We have Kickoff in the XFL


February 10, 2020

We know most of y’all are deeply disappointed that you didn’t go home with Oscars last night. But don’t worry, there’s always next year… and the year after that. Two years ago, screenwriter James Ivory won an Oscar at 89. Today:

  • The XFL bets spring football is no fad
  • High fashion is taking fashion tips from your dad
  • Silicon Valley commutes are getting really bad
XFL image

The XFL kicked off the latest attempt to compete with the NFL

The NFL season ended 8 days ago with the Kansas City Chiefs’ win against the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV.

But this past weekend, more than 30k committed football fans still found a way to shout themselves hoarse at pro football games. 

That’s right: The XFL is back, baybeeee

On Saturday, the DC Defenders beat the Seattle Dragons 31-19 in front of 17k people in Washington, and the Houston Roughnecks beat the Los Angeles Wildcats 37-17 in front of a crowd of 17k in Houston (that’s considerably lower than the NFL’s average regular-season attendance of 66k).

This weekend’s games were the first in a 10week regular season that’s planned for the XFL’s 8 teams, which are all owned by the league (unlike independently owned NFL franchises).

The XFL is returning from a long offseason

Vince McMahon, the impresario of hard knocks and owner of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), first launched the XFL in 2001 as a partnership between WWF and NBC. 

The original XFL featured both WrestleMania-style gimmicks ( staged appearances and cameos from wrestling celebs) and legitimate innovations (football’s first Skycams and in-game mics). 

But the league crashed and burned after just 1 season, resulting in losses of $35m apiece for both NBC and WWF. 

So, what makes this new XFL different?

Unlike the original XFL, the new XFL is not affiliated with wrestling — and it doesn’t use its promotional elements. (It IS, however, closely tied with gambling companies FanDuel and DraftKings.)

And, unlike the NFL, the new XFL has slightly different rules designed to reduce controversies off the field (political gestures are “discouraged”) and make game play simpler (there is a running clock).

The XFL hopes to capitalize on football fans’ desire for more action by allowing multiple forward passes and touchdowns worth 7, 8, and 9 points. But, as the low early attendance suggests, the league still faces an uphill battle to compete against the dominant NFL.

After all, the XFL is far from the only NFL knockoff

The amount of money generated by the NFL (which was more than $16B in 2018 and is expected to reach $25B by 2027) has inspired several competing pro football leagues. 

Many of them have flamed out quickly:

  • The AAF (Alliance of American Football) launched in 2019 and didn’t even make it through a season despite venture backing. 
  • The USFL (United States Football League) launched in 1983 and lasted for 3 seasons (and lost $163m) before going under.
  • The WFL (World Football League) launched in 1973 and made it through 1.5 seasons. 
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Sketchers image

Chunky sneakers are cool now… and the original dad sneaker is getting its due

Stock in Skechers, the shoemaker that made sub sandwich-sized sneakers before frumpiness was fashionable, rose more than 6% at the end of last week — part of a 37% stock rally in a year.

Chunky became chic

In the past few years, “dad-core” style has become fashionable, with the trend hitting full, ummm, stride this past year when the high fashion hotshot Balenciaga started selling sneakers that could have come right out your Uncle Jerry’s gym locker at the YMCA… for $975.

But the trend of chunky dad sneakers didn’t only impact fashion companies — it also trickled down to budget shoe sellers, including Skechers.

Now, Skechers is stepping on the toes of high fashion

As high fashion companies walked a mile in a pair of surprisingly unsexy shoes, Skechers also doubled down on its comfortable kicks by expanding its line of “sport leisure footwear.”

So far, the shoe fits for Skechers: Sales of comfy kicks helped pushed the company’s 4th-quarter sales to a second-highest mark of $1.33B — a 23.1% increase.

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Sponsored

Top 10 Reasons you should try Microsoft Teams

We’ve shown you how Microsoft Teams helps our team work more cohesively than two squirrels trying to carry one big nut up a tree, but if that wasn’t enough, here are 10 other reasons you should give it a try. 

10. GIFs, GIFs, GIFs

9. Reliable video connections — because your office has enough shouting. 

8. Real-time editing for when your writer’s brain just ain’t workin’.

7. More storage means more files you can share. 

6. Turn a thread into a call (audio or video) meeting with one click. 

5. Losing track of docs? Not with Microsoft Teams — anything shared in a chat is automatically saved to the cloud.

4. Receive instant notifications and highlights any time a new change is made to your work. 

3. Bad hair day? Switch from video to voice to text chat in seconds. 

2. Fits in with other MS Office services like two pieces of a puzzle. 

And the number one reason you should try Microsoft Teams

1. There’s a free version of Teams. Yes, it’s absolutely, 100% free.

Legalize Teams →
Commuting image

Some Silicon Valley commutes are grueling. How bad is yours?

All commutes suck. But some commutes are craaaazy. Just ask Silicon Valley’s tech workers.

Protocol did, and what they found sounds exhausting.

It’s a story of thousands of people and very long days

Many tech companies shuttle their employees to work — it’s a pretty common perk. But rising housing prices in Silicon Valley and San Francisco are driving people far away from their jobs.

  • Protocol estimated that the area for tech-shuttle service approaches 3k square miles. That’s bigger than the state of Delaware. (!)
  • In one case, Protocol tracked down a tech bus in a parking lot at 2:30am — in the town of Salida. That’s more than an hour away from the Tesla factory in Fremont.
  • Facebook alone transports more than 6k people on 80 routes each day. Its new campus in Menlo Park has its own bus depot — sorta like a private Port Authority.

In one case, a big tech company decided that the wheels on the bus should stop going ‘round. eBay discontinued its service in January because not enough people were using it.

We’d like to know: How do you roll on your commute?

Whether you commute by car, train, bus, or just into pants (remote workers FTW), we’d like to hear about it. How far do you go, how long does it take, and what makes you late? Tell us more by filling out our survey.

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Lunya image

Small business of the week: An innovative sleepwear brand scales to $25m

In 2012, Ashley Merrill found herself going to sleep wearing an outfit she had donned hundreds of times before: her husband’s oversized clothes. She was finally tired of it. Is this what it’s going to be?, she asked herself.

Merrill wanted more. But the market was flooded with sleepwear that didn’t feel right — too sexual, or too matronly, or not functional enough. So in 2014, she created “the ultimate business-school project”: a new kind of sleepwear brand.

Lunya focuses on “off-hours wear.” Inexpensive, situational pajamas were out (goodbye, fleece pants with Santa Claus on them). Premium fabrics and innovative designs were in.

Since launch, Lunya has grown to an impressive $25m, driven by a strong referral program and a diverse approach to marketing, including strategic wholesale and events. The company recently launched a men’s line, Lahgo, and is focused building up its presence with brick-and-mortar locations.

  • Founders: Ashley Merrill
  • Employees: 45
  • Years in business: 7
  • Cost to launch: $50k
  • Funding methods: Personal savings, Friends/family contributions
  • 1st-year revenue: $103k
  • Current annual revenue: $25m+

Want your story featured? Fill out our Small Business survey. See financials of 700+ companies by subscribing to Trends.

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Snippets

🏢 At the country’s top 3,000 companies, just 167 women hold the title of CEO.

9️⃣ That’s how many titles Netflix said it has removed in response to government takedown requests since its founding 23 years ago.

🏋️‍♂️ Some fitness studios say ClassPass is squeezing them “to the point of death.”

📦 Amazon’s delivery workers use bots, apps, and gizmos to get a leg up on their competition.

🥦 A researcher trained a bot to create ’70s-era Jello mold recipes. The results were pretty gross.

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