🔗 Can America fix its internet?


February 24, 2021

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eToro

The 3rd high-ranking “Jeff” is leaving Amazon. Jeff Blackburn (a close aide to Jeff Bezos) is calling it quits, following in the footsteps of Jeff Wilkes (Amazon Retail CEO) and Bezos himself.

Fortunately for the ecommerce giant, LinkedIn research shows there are still 2,110 people named “Jeff” at the company.

The Big Idea
computer

Better late than never: America is speeding up its broadband strategy

Early in February, a 90-year-old LA man did something we’ve all dreamed about: He spent $10k buying a WSJ ad to call out AT&T’s CEO on the company’s shoddy internet speed.

Unsurprisingly, it went viral.

The story serves as a reminder of America’s broadband challenges at a time when internet speeds are more important than ever.

Even so, slow internet was a pre-pandemic problem

About 14.5m Americans lack access to broadband speeds of at least 25/3 Mbps (download/upload), which is hardly enough to sustain a family with Zoom in one room, Teams in another, and Bridgerton on downstairs.

It’s a divide that mostly falls along urban-rural lines: While 78% of the US has access to speeds of 100/25 Mbps, only 30% has access to affordable plans at those speeds.

Now, the government’s dead serious about solving this

The broadband issue is, for the most part, a super-rare instance of bipartisan agreement in 2021:

  • In Nebraska, 11 bills have been introduced to widen broadband access.
  • Texas state senators are working to build a Broadband Development Program.
  • Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s budget proposal included $210m for improving broadband access.

December’s federal COVID relief bill wrapped in $7B for broadband programs — and this month, the House Energy & Commerce Committee advanced $7.6B in funding to improve internet access for students and teachers.

New tech could also bring some fresh changes

The FCC plans to update the agency’s long-criticized broadband maps to help better identify regions without proper internet access.

Also in the mix is SpaceX’s internet-beaming satellite project, Starlink. In December, the FCC awarded SpaceX $886m in subsidies to help bring high-speed broadband to rural areas.

One group of people not happy about this: astronomers. The satellites can mess with telescopic observations by making them look like this:

Starlink satellites cross the view of telescopes at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile. (Source: CTIO)

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Snippets
  • Facebook vs. Australia update: After Zuck banned the sharing of all Australian news links on Facebook to protest a proposed bill, the Parliament down under appears to be backing down. (We wrote more here.)
  • More saving spending. More doing. Home Depot’s Q4 sales were up 25% YoY, with revenue reaching $32.3B as the pandemic’s DIY trend continues.
  • Lucid Motors’ flat tire: Following the announcement of a merger deal with Churchill Capital, shares of the SPAC were down 46% after the companies confirmed a delay in deliveries of the brand’s first car.
  • $5B oats: Sweden-based vegan food and drink maker Oatly is reportedly planning an IPO that would value the company between $5B and $10B.
  • Square doubled down on Bitcoin with a $170m purchase of the cryptocurrency. The new trade follows Square’s October 2020 purchase of 4,709 bitcoin (~$50m), and the digital currency now accounts for ~5% of the company’s assets.
  • Button up: Apple’s sign-in button is raising antitrust eyebrows, with investigators looking at how its button requirement makes it harder to switch devices, per The Information.
  • Klarna — the “buy now, pay later” (BNPL) fintech startup — is in talks to raise $1B at a $31B valuation, making it Europe’s most valuable startup. (We wrote more on BNPL here.)
Sports Tech

Workin’ on them delts (Source: YouTube/Therabody)

This health tech startup just added 100+ celebrities to its cap table

Celebrities investing in startups is nothing new.

However, health startup Therabody recently took it to extreme levels when it announced a funding round with 100+ sports and media personalities, including Jay-Z, Maria Sharapova, James Harden, and Rihanna.

The startup’s main product is the Theragun. To be honest, it doesn’t really look like a gun, but its percussion technology purportedly creates a portable masseuse for recovery.

The valuation is not public…

But Joe Pompliano, who writes the sports business newsletter Huddle Up, highlights some strong numbers from Therabody:

  • A 3x increase in revenue YoY
  • 250+ active or pending patents
  • A 250x increase in retail distribution (40 stores in 2019 → 10k in 2021)

Therabody has also inked multiyear agreements with billion-dollar European soccer giants like Real Madrid and Paris-Saint Germain.

