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January 16, 2024

Our 2024 Annual Predictions

New year, new predictions! It’s time for our annual predictions episode. What a year 2023 was, and there are some victory laps to take because we nailed some predictions last year. What do Phillip and Brian foresee in 2024? Listen now to this prediction-packed episode and join the conversation! 

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this episode sponsored by

The Vogue of eCommerce

  • {00:10:02} - “Depending on where you sit in your economic pessimism, if you believe that the economy continues to rip in 2024, then Costco is a no-brainer choice. If you believe that the economy is going to see challenges in 2024, then Costco is still a safe choice.” - Phillip
  • {00:22:05} - “The problem is a lot of these brands, Joanns and Michaels in particular, did a really bad job with digital enablement. And so it's gonna be a really hard road for them to come back around and have someone who's really far down the road of digital bring them along for the ride. It almost might be easier for a Pinterest to just run their own stuff from the ground up.” - Brian
  • {00:52:52} - “This idea of real-world commerce is that you'll be able to transact in real dollars directly as if it were eCommerce in the platform for the first time for real-world goods. Not digital goods, not digital fashion, not credits for experiences, not whatever it is. It is an actual real-life transaction that gets fulfilled. And that seems to me to be a massive opportunity for brands that have been investing in that universe with a very young crowd that spends a stupid amount of money.” - Phillip
  • {00:57:10} - “ Literary TikTok is a place that is creating a new generation of readers and making reading fun again and making people excited about being part of a conversation around reading. And in fact, Barnes and Noble, 20% growth year over year, store footprint is expanding. Who would have thought?” - Phillip
  • {01:11:46} - “This is the challenger to Google that everybody said TikTok was going to be.” - Phillip
  • {01:16:37} - “I feel extremely validated right now, and I'm gonna go ahead and take that victory lap here because it was like the opposite of every possible trend that you could have ever thought.” - Brian
  • {01:51:18) - “If the prevailing culture is digitally obsessed, then the counterculture will be analog obsessed. It's inescapable because it's already happening.” - Phillip

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Phillip: [00:00:05] Hello, and welcome to Future Commerce, the podcast at the intersection of culture and commerce. I'm Phillip.


Brian: [00:01:26] I'm Brian.


Phillip: [00:01:27] It's our annual predictions episode. This is our biggest episode of the year. Buckle up.


Brian: [00:01:33] If you didn't listen to the last episode, go back and listen to it. It was a great preamble to this episode.


Phillip: [00:01:40] This is gonna be a doozy, Brian. I'm so excited. It's also the first time that we've actually been able to just completely own the fact that we are kind of a culture magazine for commerce.


Brian: [00:01:51] Yeah. I think 2023 was a year where we really solidified ourselves as the culture publication for commerce.


Phillip: [00:02:02] Yeah.


Brian: [00:02:03] There are trade pubs out there and there are culture magazines out there. I think we lean towards the Vogue of eCommerce. {laughter}


Phillip: [00:02:16] {laughter} It's been interesting as the years unfolded that we had a lot of predictions that seemed a little far-fetched at the time from 2023. We'll revisit those today. But they turned out to be correct in a lot of cases, directionally correct in some cases, and spot on in a lot of cases. I think mostly because we don't really subscribe to a lot of the group think that is very specific to one sector of eCommerce or social commerce or marketplaces or just analysis of one particular type of marketplace. We're not just Amazon experts. We're sort of broadly I'd say more generalized in sort of the consumer behavior and how commerce as a whole plays a role in people's lives, and I think that gives us a better perspective. And that's maybe why people look at this episode as the most important episode of the year. So thank you, Futurists, those subscribed to Future Commerce Plus. Thank you for making this episode possible. Thank you all. If you're listening for the very first time, we wanna hear from you. Please, subscribe to Future Commerce or drop us a line at hello@futureCommerce.com. We wanna hear from you. But, Brian, this is gonna be an action-packed episode. Any thoughts before we get into things, I'm really excited for this episode.


Brian: [00:03:39] Yeah. Me too. I think going into this year, we're going into an election year. It could be one of the craziest elections we've ever seen. I'd written about this for the census a little bit, but it's hard in an election year to sort of get above the political noise. The political noise is gonna be so loud.


Phillip: [00:04:02] Yeah.


Brian: [00:04:02] This might be good for commerce, actually. This is the thing that I think is exciting about this year. Well, I do think it will be a choppy year. We're looking at more chop, and I think I said the same thing about last year. I expect, you know, there's gonna be a lot of traditional category losers that are getting left in the dust right now, and they're gonna have to make some big swings, which I think, again, could be good. Big swings can be good for the industry. I think something that gets really poo pooed right now, and I've seen this a lot in predictions for 2024, is "Oh, valuations are gonna stay the same." I'm not entirely sure that's true. I think we're gonna see some big swings this year because you're gonna have to take big swings if you want to get above the fray and enter into the news cycle.


Phillip: [00:05:07] By the way, the above the fray phrase is ruined for me at this point, but that's a whole other ball of wax. I hear what you're saying. Why don't we... I think you are going to come back to that point over and over today. I don't wanna say I glimpsed at a couple of your predictions. We haven't talked about this.


Brian: [00:05:29] You cheated. I saw it. {laughter}


Phillip: [00:05:31] Brian, I had to pull clips from last year. {laughter} I had to go dumpster diving for all the clips of things you got right. So why don't we just get into it? Let's without any further ado, here are our predictions for 2024 from Future Commerce. First up, this is, I think, our 3rd year in a row that we'll be doing this particular order. So this is inspired by... Just gotta give props where it's due, inspired by the All In Podcast's first predictions episode from, I think, 2021. And so we kinda co opted some of it and made it our own, so that is the format. And we're gonna be basically calling out winners and losers as we go. This is our 3rd year now doing this. And, as we always do, we kick off with the Biggest Retail Winner of 2024. Brian, last year, you said Costco. Would you say you nailed it?


Brian: [00:06:30] I pretty much nailed it.


Phillip: [00:06:33] But it's the most Brian coded pick that Brian could ever choose. What else would you say?


Brian: [00:06:39] It is. I feel like I manifested a little bit. Costco. I wrote that piece on Costco back in 2022.


Phillip: [00:06:51] Yeah.


Brian: [00:06:53] And it feels like Costco's cultural relevance, let alone their fundamentals of the business, the culture relevance hit all-time highs In 2023.


Phillip: [00:07:05] That's true. A 100% true.


Brian: [00:07:06] It was Coscomania.


Phillip: [00:07:08] That's correct.


Brian: [00:07:08] Maybe the biggest rise in brand value that I have ever seen. Maybe aside from Stanley. Stanley might be the other one, but Costco's brand value went from like, "Oh, that's a really good retailer. I like shopping at Costco," to Costco branded stuff being the pinnacle of ironic fashion.


Phillip: [00:07:32] That's right.


Brian: [00:07:32] Yeah. I'm so happy.


Phillip: [00:07:34] I can't believe that you've been gatekeeping Costco cashmere. I never thought I'd live the to see the day when Kirkland is a secret that the girlies wanna keep. So okay. Here we go, Brian, then, let's go. 2024, who is your Biggest Retail Winner of 2024?


Brian: [00:08:00] Costco. {laughter} I'm dead serious. So Costco may have hit peak cultural moments.


Phillip: [00:08:07] Is this your 3rd year in a row?


Brian: [00:08:08] It is. My 3rd year in a row. Yes. And the reason why is because Costco is undeniably the best retailer that there is. Up and down the scale. This is my favorite tweet that I put out this year, and I mean, at least I laughed about it. It was about how the middle class is careful at Costco and thoughtful about what they buy. The upper middle class kinda goes wild at Costco. It's like how they get all their stuff, have a good time there, and it's really fun. And then the wealthy LARP Costco. We may have hit Peak Costco from a cultural standpoint, but from a business fundamental standpoint, I think they still have so much opportunity worldwide. Costco has expanded. There's still untapped market in the US, and they continue to add assortment and expand into different categories. For instance, this year, they acquired a health care, some health care start up. So I think Costco may end up... Well, and not only that, they have opportunity to expand online too because their online presence is still...


Phillip: [00:09:31] Oh yeah, that was a big piece this last year was they're finally looking for technology leadership in eCommerce direct hires.


Brian: [00:09:38] Yes.


Phillip: [00:09:39] There were some roles that I think leaked out that they were looking to fill on that side.


Brian: [00:09:44] Yeah. Totally. So much opportunity there that is untapped. So this is the thing that I love about Costco. It's a great business. They treat their employees well.


Phillip: [00:09:53] I should have backloaded because everyone's already tuned out because they're like, of course, but Brian chose Costco. Can I back you up on one thing? I think [00:10:02] that depending on where you sit in your economic pessimism, if you believe that the economy continues to rip in 2024, then Costco is a no-brainer choice. If you believe that the economy is gonna see challenges in 2024, then Costco is still a safe choice. [00:10:24]


Brian: [00:10:24] Exactly.


Phillip: [00:10:27] Anyway. Okay.


Brian: [00:10:28] You can't really lose when you're in the business like they are. It's built for everyone, and they've done it well across the board. So, yeah.


Phillip: [00:10:38] Also, just so you're aware based on the Doral Miami Costco experience that you and I had at 2 PM on a Wednesday.


Brian: [00:10:45] Dude.


Phillip: [00:10:47] Pandemonium. I have never...


Brian: [00:10:49] Pandemonium.


Phillip: [00:10:50] Never seen... Also, they sell Banana Republic now at Costco, Brian.


Brian: [00:10:56] Yes.


Phillip: [00:10:58] Make that sentence make sense to a time traveler from the past. Alright.


Brian: [00:11:02] It doesn't make sense.


Phillip: [00:11:03] It doesn't make sense.


Brian: [00:11:04] Here's a question for you. If you were a mid play retailer that owned your brand and had your own retail stores, and you decided you wanna go get into retail and have someone else distribute your product...


Phillip: [00:11:19] Where would you be?


Brian: [00:11:20] Would you rather be in a Macy's or a Costco?


Phillip: [00:11:20] Where's the place that has the greatest brand safety? I would have said Target at some point until, you know, they got boycotted all year long. So but okay. Let's shift gears.


Brian: [00:11:31] Alright. Done with Costco.


Phillip: [00:11:33] Biggest Retail Winner of 2023. Last year, I said, oh, wait. Do we have a... We have a clip.


Clip of Phillip 2023: [00:11:44] {dreamy harp music} Biggest retail winner 2023, Walmart.


Clip of Brian 2023: [00:11:49] All in.


Clip of Phillip 2023: [00:11:50] The reason I'm saying Walmart is because I don't know how, Brian, but they got me.


Clip of Brian 2023: [00:11:59] Yes.


Clip of Phillip 2023: [00:12:01] They got me. I don't know how. Their app. I don't usually...


Clip of Brian 2023: [00:12:06] It's so good. It's really good. And you know what?


Clip of Phillip 2023: [00:12:09] I'd go so far as to say, it's damn good.


Clip of Brian 2023: [00:12:13] Yeah. Oh yeah.


Clip of Phillip 2023: [00:12:13] It's worth the punctuation. The service is incredible. The delivery service is fast. Their marketing expertise in doing things that keep bringing me back and reminding me gently makes me realize how much Amazon has taken me for granted as a customer because Amazon does none of them.


