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🕶 Meta’s 1st retail store
April 27, 2022
PLUS: Luxury car washes, explained.
Tesla stock dipped 12%+ Tuesday, its worst single-day performance since September 2020, as investors mull over Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover. Accounting for the drop, Twitter will make up roughly ⅙ of Musk’s net worth — and who knows how much of his time.
In today’s email:
Meta store: Why Meta is opening an in-person shop.
Clean chart: The surprising afterlife of used hotel soap.
Luxury car washes: Why they offer everything from drinks to hookah.
Around the web: Old calendars, browser extensions for movie-watching, barnyard friendships, and more cool internet finds.
🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s podcast to hear Zack, Rob, and Mark go deep on Musk’s Twitter purchase — including the impact of billionaires owning the internet, Twitter product changes, how Musk defines free speech, and more.
The big idea
Meta’s IRL store for the not-IRL metaverse
Meta’s 1st shop opens on its Burlingame, California, campus on May 9. It’s called the Meta Store — about as predictable a name as Boilprawn Shack, a shack in “Elden Ring”where a guy boils prawns.
It’s fairly small at ~1.5k square feet, but allows shoppers to try products, including:
The Meta Quest 2 VR headset
Ray-Ban Stories, Meta’s AR glasses
Portal, Meta’s smart video calling device
Why a brick-and-mortar store?
Zuck wants the metaverse to be huge, but that’s a hard sell when facing off against, you know, the real world.
One survey found 48% of teens are either unsure or uninterested in the metaverse, while another found just 16% of Americans can correctly describe it.
The Meta Store will try to engage the meta-ambivalent through a hands-on, curated experience.
That means sampling VR experiences like rhythm game “Beat Saber” or fitness app “Supernatural,” trying on AR glasses in various colors and styles, and testing Portal calls.
Shoppers will also get a 30-second clip of them trying VR in front of an LED screen that displays what they see in their headsets — which they could, naturally, share on social media.
Experiential is in, even for Big Tech
Online shopping boomed during the pandemic, but retailers can still draw customers in with experiences they can only have in-store. It’s a strategy that’s been embraced by toy shops, D2C brands, and early adopter Apple.
Apple launched its retail operation in 2001, with Steve Jobs touting how they wouldn’t just talk “megahertz and megabytes,” but show people what “they can actually do with a computer.”
Today, the company thinks of its stores as “town squares” where people receive peak customer service and take hands-on classes.
… Google’s 1st shop in NYC has simulated living rooms for trying Nest devices, and rooms for testing its Pixel smartphone camera’s low-light options. Google recently announced it’s opening a 2nd store, also in NYC.
If Meta’s test store can successfully show customers why they want to enter the metaverse and what they can do there, it won’t be surprising if we see more.
New low: The tech-heavy Nasdaq index dropped ~4% to a 52-week low as investors grew fearful of an economic slowdown.The drop precedes several tech earnings calls this week, including Meta, Amazon, and Apple.
Unhappy customer: Authentic Brands Group (ABG), the parent company of Forever 21, sued 1-click payment startup Bolt on claims it never delivered on its technology promises, resulting in $150m in lost sales.
Product lockdown: Twitter locked its product through Friday to prevent unauthorized changes from employees in response to Elon Musk’s purchase of the company.
Happy Hart: Kevin Hart’s media company, Hartbeat Productions, raised $100m from private equity firm Abry Partners. The deal, which values the company at $650m+, follows similar celebrity-owned media raises from Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine and Will Smith’s Westbrook Media.
Boomer business deals: This Trends research report dives into lucrative opportunities to serve the millions of retiring boomer business owners.
Cultivated meat startup Upside Foods just raised $400m to build a manufacturing facility. Though not yet approved for sale in the US, Upside said products could hit the market this year. #ecommerce-retail
Concentrated solar-thermal power uses mirrors to reflect the sun and capture energy. Though long underdeveloped, companies are now working to make it a reality. #clean-energy
Autonomous taxi service Pony.ai is now the 1st such company licensed to operate in China, starting with 100 vehicles in Guangzhou. Passengers will pay the same as a regular taxi. #emerging-tech
Binance’s new card will allow Ukrainian refugees to use crypto in the European Economic Area (EEA), allowing them to receive and spend crypto donations. #fintech-crypto
Apple has hired anti-union law firm Littler Mendelson, the same one representing Starbucks, as retail employees in Georgia and New York look to unionize. #big-tech
Zachary Crockett / The Hustle
The surprising afterlife of used hotel soap
Soaps are the single most-utilized amenity at hotel chains. But the tiny bars come with a big problem.
While some of us smuggle home every bar of soap we can get our hands on, most guests leave behind sizable, half-used chunks.
The car wash industry has come a long way since its humble beginnings.
Commercial car washes became a thing in the US in 1914 — 6 years after Ford’s Model T hit the streets. The 1st car washes relied on humans manually pushing the car through the wash. That changed in 1946, when the 1st semiautomatic car wash opened in Detroit.
Per The Wall Street Journal, car washes are entering a new era defined by what customers can do while waiting for their car.
Luxury car washes…
… offer customers a wide range of amenities beyond waxing and sealing. Some examples include:
Auto Spa Bistro in Atlanta, which provides food, drinks, and a hookah lounge
Clean Ride Auto Spa in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, which has fresh-brewed coffee, breakfast sandwiches, and pastries
Prestige Car Wash & Gas in Boston, which offers self-serve dog washing areas
Then there’s the crown jewel — a car wash in Zurich with a 2nd-floor dance club.
So why are car washes getting so fancy?
A few reasons:
The cost to open a car wash has increased due to new technology and rising real estate prices, leading many owners to take funding from private equity companies.
Private equity-backed businesses are gravitating toward a subscription model, meaning independent owners need to find a way to differentiate.
While one expert believes the “mixed model” can be successful, it has its risks. Building out extra amenities isn’t cheap, and there’s a good chance many customers won’t take advantage.
For more: Check out Auto Spa Bistro’s menu, with car-themed items like The Beamer omelet, the Mini Cooper Brunch, and the Bugatti Burger.
AROUND THE WEB
🖱️ On this day: In 1981, the pricey Xerox Star workstation debuted. While ultimately a commercial failure, it did introduce one enduring concept to a consumer audience: the computer mouse.
📅 Haha: If you happen to find a really old calendar — such as a 1989“Saved by the Bell”calendar — this site will tell you when you can reuse it.
🎥 That’s cool: This browser extension lets you watch Netflix films alongside the screenplay.
⚔️ That’s interesting: The true history behind Robert Eggers’ new film, The Northman.
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