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💐 No flowers for Mom this year

The Hustle

Grace and Rob Jones bought a new house in 2015. When Rob decided to renovate the bathroom this April, he found an unexpected snack waiting in the wall — a 63-year-old bag of McDonald’s french fries. Miraculously, the fries hadn’t decomposed.

In today’s email:

  • Wilting market: Florists are dealing with a bouquet of problems.
  • Fore! The strange business of hole-in-one insurance.
  • Astrobots: Will robots replace astronauts?
  • Around the web: Baking conversions, a 19th-century bike adventurer, public Wi-Fi tips, and more cool internet finds.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s 10-minute podcast to hear Zack and Rob discuss the struggling flower market, Tim Cook’s new side gig, Facebook’s latest move in the audio space, and more.

The big idea
flowers wilting

The flower business is wilting

Mother’s Day is right around the corner — which, along with Valentine’s Day, is one of the most popular occasions to buy flowers.

But recent trends suggest florists may be relying more on the holiday than usual this year. Per CNBC, the flower business is taking a beating due to a bouquet of problems.

The root of the issue…

… starts on the supply side. When the pandemic hit in 2020, many farmers got rid of their flower crops, and, unsure of future demand, didn’t plant as much as they normally would, causing an overall shortage of flowers.

Along with that, the flower supply chain has faced thorny issues of its own, including:

  • Labor shortages, with floral designers increasingly harder to come by
  • Weather, which has meant poor growing conditions
  • Shipping, which grew challenging with fewer international flights and a shortage of truck drivers

This hotbed of difficulties has led to higher costs for florists, which they’ve passed along to consumers.

But higher prices…

… have led to another budding problem for florists — decreased demand.

1-800-Flowers, the gift behemoth that also owns Harry & David and Shari’s Berries, reported lower demand for everyday gifting in its quarter ending in March, and lowered its guidance for the rest of the year. The stock fell to a new 52-week low as a result.

On the bright side for florists, short-term demand is likely to pop for Mother’s Day.

Consumers willing to stomach the premium on peonies, roses, and tulips should act fast as supply is reportedly dwindling. If you miss the chance on flowers, Tim Horton’s has you covered with this bouquet of doughnuts.

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SNIPPETS

Travel is back: Airbnb posted 70% revenue growth YoY, and reported 102m bookings in Q1, beating pre-pandemic levels.

Tim’s side gig: Tim Cook was named chairman at Tsinghua University. The school, nicknamed “China’s Harvard,” also counts Mark Zuckerberg, Satya Nadella, and Elon Musk as advisors.

Hitting mute: Facebook is winding down its audio efforts. The company will stop user uploads of podcasts to its podcast hub, and is shutting down Soundbites, a feature meant to be TikTok for audio.

Travel reimbursement: Amazon announced it would pay employees up to $4k in travel costs for non-life threatening medical procedures, which includes abortions.

Herbs gone wild: Monthly Amazon search volume for “ginger foot soak” rose by 3,127% in March. See all of our ecommerce product finds in the Trends report.

Chicken time: After launching its often sold-out chicken sandwich in 2019, Popeyes returns with a buffalo ranch sandwich. Last time, sales jumped 13.8%, but the chain is now facing increased competition from the likes of KFC and Wendy’s. #ecommerce-retail

Australia’s Okra Solar raised $2.1m to bring solar power to new markets, including Nigeria, Haiti, Cambodia, and the Philippines. Its tech uses a cloud-based system to monitor usage. #clean-energy

Jump around: Researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara, have built a robot that can jump 100+ feet in the air, 3x the previous record for leaping bots. #emerging-tech

New hires: The SEC will hire 20 new employees to its Crypto Assets and Cyber team, nearly doubling the unit to 50 people. The hires will include attorneys and fraud analysts. #fintech-crypto

Paramount added 6.8m subscribers to its streaming service, Paramount+, in Q1 2022. Paramount+ subscribers now total 40m. But weak ad sales have led to missed revenue goals, with net earnings falling to $433m compared with $911m a year prior. #big-tech

golfing

Zachary Crockett

The strange business of hole-in-one insurance

On a warm day in September 2009, Jason Hargett, a 35-year-old restaurant manager and father of 4, stepped up to the tee at Red Ledges golf resort in Heber City, Utah.

