Please hold…

Still on hold with customer service? That’s because companies have been secretly grading you to decide your customer value to them. The Hustle There’s a reason you’ve been on hold with customer service for an hour… And it may hurt your feelings. The Wall Street Journal reports that companies use a secret scoring system called […]


November 5, 2018

Still on hold with customer service? That’s because companies have been secretly grading you to decide your customer value to them.

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There’s a reason you’ve been on hold with customer service for an hour…

And it may hurt your feelings.

The Wall Street Journal reports that companies use a secret scoring system called CLV to determine the caliber of treatment a customer will get based on how “profitable” they could potentially be for the company.

In other words, you’ve been on hold with Macy’s for 3 days because you don’t buy enough business-casual leather jackets.

Or, as Harvard marketing professor Sunil Gupta put it, “There’s no free lunch. The more profitable you are, the better service you will get.” And to that we say… don’t get stuck sitting next to that guy on a train.

You down with CLV?

No, actually, we’re not.

CLV, or “customer lifetime value,” is a common metric used in the customer service biz to determine how long you’re kept on hold over the phone, or whether you’re worthy of getting a seat upgrade on a flight.

Everyone with a bank account, cellphone or online shopping addiction has at least one CLV score (most of us have many at various companies).

The scores take into account how much money a customer spends, the number of returns they make, even their ZIP code — which can determine targeted ads, perks you receive, and even prices you get on items.

Worth its weight in data

The data that goes into a score could be literally anything — transaction records, website interactions, customer-service conversations (this call may be recorded), social-media profiles and others, to predict a consumer’s behavior.

The data puts people in tiers based on factors like marital status (some companies assume singles are better customers) and age, because, you know… shorter lifespans mean smaller returns on a “lifetime loyalty member.”

Everyone’s doin it

This is basically just a sci-fi version of what store owners have been doing since the beginning of time — judging a person’s worth based on how they look or behave.

Only now, there are hundreds of analytics firms using hard data to judge the book by the cover they built.

Still on hold…

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Astroscale raises $50m to clean up space junk

As every nation, corporate unicorn, and 3D printing startup succumbs to space fever like it’s 1969, experts worry that the future of spaceflight may be in jeopardy.

The reason? There’s too much space trash.

Now, Astroscale, a Singapore-based developer of space debris removal services, has raised $50m in a new Series D to act as the head custodian of low-earth orbit.

This is the 4th round of funding raised by Astroscale, and brings their total funding to $102m.

The big bang of a new market

5.2k launches since 1957 have led to more than 23k tracked objects in orbit around earth, most of which no longer serve any purpose.

Only around 1.2k of those tracked objects are actual working satellites: The rest are pieces of dormant satellites, rocket bodies, boosters, and other human-made waste, splintered off into 750k pieces of high-velocity hailstones made of metal.

In other words, satellite operators and space agencies didn’t clean up their trash, but now Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos want to shoot rockets into clean space — thus, a business model was born.

Time to take out the space trash

Astroscale was founded in 2013, and since then it has opened a ground station and started work on an in-orbit ground control facility that will support advanced robotics activities in space to help deorbit small, non-working satellites.

The company is currently working on its first debris capture demonstration mission, scheduled to launch in 2020.

» Star Trek: Deep Clean 9

UberEats is so popular it’s reshaping the entire food service industry

Uber’s food delivery business, UberEats, has been the talk of the town since analysts valued it at nearly $20B. But Uber isn’t just banking on existing late-night burrito delivery, it’s also fostering new local restaurants, which can now afford to operate almost solely online.

Bloomberg reports that these new delivery-only setups are becoming all the more popular, and it’s turning the traditionally thin-margined restaurant industry on its head.

Nobody ever goes in, and nobody ever goes out…

Ghost restaurants” (restaurants with no brick-and-mortar presence) have been gaining in popularity since 2016, allowing companies like Green Summit to crank out different cuisines under multiple virtual restaurant brands all from one industrial kitchen.

These brands have been so successful that UberEats is now using its data to actively encourage their creation.

Here’s how it works:

  • Step 1: UberEats’ data team identifies a demand for a specific cuisine in a given area (say, burgers).
  • Step 2: The team approaches a local restaurateur with the proposition of adding a delivery burger brand onto its current brick-and-mortar operation.
  • Step 3: Profit. The restaurant owner multiplies the revenue of their operation overnight, without having to invest in additional seating, kitchen space, or staffing (sometimes earning 28x more with their virtual brand than their OG eatery).

