🔌 Made in the USA: EV batteries?


January 28, 2021

PLUS: What’s going on with Super Bowl ads?

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GameStop has…been GameStop…and its stock is up nearly 20x since the start of the year. #YOLO

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Next on Made in the USA: EV batteries

Close your eyes and imagine every single person in America rocketing from 0-60 in a super sweet electric vehicle.

That reality may not be too far off: US EV sales are projected to make up 10% of the American market by 2025, up from 2% today.

But before it happens, the US has a lot of ground to cover in the production of the tech that makes EVs possible: lithium-ion batteries.

At the moment, most batteries come from China

Historically, North America has relied on importing EV batteries — 

and per the WSJ, China pretty much owns the industry from start to finish. The country controls:

  • Chemical processing: lithium (57% share of total worldwide production) and graphite (100%)
  • Anode/cathode production: anode (86%) and cathode (70%)
  • Manufacturing: battery cells (75%)

Industry execs say if the US wants its tech to keep up and costs to stay down, it’ll have to produce more batteries stateside.

So the public and private sectors are working together

In a bid to “slash the price of electric cars,” President Biden recently pledged to invest $5B in battery tech over the next 5 years.

On the other end, industry giants LG Chem, SK Innovation, and (of course) Tesla are leading a private-sector push.

This public-private funding tag team is expected to increase US EV battery production by 600% through 2030.

Enter a lineup of super-charged battery startups

All of this talk has spurred some movement among the major players in the space:

  • Romeo Power went public last year.
  • Lithium Americas recently sold $400m in stock to finance a battery project in Nevada.
  • Novonix — an Australian company with a factory in Tennessee — has plans to make 25k tons of synthetic graphite in 2025, up from 500 tons this year.
  • Sila Nanotechnologies, valued at $3.3B, has plans to make a silicon-based anode factory to supply EVs with batteries starting in 2025.

At this rate, America can be in charge (sorry) of its own battery destiny.

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Advertising Biz
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This Tom Brady GIF has either triggered you or made you very happy (Source: Giphy)

Big brands are dropping Super Bowl ads this year. Does the move make sense?

To find out, we asked Jason Harris, the CEO of ad agency Mekanism. Below is his take on this year’s Super Bowl LV (Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Kansas City Chiefs on Feb. 7).

***

The Super Bowl will be missing some staple advertisers this year, including Coca-Cola, Budweiser, Hyundai, Olay, Little Caesars, and Ford.

My agency has created several Super Bowl campaigns for clients over the years, with results up and down the ad meter.

I’m left wondering: What are the brands doing this year?

Super Bowl ads typically increase in cost…

… but this year, the price flatlined at approximately $5.6m for a 30-second spot (the rate was also $5.6m in 2019, up from $2.9m in 2010).

COVID-19 has flipped the script on engagement, too. We are universally stuck at home, quarantined, in the cold. This should mean the biggest year yet for Super Bowl eyeballs and engagement.

Old brands look to be cutting costs for their balance sheets, though, which is creating an opportunity for newer brands.

DoorDash, Vroom, and Fiverr are among the takers

And, it’s a great investment to get quick, underpriced mass awareness on the biggest stage.

Have a multimillion-dollar hole in your pocket?

Well, unlike last year’s Super Bowl — when all inventory was sold out in November — Ad Age reports that CBS still has an unsold inventory of about 20%.

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Q&A
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Kevin Hart’s comedy network is making a big podcast push. Its president & COO tells us why.

Comedy dominates podcasting.

According to a 2020 Stitcher report, the only genre with more total listening hours than comedy is true crime.

Now, Laugh Out Loud (LOL) — a multiplatform global comedy brand co-founded by Kevin Hart — is expanding its podcast footprint, starting with a new interview show called “Inside Jokes” (Jerry Seinfeld is the first guest).

To find out more, The Hustle spoke with LOL’s Thai Randolph, an industry vet who formerly worked at Facebook and Lionsgate Films.

What is LOL’s strategy behind the audio push?

There’s an infographic in the office we often refer to. It looks at the day in the life of a consumer and how they are consuming media:

  • In the morning: Check their phones and newsfeeds
  • At the gym: Listen to music or podcasts while jogging
  • Driving to work: Listen to the radio
  • In the evening: Look at a second screen while watching TV

We are competing [for these moments] and creating products to make sure our fans can get LOL content wherever or whenever they want it.

How has LOL fared during the pandemic?

LOL has a diversified business. [Even as our live events business went to zero], each of the other divisions — network, studio, audio — has contributed to the top line. We were actually very fortunate in 2020, with revenue doubling from the previous year.

What is something people don’t know about Kevin?

Of course, you won’t leave a meeting with him without laughing, but he’s very, very serious when looking at the numbers as well as future expansion and opportunities.

He studies the likes of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates to understand how people can sustain high performance for a long time.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?

You can do it all. You just can’t do it all at once.

(Read the full Q&A here)

Kevin Hart’s hilariously-named video series, Cold As Balls (Source: YouTube)

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How Reddit (and GameStop) changed finance

The GameStop saga continues, pitting retail traders of the Reddit forum r/WallStreetBets against traditional hedge funds (which, by one calculation, have lost a collective $25B short-selling $GME).

Memes aside, this drama has real structural implications for the finance industry. A few of them, per Bloomberg’s Cormac Mullen and Tracy Alloway:

  1. Trading flows are more important than fundamentals: In the Before Times, an investing edge was obtained through deep spreadsheet analysis. But with the rise of trading apps, the actual flow of money itself is a stronger determining factor in stock price.
  2. Options trading is an “affordable” way to move markets: Options are the right (but not the obligation) to purchase a stock at a certain price. What this means is that someone can bet on a stock for less than they would if they bought it outright. Despite a lower upfront cash outlay, options can still move the market because the financial institutions selling the options have to hedge their position by buying up the underlying stock.
  3. Short-sellers are the target: In Before Times, hedge funds used to write up long reports and make big splashy announcements for why they were shorting a stock. Now, if a hedge fund reveals a short position, it can become a target of the r/WallStreetBets crowd.
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Chart of the day
Startups that ran Super Bowl ads in 2000

This year, we’ll see a batch of first-time Super Bowl advertisers, including DoorDash, Fiverr, and Vroom.

The situation reminds us of the 2000 Super Bowl, when tech startups — flush with dot-com VC money — became first-time advertisers for the Big Game.

And, wow, were there some bangers back then: e-Stamp, Netpliance, OurBeginning and Pets.com (!!).

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