It was the end of a charity tournament and a big prize was on the line: Anyone who sunk a hole-in-one would win $1m.

Hargett took a swing.

The ball careened 150 yards through the air, plopped onto the green, and slowly rolled back into the hole.

The chances of this happening for an amateur golfer are minuscule (~1 in 12.5k). Cheers erupted from the small crowd as Hargett sprinted down the fairway in disbelief.

But one entity wasn’t celebrating: the insurance firm that had been hired by the organizers.

Read the full story →
Free Resource

How to make downright delightful content

=Yeah, that’s a topic we’re deeply invested in.

The key to compelling content lies in the approach. You might know all (most) of the words you need, but what matters more than linguistic instincts is a profound perception of your consumers.

We’d break you down right now if there wasn’t a word count. Instead, we’ll just drop this Content Marketing for Customers Lesson, and hope you feel like learning today.

On finessing content strategy (5 videos):

  • How to charm customers with your content
  • Craft your post-purchase customer road map
  • Identify content concepts that resonate
  • Pros and cons of emails, socials, and websites
  • Essential elements of content and media strategy

Watch the HubSpot Academy video below.

Content marketing 101 →
Cyborgs in Space
space

Will astronauts become obsolete?

When Neil Armstrong announced his giant moon leap for mankind, that was pretty hype. And to this day, there are few things as cool as being an astronaut.

But now, astrophysicist Donald Goldsmith and Martin Rees, the UK’s Astronomer Royal, argue in their book The End of Astronauts that space exploration might actually be a gig for robots.

Why, robot?

For one, it’s expensive to keep our fragile meat sacks alive in space:

  • The Perseverance rover mission to Mars cost ~$2.75B. Establishing a moon base for humans would cost $100B+.
  • Astronauts have repaired the Hubble Space Telescope 5 times at a cost of ~$1B each mission (inflation adjusted). For that amount, NASA could have built ~7 telescopes.

Robots, who don’t die without food or oxygen, can also explore greater distances. They’ve already been to every planet in our solar system (and some of their moons), comets, and an asteroid. Humans can only reach the moon and Mars.

But they do lack that human touch

Robots can do a lot of what we can do, like collect and return samples.

But Goldsmith and Rees admit they can’t identify collection spots like a geologist can. To fully replace people, AI and tech will need to advance a lot.

That might not happen for a while, meaning humans and bots will probably remain partners. But moreover…

… space travel isn’t just NASA’s game anymore

Companies like Blue Origin, SpaceX, and Virgin Galactic have shown people will shell out big bucks to be yeeted into space in a cowboy hat.

With aspirations of tourism, mining, and other for-profit activities, the final frontier is unlikely to be bots only.

BTW: In Russia, there’s a monument to Laika, a stray dog who in 1957 became the 1st animal to orbit Earth. Laika did not survive her trip, though several subsequent Soviet space dogs did.

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AROUND THE WEB

🚌 On this day: In 1961, the 1st Freedom Riders departed DC on a Greyhound bus bound for the southern US. Though the Supreme Court had ruled against segregated bus lines, the South ignored it.

🧁 Useful: This website will convert baking recipes to your preferred measurement system.

🚲 That’s interesting: Meet Thomas Stevens, the 19th-century journalist who traveled the world by bike.

💻 How to: You’re trying to log onto a public Wi-Fi network. The pop-up login won’t appear. Arrrrgh! Never fear, here’s what to do.

🐕 Aww: Did you know some cheetahs get dog BFFs?

Meme of the day
space meme

Sounds like the plot to a fantastic movie. (Source: imgflip.com)

How did you like today’s email?
Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen, Juliet Bennett Rylah, and Rob Litterst.
Editing by: Jennifer “Keep the flowers, I’ll take Shari’s Berries” Wang.

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