Roll over, play dead, good boy!

 

It’s not often 2 rival companies take a step back, consider what’s best for their collective customer base, and decide to tag-team the future hand-in-hand.

But that’s pretty much happened yesterday when Rover acquired DogVacay, the #1 and #2 companies in the dog-sitting space, respectively, in an all-stock deal.

The new entity will operate under the Rover name and, unsurprisingly, Rover CEO Aaron Easterly will be the man in charge.
Honestly, it’s a smart move

They both do pretty much the same thing (think: Airbnb for dog boarding and walking), they both raised a bunch of money from top investors ($138m total), and they’re both doing exceptionally well ($150m in combined bookings).

Instead of competing head-to-head for the foreseeable future, joining forces lets them play to each other’s strengths and focus entirely on doing what they do best — solving annoying problems for pet owners.

For example, Rover grew 9x faster over the past 3 years, but DogVacay makes more money per host.
The riches are in the niches

Easterly’s hinted in the past that they’re planning on an IPO, and they’re now the clear leader in a $15B pet care industry. Not too shabby for taking Fido on walks and asking “who’s a good boy??”

But seriously, it’s easy to forget how much opportunity there is on the fringes.

Speaking of which cats.com is available and up for auction. For a cool $1m, you could start the big cat-sitting startup.

Amazon’s A/B testing the produce aisle

 

 

Back in December, you may remember us talking a bit about Amazon Go, a grocery store concept that uses cameras and sensors to track what customers pick up. So ideally, instead of waiting behind someone buying 60 cans of cat food, you could just walk out and get charged automatically.

 

The whole “facial recognition” thing seem like overkill? Well, we thought so too. And apparently, they’re having trouble getting it all to work properly, postponing their planned launch from the end of this month to some unknown future date.

 

But, less than 24 hours after releasing that self-defeating statement, the largest river in the world announced their next grocery store business model, grocery pickup. Fishy timing, great PR move.

They’re calling it AmazonFresh Pickup

 

It all started with straight up grocery delivery (AmazonFresh), then the cashier-less shoplifter haven (Amazon Go), and now their next big thing: Ordering online, driving to the store, and having someone put the groceries into your car (AmazonFresh Pickup).

 

This idea of “click-and-collect” has been popular in the UK for years and Walmart launched the same thing last June in a handful of stores.

 

For now, Amazon’s going to try it with 2 locations in Seattle, making it available exclusively for employees now, and eventually opening it up Prime members.

Seems like they’re grasping at candy straws

 

And for good reason. According to Morgan Stanley Research, the average US household spends about $107 a week on groceries or $5,500 annually.

 

That’s more than double what the average Prime member spends on Amazon per year ($2,500) and 10x what non-members spend.

 

Do a little mental math, and it’s clear that if Amazon can make serious headway in the grocery biz, they’re going to make — carry the 2, divide the square root — a boatload of money.

 

For the time being, however, it’s up to us to decide which of these new ways of buying kombucha and eggs is going to stick. Let’s just hope it’s not drone delivery.

BuzzFeed plans to go public — OMG cute!

 

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.”

The Bloomberg terminal bubble finally burst

 

Last year, the number of Bloomberg terminals, which let bankers analyze real-time financial market data and place trades, dropped for the second time since the company’s creation in 1981.

The only other time? During the global financial crisis. Which is pretty significant, because currently, the demand for financial data is as healthy as ever.

Global spending on financial info reached an all-time high at $24.7B in 2016, so one would think that terminals would be reaping the benefits.
But it’s not the market… It’s Bloomberg

First of all, to use the technology you still have to lease a physical system, which is insane. That’d be like Microsoft making you buy a whole separate computer to use Excel.

Plus, the setup itself hasn’t changed much since it launched 35 years ago — it still features an old school color-coded keyboard and monitors with colored text on a black screen that look like something out of a 1980s hacker movie. And it costs $20k per user per year to lease one of these suckers.

That’s led to huge customers like Bank of America and JPMorgan cutting 7k terminals to save money, while competitors like Money.Net and Sentieo are cropping up all over the place, offering similar services for half the price.
Which is bad news for the ‘berg

Because try as they might to diversify into segment like business news media, they’re still heavily reliant on their terminals to bring in the vast majority of their $9B in revenue.

And, with new technology continuing to automate traders out of a job, the outlook for companies willing to purchase a $20k monitor isn’t exactly rosy.