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July 11, 2019

Today, Netflix faces unrest and fur companies are paying people to protest, but first…
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The rise of ‘medical tourism’: Doctours is now expanding its services

As the cost of healthcare continues to skyrocket in the US, many patients are left with few affordable treatment options in their neck of the woods.

High costs have led many Americans to thumb the highways, hitching rides out of state (and often out of country) to the best facilities that offer the lowest prices.

Now, as TechCrunch reports, Doctours, an LA-based online platform for booking trips and treatments for medical and dental care around the world, is expanding its similar services to 35 countries.

It’s basically a healthcare travel agent

Patients who travel to other countries for healthcare are referred to as “medical tourists.” 

Doctours helps streamline the process for those patients, comparing procedure costs, connecting with doctors and booking everything from in-vitro fertilization to stem-cell therapy to dental work and Lasik.

According to company founder Katelyn O’Shaughnessy, medical tourists can save anywhere from 30% to 80% on procedures outside the US.

Market vitals are more than stable

Doctours is entering a lucrative market: In 2017, an estimated 1.4m Americans traveled internationally for medical care, with an estimated 14-16m medical tourists worldwide, a number expected to grow by 25% per year.  

According to the American Journal of Medicine, medical and dental tourism is a $439B global market.

Pack your bags
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Fur companies are paying people to protest California’s fur ban

It seemed like a typical protest in California’s capital earlier this week: Angry activists gathered outside a judiciary meeting to voice concerns about proposed legislation to outlaw fur products in the Golden State.

But the real story is more complicated…

In fact, many of the activists were paid to protest 

According to an investigation conducted by The Intercept, several of the passionate protesters were paid to be there — with one protester paid at least $7k by the Fur Information Council of America. 

Other activists and protesters were recruited on Facebook and paid to attend, and one student who was paid to protest told reporters she was told by organizers not to speak with the press.

Paid protest is a successful industry

Several companies offer professional protesters as a service.

One of them, Crowds on Demand, explains its services on its website: “We can set-up protests, coordinate phone-banking initiatives and create non-profit organizations to advance your agenda.”

Paying people to attend protests is controversial but not illegal. In this case, the Fur Information Council retained the services of a prominent lobbying firm called SKDKnickerbocker.

» Fast and furry-ous
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“Amazon nomads” scour the country’s Walmarts to find things to re-sell

A small group of Americans are traveling to remote Walmarts and Targets to resell rare and odd items on Amazon. 

According to The Verge, they live in RVs and vans and move from store to store constantly, focusing on rural outposts. 

They look for limited-edition goods, like Game of Thrones Oreos, weird cleaning products and discontinued merchandise. One nomad has found discontinued 99-cent dental floss at Big Lots that fetches $100 online.         

‘Amazon is just an extension of my arm’

The nomad economy works because of Fulfillment by Amazon. The nomads resell products and send them to an Amazon warehouse.

Amazon then packages and ships items to the buyer. Another tool, a scanning app, allows nomads to see the estimated resale value of many items before they make a purchase. 

“It’s almost like I’m the front end of the business, and Amazon is just an extension of my arm,” Sean-Patrick Iles, a nomad, told The Verge

Lifestyle over profit

Most of the nomads aren’t getting rich — $40K yearly salaries aren’t uncommon. Instead, they’re anti-consumerists who don’t value possessions —  they’re doing it for the freedom and the ability to see the charms of small-town America.  

In Pomeroy, Ohio, for instance, nomad Chris Anderson was amazed to find the local McDonald’s had a pizza on the menu.

» Physical arbitrage

As legacy shows disappear from Netflix, the streaming giant searches for meaning

Netflix is hemorrhaging its most popular shows as an onslaught of legacy TV giants all launch streaming services by Q1 of 2020.

To counteract the loss of its biggest shows, the streaming giant has been spending billions on new original content — primarily comedy specials and documentaries — exclusive to the service to keep customers from fleeing. 

But, according to CNBC, some analysts are worried that rom-coms and comedy specials starring anyone who’s ever stood on stage and told a joke may not cut the mustard when it comes to keeping users on its platform.

And just like that, the growth spurt may stop

For years, Wall Street has valued Netflix not for its profits (or lack thereof) — but for its subscriber growth. It’s now at around 155m globally and growing.

But, on Tuesday, WarnerMedia announced its new streaming service, HBO Max, will take the exclusive rights to “Friends” and remove it from Netflix, which follows NBCUniversal’s announcement in June that it will remove “The Office” in 2021.

Those 2 shows are Netflix’s most popular content by far, accounting for almost 5% of viewing hours in 2018, according to Rosenblatt Securities internet and media analyst Mark Zgutowicz.

But don’t feel too bad for Netflix 

There’s plenty of consumer cash to go around. 

But now, as more and more legacy media companies embrace the stream, the chance of companies like Disney and NBCUniversal capturing a favorable chunk of Netflix’s valuation are about as good as the chances of Ozark Season 2 having 5 stars (… because what Netflix original doesn’t?). 

» The stream team

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The “23andMe for dogs” has the most accurate Dog Breed Identification Kit on the market, testing for over 250 breeds. 

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Want even more info? With Embark’s Breed + Health Kit, you can discover breed details, ancestry (who knew my Cocker Spaniel’s grandpa was an Elkhound? Fascinating!), and get a health screen for more than 170 genetic conditions that might affect your pup. 

Kits start at $129, but a healthy dog is priceless. After all, nothing’s too good for our best friends.

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