Phillip: [00:12:40] {dreamy harp music} Alright. I would also like to back that up with, Walmart saw massive growth. 24% increase in eCommerce growth in Q3, fiscal '24. And they crushed 2023 and saw strong revenue growth year over year of 5%, which is bonkers in a year where there were layoffs and then they blamed in the first half of the year shrinkage on retail theft. And then in the back half of the year, they blamed Ozempic for their problems, but somehow ripped a massive 5.2% increase. They are forecasting a lower 2024, so I cannot, in good conscience, choose Walmart as my Biggest Retail Winner of 2024. I will say my Biggest Retail Winner pick of 2024 is Costco.


Brian: [00:13:35] Yes. {laughter}


Phillip: [00:13:42] A couple signals that make sense for me... It's why I didn't want you to bang on too long about it. A couple signals that make sense to me are the eCommerce shifts that you already mentioned. One also is a new president in the seat. For the first time, they have a new, they'll have new leadership in, I think, 10, 15 years now. They also pulled a deft move. One of their stores recently moved to be, to vote on a union, to unionize as a store. And the Costco response was incredible. It was one that was centered in empathy and basically said, "We are not sad that you've chosen to unionize. We are sad that we let you down, and that you felt like you had to." And I think that that exudes the attitude that Costco has always had for taking care of their employees. And I really truly believe that that kind of company culture has karmic value that returns at the end of the day, they're doing the right thing for the people that matter the most, and that's people that work for the business. Now whether or not whatever happens economically, whatever happens, you know, socially, I think Costco has a cultural zeitgeist that they can continue to win with. And I do think when we get to some of the, like, DTC conversation here, Brian, I think you can almost fully credit Costco as the ultimate badge of honor of cultural importance for DTC brand as being the we made it. And I'll point out something later on about dupe brands sort of being on the out and this idea of dupes being passe now. It's funny to me though that the dupes that make it to Costco aren't cool To the DTC crowd, and that's the echo chamber speaking. So anyway, Costco, I think, is for me also the Biggest Retail Winner of 2024. I'll say this annually. We are 14 minutes in, we're still on the 1st pick, so we gotta keep moving.


Brian: [00:15:44] I mean, it was an important one. It was an important pick.


Phillip: [00:15:46] Great agreement. Great agreement between the two of us. Okay. Brian, moving on.


Brian: [00:16:44] So now we're talking about retail losers. Last year, I made a joke about how in 2022, I had said that Amazon was gonna be the loser in 2023, which is never a smart move because Amazon is never the loser, somehow. {laughter} It is funny, though.


Phillip: [00:17:01] Our past failures right now...


Brian: [00:17:02] I know. Well, that was, like, 2 years back. But then I was like, "But hey. Already Bed Bath and Beyond." Right? Although it's kinda funny, Bed Bath and Beyond. Yes. They lost even more, went bankrupt then got acquired by Overstock to then rebranded its Bed Bath and Beyond. Funny twist of fate.


Phillip: [00:17:21] Wild.


Brian: [00:17:21] But, I actually said Macy's, which I feel extremely validated in for last year. Macy's had a tough year, and apparently, not even their real estate is like, their real estate is worth more than their brand is, which means that their brand is so much of a headache to deal with and acquire that it's actually a detriment to the value of their real estate.


Phillip: [00:17:47] That's true. That's true. And this is coming on the heels of the $5,000,000,000 tender offer from some private equity firm, I believe. I don't have that on hand, but I believe it being said that the real estate portfolio itself may be valued at 8,000,000,000, so a 5,000,000,000 valuation on the brand and real estate does kind of hint at what you're saying. Macy's is a blight upon the real estate.


Brian: [00:18:17] It's a blight upon its real estate. Yeah. It's more work to salvage the brand and make money on the brand than even the value of the real estate. You're gonna lose money. Everyone knows you're gonna lose money going after it.


Phillip: [00:18:32] I recently did see, and this is something interesting because all things are sort of a pendulum. I realized there was an end of year sort of wrap up of live event viewing on the upswing. So event viewing of television viewing, live event viewing trended upward in 2023 from, like, a 10 year downward trend. The Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade had record views this year. It was up 6% year over year, but it had a record audience of 28,500,000 viewers for NBC, and that bucks a trend in a way that is kind of shocking.


Brian: [00:19:31] I actually like that take on it, and here's why. I have a friend, his parents immigrated from India when he was really young or actually maybe before he's born, and I think they moved back to India, and then they came and visited recently. And they visited the Seattle area, and they wanted to go to Macy's. Interesting. Interesting. I actually think you're onto something. The Macy's brand has value even internationally because of the way that it showed up in film and television and through its activations over the years that I actually believe the Macy's brand has some kind of value, but it's gonna take a lot of work to sort of bring it around to a profitable place. Yeah. $3,000,000,000. Right?


Phillip: [00:20:34] So, Brian, your Biggest Retail Loser of 2024 is?


Brian: [00:20:38] Yeah. I'm gonna actually call out the larger craft stores, they've kind of had trouble this year. I think it's gonna continue to be trouble for them because DIY took off so hard during the pandemic, but everyone's back to traveling and work and DIY. They also found out that DIY is a lot of work, like a lot a lot of work. Projects always take, like, 3 times as long as you think that they will. And so I think there's some choppiness ahead even this year for those traditional  Joann's and Michael's and that type. And also Walmart kind of moved into this space as well and did a really good job of having enough selection where you can get kind of the basics that you need, and then Amazon's off it in, and other marketplaces have operated more niche items that you wanna buy when you're doing those projects. So, unless, someone, there could be a savior for some of these brands. Someone like a Pinterest could come along and acquire or partner with one of these big brands and offer all kinds of activations and content and then really enable them in a better way, but [00:22:05] the problem is a lot of these brands, Joanns and Michaels in particular, did a really bad job with digital enablement. And so it's gonna be a really hard road for them to come back around and have someone who's really far down the road of digital bring them along for the ride. It almost might be easier for a Pinterest to just run their own stuff from the ground up, [00:22:28] and I don't think it would be that hard, but who knows? Sometimes, you know, it's nice to have a footprint, like a physical footprint or expertise from stores, store associates, and things like that that you can re-enable and reinvigorate. I don't know though. I feel like it's gonna be a continued tough road ahead for mass-market DIY supply.


Phillip: [00:22:55] I think that what's happening in that... I'll agree with you. But I think what's happening in that sector is lack of competition over time. I think about 6, 7 years ago, the Linens and Things brand sort of starting to be on its decline.


Brian: [00:23:13] Yeah.


Phillip: [00:23:14] The lack of competition for the standalone, like, vertical craft and design stores, really I think has not done the broader ecosystem a lot of favors. The Hobby Lobbies of the world being privately owned and and held, there is probably its own like, they have their own fate. But the world where you have 4 or 5 competitors in an increasing market in a post COVID world where indoor hobbies probably doesn't... You're probably right. But it's the same thing that's happened for music equipment or any other hobby with that requires some sort of a skill is why would you ever buy those things at a store when you could get them online? Because most of the time, those impulse purchases to buy those things happen where the points of inspiration happen, and that's in short form video right now. It's not at classes that are happening at, you know, your local hobby store.


Brian: [00:24:19] One last point on that. I think you hit something there as well, which is for the people that really leaned in and became more than a DIYer, so kinda building up their own brands. They're using higher end stuff that's more direct to brand type stuff. So they don't need the cheap stuff that's available in the stores.


Phillip: [00:24:37] And that traditionally, was a catalog centric direct brand relationship anyway and continues to be in the modern era. It's just the catalog shifted into a different channel. That's right.


Brian: [00:24:49] And it just means that there's a lot of opportunity there, I think, as more and more customers peel away to different channels.


Phillip: [00:24:55] I'd noticed I did not say DTC. Okay. Biggest Retail Loser of 2024. I also said high debt late retail. I mentioned Macy's. I mentioned Kohl's. I do wanna make... I am sort of using AI as we go here, just to fact check ourselves. Nordstrom, which I did not name drop, but Nordstrom had an extremely challenging year. Had a 10% decrease in net sales, year over year for Nordstrom proper and then 4% decrease for Nordstrom Rack. I think Macy's had a gross margin tick up. So just to be really clear, they actually had 160 whole basis points, Brian.


Brian: [00:25:45] Wow.


Phillip: [00:25:47] Uptick year over year. So we wanna give them credit where credit's due. But I want to say that I accidentally, in my prediction of the Biggest Loser last year made an accidental, really rad pick, of the Biggest Winner. You'll understand here in a second.


Clip of Phillip 2023: [00:26:14] {dreamy harp music} So Macy's, Bed Bath and Beyond, Kohl's. We're gonna see a little bit of a a challenge there. You know what? Gap brands may have been a year early and more of a bellwether of a style of retail. I think the mall is on a 3 year upswing. I think '21 and '22 were big comeback years for the mall.


Clip of Brian 2023: [00:26:40] Yes.


Clip of Phillip 2023: [00:26:41] Opinions have completely changed about what is to be found at a local mall. And in fact, you see millennials now talking about J. Crew and Abercrombie and Fitch like it's 2005 again. So it's shocking to me, but I think that's just where we are. And so, yeah, retail losers no longer mall brands.


Phillip: [00:27:08] {dreamy harp music} I want to follow that up with by the way, I'm not just pulling clips of me sounding really smart and prescient. You're in there too. Abercrombie and Fitch in 2023 was the single highest gained stock in the public markets, a 285% gain year over year in 2023, which is not only its best annual performance since going public in 1996, but it was the greatest return in the public markets for the year and the company. Even more so than Meta, even more so than Nvidia. Make it make sense, Brian. So the company's net sales were up 30% year over year. And none of that was priced in because nobody saw it coming. But guess who saw it coming, Brian? Future Commerce saw it coming.


Brian: [00:27:59] We did.


Phillip: [00:28:00] Yeah. Okay. But if I had to pick a Biggest Retail Loser for 2024, I think this is gonna be a little contentious and probably to some people that listen to this podcast from this brand. I think that Target jumped the shark a little while ago. I think that people's positive attitudes toward Target have shifted dramatically. Let's talk about a couple signals that make me feel that way. Rowing Blazers, which was an aspirational sort of verging on luxury DTC brand of the early 2020s, had a collection at Target, which should have been one of the hottest releases of 2023. Sat on shelves and was on sale 70% off and still couldn't clear it out. Target, and probably rightfully so, took massive licks due to boycotts over both its handling and then unhandling of a critical cultural moment around pride month. And in particular, consumers exercise their choice and their voting power and their ability to remind retailers who retailers serve. Now you can agree with the politics of it or not, you can agree with the cultural relevance of it or not, but boycotts against Target and other brands for supposed woke or anti woke perspectives... Target was probably the biggest loser in that regard and will continue to, I think, face a lot of challenges going into 2024, mostly because, and I guess this really has to do with what you believe what the position of the economy will look like in 2024. Although, I think Jay Powell and the Fed are doing Biden all the favors that they possibly can do to try to create a favorable economic environment. Consumer credit probably is gonna get utilized heavily as the vibes keep riding high, but I don't know that people want to spend excess money at private label goods retailers like Target. So that is my pick. Kind of a long shot actually because Target's an important brand.


