The Tesla tussle


March 22, 2019

Today, Rent the Runway gets mystical, and Tesla sues Zoox, but first…
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While the rest of us haven’t been watching, Rolexes have made rich wrists much richer

Would you pay $18k for a watch? On its face, it seems absurd (you can get a Casio for $11!). But on the second-hand, that watch could also be worth $75k 7 years later — and now it doesn’t seem so cuckoo to buy that clock after all…

Since real estate’s a roller coaster and crypto is crazy, the market for high-end wrist candy has become one to watch. 

It’s a weird new world: Old people no longer wear Rolexes to make others feel less-than in public — instead, young people share their Rolexes on Twitter and Bumble to make others feel less-than online.

The new a-wrist-ocracy

Wealthy watch owners have long collected vintage tickers to evoke retro wristwear (Paul Newman’s wristwatch recently sold for $17.8m in 12 minutes).

But thanks to watch startups like Worn and Wound, many young investors don’t see luxury watches as classy collectibles, but as gram-worthy investments. 

“Buying a good vintage Rolex is just like purchasing stock in a company like Nestlé or Google,” Shahien Hendizadeh, a 25-year-old recent business school graduate, told The New York Times. “It’s the quintessential blue chip.”

Not exactly clockwork

Watch values often do fluctuate like stock prices: The price of Rolex GMT-Masters increased from $8k to $16k in 3 years, and the value of a vintage Compax watch recently rose from $2.8k to $45k before cooling back down to $30k.

Some have gone so far as to invest in vintage watches as an alternative to a 401(k) — “It was much more practical to invest regularly in watches that I know about rather than the stock market that I know absolutely nothing about,” watch-lover Matt Hranek explained to The Times.

High wrist, high reward

Like other potentially high-yield investments, watch markets have a risky time-table: Investors who wear their wealth long enough will likely see their fortunes fall by 30-40%.

But the watch world even offers investors a way to diversify their portfolios: The Watch Fund offers investors a chance to invest in vintage watches at discount prices — the company has delivered double-digit returns each year since launching in 2013. 

Watch out
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The ‘Airbnb economy’ heats up as Guesty raises $35m

Airbnb has paved the way for a whole new ecosystem of startups looking to ride the coattails of its success straight to tickle-town.

Yesterday, Guesty — a startup that provides a suite of tools aimed at property managers that list on Airbnb (and others) — announced it has raised $35m to continue to help fund the company’s rapid growth.

You know you’ve made it when…

Airbnb formally recognized in July that its consumers and suppliers have become more orderly in how they operate rentals. Problem is, the homeshare giant hasn’t done anything about it — which led others to take matters into their own hands.

Companies like Guesthop (a concierge service for products on Airbnb and other homeshare services), FlyCleaners (an on-demand cleaning service), and pricing analytics companies like Smart Host have all grown out of Airbnb’s neglect — and there are dozens more.

The influx of ‘shadow infrastructure’

Similar to the way Salesforce’s success led to a partner community of consultants, and how the App Store bred the billion-dollar app economy, Airbnb’s business, albeit as a spectator, has opened the front door for startups to make hosting easier and more lucrative.

According to Skift, most of these companies have little to no connection to Airbnb, but still the real estate beast seems supportive. And why not? Pioneering an entire economy is literally every Steve Jobs wannabe’s dream. 

And hey, if any of them get too big for their lot, Airbnb will just blob them up like the good pseudo real estate developer that it is — no sleep lost.

» Sweet digs

Tesla sues Zoox in the latest lawsuit between self-driving car companies

Tesla filed lawsuits Wednesday against 4 former employees and their new employer, Zoox, accusing them of stealing Tesla trade secrets.

This isn’t the first time Tesla has had a trade-secret tussle with one of its own employees. But it’s not just Musk-made mayhem — from Uber to Waymo, other self-driving carmakers have also been slingin’ ’suits back and forth like freakin’ frisbees.

Responding to an ‘absconding’

According to Tesla, the 4 employees “absconded with select proprietary Tesla documents useful to their new employer” in order “to help Zoox leapfrog past years of work needed to develop and run its own warehousing, logistics, and inventory control operations.”

In a separate case also filed Wednesday, Tesla accused an ex-employee of stealing Tesla’s source code and taking it to XPeng, a Chinese startup that makes electric SUVs that look suspiciously similar to Tesla’s.

Trademark tensions at Tesla have been running high for a while: Last June, Tesla sued a disgruntled ex-employee for exporting gigabytes of confidential data.

It all started with Levandowski… 

In 2017, Uber and Waymo became embroiled in a widely publicized trial that revolved around ex-Google Waymo engineer Anthony Levandowski stealing Google’s trade secrets and bringing them to Uber. 

The Levandowski scandal was the start of several sticky-finger situations across the self-driving industry, including several lawsuits at Tesla (despite his debacle, Dirty ’Dowski now runs his own startup, Otto).

Since there are so few engineers with experience building self-driving cars, they are in fierce demand — and when they move from one company to another, accusations often follow suit.

» Secrets are SO fun

Rent the Runway becomes a fashion unicorn

Subscription clothing rental startup Rent the Runway just locked in $125m, officially becoming a $1B company. Now, Runway plans to grow its subscription business, expand its clothing and home offerings, and open additional fulfillment facilities.

In other words, the company plans to use the money not for anything specific, but merely to continue to exist.

Wear the same thing twice, you say?

In a time when fashion trends change before you can get the dang things off, many consumers (sure, “millennials”)  have taken a one-done-thank-you-hun approach to wearing clothes.

From 2003 to 2016, “garment utilization rates” — AKA the average number of days an item was rocked before it gets donated to Buffalo Exchange (we all know they NEVER actually buy anything) — decreased from 200 to about 120, one of the driving forces behind RtR’s success.

Unfortunately, it’s causing midrange retailers to wear the costs of overproduction and the uptick in returns — yep, it costs stores money when you wear sh*t and then return it a day later.

Oh, no, not another ‘Netflix for (X)’

Founded in 2009, Rent the Runway started out as a service that loaned designer dresses to women for special events at a sweet price.

Now, the company brings in well over $100m in revenue per year, and has become known as (barf) the “Netflix for dresses.” 

During its time, RtR has expanded from its bread and butter of one-time rentals to now three different offerings — including two subscription services.

» Rent the runway, own the stage
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Leave your legacy → shower thoughts
  1. procrastination teach you to finish an 8 hour job in 30 minutes and also to finish a 30 minute job in 8 hours
  2. If heaven is eternal bliss and hell is eternal torment, then life is essentially just a job interview.
  3. Think about the arguments the first color blind person had.
  4. If an egg is broken by an outside force, life ends. If it is broke by an inside force, life begins
  5. A pop guitarist plays five chords for ten thousand people, a jazz musician plays ten thousand chords for five people.
  6. via Reddit
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