Numlock News: June 30, 2023 • Ponzi, Bubble Tea, Beyoncé
By Walt Hickey
Ahh! Deal, Monsters
Energy drink producer Monster Energy will buy beleaguered rival Bang Energy for up to $362 million through a subsidiary called Blast Asset Acquisition, because once caffeine gets involved corporate names get extremely stupid. Bang has had lots of legal and business issues, some of which pertained to their charismatic owner Jack Owoc, but the biggest issues included a breakup with PepsiCo and losing a $293 million false advertising and trade secrets lawsuit lodged by none other than Monster, which is in fact the company’s largest unsecured creditor as a result. Bang’s got about 2.6 percent of the U.S. energy drink market, which if all goes according to plan will abet Monster’s 35.1 percent market share.
Love On Top
Beyoncé wrapped up the European leg of her Renaissance World Tour, grossing $154.4 million on the road across 21 shows, the largest haul of any of Beyoncé’s previous continental tours. The tour was a smash hit, posting a local record in 12 out of 14 markets, with her five nights in London alone accounting for $42.2 million. The tour now comes to North America, with 36 shows in the United States and Canada; should the pace continue, the North American leg would gross something like $264 million.
Whoever redacted a court filing supplied by PlayStation to the FTC v. Microsoft hearing goofed really bad, as the black sharpie didn’t actually black out important, proprietary numbers that has the gaming press salivating over the accidental leak. For instance, Horizon Forbidden West cost $212 million over five years to develop, and The Last of Us Part II cost $220 million. It also reveals some juicy information about just how important Call of Duty is to the whole operation, with the document identifying that 6 million PlayStation users spend 70 percent of their time playing Call of Duty, averaging 296 hours on the game, and a key 1 million users literally spending 100 percent of their gaming time on Call of Duty. That game alone drove $800 million in revenue in the United States alone in 2021.
Zadeh Kicks was a service that catered to sneakerheads and resellers as a way to get highly sought-after shoes at costs far below market, and I’ll just cut to the chase here: The federal government is alleging the whole thing was a Ponzi scheme revealed by the release of Air Jordan 11 Cool Grey in 2021. They say that the site didn’t actually have inventory on-hand when making a sale, and would instead scour the secondary market to try to fulfill the sale down the line, leaving customers out a bunch of money and potentially not even getting the shoes. When it came crashing down, Air Jordan 11 Cool Greys retailed for $225, Zadeh Kicks offered them for $115, and on release day owed customers 600,000 pairs. That is a massive amount of footwear, given that Nike only actually produced something like 1.2 million to 1.7 million pairs. Federal prosecutors say they owed customers $70 million worth of shoes that didn’t exist.
Swifties love to find out which special songs Taylor Swift will play at a given show on the Eras Tour, the songs that deviate from the main setlist and serve as a nice little surprise. In terms of unique songs performed at concerts — based on an analysis of 113,565 song performances at 5,029 concerts by 98 artists from Setlist.fm — she’s not too shabby. Swift played 66 unique songs at fewer than 20 percent of her shows on the Eras Tour, eighth place among tours, averaging a consistent 2.0 unique songs per concert. A few acts dominate these metrics: Phish’s Summer Tour 2022 averaged 7.58 special songs per night and 197 different songs played at fewer than 20 percent of shows. Dead & Company, Dave Matthews Band and Pearl Jam also crush it, placing Taylor Swift in the company of a bunch of jam bands.
Not Cleared For Takeoff
There were 90,000 flight delays from June 26 to June 28 and nearly 8,000 cancellations in the U.S., and a new report from the Inspector General of the Department of Transportation about understaffed air traffic controllers illuminates why. The IG reported that staff levels are below the 85 percent threshold in 20 out of 26 critical facilities. New York and Miami are particularly troublesome: New York Terminal Radar Approach Control is at 54 percent staffing, and Miami’s at 66 percent.
Based on the 2023 Summer Fancy Food Show in June, the largest specialty food show in North America — snacks flavored like boba tea — are having a moment, just as the beverage continues to succeed across the country. From 2019 to 2022, seven major urban areas in the U.S. saw a more than 60 percent jump in the number of bubble tea shops, with the U.S. market for boba expected to hit $640 million in 2023. In a decade, it’s projected to be massive, with projections of a $2.2 billion market for the sweet tea with tapioca pearls in it.
In last Sunday’s subscriber special, I spoke to S.P. Sullivan and Amira Sweilem, who wrote “Claw & Order, Jersey Shore edition” for NJ Advance Media. I’ve unlocked it, and it’s the perfect story to kick off summer; Sullivan and Sweilem talk about the state task force that holds Jersey Shore carnival operators accountable, the biggest scandal on the Shore, and which games are the ones to avoid. They can be found at NJ.com and on Twitter at @spsullivan and @sweilem_amira.
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