What to watch for as lockdowns ease


April 28, 2020

April 28, 2020
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In case you thought the news couldn’t get weirder: Yesterday, the Defense Department released 3 declassified videos of UFOs in order to, um, “clear up any misconceptions” about whether the footage is real. The clips leaked years ago, and show Navy pilots interacting with “unidentified aerial phenomena.” 

In one of the short videos, a pilot can be heard saying, “What the f*ck is that thing?”

We’ve got a message for whatever’s flying those UFOs, on the off chance that this email reaches Mars: Next time you visit Earth, take us with you?

Coping With Coronavirus

3 pandemic trends to watch as the digging-out phase begins

Ready or not, we’re starting the process of digging out from the coronavirus pandemic.

This week, a handful of states are easing up on lockdown orders. It’s also a key week for some tech titans. Here are 3 big questions we’re keeping an eye on.

Will we see new signs of Big Tech’s dominance? 

The nation’s tech behemoths report quarterly earnings this week — starting today with Alphabet, Google’s parent company. Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft will follow in the coming days.

One important caveat from Netflix’s recent earnings report: A crush of new users (in its case, nearly 16m) won’t necessarily translate to long-term success.

That said, the economic turmoil from the pandemic is feeding a popular Silicon Valley prediction — power will be consolidated in the hands of the titans.

The big guys haven’t been immune to the crash. Google and Facebook’s advertising revenues could take a big hit — one estimate said Google’s could drop by at least 20% in Q2. Google also said it was hitting the brakes on hiring.

But as The Washington Post pointed out, small startups have already laid off thousands of workers — and when the dust settles, the big players may be the only ones left.

Can the food supply chain get unkinked?

Chicken wings, frozen french fries, and kegged beer all have something in common (besides being some of our favorite things).

Along with healthier grub like fresh veggies and milk, they’ve fallen victim to a weird dynamic of the nation’s food supply.

Food producers are struggling to shift all of their operations to focus on grocery stores with restaurants still largely shuttered. At the same time, fears of a meat shortage are growing.

Restaurants in Georgia were allowed to reopen yesterday under strict guidelines, but many won’t do so right away.

Will small businesses fare any better?

In the face of a public outcry, some big-name companies returned coronavirus relief money that had been earmarked for small businesses. 

Shake Shack was the first, and the latest we heard about yesterday was :::checks notes:::the LA Lakers?!

A 2nd helping of relief money — $300B+ worth — became available on Monday. Once again, the SBA’s system buckled under the avalanche of applications.

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Pivots Go to Prom

The nostalgia economy is keeping high school prom alive

Sentimental celebs are fueling an online prom boom. With schools canceled, stars are strapping on their velvet dresses and bringing virtual dances to kids stranded at home:

In keeping with true prom spirit, these events have a few blips of excitement — but are generally disappointments.

The events biz can’t prompose a way out of this

Before the pandemic, a squadron of companies were waiting to cash in on the last-hurrah-of-HS frenzy. 

High school prom is a ~$4B industry, and hairdressers, photographers, flower shops, limo services, and boutiques depend on it for revenue.

Households spend ~$919 apiece on prom, with $324 of that money going to increasingly elaborate promposals — giving a brief but concentrated boost to the skywriting industry. 

The end of high school is supposed to be a cash cow 

But prom — and, soon, graduation — is not so easy to monetize remotely. While some photographers are still offering grad portraits on Zoom, most brands have shelved the spring 2020 season altogether.

And for high school seniors disappointed by the lack of prom? At least they have drive-thru graduation to look forward to.

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Sold to the Mildest Bidder

Sotheby’s is losing millions because online auctions just aren’t that exciting

Ultra-wealthy auction buyers going virtual — but that’s bidder news for big-name houses like Sotheby’s and Christie’s.

With in-person events canceled, the number of online auctions jumped by 63% over the past month. And last week, Sotheby’s set a new online record, roping in a $6.4m sales haul from one event.

The downside: That pales in comparison to its in-person auction record of $110.7m. Those shortfalls forced Sotheby’s to furlough 12% of its staff.

Do I hear frugal spending? 

The average sales price in March clocked in at ~$6.9k — well below the $40k+ average throughout 2019.

This isn’t a story of rich people getting stingy because they blew all their money escaping to secret disaster bunkers. The real reason may have to do with the blandness of the virtual bid.

Online auctions are a little too rational

The culprit is a phenomenon called “auction fever” — the adrenaline spike that pushes people to spend more than they ever intended to in the heat of a bidding war. 

Auction fever gets amplified when you’re in person. 

Packed into a room, surrounded by colleagues, listening to the auctioneer shout out dollar figures, bidders go bananas. 

It’s such a problem that wealthy bidders sometimes send out minions to bid for them — in part to ensure they don’t spend above their max price. 

Typing a bid into your computer from your living room just doesn’t have the same thrill.

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Live: The 20 most important growth tactics for 2020

The best part? You’ve probably never heard of ‘em. 

Julian Shapiro founded Demand Curve, an insanely popular growth marketing course that 100s of Y Combinator startups rely on to grow.

So, we’re bringing Julian in to teach you his tips and tricks live

Want to inject rocket fuel into your spaceship? 

Tune into this Trends Lecture this Thursday, April 30 at 3pm ET to learn the top growth marketing tactics of 2020.  

Topics include:

  • Tactics to grow newsletters and podcasts
  • How to use communities (like Facebook groups) as acquisition channels
  • What the top 1% of social media ads have in common
  • Brand new methods for B2B cold outreach

You’ll learn tactics you can deploy immediately, no matter your business or market.

Plus, it only costs $1. Click the button below to reserve your spot.

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The Cookie-Conomy

A Thin Mints bailout? Girl Scouts nab coronavirus relief funds

Of all the entrepreneurial types who scored government cash to keep their businesses afloat, hopefully this troop won’t make you lose your cookies.

Through a local bank, the Girl Scouts of Alaska received a Paycheck Protection Program loan. The group will use the money to support 20 full-time employees, as well as camps and scholarships for 3.5k girls, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

Stockpiling is for TP and Tagalongs

Leslie Ridle, head of the Alaska Girl Scouts, said the cookie biz was brisk before the pandemic shut down local sales in public places like store lobbies.

“It was frenzied shopping, and people were hoarding cookies like they were toilet paper,” she said.

Now the council is sitting on a whopping ~144k unsold boxes of cookies.

It’s a Samoaphile’s dream — and a parent’s nightmare

“I’m hearing from lots of families: ‘When am I getting these out of my living rooms?’” Ridle told the Daily News.

If you really need a Thin Mint right now (or a whole sleeve, not that we know anyone who eats them that fast… ), you’re in luck. You can still get your cookie fix online.

But it may not help the troop on the Last Frontier: Online sales are shipped to Alaska from the Lower 48, doing nothing for the Trefoils piled up in parents’ houses.

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Snippets

🚁 Make way for flying prescriptions. UPS and CVS are teaming up on drone drug delivery to a retirement community in Florida.

📈 Netflix may not be enough, because movie piracy is spiking.

📹 To fight fraud, Amazon is testing out video calls to verify the identities of new merchants.

💃 TikTok is rolling out donation stickers that allow video creators to raise money for charity.

Want snippets like these in your browser? Download our Chrome extension here.

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