May 11, 2020

The great cerveza countdown is on

May 11, 2020
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Glass Half Empty

A beer shortage leaves Mexico with a case of sud sadness

Pour one out for Mexico’s national beer supply.

Our neighbor to the south has deemed the suds industry nonessential in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, and beer brewers there have largely shut down.

Now thirsty citizens are having a hard time commandeering a precious 6-pack — and a black market has emerged to quench their thirst.

Make no mistake: Mexico REALLY likes its beer

The nation’s wine, mezcal, and tequila industries are still cranking out booze — but cerveza is king. 

  • The average Mexican adult drinks 18 gallons of beer a year, compared to a quart of wine (that’s 72x as much). 
  • The industry generates 55k jobs directly, but as many as 650k when you count everyone involved, according to a Mexican beermakers’ group.
  • The head of an association for Mexican mom-and-pop stores said beer makes up about 40% of those shops’ sales during hot weather.

The great cerveza countdown is on

Oxxo, Mexico’s largest chain of convenience stores, said in late April that it only had 10 days’ worth of beer left. A delivery to a store in Hermosillo brought masked customers lining up all the way to the highway.

Facebook groups have popped up to help people locate beer at reasonable prices — an increasingly rare commodity thanks to price gouging.

Twitter users are posting memes and videos paying tribute to #LaÚltimaChela (the last beer), and saluting the lucky ducks striking it rich with their stockpiles.

When all else fails, try a cross-border beer run

Mexico is the world’s biggest exporter of beer, and the US is a major customer. Bloomberg reported last week that Constellation Brands, which brews Modelo brands (including, yes, Corona), is still running — but at reduced capacity.

So some Mexicans who live near the border are sourcing their suds from the US. One man who lives in the city of Reynosa came away empty-handed after searching 8 stores in 3 neighborhoods.

Rather than pay 3x the price on the black market, he bought a sixer of Corona in Texas.

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Trends Sneak Peek

Josh Wolfe believes that society’s outcasts are the ones who hold the secret to human progress. Wolfe is a co-founder of Lux Capital, a New York City-based early-stage venture firm whose guiding philosophy is “the more ambitious, the better.”

Lux has maintained a fairly low profile over the years, but 2019 was a banner year — 2 of its portfolio companies were snapped up in big acquisitions. Wolfe recently spoke to our Trends contributor Polina Marinova, creator of The Profile newsletter, for insights on his investing process and his views on the post-coronavirus world.

We’ve made an excerpt of the interview free for all to read — check it out here. The full story is available for our Trends subscribers — start your trial today to get access.

Big Money

You probably aren’t rich enough for these high-end Zoom fundraisers

Didn’t get the invite link? If it helps, you never had a real shot anyway. The classiest fundraisers this season are happening on Zoom, and only the real A-listers are attending.

Over the last month, Richard Weitz, an executive at the entertainment agency William Morris Endeavor, has hosted what Page Six dubbed “the world’s hottest Zoom call.” 

The semi-weekly “Quarantunes” parties have attracted as many as ~500 guests, including the likes of Amy Adams, Charlie Puth, and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. Weitz directs guests to donate to charities like the United Way.

If anyone is willing to gift-match, please speak now

The swanky charity cocktail party is dead, and cash-strapped nonprofits have struggled to ask for donations without sounding out of touch. 

But the disappearance of black-tie dinners is hitting the political class hard. You’d be forgiven for forgetting, but we’re in the middle of an election year — and that means politicos are testing out a new playbook for raising campaign cash. 

At long last, they’re moving out of their wine caves and onto Zoom.

Liquor samples have never been so profitable

Want to video chat with a Congressman? You’re going to need to drop $5k (at least). 

In lieu of expensive dinner, politicians are hosting “guided meditation” sessions or mailing out bourbon samples, among other delights: 

  • Some candidates are considering marking “strategy memos” as “internal only” — you know, to give donors the impression they’re getting special access.
  • Melissa Etheridge and Kristin Chenoweth performed their biggest “Wicked” hits, on Zoom, at a $1.1m Joe Biden fundraiser — one of at least 20 top-dollar fundraisers the presidential candidate has hosted over the last 6 weeks.
  • And lest you think the ritzy wine tasting is gone for good, Democratic Congressman Vicente Gonzalez is sending out fancy wines so donors can convene for an at-home tasting. 
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CBD basics

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How to use CBD tinctures

Drop ‘em in your coffee. Research suggests CBD can help wakefulness, so hit your brew with a drop or two. Mint iced coffee? Yes, please.

