Rihanna Criticizes Snapchat; Robinhood Raises $350M; Walmart Whistleblower
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Estimated Read Time: 3 minutes and 16 seconds
FOOL ME ONCE …
Snapchat is leveraging influencers in all the worst ways.
Just a few weeks after Kylie Jenner decided to let her followers know that she no longer uses the app regularly, Snapchat went and offended the only other person that could have made things worse, Rihanna.
Rihanna’s revenge came after Snapchat ran an ad for a game called “Would You Rather” in which contestants had to decide whether they’d slap Rihanna, or punch her ex-BF (and reputed domestic assailant) Chris Brown.
Water Cooler Talking Point: “Snapchat said that this was all a misunderstanding, but you’d have to imagine that a company on the struggle bus to Bankruptcy-ville would be more vigilant about irking their most important clientele. This is exactly why people want to turn ad buys over to machines.”
NOT YOUR DADDY’S BROKERAGE
Here’s a fun game to play: let’s try to figure out how Robinhood, the commission-free investment app, makes money. Hint: it’s the same way your grandmother makes money.
That’s right, Robinhood accrues incredibly small amounts of interest on unused cash in user accounts … oh, and they’ve raised more VC money ($525M) than the guy who put radio on the internet. And the company is close to finalizing a $350M funding round led by DST, valuing the company at a whopping $5.6B.
To say their growth has been meteoric would be an understatement. Robinhood’s $110M round in April of 2017 valued the company at $1.3B.
The service has attracted more than 4M investors to date, most of whom quote Wolf of Wall Street on Twitter and list “CEO” as their job title on Linkedin (read: 18 to 35-year-old millennials).
Robinhood is redefining the “discount brokerage,” now offering free crypto trades for savvy investors looking to avoid paying for the opportunity to lose all of their money. This is seen as a major threat to Coinbase and other crypto-brokers who charge large commissions for each trade.
Water Cooler Talking Point: “Call me crazy but I kind of like paying a commission on my trades. Not because I dislike change or don’t appreciate the value of a dollar, but because it keeps me from doing really, really irrational sh*t with my money. Like listening to every “insider tidbit” I see in the bowels of the Motley Fool message boards.”
Some might say that Walmart’s e-commerce growth since acquiring Jet.com in 2016 has been a bit … suspicious. One of those people is ex-employee, Tri Huynh.
Huynh filed a wrongful termination suit against Walmart, claiming they were purposefully mislabeling products so third parties would earn fewer commissions, not processing returns, and double counting SKUs to inflate sales figures.
Naturally, the Walton’s claim that Huynh is simply a jilted ex-lover, er, employee. There was a “restructuring” of e-commerce business to incorporate the Jet.com team and Huynh was part of the fat that needed to be trimmed.
Even so, compared to Target and Best Buy, Walmart’s online sales growth of 50% seems a little extraordinary. Especially for a retailer whose shoppers would rather invest in neck tattoos than in highspeed internet.
That’s not to say the home of every day low prices hasn’t stepped up their game significantly. Their online footprint grew from 7M to 75M items in a matter of just 3 years.
Water Cooler Talking Point: “Some of the “facts” sound questionable, but you can’t knock the hustle. Huynh will probably settle out of court for a metric ton of assorted DVDs from that $5 bin. I’d take that.”
IN OTHER NEWS
- iHeartMedia, the country’s largest radio broadcaster is filing for bankruptcy, crippled by more than $20B in debt. Looks like it was actually a burdened capital structure that killed the radio star.
- Blue Apron plans to sell meal kits in-store as sales of their meals on wheels product continues to plummet, further cratering their stock price. It remains to be seen if they will be able to dethrone Hamburger Helper.
- The Skimm raises $12M to further expand their media empire into video and podcast content. So you’re saying there’s a chance?
- Nike has had their fair share of ups and downs over the past year, but the shoemaker appears to have hit rock bottom. The company’s number-two executive will resign amid claims of improper conduct.
- Speaking of improper conduct, the former President of ESPN, John Skipper, has revealed his abrupt exit was linked to an extortion plot by his coke dealer.
- US indices were mixed yesterday:
- DOW: +0.47%
- S&P 500: -0.08%
- NASDAQ: -0.20%
Professional motivation, tips, tricks, hacks & resources carefully-curated by yours truly. Something you’d like to see featured? Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
RE: ADAM GRANT’S NEW PODCAST
I’ll admit it, a podcast by a “Wharton psychology professor” doesn’t exactly scream must-listen. But Adam Grant is no ordinary professor. He has co-authored a NYT Best Seller with Sheryl Sandberg. He was named to Forbes 40 Under 40. And his TED talk about original thinkers was nothing short of legendary. So it’s fair to say that as far as professors go he’s pretty much the love-child of Mrs. Frizzle and Mr. Feeney.
But enough fanboying.
His new podcast “WorkLife” has one goal: to make work suck less. And that’s something I can get behind. Instead of bringing in management “experts” (read: academics who have never been in the trenches) Grant taps his network to talk professional success, collaboration, and management with the likes of Trevor Noah and Shane Battier.