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Secretive Billionaire Makes The Cheese For Pizza Hut, Domino's And Papa John's (forbes.com/sites/chloesorvino)
276 points by breck on June 3, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 176 comments

Reminds me of the last boss I worked for that works diligently since high school to build a hundred million dollar business in an unsexy industry with factories across America. Aside from growing up in silicon valley, he's the only other inspiration that rich is attainable and accessible.

Unflashy and unassuming, he doesn't try to draw press, hired older folks to be the faces. It's just like watching someone that's really good at playing this video game called spreadsheet. Patiently stacking and stacking day in and day out the same thing, but bigger and bigger.

  consistency and scalability... Leprino made himself indispensable
That's all it is.

Reminds me of commander Chris Hadfields philosophy of always aiming to be a Zero. He said in any environment you could be a -1 a 0 or a +1. You don't get to decide which of those your efforts end up being. He further observes coming into a new environment and doing too much or trying to overachieve can often just make a mess, making you a -1. Aim to be a zero. Stack those shelves, do the boring work you know you can do well until you are sure you can handle the more complex chores. Also sort of reminds me of Net Promoter Score; would you recommend X to friends and family?

Just do the thing that is the point of the place and do the shit out of it, why wouldn't you? -- Louis CK

There is wisdom in hard, but simple work that others value, even in tech. Don't be too clever in that MVP. Substance over style. Etc etc.

Every place I've worked those people get taken advantage of and are left to do the grunt work, boxed in to their jobs

There was a lot more to it, of course. I took that from his book "An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth".

Maybe this particular bit of philosophy wasn't the reason he became a commander on the ISS, but it seemed to work for him. It isn't to say you let people take advantage of you, or that you don't make hard decisions, or that you never attempt to innovate. It is just to say, don't be a minus one. It is sort of like comedy in that you can't decide to be funny and then everyone will think you are funny.

The context is also important, he mostly used this to illustrate how he approached things as a new member of a team learning the ropes, even as the commander. He is thrust into a new environment, and he is the commander of the operation, but he didn't immediately impose his authority, he stacked and organized and learned how things were going before making executive decisions. So the whole -1, 0, +1 thing is as much a leadership style as it is his idea on how to be successful.

I think also the environment of a fighter pilot then astronaut does not tolerate showmanship or overt "I am smart" cleverness. It likes consistent hard work and problem solving that is well thought out. Showmanship gets people killed in space. Endeavoring to be a +1 for any of the very numerous wrong reasons just ends up taking away from the mission.

Anyhow, perhaps that adds some context to the idea.

Just a note that NPS uses a scale with low predictive validity and you should probably tell people to stop using it.


Interesting. I do like the question from a general 'do you like thing X' perspective, but as critics seem to rightly argue, you should not use it alone.

Another question I like in the same vein, "Would you recommend other people to work here?". I think it is just one of many measures of "engagement" though.

Also, I have to agree with the general sentiment against NPS. I have seen teams forced into UI enhancement death marches because their app got a low NPS. It was plastered on billboards and there was a huge push to get the NPS up. It became a bit of a running joke. That anecdotal experience made me really wary of it in general, even though I like the concept as a general engagement measure.... maybe you shouldn't base management decisions on just that :)

I have worked for multiple large and small companies who thought NPS was a valid metric for customer feedback, and in my experience it has told us little to no information even though management has generally said we have to be at X to be successful.

When I worked for Apple Support the best in breed was a five point scale with a neutral midpoint and multiple questions on different axis, just as the wikipedia article stated, and I felt it was a clear and straightforward method of measuring customer satisfaction and in some cases quality, so that is what I recommend.

NPS I think is really for employee motivation.

Reminds me of Charlie Munger's (vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway) investment philosophy/mantra that "avoiding stupidity is easier than seeking brilliance".

To continue further afield - reminds me of the observation that cigarettes are just as bad for you as all known positive health interventions combined are good for you. So campaigns to eliminate smoking are by far the best "bang for your buck" public health initiative.

If you ever read The Millionaire Next Door you'll read a lot of very similar stories about small business entrepeneurs who had a combination of drive and opportunity to succeed, but most of all (at least emphasized by the book) sound financial principles that kept them from losing it all once they made it.

I've only spent time with one person like that - a distant uncle I acquired by marrying into my wife's family and he was exactly as described in the book. He had more money than he ever needed, but he still worked and tended to his business, he never moved out of his starter home, never bought flashy cars or did anything to display his wealth. He wasn't miserly but he just didn't see the need to waste money.

IMO, do you (not you you but theoretical "you") want a lot of money because you want to use it for something, or just to have a lot of money? The way I see it, there is no promise of tomorrow. This doesn't mean don't plan for tomorrow, but e.g. an ex of mine had grandparents who would live super frugally (up to and including using McDonalds napkins at their house and "stocking up" every time they went to get their free senior coffee...they also had exclusively sauce packets). They were super proud of how they were [single] millionaires, having saved almost every penny throughout both of their normal office job careers. They lived like they were poor for their whole lives to attain a number in their bank account. They had no plan for anything to actually do with their money, they just really wanted to be millionaires. I see absolutely zero point in this.

