Retail giant erased equity firm's doubts
about stand-alone grocery at Presidential
Melissa Harris CHICAGO
David Schwartz's team flew
down to Bentonville, Ark., skeptical.
Wal-Mart wanted to put a
"Neighborhood Market" in Presidential Towers, a four-tower fortress
of apartment buildings in the West Loop that Schwartz's private
equity firm, Waterton Associates, had bought in 2007 from the
been searching for a grocer to anchor a revitalization of the
towers' 130,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space. Wal-Mart
had not been considered, even though the company has been on a push
to open small, stand-alone groceries. The world's largest retailer
is planning an even smaller Walmart Express grocery to open this
summer at the Chatham Market on the South Side.
"They came to
us," said Schwartz, who co-founded Waterton with Pete Vilim.
"We heard their pitch. And we sent our team down to Bentonville to
look at a prototype neighborhood market. … We weren't sure what
they were going to come up with, if they were just going to sell
high-quantities of canned goods or something."
prototype, located in nearby Fayetteville, Ark., was much better
than his team expected, Schwartz said. It was full-service,
including a pharmacy, bakery and deli.
"It wasn't a
warehousing environment, where you're just picking things off the
shelves," said Phil Lukowski, Waterton's chief portfolio
manager, who made the trip and returned with photos.
visit in the fall, Schwartz said his greatest fear was that word of
the negotiations would leak to the press.
pretty strict confidentiality clauses, in lease and letter of
intent negotiations," said Schwartz, 47. "I couldn't even tell my
wife — not that it would have been the most exciting dinner
tech entrepreneur Eric Lunt was on a panel at an Economic
Club forum last week when he was asked to describe a past failure.
He joked that his failures were extremely well-documented.
there's a Harvard case study on it.
Lunt said he
sat in on a class at the
University of Chicago Booth
School of Business last fall that felt a bit like he was attending
his own funeral. The students had just finished reading a 17-page
Harvard Business School case study describing the choices Lunt and
the three other co-founders of Feedburner had made.
— Lunt (now chief technical officer of BrightTag), Dick
Costolo (now CEO of
Olechowski (now with
Google) and Matt
Shobe (now with BigDoor Media) — had worked together at
Andersen Consulting in the early 1990s and went on to launch three
technology companies in succession, inspiring the study's title:
"Lather, Rinse, Repeat."
eye-opening," Lunt said of the study. "The way we approached
hiring, the way that we approached actually scaling the companies
and how we did our financing — in every one of those (areas), we
made mistake after mistake after mistake."
But at least
the team didn't repeat the same ones. With Feedburner, Costolo, as
CEO, installed a board of directors and maintained control over
hiring, steps he previously had not taken. The study ends in 2007,
asking students whether the co-founders should accept a lucrative
acquisition offer from Google. (Sound familiar,
This is the
one area where Lunt is certain no mistakes were made.
"I have zero
regrets," Lunt said of accepting the offer, reportedly worth $100
million. "I think we timed it right … and Google was the best match
for what we had built. We needed the advertising network Google
Dorsey, director of equity research at
Morningstar, is leaving the
company March 21 to become a vice president at Sanibel Captiva
Trust Co., a
Florida-based provider of
wealth management services. He will remain in Chicago. For many
years, Dorsey was a regular panelist on
Fox News Channel's Bulls
& Bears program. Dorsey helped establish Morningstar's research
philosophy, which involves a focus on long-term stock picks and a
company's competitive advantage in its sector.
Schaefer, a former
McDonald's executive, is
the new CEO of the Northern Illinois Food Bank. Schaefer replaces
H. Dennis Smith, who will retire March 31.
Melissa Harris, who would hate to read
a case study of her career choices, can be reached at email@example.com or 312-222-4582
begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 312-222-4582 end_of_the_skype_highlighting.