See Spot buy


February 7, 2019

Spotify buys podcasting giant, Gimlet Media, in its quest to become the ‘Netflix of audio.’
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Doubling down on podcasts: Spotify buys Gimlet and Anchor, plans future spending

Fire up the studio, and give ’er the ol’ “mic check 1, 2, 1, 2,” because Spotify announced on Wednesday that it acquired podcast production company Gimlet Media and short-form podcasting app Anchor.

While no acquisition terms were released, Recode reported last week that Gimlet Media had a price tag of more than $200m.

Puttin’ on the cans

The Stockholm-based streaming powerhouse, which went public last March, has long expressed its ambition to stretch the appeal of its platform. In a blog post, Spotify’s CEO Daniel Ek predicted that more than 20% of listening on Spotify will eventually be “non-music content.”

Ek believes accelerating Spotify’s spending on original content, AKA podcasts, is the perfect way to do it — in hopes of becoming the “Netflix of audio.”

They aren’t messin’: The streaming service reportedly plans to spend up to $500m this year on more podcasting acquisitions — but, why? Isn’t podcasting still a relatively small business?

It is… in the US

The American ad model for podcasting only generated an estimated $315m in 2017, compared to digital video ads that brought in $11.9B in the same year — but that’s likely because of its generally free or ad-supported business model.

The podcast industry in China is 23x larger, estimated to be worth an astonishing $7.3B+, thanks to paid subscriptions.

There are vast differences between China’s state-run media market and America’s free market, but a company like Spotify — whose ambitions stretch beyond just the ol’ US of A, and which has a whopping 96m monthly paid subscribers (and growing) — could be the giant to make it work.

Gimlet ain’t no slouch either

Valued at around $70m in 2017, Gimlet has slowly climbed the podcast studio ranks, bringing the world hit shows like Reply All, Startup, and an inaugural fictional podcast, “Homecoming,” which was adapted into an Amazon series.

The other acquisition, Anchor, creates products that simplify the process of recording and earning money from podcasts — showing that Spotify is also focusing on building an infrastructure around its creators. Both deals are expected to be finalized by March 30.

See Spot buy
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The house doesn’t always win: NJ gamblers beat the bookkeepers… by $4.6m

This year was the first time gamblers in 7 states could legally bet on the Super Bowl.

Surprisingly, the bookies didn’t win across the board: In New Jersey, gamblers got the best of the ’books by $4.6m. Nevada was more normal: bet-takers got the better of bet-makers by $10.7m.

New Jersey bookies are rookies

Since gambling was already partially legal, the Dirty Jersey became one of the greatest (new) grounds for gamblers when the court struck down its ban on betting last year.

According to ESPN, Garden State gamblers put down $35m on the game — but they came away with even more.

In NJ, the betting platform DraftKings took 300k bets and lost $1m to gamblers. FanDuel took 350k bets but had an even worse day, losing more than $5m.

A gamble for the Garden State’s government

So, why did New Jersey bookies end up losing so badly? It really does have to do with NJ bookies being rookies. 

Sportsbooks make money by balancing the public’s betting habits. Since it’s harder to understand the public’s betting habits in places with less information about betting habits, it’s easier for bookies and casinos to lose in Newcomer Jersey than in Veteran Vegas.

But it’s not just casinos that lose. Since casinos and state tax authorities split losses, NJ’s government will probably lose some cash because of the bookies’ bad bets — while Nevada made $727k in tax revenue. 

» The ‘bad bookkeeper tax’

Walgreens and Cooler Screens display a freaky future for the frozen foods aisle

After successfully testing out “smart cooler” screens in Chicago, Walgreens is expanding its partnership with Cooler Screens to bring face-recognizing, eye-tracking screens to frozen food displays.

Marketers have been looking for ways to bridge the gap between brick-and-mortar retailers and digital advertisers for years, and now Walgreens is betting that smart-fridge displays could be a chill solution.

Brick-and-mortar meets digital advertising in the freezer

Powered by AI-powered cameras, the “smart” screens, which cover the front panel of cooler doors, display different ads based on age, gender, and even the outside temperature.

For retailers like Walgreens, the screens provide a new source of ad revenue and also a quicker way to know when to restock. For big brands, the screens offer the targeting of internet-style advertising, in-store.

Walgreens launched an initial trial of the system in November in Chicago, and 15 major advertisers including Coca-Cola, Nestle, Anheuser-Busch, and MillerCoors have already signed up to test with Cooler Screens.

What’s Cooler than being cool? Predictive digital merchandising!

Now Walgreens has already launched Cooler Screens in several of its New York locations, and was expecting to have test screens in Seattle and San Francisco as well.

As Cooler Screens and other companies like Via build new marketing systems that use facial recognition to target consumers, some customers are concerned about privacy issues.

But Cooler Screens insists consumers have no reason to fear the freezer: Although its systems use facial recognition, they don’t identify individuals and they only store anonymous data. 

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

Creators of facial recognition systems to track in-store customers insist their “business model is not built on selling consumer data.” So far, there’s no evidence to doubt these claims. But, remember: Mark Zuckerberg also claimed Russian interference was a “crazy idea.”
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» ‘We know you want that DiGiorno’

Volatile schmolatile: Stocks are rising, despite less than great earnings

A trade war, higher interest rates, and a puttering global economy had Wall Street feelin’ understandably blue at the end of last year. 

But, with the Federal Reserve rethinking its plan to gouge interest rates, investors are realizing the cries of economic downturn last year may have been a lit-tle dramatic.

Now, the market seems to be back on its happy pills, with stocks rising much higher than anticipated this quarter — even though earnings still weren’t that great in Q4.

Time for a little market positivity

Per The New York Times, numerous companies like Wynn Resorts, Ford, and JPMorgan Chase all missed Wall Street forecasts — yet all of the companies saw their stock prices rise.

While better than expected, Snap’s earnings were still nothing to write home about, but on the bright side, its user number stopped disappearing — so, congrats! You get a 15% uptick!

General Electric reported one of its worst quarterly profits ever — analyst forecasts completely whiffing — yet, the company’s stock jumped the highest in nearly a decade.

It’s called a ‘relief rally’ 

A relief rally is when investors, fatigued of fear-mongering and safe plays, pivot to a positive focus on company earnings reports — no matter how mediocre  — because they know things could be so much worse.

This quarter, fewer companies beat Wall Street expectations than in recent quarters, yet the S&P 500 is up roughly 5%

Also, stocks have risen an average 1.1% for companies that have reported earnings — the largest post-earnings jump in a decade.

» The stock will come up, to-morrow
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