Startup Stash - Quirk of Fate And a Diluted Identity 👟

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The Sneaky Sneakers Story

Back in 2016, hiking shoe specialist Salomon was set to call time of death on its fashion product — the XT-6 sneakers. It saw no hope of breaking into the fashion industry. But God had different plans. About two years and a new project manager later, the XT-6 sneakers were back on shelves. A year later, they were titled GQ’s Sneaker of the Year, and the rest of the company’s catalogue was on its way to taking over the fashion world. 

It’s been five year since, and Salomon parent Amer Sports is now looking to raise $1.8 billion in an initial public offering.  

The business world is funny and unpredictable, isn’t it? 

A bit of no-background: Amer is the parent company of Arc’teryx and its shell jackets, that you might remember from a flood of TikTok videos. Proud owners showcased the impressive water repellency of the jackets by wearing them in the shower. Amer also owns Wilson, a renowned manufacturer of tennis rackets and the official game ball of the NBA.

Artifact's Identity Crises

By now you’ve all heard that Artifact, the news AI startup founded by Instagram’s co-founders, is closing its doors. 

The question is why. Let’s take a deep dive into the failed startup’s missteps. 

Initially dubbed the “TikTok for news,” Artifact aimed to provide a unique blend of news reading, curation, and discovery through AI technology.

App intelligence provider Appfigures reports that Artifact garnered 444,000 downloads since its debut in February 2023, with the majority occurring during the launch phase. However, monthly downloads saw a sudden decline thereafter. 

The news space is super competitive with SmartNews emerging as a leader with a valuation of $2 billion. Throughout Artifact's existence, SmartNews secured 2 million downloads, which is five times the figure attained by Artifact. Additionally, formidable players like Google News and Apple News are part of the landscape, not to mention the hundreds of well-established news outlets.

Lack of Focus:  News is a weird category because most people simply don't care enough and others care too much. So Artifact decided to start catering to audience that may not be solely (or at all) interested in the news. 

The app diluted its focus on delivering a better news reading experience by launching features allowing users to post text content, non-news links and even recommendations of places and restaurants. It seems they were trying to steal users from bigger players like Twitter and Pinterest.

By the end, It wasn’t clear what they wanted to be.

Yelp of Entrepreneurs 

A wave of new businesses opened up last year; a record-breaking number, as indicated by Yelp reports. In 2023, Yelp recorded a remarkable 762,200 new ventures, marking a 20% increase compared to the previous year, 2022.

This data aligns with findings from an analysis of governmental filings, affirming the emergence of a pandemic-induced "entrepreneurship boom." More Americans are actively steering their economic destinies by delving into entrepreneurship.

Source: Yelp

Diverse entrepreneurs open more businesses every year. Los Angeles saw the highest total business openings for diverse entrepreneurs, ranking as the top city for Women, Latinx, LGBTQ, and Asian-owned total business openings. For Black-owned business openings, Los Angeles was beat out by Atlanta and New York City.

Source: Yelp

Shorts ⏳

🏃‍♂️ Walk Out To Stay - More than 400 Conde Nast employees staged a one-day walkout last week to protest layoff plans.

🏚️ Un-fixed Houses - Baby boomers are hoarding houses, but aren't fixing them up; leaving younger buyers to do so in future. 

🧑‍🏫 Professor Maybe a Hologram - Loughborough University in England is experimenting with holograms in the classroom

🥊 The Violent Pokemon - The video game Palworld, mockingly referred to as “Pokémon with guns”, sold over 6 million copies in its first four days.

👩‍⚖️ Making Things Harder - Why a Supreme Court decision on fishing boats could change everything. 

👌 Mental Health Technicians - The best jobs of 2024, according to Indeed.

Stash Recommends: Tools to Explore
Archi: A data modelling tool to help small teams visualise their data and create models for future plans and projects.

SyncroA comprehensive suite of remote desktop access and support services, including one-click remote sessions and remote event viewers.

DealCloud: A tool for hedge fund managers to save time and effort when looking for new LPs and sourcing investment opportunities.
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