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The startup boom isn't over yet...
January 19, 2023 View Online | Sign Up | Shop

Morning Brew

Masterworks

Good morning. The countdown to economic catastrophe has officially begun . The US will hit its debt ceiling today, though Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said she'll implement "extraordinary measures" to keep the government from defaulting on its debt until probably early June.

Still, June isn't that far away, and Congress needs to work out a deal pronto to raise the government's borrowing cap and avert almost assured economic turmoil and market chaos.

What were we saying again? Oh yeah, good morning.

—Max Knoblauch, Jamie Wilde, Matty Merritt, Abby Rubenstein, Neal Freyman

MARKETS

Nasdaq

10,957.01

S&P

3,928.86

Dow

33,296.96

10-Year

3.363%

Bitcoin

$20,762.78

Kraft Heinz

$39.66

*Stock data as of market close, cryptocurrency data as of 3:00am ET. Here's what these numbers mean.

  • Markets: Stocks tanked yesterday, with the Dow plunging, the S&P having its worst day since mid-December, and the Nasdaq coming down from a seven-day rally. As investors started heeding recession signals again after new data revealed weak retail sales during the holiday season last month, companies that sell consumer staples were hit especially hard.
 

ENTREPRENEURSHIP

The pandemic's entrepreneurial boom isn't over yet

Mark Cuban on Shark Tank Shark Tank/ABC Network via Giphy

At the rate Americans are creating new businesses, Shark Tank is going to need to increase its episode count by about 4,000 to keep up with demand. More than 5 million new business applications were filed in 2022, according to the latest data from the US Census Bureau.

About 14,000 new business applications were filed in the US every day last year—although it's still too soon to know how many of those aspiring Scrub Daddies will actually make it off the ground.

Whether this represents a testament to the country's entrepreneurial spirit, an indictment of 9-to-5s, or simply a case of everyone seeing the same TikTok about the tax benefits of forming an LLC, it's a sign that the pandemic-era startup boom may be here to stay.

And it was quite a boom

Despite the vast number of Steve Jobs biopics that hyped up building a company from your garage, the US was actually experiencing a 40-year decline in entrepreneurship before the pandemic, per the NYT. But then things changed: The number of new businesses created in 2020 increased by 24% from 2019 to 4.3 million as laid-off workers found their savings accounts boosted by stimulus payments and a bull market. Also helpful: rock-bottom interest rates.

  • The trend continued in 2021, ballooning to 5.4 million applications.

And now we know that the swell continued into 2022. But some areas saw more growth than others. The Southern US has had a 53% increase in new businesses since 2019, with the most growth coming from Florida and Texas, per Bloomberg analysis. New England, on the other hand, is falling below the national average.

Looking ahead…we'll have to wait and see if these businesses thrive and the trend continues in 2023. A looming potential recession, high inflation, and personal savings dropping to near 60-year lows (per the Bureau of Economic Analysis) all signal turbulence ahead for new companies, which already have a roughly 50% failure rate during good economic times.—MK

        

TOGETHER WITH MASTERWORKS

Which platform delivered millions to investors in 2022?

Masterworks

In the same year everyday investors lost a whopping $350b, Masterworks had its best year ever. Their 9 art sales returned $25.8 million to investors—a record amount. Talk about a happy new year…

So, what did investors do with their cash? Charter a yacht in Ibiza? Finally close on that Alpaca farm? Maybe save a little? Naaaah.

Either way, Masterworks wants to do the same thing for you. This fintech unicorn is unlocking an asset class that was once available only to billionaires.

To kick off the new year, Masterworks is inviting Morning Brew readers to open a free, no-obligation account today. Isn't it time you check them out?

WORLD

Tour de headlines

The Microsoft logo David Becker/Getty Images

Tech layoffs continue. Microsoft announced plans to cut 10,000 employees yesterday, and Amazon began a round of layoffs that will impact 18,000 people. These are just the latest layoffs at tech companies, many of which have begun thinning their ranks after rapidly expanding during the pandemic now that they're facing rising interest rates, smaller digital ad budgets, and less consumer spending. According to the tracker Layoffs.fyi, the sector shed more than 154,000 jobs in 2022 and has already cut around ~37,500 this year.

Ukraine helicopter crash kills 14. Ukraine's Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskyi, who oversaw police and security forces, was among those who died when a helicopter crashed into a kindergarten in a Kyiv suburb yesterday. Monastyrskyi is the highest ranking Ukrainian official to die since Russia invaded the country. Ukraine said it had not yet determined if the crash, which occurred in dense fog, was caused by an attack or an accident.

The Avengers are going back to China. Disney said it will release two Marvel films in China in February, ending what amounted to a three-year ban on the franchise by the country's censors that likely cost the studio hundreds of millions of dollars. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania will be the first Marvel movies to open in China, the world's second-largest movie market, since 2019—a sign that China may be easing its restrictions for new Hollywood films.

FASHION

Shein's valuation about as sturdy as its clothes

Shein shopping bag. Yuichi Yamazaki/Getty Images

Not even the empire built on $5 dresses with weird cutouts has been spared from investors' newfound skepticism toward exorbitant tech company valuations. Shein, the fast-fashion retailer that bills itself as a tech firm, is looking to raise $3 billion more from its existing investors at a $64 billion valuation—a sharp drop from the $100 billion valuation the company had in April, according to the Financial Times.

