New year, new(ly) single (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
New year, new(ly) single (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
“AI officer” is the new “metaverse chief” as companies hire talent to lead them into a world of AI-generated Coke flavors and McDonald’s ads written by ChatGPT. Wonder how long it’ll be till AI can do the AI officer’s role... 🤯
Markets gained in January but ended the month on a low note: yesterday, stocks had their biggest daily drop so far this year as tech fell. The Fed kept interest rates steady, but hinted that cuts aren’t likely in March (as traders had hoped). Apple, Amazon, and Meta report today.
Swipin’ for a Valentine… Match Group hopes you’ll buy a Hinge Rose to speed up the process. Match is the parent of Tinder, Hinge, OkCupid, Match.com, and other e-romance platforms. It owns the trademark for Swipe Right (literally). Match stock rose yesterday after it reported earnings and announced a $1B share buyback, just in time for V-Day:
Good on paper: Match’s quarterly revenue grew 10% from a year ago as people splurged on add-ons like unlimited swipes and Tinder Gold subscriptions.
Romantic rivalry: Hinge’s revenue continued to grow much faster than Tinder’s (though Tinder raked in 4x as much $$).
Left on read: Paying users fell 5% as fewer folks were willing to spend on price-hiked subs, and Match forecast disappointing revenue for this quarter.
Swipe fatigue sets in… Match and rivals like Bumble and Grindr have been leaning on paid perks to boost spend, but people are starting to cut down on nonessential purchases like Super Likes. Match’s top concern is Tinder — aka the biggest dating platform in the world by number of users. This is the fourth straight quarter that Tinder’s seen a decline in paying users — likely a result of price hikes introduced last year (it even offers a $500/month plan). Now Tinder’s focused on Gen Z marketing:
Swipe Off challenge: Tinder’s campaign on college campuses awarded the “most engaged” school (Arizona State) with a free concert headlined by Saweetie.
Rizzed up: Other Gen Z plays include Tinder’s “rizz-first” app redesign, and a campaign with rapper Coi Leray, whom Tinder called a “Gen Z icon.”
First impressions matter… Because lots of dating-app customers are playin’ the field with several apps, Match wants to win loyalty early. It’s also focused on “reclaiming its brand narrative” — which could mean trying to shake Tinder’s hookup reputation. One in five partnered adults under age 30 said they met their SO through a dating platform, and building ties early may be Match’s way of fending off rivals.
Trainwreck… It’s nearly a year since a Norfolk Southern freight train carrying toxic chemicals derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, raising serious questions about the US rail industry’s safety practices. While the EPA has said drinking water, air, and soil aren’t a danger to local residents, many remain skeptical — and the site itself is still a cleanup zone. Now:
Costs keep growing: Norfolk estimates the total cost of the derailment will be $1.1B+ (it still faces unsettled lawsuits and penalties). Its quarterly profit fell 33%.
Local issues are ongoing: Some small businesses near the crash site remain closed, while others have reported significant losses. Norfolk plans to overhaul the town’s park for $25M, part of its $74M+ recovery fund pledge.
Legislation hasn’t passed: The bipartisan Railway Safety Act has stalled in the Senate because of a lack of GOP support. Transportation Sec. Buttigieg urged Congress to pass the bill last week, and President Biden is expected to visit the crash site this month.
Still doesn’t track… Despite increasing scrutiny over safety, derailments increased 14% overall last year for the top five US freight railroads. BNSF, Union Pacific, CSX, and Canadian National all had more rail accidents through October (Norfolk didn’t, though it’s had other high-profile problems, including the death of a conductor). And industry-wide incidents of overheating wheel bearings (frequently blamed for Norfolk’s Ohio crash) more than doubled on the year.
Dusting isn’t the same as a deep clean… Railroad safety officials and workers have blamed industry-wide profit pushes for the uptick in accidents. Precision-scheduled railroading — a profit-boosting management model that’s seen trains lengthened and workers laid off — is reportedly still the leading philosophy at Norfolk: last week, the company said it would cut 7% of managers and run more trains with the same number of workers this year.
PayBack: FTX said it’d likely be able to fully repay all its former customers, and that it wouldn’t relaunch its exchange. Following its bankruptcy, advisers scraped together assets to form a $4.4B cash pile to divvy up.
TickedOff: Universal Music Group said it would no longer license music by artists including Bad Bunny and T. Swift to TikTok. UMG said TikTok wanted to pay artists less than its social-media peers.
Walmore: In a pivot, Walmart said it’ll open scores of new US stores in the next five years and upgrade small stores into Supercenters. The retailer spent years holding back on IRL expansion to focus on digital.
EraEnd: “Pokimane,” a Twitch streamer with 9.3M followers, is leaving the Amazon-owned platform. She announced her first YouTube stream as popular creators like Valkyrae and DrLupo switch to rivals.
BuckleUp: Boeing reported its smallest loss in five years, but the plane maker declined to share a 2024 forecast. Boeing focused its earnings call on safety and quality after a door plug yeeted off a 737 last month.
Over 26% of US Black adults age 25+ have at least a bachelor's degree, up from 14.5% in 2000
Black History Month begins
Earnings expected from 1-800-Flowers, Amazon, Apple, Clorox, Columbia Sportswear, Deutsche Bank, Dolby, Merck, Meta, Royal Caribbean, Shell, and Sirius XM
Authors of this Snacks own shares of: Amazon, Apple, Match Group, and Walmart