The Hustle

🎯 Target is hitting the mark

Volvo will go all electric by 2030. Its pledge mirrors that of carmakers Jaguar (by 2025) and Bentley (by 2030). Somewhere -- probably in Austin, Texas -- a South African entrepreneur is smiling (or crying… we can’t decide).


March 3, 2021

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TOGETHER WITH

Volvo will go all electric by 2030. Its pledge mirrors that of carmakers Jaguar (by 2025) and Bentley (by 2030). Somewhere — probably in Austin, Texas — a South African entrepreneur is smiling (or crying… we can’t decide).

The Big Idea

Target says it took $9B in sales from competitors. How?

Here’s a list of pandemic winners we are all familiar with: Amazon, Moderna, our sanity, and Zoom.

After it reported earnings on Tuesday, we can safely add Target to the mix.

Over the full year ended Jan. 30, the retailer posted revenue of $93.6B — up 20% YoY and a greater increase than in its previous 11 years combined, per the Wall Street Journal.

In a major flex…

… Target estimates $9B of those sales were taken from competitors

How did Target do so well during the pandemic vs. giants like Amazon and Walmart?

Here’s a great breakdown from WWD:

  • Omnichannel options: Target has been investing in its digital business for years and — when the pandemic hit — shoppers could buy online, do delivery as well as in-store and curbside pickups (often through its easy-to-use app). In particular, pickups are very economical for stores with shoppers effectively providing “labor.”
  • Diverse product mix: While shoppers nabbed essentials at the start of the pandemic, they’ve been spending more on discretionary items, especially during the holidays. Costco and Walmart are 60%+ groceries. Target is only 20% groceries and makes up the balance with apparel, home goods, and other discretionary items.
  • Real estate: Unlike Walmart, which is known for its Supercenters, Target has focused on smaller store sizes. These 1.9k “small-retail” stores are conveniently located and serve as great local fulfillment centers for its ecommerce business. Target’s ubiquity is great for brand awareness, too.
  • Exclusive and popular brands: Hot fashion and beauty brands used to fight over shelf space in department stores. These same brands now want in on Target to capitalize on the store’s foot traffic.
  • Speed: Target is utilizing all of its stores to boost same-day options (delivery or pickup), which is up 700% YoY.

During the earnings call, Target did not provide financial guidance for 2021 but — based on its recent success — it’s well-positioned to stay a winner.

Snippets
  • TV IPO: Vizio filed to go public following a strong 2020 in which the company sold 7.1m TVs. Its Platform Plus division grew over 300% between 2018 and 2020.
  • Compass heads north: The high-tech real estate brokerage firm with 19k+ agents filed to go public. It was valued at ~$6.4B in 2019, and revenue grew 56% in 2020 to $3.7B.
  • Grocery delivery startup Instacart is now valued at $39B — more than double its October valuation of $17.7B — after a monster $265m funding round (we wrote about the startup here).
  • The European Union rolled out a “right-to-repair” law that requires electronic and appliance goods makers to repair their products for up to 10 years. The effort is meant to reduce waste and will hit peak comedy when people are bringing 2021 laundry machines for repair in 2030.
  • Roku’s booming ad business… just got boom-ier (?). The streaming hardware maker just acquired Nielsen’s video ad business (we wrote more on Roku here).
Back-office heroes

Meet #Hugops, the hashtag destined to trend when your favorite website goes down

When a website crashes, who gets the call?

The pressure to keep a Fortune 500 website up and running could make an Instant Pot crumble. Downtimes for popular cloud providers are measured in hundredths of a percent (99.99%), because uptime is serious money.

When Amazon went down for 63 minutes during Prime Day 2018, Coresight Research estimated that the company lost $99m in revenue.

What angry shoppers didn’t see…

… were the adrenaline-soaked engineers scrambling to get Amazon back online while ~$1.5m/minute was lost.

In HR-speak, these people responsible for keeping websites humming have many titles like Operations Engineer, but often they are referred generally as sysadmins. And forget diamonds — the pressure these sysadmins feel is black-hole-inducing.

Some sysadmins recount times when they had to duck out of holiday parties, pull off busy freeways to take calls, and enter “war rooms.”