Brian: [00:31:34] Yeah. I think you're right though. I think Walmart's moved up in people's minds as well. Like, a lot of the stuff that Target sort of had an edge on Walmart in, they sort of lost it a little bit. The partnerships they've done, the product releases, the quality of certain products, Walmart's come up in the world. In fact, this is another reason actually I believe in Walmart in 2024, and I'm not calling them my biggest winner, but, I think that they're gonna continue to scrape away buyers from Target, and also from Amazon. The thing that I think is super exciting about Walmart, in store is I could see them leaning into a focus on America more. One of the challenges that we've seen recently is consumers have a really hard time determining what's a real product and what's not a real product. What's a brand that they can trust and what's not a brand that they can trust. Walmart has an opportunity right now to legitimize and really call out. They used to have that Made in America symbol. It feels safer to buy Walmart house brand than it does to buy no name brand on Amazon.


Phillip: [00:33:06] That's true. Can I make a another observation about the differences here? Because it's hard to talk about the loser without contrasting it against the winner. But let me just make one perspective, one sort of broad perspective outlook at the differences between the two companies: Target and Walmart.


Brian: [00:33:26] Yeah.


Phillip: [00:33:27] Target decided that it needed to be culturally relevant based on what analysts were saying that Gen Z consumers wanted. They wanted sustainable goods.


Brian: [00:33:40] Yeah.


Phillip: [00:33:40] Right? They wanted, racial diversity and equity in their product diversity and sort of end cap campaigns, around shop small and black owned brands. They said they wanted free and fast home delivery, and they said, we want boutique design style. And the the fact is that you know what Gen Z really wants, Brian? They want Mr Beast. And that is the thing. The thing is they say they want all these other things. That's what all the analysts said that they wanted. But at the end of the day, when you're Walmart and you have a Mr Beast bar, when you have Feastables chocolate...


Brian: [00:34:29] Yep. You've won.


Phillip: [00:34:30] You've won. And you could not have predicted that type... Walmart gets lucky. I think they also were really deft in a lot of things. But when the culture shifts... This is the point that you made, and I'm gonna keep beating this drum for you. You made this point a couple episodes ago about what is left over when the mimesis shifts? And Target is left with a lot of expensive, last trend cycle trend washing investments that are important to millennials, but it's the next generation that will spend more and outlive this one that now has older kids...


Brian: [00:35:14] Millenials have upgraded to Costco. I mean, they've got the money.


Phillip: [00:35:19] That's true.


Brian: [00:35:20] They've moved on. They don't have to have the niche items. They're like, "Oh, wow. there's a Dyson vacuum here? Do I pick the Dyson or the Shark?" {laughter}


Phillip: [00:35:33] I only have two options, and you know what? I kinda like it that way.


Brian: [00:35:37] Yeah. {laughter}.


Phillip: [00:35:39] {laughter} That's the Costco promise.


Brian: [00:35:42] Do I want the Shark 10 volt, or do I want the Dyson A 100,000,000 volt?


Phillip: [00:35:47] Yeah. The Dyson Animal 70,000. Yeah. Okay. Let's keep moving if we can, and maybe get a little bit of a move on, mostly because I think the next couple pieces here are more about tonal shifts. Biggest DTC winner of 2023. Oh, okay. I kinda liked our little tete a tete.


Brian: [00:36:12] Okay. I can go first. That's fine. Want me to go DTC Winner? So last year, I said new entrants and Etsy brands that graduate, and I think there's some validity to what I said. This year, I kinda wanna just kill this category. {laughter} I think that DTC as an entry point for product may not be the best entry point anymore. It's definitely a channel. It's definitely a way to connect with customers, but I really think we should just move this to modern brands. In which case, I would say any brand that Terrance Reilly touches is gonna be my pick. Terrance Reilly being the CMO that went from Crocs To Stanley. If Terrance Riley moves on from Stanley, whatever company he goes to, I am all in on. I don't care.


Phillip: [00:37:06] Buying that stock. Yeah.


Brian: [00:37:07] I buy Terrance Reilly. No one else. {laughter}


Phillip: [00:37:11] Give me the Terrance Reilly index.


Brian: [00:37:13] Yeah. Yeah. So, in fact, I would almost say that existing brands that get modernized are probably a better bet than new entrants are at this point.


Phillip: [00:37:24] Can I challenge this notion a little bit by saying that I think DTC, by virtue of the fact that that term has been around since 2017, 2018 and meant eCommerce and Shopify, they were sort of synonymous with eCommerce and Shopify?


Brian: [00:37:40] They were.


Phillip: [00:37:40] Like, you could probably say a DTC brand today is a brand that doesn't even have a website. It only sells on Instagram and TikTok, and you would still probably be accurate.


Brian: [00:37:49] Yeah.


Phillip: [00:37:50] Because those brands look functionally and similar to the brands of 5 years ago that we're only selling on the web, but I hear what you're saying. I hate the term DTC right now. It kinda gives me the ick.


Brian: [00:38:03] Yep.


Phillip: [00:38:03] And I'm with you. But I also think that there's a ton of people who have the skill set of the kind of person that wants to listen to this show and maybe even partners and sponsors who might take a little bit of offense to the idea that DTC is a...


Brian: [00:38:24] Let's go marketers, sponsors, and friends. Let's move on. Come with me.


Phillip: [00:38:31] Well, you know, the problem is is that TikTok... Let me actually go in on this because my Biggest DTC Winner of 2023, I said was TrackSmith, and I feel like they only did a lot of things to piss people off in 2023, so maybe I was wrong there. Although I love the brand, they very firmly planted their foot into the elite category in 2023, and basically...


Brian: [00:38:52] The shoe launch. Right?


Phillip: [00:38:54] No. It was post shoe launch. The shoe launch was in '22, and I cited that last year as being a marker. Like, oh, they're on the way up. They also then did a number of campaigns last year that basically people were calling them out for body shaming, but it was more about the collegiate athlete has a certain body style, and they were celebrating that. They weren't saying, "And then everyone else is bad." But that's just how the world reads things.


Brian: [00:39:24] Yep.


Phillip: [00:39:25] And then they were saying a marathon and the marathon distance is a thing that is celebrated by elite athletes and people were like, "Your elitism is uninclusive," because that's how millenials are.


Brian: [00:39:37] I think we talked about this on the podcast even, I was like, "I went to a race, and I felt..."


Phillip: [00:39:43] You've been talking about this for years.


Brian: [00:39:44] But Yeah. That was a group of Tracksmiths running there...


Phillip: [00:39:49] I'm not saying Tracksmith isn't...


Brian: [00:39:51] No. No. No. But that wasn't actually criticism. I think I was like, "I felt the elitism." And that's cool.


Phillip: [00:39:58] Yeah.


Brian: [00:39:58] Like, I get it. Be elite, baby.


Phillip: [00:40:02] Totally with that. I'm totally with that. I thought the shoe launch was more of a signal of a new... I kinda thought I was gonna keep my winning streak from the Hero Cosmetics acquisition to say that I don't know maybe Trachsmith gets acquired by Puma in 2023/2024. That was my pick. I will pick this year. If I had to go brand picking.


Brian: [00:40:26] Yeah.


Phillip: [00:40:27] I'll just randomly name a brand that I think is gorgeous and is the kind of brand that gets acquired by a portfolio in the beauty space. And then everyone's like, "Yeah, I've been talking about them forever," but they haven't. It's a company called Soft Services. Soft Services is the kind of company that has a sort of an unabashed luxury aesthetic in the beauty and skin care mostly space, self care, a lot of bath products, and a really interesting type of a brand that is the kind of thing that gets sort of rolled up into a beauty portfolio and probably has a ton of growth ahead of it in the Sephoras and Ultas of the world.


Brian: [00:41:13] Yeah.


Phillip: [00:41:14] I think beauty just generally is the DTC Winner of 2024 probably was the DTC Winner over the last 3 years anyway.


Brian: [00:41:20] Yeah.


Phillip: [00:41:21] But if I had to pick one that is not a trad DTC brand, with a millennial aesthetic, I have to say the influencer brands that are TikTok shop native are really fascinating to me. In particular, BK Beauty and our friend, Paul Jauregui.


Brian: [00:41:37] Yeah, Paul.


Phillip: [00:41:40] I think BK Beauty having triple digit growth.


Brian: [00:41:46] Wow.


Phillip: [00:41:46] Is the kind of thing that tells me that it's not live stream that is the thing that will change the influencer brand, or it's not the influencer integrated marketing in their own owned channel. It is the fact that short form content does spur purchase behavior and buying in the channel where you're inspired is the shortest path to purchase. Now, hey. You know what could upend all of this is TikTok shop rug pulling a 2% merchant fee, and 4 X ing that to 8% with a 6 month notice period as kind of a rug pull. But I do think that TikTok shop will continue to drive a lot of consumer purchase behavior. I just don't know if it is the future of commerce.


Brian: [00:42:42] Yeah. So here's my concern...


Phillip: [00:42:44] But there will be native brands that are born there and those be successful.


Brian: [00:42:47] There are. There are brands that will be born there and then transcend TikTok.


Phillip: [00:42:52] That's right.


Brian: [00:42:52] As with all brands,


Brian: [00:42:55] Yes.


Phillip: [00:42:56] That's the point.


Brian: [00:42:57] That is the point. Right? Yeah. You graduate to Costco. When a TikTok brand graduates Costco, they've made it. I think the concern I have with TikTok is they're leaning into it so hard.


Phillip: [00:43:12] Let's hold this conversation because it might appear later on.


Brian: [00:43:16] Okay. Okay. Cool.


Phillip: [00:43:17] It might appear later on.


Brian: [00:43:19] Okay. Okay. I know where you're gonna go with this. I think we have the exact same dots here. There are some subsidized infrastructure...


Phillip: [00:43:30] That's whole thing. Okay. That's a house of cards. Then I'll just follow it up as a then I think the Biggest DTC Loser of 2024... Last year I said the 2010 vintage. This year, I would say the celebrity brand as a whole is kind of over. And there's been so many. They're innumerable, but there's been so many celebrity brands that were the sort of the hangers on that all try to pile in after.


Brian: [00:44:02] Drew Barrymore.


Phillip: [00:44:02] Yes. All of them. There's a running joke about Drew Barrymore, that I have that people... Anyway, it's a whole fun thing. Drew Barrymore was early to that set.


Brian: [00:44:15] She was.


Phillip: [00:44:15] To her credit.


Brian: [00:44:15] No. And she did a great job with it.


Phillip: [00:44:18] Yeah. But I for the Kristen Bell brand folded up this year. There's a number of the celebrity backed brands. I don't have a list of them here, but I probably should have. Those celebrity ban brands are are de passe. Yeah.


Brian: [00:44:36] I agree with that. And, again, this is why I wanna call it modern brands, not DTC because I wouldn't even consider that a DTC move. A lot of these celebrity backed brands got themselves into retail in a big, big way.


Phillip: [00:44:48] That's right.


