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Casper’s been muscling bloggers out of the mattress review game... The Hustle Wed, Oct 18 Brought to you by Framebridge Casper’s war on mattress bloggers Casper is the biggest player in the bed-in-a-box market. Since launching in 2013, the company...
Casper is the biggest player in the bed-in-a-box market.
Since launching in 2013, the company has raised $239m from investors at a $750m valuation. In a $1.2B industry with over 100 competing mattress companies, it has managed to scrape and claw its way to the top.
As Fast Company reports, in the past few years, dozens of blogs have surfaced that exclusively focus on reviewing mattresses.
These guys have a very specific game plan: they vie for SEO dominance on phrases like “mattress review” and “best mattress,” then strike affiliate marketing deals with certain mattress brands.
For instance, if a blogger links to a $1k Leesa mattress and a customer clicks through and buys one, the blogger typically makes around $50 (or 5%) per sale.
And Casper used to love these guys
When they first started out, Casper went super hard on striking deals with these blogs: it was a big part of their marketing strategy, and it paid off.
In particular, they fancied Sleepopolis, run by a skinny Arizona blogger named Derek Hales. D-money was one of the internet’s most prolific mattress reviewers, raking in 500k blog hits per month. For some time, he and Casper shared a mutually beneficial relationship.
But, when Casper got a new infusion of cash in 2015, they stopped working with affiliate bloggers like Derek — and Derek started touting other mattresses instead. With the SEO power he wielded, Derek cost Casper millions in lost sales.
So, Casper sued
In April of 2016, Casper filed suits against Sleepopolis and 2 other mattress review sites, alleging that they had engaged in “false advertising” and had failed to disclose affiliate partnerships with competing brands like Leesa.
And when Sleepopolis refused to settle, Casper allegedly funded a buyout of the blog to shut them up. Today, Casper claims Sleepopolis is run independently of Casper — but their mattresses are “magically” #1 on the blog again.
Who knew the mattress game was so cruel?
Airbnb’s new rival, Vacasa, just raised $103m
Vacasa, a Portland-based online vacation rental company (and a sick portmanteau of the words “vacation” and “casa”), just closed a $103.5m Series B led by a group of private equity firms looking to take Airbnb to the mat.
So what’s the difference between the two?
While Airbnb runs off of a peer-to-peer model that relies on homeowners to fix up their properties for guests, Vacasa takes a more hands-on approach — billing itself as a “full-service property management company.”
Aimed at wealthier travelers, Vacasa has on-premise employees who work as housekeepers, reservations agents, local managers, etc. — making Vacasa homes feel more like a hotel room than a stranger’s room you’re hiding out in.
And their model is catching on with other companies
The high-end rental business is a key growth area for the travel industry with companies seeking to boost profits by targeting wealthy tourists.
In February, Airbnb purchased Luxury Retreats, which offers tools similar to Vacasa for managing vacation properties remotely.
Meanwhile, Vacasa has grown quietly across the US and abroad, its smaller size helping it avoid the regulatory scrutiny that Airbnb seems to attract.
In other words, the fight for online vacation rental domination has begun.
Netflix, Amazon, and several major movie studios are joining forces and filing a first-of-its-kind copyright lawsuit against the streaming media player manufacturer, TickBox.
The complaint, filed Friday, claims the company’s devices are nothing more than “tools for mass infringement.”
But TickBox TV claims to be 100% legal
The device in question, the TickBox TV, operates by grabbing pirated video streams from the Internet, giving users instant access to multiple sources that stream the Plaintiffs’ copyrighted works without authorization.
While TickBox’s front-page Q&A brazenly cites its sources, other parts of the Q&A seem to directly contradict claims of legality.
The platform even has an “In Theaters” category that includes unreleased content that is definitely not authorized for free Internet streaming. For instance, Fox’s War for the Planet of the Apes was listed as available on TickBox even though Fox had not authorized the movie for in-home viewing of any kind.
We’re not lawyers, but… seems pretty dubious
The device is powered by Kodi, an open source media player software that is legal. But in the age of the piracy boom, software like Kodi can easily be exploited by copyright-infringing add-ons like TickBox TV.
Needless to say, the facts presented in the complaint don’t seem to bode well for the streaming company’s survival, as pretty much all signs lead to suuuuper shady.
Remember back when Facebook first launched, and we were all posting statuses about our dentist appointments and writing on each other’s walls 24/7? Well, Snapchat appears to be experiencing the same blowout growth with today’s teens.
Sure, we all know Snapchat’s popular with the youths, but maybe we underestimated exactly how addicted teens are to the platform.
47% of teens now say Snapchat is their favorite social network — a stat that’s nearly doubled in just 18 months while numbers for other platforms have stayed pretty much the same.
And, despite Zuck’s efforts to replicate Spiegel’s Snap features at every turn, only 24% of teens ranked Instagram as their #1.
Sh*t, I’m F*cked is a series on failure. This edition tells the story of Jason Goldberg, who raised $336m for his e-commerce company, Fab.com, only to watch it all crumble away in 3 years.
In November of 2014, CEO Jason Goldberg sat at his desk looking over the term sheet to sell Fab.com, the company he’d spent the past few years of his life building.
Fab had raised $336m since rebranding itself as an ecommerce platform in 2011. At one point, it had been a certified unicorn, valued at over $1B. It had 750 employees on multiple continents, a schmaltzy NY office, and a massive warehouse. Now, it was selling for somewhere in the vicinity of $15-30m.
The trouble began when the company went from selling quirky items on its platform (like a chandelier made of champagne glasses) to thousands of less-inspiring generic items.
In the pursuit of growth, they “started to lose the curation edge. “I remember we were all sitting around doing a preview of our products, and my team was like, ‘This is not inspiring at all,’” sya Goldberg. “Our best-selling product was a t-shirt with giant picture of an animal on it. Just crappy stuff. And I thought, ‘Is this really going to work out?’”
Things got worse from there. At one point, Fab was burning through $14m per month. They went from 750 to 15 employees. In Goldberg’s words, it was “death by 1,000 cuts.” And in a span of 3 years, he found himself selling off his $1B+ company for a fraction of what it was worth.
“I felt absolutely awful for my investors, and still do today,” he says. “I’ll always be the guy who fucked up fast…”
Time to class it up, adult you. You’re not in Kansas (State) anymore and those Dave Matthews posters on your walls just aren’t as cool as they used to be.
So how do you level up your living space?
We’re talking art. Framed art.
Affordable, framed art. On your wall in one week
Framebridge custom frames everything you love, from paintings to online photos, in no-time flat. You can even upload pics from your Instagram — they’ll print it, frame it, and ship it right back to you.
And it doesn’t have to stop at home. We’ve used Framebridge to decorate our Austin office, and we can attest: it’s certified rad, and starts at $39 with free shipping.
So if you want the ~class~ and sentimental touch of a framed photo with the ease of Amazon, check out Framebridge and start making your house feel like a home (not a dorm) — and use code HUSTLE15 for 15% off your first order.