Issue No. 205: That’s one way to get clicks.


That’s a lot of selling up there. And apparently, it works.

Goop’s Elise Loehnen would be a very interesting coffee meeting. Prior to serving as the VP of marketing & creative services for Shopzilla, she was editor at the following publications: Lucky Magazine, Conde Nast Traveler, and Seek. She has been the Head of Content at Goop for three years. She seems to have made  quite the profitable jump from pure journalism to lifestyle content (albeit with a strict editorial policy).

The most well-positioned sellers (large or niche) are the ones where its consumers are focused and eager to buy. The more unapologetically focused the brand is on its demographic, the more effective the pitch. Take it from Los Angeles’ Eckhaus Latta, who’s never seen more attention than they have today (very NSFW).

As a media group, Goop isn’t far behind Eckhaus on the unapologetic appeal curve. And it seems to be working wonders for its audience.

So here are the fundamentals of the Goop operation:

  • The editorial site is hosted on WordPress
  • The eCommerce operation is cloud-based (Shopify)
  • Ads are optimized by Dynamic Yield.

The group achieves 1.2M monthly uniques and does a rumored $4M per year in higher margin eCommerce and another $2M in lower margin affiliate sales. In short, the site is built to sustain on a niche following:

When you’re a Goop-ert (what Goop newsletter devotees call themselves, I would think), your days are likely filled with a packed schedule of facial and vaginal steaming, several hours of vegetable chopping and zoodling, followed by an evening of sipping alkaline water out of a wine glass while cradling a jade egg in your perineum. It’s an exhausting life, but a full one, and yet still—something’s off. According to Goop, that something isn’t caused by the crushing sameness of everyday wealth; it’s actually due to to a vitamin deficiency.

Joanna Rothkopf, Managing Editor of Jezebel
Paltrow and her team seem to be getting closer to making the Goop product a cashflow positive community. They are breaking the rules of commerce and journalism and making new ones in real time. The Goop-ert’s aren’t mad about it.

See more of the issue here.

Issue No. 196: Matrimony

A last word: why Jackthreads x Thrillist could have worked

If you read enough tech blogs, 2010-2012 was the height of the content / commerce play and today is but the graveyard of those attempts. When Ben Lerer aptly purchased Jason Ross’s Jackthreads for $10m, I remember salivating. “There’s no way that it could fail,” I thought.

A decade later and we’re still reading content and commerce obituaries. Yet, it thrives today in brands like: GoopMr. PorterPoler Stuff, Brewdog, and Fitbit.

There is an old adage, “it doesn’t matter how you make your money.” For many businesses, this is true. One of the reasons that the marriage between Jackthreads and Thrillist failed? It does matter how Lerer makes his money. In the valuation game, all revenue is not equal. There is a premium multiple for some. Whereas, eCommerce firms are often valued at 3-5x EBITDA, media groups can exceed 8x EBITDA.

Who’d want to be an eCommerce company when you can privately raise money as a media company? This is at the root of Thrillist jettisoning Jackthreads. And coupled with some severe, margin-eating tactical errors, the former Columbus eCommerce retailer couldn’t bounce back.

We are going to see more (not less) consolidation of digital revenue modeling. And the companies that manage it correctly will be around for quite some time. Yes, even with Amazon breathing down all of our necks.


See more of the issue here.

Issue No. 188: Will Snap Pop? A lot of coverage here.

Last Word: Will Snap Succeed? Ben Thompson addresses:

Snap’s bet is that Facebook, with all of the baggage of putting your best self forward, will never be truly able to step into this brave new future. No, capturing that future won’t be as simple as re-making the connections you already have — new users will need to be won, feature by feature and innovation by innovation — but that is exactly what Snap insists it does better than anyone else.

So will Snap succeed?

The trouble for the company is that some of the conditions necessary for its success are out of its hands: on a macro level, the timing of The Great Unbundling, an important aspect of advertising moving away from TV, is as uncertain as ever. On a competitive level I suspect Snap is more surprised than anyone at how effectively Facebook has leveraged Instagram to foreclose Snapchat’s growth.

I do, though, have faith in Snap itself: Spiegel and team are the most innovative in tech, brilliantly laddering up to new opportunities, and creating new markets. The products will be great; we’ve known for 30 years, though, that that is not always enough.

See more of the issue here.

Issue No. 69: A break from BREXIT speculation

Last Word: Chart of The Week


Ask venture firms like GGV Capital, and they may suggest that the eCommerce markets- abroad – are the more important investments at this point. Deal volume and deal size have both rise in both countries. For one, geopolitics is an influencer in so much that Amazon and Wal-Mart both face regulatory woes preventing them from capitalizing on reinvestment in foreign countries. Logistics operations are the other shortfall preventing American success in those two countries.

In short, it’s still the wild wild east in India and China, two vast countries ripe for commerce innovations. With investments in China and India peaking, so is the need for eCommerce agencies and platforms and apps to fulfill their needs. This part of the business remains an American advantage and we’ll likely see quite a bit more cross-Pacific collaboration between Chinese or Indian startups and North American facilitators.

See more of the issue here.