Brian: [00:44:49] And that's I think the challenge is, you know, as some of these brands lose their nostalgic value, because they are going to lose it eventually, theree is a first capitalization, which is on the way up, and then there's the 2nd capitalization, which is nostalgic value for people to have money. But the next wave of influencers and celebrities is gonna start to overtake the nostalgic value of some of these traditional movie stars. Mr Beast will wane in value at some point, but I guarantee you, I guarantee you, he will have a nostalgic comeback. And I'm talking this is far into the future when the people that grew up with him, the the Gen Z's of right now, you know, and maybe not even all of Gen Z, a specific part of Gen Z, will find nostalgic value in Mr Beast long after he has lost his value with Gen Alpha.


Phillip: [00:45:58] I'm right there with you.


Brian: [00:46:01] So there was a huge wave of nostalgic stars that aren't necessarily making money on on movies or whatever it was they start in that crushed it over the past few years. And I just feel like that's about to move on to a new wave of stars.


Phillip: [00:46:21] The celebrity brand. I think celebrity is usually used as sort of the monocultural moniker. I do think that YouTube stars generally don't make it outside of YouTube.


Brian: [00:46:37] That's right.


Phillip: [00:46:38] Generally, I can't think of many exceptions. There are very few.


Brian: [00:46:44] Ryan's World tried. He tried.


Phillip: [00:46:47] The thing is and that was by the way, that was, like, part of our first Visions Report.


Brian: [00:46:52] It was. Yeah.


Phillip: [00:46:54] Looking at the brand, the ability to license the brand name of a YouTube star can drive economic value. I'm not saying that it can't. But to be a monoculture, very few people, very few normal people who aren't Gen Alpha on YouTube shorts, and and screen brain children could pick Mr Beast out of a lineup. Now that'll change as time goes on, but very, very few brands... Mr Beast Burger shuttered this year. That's a good example of the kind of thing that I'm talking about is that these things are hard, and it's hard for the Kristen Bells of the world, who, by the way, is in two, sorry three of the highest grossing top 10 highest grossing films of all time.


Brian: [00:47:51] She is?


Phillip: [00:47:52] Yes. Yeah. Frozen 1 and 2 are both on that list.


Brian: [00:47:55] Oh right. 2 made the list? Wow.


Phillip: [00:47:58] 2 grossed more than 1.


Brian: [00:48:00] Oh my gosh.


Phillip: [00:48:01] 2 is, I think, the 3rd highest grossing film of all time or 4th. It's up there. It's insane.


Brian: [00:48:06] That is wild.


Phillip: [00:48:08] Let's keep moving.


Brian: [00:48:10] Just a final note, and I didn't know where to put this.


Phillip: [00:48:12] Yeah.


Brian: [00:48:14] And I think I'm gonna write a whole article on this one, actually.


Phillip: [00:48:20] I know where you can put it, Brian.


Brian: [00:48:23] At the end, I guess. But something that we've seen recently is the rise of what I'm gonna call talentless stars.


Phillip: [00:48:39] {laughter} That's not new.


Brian: [00:48:40] No. No. No. No. It's not new, but they've come up through nontraditional channels, And they have a shtick that they run in that nontraditional channel that allows them to make their way up. But there aren't necessarily talented showmen or actors or whatever. They're not talented on cam. They were really good at doing the thing that they did. They had an idea or a gimmick or something that made them famous, and they're trying to recapitalize on these ideas through other means. And I would put Mr Beast into this category. I don't find Mr Beast at all compelling as a figure. He's an interesting guy, and he comes up with wild ideas and schemes, but he's not necessarily a talented actor or star. And I see this trend, and it's because there's nontraditional ways of introducing these ideas and I guess they're traditional now. YouTube. Mr Beast came up through YouTube, and I guess that's pretty traditional at this point. But I think these stars that have shticks that land well in specific channels are going to find, like you said, dead end roads when they try to introduce other engagements. And people that put big bets on them as their spokespeople are gonna find that their value declines quickly.


Phillip: [00:50:27] {throat clear} Shopify. Okay. Let's keep moving. I will say nice things about Shopify here in just a little bit.


Brian: [00:50:34] Yes.


Phillip: [00:50:36] The Biggest Media Winner 2024, Brian, I said Nintendo, and that was based on one or two things. One, the what I was assuming would be massive success of the Super Mario movie, and I was Correct. Movie itself was mid.


Brian: [00:50:54] Very mid. I didn't like it at all.


Phillip: [00:50:56] The Jack Black song, though. Peaches is a bop.


Brian: [00:51:00] That's the only medium good thing that came out of that movie.


Phillip: [00:51:05] The however, and Nintendo may have, by the way, with the success of the Super Mario movie, may have single handedly ushered in the next era of films. I think we're gonna see a tremendous wave of...


Brian: [00:51:21] Video game movies.


Phillip: [00:51:22] Video game IP.


Brian: [00:51:22] They've already announced the Zelda live action.


Phillip: [00:51:24] Zelda's coming out. Yeah.


Brian: [00:51:26] This destroys my brain a little bit. They're going to ruin it. They're going to ruin it.


Phillip: [00:51:30] Maybe they won't. Maybe they won't.


Brian: [00:51:33] Maybe they won't.


Phillip: [00:51:34] Also, I kind of called that Pokemon would reenter the cultural zeitgeist in 2022. And based on watching its massive cultural resurgence, I also sort of said Nintendo would be a a big winner of the year.


Brian: [00:51:53] Nintendo also, by the way, killed it with their Zelda Breath of the Wild sequel.


Phillip: [00:51:58] Tears of the Kingdom. Yeah.


Brian: [00:51:59] Tears of the Kingdom destroyed. The platform... Switch is such an old platform at this point, And there's still like, there's so much cache in in their franchises. They can release a sequel and just crush it.


Phillip: [00:52:13] Still crushes.


Brian: [00:52:14] Wild.


Phillip: [00:52:14] Still crushes. The Biggest Media Winner of 2024 for me, and I kinda have two, but for the sound clip purposes next year, I'll say both. But I'll make it brief. I think Roblox might become the next massive commerce channel because Roblox had an announcement in October of '23 where they would be introducing real world, what they're calling real world commerce. And  [00:52:52]this idea of real world commerce is that you'll be able to transact in real dollars directly as if it were eCommerce in the platform for the first time for real world goods. Not digital goods, not digital fashion, not credits for experiences, not whatever it is. It is an actual real life transaction that gets fulfilled. And that seems to me to be a massive opportunity for brands that have been investing in that universe with a very young crowd that spends a stupid amount of money. I [00:53:27] think, Roblox is up to 80,000,000 monthly active users, which is absolutely preposterous. They flip the commerce switch, and it is as important as the launch of TikTok shops if you ask me. And a fundamental rethinking of how we think about commerce and, dare I say, the metaverse. The other media trend that I think is really important to take note of is the announcement that All In as a podcast, is hiring us an external CEO


Brian: [00:54:03] Yep.


Phillip: [00:54:04] To grow into a fully fledged media company.


Brian: [00:54:07] Yes.


Phillip: [00:54:08] I think that their desire, it seems, is to go after Ted


Brian: [00:54:15] Yep.


Phillip: [00:54:16] And to go after high value, high brow aspirational events and conversations that filter down into public discourse. And they seem to have done that, and they've captured a bunch of celebrity attention, and they've become celebrities in their own right. Whether you like them or not, I think you have to admit that them, Lex Friedman, Joe Rogan. Well, Rogan was probably the predecessor to it all, but I think Lex Friedman is a good example. They are creating a brand new style of a media company. It's an interesting thing. So that's my Biggest Media Winner pick of 2024. I think both of them have a profound impact on the way that we think about commerce.


Brian: [00:55:06] That's very good. So I last year, I said YouTube, which, I mean, wasn't the best year for YouTube. It wasn't a bad year for them. It was modest growth. I wouldn't call them the Biggest Winner, so I wouldn't say that was like a true prediction, but it wasn't like I was wrong that they were gonna have a... They didn't have, like, an awful year. But the I think this year, I am gonna say this is the year of literary, focus with cross genre engagement. So there's some traditional publications here, but things like the Paris Review, the Drift, Live book readings, events, things like that. Literary culture is coming back. It's been podcast, podcast, podcast, and I think that, you know, the best podcasts are gonna transcend beyond. Like you said, I think, All In... I think you're dead on about some of the larger ones moving into events and I think lit podcasts are gonna do the same, but I do see a massive focus on literary thinking and literary concept, and the blending of fiction and nonfiction, and philosophies. Those types of publications I think are gonna do really well. And by that measure, actually, I think Future Commerce is gonna have a here. We've not called Future Commerce in any of our trends before. I'm calling it now. Future Commerce is having an awesome year in 2024.


Phillip: [00:56:50] I agree with that too. And we're always ahead of trend on some things, which is so incredible.


Brian: [00:56:57] Yep.


Phillip: [00:56:57] Another signal for you that underscores your point is that who would have thought that TikTok would be the source of inspiration for the resurgence in the bookstore?


Brian: [00:57:07] Right.


Phillip: [00:57:08] And Lit Tok or [00:57:10] Literary TikTok is a place that is creating a new generation of readers. [00:57:15]


Brian: [00:57:16]  [00:57:16]Yes.


Phillip: [00:57:16]  [00:57:16]And making reading fun again and making people excited about being part of a conversation around reading. And in fact, Barnes and Noble, 20% growth year over year, store footprint's expanding. Who would have thought? [00:57:29] Right?


Brian: [00:57:30] Yes. The value of of slowing down and engaging with a book, and this will actually play into some of my upcoming other trends that I wanna talk about. I think it all kind of ties together. So we'll come back to this trend, this prediction, when we get into some of the future ones, and I'll kinda give a little bit of a grand theory about some things.


Phillip: [00:57:51] Brian, you mentioned, you had a a quote, that I want to pull up, just it's get that harp sound. Let's get that harp sound.


Brian: [00:58:04] Oh no. This is my failure.


Clip of Brian 2023: [00:58:07] {dreamy harp music} Netflix is still gonna face some headwinds. And the reason for that, I think, is the ad supported model, I don't think it's necessarily gonna win them many new fans. People that wanna be on Netflix are pretty much paying for Netflix. They also lost a lot of people this past year. Things have slowed. And so I just don't think that an ad supported platform is going to necessarily provide them with a lift that they're looking for. {dreamy harp music}


Brian: [00:58:40] Whoops.


Phillip: [00:58:41] I'm realizing that I just played that, and it it's not spot on. I was playing that to undergird what I already knew what your pick for this year was gonna be. {laughter} I think streaming as a whole is really tired, Brian.


Brian: [00:58:57] It is tired.


Phillip: [00:58:57] And so I wouldn't fault you. I wouldn't fault you for last year. I think any freemium option is going to have growth when everyone else is doubling their prices.


Brian: [00:59:05] That's true.


Phillip: [00:59:06] Netflix having growth and showing growth and launching an ad platform around it, is probably, in the long term, a losing battle for the whole of the industry. So I think you're just early on that one.


