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👟 How D2C’s strengths turned into weaknesses

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In today’s email:

  • Ouch: Why D2C might be f*cked.
  • Chart: Bitcoin tattoos are trending ‘cause of course they are.
  • By the numbers: T. rex money, new car prices, Mars, and more.
  • Around the web: The 1st sci-fi convention, 3D design apps, the chillest monkey, and more cool internet finds.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s 10-minute podcast to hear about Biden’s billionaire tax, Spotify’s economics, absolutely bonkers prehistoric and digital art sales, online brands’ big problem, and more.

The big idea
D2C gif

Are D2C companies f*cked?

If you’re reading this through a pair of Warby Parker glasses in the comfort of your Allbirds, you’re likely aware of the rapid rise of direct-to-consumer internet brands.

But as Sir Isaac Newton famously said, “What goes up, must come down.” And for a variety of factors, those same companies are experiencing the back end of that equation.

What’s going on?

According to Marker’s Alex Kantrowitz, the D2C model is promising when costs are kept low.

Without physical stores, companies used cheap Facebook ads to build brand recognition, ad tracking to pinpoint customers, and low-cost shipping to make deliveries.

Now, what were once perceived as strengths have become weaknesses:

  • Facebook ad prices have tripled in the last 2 years. Warby Parker IPO’d with 13% brand awareness, and it’s one of the more well-known D2C companies. With pricier Facebook ads, the uphill battle for name recognition is even more painful.
  • Apple’s iOS 14.5 update forced apps to comply with its Ad Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework, which requires advertisers to ask permission to track users’ activity. This makes it harder to measure Facebook ad performance. One expert claims Meta’s attribution metrics — user actions that can be attributed to an ad — are now off by 30%-50%. This has led companies to spend more, often with worse results.
  • Supply chain challenges have jacked up import costs. The price to ship a container from China to the US has risen from $2k to $15k since the beginning of the pandemic.

On top of all that, rising interest rates have pushed investors toward profitable businesses — which many D2C players… are not.

What’s next?

In 2022, Allbirds stock is down 63%, while Warby Parker and D2C clothing pioneer Stitch Fix are down 40%+.

Some D2C companies will be fine. Chewy, for instance, can justify its costs due to the predictability of its customers’ lifetime value (the lifespan of a pet).

Others may have to diversify beyond Meta’s platform. TikTok is one place that’s already moving toward in-app commerce.

If that fails, there’s also the good ol’ fashioned option of opening a physical store. (Kids 10 years from now: “Ew.”)

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Southwest Airlines’ new “Wanna Get Away Plus” fare is pricier than the OG “Wanna Get Away,” but lets passengers make same-day changes without paying the difference. #ecommerce-retail

American Electric Power’s wind farm in Oklahoma is now the largest in North America, expected to generate 3.8m megawatt-hours annually. #clean-energy

Health tech: Researchers say new software can create protein blockers that limit their ability to cause harm, such as in viruses and diseases. #emerging-tech

ExxonMobil is mining bitcoin in North Dakota, turning natural gas that would typically be burned off into electricity to power miners. #fintech-crypto

Netflix picked up a 3rd gaming studio, adding Boss Fight — the mobile developer behind “RPG Dungeon Boss” and “myVEGAS Bingo” — to a collection including Next Games and Night School Studio. #big-tech

Oy vey
search volume for crypto tattoos

Well, this is something. Google and Instagram searches for crypto tattoos — including Bitcoin, Dogecoin, and Ethereum — surged 222% in the last 12 months, according to data from Crypto Head obtained by Benzinga.

Although, per Google Trends, searches for “bitcoin tattoo” peaked in late 2017 to early 2018. Around that same time, dancers at a Las Vegas strip club began accepting crypto tips via temporary tattoos. Hmm!

Bitcoin remains the front-runner today when it comes to specific tokens, raking in 1.9k average monthly Google searches compared to Dogecoin’s 700 and Ethereum’s 500.

So, what do these tats look like? Oh, a Shiba Inu here, a rocket “to the moon” there, and this very detailed bull.

But most are variations of Bitcoin’s “B” logo, including more than one featuring notorious miser Scrooge McDuck.

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Free Resource

‘Conversation intelligence’ for sales and support teams

AKA the new lane of using artificial intelligence software to reap the most insights from customer sales and support conversations. Surprise.

Think: keyword tracking, best-practice sharing, easier coaching, smoother onboarding, CRM integration… We can talk dirtier.

There are slick new use cases emerging as AI becomes more and more accessible for modern businesses. Tools created by Dialpad + HubSpot can help you enhance call recording, transcription, and analysis.

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Learn more about softwares that spruce up sales and support dialogue.

How teams talk smarter →
By the numbers
T. rex

A dino in Dubai? (Damir Babacic / Unsplash)

Digits: T. rex money, new cars, Mars, and more

1) A 39-foot South Dakotan T. rex skeleton, which seemingly vanished after being purchased by an anonymous buyer in October 2020 for $31.8m, has resurfaced. It was reportedly shipped to the UAE for display in the Natural History Museum Abu Dhabi… which reminds us of the whole $276k Nic Cage Mongolian fossil debacle.

2) In February, the average price of a new car in the US was $46,085, up $4.7k from a year prior. Aside from inflation and supply chain pressures, dealers are running up prices, with buyers paying $900+ above sticker price (compared to $1.5k below a year ago.)

3) After heading to Mars with a 5-flight mission, NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter recently completed its 22nd flight, staying afloat for 101.4 seconds and hitting 33 feet of altitude. Ingenuity has now flown a combined 15k+ feet for ~39 minutes. Not bad, NASA.

4) In 2021, there were 1,040 artists who earned $1m+ in Spotify royalties, up from 860 in 2020. There were 130 artists who made $5m+ on Spotify, 52.6k that made $10k+, and 238k+ songs that got 1m+ streams.

5) An Andy Warhol portrait of Marilyn Monroe is expected to be auctioned in May for $200m. A friendly reminder that, in 2017, da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi was expected to go for $100m and ended up selling for $450.3m, so… Meanwhile, a CryptoPunk NFT could go for 5.5k ETH (~$17m), valued that high mostly because it’s wearing a hoodie.

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🛫 On this day: In 1910, French engineer Henri Fabre became the 1st person to successfully fly a seaplane, including takeoff and landing.

👽 That’s interesting: In 1891, guests attended the Vril-Ya Bazaar and Fête in London, supposedly the world’s 1st sci-fi convention. It was all about Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s Vril: The Power of The Coming Race, a novel about superhumans who lived underground.

😠 How to: Know someone who seems irritable all the time (or maybe that’s you)? Here are some helpful tips for a sunnier disposition.

✏️ Useful: Spline is an app for designing, creating, and sharing in 3D.

🐒 Chill out: Need a break? We got you.

Meme of the day
sneakers meme

The D2C strategy, explained eloquently. (Source:

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