👷 Landmen are in trouble


April 20, 2021

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The Hustle

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The big idea
oil gif

Landmen are going through a dramatic career change

If you’re thinking, “What the heck is a landman?” you’re not alone.

Landmen are a part of a geographically niche industry that might ring a bell if you’re from an oil-rich part of America. But today, as oil demand cools and renewables heat up, these workers are facing new challenges.

What do landmen do?

Traditionally, landmen track down landowners whose properties sit on oil-rich land and offer them payments for drilling rights.

As recently as 2018, rights were going for $17k per acre — and landmen were rewarded with 6-figure paychecks for their work.

But a swift shift toward renewables — and a pandemic — dropped the price of shale acreage by 70%+.

Now landmen are getting hit hard

Low demand means low prices. As a result:

  • Membership in the national 12k-person landmen’s association dropped ~20%
  • The US oil and gas industry lost 107k jobs in 2020, with Texas losing ~60k

But new opportunities are popping up

Between 2010 and today, the combined market caps of Exxon, Shell, BP, and Chevron (the “oil majors”) dropped from $893.9B to ~$671B. By contrast, NextEra, Enel, and Iberdrola (the “green majors”) jumped from  $111.3B to ~$330B.

For landmen, a new gig platform Energy Freelance offers tech to identify previously hard-to-find contract opportunities.

And while drilling might be on the way out, deals for wind and solar are in.

Today, solar makes up just under 2% of the Texas electric grid. Translation: There’s quite a bit of room for growth.

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Clubhouse Creators
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How one of Clubhouse’s most popular shows is building a business

Every new social app creates space for different content and different business models.

Social audio app Clubhouse — which just raised funds at a $4B valuation mere months after notching a $1B price tag — has become a blank canvas for new ways to monetize live audio.

Among the most interesting experiments on the platform is “NYU Girls Roasting Tech Guys,” which The Washington Post describes as a combo of an interactive comedy show, dating game, and podcast.

Founded by a group of New York University (NYU) grads…

… this Clubhouse room re-creates the atmosphere of a bar. Attendees get the opportunity to spit some game at potential dates (AKA “shoot your shot”).

The live nature of the room can lead to viral unscripted moments and attracts upward of 10k unique Clubhouse users a night.

The Hustle recently spoke to 2 of the show’s co-hosts — Devin Lewtan and Sarah Jannetti — to find out what’s next for NYU Girls:

  • Business model
    NYU Girls utilizes the tipping feature from Clubhouse and also runs a chat channel on Spore where listeners can interact with each other (and also tip the hosts).
    Separately, a number of brands have sponsored the show, targeting its younger audience: Recess (a CBD-infused sparkling water), Starface (skin care).
  • Growing outside of Clubhouse
    The show’s content strategy falls into 2 buckets: 1) live (Clubhouse now, but more in-person events in the future); and 2) asynchronous (potentially taking dating storylines and repackaging them into podcasts or a digital TV show). More broadly, NYU Girls is exploring audio apps outside of just Clubhouse to find the best fit.
  • Long-term vision
    Lewtan, Jannetti, and the other founders are working on NYU Girls part time. They’ve been approached by investors but don’t want to take money without a clear road map.

As an inspiration, the pair mention Bethenny Frankel. The one-time reality star (The Apprentice) parlayed her media success into a $100m+ lifestyle consumer brand (Skinnygirl).

In the meantime, you can get roasted yourself every Tuesday and Thursday at 10pm ET.

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Garden Tech

The next high-tech makeover: Gardening tools

With nowhere to go during quarantine, many Americans put extra effort into literally tending their own backyard.

As reported by The Wall Street Journal, 27% of homeowners overhauled their grassy wares in 2020, and 19% plan on doing a garden project in 2021.

Here’s a WSJ roundup of new-age gardening tech (which we had no idea existed) to help aspiring green thumbs:

Husqvarna’s Automower ($1.2k)

If you ever wanted a Roomba for lawn care, Husqvarna has you covered. The robot has object avoidance sensors and can run overnight — about 4 hrs on a charge — without supervision.

Source: Husqvarna

Rachio Smart Irrigation ($230)

As it turns out, the adjective “smart” can be applied to any hardware device. Rachio’s smart irrigation system connects to a sprinkler system and “automatically adjusts your watering schedule to coming weather patterns.”

Source: Rachio

Bird Buddy ($189)

Currently being crowdfunded on Indiegogo, this bird feeder uses AI and a camera app to keep track of all the birds that nosh in the feeder. This way, you can track all the species… like a “Pokémon Go for birds.” Sure, why not?!

Source: Bird Buddy

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TRENDS

$900k/yr renting out PO boxes…

Have you been to the Trends community recently?

This week:

  • One Trends member shared a way to bring in $900k/yr in revenue renting out PO boxes to new businesses
  • Our members shared their best PR tactics and how to reach out to journalists to create buzz for your startup
  • We brainstormed ways to take advantage of the most underutilized forms of advertising
  • And much more.

To access all community discussions try Trends for one full week for just $1.

During your one week trial, you’ll also get access to exclusive livestreamed lectures, our growing database of upcoming market opportunities, and our private network of entrepreneurs, founders, and investors from around the world.

All for a buck.

Get Access →

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