Singles Day, the annual Chinese shopping festival that happens on November 11th, kicked off this year on October 21st. It might sound strange for a one day festival to start 3 weeks early, but Singles Day has grown into a nearly month long shopping season with multiple presales events that are celebrated throughout China and even in Southeast Asia and parts of Europe.

And in regions where it’s not celebrated, Singles Day is still closely watched because of the record setting sales volumes it generates. For example in 2019, Singles Day resulted in more parcels shipped (1.66 billion) than there are people in China. Alibaba alone sold over $38 billion worth of merchandise on Singles Day. That was more than 4 times the volume that every company in the US generated on Cyber Monday combined, which added up to a comparatively meager $9.4 …


On September 23rd, Pinterest officially launched a new feature called Story Pins to make it easier for Pinterest creators to “share their talent, passions and creativity”. A day later on September 24th, LinkedIn announced Stories to provide their users “a more human way of sharing”. And with those two releases, an important milestone happened: every single one of the Top 8 most popular social platforms in the US now offer their own version of Stories. …


One year ago this month, Hollywood was counting their box office tally for the all important summer movie season that contributes nearly 40% of domestic theatrical revenue. The results for the summer of 2019 were exciting: US moviegoers spent $4.86 billion, which effectively tied the all time summer box office record of $4.87 billion set in 2013. That was thanks in large part to a little flick you may have heard of called Avengers: Endgame that eventually went on to become the most successful movie of all time. The theatrical movie business was booming.

This month, that same accounting exercise is a far different picture for Hollywood as Covid-19 has grounded the theatrical movie business to a screeching halt. The entire 2020 summer movie season — 4 full months — has brought in a meager $12 million in total revenue, or only 0.2% of last year’s take. It took Avengers: Endgame just over 1 hour of ticket presales to exceed that mark. The box office has been so bad this year that a 29 minute movie called Unsubscribe, shot entirely on Zoom, topped the charts the week of June 10th with a $25k gross. We are witnessing the most dramatic collapse ever for theatrical Hollywood, due to the Covid-19 crisis. …


“This is a perfect example of what Hollywood should be like, what it needs to do”

Harry Shum Jr., actor in Crazy Rich Asians

In the fall of 2018, I wrote a blog post about going to dinner with the creators of the movie Crazy Rich Asians, to discuss what Asian Americans around the country could do to help rally support for the film. It was such an important cultural moment for our community as there had not been a Hollywood studio film featuring an all Asian American cast in 25 years.

Our inspiration for that meeting was watching how African Americans have been so vocal and committed in coming together to support black filmmakers over the years. Just a few months earlier, the amazing movie Black Panther premiered as the biggest budgeted comic genre blockbuster by a black director, screenwriter and cast. It would go on to be the highest grossing film of the entire year, not only because it was a great movie deserving of its huge success, but also because African Americans chipped in with their own superpower: a love for their community that’s beautiful, energizing, and infectious and drew people of all ethnicities, genders, and ages to their art. As Vanessa Kelly, spokeswoman for the Urban League of Greater Atlanta Guild, would say: “Everyone is claiming Wakanda”. …


An interesting thing occurred starting on May 8th on Google Trends: US search interest in the term “reopening” (which has spiked rapidly since early April) finally exceeded the interest level of the term “covid-19” (which has been steadily falling over that same time). “Reopening” would go onto outpace “covid-19” throughout the rest of May, one of the many signs pointing to the shift in national attention. The US is going from asking “what is Covid-19?” to asking “what happens after Covid-19?.

