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The crown Juul of the vape industry is now worth more than $10B
Juul Labs, the makers of every 8th-grader’s favorite e-cig, is worth more than $10B, according to insiders who spoke with The Information.
In spite of investor skepticism about the health dangers of the USB-shaped nicotine qsticks, the company has adapted Big Tobacco’s playbook to the era of social media -- and grown large enough to challenge Big Cig’s bigwigs.
Juuls are on fire
You know, because they burn nicotine….
Also because the 3-year-old company, which has only raised $111.5m in a single round of funding, has managed to edge out Big Tobacco companies for more than 64% of e-cig market share.
Meanwhile, Philip Morris’ stock dropped nearly a third last year and R.J. Reynolds’ e-cig market share dropped by half.
They say history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme…
And Juul sure sounds a lot like Kool, the flavored cigarette that targeted kids in the early 2000s.
Juul isn’t just imitating Big Tobacco’s success but also its tactics -- with fruity flavors and promises of a safer smoking alternative.
So far, Juul’s marketing attempts are paying off -- when Juul launched in 2015 e-cigarette use among high-school students surpassed regular cigarette use for the first time ever. Yet, more than ⅔ of teen vapers reportedly didn’t know that Juul contained nicotine.
Check YouTube -- all the Juul kids are doing it
Juul has turned the brand into a social-media cult classic -- YouTube sensation DonnySmokes is a popular evangelist -- but worried moms, morally righteous investors, and liberal cities are trying to crack down on Juuls in schools.
So to improve its public image and keep vapenation puffing away, Juul is investing $30m to keep the devices out of kids’ hands -- which sounds a lot like that time cigarette companies paid for lung cancer research...
2 Juul 4 skool
CLAP BACK: AMC rolls out subscription service to compete with MoviePass
AMC, the largest theater chain in America, has announced it will now offer a subscription service that lets moviegoers watch up to 3 movies a week for a monthly charge of $19.95.
Called AMC Stubs A-List, the subscription will function as a branch of AMC’s loyalty program, starting June 26.
Yes, it’s twice as expensive as MoviePass, but...
There are reportedly less restrictions.
According to the AMC press release, the online and smartphone-based subscription will allow members to watch multiple movies a day and let you see movies more than once (so you can catch a double header of Hereditary, you sick freak).
Plus, you get discounts at the concession stand, there are no online ticketing fees, and you can make reservations in advance.
Unlike MP’s one-at-a-time, location-only ticketing model
It was only a matter of time before AMC went head to head with MoviePass: Back in January, MoviePass dropped out of 10 of AMC’s most-trafficked theaters in what was seen as a “negotiating tactic.”
Mickey makes moves to finalize a $71.3B Fox deal just days after Comcast’s offer
Yesterday, 21st Century Fox accepted a $71.3B offer from Disney after back-and-forth bidding between Comcast and Disney.
Disney shelled out $18.9B more than its original offer in the hopes of ending this bidding war and reclaiming its tiara from entertainment’s recently crowned princess, Netflix. But Comcast could still make a counteroffer...
A fight to face off against Netflix in the finals
Last week the ’Cast swooped in on Disney’s original December offer with an increased $65B bid. Both companies want Fox’s content (movies, TV shows, and channels) to compete with tech companies investing oodles of cash in original content.
So despite the fanfare, this battle is really just a preview for the main event: a showdown with Netflix -- which recently eclipsed both Comcast and Disney in value -- for video entertainment’s title.
It ain’t over till the Murdoch sings
Fox called Disney’s proposal “superior” to Comcast’s -- and Disney claims its horizontal merger (two media companies) has an advantage over Comcast’s vertical merger (a distributor and a media company).
But AT&T’s union with Time Warner was a huge win for vertical mergers, positioning Comcast to make an even higher offer -- and some analysts are convinced it could top $80B.
Tune in next week for the next episode of “It’s Always Sunny for Rupert.”
Microsoft employees call to end contract with ICE, and got this memo in response
Amid backlash against the White House’s border control policy, BuzzFeed News reports that Microsoft deleted (then later reposted after questioning) part of a January 2018 blog post boasting that its cloud software assists US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) via deep learning AI and other services.
This prompted a letter endorsed by more than 100 Microsoft employees asking leadership to nix the nearly $20m contract with the agency, stating, “As the people who build the technologies that Microsoft profits from, we refuse to be complicit.”
Enter the memo
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella sent a damage control memo assuring employees that “Microsoft is not working with the U.S. government on any projects related to separating children from their families at the border.”
In the message, Nadella notably downplayed the services Microsoft provides ICE, listing support for banal functions like “legacy mail, calendar, messaging, and document management workloads,” with no mention of the “deep learning capabilities” their blog touted 6 months earlier.
But, Nadella’s attempted olive branch isn’t likely to satisfy the protesting employees, who made it pretty clear in their letter that ANY involvement with ICE is too much.
This is a growing trend (in more ways than one)
As The Verge reports, Microsoft is far from the only big tech company working with ICE: Public records show 10s of millions of dollars in contracts with Dell, Motorola and HP, implementing hardware and other infrastructure for the agency.
At the same time, high-profile techies like Elon Musk, Tim Cook, and Mark Zuckerberg are sounding off against Trump’s border policy and putting an ethical stake in the ground.
Microsoft’s president has been equally vocal, saying the US “needs to get immigration right.” Which poses the question, will vocal executives put their actions where their pipes are? Or is it all just a PR play?
COMBINE: Fashion and tech-obsession with 3x1 Joe Doucet Jeans, $395
These jeans fuse Japanese denim with microfiber pockets to clean smartphone screens, a coin pocket lined with RFID-blocking fabric to protect your sensitive CC strips, and a hidden reflective strip for bicycle safety.
TUNE: Your acoustic guitar with your smartphone, Free
Wood and metal strings have never sounded so precise. The GuitarTuna app tunes guitars and basses with pinpoint accuracy. Just pluck and follow the line, GuitarTuna does the rest -- no musical talent required.
GROW: Your business with Microsoft 365 Business, $20/month
When it was time for The Hustle to grow up, we upgraded to Microsoft 365 Business. It’s got all the classics we love, like Word and Excel, with the high-tech security and multi-device functionality we need, at a non-enterprise price we can live with. How’s that for adulthood?
WATCH: The World Cup in 25 feet of 4k beauty, $1249
Yep, you read right: 25ft. of high-quality World Cup action in your home. The new ViewSonic PX747-4K projector sports 3500 lumens of brightness, 8.3m pixel resolution, and a big enough picture to make you an unofficial official.
Win the ultimate Work Hard/Play Hard prize package
It’s no secret: The Hustle loves Microsoft, and they seem to love us back.
In fact, they love us so much, they’re giving away a killer prize package to one of you.
The Work Hard/Play Hard Sweepstakes is live, folks:
Enter to win a custom, Hustle-branded Xbox One S, a Microsoft Surface, and a Microsoft Office 365 package with 5 subscriptions for your team -- the only thing missing from this bundle is a winning lotto ticket.
And hey, if you’re heading to Hustle Con next week, stop by the Microsoft 365 Business booth for an extra chance to win.