The great boat sales boom of 2020

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The Hustle
Alumni Ventures Group

Krispy Kreme wants to give you a free doughnut every single day for the rest of 2021. All you have to do is show your COVID-19 vaccination card at any US location.

Homer Simpsons of the world, unite!

The big idea
Borat on a boat

People bought boats like crazy last year

The pandemic has had a devastating impact on car and airplane sales.

Between travel restrictions and reduced domestic mobility, dealerships and major manufacturers in both sectors have seen some of their biggest dips since the Great Recession.

But out on America’s waterways, another mode of transport has thrived…

Boats are booming

According to a report by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), sales of boats and related marine gear hit $47B in 2020 — a 9% bump from 2019, and a 13-year high.

Per Boating Industry, all types of big-boy water toys saw a bump in 2020:

  • Freshwater fishing boats and pontoons: 143k units (+12%)
  • Personal watercraft (Jet Ski, Sea Doo): 82k units (+8%)
  • Wake boats: 13k units (+20%)

Who’s buying?

Experts say this trend has largely been buoyed by first-time boat buyers, many of them on the younger side — a demographic that hasn’t historically been the industry’s strong suit.

As it turns out, boating enthusiasts aren’t as niche of a community as one might expect. Per NMMA:

  • 100m Americans report going boating every year, making it one of the most popular outdoor recreational activities in the US.
  • 61% of boaters earn <$75k in household income/year.

Collectively, these boaters make up a $12B/year industry — and ~4.3k boat dealers exist to cater to their needs.

Why boats?

Boats weren’t the only form of recreational transport to spike last year: Bicycles, RVs, and electric scooters all sold like hotcakes.

But boats in particular seemed to benefit from a perfect storm of more flexible remote work schedules, travel restrictions, and timing (boating “season” is generally considered to run from April to October, which coincided with 2020 lockdowns).

The only people having more fun than the boaters themselves are the people who bought boat-related stocks last March.

MarineMax, the largest boat dealer in the US, has seen its stock jump from ~$8 to $58 per share since March of 2020.

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  • TikTok’s not a cyber threat, according to researchers from the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab. The team released a report that found no technical evidence of underlying security threats in TikTok’s code.
  • LatAm’s big raise: Latin America’s version of Shopify — Nuvemshop — raised a $90m Series D led by Silicon Valley-based Accel. The platform is used by ~80k merchants and recorded 14m transactions in 2020.
  • Fed to go slow with crypto: Chairman Jerome Powell said Monday that if the US government were to develop a cryptocurrency, it would do so “with great care and transparency,” though we shouldn’t expect one anytime soon.
  • UK might fund Starlink: SpaceX is in talks with the UK in hopes it can attract some funding from the country’s $6.9B “Project Gigabit” internet infrastructure program.
  • Clubhouse co-founder Paul Davison said it will take months for the social audio app to come to Android. Delays like this have allowed Twitter to nonchalantly roll out its own Clubhouse clone, Spaces.
  • More semiconductor troubles: A fire at a leading auto chip manufacturing facility in Japan will take at least a month to repair. Shares of Toyota, Nissan, and Honda all fell more than 3% on the news.
Spilling the Tea
Starbucks cup

Starbucks CEO’s $50m pay bump publicly rejected by shareholders

Since Kevin Johnson joined Starbucks as president and CEO in 2017, the company’s valuation has grown by $39B (~45%).

That’s a latte growth — and Johnson has been handsomely rewarded for it: Between 2017 and 2019, he raked in $44.1m in total compensation.

But now, the CEO has run into a bit of a snag: His latest pay package, which includes a $50m retention award and a $1.86m bonus, has been rejected by Starbucks shareholders.


Public companies report planned changes to executives’ compensation via proxy statements. Shareholders then get to vote on these “say on pay” proposals.

So, what are the implications of a “no” vote?

