👓 Facebook's smart Ray-Bans

Friday, September 10, 2021 by Robinhood Snacks | Disclosures
_Major shade [Whitney Tuttle/Moment via GettyImages]_

Major shade Whitney Tuttle/Moment via GettyImages

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Hey Snackers,

20 years ago tomorrow: nearly 3,000 people lost their lives in the September 11th attacks on New York, DC, and in Pennsylvania. It's a day that changed the world forever. It's also a day of Service and Remembrance, when Americans are called on to volunteer, support each other, and find strength in unity.

All three major US stock indexes dipped yesterday on concerns about slowing economic growth and rising Covid cases.

1. Facebook unveils its first smart glasses, designed by Ray-Ban: why un-branding is key

Throwing major shade... First, Facebook copied (aka: #Zucked) Snap's stories on Insta. Then, FB announced plans to launch a smartglass rival to Snap Spectacles. Yesterday, FB unveiled those smartglasses — and they're called "Stories." FB teamed up with Italian glasses giant Luxottica to launch Ray-Ban branded glasses. FB's first smart glasses are about everything the selfie stick isn't: first-person perspective.

  • Capture: Say "Hey Facebook" or press a button to shoot photos and videos (up to 30 secs). Tiny lights let others know when you're recording. Not included: AR features.
  • Post: Share content to social apps like Insta and TikTok through the FB View App, or save to your camera roll. FB is envisioning Latte Art tutorials.
  • Hear: Listen to music or take phone calls from open-ear speakers.
  • Pay: Stories start at $299 — in the same range as luxury "dumb" glasses. They'll be available in 20 style combos online and in stores like LensCrafters and Sunglass Hut.

Lab goggle vibes... Smart glasses are Big Tech's holy grail, but all efforts have flopped so far: "Google Glass" was an epic fail. Snap lost $40M on 300K unsold AR Spectacles. But FB's smart glasses have one key advantage: they don't look like smart glasses.

  • Italian style: Luxottica’s chief wearable officer Rocco Basilico, who cold emailed Zuck about the glasses collab, says Stories aren't just a tech gadget, "but something sexy.” Peep this snazzy video, starring Basilico and Zuck.
  • American dreams: FB hopes to expand Stories into AR, overlaying graphics onto IRL vision. One day, FB hopes AR glasses will be as widely used as smartphones.

FB’s big opportunity = unbranding itself... Stories look like Ray-Bans, not FB-branded gadgets — unlike FB's other hardware, Oculus and Portal. While FB supplies the tech, Ray-Ban handles the design and sales — a key difference from other tech-designed smart glasses. FB has admitted it has a public "trust deficit." By partnering with a well-loved brand, FB is giving Stories a higher chance of success.


Beautiful (cell) reception... Verizon is celebrating in the endzone. Yesterday, the NFL and Verizon announced a 10-year 5G partnership. By installing faster 5G connectivity in NFL stadiums, Verizon wants to foster new in-person experiences for football fans.

  • Better than a jumbotron: Fans in stadiums can now see seven different live angles and AR overlays of Next Gen Stats on 5G-enabled phones.
  • Game tickets > couch tickets: The NFL hopes to get fans off the couch and buying $300 tickets by offering a live experience plus at-home stats and insights.
  • Gameday exclusives: Verizon gets a chance to show off its fresh 5G capabilities, and potentially poach fans from AT&T and T-Mobile with exclusive gameday coverage.

Brands go long on NFL partnerships... because they want the NFL's huge — and hugely engaged — audience. Last year, 71 of TV’s 100 most-viewed events were NFL games. Meanwhile: Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile spend billions competing for the 5G market — which is expected to hit $148B by 2028 — but have still struggled to win customers. If football fans need 5G to get the most premium access at Cowboys games, they may migrate to Verizon.


Defining the relationship is key... and brands want to make it official. Anheuser-Busch, Pepsi, Nike, and Verizon pay as much as $100M+ per season to be official NFL partners. Thanks to corporate partnerships, NFL revenue increased 10% last season — despite empty stadiums. Similarly, the Tokyo Olympics had the worst TV viewership in 33 years, but the International Olympics Committed (IOC) still raked in a record $2B+ in global sponsorships — because Coca-Cola, Toyota, and Airbnb paid big bucks to be “official” Olympic partners.

What else we’re Snackin’
  • Vax: President Biden outlined a broad plan to mandate Covid vaccines for millions of people who work or with the federal government.
  • Cap: Amazon is offering to pay college tuition for 750K+ US employees, as the battle of the benefits continues.
  • Descend: United, American, Delta, and other airlines downgraded their financial forecasts as Covid cases continue to surge.
  • Cloudy: Cloud software startup Databricks raised another $1.6B at a $38B valuation, making it the fourth biggest venture-backed, private company.
  • BNPL: Shares of Affirm soared 20% yesterday after the "buy now, pay later" platform reported a huge sales increase just a month after announcing an Amazon partnership.
  • Vacay: Bill Gates became the majority owner of Four Seasons hotels after his investment firm spent $2.2B to buy shares from Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed.
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Authors of this Snacks own shares of: Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Snap

ID: 1832226

Clarification to September 8th Theranos story: The charges Holmes and Balwani face are from a criminal indictment first filed in June 2018 by a federal grand jury, separate from the SEC fraud charges, which Theranos and Holmes agreed to settle in 2018.