Weekly Link Roundup: October 16, 2020

With Nowhere to Go, Teens Flock to Among Us (The New York Times): “Among Us is a multiplayer game where between four and 10 players are dropped onto an alien spaceship. Each player is designated a private role as a ‘crewmate’ or ‘impostor.’ Crewmates must run around the ship and try to complete a set of tasks while trying to root out and avoid getting killed by the one or several impostors. Players can be voted off the ship, so each game becomes one of survival: Successfully vote off the impostors, or complete all your tasks to win. It’s simple, cartoony and easy enough for a five-year-old to play on an iPhone … Among Us is very different than other highly social video games like Fortnite … It’s more similar to a board game like Monopoly, or a party game like Werewolf, where players need to read personalities and determine if they’re being lied to in order to win. The large group size makes it easy to invite new friends into the group … It’s not just teenagers who are bonding over the game. Adults who can no longer hit a bar or swing by a party after work are also finding community through Among Us … The game’s continued success is further propelled by a never-ending stream of Among Us-related content on the internet.”

Allbirds’ Dual-CEO Arrangement Is a Rare Specimen (The Wall Street Journal): ”The median duration of co-CEO arrangements in the Fortune 1,000 is 2.1 years … That compares to a median CEO tenure of nearly five years at a big company … When the arrangement does work, it’s often because a cult-status founder … elevated a lieutenant to join them to run their company. But there is little ambiguity about who really runs the show.“

Going Sohla (Vulture): “Cooking as a brown person in America is complicated because audiences and diners do expect a particular kind of performance, whereas white men have the latitude to do whatever they want. ‘The fact is Brad’s show did do very well,’ she says, referring to Brad Leone, one of the first stars of the Test Kitchen, who hosts It’s Alive With Brad. ‘For some reason, people like watching a big dumb white guy. But why? What does that say about the audience? Why do you want to watch this incompetent white man when we have one in the fucking Oval Office?'”

What the Future of Restaurants Might Look Like (Bloomberg): “At the height of the pandemic in April, one quarter of the 20.5 million jobs lost were in the restaurant industry, erasing three decades of growth … nearly a third of Americans are happier cooking at home than going out, with younger Gen Z respondents skewing even more. As of Aug. 31 … OpenTable bookings are still 48% below year-ago levels.”

The Mask Barons of Etsy (The Verge): “… some mom-and-pop Etsy shops became big businesses overnight, doing in excess of $1 million in mask sales since the beginning of the pandemic … Between April and June, shoppers purchased $346 million worth of masks from Etsy stores, more than 5 percent of which would be pocketed by Etsy itself.”

Inside eBay’s Cockroach Cult: The Ghastly Story of a Stalking Scandal (The New York Times): “… on June 15, 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice charged six former eBay employees, all part of the corporate security team, with conspiring to commit cyberstalking and tamper with witnesses. Their alleged targets were almost comically obscure — a mom-and-pop blogging duo from a suburb of Boston and a Twitter gadfly who wrote often in their comments section. According to the government, their methods were juvenile and grotesque, featuring cockroaches, pornography, barely veiled threats of violence and death, physical surveillance and the weaponization of late-night pizza.”

Why American Eagle Is the Last Mall Brand Standing (Fast Company): “At a time when many retailers are hemorrhaging money and closing stores, Aerie saw a 32% rise in revenue and is on track to open 70 new stores this year. The company also launched two new brands during the pandemic, Offline and Unsubscribed. AEO hasn’t been completely immune to the economic crisis: It saw an overall 15% decline in revenue, largely because all of its stores had to shutter during the lockdowns.”

♥ (Actually the cutest story of the year.) Stanford Economists Paul Milgrom and Robert Wilson Win the Nobel in Economic Sciences (Stanford News): “Stanford economist Paul Milgrom was not prepared for the knock on his door early Monday morning from his neighbor. ‘Paul, it’s Bob Wilson. You’ve won the Nobel Prize.’ Robert Wilson – Milgrom’s neighbor and former mentor – also happened to be his co-recipient for the 2020 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. After a short pause to take in the momentous news, Milgrom responded, ‘Wow, yeah. Okay.’ A security camera in front of Milgrom’s home in Stanford, California, recorded Wilson and his wife Mary sidling up to Milgrom’s front door in the predawn darkness and repeatedly knocking and ringing the doorbell to wake him up, as well as the ensuing exchange. Wilson had been caught off-guard by the news just moments before – so much so that he had unplugged his home phone thinking it was an incoming spam call, prompting the Nobel committee to contact Wilson’s wife instead.”

