👀 TikTok’s takeover

Monday, June 13, 2022 by Robinhood Snacks |
Down the rabbit hole (ArtistGNDphotography/E+ via GettyImages)

Down the rabbit hole (ArtistGNDphotography/E+ via GettyImages)

Down the rabbit hole (ArtistGNDphotography/E+ via GettyImages)

Down the rabbit hole (ArtistGNDphotography/E+ via GettyImages)

Last Week’s Market Moves
Dow Jones
31,393 (-4.58%)
S&P 500
3,901 (-5.05%)
11,340 (-5.60%)
$29,088 (-1.96%)

Hey Snackers,

Some baby names have deep meanings, while others have deep cabinets: Ikea’s getting into the baby-naming game. The Swedish furniture icon wants to inspire parents with its name catalog of minimalist pieces. Welcome to the world, Ektorp sofa.

Inflation has the markets feeling red: both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq lost over 5% for the week as investors were shaken by May price data. Inflation reached its highest level in more than 40 years, with consumer prices soaring 8.6% from a year ago. Investors are worried the Fed will raise rates more aggressively to fight sticky #flation.


1. TikTok’s time bomb: how the app wields massive influence on America’s attention — and potentially its direction

So many Tok clones... No one’s safe from vertical videos. US social giants have desperately tried to replicate the success of TikTok, the short-video app that’s captured Gen Z's consciousness (call it "GenT"). One of the biggest threats to Meta, Google, Snap, and Twitter isn't slowing social usership in general — it’s slowing usership because of TikTok.

  • 44 mins/day: Last year people spent more time on TikTok than on Facebook. The Tok may’ve even surpassed time spent on Insta and YouTube worldwide.
  • 1.6B brains: TikTok has more monthly users than Twitter, Snap, and LinkedIn combined.
  • The news: TikTok just added new screentime controls to make its app seem less intensely addictive (think: break reminders).
  • The reality: It likely won't help. The app’s already shortened kids’ attention spans to where many can't even sit through a movie or a class.

Dancing to the (algo)rhythm... To curate your feed, TikTok's mysterious algorithm figures out what engages you. And while that’s mostly lip-syncs, cat pranks, and makeup hacks, there's a dark side to TikTok, which is owned by Chinese tech giant ByteDance — which China’s gov’t owns a stake in.

  • Dangerous content: In addition to life-threatening viral challenges (like holding your breath until you faint or OD'ing on Benadryl), TikTok's algo has sent teens down rabbit holes promoting eating disorders, porn sites, and gun violence.
  • Misinfo: Many get their news on TikTok, but no one really knows how info (and misinfo) spreads there. Recently TikTok’s been flooded with videos pushing Russia's narrative on the Ukraine war — which China supports.
  • Censorship: TikTok has cracked down on topics at China’s behest (think: the Uyghur crisis). Any interference from the Chinese government could wreak havoc on US elections and an already divided American democracy.

Attention = influence… We’re not talking fitness gurus. Commanding attention means directing attention, and TikTok’s captured the mind of a generation. The concern of the (now dead) Tik Tok-ban saga was that ByteDance could pass US data to China. But the real concern is likely TikTok’s influence to direct attention, and the obscurity around who’s really pulling the strings.

Zoom Out

Gun giants in the spotlight… As US gun violence soars, weapons makers are being sued more frequently. Families of Sandy Hook victims settled with Remington for $73M earlier this year, and Glock was recently sued over irresponsible marketing. Victims are using a strategy that won settlements from tobacco giant Philip Morris and opioid maker Purdue Pharma. Meanwhile, Congress is debating bills that would make it harder to buy guns (including raising the minimum purchase age), which could hit gun makers’ sales, though they’re unlikely to pass.

BYOP... Bring your own peanuts. Spirit’s takeover drama appears to be approaching its climax. Shareholders have 17 days to decide whether the budget carrier’s new home will be with Frontier or JetBlue (or neither). Last week JB doubled the fee it would pay Spirit shareholders if the deal falls through for antitrust reasons — topping Frontier’s $250M offer by $100M. A pilot shortage and high fuel costs are making it harder for airlines to meet demand. A Spirit-quisition would give the new mega-carrier more seats, routes, and workers.


Corporate’s got work to do… Monday’ll be the first time markets close for Juneteenth, the new federal holiday celebrating the end of US slavery. After George Floyd’s murder two years ago, 271 corporations pledged $67B to improve racial equity — but less than $1B had been distributed by the start of ’22. Procter & Gamble, Sephora, and others have fallen short of their targets to hire more Black workers and partner with more Black-owned brands. But others, like Yelp and Microsoft, hit their year-one goals of teaming up with Black-owned businesses.

The view from above... not talking penthouses. Satellite imagery is a hot commodity as companies and governments track everything from crop growth to shipping patterns (because: supply crisis). Planet Labs, the largest owner of low Earth orbit satellites (LEOS), saw its revenue surge to a record $37M last quarter. (We’ll see its latest numbers when it reports Tuesday.) While Planet is worth just $1B, growing demand for satellite imagery and internet (think: SpaceX’s StarLink) could help the LEO sector grow in the next decade.

  • Fruit: It’s getting harder to leave Apple’s “walled garden”: it rolled out a buy now, pay later service and password authenticator at its annual conference, threatening companies like Affirm and LastPass.
  • Cluck: Chicken prices have gone berserk after a combo of disasters, with boneless breast up 68%). While Americans are still splurging on the #1 meat, some countries are being forced to cut back.
  • Hole: The PGA suspended 17 golfers, including Phil Mickelson, for competing in the Saudi-funded LIV tournament. Some accused the country of using golf to boost its image, given its dismal human-rights record.

What else we’re Snackin’

  • Hearing: Nearly 20M people watched the first House committee investigation of the January 6 attack on the US Capitol — more than double the number who watched Donald Trump’s 2020 impeachment trial.
  • WeGreen: Adam Neumann’s controversial “Goddess Nature Token” logs an org’s carbon offset in the blockchain. Proponents say carbon credits are “a perfect use-case for Web3,” but others aren’t convinced.
  • Swipe: Spenders racked up a record $841B of credit-card debt last quarter, as persistently high prices ate into savings. It was a reversal from the pandemic, when stimmy checks helped many pay down IOUs.

Snack Fact of the Day

Someone pretending to be a juror in the Depp v. Heard trial went viral on TikTok for his case “insights,” getting 2M+ views

This Week

  • Monday: Earnings expected from Braze
  • Tuesday: Earnings expected from Core & Main, Sprinklr, and Planet Labs
  • Wednesday: Latest interest-rate decision from the Fed. Earnings expected from Lennar, and John Wiley & Sons
  • Thursday: Jobless claims. Golf’s US Open begins. Earnings expected from Adobe, Kroger, and Smith & Wesson
  • Friday: National Apple Strudel Day
  • The weekend: Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in the US, is on Sunday. Father’s Day is also on Sunday

Authors of this Snacks own: shares of Apple, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, and Snap

ID: 2241624