Obviously, it's their money and theirs to do with what they want, but if all you can think to do with a large sum of money is keep it in the bank or in stocks / bonds with no actual purpose in mind (starting a business or non-profit, early retirement, world travel, owning a home, owning a helicopter, donating it, a few years of hospice care for someone in your family, whatever) it just strikes me as super boring and a waste. I don't actually see how people can work so hard to simply attain a certain number on their bank statement when that is the sole goal. To me, that is a total misunderstanding of what money is, and I feel somewhat bad for people who do this.

My guess is that people like that value financial security above all else. And financial security is a sweet sweet thing to have.

That's my aim. Financial security so I can take care of my family, which includes parents.

Funny how quality product is never in the metrics. Fortunately the pizza eating population has not real idea what a quality pizza tastes like so another win for billionaires.

Nolan Bushnell spoke in my physics class at Leland HS, trying to get students interested in entrepreneurship.

I live down the street from Leland. First time I've seen it mentioned on HN, cool.

I love this story. Yes, building unsexy things can be lucrative. It's also amazing that him and his partner has spent their lives producing a product that within a margin of error has fed everyone in America at some point. But, it gave me time to stop and reflect, I've personally (and unknowingly until now) worked with about 25k lbs of his cheese during my tenure at Pizza Hut.

It's sad that the engineer that made everything happen, Lester Kielsmeier, only got a tiny fraction of the overall wealth. Maybe this can change someday? I'm not hopeful though...

It's important for scientists, engineers and inventors to also understand how business works to not get short-changed and how to negotiate an equal equity stake. Ignorance is no excuse.

Anyone whom offers to go into business with someone (at a less than equal footing) or tries to make them their employee when they're the primary technologist is likely cheating them a-priori.


> Capitalism is founded on exploitation

As opposed to being founded on stealing other people's stuff.

That was what civilization was founded on. Capitalism came many iterative ticks later. It's actually way less exploitative than the regime it replaced, feudalism.

And before that, at the very start of civilization, there was the more exploitive warlordism.

"Farm this land, and make as much as you can, and give us the surplus, or we'll kill you and find someone who will."

"You mean I don't have to wander around the land responding to threats, you'll do that for me? If someone else comes around and threatens me, I can just point them to you? I can sit here and just figure out how to increase my YoY crop? Buddy, you don't have to coerce me, just swing by every month and we'll wine and dine the fuck out of you! I sure hope you brought all your horses because you're gonna need em!"

Warlords were like helicopter bosses. Annoying, but they don't stick around long enough to really mess with anything. It's those with misplaced senses of justice that really got a bee under their bonnet over it. Same as today.

yes... voluntary exploitation. the whole point of capitalism is that any transaction requires both parties to enter voluntarily.

it's not always pretty (and needs regulation to prevent monopoly formation, which the US currently lacks) but the alternative systems with involuntary transactions are demonstrably worse.

> the whole point of capitalism is that any transaction requires both parties to enter voluntarily.

When one party is hungry, and the other is not, voluntary participation does not imply freedom of choice.

If there are only two parties in the market, sure. That is rarely the case in any economic system, and can be argued that it is the least likely to occur in a capitalist-style system.

Exactly! You can't just go around treating engineers like adults.

So if someone gets shafted it's their own fault?

Caveat Emptor! (They don't teach it in schools anymore...)

Somebody decided not to fund schools properly.

Oh boy...so what do you tell your kids an adult is? Someone who does whatever it takes, no matter if they need to, no matter who it hurts right? It's a highly misguided view that breaks down as soon as you hit life's roadblocks and require someone else to help you out.

Don't worry, I don't tell my kids that. You made it up.

Actually, laissez-faire capitalism is the system of freedom -- inalienable individual rights, free minds, free trade, and free markets.

Having ideas does not constitute "making everything happen". Actually implementing the idea is what makes it happen, and in many cases it's the hardest part.

Being on a board of an angel-investment group we see this regularly. Its many times humorous - to the point of absurdity. You would be surprised at how many "inventors" want to ask for money, yet are scared of revealing how their invention works to their own investors. They honestly believe building a better mousetrap is all thats needed - and fame and fortune follow as a given. Thus, they are so guarded of their precious ideas that they never get past the garage-level design phase. They really expect someone to turn over 500k in angel-funding on no due-dillegence. Its a sort of hubris run wild.

The truth is, the engineer in this case no doubt provided value. But that value was effectively of a commodity nature. If he refused to deliver, any number of other competent engineers would've stepped up and done work-for-hire for an hourly rate.

No doubt the success in this case was like nearly all success: Unsexy, year-after-year persistence, building industry connections, meeting deadlines and delivering products. Overall being a good company to do business with.

However, its understandable that this concept of the "ripped off engineer" would be popular on a place like HN, since engineer types tend to overestimate the importance of clever ideas on success.

