The Hustle

🍃 America loves pickup trucks

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April 28, 2021

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In case you were wondering what happened to a pair of sneakers Kanye West wore during his 2008 Grammys performance… they just sold for $1.8m at an auction. Now you know.

The big idea

All-electric pickups are almost here

Back in 2019, Ford had its prototype all-electric F-150 pickup truck tow a double-decker, 10-car freight train filled with 42 other F-150s.

Not to rain on Ford’s parade, but apparently towing a train isn’t hard to do, though it’s still insanely cool and represented a trend toward EV pickups years in the making.

It’s a shift that makes sense for one simple reason:

America LOVES pickup trucks

When we say “loves,” we mean it:

  • 5 of the 10 bestselling vehicles in 2020 were pickups
  • For 39 straight years, the F-150 has been America’s bestselling vehicle
  • The 3 top-selling pickups accounted for 13% of vehicles sold in the US in 2020
  • 20% of total US auto sales in 2020 were — you guessed it — pickups

Companies new and old are revving their engines batteries

Tesla already received hundreds of thousands of preorders for Cybertruck, and Rivian’s R1T pickup will reach its first customers in June.

Detroit and Japan are making moves, too:

  • Ford has said its electric F-150 will enter production in Q1 of 2022
  • Toyota last week confirmed it’s bringing an electric powertrain to its pickup lineup
  • GMC is releasing a 1k-horsepower, ~$113k Hummer EV pickup truck this fall

The new EVs could create a wave of ‘convenient environmentalists’

Consulting firm Oliver Wyman found 51% of people were willing to buy an EV in March 2021, up from 34% in spring 2020.

Per the WSJ, electric trucks are attracting drivers who might not otherwise opt for an electric anything, simply because they perform well.

If you’re in the market, but the prices are too damn high, check out this option from Alibaba. With a width of ~3 feet and a 28 mph max speed, it’s an absolute beast.

SNIPPETS
  • Is this a home for ants? China’s fintech giant Ant Group could see its value fall to $29B (from as high as $300B+) if Chinese regulators implement new finance rules.
  • Zuck bucks: Facebook rolled out new features to help Instagram creators monetize (including a marketplace that helps brands match with creators in their niche).
  • Monster earnings: Google saw Q1 2021 revenue rise 34% to $55B+, while Microsoft jumped 19% in the quarter to $40B+.
Media Madness

The Washington Post is quietly building a SaaS powerhouse, with Papa Bezos’ help

Earlier this month Bezos’ newsie, The Washington Post, quietly announced the rebranding of its SaaS publishing platform Arc Publishing (now Arc XP).

Originally given out for free to college newspapers, the homegrown publishing suite is no longer an internal tool by The Washington Post.

Today, it’s a full-fledged SaaS business:

  • Used on 1.5k sites serving 1.5B+ visitors
  • Subscription service used by 50m+ registered and paying subscribers
  • 250 employees with 150 planned to hire in the next 2 years

Arc XP is even scooping up non-publisher customers, providing websites and ecommerce solutions for British Petroleum and even the Golden State Warriors.

AKA everything is going to Bezos’ plan…

After purchasing the paper in 2013, Bezos vowed to reshuffle the deck. Changes included shifting the paper’s focus to national coverage, moving toward digital-first subscriptions, and investing in its publishing tech.

According to a recent article about outgoing executive editor Martin Baron, the disruption is just beginning:

  • Newsroom head count has doubled since 2013 with 26 global bureaus
  • Up to 100m monthly impressions, on par with The New York Times
  • Print circulation is less than half that of 2013

The next trick?

In his letter announcing his departure from Amazon, Bezos named The Washington Post as an area of future focus.

And it also shouldn’t surprise anyone — The Post’s Arc XP runs almost entirely on AWS, using 100 AWS tools and services.

So you have the world’s richest man + the world’s largest and most capable cloud provider + restored publishing powerhouse.

The NYT is def shaking in its crossword puzzle section right now.

New funding alert

This startup raised $25m to show you ads in bars, gyms, and the doctor’s office

Atmosphere TV launched a few years ago as a platform — using Roku sticks — for TVs in bars and restaurants to stream ads.

Unsurprisingly, that customer base didn’t fare too well in 2020, and Atmosphere was forced to pivot.

And it did, by targeting out-of-home locations that people were still able to go to: auto shops and various medical offices (vet, dentist, doctor).

These moves doubled its customer base…

… to 13k and the startup just raised $25m (at a $275m valuation) to help add another 20k locations this year, as reported by Forbes.

As the economy opens up, Atmosphere is aggressively expanding into busy post-pandemic places like airports, hotels, and keg parties college campuses.

The entire ad network reaches 17m people a month

This actually gives Atmosphere’s customers optionality.

Take Hooters, for example:

  • Own venues: Atmosphere streams ads across half of the chain’s franchises.
  • Stream ads in competing venues: Hooters spends 6 figures running ads across Atmosphere’s installed network, targeting customers at other chicken wing joints, sports taverns, and gyms.

So, if you see a Hooters ad while doing max front squats… you know who sent them.

Podcast

Here’s a simple $10m a year business

On today’s pod Sam and Shaan chatted with VC Elaine Zelby, who uses millions of data points to find the best startup ideas. Among her recent faves:

  • A startup SaaS bundle that Sam says could bring in $10m/yr.
  • Subscription running shoes
  • And a bunch of alternative health business ideas

🎧 Listen below:

TRENDS

Opportunities in the $125B sextech space…

Have you read through the Trends team’s report on the market for “sextech” yet?

When you read, you’ll learn:

If you’re not already a member of Trends, sign up today for a $1 trial to get access to the full report.

Get Access →

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