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TSA recently told a woman she could not fly with Bartholomew, her four-foot emotional support boa constrictor. Snakes, contrary to the Samuel L. Jackson film, are not allowed on planes.

In today’s email:

  • Disney: Investor Nelson Peltz wants to “restore the magic.”
  • Chart: The economics of snow.
  • Prime: Amazon’s next move.
  • Around the web: Game and puzzle secrets, a podcast discovery app, famous art remixes, and more cool internet finds.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s 10-minute podcast to hear Zack and Rob discuss why the latest drama at Disney feels like a Succession episode, a new dating app for “motivated daters,” good news for the metaverse, and more.

The big idea
Disney

A tense situation at the happiest place on earth

Nelson Peltz wants to “restore the magic” at Disney.

Last week, the renowned 80-year-old activist investor revealed plans to launch a proxy fight for a seat on the company’s board, arguing Disney has “lost its way, resulting in a rapid deterioration in its financial performance.”

Disney quickly said it opposes Peltz’s move, and what ensued has been the securities filing equivalent of a rap battle.

What’s Peltz arguing?

Late last year, Peltz’s Trian Fund Management began accumulating an $800m stake in the company after it released poor earnings results.

On a 10-year time horizon, Peltz’s snazzy website points out, Disney stock has underperformed the S&P 500 and its media peers, overpaid executives, failed to craft a successful CEO succession, and eroded shareholder value with its $71B 21st Century Fox acquisition in 2019.

Disney disagreed…

… firing back on Tuesday by outlining what it views as CEO Bob Iger’s strong record of financial and creative success.

Using Peltz’s own arguments against him, Disney explained how, since 2005, the company has actually outperformed the S&P 500, 554% to 244%, as well as its media peers.

“Nelson Peltz does not understand Disney’s businesses,” the filing reads, among other disses.

It’s not Peltz’s first proxy rodeo

Previously, Peltz gained access to boards in contests at Heinz and Procter & Gamble, where he claims to have helped improve the companies’ financial performances.

Charles Elson, a corporate governance advocate at the University of Delaware, told Bloomberg that Peltz’s chances of winning a seat are good, given how Disney’s challenging 2022 may have soured investor sentiment.

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TRENDING
eyeball wearing a hat

Finding love is getting expensive. Match Group’s Hinge is testing a $50-$60 plan for “motivated daters.” Match is also gauging interest in a $500/mo. plan for Tinder.

SNIPPETS

Today? More like TodAI: Microsoft is releasing its Azure OpenAI integration this week, and Getty Images is suing Stability AI for unlawfully scraping millions of images from its site.

Microsoft is reportedly preparing to cut 5% of its workforce, or ~11k jobs globally, in the near future.

Discord acquired Gas, an app popular among teens that lets users anonymously compliment each other.

General Motors announced the 2024 Corvette E-Ray, its first hybrid Chevy Corvette.

988, the new $1B Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, saw 1.7m+ calls in its first five months, ~500k more than the old 10-digit number did the same time a year prior. Wait times also dropped from three minutes to 36 seconds.

Roblox stock popped on news that its December daily active user count rose 18% YoY to 61.5m, hours engaged rose 21% to 4.7B, and estimated bookings rose as much as 20% to $439m.

The beleaguered Peloton hired Leslie Berland as its new CMO. Berland exited Twitter in November following Elon Musk’s takeover.

Scan this, scan that: QR code management startup Beaconstac raised $25m. The company says it has 20k+ customers, up 100% YoY.

Apple announced its new MacBooks will feature M2 Pro and M2 Max chips, with graphic speeds 30% faster than their M1 Pro chips.

HBO’s “The Last of Us” drew 4.7m viewers its opening weekend, the network’s second-biggest streaming premiere behind “House of the Dragon.”

Get shit done and do it with structure. Keep yourself in check with this handy project management template.

FROM THE BLOG
laptop

If you find it hard to make new friends as an adult, it’s not just you: We’re facing a loneliness epidemic. Could friendship apps be the cure? These startups think so.

