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👟 Why do we love ugly shoes?

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Yesterday we learned about a business that charges couples $995+ for a 45-minute private flight to “experience the mile high club.” Guess there really is a business for everything these days…

Also, today is the final day to enter our $5k+ tech giveaway. Full details down below.

In today’s email:

  • Ugly shoes: They’re taking over the world.
  • 30k-foot chart: The airline market and a $6.6B merger.
  • Making bank: Why NBA teams are a hot investment.
  • Around the web: An apocalyptic coat, Jewish Wordle, a very old tortoise, and more internet finds.

Let’s do it.

The big idea
ugly shoes

Ugly shoes are taking over the world

You’ve seen them. The white New Balance sneakers lovingly referred to as “Dad Shoes.”

Once heralded as the pinnacle of ugly shoe excellence, the style is now just one option in a crowded space.

According to Bloomberg, a mix of new and old brands are leading a full-blown ugly shoe renaissance that’s pulling in billions of dollars.

So who are the key players?

One of the primary participants is Deckers Outdoor Corp., which offers a variety of aesthetically ignorant footwear brands, including:

  • Uggs: The Australian boot brand has long been the company’s bestseller and inspired a long list of questionable fashion decisions in the early 2000s
  • Teva: The velcro-laden sandal brand originally conceived by a Grand Canyon river guide saw sales grow 66% last summer
  • Hoka: The French running shoe brand with cartoonish styles is now Deckers’ crown jewel, with sales increasing 47% last quarter

On the strength of its ugly shoe triumvirate, Deckers is forecasting $3B in net sales this year.

But Deckers has company

Ugly footwear has been around for years, and a pair of O.G.’s in the space are still thriving:

  • Crocs, the foam clog trailblazer, saw its stock hit record highs last year, and is forecasting its revenue to double to $5B in the next 4 years
  • Birkenstock, and its legendary sandal with a cork footbed, was acquired by LVMH last year in a deal that valued the company at $4.9B

For the fashion-forward, there’s also the Yeezy Foam Runner, which is like putting your foot in a spaceship made of marshmallows — if you can find a pair.

So what’s it all mean?

Our affinity for ugly shoes is open to interpretation, but Carolyn Mair, author of The Psychology of Fashion, says, “Fashion, like art, likes to question beauty rather than simply aiming for aesthetically pleasing designs.”

For the skeptics who can’t fathom dressing their feet in such eyesores, I challenge you to slip into a pair of Hoka recovery slides and not find yourself swayed to the ugly side.

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3D shopping: A new partnership between Shopify and AR platform Poplar Studio offers businesses the ability to upload 3D and AR models of their entire catalogs. #ecommerce-retail

Wind power: In a 1st, Britain’s National Grid ESO has awarded the Dogger Bank C offshore wind farm a contract to stabilize the grid in northeast England. #clean-energy

To the rescue: An Apple Watch called 911 on behalf of its owner after it detected a “hard fall.” First responders found the man unconscious next to his bike. (He’s OK!) #emerging-tech

Bye?: Meta says it may pull Facebook and Instagram from Europe if regulators don’t allow EU users’ data to be transferred back to the US. #privacy

Meditation guru Deepak Chopra is releasing an NFT with ArtRepublic’s Jessica Santiago. Naturally, it will come with a guided meditation. #fintech-crypto

Twitter is testing letting iOS users reply to tweets with DMs. Critics say the shortcut could lead to more harassment on the platform. #big-tech

30k Feet
US airline market share

Singdhi Sokpo / The Hustle

The $6.6B discount airline merger

Frontier and Spirit, the 2 largest US discount carriers, are merging in a $6.6B+ deal. (Does this mean their delays will be 2x as long? Buh-dum-tss.)

The merged conglomerate will be the 5th-largest US airline if it manages to evade antitrust lawsuits.

(For more wild airplane tales, check out The Hustle’s original features about how American Airlines screwed over its loyal customers and why airlines need business travel to return.)

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The League

Why NBA teams are a hot investment

If anyone reading this owned an NBA team over the past 2 decades, we tip our hat to you.

The average price of an NBA franchise jumped by +1,057% between 2002 and 2021, per CNBC.

The return compares favorably to other sports leagues — MLB (+669%) and NHL (+467%) — as well as the S&P 500 (+458%) over that span.

Private equity (PE) firms have taken notice…

… and established funds to purchase stakes in professional sports teams.

Three NBA teams — Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, and Sacramento Kings — sold minority shares to PE firms in 2021 (a single PE fund is capped to 20% max ownership).

Rising team valuations are being driven in large part by lucrative media rights. NBA owners can also use a “roster depreciation allowance” to defer tax payments on sports-related revenue.

Why is the NBA so hot?

While sports like golf and tennis are considered “global,” the NBA has significant international expansion plans, per CNBC:

  • Africa: Last May, the league launched a Basketball Africa League to develop talent and build arenas. It’s valued at $1B.
  • China: In 2019, the Chinese government boycotted the NBA over comments from an NBA GM regarding Hong Kong. But games are still being broadcast, and NBA China is worth $5B.
  • India: The NBA is slowly expanding into the country of 1B+ citizens.

Back in America, the WNBA — a women’s league owned by the NBA — just raised money for the 1st time ever at a $1B valuation.

With all the money rolling around, this Vancouver-based writer has one question: When are we getting an NBA team again?

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Bubbling market opportunities, by Trends:

Oi. Some of the gems from our weekly Trends newsletter below.

Recent community highlights (crypto edition 🙉):

  • The Trends Blockchain Group is live and already in stride.
  • Trash My Idea: NFTs for the consumer packaged goods industry
  • Smart contract and blockchain courses suggested by Trendsters

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🏀 On this day: In 1986, Atlanta Hawks player Spud Webb won the NBA slam dunk contest. At 5’7”, Webb was one of the sport’s shortest players, but still bested his 6’8” teammate and 1985 winner Dominique Wilkins.

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🤓 How to: Dreaming of becoming one of those NFT millionaires? Well, first you’re going to need to know how to make an NFT.

🐢 That’s interesting: Jonathan, a Seychelles giant tortoise, is the oldest tortoise in the world. This year, he’ll turn 190 and get a commemorative stamp collection.

🦉 Aww: And now, an owl impresses his friends with a stick.

Meme of the day
dad shoes meme

The GOAT ugly shoe. Source: Ballmemes

Tech Giveaway

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