Meat of the Matter: Reinventing How We Buy Beef

Sportswriters love tossing around the term superstar. Every season in every sport, half a dozen players acquire the label, usually followed by the phrase “future Hall of Famer.”

Twenty or 30 years later, though that cohort thins out dramatically, because career brilliance is a lot easier to evaluate than a season or two of gaudy stats.

Plus, there’s one other career criterion that’s essential: winning. Which is why the list of athletes considered “the greatest” in their respective sports is a pretty short one: Michael Jordan, Babe Ruth, Wayne Gretzky, Muhammad Ali — and, arguably, Joe Montana.

Super Joe’s resume is an outstanding one, especially for a third-round draft pick considered by virtually every NFL franchise to be too small and too inexperienced — even though he led the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to the 1977 national championship — to become a successful pro quarterback.

All Montana did was team up with San Francisco coach Bill Walsh to practically reinvent offensive football, lead his team to a 4-0 record in Super Bowls, collect a pair of NFL MVPs, three Super Bowl MVPs, 8 Pro Bowl selections, even a Comeback Player of the Year award.

Cut loose by the Niners in 1993, Montana promptly led the Kansas City Chiefs to the AFC Conference championship game, a high-water mark that proud franchise has never approached since.

He even has one of the very few bronze busts in Canton, Ohio, that actually looks like him (check it out at and tell me I’m not right).

Easy, fast and convenient

What’s relevant here is Montana’s own assessment of his primary skill, which he described as “recognition, the ability to see everything on the field, and then position the other team to death.”

With the exception about the death by positioning part, that quote also applies to Super Joe’s current gig: early stage venture capitalist.

According to a profile in the San Francisco Chronicle, in 2015, Montana and several partners formed a venture capital firm Liquid 2 Ventures, with partners Mike Miller, who co-founded Cloudant a database service sold to IBM, and Michael Ma, who co-founded the customer feedback platform TalkBin sold to Google in 2011.

Now, as the newspaper explained it, Montana wants to replicate the process of changing football offensive schemes by changing the way people buy beef.

He and his partners at Liquid 2 Ventures have invested in the Seattle-based startup Crowd Cow, which was profiled in this space last year. Crowd Cow combines the reach and connectivity of social media with the appeal of buying beef from a single animal raised by a local farmer. Subscribers receive an email when each steer is harvested, and they can place orders on line for a various packages of cuts, ground beef and even organ meats.

Local, grassfed, conveniently packaged and delivered right to your door. It’s a process that’s as slick and smooth as one of Super Joe’s TD passes that he could drop into a receiver’s arms without the guy having to break stride.

Plus, most of the steaks are dry-aged, which adds a level of flavor, tenderness and eye appeal that is unsurpassed.

“First of all, I’m a big meat lover, and I just like this idea,” Montana told the FOX Business online. “You get online and you look for meats. There isn’t a lot of competition in the marketplace for something like this in the way they specialize, and we believe in the founders.”

Okay, he’s in the Hall of Fame for his football prowess, not his public relations elegance.

As far as his role in Liquid 2 Ventures, Montana said that the company brings “a lot of value to the table, not just capital. When you invest, some people think that the hard part is over, but it’s just beginning in trying to make sure that companies are growing the right way and finding the right people to hire.”

Ethan Lowry and Joe Heitzeberg, the co-founders of Crowd Cow, said that they “jumped at the opportunity” to have the Pro Hall of Famer help coach them through the development process.

Yeah, it’s not exactly a leap of faith to bring on Joe Montana as the face of your investor group.

Sure, Crowd Cow is probably going to lose a couple customers who are big Dallas Cowboys fans, but other than that, it’s as savvy a move as the draft-day pick San Francisco made back in 1979. 



The opinions in this commentary are those of Dan Murphy, a veteran journalist and commentator


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