I think you've laid the facts out clearly. As an engineer, I have seen well-engineered solutions fail (due to business incompetence) and poorly-engineered solutions succeed (due to business acumen). Humans, almost unilaterally, overestimate the value of their efforts. There's a name for the fallacy, but I can't remember it.

Anyway, having said that, I suspect that the "ripped off engineers" that you mention are disillusioned with Capitalism. They may not realize it explicitly, and may even object to what I'm saying, but I think that's the underlying truth.

And I'm with them on it. I question any economic system that yields salary imbalances of 262:1 at a single company.[1]

[1] http://www.epi.org/publication/webfeatures_snapshots_2006062... (a 2006 article, and I vaguely remember seeing that the situation has only worsened for the workers)

So, in essence, we're dealing with anti-capitalistic engineers who want to make more money?

Or engineers who want more fairness.

More fairness... by earning more or having others earn less?

The criticism boggles my mind. If someone thinks they deserve more, they should make steps towards that (ex: leave for another company) instead of expecting for the money to drop in their lap.

Who is "expecting" anything? Who mentioned mere "deserving more"? Questioning something and seeking to change it is a long shot from what you're conveniently and predictably framing it as, and in context "leaving for another company" isn't even a joke, it's a tired old chestnut beginning to become offensive.

Don't expect sympathy saying your mind is boggled while spending more effort to misconstrue than to understand.

> More fairness... by earning more or having others earn less?

You know there is a fixed amount of money in circulation at any given moment, making these alternatives the same thing, right? If you don't, your mind is boggled for sure, but not because of anything anyone else is saying. If you do, why pretend you don't?

>Who is "expecting" anything?

Apparently the people who are complaining about fairness are expecting something (unless they are just complaining for its own sake).

>You know there is a fixed amount of money in circulation at any given moment, making these alternatives the same thing, right?

It seems you're being purposefully obtuse. There are plenty of people who would love to use force (or the State) to ensure that some group of the "underserving" earns less than they do now and some group of the "deserving" earns more. Maybe this isn't what the GP intended, but their post smacked of communist/socialist collectivism thinking to me.

I don't expect you to reply constructively since you're likely hiding behind a new account, but am always curious if you do.

We'll discourage risk taking if everyone who chooses the relatively secure path of an employee gets to share the upside but never the downside.

Yeah he can lose his job if entrepreneur fails... if the job is in demand he'll easily get a new one, if it's not in demand it's his poor carrier choice irrelevant of the entrepreneur.

Plus most entrepreneurs put way more on the line and go through several rounds of failures... if you're not there when entrepreneur fails and have part in the downside why should you take a cut larger than you deserve as an employee from the success.

But here's the thing... the chef is replaceable... that guy who built that company, he's #1 in the industry and probably in the world.

Yeah you say you owe him success because that's what leaders say... but he'll do it with or without there's no doubt about it.

Lastly, as an employee he was likely paid more than anyone in his position and achieved higher success than he could ever hope as a chef who voluntarily chooses to stay employed.

EDIT: if you're downvoting, at least counter with an argument... don't be hypocrite.

> if you're downvoting, at least counter with an argument... don't be hypocrite.

downvoting without giving an explanation is not "being a hypocrite"

yeah a coward is a better word... you downvote what lowers the quality not because you disagree. If you disagree, engage, don't silence.

See what PG says about downvotes: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1853529

OK, I'll bite: I upvoted your original comment, then downvoted this one: It doesn't contribute to the discussion at hand, and I don't have much interest in promoting the viewpoint of someone so entitled that they think it makes sense to unilaterally dictate the terms of a discussion they're having with total strangers, then call people cowards when they don't obey. Being ignored is not being silenced.

fair enough... but... down-voting isn't to ignore. To ignore is the right way if you have nothing to say.

I like your comment. In my defence, I responded within the context and referred to original rules by PG rather than trying to dictate the terms myself. Thanks for the upvote and the response.

>down-voting isn't to ignore.

That's a good point, hadn't really thought of it that way. My apologies for being so confrontational.

if you read the story it is all about knowing how to put the knowledge you have yourself but more importantly the knowledge others have to good use. Being good at something, have a skill set it, is only part of the picture. Using it effectively is an art.

I think the best part is that his company basically gave the ability to upstarts who entered the pizza business because of a consistent well developed product. That they went the distance to not toss much of their ingredients into the river speaks volumes about a man who grew up poor. You learn from that style of life that everything has value and you need to find it

so instead of concentrating on the possible loss for the engineer celebrate that someone from such an upbringing could create an industry and give work to many more engineers.

Just an FYI: cheese is the most expensive ingredient in/on a pizza, so this makes perfect sense.

Reason: think of all the gallons of milk and processing it takes to make an unit of cheese.

Source: Someone whom worked at a Pizza Hut in South San Jose in high-school.

PS: Another interesting business model (in Texas) is Braum's, which is a large co-op ice cream/restaurant/convenience store chain run on behalf of a consortium of dairy farmers. This cuts out middlemen and is basically direct-to-consumer. The prices are much lower than similar SKUs in local grocery stores and the quality is quite high.

