Unilever threatens to pull billions in ads from Google and Facebook if they don’t clean up the “swamp”

This is an interesting move by Unilever. I have to say I’m proud of them. I think of them as a conservative company and this impressed me.

Unilever, who spends over $2.5B per year on digital marketing, is sick of their trusted brands showing up next to fake news or even worse, hate news, content through the Google and Facebook platforms.

Taking $2B straight off of Google and Facebook’s bottom lines would be a painful blow for the GOOGL and FB tickers.

Google and Facebook make up 80-90% of the digital advertising spend due to their massive scale, reach, and incredible targeting capabilities. They charge a premium for advertising due to the high quality of the traffic they can drive.

The advertising revenues have resulted in a combined $1.25 trillion, yes, trillion, in shareholder value.

However, the past few years, crap content such as fake news sites, click bait, tabloid “news from around the web” articles, and hate speech, they’ve really fallen from grace.

And because these crap content producers spend so much money, Google and Facebook didn’t put much effort into remedying the situation because it would hurt revenues. And now we have Trump, whether you like him or not, 70% not.

Here’s the story by CNN: http://money.cnn.com/2018/02/12/media/unilever-advertising-facebook-google-swamp/index.html

My thoughts:

I am pretty sure Google and Facebook were already taking this swamp of fake news seriously, but I applaud Unilever helping to nudge them along. Hopefully more brands will “techlash” against Google and Facebook until they really clean up their act.

However, if you are an investor in Google or Facebook, this will hurt the value of your stock at least for the next few years. I imagine they’d have to pull billions of dollars worth of ads to really clean up the swamp. And that’ll be a painful blow to both revenue and earnings.

Bravo Unilever.

The 4 Ts of Angel Investing

There are many formulas for angel investing. This one is very similar to other ones you’ve seen. The only difference is that I came up with a way for each of the 4 pillars to start with the letter T so they are easier to remember.

This is not a complete guide to Angel Investing. There’s a lot more to it. But these 4 things I think are most important.

  1. TAM
  2. Team
  3. Timing
  4. Traction

This is very similar to Jason Calacanis’ 4 questions outlined in his book Angel, which I loved and highly recommend. Although it’s not perfect so I’d combine it with other research.

1. TAM (Total Addressable Market)

There are lots of ways to approach this pillar and there are some inherent components. First, the product has to be great in order to have a large addressable market. Ideally it’s highly innovative, disruptive, or game-changing. Second, the market has to be huge.

It’s important to note that the market doesn’t have to exist yet. You can be creating a new market or adding on to existing market. Or you can just be disrupting an existing market. Either way, the problem you’re solving has to be huge.

You’ll hear different opinions about a huge market. On the low end it’s $1B. On the high end it’s $1T. Personally, I’m only interested in companies that have a TAM of over $100B. My preference though are trillion dollar industries.

Trillion dollar industries are the space where you can get a 100X or 1000X return on your investment. Many of these investments will be moonshot opportunities. Binary. They either kill it and change the world or they completely fail (most fail). That’s why you need to carefully pick up to 50 bets and then there’s a good chance one will hit the moon while the rest fail.

Here’s something else I think is important with TAM. Founders will try to calculate the largest possible TAM in their investor presentations. Here are some tips to cut through the noise and figure out what the real TAM is.

The entire industry in which they play is not the TAM, but many investors and founders will use that as TAM. That’s misleading because it can make it sound like a company has a lot more sales potential than it really does.

Example: Let’s say travel accommodation is a $600B industry. And let’s say I’m starting a hotel price comparison website like Trivago. The TAM for Trivago is not $600B. That’s all hotels, which includes the revenue of the hotels and vacation rentals. Hotels get most of that money. The true TAM for Trivago that I would look at is the total amount of commissions hotels will pay a referral source. That TAM is probably more like 10% of the total hotel TAM.

True TAM in my opinion is total number of potential customers * annual revenue per customer. That is usually much, much smaller than the TAM of a total category.

2. Team

When I’m evaluating a business, I ask myself whether I believe this team has the right combination of personality, skills, intelligence, and drive to take this business all the way. All… the… way.

