Boy do we have a scoop for you


August 8, 2019

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Today, AI is getting better at writing while global investors decide that gold is worth re-biting, but first…

The Hustle Daily Email

SCOOP: FlyCleaners, the large NYC laundry service, is leaving customers out to dry

FlyCleaners, an on-demand laundry and dry cleaning service with tens of thousands of paying customers, has left many New Yorkers wondering what happened to their undies — and all the rest of their clothes.

The Hustle spoke with nearly a dozen customers who claim the company picked up their laundry — thousands of dollars in clothing, collectively — and never returned it. Their queries to customer service have largely gone unanswered.

A promising start

Launched in 2013 by co-founders David Salama and Seth Berkowitz, FlyCleaners raised $2m in capital and established itself as an early player in the billion-dollar on-demand laundry space.

FlyCleaners is essentially a logistics company: It sends employees (“FlyGuys”) to pick up customers’ laundry, partners with vendors to do the actual cleaning, then drops it back off when it’s done (typically the next day). For this service, users pay between $1.55 and $1.65 per lb.

To date, FlyCleaners reports processing more than 5m lbs. of laundry — some 500k articles of clothing.

But not all of this clothing makes it back to customers.

Dude, where’s my cashmere sweater?

In recent months, FlyCleaner’s Twitter feed, Yelp page, and Better Business Bureau profile have been flooded with complaints from customers claiming that the company “went dark” with their laundry. 

The Hustle spoke with around a dozen who are collectively missing more than $20k of clothing — suits, dresses, and cashmere sweaters.

Peter Wang, who works in finance, paid $67.75 to have $2k worth of clothes cleaned; 10 days and many emails later, he’s still without his clothes.

“Their phone support line goes straight to voicemail, and none of my queries have been answered,” Wang told us. “Everything is in limbo.”

Rachel Cantor, a digital marketing assistant, started using the app in January when her local laundromat closed shop. Now, she’s wondering where a significant portion of her wardrobe is. “Clothes have been held hostage for weeks at a time,” she said.

“Where are my clothes?” asked one Twitter user. “These are business clothes, replacement value is over $4k. I need my stuff back.”

‘It’s a mess’

FlyCleaners has struggled with quality control since 2015, when increased demand led to partnerships with 12+ vendors. After a sharp increase in missing and damaged goods, the company sacked 5 executives and hired a new COO.

Then last month, FlyCleaners laid off 116 workers, including most of its support staff.

FlyCleaners CEO David Salama told The Hustle that the company is now in the process of passing over much of its business to a competitor, NextCleaners. He maintained that “no one’s clothes have been stolen,” and attributed missing clothing to “systems and process issues.”

A FlyCleaners ex-employee, who wished to remain anonymous, countered this: “The company is a complete mess,” she said. “The support team was reduced from 15 reps down to 4 [and] from what I understand, there are nearly 1k emails pending responses.”

Some customers, like Sarah Marlowe, who has yet to get back $1k worth of clothing, have had enough.

“Honestly, I love tech I work in tech and I am often an early adopter but this has made me rethink the instinct to try things out,” she says. “I’ll be sticking to regular laundromats for now.”

Not so fly
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Much of the global economy is trying to ditch the dollar — and buy gold instead

Bitcoin had its boom in 2018, but this year a different currency is hot: physical gold.

In the first half of this year, central banks bought $15.7B of gold — the largest increase in 19 recorded years of data.

So, why are global investors so giddy for gold? 

Everyone wants to ditch the dollar…

The crispy American greenback is the world’s de facto global currency: Dollars make up 62% of all central bank foreign exchange reserves (dwarfing the #2 euro at 21%) and 90% of all foreign exchange trades.

But since dollar dominance damages other currencies during domestic downturns (see: the 2008 global financial crisis), other countries resist dollar dependence.

In 2009, China spearheaded an effort to replace the dollar with an International Monetary Fund-controlled global currency, but it never got off the ground. 

Now, China and others are going for — or back to — the gold

The noblest metal is becoming the gold standard once again: Central banks bought 73% more gold in the first few months of this year than last, led by China, Russia, and Turkey. 

That’s a return to normal, really: Nearly all global currencies were redeemable for gold before 1944. 

But in ’44, during a play-date in New Hampshire, world leaders said “America has a sh*t ton of gold and seems stable, let’s just peg all currencies to the dollar. What could go wrong?” (I’m paraphrasing).

Of course, things got spicy: America killed the gold standard in the ’70s, leaving the world’s currency reserve backed not by gold but by blind confidence in Uncle Sam…

Since that led to inflation and volatility, gold never really stopped glittering as an attractive alternative — and when the world doubts the dollar, it goes for the gold.

» Gotta get dat gold
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i, Write Copy: JPMorgan Chase partners with an ad-writing machine… literally

JPMorgan Chase signed a 5-year deal with Persado, a startup that uses AI to write creative ad copy.

To scribe insult to injury for, um, typists of the flesh, Persado calls its copywriting tool the “message machine.”  

So, is the future of marketing getting rewritten by robots?

According to Kristin Lemkau, the chief marketing officer at JPMC — robot tool rite good. 

The robo-writer builds copy from a vocabulary database filled with 1m+ words that trigger emotional appeal in consumers. An example:

  • Human version: “Access cash from the equity in your home”
  • Robot version: “It’s true — You can unlock cash from the equity in your home”

“It rewrote copy and headlines that a marketer, using subjective judgment and their experience, likely wouldn’t have. And they worked,” Lemkau said.

According to Persado, its AI tools led to a 450% increase in clicks.

Does this spell ‘downsizing’ for JPMorgan Chase?

When asked about the future of JPMC’s current human marketing creatives, JPMC said it “hasn’t had an impact” on team structure. 

But the company’s yearly $11B automation technology budget likely isn’t putting anyone at ease.

According to Persado executives, the tool’s being used by more than 250 brands including Dell, American Express, Expedia, and Microsoft

   @ Me Anything
Wes Schlagenhauf, News Writer at The Hustle
@wesschlagenhauf

Robots may know the magic words to marketing. But can a robot do this? *Folds fingers into dog face*
Show this thread
» J-udgement day-PMorgan

After a successful Q2, Snap announces plans to raise $1B in debt

Snap Inc. had a rough ride after going public in 2017. The company ran into corporate and product setbacks, and after a controversial redesign, it appeared the struggling social giant might never rebound.

But, after better-than-expected earnings in Q2, some analysts believe the business may Snap back after all.

Now, to prove to investors that it’s got the chops to roll with big dogs like Instagram and the Chinese-owned karaoke app TikTok, the company plans to raise $1.1B in debt to fund operating expenses.

It’s like a half-court shot before heading into halftime…

Snap shocked Wall Street in its Q2 earnings report last month by narrowing its quarterly losses to $255m from $353m YoY and increasing total view time on its Snapchat Discover platform by over 60%.

The company’s stock also rose ahead of the earnings report, and then an additional 12% afterward.

With the new funding, the numbers have snapped back to reality

Shares fell as much as 2% after Snap announced plans to scale its operations. But, if the numbers hold true, the move may be worth it.

Snap’s other flagship products — like AR and its new 3rd-party software kits — saw huge success in Q2 as well, and, with its addition of 13m daily active users to the Snapchat platform, the company hopes to use the cash to keep riding its newfound wave of success.

» Full speed ahead
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