Amazon Accused of Using Monopoly Power as E-Commerce ‘Gatekeeper’ (The Wall Street Journal): “The company’s market share of U.S. online sales is often said to be about 39%, but the figure is as high as 74% across a range of product categories.”

Seeking a Partner for the End of the World (The New York Times): “A survey of about 2,000 dating app users Match conducted between July and August … showed that 59 percent of daters were considering a wider range of people as potential partners and that 55 percent were fast tracking new relationships more than before the pandemic.”

Boohoo’s Buyers Undeterred by Scandal (The Business of Fashion): “The company reported revenue of nearly £450 million ($535 million) in the three months to August 31, up 44 percent compared to a year earlier. Net profit in its first half rose by the same percentage to £52 million. Boohoo has increased its guidance for the year, forecasting revenue growth of between 28 and 32 percent.”

A TikTok House Divided (Vox): “… Girls in the Valley is not a spontaneous occurrence of a handful of college-age social media stars choosing to live together, but rather the calculated product of a talent management company that plucked influencers from across TikTok to form a collective. Call it the boy-band model but for Gen Z, where stars leverage each other’s burgeoning fame against the backdrop of multimillion-dollar homes … To answer a glaring question: No, collab houses don’t really make any money. It is not a wise business decision, per se, for a management company to spend lavishly on rent solely because fans like seeing their favorite TikTokers hanging out together. Collab houses, instead, are meant to be a gateway to something much more lucrative: reality TV stardom and, consequently, the elite brand sponsorships that come with it.”

For Engagement Rings, Are Natural Diamonds on the Way Out? (The Wall Street Journal): “Recently, a new crop of primarily online, direct-to-consumer jewelry brands offering engagement rings with lab-grown diamonds has emerged, challenging the traditional notion that the most treasured pieces of jewelry should have stones that come from the earth. Some also use recycled diamonds, which can refer to both antique stones themselves, as well as those that are recut into a modern shape.”

Former Fashion Models Accuse Top Agent of Rape and Sexual Assault (The New York Times): “Gérald Marie, 70, was president for 25 years of the European division of Elite Model Management … two models have accused him of raping them, with another model and a journalist making allegations of sexual assault, in episodes that took place more than two decades ago … The events described by the four women currently fall outside the French statute of limitations for rape and sexual assault, and some of the accusations have been public for years.”

Goodbye, Sunny Florida. Hello, Frigid Winter. Covid Strands Canadian Snowbirds. (The Wall Street Journal): “In March, the U.S.-Canada border was closed to land crossings by tourists going either direction. A reopening isn’t immediately in the cards … The Canadian Snowbird Association says its members are retired or semiretired people who travel outside of Canada for 31 or more consecutive nights a year, mostly in the winter. The group estimates that 60% gravitate to Florida, with sizable contingents also heading to Arizona and Texas.”

Bottega Veneta—A Hot Commodity on the Street Style Scene and in the Resale Market (Vogue): “Daniel Lee’s makeover of the Italian brand has turned its Pouch, a soft nappa leather clutch, available in a myriad of colors, into an It bag at a time when many have said that It bags are over.”

Luxury Makes Gains Despite Chaos (The Business of Fashion): “The Savigny Luxury Index [BOF’s measurement of the performance of 17 listed groups representing over 150 of the largest luxury brands in the world ] climbed against all odds in September, outperforming the MSCI by over 4 percentage points to end the month up 3 percent.”

China’s ‘Golden Week’ Kicks Off in Boost to Battered Tourism Industry (The New York Times): “China has returned to near normalcy with remarkable speed … Even so, the ripple effects of the pandemic are hard to shake off … China’s official tourism research institute has predicted that 550 million domestic trips will be made during the eight-day holiday … Though impressive, that is still only about 70 percent of the number in the same period last year, reflecting the sizable number of people being kept home by economic insecurity or lingering fear of infection.”

♥ Recently purchased: Five Two by Food52 Ultimate Apron, Stasher Sandwich Reusable Silicone Storage Bag, Uniqlo x JW Anderson Soutien Collar Coat, Sézane Amaury Jumper, XXX-Large Sable Heating Pad, and J. Crew Long Contrast-Trim Cardigan.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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