Created on a dare: This new hot sauce goes in your coffee

August 19, 2022

If you think your cup of coffee is missing a little something extra, might we suggest adding hot sauce? Yes, hot sauce in the morning is no longer limited to putting Tabasco on your eggs, reports Delish.

The idea for the newly launched Ujjo can be traced back to when its founder Lauren D’Souza, based in the Columbus, Ohio metropolitan area, was dared to drink a cup of coffee spiked with fiery hot sauce. And the dare clearly paid off.

“Putting hot sauce in drinks may seem weird, even though it’s no weirder than putting hot sauce on foods. But to make it work in drinks, you have to do a few things differently,” said D’Souza in a statement.

She added, “I love that by challenging some conventions about what it means to be a hot sauce, we’ve made a condiment that works with something totally unexpected—coffee—but that customers love in other drinks and foods, too.”

For the uncaffeinated among us who don’t drink coffee, Ujjo also works well on plenty of other foods like roasted veggies, breakfast tacos, and ice cream.

Ready to spice things up? Bottles of Ujjo Light Roast and Ujjo Dark Roast can be purchased for $13.59 each at Ujjo.com.

 Research contact: @DelishdotCom

Timex takes a witty swipe at Apple: ‘Know the time without seeing you have 1,249 unanswered emails’

August 18, 2022

Apple may be the leader in the smartwatch market, but an old-school player wants to remind us of the joys of analog watches, reports Business Insider.

Timex is promoting a new watch with a New York City billboard. The $140 watch, a collaboration with the Brooklyn-based clothing company Adsum, is currently sold out. But the ad’s message lives on.

“Know the time without seeing you have 1,249 unanswered emails,” reads the sleek, minimalist billboard, apparently referring to Apple’s Watch that displays your notifications on your wrist.

Timex was founded in 1854 and has become a global household name for traditional watches. But Apple gave consumers a very different product with its series of smartwatches starting in 2015.

However, there is something that traditional watches haven’t given us that smartwatches may have: notification anxiety.

Smartwatches deliver a slew of real-time health data like heart rhythm to you right to your wrist and can cause obsessive self-monitoring, as Digital Trends reported in late 2021.

But that hasn’t stopped Apple watch from being a hit, even though it wasn’t always: It struggled to appeal to people for the first year or so into its presence on the market.

Then Apple changed its strategy to gear the Watch more towards fitness—a tool to track one’s physical health while also staying on top of regular iPhone alerts—instead of mere fashion or luxury. The Watch Series 2, for example, rolled out in 2016 and came with GPS that you could use without your smartphone.

The fitness focus caused the Apple Watch to skyrocket in popularity, and it leapfrogged Rolex as the number one watch in the world in mid-2017.

Apple has since blown past legacy Swiss watch companies, like Swatch, TAG Heuer, and others, which are struggling to compete with the phone giant’s hit fitness-oriented smartwatch.

Apple shipped an estimated 31 million units in 2019, versus the 21 million shipments from Swiss watch brands, research firm Strategy Analytics said in an early 2020 report.

Research contact: @BusinessInsider

American Airlines agrees to buy 20 supersonic planes from Boom

August 17, 2022

American Airlines has agreed to purchase 20 supersonic Overture planes from Boom Supersonic, reports CNBC.

The deal is the second firm order in the last two years for Denver-based Boom—which still is years from building its first commercial airplane. United Airlines made a commitment last year to buy 15 Overture jets.

“Passengers want flights that are faster, more convenient, more sustainable and that’s what Overture delivers,” Boom CEO Blake Scholl told CNBC. “Flight times can be as little as half as what we have today, and that works great in networks like American, where we can fly Miami to London in less than five hours.”

Boom says the Overture jet will fly as fast as Mach 1.7, or 1,304 mph, dramatically cutting trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific flight times. For example, a flight from Seattle to Tokyo, which typically takes just over 10 hours, could be completed in six hours in an Overture, according to Boom.

