👁 Embar-a-go-go

This means [economic] war
March 9, 2022

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The Era of Corporate Governance / More suspension in Russia. We’re compiling a running list of corporate actions and economic sanctions in Russia. Here are some from this week’s news that have meaningful impact: 

The Kremlin in turn have replied, noting that the U.S. have declared an effective economic war on Russia, ominously adding that the States should “expect a response.”

Editor’s note: it should be noted that in prior economic conflicts, the battle quickly moves online, to information warfare. The Sony Pictures hack was in response to the U.S. allowing Sony to distribute The Interview, which was critical of then-leader Kim Jong-un. The U.S. Cybercommand believes the North Korean Hacker Army to have been behind numerous other hacks and leaks, including nearly $400M in stolen cryptocurrency over the past two years.

Hacking groups with ties to Russia are already mobilized against eCommerce. Russian-language “carding forums” — where stolen cards are brokered and sold en masse — are often the marketplace where hacker groups go to peddle their wares, most notably tied to a series of hacks on self-hosted sites like open source shopping carts. Magecart, a group of attacks targeting Magento and other popular cart software, has been a popular attack vector where card skimmers gain consumer data in bulk. The practice has been observed by data security research firm RiskIQ since 2015, and has affected notable companies like Amazon, British Airways, and Ticketmaster.

Crypto News. President Biden has begun the move toward putting cryptocurrency regulations into place with an executive order he signed today. 

More Sights & Sounds. Don’t call it a conversational commerce comeback yet — Microsoft has acquired Nuance, a voice and speech tech company. “One click but make it for hotels” startup Selfbook is now valued at $300 million after its last round of funding. Thinx will soon be on the shelves at Walmart. Volkswagen is bringing back its microbus in 2024 as an all-electric van, dubbed ID. Buzz. And Disney may be adding an ad-supported version of Disney+ in the U.S. 

Note: Thinx and Tushy co-founder Miki Agrawal will be on the Future Commerce podcast this Friday for a rather sh*tty conversation about building brands for the “down there” region. It’s a fun conversation and we get deep into it… subscribe on Spotify to catch the action.

Shred back, honky cat/Benny and the skate decks. Elton John is the newest face of—streetwear? As part of a capsule collection collab with Palace, the musical legend known for his eclectic style will be featured on tees and even a skateboard deck.

Sweatpants 5-Eva. Lululemon steps into the sneaker space in a bid to further compete with Nike and Adidas. Meanwhile, Fabletics announced plans to open 30 new stores this year.

Do the New Dew. Coming in May to a Buffalo Wild Wings near you, is an all new exclusive MTN DEW flavor: MTN DEW Legend. It’s no Cluck Bucket, but if Tommy want wingy, Tommy can can get wingy and also a MTN DEW Legend.

“Sweet, but not so much green as it is red”. Sweetgreen reported that 67% of their Q4 revenue came from digitals sales through their website and their app. The Street applauded their growth with a healthy 16% gain in stock price, but the company has yet to become profitable, chopping up $66M of losses in the most recent quarter, bringing the total to more than $153M year to date. That’s… a lot.

Democratic Deepfakes. In South Korea, presidential candidate Yoon Suk-yeol is using an avatar to show his human side. Known as AI Yoon, the digital likeness is more witty and approachable than regular Yoon. Both Yoons are working together to capture the votes of younger crowds.

More reading required: Virtual celebrities, especially dead celebrities, are connecting more now with consumers than in prior eras. Openness to streaming platforms, immersive storytelling, and social media, all provide tools to “world build” the depth of a virtual celeb — or, “veleb”. 

When we wrote Insiders #59, Virtual Influencers Killed the Dead Celebrity, little did we realize that this would soon extend to politics.

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