Brian: [00:59:19] I think I am, and that's why I'm gonna say they're my biggest loser this year. You know why? I unsubscribed from Netflix, and I don't miss it at all. I watch stuff on other platforms that I am perfectly content with. There's so much content, and it is expensive. I've also heard Netflix switch from their flat structure internally to a traditional model. This is usually signs of pressure when bean counters start to take effect in they're looking for edges. Immediately, you move to a more hierarchical structure where there's bosses and I think it just shows that there's pressure right now on them financially. I haven't seen a show on Netflix that I really enjoy in a long time, and there probably is some content that if I went over there, I could probably catch up on some things and be like, "Oh, that was pretty good." But I just don't miss it. And so maybe I am a sample of 1, but I think there will be continued pressure on them to find other ways to monetize. And maybe that will lead them to some good outcomes, like maybe they'll finally do some better linear commerce. Finally. Maybe they'll actually do some legitimate linear commerce, but doesn't feel like that's where they're headed.


Phillip: [01:00:37] It doesn't feel like that's where they're headed. And it almost feels like while we sit here and pine for the likes of Netflix or Disney + to give us commerce integration, we'll probably sooner see the likes of Walmart become entertainment companies.


Brian: [01:00:57] Yep. Totally.


Phillip: [01:00:57] Prime is probably more primed to deliver shopping centric content. Right? We did this, I don't know if you listened to either of the episodes, but, Rhian Beutler, of Gavalo, and Jaci, my wife. We did a podcast about the Walmart series Add to Heart, which is so cute, by the way. But yeah. That shopping integration thing has just never been solved by Netflix, although it was like my great white whale, their eCommerce store. The merch focused and the high end merch focused is gonna feel, it just doesn't feel like that's we're at that moment anymore. Although, I will say, of all of the streaming platforms, I feel bad dumping on Netflix so many year after year, Brian. Of all the streaming platforms, it seems to have the least amount of content that feels like we're trending to the death of any sort of civility or morality in our culture.


Brian: [01:02:08] I don't know.


Phillip: [01:02:09] I'm just saying there I don't know if you've seen it. This will come up again.


Brian: [01:02:15] Tiger King kinda felt like the opposite of what you just said.


Phillip: [01:02:17] Actually, you know what? You're right, actually. There's a show on Netflix I forgot about called Deep Fake Love, which if you don't know what that is, don't even bother. It is exactly what you think it is. Okay.


Brian: [01:02:28] Okay. Let's move on to tech. Enough with media.


Phillip: [01:02:31] Well, Biggest Media Loser.


Brian: [01:02:34] Oh you need to do yours. Sorry.


Phillip: [01:02:36] I just wanna cover Biggest Media Loser.


Brian: [01:02:38] Sorry.


Phillip: [01:02:39] Last year, I had this to say.


Clip of Phillip 2023: [01:02:46] {dreamy harp music} I think Disney could be at this inflection point. Did you watch Book of Boba Fett?


Clip of Brian 2023: [01:02:54] No. I didn't.


Clip of Phillip 2023: [01:02:56] It was good, but not great. And we're going to see like nine Star Wars properties launched this year. And I feel like it's either gonna be extremely good or extremely bad, and I don't know if it's extremely good. Also with you know, I think parks are gonna be challenged. They've shut down retail stores. I don't know. It could be a tough year for Disney. {dreamy harp music}


Phillip: [01:03:27] Ron DeSantis picking a fight, culture wars, Bob Iger managing a strike. I bet he wishes he hadn't come back. Wow. Lots of things happening. I'm gonna make a wild prediction for Biggest Media Loser, and it's gonna look wrong for a couple years.


Brian: [01:03:51] Yeah. Okay. I think you're a little early on this, but I see where you're headed here. This is good.


Phillip: [01:03:56] Alright. There is a movie coming out, Brian, that when I watched the trailer for it, I said to myself, "Why are we making this? Why is this happening?" This feels like a horrible idea. It's a film directed by Alex Garland coming out in 2024 starring Kirsten Dunst. It is called Civil War, and it is produced by A24. And I think that A24, the attitude about and the love and the effusive praise of A24, the goodwill and and their free pass, the hall pass they got during the SAG AFTRA strike, I think the goodwill may run out in 2024. Now I'm not saying, and it's entirely predicated on this one particular movie that I disliked the idea, about an impending civil war in modern times in the United States.


Brian: [01:04:58] I'm gonna predict that it's actually one of their biggest box office winners.


Phillip: [01:05:05] I'm okay with that understanding that, but it's like a car accident, Brian. It's like the show Deep Fake Love. People are gonna watch it for the spectacle and for the horror and for the gritty realism that we're all about to live through in this election year. So I don't know. I feel like the goodwill for businesses and brands runs out rather quickly. It's like one person breaks the seal, and they say, "Actually, I hate A24." That's all it takes.


Brian: [01:05:43] Yeah.


Phillip: [01:05:44] It takes one person, And then the pile on will become a meme. And everyone's gonna hate A24 overnight, and they're gonna be like, "Meh. Remember when we all liked A24? How millennial coded is that? Oh, Gen Z doing the grimace shake TikTok trend? That's so cringey. A24 sucks. I hate hereditary." That's what's gonna happen.


Brian: [01:06:08] It's post mimesis market. It's what happens when everyone moves on to some other vibe.


Phillip: [01:06:15] It sucks because we need more independent and creative, not IP based media in the world.


Brian: [01:06:25] Exactly. Here's my slightly alt take.


Phillip: [01:06:28] I just don't trust people. I'm not saying that A24 has done anything wrong. I just don't trust people's ability to stick with a media brand through something they don't like.


Brian: [01:06:41] Yes.


Phillip: [01:06:42] That is not how the world works anymore. We don't have loyalty to media brands.


Brian: [01:06:47] We don't. We don't. That's right. That's why you have to keep producing the hits year after year. So you have to keep producing things that people actually wanna engage with. And I actually a lot of A24 that I don't enjoy, personally.


Phillip: [01:06:59] I would say most of A24 is stuff I don't enjoy personally.


Brian: [01:07:02] Yeah. But when they land, they land well. And this is true for most movie studios. Like, they put out a lot of garbage, and then they put out a few that are just like over the top good, and you're like, man, like, they put out some good stuff. I think there's a a maturing to A24 where it moves past cultural zeitgeist and just into the mainstream. We might already be there. This civil war movie might actually be sort of that moment. If Everything Everywhere All at Once was them sort of winning the peak, and hitting that cultural moment as an independent brand, Civil War might be them hitting the Box Office peak where they actually move into major movie or studio, and then they're gonna be judged the same way the other major movie studios are judged.


Phillip: [01:07:55] That's right.


Brian: [01:07:57] So I think you're right on that narrative. My one little tweak to that is...


Phillip: [01:08:02] They won best picture last year?


Brian: [01:08:04] No. Not even. You you know my views on Everything Everywhere All at Once. I think I like Alex Garland. {laughter} Ex Machina. How are you saying that.


Phillip: [01:08:23] Machinna. Yeah.


Brian: [01:08:24] That was a phenomenal movie. I think he's so far out of his time, and he's thinking in different places, in different ways. And I do think that a lot of their directors are, and this is why they've continued to win. They've pushed boundaries and narratives and given thinkers budgets, which I love about them. Even though I don't like a lot of their movies, I love that they're willing to hand over people who have distinct vision, And Alex Garland certainly does. And so while I think that the topic is cringe for this year, it's really unfortunate. I wish that he had released this movie, like, 5 years ago or 5 years from now. Hopefully 5 years from now is not too cringe.


Phillip: [01:09:10] Five years from now, we'll be starting the beginning of 3rd Trump...


Brian: [01:09:16] Oh, gosh. Don't say that. Don't say that. I don't wanna hear that.


Phillip: [01:09:20] Okay. I hear you.


Brian: [01:09:22] He'll be dead at that point.


Phillip: [01:09:24] Time issue. Here's the issue. I hate to even put this here. I'm calling it so I can call the shot. I'm calling the shot of the turning of the tide of the attitude, the generally fuzzy, warm feeling, they can do no wrong attitude that people have about A24 as a media brand. And it sucks because they are the most, they are an incredible commerce company as well. Just the brand itself, the print they produce, the objects and merch they produce, there's nothing like it in the world. I don't want them to go away. I don't wish them any ill. But people get bored, Brian. That's how it works. And they're looking for a reason to say that they're bored, and that's that.


Brian: [01:10:14] Pascal says that all innovation happens because people are bored. All progress in this world happens because...


Phillip: [01:10:19] When we have an A24 director's box set at Costco, you can tell me that I was very wrong.


Brian: [01:10:26] I think we already have that. Don't they already have that?


Phillip: [01:10:29] I don't think that exists. Okay. Alright. You're looking at my, you're cribbing my notes here. So I'll just go ahead and...


Brian: [01:10:39] Am I cribbing your notes?


Phillip: [01:10:40] Yeah. I think so. Your cursor is on my prediction.


Brian: [01:10:43] No, I"m down in mine. I just haven't moved my my cursor.


Phillip: [01:10:48] {laughter} Okay. I'll give you my Biggest Tech Winner here, and I'll just quickly say I chose the safe pick. Well, what looks like a safe pick, but I don't know if it was a safe pick in 2023. I said OpenAI was the biggest winner. And, wow, we had a really scary moment there where my my pick was going to be wrong because it looked like, well, I did say comma Microsoft. But it looked like, Sam Altman, over that one weekend in November was ousted.


Brian: [01:11:17] It was part of the winning streak, actually.


Phillip: [01:11:19] Actually, hey. He came back, baby. We're so back.


Brian: [01:11:23] That was the biggest piece of of drama. Well, I'd say that's a top five drama story of the year.


Phillip: [01:11:30] Yeah. I think it is. I think you're right. It is up there. I would say my Biggest Tech Winner of 2024 is Perplexity.


Brian: [01:11:43] Oh nice. Yeah. Yeah.


Phillip: [01:11:46]  [01:11:46]This is the challenger to Google that everybody said TikTok was going to be. [01:11:52] I think that I've been using Perplexity nonstop, so much so that I'm now paying them and OpenAI $20 a month, which that's a whole thing we're gonna have to fix. Perplexity is bonkers good at relevancy and recency, and I am going there first for a lot of things that I go to Google for first.


Brian: [01:12:18] Wow.


Phillip: [01:12:19] When it comes to information and current events and follow on queries to something that I want to have a chat with, but I don't want the chat interface. It is extremely good. Also, they just raised a very large Series B. But my safe picks are Nvidia, Meta, and Midjourney.


Brian: [01:12:44] {laughter}


Phillip: [01:12:45] But Perplexity, I think, could be one of the biggest winners of the year. And by the way, I thought very seriously about other big tech that is releasing, other anticipated products in this category. This is a risky bet for me. I'm just choosing Perplexity based on it taking up a place in my habituation of search that I did not expect. And so quickly.


Brian: [01:13:10] It's good. No. That's huge. Very quickly. And you were a big OpenAI guy. The fact that Perplexity is taking up so much of your time. And again, we're in an attention economy. If your attention's turned to something else, then that's a win. I love those picks. I think those are great picks.


Phillip: [01:13:32] Yeah. Brian, can I play you on?


Brian: [01:13:35] Yeah. Play me on.


Phillip: [01:13:36] Alright, Brian. The Biggest Tech Winner, we have a little clip here.


