Salesforce founder buys Time for $190m to become tech’s latest media mogul
Marc Benioff, the billionaire founder of SaaS behemoth Salesforce, just bought Time magazine with his wife, Lynne Benioff, for $190m.
For founders like Benioff, Bezos and other tech tycoons, buying legacy media publications has become a trendy new type of philanthropy that builds trust with a jaded public.
Where have you Benioff this whole Time?
The Meredith Corporation became the world’s largest magazine conglomerate when it acquired Time Inc. 8 months ago for $1.84B -- and then immediately put the company’s flagship publications up for sale.
Now Big Benioff -- who runs a $120B company -- will own Time, which remains barely profitable as its circulation slowly decreases (it fell from 3m last year to 2.3m today).
Known for big ideas and bold opinions, Benioff has also been a politically active CEO -- threatening to pull his business out of states that aren’t up to speed on gay rights. Some critics worry that Benioff’s strong opinions wills impact Time’s coverage, but Time reps claim the “transaction is unrelated to Salesforce.com.”
Speaking with a New York Times reporter via text while getting an evening massage, Benioff insisted he “is not going to get involved operationally.” But just because he’s not actively working for Time doesn’t mean Time won’t be actively working for him.
Benioff isn’t the first techie billionaire to jump into media
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos boughtThe Washington Post in 2013, Laurene Powell Jobs (widow of Apple CEO Steve Jobs) boughtThe Atlantic in 2017, and biotech billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong bought the LA Times this year.
This new breed of media mogul isn’t concerned about good returns, but goodwill. Tech founders have plenty of cash but very little trust, while print media companies suffer from the inverse.
As CEOs increasingly function as PR ambassadors on behalf of their businesses, Benioff and Bezos can position themselves as “stewards of iconic (media) brands,” while doing their personal brands a big favor.
Sports Illustrated might look good on Zuck...
Saudi wealth fund invests $1B in a little-known EV startup (AKA, not Tesla)
Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund agreed to invest over $1B in Lucid Motors, an electric vehicle startup that one day hopes to compete with the likes of Tesla.
That is, once they actually make a product... or even a factory.
The Silicon Valley-based company is reportedly years behind schedule on construction of its Arizona plant, and production on its flagship vehicle, the Lucid Air.
Lucid hopes the cash infusion will help it finally complete those goals and “begin the global rollout of its retail strategy starting in North America.”
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is burning the midnight oil
Ever since crude oil prices began to plummet in 2014, Saudi Arabia, AKA the world’s chief oil exporter, has been exploring more “refined” options.
As part of the plan, SA is turning its Public Investment Fund into the world’s biggest sovereign fund, looking to control more than $2T by 2030.
In the past year, the country has announced plans to invest $45B into a technology fund (run by SoftBank), $20B into a US infrastructure fund, and finalized an $11B loan to complete its proposed $500B metropolis.
Their push into the EV market has been wild thus far
SA’s interest in the EV market came to the world’s attention when Elon Musk tweeted that he had “funding secured” from the Public Investment Fund for his now-defunct plan to take Tesla private.
The PIF, which owns roughly a 5% stake in the EV juggernaut, was reportedly planning on making a “significant investment” in the effort, but ultimately pulled back after Musk’s tweets surfaced.
Moviepass competitor Sinemia brings the all-you-can watch movie plan back to theaters
A month after MoviePass nixed their too-good-to-be-true $10 per month unlimited movie plan (costing them millions, and sending its parent company’s stock plummeting), Sinemia, its lesser-known rival, has stepped in with an unlimited viewing option of its own.
It’s just way more expensive…
Sinemia’s unlimited plan is similar to that of MoviePass -- a movie a day at any theatre you want -- but, at $30 a month. Sinemia’s founder, Rifat Oguz, believes the cost of “unlimited” is worth a lit-tle more than a penny under 10 bones.
Unlike MoviePass, the company doesn’t have all its popcorn in one subscription basket: The unlimited plan is just one of Sinema’s 10 plans, starting as low as $5 for one movie ticket per month.
MoviePass has gone mad and Sinemia’s reaping the benefits
Founded in 2014, Sinemia’s infinity model has been around for years (mainly in Europe), but Oguz didn’t feel the time was right to offer a plan 3X that of MoviePass in the US.
So, instead, they sat back and learned from the beleaguered company’s mistakes, waiting for the perfect time to enter the fold.
Aside from having undergone years of testing and data analysis to find that sustainable sweet spot, Ogaz also learned how to price his product from MP’s parent company and their mandatory public financial reports.
Apparently, it’s a price point 2.5X higher than the cost of a single ticket, not 6 bucks less.
Hundreds got tattooed for Domino’s lifetime pizza promotion before it got axed
A Russian Domino’s franchise offered “100 free pizzas a year for 100 years” to customers who tattooed the brand’s signature logo tattooed on their skin for a planned 2-month promotion, #dominosforever…
But, sadly, nothing gold can stay. Just 4 days and 381 qualified applicants later, Domino’s had to cancel the stunt to prevent thousands more people from cashing in on the deal.
Social media and free food are a powerful combination
But, when businesses launch social media campaigns without thinking about their audience, things can get sticky.
Since disposable income is about $500 a month on average in Russia, consumers flocked to the #dominosforever promotion to exploit the simple economics of the deal -- a small $30 tattoo for thousands of dollars worth of pizza.
And, they don’t have to end in disaster: One Australian joint offered 10 winners the opportunity to get a burger tattoo (3.5k people applied). And a grilled cheese chain in Ohio offered a 25% lifetime discount for customers willing to ink their logo (so far, they’ve gotten 900 takers).
Skyroam Global WiFi launches $9/mo high-speed WiFi that goes... anywhere
The bus, the laundromat, that hipster cafe without WiFi, and about 130 other countries.
15m customers around the world have fallen in love with Skyroam’s orange puck-shaped 4G LTE hotspot, Skyroam Solis, to solve a common traveling woe: Finding reliable, secure mobile WiFi that won’t cost you next month’s rent.
But it’s not just for international travel. Now, they’re rolling out a new, everyday pay-per-GB plan, Skyroam GoData, that offers high-speed WiFi at only $9/mo for 1GB of data.
“But I can just use my phone, right?”
Sure, drain your battery, run up your data, and rely on just 1 network -- we’re sure your carrier will love that. Instead, Skyroam gives you a dedicated, secure WiFi connection with straightforward pricing.
They partner with 300 carriers worldwide, connecting you to the best network no matter the latitude. And with GoData, you’ll get 1 GB of data to use anywhere -- on your morning commute or a tour of Singapore. Need more? Buy anytime.
You can even share your connection across 5 devices, so you’re free to bring your entire digital fleet wherever you go -- not to mention the Solis doubles as a power bank.
Right now, Hustle readers can pick up a Skyroam WiFi hotspot for 40% off when they buy a 1-year subscription of GoData along with it.
1. Marketing content designed to persuade consumers to buy your product. 2. The final nudge a consumer needs before they pull the trigger. 3. The last place you want to be when your VP of marketing shows up to the holiday party with a beer bong.
Marketing Manager: So, did you get a chance to review my new idea? The one where we mow our logo into the grass in Central Park and then drive traffic to Google Earth?
Head of Sales: To be honest, I really think we should focus our marketing efforts a little more bottom-of-the-funnel...
Pro tip: If you ever need someone from the marketing department off your back, ask them to make a diagram of “the funnel.” It’ll buy you 3 days.