October 7, 2022

Today's Topics

Hi! Today the US Women’s soccer team will face off against England. If it’s anything like the countries’ currencies, England will lead early on before the US come dangerously close to bringing things level. Today we’re exploring:

  • ByteDance. TikTok's owner is spending big to get bigger.
  • Extreme poverty. The pandemic plunged millions below the $2.15 a day threshold.
  • Recommerce. Thrift-seekers are moving online.
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The WSJ has released a report revealing the latest financials of TikTok’s parent company Bytedance, detailing just how expensive going viral really is.

Hockey stick growth, and costs

Of all the mind-blowing numbers released, the one that stood out most is ByteDance’s marketing spend where, all told, the company spent $19.2bn last year. That’s about $5bn more on marketing than even Meta spends, a company that’s part way through a massive rebranding and has captured the largest social media audience on the planet via Instagram and Facebook. ByteDance's level of spend on user acquisition is truly unprecedented — the marketing spends of Snap, Twitter and Pinterest combined are just one-seventh of the Chinese company's budget.

Spend it to make it

Impressively, ByteDance are seeing a real return on those marketing dollars. Revenue jumped 80% last year to more than $61.7bn — and it’s easy to understand why they're in a big hurry to get to scale, as social media competition seems to be heating up again after years of little innovation.

Meta has been pouring resources into Reels, their direct competitor to TikTok, and YouTube has introduced YouTube Shorts to attract fans of the short-video format. Even smaller apps like BeReal are gaining traction with those tired of airbrushed Instagram pics. ByteDance signed up for the ‘outspend to outcompete’ seminar, and it’s working.

Go deeper: How fast is TikTok growing compared to rivals.

Pandemic poverty

Approximately 70 million people were plunged into extreme poverty by the pandemic in 2020, the largest rise since monitoring began in 1990, according to a new report from the World Bank published this week.

The sharp reversal, after decades of steady progress, makes the goal of ending extreme poverty around the world by 2030 now highly improbable. That's particularly true in the wake of what's happened this year with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, rising inflation and sluggish economic growth around the world.

The bigger picture

By the World Bank’s established standard, where those living on less than $2.15-a-day are deemed to be living in extreme poverty, some 719 million people were under the threshold in 2020 — a year when the world’s poorest paid the highest price for the pandemic.

Whilst the recent global increase is cause for concern, extreme poverty rates had been trending in the right direction for decades before. Over the last 30 years, a period in which the extreme poverty level has fallen by some 28.5%, 2020 is only the second year to have seen the figure increase.

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Poshmark picked up

It's been a big week in recommerce. Poshmark, the secondhand online superstore where sellers are encouraged to ‘cash in on their closet’, is set to be acquired by South Korean internet giant Naver for $1.2bn. Sometimes dubbed the Google of Korea, Naver’s bid for Poshmark suggests they see the online resale boom as here to stay. Incidentally, Goodwill, the 120-year-old grandfather of the secondhand scene, feels similarly — announcing its first ever online store this week.

(Online) thrift shop

As awareness of the damaging impacts of the fast fashion world grows, more people, particularly younger consumers, are turning to secondhand sweaters and thrifted tees to become more sustainable — and they’re increasingly doing so from the comfort of their own homes.

The online recommerce market has been trending up for a few years, but it really took off during the pandemic when thrifters saw their favorite stores shuttered and had to look elsewhere for their pre-loved fashion fix.

Search interest for platforms like Depop, ThredUP, Mercari and Poshmark has grown significantly and last year, apps and websites passed in-store retail sales, with $12.3bn of the $22.3bn secondhand fashion market resales going online.

Even luxury brands, which can be notoriously fickle about the resale category are getting in on the act too. The vintage table may have turned for good.

More Data

• As a Gallup poll finds a record high 68% of Americans support decriminalizing marijuana, thousands convicted for ‘simple possession’ of the drug have now received a Presidential pardon.

• A pumpkin weighing 2,554 pounds has broken the record as the heaviest ever in the US.

• A map of each state’s most-popular grocery store by footfall.

• If you'd invested in Amazon when Motley Fool sent a “buy alert” at $15.31 per share, you’d be up more than 14,600%. Now, Motley Fool have identified 5 other stocks they believe are screaming buys. Grab a free copy of “5 Growth Stocks Under $49” for a limited time only.**

• Paying ~$200k for an MBA has lost some of its allure, as top business schools have reported 15% fewer applications for their coveted programs.

• Charting America’s cashless revolution.

• Feel bad leaving your dog at home when you go for dinner? A restaurant in San Francisco is offering a $75 tasting menu for your canine.

**This is sponsored content.

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