This ecommerce player has eyes on Amazon

June 30, 2020

June 30, 2020
The Hustle
Stock Advisor

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Shipping Wars

Could this South Korean ecommerce giant take on Amazon?

You thought getting that Winnie-the-Pooh toothbrush from Amazon in 2 days was fast? Try finding it on your doorstep after ~7 hours.

South Korea’s biggest ecommerce site is called Coupang. It doesn’t have a presence in the US yet, but it’s already besting the ’Zon at its own game. 

Last year, Coupang rolled out its Dawn Delivery program with an ambitious promise: Order an item before midnight, and it’ll be out front by 7am. 

This month, Coupang made the No. 2 slot on CNBC’s 2020 Disruptor list

So why the hype?

A quick rundown: 

  • More than half of all South Koreans have downloaded Coupang’s app, the company says.
  • 99.3% of orders are delivered in under a day.
  • That’s because the company is warehoused up: 70% of people live just 10 minutes away from a Coupang center.

Coupang, of course, has some advantages that even Amazon doesn’t. South Korea is the perfect home for ecommerce — 80% of residents live in very populous cities and 95% own smartphones.

‘2021’ might be Coupang’s magic number

Sourdough merchants aside, 2020 has not been kind to anyone, Coupang included. One crisis: A cluster of 117 COVID-19 cases were recently linked to a Coupang warehouse. 

Like Amazon, Coupang also struggled to manage a cascade of face mask orders, and its usual speeds took a hit.  

But 2021 will be a new chapter. That’s the year Korea’s ecommerce market is expected to become the 3rd-largest in the world, behind only China and the US.

Plus: Bloomberg reported in January that Coupang was readying itself for an IPO as soon as next year.

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Want a tech job? Try buying an employee referral

These are dark days for those strange souls who actually enjoy networking. In just a few months, conferences, cocktail parties, and career fairs have all evaporated.

If you’re applying for a job, that means you’re going to have a tough time meeting someone who can vouch for you. 

Enter Rooftop Slushie, a marketplace where applicants can buy referrals to the likes of Amazon, Google, and Apple. For $20 to $50, tech workers will float your resume up the chain. So far, Rooftop Slushie has sold 11k+ referrals. 

Schmoozing for a job is so last year

Applicants upload their resumes, listing their price and their preferred companies. 

That info is sent off to Rooftop Slushie’s network of tech employees. They take a peek at your resume and decide whether to accept. Both parties are anonymous. 

It’s worth noting that employees don’t have to say yes: Rooftop Slushie asks that they only endorse truly qualified applicants. 

Uh, is this ethical? 

Wharton professor Peter Cappelli doesn’t think so. He compared it to “bribery,” telling OneZero, “The job seeker is paying to influence the action of an employee, who has a duty to be truthful to their employer.”

Amazon seems to agree. A spokesperson said the company is working to stop paid referrals. 

You can argue that this is sort of democratizing hiring. Plenty of nontraditional applicants might deserve a close look, but they don’t have the connections to get their resume read.

But the Rooftop Slushie phenomenon highlights an unfortunate truth of tech. If you want to be taken seriously, you better have connections.

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The boogeyman in Netflix’s closet

Netflix has a problem.

Despite raking in $15B in revenue in 2018, there’s still a hefty chunk of media money left on the table — close to the tune of $2.58 trillion, according to PwC. 

So what’s their issue? 

Viewers crave content variety, and Netflix is losing shows left and right to other streaming services.

With this landscape shift in mind, investing pros think one advertising tech company might give the ‘Flix a run for its money. Check ‘em out here. 

Hot eats

The latest culinary quaran-trend could be found in your backyard

You’d never know it from our soft bellies and carpal tunnel-ravaged hands, but our hunter-gatherer ancestors once roved the land in search of sustenance. 

And as The New Yorker reports, what’s old is new again: Foraging is the latest foodie fad to tantalize taste buds and sprout business opportunities.

Let’s get wild

The natural world has a bounty of delicious edibles… if you know where to look. A tasting menu might include:

  • Chicken-of-the-woods: These vibrantly colored mushrooms grow at the bases of decomposing trees. Some say they taste like chicken, but what doesn’t?
  • Mussels: Found along rocky beaches during low tide. Serve ’em steamed with a squeeze of lemon.
  • Pawpaw: The mango of the Midwest — can be eaten by itself or made into pudding or ice cream.

