A New Giant In Digital Ads, an Atlanta Manufacturer Understands Women, and a Business Owner Is Nominated for a Nobel

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Good Tuesday Morning,

DAYLIGHT  

José Andrés, who owns restaurants in Washington DC, and elsewhere, has been nominated for a Nobel prize: “Because of Mr. Andrés’s work, millions of people have been fed. This is the most basic human need and Mr. Andrés has proven to be world-class in this essential humanitarian field. With an incredible spirit and an innovative mind, Mr. Andrés is solving one of the world’s ancient problems and supplying world leaders with a new road map to provide more effective disaster relief in the future.”

MARKETING

Amazon is emerging as a digital ad giant, trailing only Facebook and Google: “Amazon’s copious data on consumers – from what they buy to what they ask artificial intelligence assistant Alexa to what they watch on Amazon’s video service – holds unique appeal for ad buyers. Unlike Facebook and Google, it has actual purchase data from its retail site. That enables Amazon to tell brands if their ads have led to purchases on its retail site, and then better target consumers on other sites – for example, showing them ads for a new pair of sneakers they had shopped for but never purchased.”

THE ECONOMY

Despite GM’s plant closings, President Trump said he is likely to impose still more tariffs on goods coming from China:The president said tariffs could also be placed on Apple. iPhones and laptop computers imported from China if the US decides to put tariffs on additional goods. Some of his aides had suggested those products might be exempted from additional tariffs. The administration has been worried about a consumer reaction should such items be subject to levies. ‘Maybe. Maybe. Depends on what the rate is,’ the president said, referring to mobile phones and laptops. ‘I mean, I can make it 10 percent and people could stand that very easily.’”

The value of Bitcoin has fallen 80 percent from its peak: “‘It’s hard to look at the price charts of the big crypto assets and not cringe,’ Fred Wilson, a partner at Union Square Ventures in New York and an early bitcoin investor, wrote on his blog. He drew a parallel to the moves seen when the tech bubble burst … I think things will get worse before they get better.”

Meanwhile, Ohio could be the first state to allow businesses to pay their taxes with Bitcoin. This should help the cryptocurrency in its goal to gain traction as a payment option. It can be used to pay sales taxes and withholding tax. The program will most likely start broadly for businesses in the hopes of eventually letting individuals use it. Would a partnership with TurboTax help?

MANUFACTURING

Anisa Telwar Kaicker is Founder and CEO of Atlanta-based Anisa International, which manufactures brushes for cosmetics companies. In this ForbesBooks Radio podcast, Kaiker talks about how her business, a 2018 Forbes Small Giant, revolutionized the making of a product that had long been an afterthought – in part, by asking whether manufacturers, mostly run by men, actually knew what was the right brush for a particular type of cosmetic (spoiler alert: they didn’t).

Based in Brooklyn, manufacturing in Massachusetts, Getaway sells tiny weekend houses and an “anti-Silicon Valley” lifestyle – with annual revenue of $1 million and more than 30 employees: “The ‘tiny houses,’ or cabins, measure 8 by 20 feet, or about the size of a living room. They cost about $30,000 each to build and are shuttled on truck beds from a factory in Massachusetts to their destination. … They cluster the tiny houses in groups of 20 or so on leased woodland, just outside major cities.”

CULTURE  

Clean, family-friendly comedian Brian Regan is teaming up with one of the best, Jerry Seinfeld, for a new Netflix show. The stand-up legend will serve as executive producer or a sketch comedy show set up by Regan’s own stand-up bits. The show will premiere on Christmas Eve.

Netflix has taken the torch from Comedy Central as the new home for stand-up acts which has made the formerly niche genre flourish in the US. Netflix has been able to pull legends out of their semi-retirement like Chris Rock, Seinfeld, even Adam Sandler back to the stage to critical and commercial success. So much so, all the specials are getting hard to keep track.

M&A

Small and mid-size companies are choosing not to go public: “Many of the smaller companies are bought by larger organizations or are enticed to stay private by the sharp rise in venture capital money, both of which allow them to avoid the volatility and scrutiny that come with going public. The number of listed companies peaked in the late-1990s, before the dot-com bust, plummeting 52 percent by 2016.

