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Gets the heck out of Vegas. At least if it’s money from Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh’s utopian pipe-dream.
Five years ago, fresh off a $1.2B acquisition by Amazon, Hsieh immediately poured $350m of his net worth into an initiative called Downtown Project.
The goal: To turn downtown Las Vegas into “the most community-focused large city in the world” through $50m+ investments in startups, real estate, the arts, and a giant praying mantis that shoots fire from its antennae.
Too much Burning Man, not enough City Planner Man
Apart from being an undoubtedly successful startup leader, Hsieh is also an avid festival-goer. In fact, out of their total $86.6m recurring annual impact, $77.7m comes from their 3-day Life is Beautiful festival.
But, based on Downtown Project’s newly released economic impact report, the estimated $500m they’ve invested thus far has created fewer than 2k jobs.
Not exactly great news for the impact of the other 362 days.
Still, dreamers gotta dream…
And you can’t knock the vision or the dedication to the community. Heck, Hsieh even moved from a luxury apartment to a trailer park with his 2 pet alpacas to “maximize serendipity and randomness in [his] life.”
Revitalizing a city, however, takes a lot more than investing a bunch of money and hoping everyone is down with “PLUR.”
Patagonia’s VC fund (named Tin Shed Ventures after the company’s humble beginnings), is looking to invest $75m in companies that can replicate their success.
Now, they’re sticking with their roots. Not just in name, but by weighing a company’s environmental impact over short-term profit.
Yes, those really are their roots
It’s not just feel-good marketing. Patagonia’s founder, Yvon Chouinard, started selling mountain climbing gear out of a tin shack.
Then, right in the midst of a business boom, he changed his core product to be less damaging to the mountain, despite it costing him almost 70% in sales.
And, 40 years later, it’s certainly paid off — Patagonia’s currently doing $800m in annual revenue.
And since it worked before…
They’re betting it’ll work again. The VC fund is investing in companies with transparent supply chains, and tracking metrics like “toxins averted,” and CO2 reduced, not just returns.
Tin Shed estimate their investments in things like buffalo ranches and textile companies saved the planet 13k tons of CO2 just this year.
But how about those returns?
The rock hugging firm hasn’t released valuations for its investments, so there’s no way of knowing if it’s working out like they hoped.
However, the fund’s managing director says their portfolio companies have a 100% survival rate, and have seen double-digit increases in valuations.
According to a scoop from Axios, the master of virality plans to go public in 2018, and it’s gonna be hot AF.
The source of such gems like “Stoned People Get Surprised With A Sloth,” has already turned down multiple acquisition offers and it looks like they’re finally making good on CEO Jonah Peretti’s IPO promises.
Which is a rare move in media these days compared to the other “Big Four” digital content companies, including Vox, Vice, and Group Nine Media (owns Thrillist, NowThis, The Dodo and Seeker).
Rumor has it Vice is looking to sell, and neither Vox, nor Group Nine has plans to IPO in the near future.
These old people are helping millennial publishers expand
BuzzFeed, like its peers, has partnered with a traditional media companies (NBC) to expand its media offerings beyond listicles: NBC now owns stake in both BF and Vox, Disney in Vice, and Discovery in Group Nine.
Recently, they even announced a plan to leverage NBC’s cable audience by co-authoring an original, true-crime TV series, much like Netflix’s Making a Murderer (clapback alert!).
At the same time, a series of journalism hires, including their editor-in-chief from Politico, has helped them expand from stuff like dog engagement photos into a legitimate source of investigative news.
Only ‘90s VCs will get this
BuzzFeed is uniquely positioned as a media company with the sensibility and structure of a tech company, and investors are taking note.
Their valuation at the end of 2016 hit $1.7B after NBC doubled down on their investment with another $200m round, and Peretti claims revenue grew more than 65% in last year.
And hey, while they might not have the BUZZ ticker name locked down yet, they can tell you “Which Beyonce Hit You Are Based On Your Zodiac Sign.”
Last week, Smithfield Foods the world’s largest pork producer (valued at $14B), announced that it will explore a new business angle: Using its pigs for medical purposes like organ transplants.
So instead of putting their pork in hot dogs…
They’re putting it in people
Wait, that came out wrong. New genetic breakthroughs (i.e., CRISPR) could make it possible to use pig organs, like hearts or lungs, for human transplant.
Which sounds weird and gross, but would be a literal lifesaver for the 118k patients waiting months or even years for an available organ in the US.
Smithfield maintains that they are a food company first but, as of this month, they’ve also launched a separate segment, Smithfield Bioscience, to oversee all things medical.
They’re also part of a “public-private-tissue-engineering consortium” with $80m in grant funding from the US Department of Defense.
It isn’t just some PR bologna — it’s a lucrative market
The market for pork byproducts used for non-food purposes is already $100B in the US alone, not factoring in the potential for xenotransplants (animal-to-human).
And, since researchers and healthcare companies currently buy parts through third parties, Smithfield stands to do pretty well for themselves if they start selling direct from their farms.
That is, if someone like George Church, a leading xenoplant researcher, doesn’t do it first. His company eGenesis Bio just raised $38m in venture funding for the sole purpose of growing pig organs for human transplant.
