✈️ Is air travel back?
The Hustle

✈️ Is air travel back?

{date(‘MMMM dd, yyyy’,time(“now”))}

The heat dome that has formed over the Pacific Northwest is causing serious alarm, with parts of the region warmer than Dubai. Stay safe (and stay hydrated) out there!

The big idea

United Airlines buys 270 jets in a bullish sign for air travel

After the extended staycation that was 2020, airlines are looking to cash in.

United Airlines’ latest move is to buy 200 Boeing 737 MAX jets and 70 Airbus SE A321neos, a deal valued at $30B+ before discounts, per The Wall Street Journal.

In total, United is investing in 500 new planes over the coming years, 300 of which will replace older, smaller aircraft, increasing seat capacity by 30% on domestic flights.

Other airlines are also feeling optimistic

Back in March, Southwest ordered 100 Boeing 737 MAX jets with options for 155 more.

While we’re not at 2019 flight stats, the numbers are creeping back up. On June 28, 2m+ travelers went through TSA, compared to ~625k in 2020; 2019 saw ~2.45m travelers.

United is actually banking on July being profitable, something that hasn’t happened since January of 2020.

And more flights mean more jobs

Airlines and airports say one of the biggest challenges isn’t getting the planes but restaffing.

  • United let ~22k employees go during the pandemic, but will add ~25k jobs over the next 5 years.
  • Delta is looking to add 1.3k jobs.
  • American Airlines is on a hiring spree after canceling 100s of flights due to staff shortages and maintenance issues.
  • Southwest is using chatbots to fill its ~2k open positions faster.

If you need any more proof that…

… United is bullish on future air travel prospects, the airline also:

  • Made a $1B investment in Archer Aviation, a startup that makes electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft (AKA air taxis).
  • Ordered 15 supersonic aircrafts from Boom Supersonic (with the potential to increase the order to 50 planes based on safety tests).

Now, all we need from United is a supersonic air taxi.

SNIPPETS

My First Million: Sam & Shaan discuss the startups they’re investing in and why. #mfm

Shaan Puri predicts that the “next Amazon” is “conversational commerce.” #hustle-picks

Video: Sudan’s 1st wind turbine is set to provide ~14k people with power. #clean-energy

A Wells Fargo analysis reveals Gap’s Yeezy line with Kanye West could bring in $1B in sales in its 1st year. #ecommerce-retail

CNN is now offering historic “Moments” as NFTs, including when Ted Turner launched the news channel in 1980. #emerging-tech

Maine bans government use of facial recognition in most cases. #privacy

Daylight — a New York-based digital banking platform for the LGBTQ+ community scored $5m in seed funding. #fintech-cryptocurrency

Apple is all about that hybrid work model, even though a good chunk of its employees want to stay remote. #big-tech

Spanish language moderators at Facebook’s WhatsApp say Accenture, a 3rd-party contracting firm, pays them $2/hour less than other bilingual moderators. #big-tech

Let’s Talk!

Language learning app Duolingo is headed for a multibillion-dollar IPO

How do you say “business is booming” in Spanish?

You can learn that from Duolingo, a language learning app that just filed to go public.

The edtech startup’s claim to fame is its UX: it gamifies learning via bite-sized lessons, badges, leveling, leaderboards, and — for good measure — a jolly little owl mascot.

Its co-founder Luis von Ahn…

… is actually the creator of the spam-fighting CAPTCHA. Launched in 2012, Duolingohas since blown up to become the top-grossing education app in both Apple’s App Store and Google Play.

According to TechCrunch, revenue in 2020 hit ~$162m, +129% YoY. While that gain can largely be attributed to COVID, Q1 2021 sales hit $55.4m (an annualized run rate of $220m).

While the app is free to use, subscriptions for premium features (which <3% of users have taken up) drive the majority of sales.

By the numbers

Per its SEC filing, Duolingo has:

  • 40 languages
  • 500m+ downloads
  • ~40m monthly active users

The app’s current revenue and growth metrics mean it “should not have a problem clearing its privately set $2.4 billion price tag,” per TechCrunch.

Now, how do you say “cha-ching” in Vietnamese?

Free Resource

Yes, SEO is still ol’ reliable

HubSpot knows a thing or 2 about digital marketing.

As trailblazers of inbound methodology (AKA creating great content to attract great customers), they’ve discovered all the tricks to driving that juicy, organic traffic.

Why you should give a damn: 51% of web traffic still comes from organic searches.

You may have thought about taking an SEO course in the past but weren’t sold on the value. Well, it’s a good thing you waited, because we checked, and this is the one.

Here’s what’s covered in HubSpot’s SEO 101 course

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The Creator Economy

How demonetized YouTuber pranksters still rake in dough

The Nelk Boys are one of YouTube’s most popular prank groups.

Led by 26-year-old Kyle Forgeard, the group’s outrageous videos are known for going “full send” (a slogan that essentially means “all in”).

But despite racking up nearly 1B views and 6.63m subscribers, the group makes $0 from the platform.

YouTube demonetized the Nelk Boys…

… last fall after they posted in defiance of COVID-19 protocols.

Forgeard told The New York Times’ Taylor Lorenz that their revenue was already low due to the channel’s crude content, which they don’t plan to change.

They make money in other ways:

  • Their Full Send brand made $50m in merch last year and may make $70m this year.
  • They just launched a hard seltzer called Happy Dad. Available online and in California, it’s often sold out.

How much do monetized YouTubers make? It varies.

A creator with 1.9k subscribers told Business Insider she could make ~$2.3k/year, while a finance YouTuber with 1m subscribers cited $444k in annual ad revenue.

Business Insider also talked to 6 creators who’d made between $3.4k and $40k on a video with 1m views. That’d be at least 1,250 videos to make the $50m the Nelk Boys made on merch.

Compare that to what creators can make via sponsorships and other ventures — especially those with a fan base like the Nelk Boys — and YouTube can still be profitable, even if it won’t pay you.

Chart of the day

Where are the unicorns at? Apparently, the US (Source: Elad Gill)

“Unicorns” are startups valued at $1B+. According to investor Elad Gill, the number of these high-flying private companies has jumped +43% from 487 to 701 over the past 8 months!

Of note:

  • The US (369) has more than 2x as many unicorns as China (142), and 10x as many as India (32).
  • While China has 29% of all unicorns, it only added 4% of new unicorns over the past 8 months.
  • On a somewhat troubling note, we may all have to add the unwieldy word “decacorn” (startups worth $10B+) to our vocabularies: there are now 31 of them in the world.
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