🔥 BOOM! The Hustle is getting acquired

The Hustle is being acquired by HubSpot

We’ve got some HUGE news we’re dying to tell you about — and now we can finally spill the beans:

HubSpot has signed an agreement to acquire The Hustle!

HubSpot? The publicly traded software company?! Yep! That’s the one. This is a revolutionary partnership. A software company buying a media company… huh? Well, we’ll explain everything soon.

But let’s get to the important stuff: What does this mean for you, our dear readers?

The short answer is: more of the stuff you love.

With HubSpot’s support, we’ll be rolling out new podcasts, products, content, and original features. And yes, this email will always be free.

We’ll have more news on this in the coming weeks. In the meantime, you can read the official press release here.

With that, let’s take a look back at the journey that got us here:

final_size-timeline_20210204111625

 

SNIPPETS
  • In other software acquisition news… Box is acquiring the e-signature startup SignRequest for $55m.
  • Jack Ma strikes a deal: After halting Ant Group’s $37B IPO, Chinese regulators agreed on a restructuring plan that will turn the tech giant into a financial holding company.
  • China is stockpiling computer equipment as US sanctions loom. Chinese imports of computer chip imports reached ~$380B, about 18% of all Chinese imports in 2020.
  • Joe Budden — no, not Rogan — heads to Patreon: The popular podcaster is bringing his podcast and media network to Patreon. His show will still be available on most platforms, except one: Spotify, where he had a contentious break-up.
  • Meanwhile, Spotify “credits podcast popularity for 24% growth in subscribers,” per The Guardian.
  • Zoom heads back to the office: The company announced new features to help manage returns to the office. The new tools include remote receptionists and capacity monitoring.
  • Google goes under the sea: The company announced its 4k-mile subsea cable between Virginia and France is operational and can transmit 250 terabits per second, equivalent to three Libraries of Congress.

Chipotle’s growth plan: Fill your face with burritos via online orders

Full disclosure: It’s much more fun to read earnings reports when they attribute an increase in sales to “carne asada.”

Chipotle reported earnings this week, and while many restaurants continue to struggle (110k+ eateries in the US have shuttered), let’s just say Chipotle’s been making that avocadough.

Chipotle missed expectations but did well across the board

The stock dipped after Chipotle reported an earnings per share (EPS) miss. Even so, full-year revenue reached $6B, up +7% from 2019.

And here’s the juicy stat: Online sales jumped 174%, comprising 46% of total sales and helping boost same-store sales by 5% in Q4.

Chipotle announced plans to open 200+ new locations in 2021, up from 161 added last year and giving it an army of burrito-slinging centers 3k strong. To keep up, the company plans to hire 15k employees on top of its current 94k.

Chipotle’s focus shifted to online ordering…

… and it’s doubling down on “Chipotlanes,” drive-thru lanes where customers can pick up their online orders.

In 2021, 70% of new locations will have Chipotlanes, up from 62% last year. Chipotle will also experiment with digital-only, pickup-friendly stores.

Online sales funnel through Chipotle’s digital rewards program — which sports 19.5m members — and its app, which grew by 10m users in 2020.

Great — now it’s 8am and we’re hungry for tacos.

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FRESH FUNDING NEWS

Where English learning meets AI

Worldwide, 1.5B people speak English… and ~⅔ of these speakers (1B) are nonnative speakers.

ELSA — an AI-powered language app based in San Francisco and Ho Chi Minh City — just raised $15m to take on the massive opportunity.

Knowing English pays off

In English-speaking countries, mispronunciation and lack of confidence result in a reluctance to banter. At best, this leads many people to be overlooked. At worst, people are mistrusted or underpaid.

In places like Southeast Asia and Latin America, English speakers earn 2-3x more than non-English speakers. As a result, English learners often spend much of their disposable income on English classes.

There are gaps in the English-learning market:

  • Lockdowns shut down in-person classes: People have turned to online & app-based learning programs like ELSA.
  • People need customized feedback: Speaking well isn’t just about pronunciation. It’s about things like intonation, rhythm, and fluency.
  • Existing products are lacking: 1:1 tutoring is expensive, and apps don’t offer custom instruction.

How is ELSA different?

Well, with any “AI-powered” apps, the value prop is in the AI.

And ELSA has collected “the largest amount of accented English voice data from millions of users” with which to train its algorithms, according to Vu Van, the startup’s CEO.

“The other existing voice recognition technologies available […] might understand native speakers well,” Van tells TechCrunch, “but have a hard time understanding non-native accented English learner communities.”

If true, the distinction between native and non-native speakers — especially in high-growth markets ELSA is targeting (India, Japan, Vietnam) — may matter a lot less in the future.

CLINK CLINK
wine bottle

“It’s a 2020 vintage, not the best year.” (Source: Vivino/Linkedin)

Wine recommendation app Vivino raises $155m, with hints of a marketplace to come

There’s been a pretty unmissable trend over the past decade: people rudely interrupting restaurant meals by snapping photos of the wine bottle.

We can all blame Vivino, the wine recommendation app that just raised $155m (per TechCrunch) to keep you snapping wine labels.

The numbers from Vivino’s website are impressive:

  • User base: 50m (from 29m in 2018)
  • User-generated insights: 190m+ ratings and 67m reviews
  • Database: 1.5B user-submitted pictures for 13m types of wine (probably the world’s largest aggregated wine database)

When you have this type of juicy data, you don’t eff around.

Sure enough, Vivino will be using the funds (and data) to build out its marketplace. With a big audience in hand, Vivino can become the leading wine ecommerce platform.

It’s still very early days for the firm: It has 200 employees and sells wine in only 17 countries… which means there will be many more dinner interruptions to come.

THE HUSTLE SAYS

 

Meet the fastest-growing productivity company that guarantees to save you one day every week. That’s a promise worth checking out — ClickUp is free forever, so sign up here today!*

 

 

Send a free greeting card to a kid at Texas Children’s Hospital for Valentine’s Day. It’ll brighten their day (and probably yours, too).

 

 

Q: How do you say “I love you” in a Valentine? A: Easy. With booze! NIPYATA! makes Valentine’s cards filled with alcohol. Because let’s face it, heart-shaped boxes of chocolate suck. (Oh, did we mention they also have alcohol-filled piñatas, because… well, why not?)*

 

 

Our newest obsession? Cactus water. Pricklee has half the calories and sugar of coconut water — and, despite what we originally thought, there are no cactus prickers in the can. Amazing.

 

 

Robotics are revolutionizing the quick service restaurant industry – and Miso Robotics is leading the way with Flippy, a robotic kitchen assistant that mans the fryer and operates the grill for only $3/hr. Get the full details here and learn about how you can invest.*

 

*This is a sponsored post.

OG ARTICLE OF THE DAY
Soylent challenge article

The Hustle in pre-newsletter days. In the halcyon period of August 2015, we brought you the info you really wanted to know.

Can a human survive on only Soylent for 30 days? Turns out yes.

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