Nike Vice President and General Manager for North America Ann Hebert resigned from her job on Monday, one week after a Bloomberg Businessweek story revealed that a prolific sneaker reseller known as "West Coast Joe" was her son.
Last week's feature by Joshua Hunt told the story of the sneaker reselling business through the rise of the 19-year-old reseller Joe Hebert. Hunt chronicles the rise of StockX, Nike's direct-to-consumer sales push, and the rapid financialization of the sneaker market. Hebert's path to becoming one of the biggest players in sneaker reselling neatly illustrates the ways the industry has changed as it's grown.
Hebert grew so rapidly in such a competitive space because he bought at volume and used bots to take advantage of online drops. Last July, for example, he bought $132,000 worth of Yeezy Boost 350 Zyons and flipped them almost immediately for a $20,000 profit. He's started a $250-per-month Discord server for those interested in learning his methods, and he plans to move off of StockX and sell directly to buyers through his own site. He also embarked on a 10,000-mile odyssey last summer to scour the nation's discounted shoes and flip them at a time when supply chain issues had kept large amounts of new shoes from entering the country.
Another crucial edge Hebert has is, in the words of one of his acolytes, "consistent, sound analysis of what shoes to buy, how to get them, and, crucially, how long resellers might expect demand to persist." That's a rather important competitive edge, and Hebert was coy when Hunt asked him how he knew so much:
Hebert declined to talk about his sources of information, but he did say he was lucky to have grown up in Portland, where both Nike and Adidas base their U.S. operations. “If you know the right people here, this is the city to sell shoes,” he said. The right people “can give you access to stuff that, like, a normal person would not have access to.”Bloomberg Businessweek
Later on, Hunt inadvertently discovers that Joe's mother is Ann Hebert, who has worked at Nike for 25 years and was promoted last June to the executive suite in part to accelerate the company's direct-to-consumer operations. Hunt did not report that Hebert had given her son any inside information, and all parties denied that any such exchange occurred. But financial documents did show that Joe Hebert's corporate American Express card was under his mother's name, and that Joe's father Pascal registered the West Coast Streetwear LLC. In 2018, Hebert had disclosed her son's business to Nike, who found "no violation of company policy." Something must have changed.