Mueller Inc.

April 22, 2019

Today, mommy blogs may be multi-level marketing schemes and 50 Cent has some real estate advice for you, but first…
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Mueller Mania is in full swing, and people are paying a pretty penny for the free report

Unless you just woke up from a 10-day-long nap, you probably know the long-awaited Mueller Report was released to the public last Thursday.

But, over the weekend, the report wasn’t only fodder for dinner-table I-told-you-sos and Facebook feuds — it was also the #1 best-seller on Amazon. And the #2 best-seller. And the #3 best-seller… 

Welcome to Mueller Inc.

The Mueller Report is available for free on the Justice Department’s site (here). But that didn’t stop publishers from printing it for profit.

Simon & Schuster’s Scribner published a version “presented with related materials by The Washington Post” — available for $10.22 as a paperback or $7.99 on the Kindle — that topped Amazon’s best-seller rankings.

Publisher Skyhorse’s version, featuring an intro by a Harvard law professor, claimed the #2 spot (at $9.20 in paperback); publisher Melville House’s straight-up version (just $7.27) took the #3 spot. 

Based on average Amazon sales rank data, Simon and Schuster will rake in $54.7k every day it occupies the top spot (Skyhorse will make $38.5k in the #2 spot and Melville will make $26.1k at #3).

People aren’t buying books, they’re buying mementos

The fact that people bought enough copies of a free report to mint not 1 but 3 separate best-sellers may seem unlikely, or even downright dumb.

But it’s not the first time a government document has gone big: The Starr Report (about President Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky) and the Pentagon Papers both became popular best-sellers after printing in 1998 and 2011, respectively.

Perceptive publishers know that people don’t buy these books for the info they contain, but the emotions they evoke: A physical Mueller Report meta-memorializes months of dramatic, scandalous, and conversation-starting news cycles in a single, boring book.

The many faces of Mueller Mania

These popular prints were easy money for publishers, who often struggle to forecast demand. Several publishers put books on pre-sale before the report was published, and Skyhorse printed an initial run of 200k books. 

Publishers weren’t the only people to profit from Mueller Mania. 

If Mueller books are the material manifestation of crazy cable coverage, months of madcap memes found physical form as… T-shirts.

For anyone in the market, a tee printed with “I investigated Trump for 2 years and all I got was this lousy T-shirt” is available now on Amazon Prime, in multiple colors, for $17.77. 

Mueller…? Mueller…?
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Are mommy blogs smart side hustles or multi-level marketing schemes?

Some moms claim their mommy blogs — those digital diaries that recycle the same stock photos from the mid-’90s — bring in up to $2.8m a year.

But many money-making mommy blogs are built on top of other, less successful mommy blogs in a complex affiliate marketing web, reports researcher Kathryn Jezer-Morton for BuzzFeed News.

The profit is in the printables

Some stay-at-home moms (or SAHMs, as they’re called in the biz) make six-figure incomes as bloggers, reports Jezer-Morton, who is conducting her Ph.D. research on mommy blog monetization.

These women amass large audiences with relatable mom content (posts like “How to Organize Every Drawer in Your House”), and then sell courses and — the real cash cow —  “printables.”

What are printables, you ask? They’re stylized printouts that range in length from single sheets to entire binders. Most printables are calendars, to-do lists, or meal planners — and they sell like gangbusters.

Multi-level mom-keting

As you might imagine, few moms become popular enough to make big bucks selling courses and printables. The other moms are focused, instead, on content marketing and SEO. 

It’s all 1 big, well-decorated web: Mega-moms sell their printouts and classes through links in mini-mom blogs, offering aspiring mom-preneurs commission (and encouragement) in the process.

Some mega-moms even make their money more directly from their mini-mom admirers: One particularly popular mom-blogger sells a binder full of printouts about how to build a Shopify business… for $300.

» Power to the printables

Canopy Growth and American Acreage Holdings say ‘weed go well together’

Canadian cannabis company Canopy Growthsay that five times fast — purchased the rights to acquire NYC-based Acreage Holdings for $3.4B… but there’s a catch. The acquisition won’t go through until US weed is federally legalized, and it has an expiration date 7.5 years out. 

A ‘joint’ venture of the highest caliber 

Canopy — which is 38% owned by Constellation Brands thanks to a $4B investment — is the world’s most valuable cannabis company. The deal will make Canopy best buds with Acreage Holdings, one of the US’s largest multi-state cannabis operators. Acreage’s expanding chain of The Botanist dispensaries includes 25 locations across 12 states.

Side notes: Acreage board member John Boehner (yes, former US Speaker of the House John Boehner) stands to make a pretty penny off this dank deal. Also, Canopy has announced partnerships with Martha Stewart and Seth Rogen — the ganja’s all here. 

Hashing out an unusual deal

This “complex transaction with a simple objective” is designed to avoid issues on Toronto and NY stock exchanges, which both prohibit listing companies that violate US federal law. 

If the clock runs out, it’s unclear what will happen to the $300m cash Canopy agreed to front Acreage shareholders. 

But time’s moving reallyyyy slowlyyyy… so they’ll probably be okay. 

Canada’s gotten a head start on cannabis-related biz since it legalized weed last October. But as companies look to secure footholds in the budding North American market, this trail-blazing move will likely spark similar cross-border deals on top of more traditional acquisitions

» Love the infusiasm

50 Cent’s real-estate roller coaster shows the massive costs of mansion ownership

Rapper Curtis James Jackson III — AKA 50 Cent — recently sold the Connecticut mega-mansion he’s been trying to flip for 12 years for $2.9m — $1.2m less than he paid for it.

Why did Fitty sell at such a steep discount? Well, he was paying $70k every month just to take care of the place.

A 50 Cent mansion… at an 84% discount

Jackson bought a 52-room palace in Farmington, CT, from Mike Tyson for $4.1m in 2003 — the same year Get Rich or Die Tryin’ came out. 

The house was a humble rap mogul’s crib: 2 pools, indoor and outdoor basketball courts, a nightclub, a gym, home theater, game room, recording studio — and a giant mural of Fitty pointing a gun.

But 50 Cent quickly lost interest: When the house was robbed in 2017, The Wall Street Journal reports, Jackson said, “What my house got robbed, I thought I sold that MF. LOL.”

But after years of losing money on the house, Jackson finally sold his neglected mansion.

Luxury landscaping costs a LOT

Mansions aren’t just expensive to buy, they’re expensive to maintain: 50 Cent’s 2015 bankruptcy papers revealed the cost of maintaining the Connecticut mansion to be $70k/month.

Why does it cost so much to maintain a mega-mansion? In addition to predictable costs like taxes and utilities, Fitty also had to pay Connecticut’s “mansion tax.”

But, as Business Insider reports, the “invisible costs” of mansion ownership include elaborate home security systems, smart-home systems (whose updates can cost $20k), and landscaping costs that can hit 6 figures annually.

» It makes no Cents
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