CHATWORTH, Calif. — Earlier this month, Pipedream Products announced Matthew Matsudaira as the company’s new chief executive officer.
With successful leadership roles at ultra-performers Nordstrom, Amazon and Chewy.com, where he spearheaded one of the largest acquisition deals ever, Matsudaira has a vision for revitalizing the Pipedream brand.
After hosting local adult industry press at its Chatsworth, Calif.-based headquarters (XBIZ report coming soon), where Matsudaira emphasized teamwork, transparency and being a humble leader, Pipedream issued the following Q&A with its new CEO.
So, it’s been three months — what do you think?
Mastsudaira: In the spirit of three months, I’ll give you three words that come to mind when I think about Pipedream. Passionate: our team is passionate about delivering world-class products to our customers. Positive: our people are optimistic and excited about what we have planned at Pipedream. They believe in our vision and look forward accomplishing our goals. Potential: our team is excited to be working to grow the business and focus on being the best in every aspect of our organization. Big things are on the horizon.
What is most different about this industry, compared to others?
Mastsudaira: In my opinion the benefits of adult sexual wellness industry are that it attracts a lot of creative and out-of-the-box thinkers, who are extremely passionate about their jobs. Also, there is a youthful streak that I believe has been bubbling underneath the surface for years and looks ready to boil over and disrupt the industry.
Do you think many of the same fundamentals apply?
Mastsudaira: Yes, this is a business and at the end of day we are selling widgets aka dildos and vibrators within the same framework. Our focus is to deliver an amazing customer experience. We will be innovative with our products. I will be supportive and focused on developing our people both personally and professionally.
Respectfully, why you? Why Pipedream? How on Earth do you go from Amazon, Nordstrom and Chewy to the company that makes King Cock and Fuck Me Silly?
Mastsudaira: Why me? I love building businesses and products that are coveted by people all over the world. I enjoy working hard, delivering results, competing, and being a servant leader to my team. Over the past few years, Pipedream has struggled. I believe Pipedream has a tremendous amount of potential that needs to be nourished. I have led billion-dollar business units and the framework stays the same, whether I’m selling luxury retail products, solving tough problems with technology, or selling dog food. It comes down to people, processes and product. From my Nordstrom days, I took away the importance of being customer obsessed. At Amazon, I learned logistics and operations. I was challenged to Think Big to solve big problems for customers. At Chewy, I learned how to scale a business from startup phase to being a large enterprise, who made history for the largest e-commerce acquisition in history. There is untapped potential at Pipedream and I’m grateful to be part of this team.
Pipedream has been around for 40 years, what will this new era look like? Talk about the corporate culture and how it will evolve.
Mastsudaira: This new era will be better and more exciting than the past 40 years. As you may have heard, I don’t enjoy doing much press or interviews. These types of activities take me away from focusing on the development of my people, who are integral to our business and future success. My focus is building a foundation and culture, where we cultivate the best people, where we are customer obsessed, and we are working towards our lofty goals that we have set forth for the company. Our culture is based on collaboration, communication, integrity, and grit. My team has a new saying that has been resonating through our hallways, “it’s not business as usual at Pipedream, but it’s better business.” Every day we will be laser focused making our people, retailers, distributors, and consumers better.
Everyone reading this witnessed the near collapse of the adult video industry – many chalked that up to lack of foresight – do you think that can happen with adult novelties/pleasure products?
Mastsudaira: Can it happen? Yes. Will it? Probably not. From my perspective whether it’s porn or music or even optometrists and how people now buy glasses – if you’re unable to identify trends in the marketplace due to evolving technology – you’re going to be in real trouble. One of the expressions I’ve heard is that, “you can’t download a vibrator.” To some extent that’s true, but there’s growing concern about 3-D printers and it remains to be seen how other advances like virtual reality will impact the adult products space in the future.
What do you see as the biggest threat the industry faces?
Mastsudaira: Complacency and not embracing change and being uncomfortable. I am going to push the team and the limits of the industry. The Amazonian in me preaches that it is Day 1 here at Pipedream every day. We will be humble, enjoy hustling, and always focused on executing our strategies. Many of our competitors are on Day 2, which is status quo. Followed by irrelevance, which is then followed by a steady and painful decline. Concluded by death. A recent victim of complacency is Toys R Us, a company that never wanted change or innovation.
For years there’s been talk of ‘mainstreaming’ adult toys – but the truth is, it’s not mainstream. Our industry cannot use the same advertising channels/methods as other industries – how do you negotiate those obstacles?
Mastsudaira: Very true, but I do feel like adult toys and sexual wellness is becoming more mainstream. There are challenges and obstacles in all businesses, but I enjoy trying to solve big problems. This is just an obstacle and we are working on navigating it.
What do you to unwind?
Mastsudaira: I unwind by meditation or going for long runs. My brain is constantly going, so to sit in silence, reflect, and decompress is key for me to be an effective leader to my team. On my daily runs, it relieves stress and allows me to come up with some of my best ideas. Also, I enjoy spending the time with my wife, family, and friends, traveling the world, eating amazing food, sipping on cold brew coffee, and watching sports – especially college football.
What’s your favorite city, movie and book?
Mastsudaira: My favorite city to live is my hometown of Bellevue, Washington – my family and many of my friends are there. My favorite city to visit is Tokyo and NYC – I love the energy, the food, and the people. My favorite movie – I don’t really watch too many movies, but I enjoy the Jason Bourne series. I would rather watch TV shows like Silicon Valley, Billions, and Ballers. My favorite book is “The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon” and “Principles” by Ray Dalio. Both are staples for people that enjoy learning and are in business.