has brought nourishment to millions of people millions of times and they keep coming back. Also, I have made sure to work to continuously improve the product, and its packaging, and its marketing, and its distribution and launch new products. I did not always succeed, and there have been many ups and downs over the years, but this is natural for any company, and I have learned a ton along the way.
I also know where Coke comes from. It comes from nature. People think it comes from factories. Those just put the finishing touches on it. Coke is made from ingredients that are grown. I know a lot about growing. I have a farm. It is not big. But it is beautiful. I have roughly an acre of land in Los Angeles which I have turned, with the help of many loving experts, from barren desert in to a lush garden. You see, it is all about the soil. You cannot simply plant seeds in asphalt, though many people try. There is no point. You have to invest in the soil. It is a complex network. It takes the right environment and the right inputs and patience and persistence, not unlike innovation. But once you have good soil oh you should see what grows. You should see what plants can do with the right soil and air and sunlight. It is magnificent. There are many kinds of soil too. I have also grown arabidopsis and algae in synthetic soil agar and bioreactors and worked to develop better bioreactors. Farming is an amazing technology, one of the most important ever developed. We should make farmers rich. That would be good for America. And it would be good for Coke.
Can you believe how cheap sugar is? What a great time to invest! People are actually telling themselves they do not like sugar? What a joke! I am laughing hysterically as I write this fact. Obviously sugar is amazing. Obviously people will realize they love sugar. We should buy sugar farms the size of nations. It can also be used for bioprocessing. Yeast and algae love sugar and we can teach them to make anything we want! You can feed these guys cheap sugar and they make very expensive oils and chemicals! It's practically alchemy!
Why aren't you listening to your customers? Ditch that corn syrup crap and give us the sugar. We love sugar. Real sugar. Crystals of life and happiness. If people drink 12 Cokes a day and are not healthy that is not your fault! Nobody blames beer companies for drunk driving. Coke is not responsible for personal choices and health issues. People need to take responsibility for their own health. We sell water too you know. Water is great.
Do you know what else is great about sugar? It grows like crazy! C4 photosynthesis is an incredible platform. You do not realize the potential of this. Look up PETROSS. Call Vijay Singh. He is very nice. He is probably wondering what took you so long. Biofuels are real! I did not give up. I never will. It is going to be so funny when after all these years biofuels did not come from some fancy biotech company or expensive government program or oil and gas conglomerate. Biofuels are brought to you by Coke. Vegetable oils too. That is where we start.
You are the only company that can do this. You are the only company that actually cares about sustainability. No Chevron and Democrats are not going to make biofuels. You are. The others forgot. The others gave up. We did not.
Stop squeezing your suppliers! What is wrong with you? Invest in your growers. They are not competitors. They are partners. We are in this together.
I love Coke. I always have. But recently the company has fallen on hard times. It has gotten too big, too slow, too complicated, too bureaucratic, too political. There are many people trying to distract the company from its mission. There are people telling lies about the company. Some things that have hurt the company are not even the company's fault! They just happened. And now Coke must adapt. My company is smaller, but I have been through all of these same problems.
The answers are right in front of you: You are a technology company and always have been. The bureaucracy is killing you. Dasani is terrible. All Coke should be Mexican Coke. You should not have bought Costa Coffee. You should have partnered with Arizona Iced Tea. Pay attention to hemp milk. You need to fire those market researchers and start listening to your intuition. Tea not coffee. Water is everything. We should compete with utilities. Most of your advertisting spend is a total waste of money. Why haven't you invested in Hoptea yet? You should be innovating in agriculture and energy. Beverage cans can be made of steel. You need some creative energy on the board. You should invite Kanye to the board. If you don't do something you risk devolving in to a trucking company.
It is not just Coke. The entire beverage industry has lost its way. This industry used to be innovative. They had innovative products and innovative advertisements and they sold in innovative retailers. Did you know Coca-Cola invented the advertisement itself? It's true! They had the first ever advertisement. That was innovative. Did you know Coca-Cola cost 5 cents for 70 years? It's true! Maintaining that price point took a ton of innovation. Did you know that soda fountains used to be the backbone of socializing in America? Now everybody is lonely. Some beverage companies merely adopt a mascot, Coke invented Santa Claus!
Somebody has got to do something. America needs Coke. Now more than ever. And Coke, you need me. I can breathe life in to your tired organization. I can make you innovative. I can help you focus. I have devoted my life to the study of innovation. I am obsessed with innovation. I know a lot about innovation and I know how to continue learning more about it. In 5 years I will be a much better innovator than I am today. In 10 years I will be better still. I could transform this company.
I have an entire theory of innovation. I understand the practice of innovation. I have a deep love for innovation. Innovation may sound to you like something that grows naturally in California or something that you can buy from a consultant or something hidden at a university but it is not. It is not any of those things. It is a much more nuanced, much more beautiful, much more accessible, very real, very spiritual, ancient, sacred thing. I can help you understand it better. And you can help me understand it better myself. That is the purpose of my life.
