An apple a day keeps the bankruptcy lawyers at bay


October 22, 2019

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Today, frustrated Amazon food sellers struggle to sell their goods before they grow mold and a mega mining biz strikes a deal worth its weight in gold, but first…

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Hoping to take on the ‘Moneycrisp,’ a new apple is hitting grocery stores this December 

The Cosmic Crisp is the first-ever apple developed in Washington, AKA the real Big Apple. Named for the bright yellowish dots on its skin, like stars, the apple is sweet and crunchy. But — unlike another major Washington variety, the Red Delicious — the Cosmic Crisp travels well and resists disease. 

Washington growers have the exclusive right to sell this new type for the next 10 years. So naturally they’re planning the biggest launch of a single variety of apple. Anywhere. Ever.

Washington State University creators are shooting for the moon…

That’s evidenced by one of their nicknames for their creation: “The Apple of Big Dreams.” In addition to spending decades on research and development, they’ve budgeted $10.5m on marketing alone. 

Thankfully, that won’t include literally launching the Cosmic Crisp into the cosmos. Mostly because that’s already been done. But they will be teaming up with social media influencers, touring with a children’s theater production of “Johnny Appleseed,” and showing the apple alongside starry skies. 

Ready for liftoff

Washington state is the nation’s biggest apple supplier, not counting Cupertino. The fruit is a multibillion-dollar industry and a huge part of the state’s economy, with tens of thousands of people contributing to the apple harvest every year. 

The apple market isn’t exactly suffering, but growers there are still trying to juice it. The next youngest apple, the Honeycrisp, sparked a ton of interest when it was introduced in the ’90s. It basically reinvigorated the apple market. 

While they have the exclusive right to grow and sell the Cosmic Crisp, Washington growers are trying to sow similar seeds — and then reap the reward.

» How do you like them apples?

Amazon’s Marketplace woes extend to food products

It’s more zaniness from the ’Zon. As CNBC reports, Amazon is regularly selling expired foods ranging from beef jerky to baby formula. Yummo.

What’s the (expired) beef?

It’s well established that Amazon Marketplace, which consists of millions of third-party sellers, has an issue with counterfeit and unsafe products. 

Amazon might have gained some culinary cred after it purchased the upscale grocery chain Whole Foods, but customer reviews show a real problem with expired, unsafe, or just-plain-gross edibles. For example, multiple reviews for Fiji bottled water claim shoppers received “recycled” Fiji bottles filled with tap water. That’s a big ew to l’eau. 

A data analytics firm found that 40% of the sellers of Amazon’s 100 top-selling food items had at least 5 complaints about food being expired. The Fiji thing apparently isn’t an isolated incident.

How does this keep happening?

Food is part of the 58% of merchandise sold by 3rd-party sellers in Amazon’s $900B empire. Third-party merchants making up the Marketplace can be official distributors or randos selling product they picked up in clearance aisles and closeout sales. Further muddying the waters: Two sellers can exist within the same listing, so it’s truly luck of the draw whether a transaction goes well.

Amazon says Marketplace vendors must provide expiration dates and 90-day shelf lives if they’re selling food products… but that’s clearly not happening. Consumer safety advocates worry that the problem is going to get worse as the Marketplace grows.

» You gonna eat that?
The Hustle says…

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*This is a sponsored post.

Are you a victim of a data breach? Don’t expect a big payout 

A hacker exposed the personal information of about 24m Zappos customers back in 2012. Seven years later, Zappos has finally reached a settlement and it’s, urm, pretty messed up.

As payment for Zappos not properly protecting your data, you actually won’t get a payment. Instead, you’ll get 10% off one order at Zappos — only valid until the end of the year (or within 60 days of receiving this meager voucher, whichever is later). 

Wait, what?! This sounds more like opportunistic holiday marketing than “we’re sorry.”

Zappos isn’t the first to piss people off with a half-baked data breach payout

After exposing sensitive information, including Social Security numbers, for almost half the US population, Equifax announced in July that it would pay each victim a scanty $125, or cover the cost of credit monitoring for up to 10 years.

Then Equifax and the FTC walked this back, admitting they didn’t set enough money aside, and basically said, urm, you can maybe get this money but only if you set up credit monitoring before October 15, 2019 — and even then there’s probably not enough cash to go around.

Yahoo’s $358 payout seems elusive, too 

Yahoo recently announced a $117m settlement for data breaches back in 2013 and 2014 that affected 3B accounts — the largest (in terms of users) in US history.

If you had a Yahoo account between 2012 and 2016, you’re theoretically eligible for up to $358, but your slice depends on how many other people submit claims. It’s easy to see the math doesn’t work out.

» Puny payouts
SPONSORED

Strap on your unicorn horns! Forbes says Divvy is the next billion-dollar startup

It all started 2 years ago when Blake Murray (CEO and co-founder of Divvy) was in a parenting pinch.

He wanted to give his kids money to spend on things like ice cream, but thinking of giving his credit card to a child scared the sprinkles off him.

That sparked an idea: A card that didn’t have a preset balance, so each purchase could be approved in real-time and money could be added (or frozen) in seconds… but for businesses. 

And just like that, Divvy was born.

2 years later, the expense tracking service has more than 3,000 corporate customers and has been named one of Forbes’ Next Billion-Dollar Startups for 2019

Want to see what all the financial fuss is about? Decision makers get $100 to demo Divvy today.

Gettin’ Divvy with it
What Else…

JPMorgan Chase offers a 2nd chance: Yesterday, the big bank unveiled a 2nd-chance hiring policy designed to help people with criminal backgrounds reenter the workforce (for more about 2nd chances, check out The Hustle’s recent profile about a man sentenced to life for murder who found a job in Silicon Valley).

🏈 Big leagues make it easier to buy in: The NBA, NFL, and MLB are making it easier to invest in pro teams to keep their prices high, and to allow their valuations to continue rising. As Axios reports: The NFL will let potential buyers borrow $1B (up from $350m), the NBA will create investment vehicles to enable minority ownership, and the MLB will let investment firms take a swing at multiple franchises.

🌜 SpaceX shoots for the moon: SpaceX, which has already gotten 12k satellites approved by the Federal Communications Commission, filed to launch another 30k satellites, signalling ambitions to expand its low-orbit broadband internet business.

⛏️ The mining must go on: Barrick, the largest gold-mining company in the world, will pay Tanzania $300m for co-ownership of 3 of the country’s gold mines — ending a multiyear drama that started in 2017 when Barrick received a $190B bill from Tanzania for failing to pay its fair share.

📳 New tech to make your skin — and your phone’s — crawl: Researchers developed a smartphone covered with an artificial human skin that responds to tickling, poking, and pinching by registering certain “emotions” — a hard squeeze, for example, would mean “anger.”

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