🚀 The end of an era at Meta
Plus, are consumers getting tired of celebrity brands?
👋 Sandberg steps down. After 14 years as COO of Meta, Sheryl Sandberg is stepping down (though she’ll remain on the company’s board). She hasn’t announced what she’ll do next, but noted that she plans to spend more time on her foundation and philanthropic work. Sandberg, who joined Facebook in 2008, played a critical role in shaping the platform’s growth from a startup to a global powerhouse - CEO Mark Zuckerberg credited her for teaching him “how to run a company.” Meta’s Chief Growth Officer, Javier Olivan, will take on the COO role this fall.
👩🏻⚖️ Insider trading hits digital assets. The DoJ levied its first insider trading charges for digital assets last week, unsealing an indictment against former OpenSea Head of Product Nate Chastain. Chastain, who resigned from the company last September, is accused of buying NFTs through anonymous wallets, featuring them on the company’s homepage to drive up demand, and then flipping them for a profit. A spokesperson told CoinDesk that when OpenSea learned of Chastain’s behavior, it quickly initiated an investigation and ultimately “asked him to leave the company.”
🏢 Tesla returns to office. Tesla has taken a stand on remote work - CEO Elon Musk emailed employees that they will need to spend at least 40 hours a week in the office. He noted that this is less than Tesla expects of factory workers. When a Twitter user asked if he had any comment for people who believe coming into work is an “antiquated concept,” Musk replied: “They should pretend to work somewhere else.”
📊 Earnings updates. The economic environment continues to be tumultuous, but it’s not all doom-and-gloom. There were bright spots in last week’s public earnings:
Cloud software company Salesforce (which now also owns Slack!) reported a strong quarter, with 24% YoY revenue growth. The company’s stock surged 9.9%, its best one-day performance in two years.
Chewy, an e-comm retailer for pet products, reported a surprise profit - driving its stock price up 19%. The company will also be launching wellness and insurance plans this quarter 👀
Lululemon proved so far that consumers will continue to drop $$ for athleisure, with 32% YoY revenue growth. The company has even been selectively increasing prices to offset rising manufacturing & freight costs.
what we’re following 👀
How musicians are using Discord to cultivate their fandoms.
A look inside Netflix’s new content strategy: fewer titles, larger budgets.
Apple is reportedly planning to ship a VR headset (with premium content) next year.
a16z’s crypto team started a newsletter - check it out here!
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In the past five years, we’ve seen an explosion of celebrity-led D2C brands. Instead of endorsing a product on Instagram or serving as a spokesperson, many celebrities are launching their own businesses, or even joining existing brands in executive roles (e.g. Dakota Johnson at Maude, Bella Hadid at Kin Euphorics).
From a financial perspective, it makes sense: why should a celebrity leverage their audience & influence to grow someone else’s brand? The rise of e-commerce infrastructure and brand platforms have made it easier than ever to sell physical products. The hard part is typically distribution (breaking through the “noise” to reach prospective customers) - and this is where most celebrities shine.
In a few product categories, celebrity brands are omnipresent:
💄 Beauty - Selena Gomez’s Rare Beauty, Lady Gaga’s Haus Labs, Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty, Halsey’s About-Face, Millie Bobby Brown’s florence by mills
👚 Clothing - Lizzo’s Yitty, Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty, Reese Witherspoon’s Draper James, Kate Hudson’s Fabletics, Khloe Kardashian’s Good American
🍷 Alcohol - Kendall Jenner’s 818, Ryan Reynold’s Aviation Gin, George Clooney’s Casamigos, Bruno Mars’ SelvaRey, Post Malone’s Maison No. 9
These are just a few of many examples - there’s no shortage of celebrity brands in these categories! And they just keep coming. Last week brought a particularly high profile announcement: Kim Kardashian’s upcoming skincare line with Coty, SKKN by Kim. Kim is also a co-founder of shapewear line Skims (most recently valued at $3.2B), one of more than a dozen brands in the Kardashian family.
But as the TikTok above mentions, there may be a point at which the market becomes oversaturated with celebrity brands - and celebrity association is no longer an asset. When every celebrity (or even influencer) can spin up a brand, consumers start to question how special these products really are. This may be especially true if the product is being sold at a significant premium, and there’s no clear differentiation.
While superfans will still be frequent orderers, the broader population may start to wonder: “What authority or expertise does this celebrity have to create the best product in this space?” Celebrities with a truly authentic story behind their brand can maintain an edge - Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard’s Hello Bello (makes affordable, eco-friendly baby products) is a good example here. But the “long tail” of celebrity brands may struggle to stand out and retain customers over time.
Have you ever bought something from a celebrity brand?
🌟 Yes, mostly because of the celebrity
✅ Yes, but not because of the celebrity
🤷♀️ I’m not sure!
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puppy of the week 🐶
Meet Lilo, a 1.5 year old bernedoodle who lives in the Bay Area.
Lilo is graduating from the Stanford GSB this weekend. When she’s not studying, she loves hanging out with her many friends (pictured above with Juni and Tilly).
Check her out on Instagram @lilo.bernedoodle!
All views are our own. None of the above should be taken as investment advice. See this page for important information.