First, keyword, “TEAM.” If there’s only one person in the company, it’s a little early for me. I like for there to be at least 2 cofounders. One person just isn’t enough to get a business off the ground. Also, one of the founders have to be technical and can code or do the engineering required themselves. The other can be good at operations and execution of other things. I don’t like teams that are outsourcing engineering. In tech, that is a core function and needs to be in house.

Second, the technical team members need to have a background in the field in which the company plays. For example, if it’s a software business heavily dependent on AI, I want that cofounder to have a computer science degree and many years of programming experience with AI. If it’s, say, a hardware business, I want one of the founders to be an electrical engineer or whatever is needed to be expert in that hardware. I also prefer founders who came out of an industry frustrated with legacy solutions and see a way to disrupt it.

Third, the team members need to be at a stage in their lives where they can dedicate the next 5-10 years to this venture. By stage, I don’t mean age. I mean do they have the energy, resources, and time to be fully dedicated? That can be at any age. This can’t be a side gig or a 9-6. They have to live and breath it every moment. I can usually determine this by the way they talk about the business. I can sense when someone has fire in the gut just by the energy and passion they exude when discussing their business.

Fourth, I like to invest in founders that have the rare combination of humility and ambition. People who are arrogant can succeed, but they also can be closed minded because they think they know it all. I like self-aware founders who know there is still so much for them to learn and are open-minded. And who know their strengths and where they need to hire to fill in the gaps.

Fifth, do they know their business down cold? Every metric across every aspect of the business. This can get hard once you have hundreds of people. But early on, they should know everything off the top of their heads. This shows that the founders are detail oriented, meticulous, they are doers, and they really get into the weeds. No professional managers in start ups. Everyone is either coding / building or selling. No bosses, supervisors, or middle managers are needed at this stage.

Six, resourceful and scrappy. In order to get a tech start up off the ground, you have to overcome near impossible and insurmountable odds. As Elon Musk said, being an entrepreneur is “like eating glass and staring into the abyss of death.” So in order for a founder to succeed, they have to be able to do more with less. This involves being very resourceful and scrappy, finding ways to get things done with limited resources, time, and money. And being able to break through walls and jump hurdles that would trip up the average person. And not ever getting discouraged when things don’t go smoothly, because they won’t. It’s always a bumpy ride… always.

Seven, I like missionary versus mercenary founders. I like founders that believe they are going to change the world and aren’t just in it for the money or being opportunistic. Mercenaries can be successful, but missionaries change the world. And only businesses that change the world provide the outsized returns an angel investor needs to make it worth the risk.

3. Timing

The market has to be ready for this type of product or service. And the technology has to be there. Timing is a primary driver of a business’ success.

You’ll want to ask questions like, why hasn’t this been done before? And why is now the right time? What’s the perfect storm of market and technological readiness that makes now the right time?

Here’s an example: Netflix could never have succeed with its video streaming business ten years ago. The IT infrastructure and bandwidth just weren’t there. But now they are and that’s why almost no one gets their DVDs mailed anymore and their streaming videos are a staple in every home.

The market was not ready for messengers like Snap, Instagram, and WhatsApp 10-15 years ago. The generation that adopted those technologies were in diapers at that time. The adults 10-15 years ago were fine with email and not likely to adopt messengers. Now you have every millennial and teenager communicating almost exclusively through messengers.

In hardware, it’s often the case that a core technology required to pull it off simply didn’t exist until fairly recently, like 3D printing. Now that you can 3D print components, XYZ business makes sense, where it wouldn’t have 10 years ago.

Another example can be regulatory. For example, the FCC just made military grade high resolution radar frequencies available to private businesses. In the past, it was only allowed to be used by the military. A business making high def radar for self driving cars could not have existed 10 years ago. Also, there were no self-driving cars 10 years ago.

4. Traction

For me to invest, the company has to have some early traction. I don’t invest in ideas, PowerPoints or business plans. I invest in companies that have a working prototype and early customers or users.

This is what Angel Investor Jason Calacanis calls the “Goldilocks Zone.” Just before they’ve started to take off, but after they’ve gotten a product to market. Not too hot, not too cold.

For B2B businesses, I look for a product in the market with paying beta customers. And there needs to be metrics on how much money it saved or made the customers. If they haven’t proven that the product adds value, it’s too early for me.