You may think I just want Coke to buy Soylent. That is a totally different conversation. I am not interested in that right now. Soylent is profitable and has plenty of work to do and I do not need the money. I have been poor, I have been rich, it makes little difference to me. I do not need to work. I want to work. Money does not make me happy. Innovation makes me happy. The lack of money does not make me sad. It makes me sad to see organizations lose focus. It makes me sad when someone or something is not reaching its full potential.
You do not need to pay me. Money is not interesting. It is not fun. If I wanted money I would go work for a bank. Ideas are interesting. People are fun. Innovation is everything. It is everything to me. It is all I care about. I have no children. I have practically no possessions. I do nothing but study innovation but I am frustrated that I have no lab! Give me a lab! You will be so glad you did.
Coke you should put me on your board. I want to help you innovate. I want a platform with which I can study innovation. You need innovation. Silicon Valley does not need innovation. They don't even know what it looks like. You do. We could be so innovative together. It would be beautiful. There would not just be new products there would be new kinds of products and new kinds of packaging and new kinds of factories and new kinds of farms and new kinds of trucks and new kinds of stores. It will be fun! Work should be fun! Not all of it is going to work perfectly. Not everything will go as planned. That's ok! That's part of the process. I understand the process. It is not going to happen overnight. Where's the fun in that? Innovation takes time. But it does not take a ton of money. Do not let anyone tell you that.
Only I grew up in the culture of Coke and devoted my life to innovation and got experience building a beverage company. Only I am qualified and available to take on such a job, and I can start today! I feel like I have already started. I spend tons of time helping young innovative beverage companies and founders and companies in the ecosystem that will help beverage companies big and small.
I have traveled the world and learned and loved many different cultures. I know Coke is a global company. I know what that truly means. Nobody is better at being global than me. I had to get extra pages put in my passport. I have all sorts of visas. I am happiest when I am living out of a backpack. I live out of a backpack right now. I have no mortgage or lease. You can send me anywhere. I can talk to the King of Qatar and I can talk to a farmer in Guatemala. And I can listen to them.
But do not forget about America. America needs Coke. Now more than ever. We really need a win right now. We need something we can believe in. Silicon Valley failed and we outsourced everything else. We need some innovation. And Coke is the perfect place to do it. It is immensely profitable and stable. All it needs is some innovation! That's me! I'm right here! I'm right in front of you!
I'm great to work with. I am very creative and intelligent. I write stories and poetry but I know nature is the ultimate artist. Science is beautiful and I have a deep love for it. I am very, very smart. My IQ has been measured at 156. I read books on quantum physics for fun. You want to talk formulation and distribution? Child's play. I have skills and abilities that you would not believe. Ask me for the list. I work very well with people, especially innovators. I could assemble a tribe of innovators in my sleep. More importantly, I am honest. I would never lie to you. And while I am an eternal optimist, I do not lie to myself. I throw a great party and I can entertain anyone. Working with me can be a little rocky, but it's also a lot of fun and amazing things happen.
I also understand money. Finance. Capital. The good and the bad. I have made money I have spent money I have raised money I have saved money I have wasted money I have managed other people's money. I have invested money I have returned money. I have invested in all sorts of ways and in all sorts of people. I have learned from the best investors in the world. I know the problems with the VC model and the CVC model. I know how to do it well and I know how to do it big and I know how to do in a way that gets continually better. I know how to encourage people and inspire people. Before me nobody in Silicon Valley was making consumer packaged goods. Now they're everywhere! I inspired a whole generation of beverage entrepreneurs and innovators and I did it at the age of 22 from a kitchen with no money and a blog. Imagine if you gave me a platform! Imagine if you gave me a decent lab.
I fear nothing. There is no reason to. I do not fear technology or regulation or the New York Times or PepsiCo or guilds or unions or activist shareholders. And I can teach you to be bold.
I love to explore, but I can also help people focus. It is a delicate balance. You are wasting much of your employees potential by putting them in such tiny narrow buckets. Ideas are not sermons. They are symphonies! You should encourage people to look at many problems in many different ways but when it comes time to execute yes. Focus.
Here is what you do. Bring me in. I do not want to be the CEO. I think James is doing a great job, especially the way he is simplifying things. Just put me on the board. You need my energy. Or let me run Coca Cola Global Ventures. I would be good at it. It would not look like any other "fund" ever. It would be actually innovative. I have a plan. I see the whole thing. I would do a great job. I do not see this as my "next job" I see this as my true purpose. It has always been me. It has always been you. Everything was leading up to this.
You may worry that we are from different worlds. That I am some crazy entrepreneur and you are this big stodgy corporate mess. You worry I won't be able to "go corporate". I should not! I should not change! I should be myself. You should change. You should less corporate. You should be more entrepreneurial. You should be more innovative. I can teach you how to be more like me. It's easy! And it's fun! You're going to love it!
Go ahead, take your time. I know you don't like to rush in to things. I know you want to get to know me better. That is something I like about you. Go think about it and meet about it and procrastinate and think "oh we should do this but it will never happen because it's a good idea and we have all sorts of good ideas that never happen". Not this one. Not this time. This time it's different. Your slumber is over. You will do this. And it will change you.
Call me. Please. Don't do it for me. Do it for yourself. Do it for America. Do it for the world that you taught to sing all those years ago. I have not forgotten.