Stamps.com cuts ties with USPS


February 25, 2019

Stamps.com ended its exclusive partnership with USPS, and its stock took a beating.
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The mega-rich are buying ‘branded residences’ from Porsche and Bulgari

Beachfront mansions are sooo last year. Instead, ultra-rich vacationers are buying “branded residences” built by Porsche, Armani, and Bulgari, reports The New York Times.

It might seem strange for brands that make jewelry, handbags, and cars to be moving into the real estate market. But luxury brands cater to the tastes of the rich — and the rich want to have their penthouse and park their Porsche in it, too.

It isn’t always easy for billionaires to go on vacation…

A hotel? Nope, not exclusive enough. A second — or 5th — home? Ehh, too much work. 

But a luxury “branded residence” — which combines the don’t-lift-a-finger convenience of a hotel, the if-you-have-to-ask-you-can’t-afford-it status of a luxury brand, and the buy-the-neighbors’-house-to-knock-it-down privacy of a 2nd home? — now that is a convenience kingdom a billionaire can get behind.

A penthouse fit for a Porsche

Oh, you thought we were joking about the Porsche penthouse? Nope. The owner of the $32.5m penthouse suite of the Porsche Design Tower can actually park their Porsche on the 57th floor thanks to the skyscraper’s “signature” car elevator.

But the amenities don’t end there: The penthouse features 4 floors, 2 pools, separate winter and summer kitchens, and an 11-car garage. 

Like other branded residences, Porsche manages security, maintenance, and just about everything else for its tower residents — and buyers are lining up to pay top dollar for the amenities.  

The ‘branded residence’ boom

According to a recent report, the branded residence industry is “growing exponentially” across the world. Down the road from Porsche’s tower, Armani is putting the finishing flourishes on its own 60-story tower.

In addition to luxury brands like Porsche and Armani, high-end hotel chains are also getting in on the upscale action: The Four Seasons already operates 4k residential units in 19 countries and plans to increase its property portfolio to 7k residences in the next 5 years.

These new residences offer everything from cigar bars to boar hunting. But a development exec summed up the benefits best — “You don’t have to worry about calling the landscaper.”

Step inside my Porsche
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Investors are dumping cash into ‘minotaurs’ to corner competitive markets

Investors love using mythical creatures to categorize a company’s financial status. Why? Well, because a unicorn is rare… or rather, was. 

A company valued at $1B isn’t that unheard of anymore, so now, a new mythical creature has emerged — a company that has actually raised over $1B, to use Axioscoinage, is a “minotaur.” 

But, is making a minotaur a positive move for markets?

The rise of ‘blitzscaling’

Now, more than ever, investors are shoveling insane amounts of tickle cash into budding companies in high-potential markets with little competition — so no one else ever has a prayer of catching up — AKA “blitzscaling.”

It’s like playing Monopoly on crack — as of 2019, there are currently 56 minotaurs (most recently DoorDash), up from 24 in 2018, and just 9 in 2016.

Monopolizing new markets at the speed of cash

Historically, monopolies developed over time and were thought dangerous to market economies, but now they’re an investor’s holy grail — and that could be a disastrous risk. 

Blitzscaling is based on the premise that if a company grows to giant status fast enough, the profits will take care of themselves — like the philosophy behind the rideshare race between Lyft and Uber; 2 companies that still remain wildly unprofitable

Prioritizing speed over efficiency is like living in a house before you’ve built it: You overpaid to take the land off the market, but what good is the land if you don’t know how you’re going to pay for the roof?

» Mythical melee

Roku believes it will stream to a billion-dollar company in 2019

Techcrunch reports, Roku, the digital media player often overlooked to giants like Apple TV and Amazon Fire, said it plans to become a billion-dollar company in 2019.

The company beat analyst estimates and reported strong growth in active users (jumping 40% YoY) and streaming hours (reaching 7.3B), with revenues of $276m compared to a projected $262m.

Not cord-cutting, but ‘cord-shaving’

Roku increased active accounts by 1m, 6m, and 8m respectively over the past 3 years. It also quadrupled the size of its platform revenue from just over $100m in 2016 to over $400m in 2018.

The company estimates that 1 in 5 US TV households now uses the Roku platform for a portion of their TV watching.

So what’s contributing to the growth? While cord cutting is a contributor, CEO Anthony Wood credits “cord shavers” — pay TV subscribers who have started to dabble in streaming services — AKA, everyone’s parents.

Now it wants to build its international presence

With the streaming landscape poised to evolve this year thanks to the arrival of new services from AT&T, Disney, Viacom, and NBC, Roku plans to invest more internationally to continue expanding its reach.

Today, Roku has more than 27m active global accounts, and the company only began investing heavily in international markets in 2018. 

» A coo for Roku

Stamps.com’s stock drops 50% after it ends its exclusive partnership with the USPS

After announcing that it would not renew its multi-decade exclusive shipping partnership with the US Postal Service, Stamps.com’s stock price fell more than 50%. 

But since the 2-day shipping e-commerce era began, the USPS has also struggled to compete with Amazon and other quicker competitors, and now it will lose a key partner. 

It’s a sticky situation on both sides of the stamp 

In an announcement, Stamps.com revealed that it expects its sales to decline this year and its earnings to be cut in half due to its reliance on the slow-moving USPS.

But the USPS, which posted a $3.9B loss in 2018, also lost a money hauler in Stamps.com, an exclusive USPS partner since its 1996 launch, which did $536.9m in revenue last year.

According to Stamps.com CEO Ken McBride, the USPS is “working hard to compete in the e-commerce shipping industry, but … they have many issues to deal with that the more nimble product carriers do not.”

Amazon: The postage with the mostage 

“Really, everybody needs to work with Amazon,” McBride told Business Insider.

Amazon still ships some packages through UPS, USPS, and FedEx. But the e-commerce giant is building its own delivery fleet to speed up its fulfillment process and, unlike the USPS, Amazon guarantees 2-day shipping. 

Amazon says it has no plans to become a 3rd-party platform, but now that its delivery capacity has outpaced standard packager delivery, it’s hard to predict how the USPS will survive. 

» The Prime suspect
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$500? $100? Pfff… more like $24. And no, we’re not kidding. 

Our friends at online life insurance agency Haven Life want you to know that a big-time term life insurance policy is actually way more affordable than you think. 

So, how much coverage should you be looking for?  

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You can get the full rundown of what really goes into selecting a $500k policy directly from Haven Life in this blog post.  

But to give you the TLDR-version: There are a number of factors to weigh when choosing the right amount of coverage, but a good place to start is 5-10X your annual salary. You may need more or less depending on the number of financial dependents or debts you have.

Another factor to consider is term length. The right term length will give you coverage that lasts until your kids are adults or the mortgage is paid off. 

For example, a 35-year-old male, non-smoker, and in excellent health can expect to pay just $24 a month for a 20-year, $500,000 Haven Term policy issued by MassMutual — AKA skipping just one Friday’s worth of Happy Hour drinks. 

So, curious what your life insurance rate might be? Hit up Haven Life’s term life insurance quote tool.

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