Many organizations don’t give them much recognition

Because when sysadmins do their job perfectly… nothing happens. But when a crisis comes up, sysadmins are there for each other, taking to social to share #Hugops. It’s become the de facto bat signal for engineers to pitch in and support their IT comrades.

Sometimes it’s as simple as, “Hey, I feel for ya” — while other times, they’re called on for more complex technical fixes. So next time your favorite website goes down, remember — don’t get mad… #hugops.

SPONSORED

A great FLIPPING investment?

Just how much are Miso Robotics’ kitchen assistants changing the game for quick service restaurants? More than you think:

  • Significantly safer work environments (burns from grease hurt… like a lot)
  • Low hourly cost, boosting margins by 300%. Flippy works for $3/hr and doesn’t take sick days or vacation.
  • 2 patents awarded and 10 pending

In case it isn’t clear, Flippy the burger flipping, french frying robot is making serious moves in the up-and-coming kitchen robotics market by working alongside employees at quick service restaurants. They’ve raised over $18M from the public and have just reopened their fundraising.

You can invest in it right here before things really heat up. 

Head over to Miso Robotics’ site to see how they plan to revolutionize the quick service restaurant industry.

Get the details →
Influencers get real

Sorry, parents, ‘influencer’ is a real job

Mom and Dad, you might want to close your ears for this one.

The influencer economy is booming. Gosh that must’ve been painful to hear, but it’s true.

The space is expected to be worth $15B by 2022, and with new pro-influencer platforms and regulations, it’s getting harder to tell kids they can’t “influence” when they grow up.

Today, influencers have their own business platforms

Fohr, for example, offers influencer-brand hiring services, and currently boasts 50+ brands scouting its 100k+-strong influencer talent pool — including lesser-known upstarts Dyson, Costco, American Eagle, and Sephora.

The platform facilitates influencer-brand partnerships and provides tools to launch campaigns with detailed analytics.

The numbers show these platforms help marketers: 34% of brands say finding influencers is a big challenge, down 5% YoY, and 13% have problems managing contracts and deadlines, down 8%.

Influencers are unionizing, too

In February, the SAG-AFTRA entertainment union approved an “influencer agreement” that expanded coverage to sponsored content creators.

In Hollywood, getting a “SAG card” is a right of passage. It opens doors to new opportunities, legal assistance, and health insurance.

Our advice to any young ones reading this: Tell your parents that your favorite YouTubers, TikTokers, Snapchat pros, and Instagrammers now have well-paying union jobs.

Inside The Hustle

One way to get tech support

The Hustle team creates the daily email in Google Docs. Sometimes, the writers will edit the document on their smartphones…and the experience can be quite slow.

On Monday night, one of our Vietnamese-Canadian writers (we won’t say who) tweeted out a meme highlighting his difficulty using Google Docs on an iPhone.

Source: Twitter / @TrungTPhan

It went quite viral… and a product manager from the Google Drive team reached out to him:

“Hello! I’m a PM on Google Drive. I saw your comment about time taken to clear a comment on Google Docs on your phone. Can you elaborate? It takes time to post it? What device are you on? Thanks so much!”

We’ll keep you updated on the progress! (And, you’re welcome.)

Chart of the Day

Source: WSJ / Jay Ritter / University of Florida (*analysis excludes biotech firms)

Unicorn companies (worth $1B+) going public with $0 revenue are exploding, according to analysis by the Wall Street Journal. In 2021, there are 15+ such companies, which exceeds any single year from the dot-com bubble.

One of the main drivers of this trend are special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), a funding method in which a private company merges with a public shell company.

SPACs are an alternative to the traditional IPO process and provide an avenue for late-stage startups to quickly go public, giving retail investors an opportunity to get into high-risk, high-reward companies.

A few notable zero-revenue unicorns:

  • Joby Aviations: An Uber-backed electric air taxi company
  • Astra Space: A rocket startup that launches satellites into space
  • Archer: A helicopter startup backed by United Airlines

Unlike traditional IPOs, these companies are allowed to issue forecasts far into the future. While Joby is making zero dollars now, it projects $2B by 2026… a lot can happen in 5 years…

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