  • The vote is technically nonbinding: The company still gets to make the final comp decision…
  • But a ‘no’ isn’t a good sign: It signals that shareholders think executives are overcompensated — or that they’re unhappy with the company’s direction.

How often does this happen?

Rarely. In fact, only 10 S&P 500 companies have had shareholders reject pay raises in the last year.

So how do shareholders decide if a pay raise is justified? Starbucks investors turned to 2 influential proxy advisory firms for insight:

  • Institutional Shareholder Services (“ISS”) argued that there was insufficient rationale behind Starbucks’ proposal.
  • Glass Lewis noted that Johnson is compensated disproportionately more than CEOs at other companies that have outperformed Starbucks.

The veto likely won’t change Starbucks’ decision. Still, it seems like drama is a-brewing.

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Streaming Wars

Bezos’ decadelong, $10B NFL bet is part of a larger streaming playbook for Amazon

Just how serious has Amazon gotten about streaming live football? Take a look at the before and after:

  • 2017: Amazon spent ~$50m on nonexclusive rights to Thursday Night Football.
  • 2021: Bezos just signed an exclusive 10-year, $10B+ deal for Thursday night games.

This latest deal is part of the NFL’s new decadelong $113B agreement spree with broadcasters. And it signifies Big Tech’s first serious foray into the world of Big Sports.

The deals add big points to streaming’s scoreboard

Live football is one of the last bastions of traditional TV. In 2020, 7 of the top 10 shows were NFL games.

The NFL’s new agreements expand networks’ rights to stream games on their own platforms (e.g., CBS x Paramount+, NBC x Peacock, and Disney x ESPN+).

Amazon’s $10B deal, which is good through 2033, will force Thursday Night Football enthusiasts to sign up for Amazon Prime in order to tune in.

Bezos could be eyeing a future in ad revenue and sports betting

Ad spend on connected TVs will total ~$13.4B in 2021, up from ~$9B in 2020. And Amazon is making moves in the space: In 2020, the company’s streaming-TV ad business grew faster than its search-and-display ad segments.

Tech from Amazon’s livestream gaming platform Twitch will also enable in-game betting, commenting, and access to stats and replays.

Bezos is playing the long game here. If history is any indication, that’s a strategy that’s worked out well for him.

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This day in history
Elisha Otis

On this day 164 years ago (March 23, 1857), a man named Elisha Otis installed his first elevator at 488 Broadway in NYC.

After years of working as a wagon driver and doll maker, Otis had moved to New York to work as a machinist. He originally developed the concept of his elevator as a way to move debris to different levels of a factory he was working at.

In 1853, he launched Otis Brothers & Co. and debuted his newfangled contraption at the New York City World’s Fair.

Otis died in 1861 — but his sons carried on his legacy, and demand for the elevators exploded during the Civil War.

Today, Otis is the largest manufacturer of elevators in the world, with 64k+ employees and annual revenue of $13B.

The company’s elevators — which have thankfully come a long way since the 1800s — can be found in famous buildings like the Eiffel Tower and the Empire State Building.


Soon to be $350B market with 90% profit margins…

In last week’s Trends newsletter, we set outlined some of the biggest opportunities in a market expected to reach $350B by 2035:

3D Printing.

Over the last year, over $1B in funding has poured into 3D printing businesses.

And it’s no wonder, the profit margins are unbelievable.

(Trends members we interviewed told us they were seeing 80-90%)

So, how do you get in on 3D printing while it’s still early?

Well, we put together a guide walking you through the best opportunities and niches our team of analysts could identify.

When you read through, you’ll learn:

  • How you can get started with a 3D printer that only sets you back ~$500
  • The 3D printing niche that raised $20.6M earlier this year and similar niches you can get started on this weekend
  • How one individual makes $225k/month from selling one 3D printed miniature on Amazon
  • And much more

If you’re not already a member of Trends, sign up today for a $1 trial to get access to the full discussion.

Join the Discussion →

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