“Supersonic travel will be an important part of our ability to deliver for our customers,” American’s CFO Derek Kerr, said in a statement announcing the order. American is paying Boom an undisclosed amount as a nonrefundable deposit.

The airline also has the option to purchase another 40 Overtures in the future.

Boom says its supersonic planes will carry 65 to 80 passenger while flying on sustainable aviation fuel offering lower emissions.

Still, Overture is years away from becoming a reality. Boom will build the jet at a new manufacturing plant in North Carolina and expects to roll out the first model in 2025, with the first flight in 2026.

If the flight tests and certification process goes as scheduled, Boom says the Overture will enter commercial service by the end of the decade.

Research contact: @CNBC

He’s baaaack: Adam Neumann’s new company gets a big check from Andreessen Horowitz

August 16, 2022

After his spectacular rise and fall at WeWork, Adam Neumann is getting back into the real estate industry, with backing from a major Silicon Valley player, reports Adam Ross Sorkin of The New York Times.

The founder of WeWork—whose spectacular rise and fall has been chronicled in books, documentaries, and a scripted television series—has a new venture and a surprising backer.

Neumann is starting a new company called Flow, focused on the residential real estate market, Sorkin’s DealBook newsletter reports. Notably, it has the financial support of Andreessen Horowitz, the prominent Silicon Valley venture capital firm that has been an early investor in everything from Facebook to Airbnb.

Andreessen Horowitz is considered royalty among early-stage investors, so its backing is a powerful sign of support and, perhaps, a rebuke to Neumann’s critics, who have described his leadership of WeWork as a cautionary tale of corporate hubris.

The firm’s investment in Flow is about $350 million, according to three people briefed on the deal, valuing the company at more than $1 billion before it even opens its doors. The investment is the largest individual check Andreessen Horowitz has ever written in a round of funding to a company.

Flow is expected to launch in 2023, and the venture capital giant’s co-founder Marc Andreessen will join its board, these people said. Neumann is planning to make a sizable personal investment in the firm in the form of cash and real estate assets.

“It’s often underappreciated that only one person has fundamentally redesigned the office experience and led a paradigm-changing global company in the process: Adam Neumann,” Andreessen wrote in a note posted on his firm’s website on Monday, August 15, explaining his rationale for investing in the company.

At its height, WeWork was valued at some $47 billion After a botched public offering and tales of mismanagement, it imploded spectacularly. Neumann was ousted from WeWork in 2019, but walked away with hundreds of millions of dollars. Today, WeWork has a market value of about $4 billion.

Andreessen wrote that “we love seeing repeat-founders build on past successes by growing from lessons learned.” For Neumann, he added, “the successes and lessons are plenty.”

Neumann—who has purchased more than 3,000 apartment units in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Atlanta, and Nashville—aims to rethink the rental housing market by creating a branded product with consistent service and community features. Flow will own and operate the properties Neumann bought and also offer its services to new developments and other third parties. Exact details of the business plan could not be learned. (Flow is unrelated to the crypto company Flowcarbon, which was also co-founded by Neumann and raised $70 million in May in a round led by Andreessen Horowitz.)

It appears Neumann’s business will follow a very different model than WeWork, which involved renting office space on a long-term basis and then re-renting it to clients at higher rates for shorter terms. This created its own risks, if WeWork were unable to find renters.

In the case of Flow, the business is effectively a service that landlords can team up with for their properties, somewhat similar to the way an owner of a hotel might contract with a branded hotel chain to operate the property.

The investment thesis for Flow appears to reflect economic and social trends that are driving more people to rent homes rather than buy them at a time when there is a housing shortage. A third of Americans rent their homes, and more than half of Americans living in urban settings are renters.

Andreessen said in his memo that he was particularly interested in Flow because he believed the rental real estate was ripe for disruption, especially now that more people are working from home and “will experience much less, if any, of the in-office social bonding and friendships that local workers enjoy.”

He also hinted that the company might try to address one of the biggest challenges renters face: “You can pay rent for decades and still own zero equity—nothing.” He added: “In a world where limited access to homeownership continues to be a driving force behind inequality and anxiety, giving renters a sense of security, community, and genuine ownership has transformative power for our society.”

