Why Am I the Lucky Person?
Before you buy a business, Brent Beshore suggests asking why no one else has bought it: “As a friend of mine told me, ‘If you see an oil deal out of Texas, it means I passed on it. Twice.’”
Here are today’s highlights:
Amazon takes a crack at social shopping.
Delivery workers in NYC could get $23 an hour.
In Japan, companies are turning food waste into furniture and concrete.
BUYING A BUSINESS
Brent Beshore, CEO of Permanent Equity, which has bought 13 companies in 12 years, has advice on how to buy a business:
Amazon has launched a TikTok-style, social-shopping feed: “Amazon launched the feature Thursday for select customers and plans to make it available across the U.S. in the coming months, the company told The Wall Street Journal. The portal, which the company named Inspire, will show users a continuous feed of photos and videos featuring products that customers can purchase through the app.”
“Amazon has a user base of hundreds of millions of customers. Short-form video ‘is an incredibly useful medium of helping people discover and understand products,’ Oliver Messenger, Amazon’s director of shopping, said in an interview. ‘Video-based content really helps [customers] to understand the product more.’”
“The Inspire portal will appear as a lightbulb-shaped icon at the bottom of Amazon’s app. When customers click on the widget, it will bring them to a feed that displays a stream of images and videos featuring products that shoppers can ‘like’ and purchase. Shoppers can view item descriptions and add products to their shopping cart.”
“Tech companies have struggled to meld social experiences with online shopping. Meta’s e-commerce services, which the company developed in 2020, have fallen short of expectations, the Journal reported in May.” READ MORE
Some advertisers see opportunity in the chaos Elon Musk has brought to Twitter: “‘Advertisers are returning or maintaining their advertising on Twitter because the platform offers unique advantages and opportunities to reach target audiences,’ said Samuel McGraw, CEO of creative agency Design Hub. ‘Although Twitter has recently been embroiled in a series of controversies, it is still a powerful platform that offers marketers a lot of potential.’ Take Apple, for example. While the advertiser spent on average $228,642 per week on Twitter prior to Musk’s takeover, this figure has slightly increased by 0.20 percent to $229,100 post acquisition, per Pathmatics.”
“And while Amazon’s average weekly spend pre-deal was around $1.4 million, the advertiser has still committed $698,325 since the takeover. Platformer’s Zoë Schiffer even tweeted that Amazon plans to spend about $100 million a year on the platform, pending some security tweaks to Twitter’s ad platform.”
“To be clear, none of this signals any real reversal on the exodus of ad dollars that has knocked Twitter’s ads business sideways. Advertisers aren’t returning to the beleaguered app in any great number. Otherwise, Twitter execs wouldn’t be offering advertisers incentives like discounts for first-time advertisers, free analytics, and access to exclusive ad formats.”
“‘We continue to advise our clients to stay away from Twitter because Elon’s behavior is unpredictable,’ said Abe Kasbo, CEO of marketing strategy agency Verasoni. ‘Brands would be wise not to engage in drama that may cause trauma to their brands or consumers.’” READ MORE
AI selfies are taking social media by storm: “Lensa, a photo- and video-editing app from Prisma Labs, has been around since 2018, but its worldwide downloads skyrocketed after the launch of its ‘magic avatars’ feature in late November, according to analytics firm Sensor Tower. The app saw 4 million installs in the first five days of December compared to 2 million in November, shooting to the top of charts in the Apple and Google app stores. Consumers spent $8.2 million in the app during that five-day period, Sensor Towers reports.”
“The app is subscription based and costs $35.99 a year, with an extra charge of $3 to $12 for packs of avatars. Upload eight to 10 photos of yourself with your face filling most of the frame and no one else in the shot, and Lensa will use the photos to train a machine learning model.”
“Some people marveled at how flattering or accurate the portraits seemed. Others shared garbled images with distorted facial features or limbs coming out of their heads, an outcome Lensa warns about during the upload process.”
“The trend also raised concerns about the equity of AI-generated images, the effects on professional artists and the risk of sexual exploitation.” READ MORE
After loosening controls, China is bracing for a deadly Covid wave: “China’s easing of its zero-tolerance Covid-19 restrictions is likely to open the door to a wave of infections that could cause chaos and upwards of a million deaths, public health experts said, with some warning of ramifications beyond the country’s borders. China’s National Health Commission on Wednesday said it was dropping many of its quarantine and testing requirements, in addition to limiting the use of lockdowns—an acceleration of plans to dismantle the zero-Covid controls amid social unrest and escalating concerns over the health of the country’s economy.”