The opportunity: Interconnection

Pompliano notes that the true financial upside of this market is in “the ability to interconnect… wellness tracking applications and recovery technology like percussion massage guns and dynamic air compression boots.”

While you may not be able to mimic Kevin Durant on the court, you can certainly recover like him… if that pulsing action does deliver the goods.

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SPONSORED

“It’s like buying Bitcoin in 2015”

Quick! What was the price of a single Bitcoin in February, 2015. Try ~$240.

It’s a lot higher today, but get this — famed investors think it’s only going up. Why? Well, we’re inviting you to find out from an expert deep in all things BTC.

This week, The Hustle team is speaking with Guy Hirsch, the US Managing Director at leading crypto-investing platform eToro in an exclusive event for subscribers.

Topics on the agenda:

  • How savvy investors are using Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies to hedge against inflation.
  • Are cryptocurrencies a suitable form of wealth accumulation?
  • Guy’s prediction on when crypto will be a usable currency.
  • What can stop crypto’s rise?
  • What will the US government do?

Plus, you’ll get an inside look at what it’s like to run a high-profile crypto-trading platform — IRL Wolf of Bit Street stuff– and $50 when you create an eToro account to trade crypto.*

Event starts at 2pm CST this Thursday, 2/25.

Book It →
Wearable tech for babies
baby

AI-powered wearable tech has found its way to babies

Wearable technology is the modern equivalent of the bell bottoms fad: 4 years ago, just 9% of US consumers wore a smart health tracking device; today, that number is at 33%.

Now, real-time health tracking has extended to consumers’ babies.

One of the powerhouses in this space is Nanit, an AI-powered sleep and growth tracking company for babies. It just closed a $25m Series C.

Smart baby monitor? Tell me more.

It makes sense to track a baby’s sleep since newborns sleep 15+ (glorious) hours a day.

Nanit’s sleep-tracking products include HD cameras, breathing bands, and smart sheets. Along with its app (subscription needed), these measure:

  • Breathing: The camera picks up on the breathing band and specifically patterned clothing.
  • Measurements and height: The smart sheets’ patterns help the camera measure the baby.

Nanit’s recent Series C funds international expansion and R&D of other smart nursery items like changing pads and night lights.

Parents are going gaga over the baby market

The baby product market in the US is projected to grow to $85B by 2025.

This is fueled in part by parents willing to pay for the latest in wearable and real-time monitoring products, including:

  • Owlet: This baby monitor competitor was last valued at $1.07B. It plans to go public via a SPAC soon.
  • Snoo: These smart sleep aids include a $1.5k bassinet.

Safe to say, these baby companies are no longer crawling. Nanit is out of its playpen and sprinting.

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Polarizing
USPS vehicle

Source: Twitter (@Samjmintz)

The United States Postal Service (USPS) is going all electric on its future mail trucks. Defense firm Oshkosh was awarded the process after a we kid you not 6-year process. The contract is worth $482m over 10 years.

As far as the tweet above is concerned, reviews are, um, mixed (and not very safe for work).

The Hustle Says

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*This is a sponsored post.

TRENDS

$2.7B raised in the last two months…

Just today, Trends analysts published our latest deep dive on an industry that has already raised $2.7B in 2021 alone:

Logistics tech.

50% of the US’ largest importers still use spreadsheets to manage complex international shipments.

With e-commerce growing exponentially year over year, it’s not surprising that disruptors are appearing all over the place to challenge the larger players.

And there are countless niches in the space that still need solutions.

We’ve outlined the biggest opportunities we could identify, and ideas for how to tackle them, in the Trends team’s latest signal.

When you read through, you’ll learn:

  • How one company identified a $3.2B problem, and how you can do the same
  • How to get in early on a shift in logistics operations that will be “the new normal” by 2030
  • Which ecommerce niches still have glaring inefficiencies, and how you can get started on building the solutions today

If you’re not already a member of Trends, sign up today for a $1 trial to get access to the full discussion.

Read the Deep Dive →

Office research of the day
video meeting

Source: Twitter (@hatr)

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