November 1, 2023

Today's Topics

Good morning. It's the 1st of November, which means someone, somewhere has already started listening to Christmas music. Today we're exploring:

  • Pinterest: There are nearly 500 million pinheads and counting.
  • Prestige worldwide: Britain's latest export? Private schools.
  • UnWork: WeWork is reportedly filing for bankruptcy.
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Image-sharing website Pinterest reported an 11% increase in revenue from showing ads to inspo-hungry users, sending shares up more than 19%.


Advertising sales won a big tick from investors, but it was the user front that really got a cheer, as the site hit 482 million users — a base that's ~30% larger than Twitter / X reported (368m) at the end of last year. Figures in the all-important US & Canada region went up slightly — an improvement on 2021, when Americans and Canadians were giving up on Pinterest in the millions — but it was the “Rest of World” segment that really shone, gaining 12 million new pinners.

The site’s emphasis on personal curation has made it a hub for aesthetically aspirational food, fashion, and lifestyle imagery… and, increasingly, a dream destination for advertisers. With an estimated 85% of users discovering new brands on Pinterest and more than 25% of site usage related to finding/buying products, advertisers are incentivized to be creative in drawing on users' interests. Gen Z in particular seem to love the app, with execs claiming that younger cohorts “save 2x more content in their first year on Pinterest, relative to older cohorts”.

Snap, crackle and pop

At its peak in September 2021, ephemeral messaging giant Snapchat was worth an eye-watering $132bn — nearly 4x what Pinterest was worth then. But the Snap bubble has since popped and, at the time of writing, Pinterest has overtaken it as the most valuable of the two, with a market cap of $20bn, ahead of Snap’s $16.5bn.

Prestige worldwide

Either through the legacy of its global empire, its thriving entertainment industry, or just its unique position in Europe, the UK continues to punch above its weight in exporting its culture globally. And, in recent years, British private schools have become the latest institutions to cash in on that soft power — establishing hundreds of satellite campuses around the world.

Indeed, data from the Private Education Policy Forum (via Bloomberg) reveals that 38 elite institutions have now established over 120 satellite campuses around the world, with China initially being the largest base, although India's burgeoning middle class has also proven to be fertile ground for British school exports.

For local residents, the appeal is a more cost-effective path to attending a UK-branded school. Boarding at renowned schools like Eton College, with a list of alumni that includes Princes William and Harry, as well as 20 prime ministers — an unbelievable 35% of all British prime ministers ever — doesn’t come cheap, with total costs typically in excess of $60k a year. By contrast, the average cost for a UK-branded boarding school in India hovers just above $10k per year.

Of course, these campuses aren't motivated solely by educational or altruistic reasons. Between 2011 and 2021, 40 prominent British private schools collectively generated a profit of £98 million ($119 million) from overseas satellite campuses.

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Item A: $47B gone

WeWork, once the $47 billion poster child of preposterous tech valuations, is set to file for bankruptcy in the coming days, according to The Wall Street Journal. The company missed interest payments on its debt in early October, and now faces a looming deadline.

It’s easy to lump WeWork in with some of the more abstract tech concepts that boomed during the pandemic — looking at you, NFTs — but for every crazy story about waterslides, private jets, and tequila, WeWork did win thousands of real customers to its locations. Indeed, even today, WeWork operates more than 770 offices in 39 countries.

But even if WeWork’s customers liked the high-end spaces it had built, the business model itself just never stacked up. In fact, it wasn’t even close. Since 2018, WeWork ran up total operating expenses of $32bn to run its business. Total revenues over the same period? Just over half of that ($16.2bn). You don’t need to be an accountant to know that something had to give eventually — and even though more experienced management seems to have narrowed the losses, it might be too little too late.


With some $10 billion in lease obligations, extending from the latter half of this year through 2027, any bankruptcy is likely to be messy... but, unfortunately for screenwriters, the TV show’s already been made.

More Data

• Data from the National Cancer Institute shows that breast cancer diagnoses for women aged between 40-64 years old decreased by 8%, to 210 per 100,000 females in the past two decades.

• In the long run… Last week, Harvey Lewis won the title of ‘last person standing’ at the 2023 Big Dog’s Backyard Ultra, after running for a record-breaking 108 hours, totalling 450 miles.

• Technical difficulties: Around 500 members of the New York Times’ Tech Guild are planning to walk out next week in protest of the company’s new return-to-office policies.


• Part of our world: where you fit within the world’s population, in numbers and dates.

Off the charts: Ozempic is reportedly so effective that some analysts are worried that sales will drop at which snack chain? [Answer below].

Answer here.

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