Don't mean to nitpick but Braum's isn't a co-op/consortium. It's a single family's massively-integrated retail operation. They own and operate basically all of their farms and ranches along with the manufacturing plants for their containers and even their delivery fleet. Braum is the last name of the guy who founded it.

(Oh, and it's not Texan. Braum's is an Okie brand; they don't open up stores more than about 300 miles from their central farms in Oklahoma.)

also interesting they like investing in the commercial real estate they use for the stores, somewhat like McDonald's in that respect

Always wondered why i couldn't get it outside Texas. The burgers and ice cream are great.

That explains why I've never seen one anywhere near Houston! I always wondered.

Braum's just cut the size of their burgers and their shakes aren't as good anymore. I'm so disappointed in them.

Everything before the word "but" is BS.

I never said it was based in Texas, you read the wikipedia and acted like an expert. It's a vertically-integrated supply-chain.

I worked for Braum's for four years in Fort Worth, Texas. It was my first "real" job after high school. They have a little book that they give employees that describes the company and the history. The company describes itself like I did. Would you like a picture as proof of my bona fides?

Please don't assume malice.

On the internet nobody knows you're an expert.

You got salty quickly. There's quite a distinction between a private family business with a vertically integrated supply chain and a farmers cooperative operating a chain of ice cream shop, and I'm glad he pointed that out.

Which is a similar model to UDF (United Dairy Farmers) in Ohio[1].

Sidebar: if you find yourself in southern Ohio near a UDF, go ahead and give the cookie dough ice cream a try. You won't be disappointed.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Dairy_Farmers



128 stores in Oklahoma

99 in Texas

27 in Kansas

13 in Arkansas

13 in Missouri

Wawa also started as a dairy farm

| "cheese is the most expensive ingredient in/on a pizza"

I agree. Usually. ;-) Just for fun, I offer the menu for a nearby (Vancouver) pizza joint that includes several triple-digit-dollar 12" pizzas, right up to the $850 Seenay.


What a terrible mess and for $850.

> Medley of tiger prawns, lobster ratatouille, smoked steelhead, Russian Osetra caviar, snowed with Italian white truffles $850

It makes other pizzas look more reasonably priced. And I'm sure they sell a few Seenas's too.

Also, from the article:

> Price has long been Leprino's biggest advantage, and a large one since cheese accounts for about 40% of a pizza's cost.

Maybe the US government should stop propping up cheese prices and release cheese from the national stock pile.


It would not be the highest priced item on all pizzas, but by volume * price this appears to be true.

Aside: screw Forbes. Between the pre-load ad screen and the autolay ad video (which for some reason I couldn't even close), their site is downright unusable.

I just gave up visiting Forbes long since. I use ads myself (eg AdSense and AdWords) and have no objection to well-behaved ad copy, but I run NoScript for safety and F's site is thus pretty well unusable to me.

Pausing and then quickly unpausing AdBlock when the page starts to load is a workaround.

I'm using uBlock on Safari and I'm not seeing this.

Still hopeful that we'll see something that universally disables HTML5 auto-play videos.

See also from 2014 "New Mexico dairy shuts down after undercover activist videotape". A dairy that supplied Leprino was caught on video treating cows horribly. Leprino seems to have responded reasonably.

> On Thursday, Denver-based Leprino Foods, for whom Winchester Dairy was a supplier, announced a program that requires its dairy suppliers and farmers to comply with new company guidelines regarding animal care. Leprino, the world’s largest producer of mozzarella cheese and a supplier to fast-food chains nationwide, has said that it was “extremely repulsed” by the video.


> Leprino seems to have responded reasonably.

In line with his "ethics" principle that comes after quality and price.

Anyway, if you value the wellbeing of animals going vegan is pretty much the only to me. There's no such thing as animal-friendly meat or bio-industrial dairy.

But then there would be no cows.

I'm not making a judgement one way or the other in this case, but 'cruelty in creation' is something that may need to be considered more in the coming years.

Pugs are my favorite example-- always in respiratory distress, abnormally short life spans, and unable to normally reproduce.

It isn't some kindness that we create pugs the way we do-- just a gap in traditional morals.

We may confront this more should we find we've created an intelligence with the capacity for emotions.

Define "no cows". There are plenty of animals we don't eat that continue to exist.

Cows don't really exist in the wild. I guess we could have some in zoos but we mostly keep animals around that have a purpose for us.

One could make the argument that evolutionarily speaking, being domesticated (usually then eaten) by humans is the most reliable survival strategy for any species.

I think it was just a joke to rile up the vegans.

Right, but those animals aren't as naturally helpless as a domesticated cow.

I admire the business idea... but, rapacious capitalist though I may be, it fails my personal "would this business embarrass your children" test because what unifies all of these products is that the quality of the cheese is terrible IMHO.

What unifies all these products is the fact that they are mass produced. If you want to sell a pizza to everyone in America and you want them all to taste the same, you start to value consistency in your inputs.