To live we will discuss about that solar water heater there is a container and there is a water tank this is a solar water container this is a water tank in which we have a water which will be at the higher height from this solar water container these will be connected with a pipe this water tank will supply the water to this solar container and this container is connected by means of pipes these are the pipes from which our water will be circulate from the container and this is the ending point of the file these are the connecting pipes this point will be for worm pipe warm water which will go to outside then water will be warmed in the solar container what will happen when sunrays will fall on that these pipe these are the surveys when some rays will fall on the pipes despite is made up of copper copper is the heat conducting material.
So larger heat will be conducted by the pipes and the cooling water will come through this container cooling water will come through this container this water will be come and after taking heat it will be converted into heated water the red points are shown that the heat exchange will be takes place and these red dots will be created by the heat exchanger and the container and this container will see by the warm water there will be warm water in the upper side of the the cooling water will takes place after.
This this process will be going on by the natural therapy vessel therapy national therapy when sun rays will be strike on the water the density of the water will be low and the water will be go towards the upper side because the density or heat in water will be less than the density of cooling water so natural cooling for natural flowing takes place in the fight pulling water will come from the container and the heated water will go up in the container and the warm water will be comes out from this file so this is the working of solar water heater which we use in the house thank you and after this there will be a pipe for filling the container time to time thank you.
Payal Kadakia, an avid dancer since the age of 3, had a hard time finding dance classes in New York City.
So, in 2011, she launched Classtivity, an online search engine kind of like OpenTable, but for fitness. There was only one problem… no one was using it.
She pivoted and rebranded to ClassPass, an app-based subscription that allows users to try classes from tons of locations, from yoga studios to boxing gyms, without having to buy separate memberships.
Since then, fitness junkies in 31 US cities have booked over 20m classes through the app, the company’s raised over $84m, and were predicted to do over $180m in sales in 2016.
So… just a cab? Yeah, but this one’s different. Earlier this month, a group of ex-Udacity employees announced they were creating yet another new self-driving taxi company called Voyage.
Wait, isn’t Udacity that site that does online courses?
Yep. But these particular employees were the ones behind their open source, self-driving car curriculum, plus they already have working prototypes, so it’s not like they’re starting from scratch (they promise they’re not using any of their students’ code).
And here’s the twist: It’s gonna be free
Or at least, that’s what they’re “aiming for,” according to tweets from CEO, Oliver Cameron. He’s hinted that Voyage has a secret weapon up their sleeves in the form of free, ad-supported transportation.
Granted, it’s speculative but, it would likely work in the same way that Facebook and Google offer “free” services to people in exchange for targeted advertising.
So imagine a self-driving car that picks you up at home, shows you an ad for a new lunch place next to your office, and then drops you off at work.
Ridesharing apps collect tons of data on us, and it’s not a huge stretch to picture a brand paying good money for our attention while we’re locked in a comfortable box.
Harland Clarke, an “integrated marketing and payment solutions” holding company based in San Antonio, purchased online coupon provider RetailMeNot for about $630m.
Hold on a sec… that was way too dry. Let’s try again.
You know RetailMeNot? The company you see every time you Google “Banana Republic coupon codes?” Apparently, they’re worth a ton of money, and Harland wants to buy them to become even more coupon-y.
Is that even possible?
RetailMeNot makes money by using SEO and cookies to connect bargain hunters with brands, using what’s known as last-click attribution.
Which means whenever someone buys something after seeing one of their coupons, they claim credit for the sale, thereby making an affiliate fee.
Harland — which also owns the company responsible for those annoying Redplum inserts — wants to use RMN to build on their expansive offline coupon channels, where it’s a lot harder to track who buys what.
Which is why Harland Clarke got a great deal
4 years ago when they went public, RetailMeNot was valued at $1.5B. But with declining monetization, their value dropped, and they went from a unicorn to a “unicorpse.”
Now, the new company will combine their online and offline advertisers, crank up some coupons, and start saving everyone some money, one piece of junk mail at a time.
Except they’re the only buyers. At this point, Uber is so loaded, they’re literally asking people to sell them stuff.
The company’s hosting a 1-month patent buy-a-thon, called UP3, where inventors are encouraged to submit any patent they think Uber might be interested in.
Looks like that waffle iron alarm clock might finally pay off
And you could have that brunch money in-hand way faster than in a traditional patent deal.
Uber’s goal is to streamline the IP (intellectual property) buying process down to about 4 months instead of years by prompting inventors to submit a “final sale” price for their patent along with their proposal, which, if accepted, is binding.
But get-rich-quicksters beware… Cutting out the back-and-forth on pricing may be faster, but you’re left with almost no negotiation power to shop around and create bidding wars to drive up the value of the IP.
Noted. So how much can I expect for my “million dollar” idea?
‘Bout $100k — that’s the average price of sale of the 107 proposals received in a similar patent-palooza last year, called IP3 (A+ for brand differentiation, Uber).
So, not enough to retire in Hawaii, but definitely not chump change, either.
Interested? Strike while the waffle iron alarm clock’s hot. The pitching window starts April 24th. Now get crackin’.