Snooze fest


  • Geopolitics: The Trump administration announced fresh economic sanctions against Iran in response to the country's attack on U.S.-Iraqi air bases this week. Seventeen specific sanctions target Iran's steel and iron manufacturers.
  • U.S. markets: The Dow topped 29,000 for the first time but blew it heading into the ninth. Stocks closed in the red after a solid week.

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Cars 4 Is About to Be Insane

This week, CES in Las Vegas was a parade of transportation-focused tech that made the Tesla Model 3 look like a horse-drawn wagon. The major themes...

Flying cars

Hyundai and Uber announced a partnership to build a flying rideshare network.

  • This air taxi network will let you hail a four-passenger, four-propeller flying vehicle through the Uber app for trips up to 60 miles.
  • While Uber's teamed up with scores of aerospace companies in its pursuit to decimate whatever the yellow cab of the skies is, this is the first time it's tapped an automaker.

Looking ahead: Uber + Hyundai want to launch commercial flights as soon as 2023.

Electric cars

Sony took gold. We know Sony isn't an automaker. But it's Vegas--Britney proved there are no rules.

Sony debuted an electric concept car called the Vision-S chock full of entertainment specs like a 360-degree audio system and a panoramic front dashboard display.

  • Of note: Sony has no intention of using its PlayStation money to take on Toyota...or producing the Vision-S at all. It showcased the concept car to prove its utility for automakers, not threaten them.

Self-driving cars

How do you make money from driverless cars when you don't make driverless cars? You make things for the people who don't have to drive anymore.

  • Amazon is placing its Fire TV into backseat entertainment systems, starting with BMW and Fiat Chrysler.
  • BMW debuted the X7 ZeroG Lounger, a seat perfectly crafted for the activity we all know will be popular in driverless cars...sleep. The zero-gravity seat tilts back to prime napping position.

Bottom line: With hot-button tech like virtual reality taking longer than expected to actually appeal to consumers, technologists are getting back to drop-off line basics with transportation innovations almost everyone can get behind (and not steer).


What Stood Out in the Jobs Report

The U.S. economy added 145,000 jobs in December, capping a year of strong growth in the labor market.

The bigger news: For the first time since 2010, women held the majority (50.04%) of nonfarm payroll positions in December. So where are women working?

  • Education and health services: Women hold 77.3% of these jobs.
  • Services in general: Women hold 54% of jobs in the services sector, which accounts for 84% of all nonfarm payroll jobs.
  • Some industries women hadn't always dominated: Women now make up 13.8% of mining and logging jobs, up from 12.6% a year ago.

Bottom line: "Women are working where jobs are growing," writes University of Michigan professor Betsey Stevenson. "Health care added more jobs in 2019 than 2018, while jobs [growth] slowed substantially in mining, construction, transportation & warehousing, and construction."

The picture gets darker if you look at declining male participation in the labor force, which has fallen to 89% from nearly 100% in the 1950s.


TV Stats That Make You Go..."Wow"

For the first time ever, there were more than 500 scripted television series in the U.S. in 2019...meaning 500+ failed attempts to top the cultural relevance of The CW's Dynasty reboot.

The details: There were 532 comedies, dramas, and limited series broadcast or streamed in the U.S. last year, according to FX, up 7% from 2018.

Thank the streamers. Netflix spent upwards of $15 billion on original content last year. Apple spent an estimated $120 million on one season of The Morning Show alone.

  • The number of scripted series climbed 52% from 2013, the year Netflix debuted House of Cards and effectively declared "en garde" on the streaming wars.
  • That year, streamers released 24 series. In 2018, they released 160, more than the output of both networks or basic cable.

Zoom out: With consumers drowning in content, it's getting harder for series to stand out. Expect more marquee deals from streamers (and cablers) hoping to capitalize on cult favorites like The Handmaid's Tale, Shondaland, and Watchmen.


Casper the Friendly Public Company

Online mattrezzz retailer Casper Sleep filed to go public on the NYSE yesterday under the ticker CSPR. To the numbers we go:

  • Revenue: $312 million for the first nine months of 2019, up from $260 million in the same period last year.
  • Losses: $67 million, up from $64 million.
  • Valuation: Casper was worth $1.1 billion last March.

Today's Casper looks a lot different from the pioneering direct-to-consumer mattress startup that sponsored every 2016 podcast. It's expanded into brick-and-mortar with 60 retail locations in the U.S. and Canada, including The Dreamery, a "magical" place in New York City where you can pay to take a nap.

It's also expanding its product line to tap into what it calls the "global sleep economy." That includes bedroom products (lighting, sounds, scents), sleep services (meditation, digital apps), and sleep supplements (CBD gummies).

Looking ahead...the competition is beyond fierce and Casper earned tech company valuations on the private market. It'll have a lot to prove.


So That's One Way to Travel

Delta Air Lines flexed its muscles at CES this year. It worked with the startup Misapplied Sciences to develop "parallel reality" technology, which allows travelers to look at a screen and only see personalized information, rather than every single departing/arriving flight.


  • Boeing's ripple effect: Supplier Spirit AeroSystems is laying off 2,800 workers in Kansas after 737 Max production was halted.
  • Airbus, on the other hand, notched record jet deliveries last year.
  • Six Flags shares had their worst day ever after the company revealed a couple of nauseating pieces of news.
  • Alphabet is losing its chief legal officer, David Drummond, as he steps down in the wake of an internal sexual misconduct investigation.
  • Amazon is reportedly considering selling streaming ads outside of just its Fire TV platform on others like Apple TV and Xbox.
  • GM is bringing back the Hummer name on an all-electric pickup, the WSJ reports


Let's head back to Las Vegas, where the world's most important consumer tech show just wrapped up. We'll give you three real products that were unveiled at CES and a concept that Morning Brew may unveil at the show next year. Can you spot the fake?

  1. Internet-connected socks to monitor your daily steps
  2. A toilet paper delivery bot
  3. A karaoke kit for your car
  4. A device that moves sauce from one area to the next without changing the shape of the sauce

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Look for internet-connected socks at CES in 2021

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Jan 11, 2020