I love to get pizza from some of the smaller pizzerias near me occasionally. I don't love that the cheese breaks sometimes, leaving me with a watery, ricotta-like mess on top of my pizza. I don't love that the crust is sometimes too thin and gets soggy or tears, or that the crust is occasionally burned in spots. This doesn't happen with Pizza Hut. Whatever else, they're consistent.

Personally, I also think that the cheese on a Pizza Hut pizza is just fine. If you're buying Pizza Hut or Papa John's, you're not looking for an old-world artisan experience. I don't want buffalo mozzarella on a delivery pizza.

Respect! I like McDonalds for much the same reason.

Why not? I mean, buffalo mozzarella is pretty nice right? Are you saying you don't want food you can appreciate?

Because melted buffalo mozzarella doesn't hold up to a 15-20 minute car ride. Turning a good pizza into a bad one by leaving it in a car for 20 minutes is a waste.

yeah sorry, not everyone's a liquid millionaire and can eat buffalo mozzarella whenever they please.

we'll try to work harder and make more money, to be more like you, so we can have excellent gourmand-level taste 24/7.

> the quality of the cheese is terrible IMHO

It can't be that terrible, because they had to inject it into the crust when they ran out of room on the top to satisfy consumers' desire for it.

QED. I stand humbly corrected!

What makes it terrible, precisely?

Not sure why this was downvoted - it's an honest question and personally I think the cheese is fine

The pattern of "insult popular thing", "ask what's bad about popular thing", "be downvoted to death with no answer" is pretty common. I generally chalk it up to blatant pretension. Everyone wants to feel like they have refined tastes and it's easier to downvote someone than admit you have no legitimate reason to hold a particular opinion.

(edit: To be clear, tomcam did provide his answer. This comment isn't directed at him.)

There was a program on British TV a few years ago where they took some fast food and presented it on a plate as if it had come from a gourmet chef then asked people who don't eat fast food what they thought of it.

They all praised it.

Its probably a fair point on behalf of the show but don't forget that the show could have been edited and be full of bias by the producers.

I have come to hate the concept of fast food (although readily admit that I guiltily enjoy various bits like McMuffins and Stuffed Crust) and back myself to be able to tell when something is fast food no matter how it's presented.

I probably wouldn't make good tv for the producer of your aforementioned show.

It makes a lot of sense given the R&D that goes into fast food's taste.

Appreciated! I don't think I'm a snob

Flavor--tastes like rubber to me. Texture is rubbery as well.

I've found that with Papa John's pizza you can significantly improve the texture and flavour by letting it cool then heating it in a frying pan with a lid.

Cold pizza reheated in a Cast Iron Skillet with just a dash of olive oil is the best thing in the world.

I used to do that, but I've started using a toaster oven (400 degrees Fahrenheit for 6 or 7 minutes) now that I have one.

The skillet (understandably) doesn't heat the top of the pizza that much. The toaster oven doesn't have that problem.

skillet is for crisping up the bottom, add a lid or a circle of aluminium foil to get a nice bubbly cheese top

Pan-frying was the original Neopolitan way to make pizza. Learned that from an Italian work-colleague whose family back home still made them that way.

That's really interesting because I just discovered this the other day. I don't have an oven (living in Japan). I've got a frying pan and a fish grill. Heat up a frying pan with a lid on. Put in the pizza. Wait a couple of minutes (doesn't take long). Finish it under the grill. It's surprisingly good!

Anyone parse this sentence for me?

*Instead, he hired Lester Kielsmeier, who had run a cheese factory in Wisconsin only to find out that it was sold during his stint in the Air Force during World War II, because his dad believed he'd been killed in action. "When Lester came, I went downtown to the junkyard and I bought a couple bigger cheese vats to make it look like we were really in the business," Leprino says.

Leprino's dad thought Lester Kielsmeier died in WWII, or?

Lester's dad thought Lester had been killed. He was presumably the executor for Lester's estate, which was liquidated (e.g. the cheese factory was sold).

These are precisely the 3 pizza joints I cannot convince my room mate to order from. I guess he doesn't like the secret billionaire cheese.

EDIT: Not sure why this is being downvoted. Analysis of the mass market pizza industry as a race to the bottom, in terms of ingredient quality, is an old idea. Couldn't the secrecy, fake differentiation of leading megacorps, and low quality cheese be connected? Are we supposed to be impressed at this way of making money?

He was private because his buyers wanted it that way. Do they really want everyone knowing they use the same cheese? I wonder what changed for him to come out like this.

They use the same cheese company but the story makes it clear that they do not use the same cheese. Each company has its own product tailored to their needs.

I worked in a potato chip factory for a little while and they made lots of store brand products. That doesn't mean they were all the same though. It was more like contract manufacturing. They produced a product to the specifications of the customer. It wasn't just repackaging the same product in different bags.

I've never heard someone praise Pizza Hut or Domino's on the basis of their cheese, much less the uniqueness of their cheese.

