Is Kentucky the new Napa?


January 7, 2019

As the bourbon industry climbs a $3B market, storied whiskey distillers hope to ‘Napa-fy’ Kentucky
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Kentucky bourbon towns are ready to become the Napa of American whiskey 

In the last 5 years, bourbon whiskey has become much more than a get-wasted-quick scheme found in your grandpa’s basement liquor cabinet. 

Today, bourbon is a $3.3B industry. Now, The New York Times reports that thirsty investors are helping storied Kentucky distillers like Kentucky Owl (which recently sold to the owner of Stolichnaya vodka) turn the state’s staple into a cornerstone of its economy.

TGFH (Thank God for hipsters)

Congress established Bourbon as “America’s Native Spirit” in ’64 — yet almost immediately, it experienced a decades-long downturn in demand (only 455k barrels were produced in 1999, down from 1.9m 30 years earlier).

But all of that changed in the early 2000s as a younger generation of drinkers rediscovered bourbon and its All-American origins.

Since 2014, nearly 2 dozen distilleries have opened in Kentucky — which produces 95% of all bourbon — to keep up with demand.

The ‘Napa-fication’ of Kentucky

In 2017, 1.2m people visited bourbon distilleries (a 20% jump from 2016, and nearly double the number in 2014). Now, the race is on to see which Kentucky bourbon town becomes the Napa Valley of American whiskey.

Local businesses are smelling the prosperous notes of the same Napa wine craze that transformed the tiny Northern California farming town into a premiere vacation destination in the ’80s.

It’s not just booze… it’s an ‘experience’ 

To the chagrin of many Kentucky traditionalists, dining hotspots with craft whiskey lists, high-end retailing, and bourbon-smashed bridal parties have become the norm.

6 months after selling to SPI Group, Kentucky Owl revealed plans to build a $150m distillery. Of course, it’s not just any distillery. The new facility will feature a convention center, 2 lakes, and a luxury hotel… drink it in, tourists. Drink it in.

Down the hatch
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The Weather Channel is stuck in a location data lawsuit, and the forecast looks bad

These days, it seems no one is safe from a data scandal: The Weather Channel app, owned by IBM, is being sued for misleading users and selling their location data to advertisers and investors.

If the Weather Channel app loses, it could pay out millions to its 45m monthly active users.

Cloudy with a chance of lawsuit

The lawsuit, filed by the LA city attorney, accuses the Weather Company of leading customers to believe their location data would be used only for local forecasting.

But IBM allegedly sold the personal data to advertisers (to help them geo-target potential customers) and hedge funds (to help them evaluate foot traffic).

Since gathering and selling data without disclosure violates California law, LA now seeks $2.5k for each individual violation — a sum that could add up to millions.

In today’s economy, the Weather predicts you

IBM’s data deviousness isn’t a total surprise: When IBM added the Weather Channel to its Cloud Computing Unit, we predicted it would sell its data to existing clients. But no one expected IBM to do such a bad job notifying users.

The lawsuit is only getting started. For now, the Weather Channel insists its “disclosures are fully appropriate, and [it] will defend them vigorously.”

   @ Me Anything
Conor Grant, News Writer at The Hustle
@conor_p_grant

A helpful primer on the ‘free’ app economy: “Siri, what’s the weather today?” “Sorry, I don’t understand: For more information from the Weather Channel, please tell IBM your Social Security number.”
Show this thread
» Weather, Weather, go away

Analysts predict Amazon’s cashierless stores could be a $4.5B business by 2021

Not only are Amazon’s new cashierless and cashless stores giving traditional “convenience” stores a run for their money, new research suggests they’re already more lucrative.

Based on in-person tests and data-collection, analysts at RBC Capital found that each Amazon Go store will reel in an estimated $1.5m in yearly revenue, 50% more than your typical corner shop.

No cash, no employees, no problem

The e-commerce behemoth opened its first Go store in Seattle at the beginning of 2018, and has added 8 more locations since — with construction on a 9th location in New York City reportedly underway. 

But 8½ Go locations are barely the beginning. 

Amazon is considering a plan to open as many as 3k new Go stores over the next 2 years, which, based on RBC’s report, would mean that the storefronts could become a $4.5B business by 2021.    

Problem is, Amazon Go stores cost a pret-ty penny 

While it may be more profitable long-term, the upfront investment for cashierless stores is much larger than “dark age” convenience outlets.

The first Go location cost more than $1m in hardware alone, which, according to Morgan Stanley, means the e-commerce giant would need to shell out close to $3B for 3k stores.

Of course, if anyone has the tickle to do it, it’s Amazon.

» Remember when it was just books?

Sophia Genetics raises $77m to democratize hospital data and make diagnoses

Sophia Genetics, a data-driven medicine company that uses AI to help hospitals share diagnostic resources, just raised $77m

Investment in gene-based medicines and therapies has increased dramatically over the past few years. But, in addition to treating cancer and hereditary illnesses, Sophia Genetics also wants to fix the way that hospitals share medical data.  

A problem bigger than any one hospital

Hospitals have a hard time sharing data: As recently as 2015, less than 30% of hospitals were ‘interoperable,’ meaning 70% of hospitals lacked the technology to find and use medical records from other providers.

But Sophia wants to not only help hospitals share medical data, but also pool it together and layer on AI to make diagnoses and predict outcomes.

It’s not their first diagnosis

By analyzing genomic and radiomic data provided by its 850 partner hospitals, Sophia’s AI platform has helped diagnose 300k+ patients in more than 77 countries. 

Sophia Genetics has raised a total of $140m since it was founded in 2011, and this new funding will help it expand its US operations via hospital partnerships and hiring.

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