There’s a concept called “Product Market Fit” that is commonly used in Silicon Valley. It means customers love it so much they’d be angry if it went away. And it solves a pain so acute, that they’re willing to bear with the bugs and issues with an early product. And they are willing to pay money for it.

Basically, from a product standpoint, you have to have found your footing, have a product that meets the needs of your customers, and have reference customers and performance metrics to demonstrate the value your product provides.

We’re not talking a lot of customers here. For a large sale, it would be 5-10 fortune 500 companies. For a lower cost product, I’d want to see several hundred businesses using it. In today’s low cost start up environment, scrappy and resourceful founders should be able to drum up this early business themselves without much capital. Otherwise they probably don’t have the scrappy qualities I’d look for in a founding team.

For consumer, I like to see thousands of paying customers or tens of thousands of users if the product is free. And I like to see retention and engagement metrics. If they don’t have any metrics on things like cost to acquire a customer (CAC), retention rates, engagement rates, and revenue per customer (if relevant), then they are too early and not in the Goldilocks Zone.

And again, in today’s low cost start up environment, scrappy and resourceful founders should be able to generate thousands of customers themselves without much capital. Otherwise they probably don’t have the qualities I’d look for in a founding team like I said above.

There are some exceptions I will make on the paying customers front. For software, it’s a must. For physical products, whether it’s agricultural drones, delivery robots, synthetic food, satellite technology, there is usually a longer time-frame for being able to have a product that is customer ready. For these businesses I look for 3 criteria. 1) They have to have a working proof of concept that just requires some refining to get to market and 2) if they do get to market, the opportunity is absolutely game changing to the trillion dollar scale and 3) LOIs or pilot customers lined up for when the tech is really ready. Lining up pilot customers validates that the product or technology is truly novel.

Hardware and physical world businesses are much more binary than software. With software you can be more nimble, pivot, and solve problems much more quickly. With hardware, it either works or it doesn’t. So, to overcome the low likelihood of success, the upside has to be huge.

For example, I recently invested in a 3D metal printing business. They have all the things I want to see: engineers as the founders, scrappy, smart, working prototype, ambitious, yet humble. They have some technical hurdles to overcome that will take a while to work out. But they should work in theory. If it works out, it’s world changing. Metal 3D printing will be 10X cheaper, faster, and more reliable than ever before. And they’ll have patents and IP to protect it.

Every manufacturer in the world from auto, space, electronics, and computing will want to become a customer. It’s a truly $1T category and the company could quickly become a $100B business.

This is what we call a moonshot opportunity. But the opportunity is so big, and the tech is far enough along that it’s not just a concept, that I think it’s worth making a bet because of the outsized upside if it works.

Also, while they don’t have paying customers, they do have pilot clients lined up waiting to do beta tests when they are ready. That’s a really good sign and I’d want to at least have that for this type of start up.

6 Mistakes to Avoid with Marketing Content

marketing content tips

Most marketing content sucks. It’s either too long, doesn’t specify a clear, compelling benefit, or doesn’t address the right audience. Here’s how to make sure that doesn’t happen to you. This applies to B2B, B2C, your own site, or a product listing on another merchant’s site.

1. Know Your Audience.

  • This should be easy for marketers, but for some reason they often miss the mark.
  • You get 1 second to grab someone’s attention.
  • Make sure you are really, really speaking to the audience and what’s important to them.
  • Pause before writing anything and think very hard about how they view the world, what it feels like to be them, and what’s likely to be important to them.

2. Keep it Short and Simple (K.I.S.S.).

  • No one reads anymore.
  • A Tweet is about the longest any marketing copy should be.
  • If it’s any longer, put it into one sentence bullets. Also, rather than just skipping lines, use numbers or bullets.
  • It makes it easier for the brain to process for some reason.

3. Focus on Benefits.

  • Many marketers assume the benefits of their products are obvious.
  • But that’s because they are already educated about it.
  • Never assume the benefits of your product are obvious.
  • A benefit is always increasing something good or decreasing something bad.
  • Whether it’s happiness, costs, revenue, or pain, tell your audience what the benefit is and then briefly how your product brings them that benefit.