My client supplies the pizza dough.. same thing.

Punchline: combine science with sales! ;)

Sales and engineering are the two pillars of the Conjoined Triangles of Success.

I presume there must be at least 6 pillars?

Just the four. http://conjoinedtriangles.com/

[EDITED to add: For the avoidance of doubt, yes it's a spoof.]

There are only two pillars. He didn't give a name for the lateral connectors.

I quote, from that very web page: "The four pillars of CToS (pronounced see-to-ess) are Growth, Sales, Engineering and Manufacturing."

The whole thing is from the Silicon Valley TV show. I'm fairly sure that the two pillars are Sales and Engineering, but you're making me actually go watch Season Three all over again to find out if Barker referred to Growth and Manufacturing as pillars too. YouTube clips on that particular part of the series are sparse.

Edit: Yep, Barker refers to Engineering and Sales as the two pillars of success in S03E02, and Growth as the "foundation" of the CToS. Compromise is the "shared hypotenuse". Jack was fired before they could discuss Manufacturing.

Thank god for the Willy Wonka of cheese.

Wait, what's the "technology" that's being talked about in this cheese? Isn't it just normal cheese? Am I missing something here or is this artificial faux cheese?

Cheese production doesn't lack technology just because it's a familiar product. There are hundreds if not thousands of types of cheese. What distinguishes them is partly the dairy origin, but also largely the techniques used to produce them. Just looking at mozzarella, there are hundreds of different mozzarella cheeses on the market. They are not identical. Being able to consistently produce a mozzarella that has certain attributes requires tight control of a process that starts with an inconsistent output. What temperature do you process at? When does it change? When do you add rennet? How do you separate whey from the curds? How long do you age? etc. All of this is tech.

I've worked in similar industrial facilities - it's easy to get things right until you don't.

It really takes someone that knows their shit when a single ingredient has changed ever so slightly and the final result isn't quite right, the heat patterns and cycles of the ovens, changes in temperature and humidity of the inside of the plant...

I found this YouTube channel---https://www.youtube.com/user/greeningofgavin/videos---that goes rather deep into the cheese making process. The host makes cheese---all types of cheese, at home. It's pretty interesting to see the similarities and differences between cheeses.

To be picky, it's (good or bad tasting, de giustibus non dispoutandum est ) not "mozzarella" but just "cheese for pizza".

The distinction is irrelevant to the point made by the parent. That it's simply just "cheese for pizza" does not negate the fact that significant process tech is leveraged when manufacturing a product of strict quality and consistency at scale.

Sure, no doubt that tech and a strict control on production and ingredients is needed, just like any industrial product, and evidently they are very good at both, I was just referring to the "just looking at mozzarella" part. A large number of cheeses called mozzarella on the market are very different from mozzarella and most shouldn't be even called so.

The article goes into some detail on this precise question:

> Pizza Hut franchises would sometimes wait too long to thaw the presliced mozzarella and reported that their cheese would crumble, so Leprino Foods responded with its first major breakthrough: a preservative mist. The scientists there soon realized that this method allowed them to add flavors such as salted caramel and jalapeño. They could even make a reduced fat "cheddar" by using a mozzarella base and then misting on cheddar flavor and orange food coloring.

> When Pizza Hut began using a hotter conveyor oven, Leprino Foods changed the formula so the cheese wouldn't burn at higher temperatures. As delivery-focused Domino's expanded, Leprino's head cheese maker, Lester Kielsmeier, manipulated the product so that it retained its fresh-out-of-the-oven look and taste longer.

> in the 1990s, Kielsmeier realized that just as the cheese changed when ingredients were sprayed on at the end, certain additives used early in the process could affect how cheese melts--from how big and how brown the bubbles get to how many are on the top of the pie. On the manufacturing side, Kielsmeier cut down the cheese's aging period from 14 days to just four hours, which multiplied the company's production capabilities while cutting costs significantly.

HN is not just about tech.

HN is also about business, and this business owner decided to OEM his cheese rather than brand it and sell direct to consumers. "How do you get your first 10 / 100 / 1000 customers?" is often asked on HN, and one answer is "Don't sell directly to them, sell to the people who sell to them".

Also, HN is about many things that are not tech nor business, but which are deeply interesting to hackers.


> On-Topic: Anything that good hackers would find interesting. That includes more than hacking and startups. If you had to reduce it to a sentence, the answer might be: anything that gratifies one's intellectual curiosity.

The article discusses a number of cheese production innovations that contributed to Leprino's ability to massively scale production and control the market. These advances are also detailed in Kielsmeier's patents:


You should Mr Arty Fay about that, I hear he knows quite a bit about it.

Buffalo milk cheese is amazing for pizzas (after you have the pizza cooked, put a bit of buffalo milk cheese on top).


We detached flagged this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14475078.

You literally know nothing about the guy and yet are so ready to make statements like "He sounds like the materialist's materialist".

I don't get why people do this. You read one comment on the internet about someone whose name you don't even know. How are you so sure of yourself to pass judgement?