“The promise of regained freedom sparked celebration among some Chinese, but health researchers cautioned that the consequences for public health could be dire as the country tries to shift resources that had gone toward mass testing and quarantines toward treatment of severe cases.” READ MORE
Delivery workers in New York City could get $23 an hour: “The workers banded together in the summer of 2020 as Los Deliveristas Unidos. Mr. Medina, who is an outspoken member, and his colleagues are demanding better pay and working conditions, arguing that they are part of a booming industry. Since delivery workers are independent contractors, they are not covered by minimum wage laws and basic employee protections such as workers’ compensation insurance. Now, as a result of their efforts, Uber Eats, Grubhub, DoorDash and other app services may soon have to pay workers like Mr. Medina significantly more, as the city moves to regulate pay practices in the largest food delivery market in the country.”
“Under a proposal by the city’s Department of Consumer and Worker Protection, the app services would be required to pay an average hourly rate of at least $23.82, not including tips, to delivery workers by 2025. The agency, which will hold a Dec. 16 hearing on the proposal, is expected to implement it early next year.”
“The minimum hourly rate would apply to a worker’s total ‘trip time’ each week, which would be calculated from the moment a worker accepts an order to when the delivery is completed. It would include the time it takes to go to a restaurant and wait for the order, as well as any traffic delays.”
“The city’s proposal has drawn criticism from the app companies, who warn that it would increase their labor and delivery costs, and could result in higher prices for customers and fewer orders for restaurants.”
“New York’s pay proposal is part of a growing movement across the nation to address the plight of app-based workers, including Uber drivers and grocery delivery people.” READ MORE
With the labor market still tight, Gene Marks has suggestions for businesses turning to interns: “For starters, there must be clear expectations of the job. Keep in mind that the person you’re hiring likely has little or no corporate work experience, so you can’t just assume the person knows how to behave in a professional environment. ‘Provide the intern with more instructions than you would need to provide to a new employee,’ said Shelby Keating, who started as an intern and now helps to run the internship program at biotech firm Century Therapeutics in Philadelphia. ‘You need to tell them what to wear, what people do for lunch, and what time to arrive to the office.’”
“While many companies are still trying to figure out the best work-from-home arrangements with their employees, most employers still agree that due to the age and inexperience of an intern, the more face time in the office, the better.”
“If you’re going to hire an intern, you’ll want to make sure that person is classified as an employee and paid market rates. It’s also very important to stipulate this pay as part of a written contract that defines the intern’s title or role, a brief description of duties, the name of the supervisor, and the duration of the agreement.”
“You should also include ‘at-will’ status, which gives you, the employer, the ability to terminate that person at any time and for any reason (except unlawful) or even for no reason at all without incurring legal liability.” READ MORE
Japanese companies are rethinking food waste: “Japanese companies are taking vegetable peels, cooking oil, eggshells and other used foodstuffs and making entirely different products. Cement, for example. Even furniture. Here are three companies with solutions that they hope will help their country cut its food waste in half by 2030, perhaps saving a bit of the planet along the way.”
“After a powerful 2005 typhoon destroyed the railway in Takachiho, a town of about 12,000 people in southern Japan, local leaders decided it was too expensive to restore all train operations. ... But a two-car, open-air train that offers tourists breathtaking countryside views now runs daily — its fuel processed from leftover lard from tonkotsu ramen soup and cooking oil waste from tempura, which is gathered from about 2,000 restaurants in Japan.”
“Fabula discovered a recipe to create food concrete by drying food scraps, compressing them and then pressing them into a mold at a high temperature. The company began with commonly discarded items like cabbage, orange peels and onion peels but found that almost any food item can be used. It now takes mostly coffee grinds and tea leaves to make its cement.”
“Fabula is currently producing made-to-order household items, such as coasters and dishes, while awaiting its patent. The goal is to make furniture and larger structures once the technology is able to make the cement more durable.” READ MORE
THE 21 HATS PODCAST
I Want to Double Sales Again Next Year: This week, Shawn Busse, Paul Downs, and Liz Picarazzi talk about their plans and goals for 2023. Shawn, whose marketing efforts still haven’t recovered from the pandemic, is hoping to build on the success of a recent event. Paul, coming off his best year ever, is investing $150,000 in a marketing campaign, including a new website targeting a different set of customers. And Liz, too, is attempting to shift her customer base, in her case from residential to municipal work. More immediately, however, Liz, who does not relish dealing with legal issues, has to decide how to confront a copycat competitor.
You can subscribe to the 21 Hats Podcast wherever you get podcasts.
Thanks for reading, everyone. — Loren