According to Sorkin, “It is unclear whether Flow will offer a rent-to-own program or some other mechanism for renters to create equity. Andreessen and other tech moguls recently opposed a plan for multifamily homes near their estates in the town of Atherton, California.”

Neumann declined to comment. In an interview at the DealBook Summit last year, he said of his rise and fall at WeWork that “I have had a lot of time to think, and there have been multiple lessons and multiple regrets.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Rivian has nearly 200,000 orders for its EV trucks and delivery vans—but has produced only 8,000

August 15, 2022

Startup electric truck manufacturer Rivian, based in Irvine, California, continues to see robust demand for its inaugural products, with nearly 200,000 orders in hand—but a long way to go to fill them, reports The Chicago Tribune.

 Rivian announced during a second quarter earnings call on Thursday, August 11, that it had more than 98,000 orders for its R1T pickup and R1S SUV as of June 30. Amazon, an early investor in Rivian, has ordered 100,000 commercial electric delivery vans.

 The company—which launched production in Normal, Illinois, nearly a year ago and has struggled with a slower than expected ramp-up—has built about 8,000 EVs and reaffirmed a scaled-back production target of 25,000 vehicles this year.

 Rivian generated $364 million in revenues and reported a net loss of $1.7 billion for the quarter. The company reported Thursday it had $15 billion in cash at the end of the second quarter.

 In addition to concerns about the production ramp-up, Rivian is navigating the implications of President Joe Biden’s historic climate bill, which passed the Senate on Sunday, August 7, and was expected to pass a vote in the House on Friday.

 The bill includes an extension of the $7,500 federal tax credit for EV purchases—but sets a cap that would make trucks and SUVs priced over $80,000 ineligible. That would cut the majority of Rivian’s sales out of the mix for the tax credit beginning next year.

 The $430 billion Inflation Reduction Act focuses on healthcare and clean energy, with a number of measures to promote EV adoption. The bill extends the $7,500 tax credit until 2032, adds a $4,000 tax credit for used EVs and lifts the 200,000 vehicle sales cap for manufacturers.

 It also imposes new restrictions, excluding higher-income buyers and EVs priced above $55,000 for sedans and $80,000 for SUVs and trucks, which could impact Rivian and other manufacturers. The bill also includes new domestic battery sourcing requirements.

 “We’re incredibly happy to see policy that helps drive more rapid adoption of electric vehicles, as well as important investments in building domestic battery cell production,” Rivian CEO and founder R.J. Scaringe said on August 11. “While many of our R1 configurations won’t meet the bill pricing requirements, our (next-generation) R2 product line and associated cell roadmaps are being developed to allow our customers to capture the value of these incentives.”

 The starting price for the R1T truck is $67,500, while the R1S SUV lists for $72,500. But after add-ons and options, most Rivian customers spend more than $80,000 on their EVs, the company said.

 On Wednesday, Rivian sent current customers who have reserved an EV a potential workaround to qualify for the full $7,500 tax credit before the bill becomes law January 1. Rivian said buyers can sign a “written binding contract” for their R1T or R1S purchase, making $100 of their existing $1,000 deposit non-refundable, but excluding them from the price and income restrictions, regardless of the delivery date.

 Rivian cautioned that the final bill terms were not certain and there was no guarantee the IRS would approve the tax credit, but offered the option “as a way to do what we can to increase the probability of receiving the $7,500.”

D uring the conference call, Scaringe reiterated that ramping up production in Normal remains the “key focus” for Rivian, but the company has elevated the importance of cost-cutting as well.

 However, while Rivian is downsizing its nonmanufacturing workforce, it still plans to hire an additional 1,500 workers and add a second shift at the Normal, Illinois, plant by the end of the third quarter.

 The company also is building a second $5 billion assembly plant in Georgia, which is slated to produce Rivian’s next-generation EV on the smaller R2 platform beginning in 2025.