When I was at my worst I had such thoughts. At that point I had not held a job for years, mounting debt upon debt, plenty of family pressures (dying and infirm relatives), and untreated, chronic migraines. Extremes will bring out small thoughts and meanness.

This is the internet, it's too high of an expectation for our response to a comment to include "maybe op is having a bad day."

Eh maybe you're just having a bad day...

Actually when I posted that I was on vacation abroad, objectively one of the better days of this year :P

Are you suggesting I overthought it?

And at that point you should be happy when others tell you about it, so you can make adjustments.


No, at that point human psyche perceives criticism as an attack. The helpful thing is to treat people humanely. Don't attack.

Nothing wrong with pursuing material success, but the glassdoor reviews don't speak that highly of Leprino either.

Leprino not giving his chief engineer/scientist any equity at all is definitely not a small fault. I can see why ShabbosGoy might say Leprino is worthy of scorn.

"I would tell people,'Lester is the man that made me rich,' " Leprino says. Notably, though, Leprino never gave Kielsmeier any equity. While Leprino got rich, Kielsmeier — who came to work every day right until his death at 95 in 2012--would have to content himself with being very well paid."

I think the fact that Kielsmeier continued to come to work until age 95 is a fairly strong indicator that he was reasonably satisfied with his employment arrangements.

He possessed a very specialist skillset and probably enjoyed what he did, so he was limited in his employment opportunties, especially once he hit his 50s I'd imagine.

It's obvious he was taken advantage of, just like it's obvious that Steve Jobs took advantage of Steve Wozniak. Just because the Woz is a nice guy and kept working with Jobs despite the abuse doesn't change the abusive behavior.

> It's obvious he was taken advantage of

That's not clear to me at all from the available evidence.

Maybe he was offered stock and didn't want it.

It's hard to make such black-and-white verdicts without being 100% sure you have all the evidence.

It's a fib that rich people like to tell themselves. "They're getting me rich, but I'm paying them what they're worth."

Unfortunately it's also true. Life isn't fair.

The solution is to ruthlessly threaten to leave, without making it a threat. If the scientist did that, he probably would've been able to get equity. You have to be sure you're as irreplaceable as you think you are, though.

It's something that took a long time to grok. Honor in business simply does not exist, and nobody will look out for you except you.

(Also, woo, this downvote hiding mod is so nice. I have no idea whether I'm being upvoted or downvoted and it's wonderfullll. I can say whatever I want. Toasters are ugly. There, I've just offended everyone who likes toasters. HN hasn't been this pleasant in years.)

> I can say whatever I want.

You always could. That you assign so much value to it that it causes you discomfort if you're downvoted is the problem.

As for the equity bit:

People want jobs, they don't want to be entrepreneurs in general. The large companies that I've worked for must have had shareholders, but I've never seen one or even talked to them. What I was concerned with is whether they were going to pay my wage in time, which was the extent of our agreed upon contract.

Now if mr. Leprino had defaulted on wage payments or had somehow taken unfair advantage of his employees by paying them wages lower than was agreed up on or were considered normal for the work they did then you have a point.

But I'm not familiar with an obligation to give out stock on the part of an employer. If you feel that isn't fair then you'll have an uphill battle ahead of you, your definition of honor is an extreme one that not many people subscribe to , including employees of companies.

Now, of course in an ideal world we'd all equally own all the wealth, the means of production and so on, but every time that has been tried for real it has for the most part not worked. The one counter example that I'm familiar with still has by far the largest chunk of the stock owned by founders and investors.

What you will find works in practice (and which is a lot more common) is profit sharing, where a chunk of the profits is paid out (usually annually) to employees of the company.

As I said, your viewpoint is true, which is why it's easy to believe. But throughout history, there have been many viewpoints that are true but became untenable. I think this is one of them.

As increased automation leads to fewer jobs, basic income is one way to avoid the ill effects. But the other half is entrepreneurship. Ownership. And the current system is not set up to let most people become entrepreneurs.

The other fib that rich people like to believe is that their wealth is merit-based. Again, it's partially true, so it's easy to believe. Just pluck an idea off of the idea tree, then turn your laser focus on. Grow it for ten years, and presto! Rich!

Not so easy. There's a lack of ideas, for one. It's no coincidence YC started in 2005. It was like Standard Oil starting right before the oil fields became monopolized.

Two, there's a lack of cofounders. I've been seeking a cofounder literally my entire adult life. It's possible to go through life and find zero, despite looking. And in the current system, if you don't have a parter, your options are severely limited. I know many people will disagree with this, but your disagreement matters less than the disagreement of VCs, whose money allows companies to form without turning a profit. And if your aim is to turn a profit immediately, not to grow a company, then that lack of ideas I mentioned earlier becomes a famine.

Alternatively, if you've read Felix Dennis' humorous book 'How to get Rich', he says to never part with any equity. He gives an example of a time his top executives get together and ask him for a piece of the pie, and he fires them all.