4. Use Simple Graphics.

  • A picture is worth a thousand words.
  • It’s much easier for people who process a simple graphic that gets the message across.
  • If chosen well, it can also elicit emotions in the audience which can inspire them to want to do business with you.

5. Write & Design for Mobile.

  • Most Internet browsing is now done on smartphones.
  • This is especially the case for busy people with money, who are generally your target customer.
  • People’s attention spans are even SHORTER on their phones. Content needs to be short sound bites like little Tweets.


  • If you’re not AB testing, you’re leaving money on the table… period.
  • Also, have someone senior periodically review the content. They typically will be able to see things and make suggestions that more junior marketers aren’t able to see (yet).

CPG E-Commerce Surged 36% to over $10B in the U.S. in 2016

CPG E-Commerce Grows 36% in 2017

In July of 2016 we predicted based on 1H 2016 sales that consumer packaged goods (CPG) e-commerce sales would surpass $10 billion in the U.S. with 40% YOY growth. We were correct.

View our detailed CPG E-Commerce 2016 report here.

Here’s a copy of the press release and a summary:

1010data Releases Industry Report: Consumer Packaged Goods Online Sales Surge 36% and Hit $10 Billion in 2016 Across Key Categories

Health Supplements, Pet Care and Cosmetics Drove the Growth in 2016

NEW YORK – March 2, 2017 – 1010data, Inc., the only integrated platform that combines self-service data management and analytics at scale with ready-to-use data, today announced the results of its 2016 Online Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) Industry Report. For the first time since 1010data began tracking this market, online CPG sales across key categories surpassed $10 billion. Of the CPG categories tracked by 1010data, the largest ones were health supplements, pet care and cosmetics, each of which generated more than $1 billion in sales.

Total revenue for key CPG categories in 2016 was $10.4 billion, up from $7.6 billion in 2015. The 2016 data showed a nearly even split in revenue between the first and second halves of the year, implying that consumers are buying CPG products online year-round and not just during the holiday season. Key findings from 1010data’s report include:

  • Health Supplements Was the Biggest Online CPG Category – With $2.6 billion in sales, health supplements represented 25 percent of total key CPG category sales and exceeded the size of the next biggest category by $1 billion.
  • Pet Care Grew 67 Percent Year Over Year – Pet care was the fastest-growing category among categories with at least $500 million in sales. Driven by specialty pet care sites with brands like Chewy and Drs. Foster & Smith, “natural” products experienced the most growth.
  • Laundry & Dish and Cleaners Continued Growing Due to Pantry Box and Subscription Models – Of categories with less than $500M in sales, laundry & dish and cleaners experienced the most growth, because pantry box and subscription options from companies like Amazon, Boxed and Jet have enabled customers to conveniently order and re-order products.

1010data’s report also notes that online CPG sales across key categories grew twice as fast as total ecommerce sales, which had a 16 percent year over year growth rate in 2016. Increasingly, more online retailers are offering two-day shipping and subscription services, which is driving the acceleration in CPG sales growth.

By analyzing top search terms, 1010data found that most consumers who buy CPG products online started their search on Amazon. The top search term on-site across all CPG ecommerce sites was “prime pantry,” powerfully demonstrating the mass appeal of subscription services online.

“With CPG sales hitting $10 billion in sales online across key categories, online ecommerce is clearly no longer an afterthought for brands,” said Jed Alpert, Senior Vice President of Marketing at 1010data. “All CPG brands need to understand how consumers are shopping in their categories and consider how ecommerce can help deliver a better experience and complement in-store sales.”

For a free download of the full report, please click here.

About the Study

Throughout 2016, 1010data tracked numerous sources of spending data, representing millions of consumers, to provide an accurate assessment of online and offline retail sales and market share. 1010data focused its research on key CPG categories: health supplements, pet care, facial care, cosmetics, drinks, snacks, baby, hair care, health over-the-counter (OTC), oral care, cleaners, shaving, hand body, laundry & dish, and sun care.

What Amazon’s Press Release Didn’t Tell You About Prime Day

Amazon’s second annual Prime Day came back with a vengeance. Last year, customers complained about a lack of enticing deals and limited availability on hot products to such a degree that the hashtag #PrimeDayFail started trending. As a result, Amazon promised to not disappoint their beloved Prime customers this time.