“The shift leaves big companies with an outsize influence. … ‘What would have happened to Instagram if Facebook hadn’t had bought them?’ Mr. Philippon said. ‘They would have competed with Facebook for sure.’”

Corsearch will acquire Yellow Brand Protection, a counterfeit-protection business for an undisclosed amount. Yellow Brand has some major names in their book of business. Counterfeiting is a $3 trillion dollar per year business. That is three times the arms and drug trade combined.

STYLE

Levi’s is thinking of going public 30 years after going private at a $5 billion valuation. The switch comes from a growing market in popular culture, particularly influenced by hip-hop. The industry has long been enraptured with the fashion world with heavy hitters like Kanye West forming their own shoe and clothing lines with the Yeezy brand. In the 90s, there were baggy jeans, but before then legendary groups like Run DMC wore slim-fits. Like the saying goes for fashion – trends are cyclical and skinny jeans and trucker jackets are the rage. By the way, Levi’s looks to raise $600 million.

WORD OF THE DAY

Enrapture [enˈrapCHər] verb

give intense pleasure or joy to.

MEDICINE & PHARMA

The FDA relies on clearing medical devices by comparing them to older products already out. That’s going to change as the agency’s new system will be to hold the devices ready for market to modern standards, rather than giving them the OK because they are similar to the decades-old products. This will include implants such as pulse generators.  

Announcement comes after media blowback from a report stating 83,000 deaths and nearly two million injuries associated with medical devices were reported to the FDA. Some are worried about lobbyists cutting the reform at its knees.

RETAIL

A private-equity-backed company called ThreeSixty is trying to bring back legendary toy store FAO Schwarz but with a new business model: “FAO’s new owners are creating thousands of ‘stores within stores’ at other large retailers as well as small stores in airport terminals and other locales across the United States and in China. The new locations will be stocked heavily with FAO-branded stuffed animals and toys. To modernize the brand, the New York store will feature ‘Instagrammable moments’ and soldiers’ uniforms designed by the supermodel Gigi Hadid.”

FOOD

The Atlanta Journal Constitution is asking all Atlantans to vote for the best soup in the area. Restaurants include North China Eatery and Farm to Ladle. I’m not from Atlanta, but when I came down to visit a few months ago, I was exposed to chicken and waffles for the first time at the OK Cafe in Buckhead. I’ll have to stay away from them for awhile so my valves can recover.

CONGLOMERATES

United Technologies will break up into three separate entities. United Technologies will focus on making airplane parts and jet engines, Otis will stick to building elevators and Carrier will stay on heating and cooling systems. It’s a long time coming for investors who have been wanting smaller, more focused companies.

PRIVATE EQUITY

Here’s yet another reason not to take private equity: “The rise in health-code violations at the chain began after Carlyle and investors completed a 2011 financial deal that extracted $1.3 billion from the company for investors but also saddled the chain with what proved to be untenable financial obligations, according to interviews and financial documents. Under the terms of the deal, HCR ManorCare sold nearly all of the real estate in its nursing-home empire and then agreed to pay rent to the new owners.

VENTURE CAPITAL

Agora.io, a voice, video and live broadcasting platform, raised $70 million. The value of real-time engagement in businesses could not be more important as the internet has changed communications over the last decade. Agora’s brands include MeetMe, LOVOO, Skout and Tagged.

PlayVS, a company building the infrastructure and platform for high school e-sports, raised $30.5 million. PlayVS’s ultimate goal is to have e-sports become an integral part of high school sports. Whereas high schools used to need only a hoop, some hardwood or a field, PlayVS wants to build software and infrastructure in schools to sustain the fast pace of e-sports where a laggy screen almost always means losing the game. Its platform, which offers league scheduling and coaches clinics, is being tested in several states including Georgia, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

SPOTLIGHT

Entrepreneur Briefing – Holiday Party

December 5, 5:00 – 7:30 at Ray’s on the River.

Contact events@oxfordcenter.com for more info and to RSVP.

And that’s what’s ahead.

Please send comments and suggestions to mattg@oxfordcenter.com and lfeldman@oxfordcenter.com.

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