Not what I would have done, as I am a big softy and would be giving out chunks of equity left and right, but that would probably explain why I'm not rich. Didn't Wozniak give out stock to people he felt bad for?

>Didn't Wozniak give out stock to people he felt bad for?

Yes. And I think, as opposed to Jobs, his legacy will be rewarded.

I think it will be the opposite (unfortunately). People idolize Jobs, only the tech people even know who Wozniak is.

> his legacy will be rewarded.

Just world fallacy.

People who are forgotten leave no legacy.

Most people don't even know how Wozniak is and the few that know probably see him as the geek that was Jobs' "slave".

> People who are forgotten leave no legacy.

You're equating fame with legacy then assuming Woz failed at his goals because he didn't end up famous.

Fame might matter to you, but its very obvious that fame doesn't matter to Woz.

As for legacy, Woz's legacy will be his work. My sister doesn't know Wozniak's name, but she loves her iphone and carries it everywhere she goes. Her iphone wouldn't exist as it does today without Woz. If thats not a ringing endorsement of his work, I don't know what is.

Don't want to sound harsh, but Wozniak is still alive. Literally alive.

There are different definitions of success. Living and being able to do intelectual work until 95 (if this is what you want to do) could be perfectly one of them.

I initially reacted poorly to that part. However, on further thought, some people just don't want partners, which is where granting equity leads.

We don't know what being very well paid means in this case. If Kielsmeier was making $500k or $1 million a year, that wouldn't be too terrible, and perhaps would in the end be as much as he would have gotten from whatever equity he might have gotten.

Of course, well paid might have meant only $150k a year, which seems less fair. But really, we don't know and shouldn't jump to assuming that no equity didn't mean unfair compensation.

Use your favourite search engine to look for "Rich vs King" and Noam Wasserman... There are legitimate alternative approaches.

I am the founder of a (previous) start-up which has a loooong list of small shareholders that costs real money and time to handle any time there is some corporate action. Equity is not always the right thing to hand out.

Also, some people don't want to be partners. Some people just want a job, and let someone else worry about all the responsibilities.

Are you one of those people?

You’re being downvoted for scorning someone who works hard for no reason other than that they have profitted from it.

Hard work is admirable, especially when it's also effective, doesn't seek attention, and is patient, intelligent, and diligent.

Very true. I would like to see more of that from owners and investors.

Me too, but doesn't it seem as though 'the game' requires a modern CEO to be super-visible, to have their face everywhere, and to be 'seen to be taking action' as well as maybe actually taking action?

Hard work has no intrinsic value. Show me teh monneeeh!

Hard work is destroying the planet. Just stop doing things, please. The ideology you've been indoctrinated into is wrong, we're no longer in a place where working hard is beneficial, it's ruining everything.

Hard work, ingenuity and wanting to make life better for our children is what brought us here. You're more than welcome to shun it and not leave this world a slightly better place for your children than it was for you.

Hmm, so you don't acknowledge any work that we could be doing to prevent the destruction of the planet? An interesting stand to take, but not one that I agree with.

Depends on what you work on. You see no positive path for the future except collapse back to hunter/gatherer existence?

You're being downvoted because he WORKED HARD. Don't you want to WORK HARD?

I swear it was government cheese caves

I find it disgusting to think that such a horrible industry that pillars on exploiting sentient animals up to the point of their death from exhaustion handles so Billions.

It's even sadder how people seem not to care at all, and are okay with all the torture and mutilation that goes behind the milk/cheese industry if they've something tasty in front of them.

You're gonna have a hard enough time getting people to not bitterly attack you for even merely suggesting it might be better for everyone if they ate a little less meat.

Going after dairy is an absolute non-starter (unless maybe you're talking only to vegetarians). I highly recommend sticking with targets that might actually be achievable in your lifetime without requiring the complete collapse of global civilization.

The dairy industry is one of the most brutal and soulless ones there is. I don't know what you'd call a "starter" if that isn't.

I also fail to see why this would "collapse global civilization". The fact that there's a huge industry behind this in some countries doesn't make it critical. The world economy wouldn't change that much IF these vanished (people would just consume something else).

> people would just consume something else

Yeah... this is the problem right here. The biggest issues facing our species and our planet boil down to one simple thing: the majority of the human race is too selfish, shortsighted, stupid and stubborn to change even the smallest aspects of their destructive behavior.

I mostly agree with you, the reason I said eliminating dairy is a 'non-starter' is entirely about how difficult it is to get fellow humans to upgrade their life choices. That was my whole point. This is also why I half-jokingly mentioned a civilization collapse as the sole way to 'fix' this, because it is only after the nukes have gone off and things have gone all to hell worldwide (and dairy is no longer available) that you will get people to stop eating cheese and ice cream. Outside of complete dictatorial control over a population closed off from the rest of the planet, they will keep consuming dairy until they cannot. It's sad and pathetic, but that's nature of the human beast.

They're cows. An animal that we've created to be docile, stupid, and, and food. Don't care.

I agree. There is huge potential in a non-exploitative 1:1 substitute.

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