Chart
cost of snow removal
Zachary Crockett

Why snow costs America a fortune every year

In the winter of 1979, a powerful Chicago political dynasty began to collapse.

Michael A. Bilandic, a cog in Richard J. Daley’s political machine, lost the mayoral election in a stunning upset. But there was a simple reason for the defeat: Bilandic didn’t clear the snow quickly enough.

After a forecast for a couple inches, a blizzard hit Chicago that January. Buses and trains didn’t run for days, residents couldn’t find anywhere to park their cars, and plows took forever to reach neighborhoods — unless you were lucky enough to live on the same block as Bilandic.

The lesson? Don’t take snow lightly.

Beyond closures and clogged roads, it can come with steep financial costs. According to a study from the Federal Highway Administration, the nation’s tab for snow and ice removal can be upwards of $4B per year.

Every year, cities and states must decide how to budget for random winter weather events. When they aren’t sufficiently prepared, the costs accumulate.

Where do those billions of dollars go? And how do cities plan for unpredictable weather events?

Read the full story. →
Free Resource

Eight common website design mistakes

When regular guy Greg pulls up to your website, he’s subconsciously looking for reasons to trust you.

If he doesn’t find them within five seconds, his thumb floats to the conveniently placed “back” button, and he’s probably gone forever.

Don’t let Greg go. Read our blog post on eight common web design flaws to stop scaring folks away.

From the HubSpot blog:

  1. Don’t neglect accessibility
  2. Use responsive web design
  3. Balance function with aesthetic
  4. Customize your digital storefront
  5. Avoid flashy, useless features
  6. Have a cohesive structure
  7. Simplify the navigation
  8. Clarify your purpose
Better website building →
Prime Time
Amazon keyboard

Amazon is playing 4D chess now

When somebody visits Amazon, there’s a good chance they’re going to buy something. Check out these conversion rates:

  • 74% for Prime members
  • 13% for non-Prime members
  • 3%-6% for other ecommerce sites

Now, Amazon’s bringing its one-click formula to third-party sites.

“Buy with Prime”, which allows ecommerce sites to integrate with Amazon’s checkout, payment, and shipping services, will be available to all eligible US merchants by Jan. 31. For Prime members, that means free shipping, free returns, and one-click checkout.

A boon for Amazon?

During a pilot program, Buy with Prime increased shopper conversion rates by 25% on average, with some sellers reporting 30%+ increases.

Meanwhile, Amazon reaps payment processing fees from Buy with Prime purchases, expanding its total addressable market (TAM) to the entire ecommerce market — not just products sold on Amazon.

The company needs the boost: Amazon announced layoffs of 18k employees this month, and investors have been discouraged by its slowed growth.

The impact on Shopify

Ecommerce competitor Shopify has its own one-click payment offering, Shop Pay, which facilitated 137m+ orders in 2020.

But if its merchants adopt Buy with Prime instead, Shopify’s revenue growth may be at risk — especially if Amazon’s offering sees higher conversion rates than Shop Pay.

A perk or a drawback? Buy with Prime will also allow merchants to display reviews from Amazon.com on their own site, but they won’t be able to hide the bad reviews.

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AROUND THE WEB

🎤 On this day: In 1975, singer Barry Manilow achieved his first No. 1 hit with the song “Mandy.”

♟ That’s interesting: The top players of games like Scrabble, Jenga, and jigsaw puzzles share their secrets.

🎨 Art: A Dutch museum is inviting the public to submit their own versions of Johannes Vermeer’s “Girl With a Pearl Earring.”

🎧 That’s cool: Fathom, an AI-powered podcast discovery platform, lets you highlight and search episodes, and offers personalized, shareable snippets and transcripts from episodes based on users’ preferences. Available on iOS now, Android forthcoming.

🌧 Aww: And now, rainy day fashion.

TWEET
repeating an idea tweet

And an even better place for people who repeat your jokes. (Link)

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Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen, Juliet Bennett Rylah, Samir Javer, and Rob Litterst.
Editing by: Mark “Magic restorer” Dent.

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