Clip of Brian 2023: [01:13:45] {dreamy harp music} But, this year, looking ahead, I do think Microsoft's gonna do well. I think that they are making investments in smart places. They're diversified. Actually, all the same reasons I said Microsoft last year, I say Microsoft this year. Diversified, looking to the right places, building open ecosystems, investing in AI like crazy. I love Microsoft as a pick this year, I am all in on Microsoft. {dreamy harp music}


Phillip: [01:14:16] Oh, wait. No. I'm getting a note from the producers. What the heck? We have a 2nd pick from Brian from 2023.


Clip of Brian 2023: [01:14:26] {dreamy harp music} Microsoft looking good. My last one here, and I guess I'm just bullish on tech in general. This is gonna come out of nowhere. I'm gonna be a little contrarian voice here.


Clip of Phillip 2023: [01:14:34] Call your shot.


Brian: [01:14:36] I actually think this could be a bit of a comeback year for Meta. They've been dumped on so hard. They've taken so many hits on the chain. It's almost like, can it go lower? The answer is yes it can. However. However, I do believe that Meta has incredible talent on staff, and I think they're the kind of people that can actually architect to turn around and build something that's worth engaging in. Now I'm not saying Facebook is that thing, but they've got a bunch of other properties: WhatsApp, Instagram, a ton of other investments.


Clip of Phillip 2023: [01:15:24] Maybe TikTok in 2023. Who knows?


Clip of Brian 2023: [01:15:27] I don't know about that. But I think that they're actually, that's a really good point. That was one of the things I was thinking about as well. TikTok sort of hit a little bit of a wall, and Instagram's been very good at copying features of other social. {dreamy harp music}


Phillip: [01:15:43] You kinda went down a bunny trail there. I cut if off.


Brian: [01:15:45] Yeah.


Phillip: [01:15:45] But I will say this, Threads is... I'm using Threads on a daily basis now just by my, just to back you up on this.


Brian: [01:15:57] Yeah.


Phillip: [01:15:57] And I use Instagram now on a daily basis in the same way I used to use TikTok. TikTok is a cesspool of shop content and live content. TikTok for me is the enshittification of platform.


Brian: [01:16:14] Yes.


Phillip: [01:16:14] Instagram and Threads have become the daily drivers for me. So much so that freaking Brian, I bought Meta glasses. I mean, who would have seen that?


Brian: [01:16:25] Dude, and I'm gonna toot my own horn a little bit more here. When I said this...


Phillip: [01:16:30] It was so contrarian.


Brian: [01:16:32] Meta was at the bottom of the bottom when I said this.  [01:16:37]I feel extremely validated right now, and I'm gonna go ahead and take that victory lap here because it was like the opposite of every possible trend that you could have ever thought. [01:16:49]


Phillip: [01:16:49] I'd like to point out that on the day of our Predictions episode publication... So not when we recorded it, but the day we published it, which was January 14, 2023, the closing stock price of Meta platforms was 13698. Today, it is 36967. Is up a 120% year over year.


Brian: [01:17:15] Wild.


Phillip: [01:17:15] And if I have to point out, that date, January 14th, it had rallied already, I guess, from its lowest, from its bottom of 99. So it had come back just a hair, but it was at, basically, its 2nd lowest peak at that point in 5 years. So it was an extremely contrarian pick.


Brian: [01:17:42] There it is.


Phillip: [01:17:44] It's probably the greatest call of the year, period.


Brian: [01:17:50] It was a lucky pick.


Phillip: [01:17:53] It's called Future Commerce, Brian.


Brian: [01:17:55] It's called Future Commerce. No. I actually think the point about employees is really that's why I believed because they had hired really smart people. Meta is full of smart, smart people.


Phillip: [01:18:08] Brilliant people. Brilliant people.


Brian: [01:18:10] Yeah. And you can't stay down for too long when you're loaded with that much talent. I believe...


Phillip: [01:18:17] Yeah. I'm sorry. I cannot believe that you got this right. Also, people love to hero worship. They love it. People want someone to root for. And when Elon has a had the fall from grace, for whatever reason, the carnivore MMA fighting weirdo that Mark Zuckerberg is was there to pick up the pieces and be like, "Yo, Threads is pretty cool." How did he? That image turnaround is wild to me.


Brian: [01:18:54] It is.


Phillip: [01:18:55] Unbelievable. And he's ripped.


Brian: [01:18:56] He's ripped. I mean, money I mean, all the billionaires get ripped except for Elon, I guess.


Phillip: [01:19:02] I think it's jujitsu, not MMA, but whatever. It all counts. He's supposedly gonna fight in the gladiator ring. I hope that happens. Definitely not gonna happen, but I hope it does. What a nutcase.


Brian: [01:19:15] Here's this year. You ready for this year?


Phillip: [01:19:17] I am so ready.


Brian: [01:19:18] Okay. Shopify, continued growth. I think that they are going... They've made again, back to the hiring and talent thing. I think they've made some great investments in talent. They have really struggled in the enterprise in the past. They've made, like, two or three forays or something like that. They had one to two forays into the enterprise prior to the announcement last January, and this time, I feel like the investment is real. They've changed the rules. They changed the game. They didn't have, I think, enough knowledge for how the enterprise worked in the past, and they didn't know how to make investments in it. I think that's changed, and they're investing in actual enterprise marketers, enterprise sellers, and enterprise thinking around how to go to market. Harley and Tobi have both done a great job also of networking at the highest level, and then I know that sounds insane, but having network, at that level, it does make a difference. It does make a difference in enterprise purchasing. And so I see them, and it's also kinda the last place for them to conquer. They've basically conquered down market commerce. They've conquered it. That was part of my call for last year is that I saw a lot of brands graduating from the Etsy world to an actual Shopify presence, and I think that they've done it. They've saturated. They're peak saturation for that down market world, and they're gonna keep too, and there's not really anyone that's I see that's gonna really threaten it. They might lose some attrition as some of those shops kind of graduate to what's next, but it doesn't really matter because they don't need to necessarily graduate Shopify Plus when Shopify Plus is gonna go take market share from traditional eCommerce players, the Oracles, SAPs of the world. And I actually think that's gonna happen for real. As 2023 continues to be a a choppy moment for retail, budgets are gonna continue to be examined. And as the direct to consumer channel gets reevaluated, or at least the eCom channel gets reevaluated, there are a lot of larger retailers and larger brands even that have bloated and attacked their eCom channel in all of the old ways. And they're gonna have to rethink. And then when they hire new blood, the new blood's gonna come in and be like, "Why do we have all these people? Why aren't we replacing them with technology?"


Phillip: [01:22:06] "Why aren't we replacing them with AI? Why why isn't the AI sidekick doing all of this work for us?"


Brian: [01:22:13] Yeah, I see them winning there still.


Phillip: [01:22:16] The data backs it up for what it's worth. Not only did Shopify have a monster year, 36% year over year gross profit growth, revenue up 25% year over year.


Brian: [01:22:30] Stock price up over a 100%. Was actually one of my other calls. It didn't get into the clip, but I called Shopify as a winner from last year.


Phillip: [01:22:39] Yes you did.


Brian: [01:22:40] Yeah.


Phillip: [01:22:40] But I think their future proofing capability, by the way, a lot of analysts consensus on continued growth for Shopify. Price target set up is As high as a 125, and they are giving upward guidance for 2024. So that seems pretty favorable. A lot of people think that favorable macroeconomic conditions are good for them, but here's where I think they're really future proofing. I think that their language shift is very telling, Brian, to not be talking about eCommerce as much as they are talking about the entrepreneur. And so the future of Shopify, it looks a lot more like, what are the products and services that can help the entrepreneur who, yes, has some eCommerce, but they have other things and other challenges in running their business. Like, maybe the LegalZoom competitor of the future looks a lot more like Shopify.


Brian: [01:23:41] Yeah. That's good.


Phillip: [01:23:41] Right? And that's where having a toolkit of services and products, that could be the acquisition target or that could be the trajectory of maybe the future of legal and business formation, maybe a Stripe merger with Shopify makes a lot more sense because they can...


Brian: [01:24:00] I love this. Plays into my next prediction or future prediction.


Phillip: [01:24:03] They can roll the LLC, they can roll...


Brian: [01:24:06] Yeah.


Phillip: [01:24:06] They've created APIs for creating corporations and legal definitions corporations in a way, that I think maybe businesses really could use that. And I think there's so much entrepreneur headaches around software management and this needing to consolidate software solutions. There's something that I've been thinking about is, like, well, AngelList has done a bunch of this, but there's other companies like Cap Table Management software, like Carta, that Shopify could come in and completely disrupt. That's the thing that Stripe did so well is create products that developers love to use, and developers were entrepreneurs of the 2010s. Okay. Sorry. I just had to add all that on because I felt like it was all... It undergirds your point in a very important way.


Brian: [01:25:00] That's good. Can I make another wild prediction?


Phillip: [01:25:04] Yeah. Of course, you can. It's a predictions episode, and we're only at 1 hour and 23 minutes in. So we've got all the time in the world, Brian.


Brian: [01:25:10] Alright. This is gonna feel so icky to some people, but I actually believe that Elon Musk is going to have a a bit of a comeback year. You know what I where I stand on Elon.


Phillip: [01:25:29] This is wild to me. Yeah.


Brian: [01:25:30] I know. I was an early Elon hater. Again, when he was probably out of his height of popularity, and Tesla was going through the roof. I said I'm done with Elon Musk, and I think his character sort of played out in that. Here is what I think. Elon is a wild and bold thinker, who transcends what is socially acceptable. And in even my ethical bounds, I don't think that Elon's a very ethical...


Phillip: [01:26:08] You can say all of that again.


Brian: [01:26:10] Uh-huh. Yep. What I did see out of Elon recently, were a couple interviews where I think he's eating a little bit of humble pie. What I love about someone who's eating a little bit of humble pie that is as wild of a thinker as Elon is, is that it forces them to rethink what they're doing a little bit and reinvigorate and go after things in a new way. And so what I believe, you know, Elon's been on the brink of bankruptcy before. Him being down is not an uncommen story for him. He's not afraid of being down, but what it does is it often ends up producing some of his best work. So I'm not necessarily endorsing Elon as a person or endorsing, you know, even maybe the success of X. But the idea of of a super app existing at some point is something that I do believe is possible. So I do think this is I'm gonna mark this moment. Maybe it's not 2024, but I do see Elon getting down to the bottom and then working his way back out starting in 2024.


Phillip: [01:27:20] That is a wild prediction. Maybe that bridges over to Biggest Tech Loser of 2024. Last year, I said Twitter. Wow.


Brian: [01:27:31] Winner.


Phillip: [01:27:32] Winner winner. X dinner. But I would like to I think this year... It was kind of a safe pick, to be honest with you, because people were already...


Brian: [01:27:47] Already dumping pretty hard on it.


Phillip: [01:27:48] Already. You know? Yeah. I think when Elon marched in carrying a kitchen sink, it was, I think people yeah. I think there was, like, October of '22 that people were already over it.


Brian: [01:28:01] I think Twitter was already in a really bad spot when Elon walked in the door. Like, it was from a... Yes.


Phillip: [01:28:08] But I would say, if for people that listen to All In, and I guess I'm outing myself here. You know, I went to the summit. I listened to it with frequency. But I think that there's a a sense of he is kind of at the forefront. And while Twitter may have fared fine from a product perspective by cutting a bunch of staff, what happened to the rest of the industry is they used that as a moment to also cut and trim the fluff.


