Number Crunch

Just to reinforce the point: There’s no such thing as bad PR

The Number Crunch logo next to an outline of a glue bottle alongside the text “4,378%: The spike in Amazon searches for Gorilla Glue after a viral video showed the unfortunate consequences of using it as a hair product. Source: Ad Age”
The Number Crunch logo next to an outline of a glue bottle alongside the text “4,378%: The spike in Amazon searches for Gorilla Glue after a viral video showed the unfortunate consequences of using it as a hair product. Source: Ad Age”

4,378%: That’s how much Amazon searches for Gorilla Glue increased after TikTok user Tessica Brown posted a video highlighting the unfortunate results of using it as a hair spray, according to e-commerce performance analytics company Profitero, as reported by Ad Age. In the video, Brown comments that her hair has not budged in more than a month since she used the heavy duty adhesive spray despite washing it 15 times. As it went viral, receiving over six million views, Gorilla Glue’s search rankings and bestseller rank on Amazon rose, translating to a tangible sales bonanza.

Gorilla Glue is the latest…


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Image courtesy of the author

That’s designer and technologist John Maeda reflecting on the nature of disruptive innovation and their timescales. Whether it’s technologies with broad, sweeping applications that upend society — like what happened with the shift from steam power to electricity — to more specific inventions like the 1990s hard disk world, he offers up a meditation “when thinking about being disrupted.” In addition to citing the late Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen, he unearths the source paper behind a conference talk he attended in the Before Times called, “Dynamo and the Computer: The Productivity Paradox” by Stanford economist Paul David, published…


Number Crunch

Rush Limbaugh dominated a medium that has fallen out of favor with younger audiences

Number Crunch logo with the text “4.3%: Percentage of radio listeners age 18 to 34 who tune in to talk stations. Source: Washington Post” with a background illustration of an equalizer panel.
Number Crunch logo with the text “4.3%: Percentage of radio listeners age 18 to 34 who tune in to talk stations. Source: Washington Post” with a background illustration of an equalizer panel.

4.3%: That’s the percentage of the radio audience in the 18-to-34 age bracket who tuned in to talk radio during an average 15-minute segment in 2019, according to Nielsen Research data cited by the Washington Post. That paltry number is a reminder, in the wake of talk megastar Rush Limbaugh’s death, that the form’s future does not look as bright as its past.

Limbaugh both rode and helped create the wave of talk radio popularity—especially right-leaning talk radio—over recent decades, particularly since 1987, when the Federal Communications Commission abolished the so-called fairness doctrine, a rule that required broadcasters to give…


Number Crunch

$359 million worth of GameStop shares failed to deliver because buyers didn’t have the cash or sellers didn’t have the shares

Number Crunch logo next to 8-bit styled Space Invaders-like aliens with the text “$359 million: The value of GameStop shares that “failed to deliver” on Jan 28 because buyers didn’t have the money, or sellers didn’t have the shares, to settle trades. Source: Bloomberg”
Number Crunch logo next to 8-bit styled Space Invaders-like aliens with the text “$359 million: The value of GameStop shares that “failed to deliver” on Jan 28 because buyers didn’t have the money, or sellers didn’t have the shares, to settle trades. Source: Bloomberg”

$359 million: That’s the value of more than one million GameStop shares that failed to deliver on January 28 at the height of the “GameStonk” frenzy and on the day Robinhood halted users from buying the stock, according to data from the Securities and Exchanges Commission, per Bloomberg. The shares were stuck in limbo because buyers either didn’t have the money to complete purchases or sellers didn’t have the shares to settle trades.

Last week’s congressional hearings about the GameStop and Robinhood fiasco have illuminated some of the complex dynamics behind the rally that shot GameStop’s share price from $19…


Comment of the Week

Marker readers — including early adopters — weigh in on the cost of going electric

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Sanga Park / EyeEm

In the past few months, no less than three EV charging companies — Volta, ChargePoint, and EVGo — have announced their plans to go public via SPAC and reach multibillion-dollar valuations in the process. Building a robust infrastructural network of charging stations will be necessary to support the increasing number of electric cars on the road. It’s been relatively affordable to “fill up” EVs when plugging in because charging companies currently supply electricity as a loss leader. “While establishing their market, these companies must more or less give away the electricity in order to get people to buy the vehicles…


Number Crunch

Unusual cold weather gave the state’s power grid a stress test. It wasn’t prepared.

