💰 Google goes full Venmo+

Friday, November 20, 2020 by Robinhood Snacks | Disclosures

TJ Maxx's national treasure hunt

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Hey Snackers,

A massive sculpture of a whale tail called "Saved by the Whale's Tail" literally saved a train from falling 30 feet off its raised track. Who's working on the "2021 Will Be Better" sculpture?

Stocks closed higher yesterday, despite more COVID surges. NYC schools are shutting down again, and CA is implementing a nearly state-wide curfew.

1. Google goes full Venmo+, turning Pay into a franken-app for money

New app, who dis?... Google Pay just went from something you use when you forget your credit card to a padded money app. Five years after launching, Pay has a whopping ~150M users in 30 countries. The revamped app rolled out in the US this week. It's a three-tab story:

  • Pay: Tap-to-pay, peer-to-peer payments, and searchable transaction history. Google says it won't sell data or share it for ad targeting.
  • Explore: Shows rewards and discounts at shops. If you allow Pay to analyze your transactions, it'll also show personalized offers. Because Google doesn't know enough.
  • Insights: Lets you connect your bank accounts for a spending overview, like Mint. You can even let Pay crawl your Gmail and Google Photos to find receipts (techy, not creepy).

But wait, there's more... In order to make sure it's in direct competition with every other money app: Google said it'll partner with banks to offer online checking and savings accounts in 2021. But the focus is Venmo-style payments and bill-splitting — Google's betting the "network effect" of peer-to-peer will take Pay to the next level.


Financial apps want all of you... Google Pay wants to achieve "all-in-one" app status, and so do other fintechs. They start with one thing, then expand.

  • Venmo started with peer-to-peer, now it has a debit card.
  • Cash App started with peer-to-peer, now it does investing.
  • Robinhood started with investing, now it has Cash Management (disclosure: Robinhood Snacks is owned by... Robinhood).
  • Chase started with banking, now it shows your credit journey.

Finding a $30 Michael Kors bag... under a pile of prom dresses. Discount legend TJX is the company behind the "affordable splurge" trifecta: TJ Maxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods. In June, TJX's CEO made a bold corona-conomy statement: "Nothing will change." He said TJX would continue to pass on ramping up online shopping, which made up just 2% of its sales.

  • TJX was set on not using ecommerce. It even shut down its websites while stores were closed. Fast-forward to November...
  • TJX is launching an ecommerce platform for HomeGoods, since store traffic is slow. But it's not dropping its rebellious anti-ecommerce persona...

Treasure Hunt = still #1... TJX's CEO says customers still want to "feel the fabric" (beautiful). The new site is meant to complement and encourage in-store shopping. Shoppers love the "treasure hunt" — the joyful feeling of accomplishment after finding a $40 James Perse sweater after hours of rifling. The HomeGoods site is an extra way to ride the "House Hype" wave.


For some, ecommerce is a "nice-to-have"... for others — like Lululemon — it's a make-or-break necessity. TJX's same-store sales dipped only 5% last quarter, despite it having basically no online presence. It made $867M in profit — more than it earned in the same quarter last year, and way more than the $887M it lost when stores were closed. Ross is also ecommerce-avoidant, and it crushed earnings expectations last quarter.

What else we’re Snackin’
  • Gal: Wonder Woman 1984 will be released on HBO Max the same day that it hits theaters on December 25th.
  • Oh: Google's YouTube will run ads on some smaller creators' videos without giving them any of the ad $$$.
  • Thonking: The NFL and Visa will host a cashless Super Bowl in Tampa with "reverse ATMs" — put in cash, get a card.
  • Game: Gaming company Roblox dropped its IPO filing yesterday, revealing that sales soared 91% last quarter.
  • Electric: GM says it has decided not to spin off its EV business — for a while, some investors thought it might.
  • Buzzed: BuzzFeed agreed to acquire Verizon’s HuffPost, consolidating two of the larger players in digital media.

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Snacks Daily Podcast

Car insurance rates are decided using simple factors (if you're under 20, expect to pay more).

Now GM is launching an insurance service that ties your rates directly to how safely you drive, based on data collected while you drive.

Tune in to hear why car companies are obsessed with selling services — just like Apple's obsessed with getting monthly subscription payments.


Disclosure: Authors of this Snacks own shares of Google

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