Have a bit before bed. CBD can also improve sleep quality — less tossing and turning, more quality Zzz’s.

Recover from your home workout. Thanks to its power to relieve sore muscles, CBD can help your body recover faster.

Come down after a crazy day. Studies show CBD can provide calming relief after a long day… so if you’re at the end of your WFH chain, a little touch of tincture can help you settle down. 

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Snack Games

Airlines are desperate to jettison their excess snacks

Airlines have a simple message for Americans: You don’t have to take our flights, but please, please, at least take our snacks. 

Across the US, delivery companies are shuttling surplus airline snacks into people’s homes. 

There’s a lot to go around: Delta, for instance, hands out 80m+ of its famed Biscoff cookies every year. With air travel taking a nosedive, it donated 500k pounds of snacks to food banks and frontline workers.

Meanwhile, United is heaping stroopwafels on anyone who will take them. JetBlue partnered with the surplus food company Imperfect Foods to offer assorted cheeses, cherries, and crackers for $2.99 a pack. 

The future of the corporate snack game could be nuts

Some of the largest companies in Silicon Valley are luring employees with promises of snacks as far as the eye can see. 

One catering company estimated that offices can spend as much as ~$200k on snacks for 100 people. The most popular “guilty” snack, according to ZeroCater: animal crackers. 

But with few tech workers going in for work these days, a lot of startups are rethinking their snack offerings altogether. 

The tech-snack reformation

Marker noted that a few companies are sending their employees “home office kits” that feature the regular assortment of office munchies.

Others are dialing back on snacks: Googlers were recently hit with the news that they can’t expense food and other perks while in quarantine. Also a no-no: spending unused travel or event budgets on snack boxes or gifts.

If we do see a snack-perk renaissance later in the year, it isn’t going to look as appetizing as before. Instead of tables sprawling with free-flowing bags of popcorn and M&Ms, workers might have to settle for individually wrapped packages of almonds. 

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Lights, Camera, Action

A theater chain’s unusual pivot: launching a streaming service of its own

In a world where movie theaters and streaming services are supposed to be bitter rivals, one theater chain did something unexpected last week: The Alamo Drafthouse chain unveiled a streaming service of its own.

Someday we’ll say, Remember the Alamo on Demand?

The coronavirus pandemic has meant lights out for movie houses. Hollywood studios began pushing releases straight to streaming, and that strategy sent industry observers reaching for the popcorn.

AMC, the world’s largest theater chain, threatened to stop playing Universal Pictures releases after Universal touted the blockbuster success of Trolls World Tour in its first few weeks of on-demand streaming.

Rather than run from streaming platforms, Alamo is embracing them. 

Its new service aims to extend the chain’s unique approach to the cinematic experience (Terror Tuesday and Weird Wednesday are back, baby!) right to the couch you can’t peel yourself off of.

One of the first films to debut on the new service was Spaceship Earth, a documentary about 8 people who isolated themselves inside a biosphere back in 1991.

This spaceship flew into a whole new universe

The film was distributed by Neon, the same company that distributed the Best Picture-winning Parasite

With communal moviegoing experiences now reserved for flashback scenes, Neon had to get creative with Spaceship Earth’s launch. 

It rolled out a “virtual cinema” that allows independent theaters, bookstores, and other small businesses to screen its films — and keep a portion of the ticket sales.

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Snippets

⚔️ Tesla filed a lawsuit in the battle to reopen its Fremont, California factory — after CEO Elon Musk threatened to move the company’s HQ out of state.

🤔 This is what happens when Google thinks you’re MacKenzie Bezos.

💪 No dumbbells? No problem. This device turns your canned goods into workout equipment.

👀 If you thought that viral Costco clapback was funny, you should know: It turns out it wasn’t real.

😎 Props to the Mayor of Flavortown — Guy Fieri has raised $20m+ for restaurant workers affected by the pandemic.

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