Crow’s-feet with talons


February 6, 2019

A new anti-wrinkle drug made by Evolus is creating some frown lines for the maker of Botox.
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The FDA puts a wrinkle in Botox’s anti-aging empire by approving a new, young competitor

Friday, the FDA approved a new treatment for eliminating wrinkles called Jeuveau. Shares of Jeuveau owner Evolus rose almost 12% after the announcement, while shares of Allergan, the company that makes Botox, fell almost 4%.

But that’s not the story’s last wrinkle: Allergan also accused Evolus of stealing its anti-wrinkle recipe and asked the International Trade Commission to investigate.

Allergan’s anti-aging empire is built on a secret

Allergan won approval for Botox in 1989 and trademarked its recipe for the drug instead of filing for a patent (which is a more common practice for pharmaceutical compounds). 

Unlike a patent, Allergan’s control over its secret recipe will never expire, giving the company extraordinary control over the market: Botox currently accounts for 70% of the $3.5B US market for wrinkle-eradicating injections. 

But on the other hand, Allergan’s recipe isn’t protected like a patent — which means competitors can try to replicate the wrinkle recipe. Now, Evolus claims it replicated Allergan’s recipe — but Allergan insists it was stolen 

Like Botox’s younger, smoother brother

When Jeuveau — which was rejected by the FDA in its initial bid 8 months ago — hits the market, Evolus will become the first company in almost 10 years to break into the “aesthetic neurotoxin” market.

But more importantly, this youthful alternative to Botox will also cost between 20% and 25% less than Allergan’s elderly anti-aging treatment. 

This caused some serious frown lines for Allergan, which is why the company is now going to such great lengths to protect Botox (Allergan doesn’t like losing: It once transferred an eyedrop patent to a Native American tribe to gain “sovereign immunity” against competitors).

Botox may not have any crow’s-feet, but it does have sharp talons

Allergan claims that an ex-employee at partner company Medytox stole its “most secret, most protected manufacturing processes” and gave them to Evolus and now wants the ITC to block its Jeuveau-riche competitor.

Evolus says the allegations are “completely without merit” and plans to roll out its product this spring as planned (Allergan has issued similar patent infringements before).

The stakes here are high for Allergan, which needs Botox to give its balance sheets that youthful glow: Botox accounted 23% of the company’s overall revenue last year.

Patent-ly absurd
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After an $88m funding round, Calm is now the first mindfulness unicorn

Calm, the sleep, meditation, and relaxation app, announced it raised $88m in a Series B funding round at a $1B valuation.

According to the CDC, US meditation has more than tripled from 2012 to 2017, and companies like Calm and Headspace have become major players in the $4T health and wellness industry. 

As the digital race to Zen heats up, this new round should give the company’s co-founders Alex Tew and Michael Acton Smith peace of mind: The new round makes Calm the world’s first mental health unicorn. 

The Chakras are finally aligning

Like the $30B health and fitness industry, back before Jane Fonda pioneered the home gym obsession in the ’80s, mental health tools such as meditation apps were long poo-pooed as woo-woo hippy mind tricks.

Even when Calm started around 7 years ago, the company had a hard time convincing investors: “People thought we were crazy,” said Smith. “Then, about 18 months ago, the shift began.”

The co-founders noticed people were finally becoming more open about mental health — and by the end of 2017, Calm relaxed into a comfortable lead, increasing revenue 4x in 2018 and becoming the largest mindfulness app on the market.

Their secret? Reading bedtime stories to adults

When asked what sets Calm apart from the deluge of mindfulness apps, Smith said it could best be boiled down to the company’s “accessible and relatable” branding.

Now, the company has its sights set on becoming the “Nike of the health and wellness industry.”

Calm has grown rapidly to over 40m downloads worldwide, which equates to a new user joining every second.

» Calmly hitting the top

Thanks to augmented reality ‘virtual try-ons,’ your phone screen is now your fitting room

Brands ranging from Warby Parker to IKEA have launched augmented reality (AR) apps that let customers digitally “try out” new glasses, shoes, and dressers.

People have been excited about the idea of AR for a long time. Now, big brands have found an IRL application of AR for the mass market.

From Pokémon Go to Warby Parker

In the past, AR has been predominantly used for research (by the Navy, computer scientists, guys in lab coats, etc.) or for video games (the most popular example being Pokémon Go).

But thanks to Apple’s release of ARKit, a program that lets developers build iOS AR products, brands can now build applications of AR for people who aren’t naval scientists or Pikachu trainers. 

What AR we actually talking about here?

So far, most consumer applications of AR fall into 2 categories: “Trying on” apparel and seeing what furniture looks like. 

Warby Parker built an iOS app that gives buyers a lens into what they’ll look like in different glasses. Wannaby, a Belarusian “AR commerce” startup, built Wanna Kicks to offer sneakerheads sneak peaks of whether different kicks will look slick.

IKEA and Amazon also offer AR tools to help future furniture owners visualize couches in their houses. Down the road, savvy sellers will find more ways to harness the make-believe marketing potential of AR.

Maybe Subway will even let you build your virtual sandwich before you order…

» Is this ARt?

French startup, Lunchr, raised $34m for its lunch-focused corporate credit card

Fun fact: In France, companies of a certain size have to provide some form of support when it comes to employee lunches.

Big companies usually build out cafeterias, while smaller companies hand out meal vouchers. But in recent years the longstanding paper meal voucher has migrated toward payment card alternatives from companies like Edenred and Sodexo.

Now, the French startup Lunchr is looking to get in the corporate lunch line with a $34m funding round to scale its app-based lunch cards. 

Changin’ the lunch game, one card at a time

Here’s the problem: Due to outdated card terminals, many restaurants and supermarkets in France still don’t accept meal voucher cards. 

But Lunchr aims to change that: The company’s new card will work in more places thanks to integration with an app and account, letting employees put in group orders from the office.

Per TechCrunch, the company currently supports 200k businesses in France, with the goal of the funding round to attract another 200k by the end of 2019.

Do as the French do

Per the Fair Labor Standards Act, in the US, most states don’t require employers to provide meal or rest breaks at all.

In fact, many employers force their workforce to clock out during meal breaks, which often results in people eating from their desk so they can stay on the clock and seem dedicated to their job.

But studies show that kind of “go-getter” mentality actually lowers productivity and increases the chances of employee burnout. 

Fin.

» Oui
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