 Research contact: @chicagotribune

Not your dad’s midlife crisis: Motorcycle brand tries to woo new generation of riders

August 11, 2022

Motorcycling is developing an increasingly archaic image. Indeed, in recent years, manufacturers such as Harley-Davidson have reported falling sales amid an aging demographic, reports Adweek.

But now, multinational motorcycle brand Royal Enfield, based in India, wants to change that. Its new global campaign, created by U.K.-based agency New Commercial Arts (NCA), aims to attract a younger, more diverse audience–particularly women.

The campaign more closely resembles a fashion ad than one for a motorcycle company—and it promotes Royal Enfield’s new Hunter 350 model, which targets a younger demographic living in urban environments. The bike is smaller and lighter than many traditional motorcycles and “designed to make you look great on your social posts,” according to the brand. 

In the film, a group of young and stylish Hunter riders gather and traverse the streets of east London, while photographing themselves at each stop. Notably, the cast is diverse and includes female riders, who are largely underrepresented in motorcycling. 

The spot’s soundtrack is Richard Hawley’s 2007 song, “Tonight the Streets Are Ours.” Adriaan Louw directed the film through production company Familia.

Other parts of the campaign—social, digital, and outdoor ads—comprise the photos that the friends captured on their ride.

“Forget about the old guys in their Belstaffs,” NCA co-founder and Chief Creative Officer Ian Heartfield said in a statement. “This is about wearing what you like, standing out from the crowd, looking like you could be on the front cover of a fashion mag—while having the time of your life on two wheels, not four.”

Royal Enfield made its first bike in 1901 and is the oldest motorcycle brand in continuous production.

Research contact: @Adweek

Ciao to U.S. chow: Domino’s Pizza quits Italy after locals shun American pies

August 10, 2022

Domino’s Pizza’s footprint in the Home of Pizza has proven to be short-lived—with Italians favoring local pies over the American version, reports Bloomberg.

After starting operations in Italy seven years ago, Domino’s now has closed all 29 branches nationwide. The company borrowed heavily on its plans to open 880 stores; but faced tough competition from local restaurants that expanded their delivery services during the pandemic. It finally sought protection from creditors after running out of cash and falling behind on its debt obligations.

The company already had reduced operations in the country from its peak in 2020 and stopped offering delivery from its website on July 29.

The U.S.-based chain entered Italy in 2015 through a franchising agreement with ePizza SpA and planned to distinguish itself by providing a structured national delivery service; along with American-style toppings, including pineapple.

“We attribute the issue to the significantly increased level of competition in the food delivery market with both organized chains and ‘mom & pop’ restaurants delivering food, to service and restaurants reopening post-pandemic and consumers out and about with revenge spending,” ePizza said in a report to investors accompanying its fourth-quarter 2021 results.

Still, the closures came as a surprise to some of its customers, who turned to the chain’s Italian social-media channels—questioning why their calls and orders weren’t going through or why their local store had shut.

Research contact: @Bloomberg

Whirlpool announces acquisition of InSinkErator

August 9, 2022

Michigan-based home appliance manufacturer Whirlpool announced on Monday, August 8, on PR Newswire that it has entered into a definitive agreement with Missouri-based Emerson Electric to acquire InSinkErator—the world’s largest manufacturer of food waste disposers and instant hot water dispensers for home and commercial use—in an all-cash transaction for $3.0 billion.

“We are excited for the unique opportunity to add InSinkErator to our portfolio of leading brands. The acquisition is a clear accelerator of our ongoing portfolio transformation and aligned with our stated goals of investing in high-growth and high-margin businesses and Win Americas,” said Marc Bitzer, Chairman and CEO of Whirlpool.

“InSinkErator is not only an iconic brand with a reputation for the highest quality and performance, but also a business that is purpose-driven and shares our vision of improving life at home,” Bitzer said, adding, “We look forward to capitalizing on the significant growth opportunities we see for this business.”

Established in 1938, InSinkErator is the leader in the food waste disposal industry, with a greater than 70% share and the industry’s most recognized and trusted brand.