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10,000%: That’s how much the spot price of electricity in Texas spiked on Monday relative to pre-storm prices, according to Reuters.

As extreme cold temperatures hit the state last weekend and Texans turned on their electric heaters to stay warm, the state’s power grid — unprepared for the sudden cold — suffered a “black swan” supply catastrophe. Pumping equipment, fuel lines, wells, wind turbines, and everything in between froze up at the same time that the need for electricity spiked, leading to widespread blackouts in the state. That sharp and abrupt imbalance in supply and demand is what sent wholesale…


Number Crunch

The pandemic created a boom in e-commerce but only doom for small truckers

An illustration of a truck with the Number Crunch logo and the text “3,140: The number of U.S. trucking fleets that shut down last year, a 185% jump from 2019. Source: Wall Street Journal.”
An illustration of a truck with the Number Crunch logo and the text “3,140: The number of U.S. trucking fleets that shut down last year, a 185% jump from 2019. Source: Wall Street Journal.”

3,140: That’s how many U.S.-based trucking companies shut down last year, a 185% increase from the number of trucking company closures in 2019, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Given how many people stayed home and ordered everything from groceries to furniture online last year, you might expect a trucking boom.

The sad truth, the Journal reports, is that while Amazon may have massively expanded its own trucking operations in 2020, small trucking firms, with only one or a handful of trucks in their fleet, were hit hard by the pandemic. The average size of failed fleets in 2020 was…


Number Crunch

The housing market in second-tier cities is heating up

A Number Crunch logo alongside the text “43% The increase in home prices in Detroit over the past three months. Source: Bloomberg Businessweek” next to an illustration of two houses on a pink background.
A Number Crunch logo alongside the text “43% The increase in home prices in Detroit over the past three months. Source: Bloomberg Businessweek” next to an illustration of two houses on a pink background.

43%: That’s the increase in home prices in Detroit’s urban neighborhoods over the past three months—nearly four times the rate of less densely populated areas, according to an analysis of Redfin data by Bloomberg Businessweek. The urban housing market is booming nationwide, with prices rising 15% in the same time period. Real estate prices in densely populated areas are rising slightly faster than those in suburbia.

That’s a shift from between May and December of last year, when urban home prices were consistently lagging behind their suburban counterparts as many Americans deserted cities with a high cost of living, like…


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Illustration: Bráulio Amado

Last fall, Adam Bluestein wrote about how a broad swath of retailers gave themselves an unexpected revenue lifeline by plunging into face mask production in the wake of a severe N95 mask shortage. Gap sold 3 million fabric masks in May alone while online crafts marketplace Etsy sold over 29 million face masks and generated roughly $350 million in gross merchandise sales by Q2. Even unlikely purveyors like custom-printing company Vistaprint, known for selling corporate swag and business cards, got in on the action. The unprecedented surge led many to wonder whether a mask bubble was inevitable.

“What makes the…


Number Crunch

In 2020, Big Tech grew to Big-and-a-Half

The “Number Crunch” logo next to the text “$7.5 trillion: The combined market value of the five Big Tech firms at the end of 2020, up 52% since the end of 2019. Source: Wall Street Journal” with a rocket ship illustrated taking off against a blue background.
The “Number Crunch” logo next to the text “$7.5 trillion: The combined market value of the five Big Tech firms at the end of 2020, up 52% since the end of 2019. Source: Wall Street Journal” with a rocket ship illustrated taking off against a blue background.

$7.5 trillion: That’s the combined market capitalization of the five Big Tech companies — Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Facebook — at the end of 2020, according to analysis by the Wall Street Journal.

At the end of 2019, these firms’ combined market cap was $4.9 trillion, which means they gained 52% in value in a single year. (If you’re struggling to imagine how much money that is, consider that the United States’ nominal GDP in 2020 was around $21 trillion. Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, has a GDP of about $5 trillion.)

Big Tech’s boom was not driven purely…

Marker Editors

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