Fast rise: Shein grew rapidly in the last few years, making it a no-brainer investment for backers flush with cash.

Fast fall: Now, after spending years throwing billions at any tech company whose slide deck had the word "disruptor" in it, VCs are getting stingy as interest rates rise and the global economy slows down. So, Shein (along with a lot of other companies) is stuck entering a "down round"—i.e., being forced to raise funds at a much lower valuation, the FT reported, though the company told the FT it "denied the accuracy" of some of the report.

But all those tissue-thin tees are still big business. Despite a collage of controversies, Shein brought in $15.7 billion in revenue in 2021, per Reuters, and is said to have only grown last year.—MM

        

TECH

Twitter HQ has a garage sale

A Twitter labeled gavel hits a Bid button Morning Brew

A giant bird statue, blue soundproof booth, pizza oven…apparently all of these things no longer spark joy for Twitter CEO Elon Musk.

The social media company kicked off 2023 by listing 631 items from its San Francisco headquarters in a virtual auction that concluded yesterday afternoon. Some fun facts:

  • The most expensive item was a bird statue that sold for $100,000.
  • Over 20,000 people registered to bid, making this the most popular auction that Heritage Global—which also ran an Enron auction—has ever organized.

Twitter is pinching pennies millions

Musk said in December that Twitter was on track to lose $3 billion net annually when he acquired it in October, and Platformer recently reported that the company's daily revenue is down 40%. To counteract that, Musk's version of saving ketchup packets in the fridge has included extreme measures, like laying off over 50% of workers and not paying rent, as well as smaller moves, like this auction and deciding there really is no such thing as a free (corporate) lunch.—JW

        

TOGETHER WITH LETSGETCHECKED

LetsGetChecked

Testing, testing. Working on your health resolutions? Bolster your goals with LetsGetChecked's range of at-home health tests, from female hormone and testosterone to thyroid and cholesterol tests. Receive your results in 2–5 days and have a virtual consultation with a clinician for next steps. Use code BREW25 for 25% off.

GRAB BAG

Key performance indicators

A fish in a lab beaker Hannah Minn

Stat: A new study shows that eating even just one freshwater fish caught in the US puts the same amount of toxic "forever chemicals" into your system as drinking PFAS-contaminated water for a month. So, maybe order the chicken next time if you're looking to get more lean protein into your diet.

Quote: "I am inevitable. I am forever. Meow. Hehehehe."

Fresh off a surprisingly spicy cheating scandal, the chess world is now buzzing over something new: a game-playing bot with a big-eyed kitten for an avatar that goes by Mittens and talks cat-inflected trash to its opponents. People must enjoy being mocked by a cute kitty while they deploy their Sicilian Defense because ever since Chess.com introduced the bot at the beginning of January, the site has averaged 27.5 million games per day—putting it on track for 40% more games to be played on the site this month than any other in its history (including back when everyone was watching The Queen's Gambit).

Read: Why nearly everyone, including you, is profiting from a shoplifting wave. (Curbed)

NEWS

What else is brewing

  • New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern unexpectedly announced yesterday that she will step down by Feb. 7, saying she didn't "have enough in the tank" to continue in the role.
  • Party City has filed for bankruptcy to reorganize its debt after stumbling in its efforts to rebound from the pandemic.
  • The US arrested the founder of crypto exchange Bitzlato (a Russian national who ran the Hong Kong-based company), claiming the site was used to launder $700 million.
  • The world's oldest person, a French nun known as Sister André, has died at age 118 after living through the 1918 flu and the Covid pandemic.
  • Donald Trump's campaign has asked Meta to let the former president back on Facebook.
  • Netflix is hiring a flight attendant for its corporate jet, and says the right candidate will be discreet and could make as much as $385,000 per year.

BREW'S BETS

The '90s were lit: Here's a look at what books from the 1990s we're reading in college classes now.

Go with your gut: Watch legendary music producer Rick Rubin drop wisdom like "I have no technical ability. And I know nothing about music."

Think green: Check out this guide from CFO Brew on how corporate finance teams can lead sustainability initiatives at their companies.

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*This is sponsored advertising content.

GAMES

The puzzle section

Brew Mini: Today's Mini will take you all the way back to when mastodons roamed the Earth. Play it here.

Three headlines and a lie

Three of these headlines are real and one is faker than tech valuations last year. Can you spot the odd one out?

  1. At Davos, Sinema and Manchin high-five over keeping filibuster rule
  2. Leaked footage from 'The Last of Us' filming shows an Adam Sandler cameo
  3. Flo Rida sips Celsius energy drink after winning case against the company
  4. Argentine corn field planted with face of World Cup winner Messi

AROUND THE BREW

Manifest your financial freedom

Manifest your financial freedom

Annual planning has never been easier than with Money with Katie's 2023 Wealth Planner. Track your income, spending, investing, and more in one easy-to-use tool. Shop now.

On Imposters, Alex interviewed Susan David, a Harvard Medical School psychologist, on what emotional agility is and how we can implement it in our own lives. Listen here.

Should you rent or buy? How much should you be saving for retirement? What's going on with student loans? Get the answers to these and all your other money questions for free with Money Scoop.

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ANSWER

We made up the Adam Sandler one.

✢ A Note From Masterworks

See important Regulation A disclosures.

         

Written by Neal Freyman, Jamie Wilde, Matty Merritt, Max Knoblauch, and Abigail Rubenstein

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