Killing strategy. Maps on maps on maps. AVs drive dollars.

Nostalgia > success


Food and beverage giant PepsiCo has brought back Crystal Pepsi. Which prompts a single question: Why?

The 1990s launch is one of the most iconic product flops ever. 

In this case, the revival has a lot to do with a social media influencer known as LA Beast. He's a competitive eater known for stunts like downing 3 pounds of sriracha in a sitting.

In 2015, he bought a 20-year-old bottle of Crystal Pepsi on eBay for $80 and drank it while filming himself. The results were not pretty, as you can imagine.

Let's just say they were NSFL (not safe for lunch). 

But LA Beast rallied his fan base around a hashtag to bring back Crystal Pepsi. PepsiCo's marketing team clearly spotted an opportunity and has brought the drink back occasionally, including last month.

In the latest social video campaign, LA Beast is shown devouring chicken wings, using Crystal Pepsi to wash them down.

Should Coke bring back New Coke? Should the Trump Organization bring back Trump Steaks? What about the McDLT? Watermelon Oreos? Maybe bringing back failed products with nostalgic value is genius marketing. 

Should Google relaunch Google Glass for consumers?

Too soon?

For 132 product flops, including all of the above, click here

Strategy schmategy

"Strategy" didn't exist for most companies in the US until management consultants came on the scene in the early 1960s. Now the strategy industry is worth $250B, and every company understands its value.

But management consulting is looking a lot more vulnerable to disruption. We dig into consulting firms' four main functions and how technology is changing them.

Yo, I heard you like market maps

The CB Insights team has published over 100 market maps covering fintech, CPG, auto tech, healthcare, and more.

You can find all of our public market maps and unbundling/disrupting graphics here.

 From barre to business

Athleisure has already infiltrated everyday wear, and is even reportedly hurting denim sales.

Now it's making moves to take over the workplace.

We take a look at startups bringing technical fabrics, sustainability, and versatility to business attire. Clients can see them here.

I'll drive

Auto tech funding has skyrocketed over the last decade. This year's funding has already outpaced 2017's peak.

Autonomous vehicle startups are driving much of this, with over 70% of the ~$5B invested in auto tech companies this year.

We dig into AV financing, annual and quarterly funding trends, active investors, and more.

 Triangle of trust 

Since 2017, approximately 6B confidential digital records have been stolen from around the world.

Enterprise data security clearly needs an upgrade. AI, blockchain, and enhanced encryption techniques could hold the key.

In the second part of our series on the future of data security, we dig into how this technology could keep critical data from being compromised. Clients can read it here.

How to save on TRANSFORM tickets

The TRANSFORM lineup is growing. We’ve added Maria Olivo, EVP of strategic development at Travelers; Thomas Kicker, SVP of group business development & partnering at Deutsche Telekom; and Jon-Tzen Ng, chief strategy & innovation officer at Ping An Technology.

Check out the full list of speakers here. Hover over their photos to see what they'll share.

Only 3 days left to save on tickets. Prices go up on Monday, October 1.

Have a great rest of the week.


P.S. On October 4, we'll be discussing the rise of robotics. Sign up for the briefing here.

This week in data:

  • 4 mega-deals: This week saw 4 new $100M+ mega-rounds to VC-backed companies, including a $185M Series C to connected trucking startup Convoy, backed by Alphabet and capitalG, and a $245M Series E to online payments startup Stripe, backed by a16z, KPCB, and Sequoia Capital, among others. Indian budget hotel Oyo hit the $1B mark in a Series E led by SoftBank, making it the second-largest deal in the accommodation booking space. You can read more about the Oyo deal here. Clients can see all the deals from this week here.

  • $1.47B: SurveyMonkey (SVMK) went public on the Nasdaq yesterday, offering 15 million shares at a price of $12 per share. The company went public at a valuation of $1.47B, down more than $500M from its $2B valuation in December 2014. However, the stock also jumped nearly 44% to close at $17.24 on Wednesday, a price that would push its valuation up to $2.11B.
  • 4+ stars: Amazon opened its latest brick-and-mortar location in NYC today: a new concept store called “Amazon 4-star.” The store features only products that are rated 4 stars and above, are top sellers, or are new and trending on Offerings span consumer electronics, kitchen, home, toys, books, and more. The store even has a “Trending Around NYC” table featuring items based on New Yorkers’ Amazon purchases. Using local data to select inventory is one emerging theme for brick-and-mortar retailers. Read more about this strategy in our recent brief on localization.

  • $399: Facebook unveiled its newest VR headset this week: the Oculus Quest, available this spring for $399. The headset will be the first wireless Oculus device to offer positional tracking, and will ship with more than 50 games made specifically for the headset launch. Four cameras on the front of the device will allow it to track the wearer’s location without external sensors. We recently dove into the future of virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality, and their potential to shape our day-to-day. Read about it here.

  • 29.2%: Scammer calls are on the rise, according to Arkansas-based caller ID company First Orion. The firm analyzed more than 34 billion calls to find that mobile scam calls had risen from just 3.7% of calls in 2017 to 29.2% in 2018. That number is projected to reach nearly 45% by early next year.
  • 300 words: Popular word game Scrabble has added 300 new words to the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary. Some new additions include twerk, beatdown, emoji, sriracha, and facepalm, as well as two new 2-letter words: OK and ew. According to Merriam-Webster editor and lexicographer Peter Sokolowski, “OK is something scrabble players have been waiting for, for a long time.”
One more thing...

Hyperiella dilatata, tiny shrimp-like crustaceans that live as deep as 470 meters below sea level in the ocean near Antarctica, are kidnapping sea snails and wearing them like backpacks.

The shrimp are immune to the potent mixture of chemicals released by the snails, but predatory fish are not.

This is an ideal self-preservation arrangement for the crustaceans, but the snails often starve to death on the backs of their captors.

CB Insights does not endorse amphipod crime.
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