📉 California’s almond problem

{date(‘MMMM dd, yyyy’,time(“now”))}
The Hustle

A recent Pew survey found that 65% of American adults believe in the existence of intelligent alien life.

The survey also found 87% don’t see UFOs as a security threat.

We’re just happy to hear that so many Americans are experts in intergalactic defense.

The big idea
Almond Breeze

California’s drought puts a damper on absolutely nuts almond demand

There’s a solid chance you’re snacking on almonds while reading this.

And there’s a great chance those almonds came from drought-prone California, whose $6B almond industry generates 80% of the world’s supply, per The Wall Street Journal.

Outside of almonds, California produces of the US’s fruits and nuts and more than of its veggies (thanks, Cali).

But the state’s current drought is… less than ideal

For starters, California recently survived a different drought, one town has been delivering bottled water to its 1.2k residents for weeks, and meteorologists predict more to come.

Like we said, less than ideal — especially for an acre of almond trees, which can guzzle up 1.3m gallons of water a year.

In the meantime, almond demand is nuts

US farmers produced a record 3.1B pounds of almonds in 2020.

Some more almond joy:

  • Blue Diamond Growers — makers of Almond Breeze — grew sales last year to $1.6B, more than twice the previous decade
  • California’s international almond exports were way up in 2020 (Morocco: +148%, Vietnam: +132%, India: +54%)

But the drought is forcing farmers to change plans

Seth Fiack, a rice farmer, decided to stop farming altogether and instead sell his water for $575 per acre-foot, which is “a volume of water one acre in size, one foot deep,” according to the New York Times.

Almond farmers are making changes, too:

  • Mark Jansen, who runs Blue Diamond, will likely reduce the company’s international exports
  • Stuart Woolf is considering replacing 400 acres of dead almond trees with a solar farm

Oh yeah, that’s another problem: Without water, California’s hydroelectric dams — which generated ~17% of the state’s power in 2019 — are gonna have a tough time charging up.

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SNIPPETS

Looks may be deceiving, but not these stats: Wigs, toupees, and curling irons are flying off shelves, with year-over-year sales up 75% at toupee and wig stores, and up 37% for curling irons. #ecommerce-retail

Hackers are looking to get rich quick. REvil, a Russian-linked hacker group behind a brutal ransomware attack that hit between 800-1.5k businesses in a dozen countries, is demanding $70m to unlock the encrypted data, though some experts think it’ll snag just $40-$50m. #privacy

Porsche is asking its ~1.3k suppliers to rely exclusively on renewable energy when manufacturing components for the auto brand. Suppliers that don’t, well, we’ll leave that to your imagination. #clean-energy

The Indian government submitted a court filing removing Twitter’s “safe harbor” protections, which place responsibility on users for what they say on the platform. Twitter has 100m+ users in India, so this should be interesting. #big-tech

A deep-ocean battery SPAC is not something you hear about every day. The Metals Company of Vancouver — on a mission to vacuum up polymetallic rocks from the bottom of the Pacific — is going public in a deal valuing it at $2.9B. #emerging-tech

Plus 1 for the Danes. Copenhagen-based corporate card and expense startup Pleo raised $150m at a $1.7B valuation. The company has 17k customers across Europe. #fintech-cryptocurrency

Drink ‘Tech’
Som Sleep cans

Source: Som Sleep

Move aside, energy drinks. Functional beverages are having a moment.

Spend enough time on Instagram, and you’ll encounter an ad for a beverage that promises to change your life.

These products are known as “functional beverages,” a market defined by nonalcoholic drinks with special ingredients for added benefits.

The trend has recently exploded

Per Bloomberg, as of the end of May functional drinks grew 360% YoY (vs. 9% for the rest of the beverage market).

Main ingredients include:

  • Collagen: A protein that helps with skin elasticity (e.g., SkinTē)
  • Probiotics: Bacteria — widely available in yogurt and kombucha — that promotes gut health (e.g., Huzzah)
  • Nootropics: Chemicals that are designed to improve mood (e.g., Lightwave or, as Bloomberg calls it, “the anti-Red Bull”)

The anti-Red Bulls have a market of their own

Som Sleep’s zzz’s-inducing beverage is sold in ~2k Walmarts and is used by 60+ pro sports teams.

Even Pepsi jumped on the trend in late 2020 with its L-theanine and magnesium-powered Driftwell. (Gizmodo said it tastes “like a nightmare.”)

We may just stick to our favorite sleep-inducing drink: red wine with a splash of turkey leg.

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Gaming Tech
gaming tech

Source: Microsoft

What’s the lowdown on gaming up high (in the cloud)?

If you want, you can play 1993’s Doom on an Ikea smart lamp. Cool, but what about playing any game on, say, your phone?

With cloud gaming, you don’t download or install games — you stream them like you stream shows on Netflix, (ideally) without sacrificing quality.

The global gaming industry is huge

Revenue hit ~$180B in 2020, nearly double the film industry.

Now, gaming analyst Rupantar Guha thinks it’s “a crucial time for cloud gaming to gain mainstream prominence.”

But if there’s one thing Big Tech ain’t great at…

It’s probably cloud gaming:

  • Google launched Stadia in November 2019, but has since shut down its internal game developer division.
  • Amazon launched Luna in September 2020, but has failed to gain traction despite spending $500m annually.

On the other end, Microsoft has a hit on its hands with Game Pass, its Xbox streaming product. It just launched on Apple and PC devices, and is projected to hit ~30m subscribers by year-end.

This shouldn’t be a surprise: Xbox launched in 2001 and has blockbuster franchises — like Halo — which Google, Amazon, and Ikea lack.

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Sign up now for a huge discount on your first year of Trends and a chance to win tools that will help you kickstart your business.

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Meme of the day
Softbank Didi meme

Source: Twitter / @TrungTPhan

China’s Uber (Didi) went public last Wednesday. And it has been kind of downhill ever since. Over the weekend, Chinese regulators blocked new users from downloading Didi as it reviews the app’s network security.

Per CNBC, regulators even told Didi to postpone its IPO — which valued the company at ~$68B. Markets were back open yesterday, and $DIDI fell by ~20% as investors reacted to the news.

One big bag holder: Japanese megafund SoftBank, which invested $12B into the Chinese ride-hailing service, per The Information. It made its first investment in mid-2017; while Didi is basically flat over that period, the Nasdaq is up 150%.

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