This is issue no. 236. The last issue had a 47.56% open rate with 5.18% of you reading up on how Amazon is building an army of secret brands. Here is a key excerpt:

Perhaps what Amazon is trying to do as it rapidly expands into new businesses—especially business areas where it might not have forged partnerships with well-known brands—is to give the impression to customers that there are tons of options to choose from, when in fact, they’re really just choosing between different Amazon brands.

Brief: A great podcast featuring Silicon Valley eCommerce pioneer Tristan Walker. And, um, Benchmark Capital sues Travis Kalanick for fraud.

Did a colleague forward this letter to you? Thank them and subscribe here.
Today's Top Intelligence (13 Reads)
Spring 2.0: The Shopping App Looks to Reinvent
eCommerce feature: Spring, which first hit the market in August 2014, has weathered an initial identify crisis that resulted from casting too wide a net. Despite launching with the goal of becoming the top mobile shopping app in the fashion world, it struggled to draw users — many were already using programs including Lyst and ShopStyle, and didn’t understand the draw of Spring. In response, it transitioned its efforts to its desktop platform, as it reconsidered mobile and identified new ways to lure consumers. It also got savvier at product selection, culling its original 3,000 brands down to 1,500, driven by consumer preferences.

Read More
On Subscriber Matt Powell: In becoming a well-respected sports industry analyst at market research firm NPD Group—"I get to talk about sneakers all day and people send me checks," he says—Powell has also become something else: the best-credentialed Yeezy hater in the sneaker world. He's worked in the fashion industry for 44 years, starting at a department store after he graduated college in 1973. He worked for the short-lived, the sporting goods retailer that was started by John Elway, Michael Jordan, and Wayne Gretzky in the late '90s. He launched his own research firm in 2000, and joined NPD as an analyst three years ago.

Brand: Given the statement Mottram made, however, it’s possible that the lengthy sale process, aside from the standard due diligence and boardroom wooing, was less about the sale price, and more about affinity, stewardship — finding the right buyer, in other words. Several candidates alongside L Catterton had been cited since November, most in private equity.

Retail: Bebe’s e-commerce site is more robust than ever, with a sparse interface, featuring the latest collection, which is full of rompers and mini-dresses. Last week, the brand also launched a new ad campaign that featured a bevy of ethically diverse global influencers popular with the social media-forward gen Z crowd.

Brand: Nothing about Supreme was planned in advance, its success a coincidence of place, time, and hard work. By the time he was nineteen, Jebbia had left England and was a sales assistant at a SoHo store called Parachute. From there, he worked a table at the nearby flea market, then founded a store, Union, on Spring Street that sold British goods and streetwear. Union did well enough until it began to sell clothing designed by Shawn Stüssy, the skateboarder and surfer, at which point it did great. Next, Jebbia helped run a shop with Stüssy until Stüssy decided to retire. “Now what the hell am I going to do?” he recalls asking himself.

Media: But the growing complexity makes me long for the simple days of the early 2010s when we paid one company --usually the local cable TV provider -- for a collection of channels. Maybe it's time to fall in love with the "bundle" again, or at least one with a 21st century twist. And the company with the pole position here is Amazon. Yes, them again.

Media: The media sales organization will operate within the consultancy model, with the sales team evolving into practice areas to be overseen by Bloomberg global CRO, Keith Grossman. Benett expects to hire 20 to 25 people to supplement these specific practice areas, including financial services, tech & telecom, auto, government as well as luxury and lifestyle. “I’m like a kid in a candy store because there’s so much intelligence in this company,” Benett said.

Retail: So far, Amazon has shed little light on its plans. The deal materialized in approximately six weeks, leaving executives at both companies little time to craft a concrete integration plan, other than to keep Mr. Mackey at Whole Foods’ helm. It is likely to try to streamline operations, reduce prices and introduce some Prime membership benefits, the former employees said.

eCommerce: Walmart would also gain the talent and expertise found at Birchbox, which, despite its struggles, innovated the beauty box subscription model and is seeing improvements with a leaner staff. "The deal makes sense because Walmart desperately needs an operating unit that understands how to build and merchandise a subscription box program," Fosina said.

Media: Digital display advertising revenue continued to be dominated by just a few companies in 2016, with Facebook comprising 35% of this advertising segment, according to eMarketer estimates. Google comprised 14% of this segment, while no other company controls more than 10% of this market. In the mobile sector, Facebook also held the largest market share (44%) of mobile digital display advertising revenue, according to eMarketer estimates. No other company controls more than 10% of the mobile market.

eCommerce: The invite-only platform—only select brands will participate—currently includes brands such as Burberry, Hugo Boss, La Mer, Maserati and Guerlain (LVMH) and Zenith, offering products ranging from clothes and skincare products to watches and luxury cars. They are part of what Alibaba said is the first of a multi-phase launch of the pavilion that will eventually offer a complete suite of marketing and omnichannel solutions.

eCommerce: The announcement marks a cautious foray into China's freewheeling internet market by one of the most elite brands in fashion. Until relatively recently, luxury firms had been reluctant to sell over the internet in China because of concerns that China's main online retailers, and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., run marketplaces that are riddled with counterfeit goods. Only a few luxury brands have the size to attempt online sales in China without teaming up with either e-commerce giant.

Media: The media juggernaut is developing not one, but two Netflix-style streaming services to be released over the next two years. The first is Disney’s anticipated sports service for ESPN, the crown jewel of cable TV. The second, geared toward families, will be stocked with the latest Disney and Pixar releases, which won’t be heading to Netflix anymore, as well as new original programming from Disney’s studios.

Graph of the week: Besmirchbox
Walmart's purchase of Birchbox seems to be imminent and Wall Street is signaling that the reasons are: (1) logistical shortcomings (2) a shrinking middle-class

The addition of upscale merchandise demonstrates the changes that the discount retailer has been forced to grapple with as the number of potential middle-class customers drops.

Pew Research Center defines "middle class" in America as households with two-thirds to double the national median income. While that still includes roughly half of American households, it's a shrinking group — from 2000 to 2014, middle-class populations decreased in 203 of the 229 metropolitan areas reviewed in a Pew study.

It's 2 PM MT · West 54th Street · New York New York 10019 · USA
Unsubscribe | View in browser