Brian: [01:28:42] Totally.


Phillip: [01:28:43] And he was at the beginning of those very deep and heavy cuts and changing the culture from you know, there's no company that pandered greater to this idea of, I guess he is at the beginning of what 2023 might be remembered as the anti DEI sort of movement. And the anti woke movement. And Twitter was the center and locus of control of both of those things. And he changed that whole culture whether you like it or not, whether it's good or not.


Brian: [01:29:20] Yeah.


Phillip: [01:29:20] It's a very different team culture now. And a lot of Silicon Valley's followed suit. Okay. My Biggest Tech Loser of 2024 besides Elon Musk because he's a loser. No. My Biggest Tech Loser of 2024, I'm calling micro SaaS.


Brian: [01:29:41] I lovee this. This is good.


Phillip: [01:29:43] The day of point solution plugins, subscription, eCom SaaS in particular, but any micro SaaS is long gone. I think that's because the larger software suites are having a lot of price competition right now that are driving their own prices down. Some big names in the eCommerce space are releveling pricing to be more competitive, especially in the Shopify ecosystem. So I think that micro SaaS is the loser there because you would probably rather have a suite with one hand to shake and bundle a lot of services that are kind of 70 to 80% of what you want as opposed to, you know, a bunch of these point solutions that are all very their own little ecosystem.


Brian: [01:30:41] So you're pro the Bloomreaches and Klaviyos right now. The ones that have picked up a bunch of... The ones that I've bundled back. Yeah.


Phillip: [01:30:48] Yeah. Sure. But I also think that they have another directional challenge. And I think that AI software development makes the average developer capable of delivering as good of or decent enough experiences that custom dev makes a comeback in such a way that tech... The idea that you use a plug in for everything might actually be no longer a necessity or reality.


Brian: [01:31:18] I think you're dead on. It's so good. This could be the year that headless commerce, the custom build, the custom engagement using open source software comes back in kind of a new way. Using AI to help facilitate that and make it way more efficient is a really, really interesting prediction.


Phillip: [01:31:37] In the productivity, just the productivity piece of it alone is that one developer can be 20 to 30% more productive, and that would cause I don't know. It caused a lot of people to rethink the way that they're building software versus just adopting and clicking, especially when these companies keep raising their prices. Anyway, that's the thought. You know, I considered others. I considered, like, Apple as a loser. I think Apple has a lot of problems. I think Apple has a lot of problems. They can't sell their Apple Watch in the United States right now. They're about to have to democratize their app store. They're betting the farm on spatial computing, which seems like a 4 to 5 year horizon before anything really happens there. I could be wrong. I do think that you'll hear about spatial computing here in a minute. Maybe. But I don't think that Apple as a tech loser ever makes sense.


Brian: [01:32:48] Right. They have a money printing machine.


Phillip: [01:32:52] Yeah. I think they're gonna be just fine at the end of the day. Also, you know, the streaming platform, there's a lot of things that could be existential risks for Apple, but they got a ton of money in the bank. They'll be just fine. I think this is the year that micro SaaS starts to take a little bit of a decline, a tumble.


Brian: [01:33:14] Yeah. I think that's right. Last year, my Biggest Tech Loser was nobody. I said tech's back, baby. And I was right. Tech had insane growth this year, from a top to stock perspective. A lot of turnarounds. It really struggled in 2022. And 2023 it just crushed in general. And, I mean, Twitter, notwithstanding, tech did well. Tech did really well in 2023. This year, I think that your prediction's on point. I think tech is still gonna have success this year though because we're gonna continue to look for ways to continue to automate things. I see tech as this could be a strong year for tech again, actually, in general. I think Apple will be fine. I think that Microsoft will be fine. I think Meta is gonna be okay. This is generally gonna be a pretty decent year. I've got a really, really, really wild prediction on this though for the true loser. It's not a true loser. I think OpenAI is gonna have a tough year. I know that's pretty contrary. It's just, like you said, there's a lot of other tools out there. We see Facebook going a different direction. I heard someone recently say, like, "Why am I paying for OpenAI when I can go use Bing for free?"


Phillip: [01:34:53] Wow. I wanna meet that person.


Brian: [01:34:54] Uh-huh.


Phillip: [01:34:55] That's funny. Wow.


Brian: [01:34:56] Google's just laid off people, not in their AI division. They're going all in. There's a lot of people coming out of them. They may be the sacrificial lamb for gen AI. I could see that happening. That said, I don't think it's for everything. I don't think they're gonna disappear. I don't think it's gonna be like, we're out of business moment. I think it's gonna be a, "We need to figure out how to do enterprise selling better. We need to figure out use cases for this." They're not gonna win just on the consumer purchase, and that's gonna take a minute for them to figure out. AI could experience a little bit of a trough or disillusionment from certain players out there, while other players continue to build on it, it's not gonna be the trough of disillusionment like some other tech that we've seen. It's not gonna hit that hard. We're already seeing it integrated into everything so much. Microsoft is integrating it into everything. Google's gonna integrate it into everything. But the ways that it's being implemented by OpenAI in particular, I just think there's too much competition, and I think that there's gonna be a tough moment.


Phillip: [01:36:20] We will see. We will see. Alright. We have a lot left here. I think some of this is gonna actually wind up falling into some After Dark content. But I do wanna get through a couple extra...


Brian: [01:36:35] We can run through these next ones fast.


Phillip: [01:36:37] I think some things that are on the horizon, we talked a bit about this in the other the sort of longer view predictions podcast. The 1st podcast of the year that we did, which at the time of this recording comes out tomorrow. So the one that immediately precedes this podcast, my pick for the most interesting trend of 2023 was artificial intelligence. I said GPT3, maybe Google's GPT killer. This year, I'm gonna pick spatial computing, and I think the obvious reason is the Vision Pro. The Apple Vision Pro is going to be an inflection point for that company and for an entire ecosystem that is just ready for a device revolution, We are seeing this mimesis right now, Brian, of people saying "Bring back color phones with physical buttons and weird gadgets," and, like, "I want my phone to be something different. I'm bored," and I think spatial computing, VR, XR is that different thing. So I think spatial computing will be the most interesting trend of 2024.


Brian: [01:37:58] I like that. What did you say last year again? It was OpenAI. I said the same thing.


Phillip: [01:38:02] AI, GPT 3, and Google, and GPT killer.


Brian: [01:38:05] It was really obvious. It come out, like, a month prior and had already blown up so much.


Phillip: [01:38:10] That's right. Yeah.


Brian: [01:38:10] It ended up being even wilder than we even thought it would be.


Phillip: [01:38:13] Totally.


Brian: [01:38:15] For wild trends this year, I think, spatial computing is a good choice. Or I should say most interesting trend. I think I was gonna save this. I'm gonna just combine my Biggest News Story of 2024 plus Most Interesting Trend of 2024, which is I'm gonna see some really wild mergers this year, like wild mergers. I kinda hinted this in our first Senses of the year. You're gonna have to get above the noise this year in order to have anyone pay attention to you, and I think that a lot of smart business leaders know that we're in the attention economy, and they're gonna have to do something if they wanna stay relevant. It's gonna have to be big. So I expect to see something crazy go down like Microsoft acquires Adobe or something insane at sort of a groundbreaking level. I think Stripe and Shopify merger, that would qualify.


Phillip: [01:39:29] Yeah. That qualifies. Yeah. The only thing going against both of us in that prediction is that it looks like Lina Khan, is not playing that game. They're like, the FTC will probably never allow these big mergers to happen.


Brian: [01:39:48] It might happen in the later part of the year.


Phillip: [01:39:50] The later part. {laughter}


Brian: [01:39:55] {laughter} Could be announced. FTC is gonna have a tough time shutting these down if if there's a new FTC administration coming in. It's interesting which companies have got away with some of these acquisitions as well. But, yeah, I think you're right.


Phillip: [01:40:16] The Microsoft Activision being the exception to the rule.


Brian: [01:40:19] They made it through. It made it through. Right. Yeah. And I think some of these are gonna be hard to argue against as well. Microsoft and Adobe don't have that many computing products. I'm not sure that's gonna be the one, but I think we're gonna see some of these figures.


Phillip: [01:40:34] Adobe Figma being squashed which is the sort of the reason why people might say that that particular one you're calling out... I think you're you're saying something big.


Brian: [01:40:43] No. I'm bringing that up as like an example. I'm not saying that's the one. But I don't have any predictions about which ones it will be, but I think we're gonna see a few extremely large mergers. Weird wild stuff that people...


Phillip: [01:40:58] I love that. Weird wild stuff. That's an old Ed McMahon reference. If you're old enough to even know who that is.


Brian: [01:41:04] I don't even know who that is.


Phillip: [01:41:05] Oh my gosh, Brian. Okay. Alright. So then I would say, if we're kinda blending these then, I think the Biggest News Story of 2024... So last year, I said that Russia and the Ukraine war would be the biggest story, and, wow, there's so many other news stories, I think, that took precedence. Gaza.


Brian: [01:41:32] I did call it political for last year.


Phillip: [01:41:36] I think what you call Taylor Swift was a bigger news story than the Ukraine war. That's the state of where we are.


Brian: [01:41:43] Gosh. Can I say something about that really quickly?


Phillip: [01:41:45] Sure.


Brian: [01:41:47] I doubt this is intentional, but Russia's played a very long game here, and maybe this was Putin's endgame all along is to get to a point where the American news cycle and Americans are just tired of hearing about what's going on. Honestly, like, there's a hype cycle to war narrative as well.


Phillip: [01:42:14] That's true.


Brian: [01:42:14] There's the instant reactions, and then there's the long game. And there's two different things.


Phillip: [01:42:24] So true. Well, let me give you my Biggest News Story of 2024. And I'm going deep on this one. Alright? I'm gonna say that deepfakes become the Biggest News Story of 2024. And I say that because we see two signals that to me, the election being one of them. There was a a viral Trump campaign that was Midjourney imagery, video that kinda went around is, "This is Biden's America." I think that's the first of the political ads that came out in early part of 2023 that was AI inspired. But there have been multiple celebrity scams using deepfakes. The first of which, that made The Senses newsletter this year was, Mr Beast. There was a giveaway scam, that I wrote about, in an article called, Being Abovee Reproach is the Only Defense Against Deepfakes. And then there was one that just happened this week that I will write about tomorrow in The Senses, about Taylor Swift becoming a celebrity spokesperson for Le Creuset. Which is a wild mashup, but that's a thing that seems plausible. And I wouldn't put it past her. It seems weird, but I wouldn't put it past her. And so these are things that in a certain environment, especially in charged political environments, things that seem fantastical are believable. And that's where I think the year of the deepfake is 2024.


Brian: [01:44:19] Or even not fantastical. And this is the thing. There was that whole thing that went around with Taylor's kitchen, and there was an espresso machine in it.


Phillip: [01:44:27] That's right. Yeah.


Brian: [01:44:28] Why wouldn't Le Creuset fall into that category? In fact, you could probably use a mix of reality and deep fake where it's like, yeah, Taylor actually does have Le Creuset in her kitchen, and you can see in the pictures. And you can add credibility to deepfakes through real reality. I think that there's a whole thing about that, this year.