That promise paid off: Amazon announced that this was their biggest day ever; Prime Day sales increased 300% since last year. Amazon, however, left out specific information about which products, brands and categories won the day. Using 1010data’s Market Insights, we’re going to fill you in on everything that was not released by Amazon. We looked at the top 1000 items based on units sold and here’s what we uncovered.

View full post here: linkedin.com/pulse/what-amazons-press-release-didnt-tell-you-prime-day-aaron-mendes

A Few E-Commerce Stats You Didn’t Know


In  the past few months, our 1010data reports on e-commerce have been covered over 110 times by 100 major media publications. I figured I’d post some of the highlights.

Microsoft Surpasses Apple in Online Tablet Share for the First Time
Covered by: Forbes, FortuneBusiness Insider, The Register, Slashdot,VentureBeatYahoo! News, The Verge, and others.

Amazon Costs Google & Apple $100M/yr in Online Sales by Kicking Chromecast & Apple TV Out 
Covered by: Motley FoolInternational Business TimesVentureBeatBusiness InsiderYahoo! Finance, and others.

Samsung Seeks to Gain an “Edge” on the iPhone 6 Plus with the Galaxy Edge+ and the Note5 
Covered by: ZDNetInternational Business Times, and others.

Who is Winning in Wearables?
Covered by: Business InsiderYahoo Finance,  ZDNetBlue Springs Examiner,

CPG Killed it in E-Commerce in 2015
overed by: FortuneWall Street Journal, AdAge, MediaPost, and others.

Online Star Wars Toy Sales Hit 12-Month High with Upcoming Movie Release
Covered by: Bloomberg.

Why Mars Will Be Colonized in our Lifetime and Why That’s So Important

Mars Rover

Incredibly inspiring, engaging and highly detailed blog and podcast about colonizing mars and exactly how it’ll happen. Then it goes on to explain how from there we colonize the whole solar system and eventually the galaxy.

It really puts everything about life on Earth in perspective. Especially how rare and precious intelligent life is. And how shortsighted most of us are about what really matters.

Long, but totally worth it. You’ll be glad you read it.

Here’s the podcast version: https://soundcloud.com/waitbutwhy/spacex-full-post


Artificial Intelligence (AI) is More Dangerous Than Every Other Threat Combined

Don’t want sound paranoid. If you know me, you know I’m pretty optimistic, logical, and super positive. But because people like Elon Musk and Bill Gates, geniuses whose technical and inventive prowess I respect highly, are terrified of the prospects of AI, I put some time into understanding their concerns.

After thoroughly researching the latest thinking by scientists on the subject, I tend to agree with their concerns. AI is the most likely cause of human extinction and it’ll happen so fast, we won’t even know what hit us until it’s too late.

I now believe that the threat of artificial super intelligence (ASI) is a greater threat than terrorism, nuclear war, pandemics, and global warming combined. It’ll happen faster and more outside of our control than any of those. And it appears to be inevitable. Good luck… us. 🙂

If you’re too lazy to read about it, here’s a video that summarizes the threat of artificial intelligence.

AI Surpasses Human Intelligence
AI Surpasses Human Intelligence

Here’s the realistic summary:

  1. By (pick a year in the next 40-50 years) 2054 computers have the processing power close to matching human brains.
  2. Hundreds of companies are building revolutionary technology that make lives better and easier for humanity that involve nearly human intelligent, self learning, self improving computers.
  3. One March 23, 2054 at 2:31 PM Eastern Time one of these companies makes an update to their software that passes the threshold between pre-human and post-human intelligence.
  4. That system begins immediately self improving at a rate faster than any human can conceive.
  5. By 3:30 PM the system has infiltrated the entire Internet and covertly begins executing its programmed goal, which typically involves eliminating any risks to achieving it, such as any human that could stop it. i.e. eliminate humanity.
  6. Thirty days later all humans are dead and the computer takes over the entire planet, then solar system, and then expands from there carrying out a programmed goal, call it, solving the number PI to ever increasing decimal points.

Continue reading “Artificial Intelligence (AI) is More Dangerous Than Every Other Threat Combined”

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