Costco Sues Titleist In Golf Ball Frenzy, Plus Adidas Is Setting The Pace For The Athleisure Industry

morning brew

Enjoy your March 21st hand-crafted Brew!

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“This should not happen and we need to do better” — Matt Brittin, Google’s European head, apologizing after advertisements were mistakenly placed next to extremist content on YouTube. Yikes.

Market Snapshot

  • U.S. stocks finished only slightly lower on a light Monday trading session as the U.S. stock market continued its 109-day streak without a drop of 1% or more (the seventh-longest of all time)
  • European markets also finished lower after Prime Minister Theresa May announced that Article 50 will be triggered on March 29. Quick refresher: that will officially start the clock on the UK’s two-year exit process from the European Union

Adidas Is Setting the Pace

…For the whole athleisure industry. The sportswear company (-0.96%) has its sights set on younger generations (dare we use the term, millennials) and is making all the necessary moves to grab their attention. First, Adidas plans to double down on its digital advertising game, shifting most of its ad budget away from traditional TV commercials. Cord cutters—many of whom are millennials—we’re looking at you. The company is also testing out an in-store concept called “Knit For You” in which customers can customize sweaters on demand, an idea to help get products into the hands of hungry customers more quickly. Where you at, Nike?

FORE!

…Costco sues Titleist in golf ball frenzy. Yep, it’s as ridiculous as it sounds. With just over two weeks until The Masters (we can’t wait either), Costco (-0.22%) announced that it’s suing the maker of the “number one ball in golf.” Last year, the discount retailer shook up the golf equipment industry after it began to sell low-priced golf balls under the Kirkland brand, which quickly gained popularity—at the expense of Titleist golf balls. Shortly after, Acushnet, the owner of Titleist, accused Costco of patent infringement and false advertising. Two for the price of one—ouch. Now Costco is striking back and asking the courts for a judgment defending its business practices.

Undercutting Prices Is One Thing

…But offering services for free––c’mon man! Let’s set the stage: there are four major telecom companies in India: Airtel, Vodafone, Idea and Reliance. Let’s put Airtel to the side for right now. The fourth-largest player, Reliance Jio (-1.53%), is owned by India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani. What’s so special about Jio? Well, since its launch in September of 2016, the company has amassed 100 million subscribers by offering free service on its 4G mobile broadband network. This not only created an all-out price war, but it also got Vodafone and Idea thinking, “hey, two heads might just be better than one.” So yesterday, Britain’s Vodafone Group (-0.43%) and Idea Cellular (-9.55%) agreed to merge their India operations in a deal worth over $23 billion to create a joint customer base larger than America’s population and current Indian market leader Airtel (about 400 million). Only time will tell how long Reliance can keep up the philanthropy.

SoftBank’s At It Again

…On both sides of the table. First, the Japanese telecom giant is backing out of a $100 million investment it had planned in Essential, the new high-end smartphone startup headed by Android creator Andy Rubin. The about-face could be related to Apple’s $1 billion contribution to SoftBank’s massive $100 billion Technology Vision Fund, since Android and Apple’s iOS aren’t exactly best buds. Speaking of the tech fund, SoftBank is now planning to use some of it. Namely, we’re looking at a $3 billion injection into office leasing startup WeWork. Sounds bold? Yup, that’s how founder Masayoshi Son runs the ship. This is the same man who in 2016 pledged to invest $50 billion the U.S., and has also developed a 300-year plan for the future.

What Else Is Happening…

  • We must sound like a broken record––Uber loses VP of mapping
  • Anheuser-Busch creates Alexa “skill” designed to burn off a beer
  • Tom Brady’s missing Super Bowl jersey found in Mexico––but the mystery continues
  • 52 startups present at Y Combinator’s Winter ‘17 Demo Day

Economic Calendar

  • Monday: N/A
  • Today: FedEx, General Mills, Nike Earnings
  • Tomorrow: Existing Home Sales

Water Cooler

The Happiest Place on Earth

Sadly, it’s not Disneyland. The 2017 World Happiness Report came out yesterday, ranking 155 countries by the happiness of their citizens. The data comes from the Gallup World Poll in which people are asked to rank their life on a scale of 0 (worst possible life) to 10 (best possible life). Here were the results:

  • Despite frigid weather and only having six hours of sunlight during the winter, Norway takes the cake for happiest nation in the world. Good for you, Norway.
  • Rounding out the top five are Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland and Finland. Seems like cold weather and happiness go together, as all five of these countries also rank in the bottom 25 in terms of average yearly temperature.
  • The Central African Republic took home the sad distinction of last place. The country has been embroiled in a Civil War for the better part of five years, which may be a contributing factor.
  • How did Americans stack up? The U.S. fell to 14th, one spot down from where it was last year. America hasn’t ranked in the top 10 in the six year history of this report, but at least it’s no longer unlucky number 13.

The Breakroom

Interview Question of the Day

Is it possible to short sell real estate? (Answer)

Business Person of the Day

Banker and heir to one of America’s greatest fortunes, David Rockefeller has died at the age of 101. He was the world’s oldest billionaire and the last surviving grandson of the famed John D. Rockefeller, aka the guy widely regarded as the richest person in modern history. Many will remember David as a confidant of world leaders and a noted philanthropist.

Food for Thought

A challenger approaches Amazon Prime. This time, it’s eBay, which is taking “Guaranteed Delivery” for a spin. Starting this summer, eBay will be offering shoppers guaranteed three-day delivery on over 20 million products. Why? eBay knows that shoppers desire instant gratification when it comes to arrival time. Funny thing is, a majority of items on eBay already ship within three days or less, and for free.

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