Phillip: [01:44:58] Yeah. Totally.


Brian: [01:44:59] So it doesn't even have to be the fantastical. It can be things that are actually entirely believable that don't feel off point, but are not true. And that's the feeling off point versus true thing is where we're gonna get into trouble because extending reality and let alone and this gets really interesting, legitimate uses of deep fakes to promote messages and ideas. So their endorsed deepfakes were official deepfakes.


Phillip: [01:45:36] Oh, that is an amazing prediction. Yeah, like I don't have time to film this ad. It's the political endorsement of I approve this message?


Brian: [01:45:53] Yeah.


Phillip: [01:45:54] Right?


Brian: [01:45:54] Uh-huh. Yes.


Phillip: [01:45:55] For the deepfake. Correct. That is brilliant. Yeah.


Brian: [01:45:58] So I think your wild story for the year or Biggest News Trend for the year is correct.


Phillip: [01:46:06] But what you're hinting at, I was thinking about it completely differently, and I love your perspective here. What you're talking about validates it as a communication medium.


Brian: [01:46:23] Right.


Phillip: [01:46:23] It validates it as a legitimate way of increasing the productivity of talent, like on camera talent. And that is incredible.


Brian: [01:46:35] If technology is an extension of humanity, and I will mention Marshall McLuhan, which it is, then this seems like a very obvious way to extend ourselves.


Phillip: [01:46:47] Yeah. This is an extension of your face. Yeah. It's almost like how have we not done this yet?


Brian: [01:46:54] Yes. In fact, I think it actually has been done. It's just been very much in the background. Yep. Yeah. Very quietly.


Phillip: [01:47:01] Max head room is the great...


Brian: [01:47:03] No. I mean, it's the AI girlfriend or whatever. We talked about this a little bit. The legitimate use of the deepfake, AI-driven deepfake, or AI-driven body data usage.


Phillip: [01:47:17] It's funny because I think there's so many trends that you could name. And this is the thing that maybe we just kinda need to fast forward. We're gonna continue to see Luddism. People are gonna be Luddites.


Brian: [01:47:37] That's actually the thing I wanted to talk about at the end.


Phillip: [01:47:40] Oh, sorry. Sorry. Okay. Yeah.


Brian: [01:47:42] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. No. That's my big... The design design trends, they did sort of the vibe for the year that I feel like is coming in general is, this idea that technology needs to be removed in many ways or integrated more seamlessly. So the design center that I see coming is removing tech from the foreground. Even if you're not a Luddite, you wanna kind of appear you're not tech obsessed. Gadgets will play into this because they can be designed into things more.


Phillip: [01:48:27] Luddism is a horseshoe because it is tech obsession, but the other way.


Brian: [01:48:36] Kind of. Yeah. Exactly. I have a really fun, someone needs to just take this and run with it, but a fun, viral idea for content, which would be to catalog all the ways that you can have a career without using software that are remaining in the world or in America. There aren't many left. So if you are gonna be a new Luddite, the new Luddism, the new tech rebellion, which I do think is going to continue to be a counterculture this year, you may not be able to avoid it. So you're gonna find ways to minimize how it appears in your life, and you may actually have it all integrated into everything you do. It's just not gonna be as obvious. Yeah. Interesting.


Phillip: [01:49:34] I think on that trend, all the things that hang off of it and all the discourse that hangs off of it has to come along for the ride. Right? So when you're thinking about so you mentioned a design trend that would be an outgrowth of this. I would say almost like maybe a design trend or even a fashion trend that hangs off of it is things that remind you of the world before we had so much technology.


Brian: [01:50:02] Right.


Phillip: [01:50:02] So it is nostalgia, but it is a very specific era of nostalgia. It's brands that also feel nostalgic because they haven't really had a lot of cultural heat in the era of the last, like the iPhone era. So it's Puma over Nike or Adidas. And I think that the design trends also have to hearken back to pre a sort of a renaissance in itself. So a fine art trend coming back and fine art becoming much more fashionable is its own, you know, this thing I would call art core. And, you see it a bit actually, where you have this,if the prevailing culture of the time right now is pixelated, look at Louis Vuitton


Brian: [01:51:01] Yep.


Phillip: [01:51:01] And the Pharrell collection. Right?


Brian: [01:51:04] Yeah.


Phillip: [01:51:06] Look at Loewe And their, their collection from last year that was, the pixelated tops. [01:51:14] If the prevailing culture is digitally obsessed, Yeah. And the counterculture [01:51:18]


Brian: [01:51:19]  [01:51:19]Yes.


Phillip: [01:51:20]  [01:51:20]Right, will be analog obsessed. And that is I think it's inescapable because it's already happening. [01:51:28]


Brian: [01:51:28] Yes. This is exactly where I feel we're headed as well. This is why I think lit, books, you know, getting back to things that are paper. Barnes and Noble, The Rise of Barnes and Noble from the ashes. The Phoenix. The independent bookstore. You know, I think we're on the exact same wavelength. I did sort of call this last year. I don't think it fully hit. I'd said classical elements. I didn't really know what to call it. Last year, I said classical elements would start to hit, hits design, but it kinda self manifested for Muses a little bit there because feel like Jesse's always ahead of things. He nailed it. I saw some other designs recently as well. I think I texted a few of them to myself just to remember, but there's a few others out there that I saw that are starting to incorporate classical elements or art core elements into what they do. I will say this. I do think there's gonna be that. In fashion, specifically, I think there's a little bit of the renaissance of the metrosexual.


Phillip: [01:52:46] Timing would be really right. Although, I thought your whole thing was burlycore.


Brian: [01:52:51] No. No. I'm bringing that back. I think burlycore has its place. It's very countercultural. Burlycore is me, and maybe some some of the Ludds out there, coming along for the ride, Mark Zuckerberg and his friends maybe. There's gonna be a little bit of a a fashion trend towards like that early 2000 metrosexual, sort of look. Maybe it's not called metrosexual, but just like that kind of v neck sweaters and bright colors, and the whole thing from back then.


Phillip: [01:53:34] I mean, the formal trend is coming back. Right? It's like loafers over sneakers, and then maybe it's menswear...


Brian: [01:53:44] That was my call for last year. Yeah.


Phillip: [01:53:46] I mean, who had a better 2023 than menswear guy?


Brian: [01:53:50] Yeah.


Phillip: [01:53:51] On Twitter. You're a 100% right. And I called this in the new formal, back in 2020.


Brian: [01:53:57] Yes. You did. Streetwear's out. Formal in. That's what I actually said that in our last one, 2004 Indy is what I said. Formal elements coming back.


Phillip: [01:54:07] Which is not good for me because I have way too many sneakers. Okay. Can I take one victory lap before we get to the wrap?


Brian: [01:54:16] I wish we had a full 2 hours here. Oh, wait. It's full 2 hours already.


Phillip: [01:54:21] This is now officially our longest podcast ever.


Brian: [01:54:24] It is. Yeah.


Phillip: [01:54:25] Okay. Let me play my prediction. This is was an oddball prediction that I made last year that seemed crazy at the time.


Clip of Phillip 2023: [01:54:38] {dreamy harp music} This is a thing that started out as a diabetes treatment, and we're seeing a lot of people being prescribed Ozempic. It has made the rounds on my Twitter because it was featured in an All In podcast recently. Jason Calacanis sort of copped to being on Ozempic, and that created a discourse of 20 people on my Twitter saying, "Oh, I've been on Ozempic and it's..." So I think it's really interesting how maybe that's been quite common over the past two years. People are just now coming clean that they've been using this, and it seems to be a "miracle drug." {dreamy harp music}


Brian: [01:55:20] Dude, it was just absolutely prescient. You just you killed it.


Phillip: [01:55:25] Right at like, right before it exploded on to the mainstream, too. I think, and again okay. Consider the source. I do think that we're in a really interesting... We're on the same chasm or the precipice of the next revolution. We started in 2016, and you were really excited about CRISPR and the the possibilities of CRISPR. I don't know if you remember early podcast in the 2016 era.


Brian: [01:56:00] Oh I do.


Phillip: [01:56:00] You were talking about CRISPR a lot. Well, this year, the very first FDA approved therapy, gene therapy, Casgevy, was approved and it is a sickle cell anemia treatment, for people with sickle cell disease, 12 years of age and older. And, it is the very 1st FDA approved gene therapy of its kind. Here's the wild thing. There is a graphic which I will find and we will put into the show notes. Doctor Nicole Palk gave a presentation at the All In Summit of a radar graph of how far away from a timeline perspective we are from various gene therapies being approved where this is the first one. We are about three years away. So this year, seven or eight new gene therapies will be approved.


Phillip: [01:57:00] Next year, we will have five or six more. But in three years, we will have hundreds. And we are at a new dawn of the kinds of things that you'll be able to do. Ozempic's just the beginning. It is not a gene therapy, but Ozempic is the beginning of you don't have to be fat if you don't want to. You will not have to have gray hair or a bald head or bushy eyebrows or bad eyesight if you do not want to by the time your, Brian and my kids are in high school. By the time our kids are graduating into college, there will be a radically new world that they will walk into because of gene therapies, and these are things that are it's metabolic. It's dermatologic. It's neuro neurologic. It it's happening in every sector. This is an incredible chart, by the way, produced by Siren and Wells Fargo, and we'll post it in the show notes. It's bonkers. But that's why I think gene therapies is an incredibly important thing to be tracking in 2024.


Brian: [01:58:09] I love that as a prediction. I think that it's gonna have a huge effect in the coming years. I think that you're probably you're probably just a little early, but I think not by much. Like, by the end of the year, people are... There's gonna be some serious rumblings around this. I think you're dead on. I mean, I guess we should probably leave it there. There's so much more we could talk about. We didn't even get to everything.


Phillip: [01:58:34] But Hey. After Dark's coming up. If you're not subscribed to Future Commerce After Dark, you should be. I believe we will probably make the first After Dark of the year episode, available for everyone on the main feed, as a little gift, and also to market the fact that we have exclusive content. But you should subscribe anyway so that you can save on discount, for merch and print, and you'll need that for the Muses Journal that just came out from Future Commerce. You can get the Muses Bundle atshop.FutureCommerce.com, for 15% off if you subscribe to Future Commerce Plus. Go join the membership, get exclusive invites to events and save some discount on print and merch. And, hey, get that exclusive ad free episodes of the podcast and this After Dark that's coming up where we'll have the rest of these predictions and a little bit more. All of that in one place at the Future Commerce Plus Membership, go get it at PutureCommerce.com/plus. Brian, Happy New Year, man.


Brian: [01:59:34] Happy New Year.


Phillip: [01:59:35] What an episode. My gosh.


Brian: [01:59:38] Wow. Our longest episode of all time. No breaking this one up. This one's going straight to the feed. 2 hours.


Phillip: [01:59:44] Wonderful. Well, thank you all for listening to Future Commerce. You can find more episodes of the podcast at FutureCommerce.com. Drop us a line at hello@FutureCommerce.com. And if you wanna support the show, you can do so by leaving us a 5 star review. Apple Podcasts and Spotify, go and find all of that. All the links, all the necessary information, and our newsletter that comes out three times a week, FutureCommerce.com. Hey. Now the future is very bright, Brian. Cheers to 2024.

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