It’s aaalll part of Uber’s plan

Despite a mere $11B valuation, Grubhub remains the profitable industry leader with a 52% market share.

The main difference? UberEats is growing faster — in part thanks to its virtual restaurant program, which now works with 1.6k virtual restaurants globally.

» Ghost in the (taco) shell

Intel wants to turn instant replays into a multibillion-dollar VR business

Yesterday, live audiences watched Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley sprint down FedExField for a 40 yard touchdown against the Washington Redskins. Minutes later, 2 Intel engineers released a fully immersive, 360-degree replay.

This “True View” replay system is part of the chipmaker’s plan to transform the humble instant replay into a multibillion-dollar VR industry. But, this virtual world looks a lot less like reality.

Designers used to make video games look more like real life…

Now, they’re making real life look more like video games. Intel records 3D video footage with 38 HD cameras installed in a ring around NFL football fields and then processes a terabyte of data to construct a 15-30 second clip.

The result is a 360-degree video that can be frozen and viewed from any angle, just like a video game.

Intel currently uses pros to edit its replays, but it plans to make its VR systems available in real-time to let viewers choose their angle.

A virtual-reality Hail Mary

Intel’s making a big bet that VR technology will score an easy touchdown with viewers. In 2016, it acquired Israeli startup Replay Technologies, and since then it’s installed its True View systems in 13 NFL stadiums and partnered with Paramount Pictures and ESPN.

But, the company has already scaled back ambitious plans to create a VR headset that lets viewers “go anywhere on the field… with maybe a two-second delay” due to low demand, and the payoff from Intel’s investment is still under official review.

» Still no do-overs
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Mad deals: Moosejaw is throwing a sale soiree for their 26th birthday

Moosejaw, your crazy cousin in outdoor equipment retail, is celebrating their decade and a half of e-commerce existence with a sale gearheads only dream about.

From November 9th-19th, get up to 30% off some of the most sought-after parkas, packs, poles, and pretty much everything else you need for your next weekend outing to Mt. Ineedanewinstapic.

We’ll buy jackets from any company that McLovin does…

Fogell (AKA Christopher Mintz-Plasse) did just that in 2008. Other notable moments in Moosejaw history include developing the first gluten-free backpack (2010) and solving the office raccoon problem (2013).

But that’s all just part of the Madness they’re celebrating with this anniversary sale.

And since we love anybody that does things their way — and does it proudly — we’ll be picking up a batch of company flannels. (Possibly a tent and fire starter too, for those late nights in the office.)

Take a hike at the link below and embrace your outdoorsiest self.

In-tents deals →

monday morning review

When your product sells itself

For the past month, my local grocery store has been terrorized by Hobgoblin Grapes.

I’m talking shelf upon shelf of otherwise perfect, delectable grapes wrapped in a horrifying package featuring a freakish hobgoblin mascot with hyperrealistic, arthritic hands and teeth that look like they could chew through a boot.

Once a week I’ll steel myself to enter the produce aisle. And, once a week, I’ll inexplicably leave with a bag of God’s marbles plastered with the devil incarnate, laughing at me as if to say, “back for more, are we?”

I know what you’re thinking: if you don’t like the grapes, just buy a different brand! You are living in a prison of your own making, woman!

Ah, if only it were that simple.

You see friends, Hobgoblin Grapes are far and away the best grapes money can buy.

These are the biggest motherf*cking grapes you have ever seen in your entire life.

They’re greener than a 2003 Volkswagen Bug, crunchier than a fresh-picked Fuji, with enough zing to remind you of your own mortality — not in a sad way, but a sexy, “it’s the end of the world, babe” kind of way.

They are, in so many words, superior in every way to any other grape on the shelf.

So, why would anyone besmirch their product with what I assume is the last face you see before you are dragged straight to hell?

According to one produce blog, it’s because Dulcich farms’ seasonal hobgoblin packaging “draws attention to the displays and the quality of the xlg-to-jumbo grapes inside.”

Touché, Dulcich.

Point is, sometimes it doesn’t matter if your marketing is the stuff of nightmares. If your product is good enough, it’ll speak for itself.

— Lindsey Quinn, Managing Editor of The Hustle

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