But safe foraging requires training. The prized morel mushroom, for example, has an evil twin called the false morel. Eating one of these can cause severe headaches, vomiting, diarrhea… and sometimes death. 

No time to find your own food? No problem

Some farm-to-table restaurants specialize in cooking with foraged ingredients. When the pandemic forced restaurants to close, some foragers pivoted to serving home cooks:

  • In New York, Wild Box is a subscription service featuring foraged foods.
  • The Brooklyn-based restaurant Honey Badger offers meal kits built around locally raised and foraged goods.
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A New Yellow Jersey

Spin for the win: Get ready for a virtual Tour de France

The Tour de France is getting its SoulCycle on. 

The 2,220-mile cruise through the French countryside will be held online starting this weekend — on stationary bikes, powered by the virtual training company Zwift.

Bike as Zwift as the coursing river

Founded in 2014, Zwift promises the “fun of video games and the intensity of serious training.” 

Its competitions feature all sorts of bells and whistles, from digital backdrops and hyper-realistic graphics to Mario Kart-esque power-ups like speed boosts and invisibility. 

Each rider’s height, weight, and energy output will be measured to determine their speed and race position.  

While the traditional, outdoor Tour de France has been rescheduled for August, Zwift CEO Eric Min said the virtual version will soften the blow if the real-life race is canceled. 

This might be the Peloton redemption arc

Each cyclist will race on home-bike setups – which usually range from $2k to $5k. 

Before the pandemic, these pricey pedals weren’t exactly flying off shelves. But thanks to the gympocalypse, smart-bike producers like Echelon and Peloton saw much-needed boosts in sales

High-end equipment like that won’t move you an inch, Fast Company’s Mark Wilson says — but it’s the “finest hamster wheel that money can buy.”

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Lululemon wants to make you sweat — it’s buying a home fitness startup for $500m

Turns out the mirror isn’t just for checking out how your butt looks in those yoga pants.

Lululemon, the premier purveyor of pricey athleisure duds, announced on Monday that it’s buying Mirror — a home fitness startup — for $500m.

Unlike those fabrics, this move isn’t a stretch

Lululemon has been betting on the idea that it can transform athleisure from something you wear into something you live.

Last year, it launched a line of personal-care products like dry shampoo and deodorant. The deal is Lululemon’s first acquisition, but it invested $1m in Mirror last year.

What’s in it for the mirror, mirror on the wall?

Mirror sells a wall-mounted workout contraption for $1,495, and charges customers $39 per month to stream classes. The deal will expand a “content creation partnership” between the 2 brands.

That collab could be significant: In the pandemic era, in-home fitness options are booming while gyms are searching desperately for a spotter.


1️⃣  Another domino in the food-delivery biz? Uber has made an offer to buy Postmates, according to The New York Times.

2️⃣  India just banned 59 Chinese apps, including TikTok — a huge blow, considering India is TikTok’s biggest market outside China.

3️⃣  Reddit is kicking 2k+ groups off its platform, including r/The_Donald and r/ChapoTrapHouse.

4️⃣  Speaking of: Twitch just temporarily removed President Trump’s account for “hateful conduct.”

5️⃣  That’s a wrap, folks: Broadway will officially remain shut through the rest of 2020. 

6️⃣  A quick reminder: Big companies have tried large-scale work from home before — and most abandoned it. 

7️⃣  The US is pinning its 5G hopes on the small city of Lewiston, Idaho.

8️⃣  For people without smartphones, Singapore has a contact-tracing solution: Wearable “tokens” that look a bit like a Life Alert. 

9️⃣  People are buying mask-wearing exemption cards from a very fake federal entity: the “Freedom to Breathe Agency.”

🔟  Can’t make it to Utah? You may be in luck: The 2021 edition of the Sundance Film Festival will take place in at least 20 other locations simultaneously.

The Hustle Says

If you like pretty charts, appropriately-labeled Y-axes, and color-coded everything, dip your toe into the /r/dataisbeautiful subreddit. Sort by “Top – All Time” for the good stuff.

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