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It’s been just over 2 months since the Covid-19 pandemic made landfall in the US in early March and altered every aspect of daily life. From personal to professional, from municipal to national, Covid-19 has disrupted something at the very core of our economy, our communities, our very society: flow. …


Zoom has led the app store charts for more consecutive days than Fortnite, TikTok, Snapchat, or Angry Birds

A photo of coronavirus-related apps on a person’s iPhone home screen.
A photo of coronavirus-related apps on a person’s iPhone home screen.
Some apps about corona are seen on an iPhone amid the coronavirus outbreak on April 12, 2020 in Veghel, Netherlands. Photo: Joris Verwijst/BSR Agency/Getty Images

On April 1, Zoom CEO Eric Yuan wrote a blog post that included a stat that would seem perfectly appropriate for an April Fool’s announcement given how unbelievable it seemed. But in this case, he was totally serious. Yuan wrote, “Last year, the maximum number of daily meeting participants, both free and paid, conducted on Zoom was approximately 10 million. In March this year, we reached more than 200 million daily meeting participants.”

Wait, 200 million daily active users? Even in these unusual times caused by the coronavirus pandemic, 200 million daily active users (DAUs) is a monster number. That’s more than Twitter (152 million) and almost as much as Snapchat (218 million), all from a service that before March had never broken into the top 100 most popular apps in the Apple App Store in its nine-year life. …


There’s one cost-cutting shortcut they all have in common

In this photo illustration an Alphabet logo seen displayed on a phone against a background illustrating the stock market.
In this photo illustration an Alphabet logo seen displayed on a phone against a background illustrating the stock market.
Photo Illustration: Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

On January 16th, the market cap of Google’s parent company Alphabet crossed over $1 trillion for the first time, and the company joined Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft as the only U.S. companies to ever achieve that once unimaginable valuation. The way these four businesses have grown — and continue to grow even at their massive size — is remarkable, and there’s a unique trait they all share that other companies can learn from.

To put in perspective just how impressive that feat is, the combined value of Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, and Alphabet at $4.97 trillion dollars is worth more than the entire London Stock Exchange. As in, all 3,000 companies on the LSE added together. If Alphabet, Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft (let’s call them “MA3,” to make things easier) broke off and formed their own stock exchange, it would collectively be the fourth largest stock exchange in the world, trailing only the NYSE, NASDAQ, and Tokyo Stock Exchange. …


What is YC choosing to invest in, and why?

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Credit: Y Combinator via Wikimedia

There are thousands of smart people who could start companies and don’t, and with a relatively small amount of force applied at just the right place, we can spring on the world a stream of new startups that might otherwise not have existed.
Paul Graham, co-founder of Y Combinator

I recently wrote a recommendation letter for a former co-worker who wanted to change careers by going back to school. Not just any school but a very specific world-class, prestigious institution with an acceptance rate in the low single digits. Harvard or Stanford MBA you might guess? Nope, something even harder to get into: Y Combinator. …


WeWork has had a tough time as of late. Since it shared its IPO prospectus on August 14th, the company has:

  • Pushed out its founder and CEO Adam Neumann
  • Reduced Neumann’s voting powers and sold Neumann’s private jet
  • Had its publicly traded debt fall to an all time low price of 84.5 cents on the dollar
  • Discussed layoffs affecting 5,000 employees
  • Postponed a $6 billion dollar loan deal
  • Had investment bankers recommend a $10 billion price target for the company, down 80% from its last $47 billion private valuation
  • Officially withdrew its initial public offering

And that’s all in less than 2 months. …


The Unboxed team has news to unwrap. Starting today, the team will be moving onto new adventures.

On behalf of everyone at Unboxed, thank you all for your support. It’s been an absolute joy and privilege to serve you. We’ve loved exploring the intersection of media and ecommerce, and look forward to seeing these industries continue to evolve and innovate in the future.

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Lessons from Unboxed

In a tradition as old as Silicon Valley itself (the HBO show that is) of entrepreneurs reflecting on their startup and blogging about their learnings, here are some insights that we wanted to share from our time building Unboxed. …

About

Eric Feng

Leading Commerce Incubations at $FB. Was co-founder at Packagd (acq.), GP at Kleiner Perkins, and writing messy code at Hulu, Flipboard, Erly (acq.), and $MSFT.

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