InSinkErator has established an international presence that reaches nearly 80 countries, with subsidiaries in AustraliaBrazilCanadaChinaMexicoNew Zealand, and the United Kingdom. The company will maintain its headquarters in  Mount PleasantWisconsin.

Research contact: @WhirlpoolCorp

Amazon to buy Roomba-maker iRobot

August 8, 2022

Amazon continues to fill the connected-home “vacuum,” as the online retailer announced plans on Friday, August 5, to buy Roomba-maker iRobot  for $1.7 billion, including debt, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The wireless, smart-vacuum learns and maps spaces where it sucks up dust and messes. Roomba was recently a featured product in Amazon’s Prime Day event for the eighth consecutive year

Amazon said it is paying $61 a share for iRobot in an all-cash deal. The price represents a 22% premium to iRobot’s closing price of $49.99 on Thursday.

iRobot Chief Executive Colin Angle will remain in his position upon completion of the acquisition, which requires approval from shareholders.

Roomba would join other Amazon-owned products like the Alexa virtual assistant speaker and Ring video doorbell, which, together, give the retailer more ways to power smart homes.

IRobot would be the fourth-largest acquisition by Amazon—ranking behind the 2017 acquisition of Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, an $8.5 billion purchase of movie studio MGM in March, and last month’s agreement to buy 1Life Healthcare for $3.9 billion.

Research contact: @WSJ

Eight food brands are selected for Whole Foods’ Local and Emerging Accelerator Program

August 5, 2022

Ten up-and-coming consumer brands have been selected to participate in Whole Foods Market’s Local and Emerging Accelerator Program—eight of them, food brands. The program provides mentorship, education, and shelf space at regional Whole Foods Market stores. Businesses also may receive financial support, reports Food Business News.

“We are delighted to welcome ten exceptional local producers to the first cohort of our Local and Emerging Accelerator Program,” said Will Betts, vice president of Local Merchandising at Whole Foods Market, a business owned by Amazon, adding, “We look forward to sharing valuable insights into marketing best practices, strategy and channel development to help expand the cohort members’ brands while preparing to introduce their products to Whole Foods Market shoppers.

“Whole Foods Market has long been committed to supporting small, local and emerging producers,” Betts said, “and the Local and Emerging Accelerator Program enhances our ability to strengthen our relationships with local brands and elevate our product selection for communities across the country.”

The program will include a 12-week curriculum, a yearlong mentorship with a Whole Foods Market regional buyer, and access to additional supplier benefits to support growth. All products must meet the company’s quality standards and product safety requirements in order to be sold in Whole Foods Market stores.

Participants may receive a $25,000 equity investment from a donor-advised fund managed by the Austin Community Foundation, with proceeds benefiting Whole Foods Market foundations.

Among the Food brands participating in the program are the following:

  • Buns Bakery, Providence, Rhode Island, a traditional Israeli-Jewish baker of babka, challah, and rugelach (North Atlantic region);
  • CHKP, Brooklyn, New York, a producer of non-dairy, chickpea-based yogurt alternatives (Northeast region);
  • Coyotas, San Diego, a Mexican-American maker of grain-free tortillas formulated with cassava flour (Southern Pacific region);
  • Good Girl Chocolate, Oklahoma City, a brand of gluten- and soy-free bean-to-bar chocolate sweetened with coconut sugar (Southwest region);
  • Numa, Fallsington, Pennsylvania, a mother-and-daughter-founded brand of taffy and peanut candies inspired by traditional Asian recipes (Mid-Atlantic region);
  • Onana Foods, Fort Collins, Colorado, a maker of grain-free tortillas made with plantains, baking powder and sea salt (Rocky Mountain region);
  • Pizzazza, Bellingham, Washington, a line of frozen pizzas topped with locally grown and produced ingredients (Pacific Northwest region); and
  • Theo’s Plant Based, Chicago, a creator of beet jerky supporting regenerative farming practices (Midwest region)

Hair care brand Tangles & Beyond, based in Hattiesburg, Misissippi; and skin care maker Vamigas of Alamo, Caliornia also are participating in the program.

Research contact: @FoodBizNews