Hug your cigs tonight

The FDA moves to ban menthol cigarettes after originally threatening to hit flavored e-cigs where it hurts. The Hustle Sponsored by The FDA moves to ban menthol cigarettes instead of flavored e-cigarettes A threat to ban flavored e-cigs fizzled after the FDA decided to allow stores to continue selling vape juice, but only from closed-off […]


November 16, 2018

The FDA moves to ban menthol cigarettes after originally threatening to hit flavored e-cigs where it hurts.

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The FDA moves to ban menthol cigarettes instead of flavored e-cigarettes

A threat to ban flavored e-cigs fizzled after the FDA decided to allow stores to continue selling vape juice, but only from closed-off areas to keep underage vapeheads from getting their fix.

But Big Cig didn’t get off so easy. The FDA moved to ban flavored cigars and, more notably, menthol cigarettes — reportedly the harshest stance the FDA has taken with the cancer companies in a decade.

And to that we say: Juul dodged a nuclear bomb.

Why juust menthol cigarettes?

Menthol’s minty, cooling effect has burned in cigarettes since the 1920s. According to health officials, the additive curbs throat irritation caused by cigarette smoke, making menthols appealing to young people.

According to WSJ, flavored tobacco products are marketed specifically toward black smokers, 81% of whom opted for that minty buzz in 2017 (compared to 46% of Hispanics and 29% of whites).

Smoking isn’t for quitters

In 2013, Reverend Al Sharpton spoke out against the measure the last time the FDA attempted the ban, saying the prohibition of menthol would only increase racial profiling.

The tobacco industry agrees menthols shouldn’t be banned, but for a less altruistic reason than Sharpton: Menthol cigarettes account for almost 35% of US cigarette sales.

In other words, Phillip Morris doesn’t give a sh*t about anyone but his cryogenically frozen self (he’s the Walt Disney of bangin’ heats and everyone knows it).

What does this mean for Juul?

Juul, who dominates the e-cig market and became a decacorn 4x faster than Facebook, seems to have dodged a bullet in this round.

Let’s face it, people who like flavored tobacco and menthol are probably just going to go buy a Juul, and there’s no way every mom and pop bodega has the cash to build some whippersnapper-proof e-cig chamber.

That said, the threatened ban shook #vapenation to its core. And TechCrunch thinks this could do more harm than good to companies like Juul who live and die by marketing on social platforms.

Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em… or don’t

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Forever in blue jeans: Levi’s preps an IPO at a $5B valuation

Sweet jeans! CNBC reports that Levi Strauss is preparing an IPO that could raise between $600m and $800m at a valuation of around $5B.

And it’ll only be the company’s 2nd time in 145 years

Founded in 1853, the iconic blue jean maker actually went public once before in 1971, completing one of the largest-ever IPOs of its time ($50m).

But profits steadily declined. By 1984, descendants of Levi Strauss took the company private in a $1.7B leveraged buyout, and then did another buyout in 1996 to acquire stock from employees and outside investors.

In doing so, Levi’s took on billions in additional debt right as a little thing called the internet was taking off, keeping Levi’s from making an early dent in the budding e-commerce industry.

Then, in 2011, Chip Bergh came to work wearing jeans

As profit declines lingered, the company’s CEO Chip Bergh devised a strategy to focus on the company’s “profitable core” in order to free up extra cash and lean into its e-commerce biz.

Now, it’s finally starting to see its top and bottom lines rise again. Last year, Bergh led the company to almost $5B in sales (up from $4.4B when he started in 2011), and reported revenue of $1.4B for the quarter ending in August this year, representing a 45% jump YoY.

As far as debt goes, the pant store has cut its massive tab in half over the last 2 years.

» That’s just good jeans

Will people still buy luxury goods without their brand names? Italic hopes so

Some people buy Gucci bags so they can tell people they buy Gucci bags. But Italic, a luxury goods startup, is betting that some consumers are more interested in the bag than the brand name.

Yesterday, Italic launched a factory-to-consumer high-fashion marketplace. But while “brandless” businesses have succeeded elsewhere, Italic is challenging an industry where brand is everything.

Losing the label

Usually, retailers buy products from factories and sell them at a markup. Instead, Italic simply gives the factories a platform to create and sell its products, and then takes a cut of sales.

Italic partners with 15 factories that manufacture products for Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton, and other bougie brands

For a $10 monthly fee, Italic members can buy 2 luxury items per month, such as a designer handbag for $150 (Celine’s version sells for $3,300) or a leather jacket for $425 (or get one from J Brand for $990).

Italic is playing with fire by f*cking with the Gucci gang

In China, a company called Yanxuan pioneered the brandless biz and expects to bring in $3B this year, and in the US, Brandless has raised more than $292.5m in 2 years to sell unbranded food and home-good products (Italic has raised $13m of that).

But consumers don’t buy Lay’s potato chips for their social capital in the way that many luxury consumers want to pay a premium for brand labels.

Plus, bashing the world’s biggest luxury brands on your website is a bold move for an 8-month-old company.

» That’s very “non-brand”

‘Low-code’ coding platform Airtable’s valuation increased 8x in 8 months

Airtable, a coding platform for people who can’t code, raised a $100m Series C at a $1.1B valuation. After 3 years of what seemed like tediously slow development, the company has taken off in the past year.

A unicorn out of thin Air(table)

Airtable has grown so fast it is almost hard to believe: This past March, the company raised $52m at a $152m valuation, meaning the value of the company increased 8.8x in just 8 months.

Airtable’s revenue is on track to increase 400% to $20m this year, and 80k companies are now using the company’s software.

But all of the biggest tech companies have competing “low-code” platforms — Google’s App Maker, Microsoft’s PowerApps, Dell’s Boomi, Intuit’s Quick Base. So, how did a company competing with tech’s hairiest tarantulas get so big so fast?

Apps for dummies, not by dummies

The three founders of Airtable spent more than 3 years perfecting their prototype before launching to the public, making sure that every last feature of their new product was intuitive.

The attention to detail paid off: Airtable’s easy-to-use modules became the building blocks to make everything from WeWork’s global construction projects to Netflix’s post-production distribution process.

Now, Airtable plans to keep perfecting its product with its $162.5m in funding — and it has bold ambitions: “People think we’re building an Excel or Google Sheets replacement,” CEO Howie Liu told Forbes. “But we’re out to build the next Microsoft or Apple.”

» Who you callin’ ‘low code?’
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shower thoughts

  1. Sunny D tastes like someone made a bet that they could make orange juice without oranges.
  2. If you’re naked in public, it’s better to cover your face than your genitals.
  3. Cheating in exams is just studying at the wrong time.
  4. You don’t realize how long 30 seconds is until you get an unskippable ad.
  5. Around half the hands on earth can’t write.
  6. via Reddit
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