Coinbase

Will you ever buy Bitcoin or Coinbase stock?

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Coinbase is going public tomorrow. So what does that have to do with beauty products you may ask? Good question. Nothing. Not yet anyway.

In case you are not in the know about Coinbase, it is the largest “wallet” and marketplace for digital currency include Bitcoin (BTC) and Etherum (ETH). It boasts more than 25 million users and is highly profitable. Valuations are coming in at close to $100 billion and that is real U.S. dollars.

I have written about BTC and other digital currency recently but my reason for writing about Coinbase today besides it going public tomorrow, it what we can expect the future to hold about digital currency. Already many countries from Australia to China to the U.K. and even the U.S. are exploring their own digital currency. Right now if you want to transfer funds you have to use a third party like Western Union or even your bank but there are fees involved and it is a very complex process.

However digital currency is not what all the excitement is about. It is about DEFi (decentralized finance). This is where ETH comes in and most of all other Coinbase offerings. ETH is the building block for most DeFi platforms. DeFi platforms are seamless, do not involve third-party intermediaries and have grown more than 1000% in just the last year. Billions of dollars are being moved through DeFi daily and that is without most people knowing what DeFi is all about. I can guess in only a few short years more than $1 trillion will be processed.

By-products of digital currency and DEFI are numerous. Already NFT’s are the latest fad and everyone knows about someone paying $69 million for a NFT. What is a NFT? A non-fungible token. OK, so now you want to know what a non-fungible token is, right? HA! It means that the item is unique and cannot be replaced by something else. Think of a rare baseball card in which there is only one in the world. A NFT is the same thing but digital. Virtually all NFT’s are based on ETH so as NFT’s become more mainstream, so will ETH.

So with DeFi and NFT’s growing like weeds, ETH is the glue that holds everything together. And if you want to buy ETH, can you guess where you can buy it? Robinhood? No. Your bank? No. Local Kroger? No. Unless you have more than $25K to invest, the answer is Coinbase.

ETH was invented in 2014 and came out at a penny. Today the value is over $2200 and up more than 50% in one year alone. Some say the value can go to $10,000 and over. No one really knows because we are in the infancy stages of all this.

What all this reminds me of is AOL, Netscape, Atari, Intellivision and early Nintendo. Only Nintendo is still around (although Atari is alive in Paris and just introduced its own digital coin but has nothing to do with the games like PONG back in the day). Eventually Google, Microsoft and Apple took over and are the leaders today. However, what BTC and ETH have done as pioneers is so much different than what AOL and others did when they were pioneers. While there can be an infinite number of digital coins, there cannot be another BTC or even ETH unless the government gets involved and decides to get into digital currency and DeFi.

Some pundits say BTC and all this other stuff is a Ponzi scheme, a bubble and will blow up and everything will be worthless. BTC did crash in 2017. A year ago the value of BTC was only $7,000 and now just broke a record at $63,000. Big investors are involved and while there can only be 21 million BTC produced, of which 18 million have been produced, the odds seem less than in 2017 of another crash. Those that hold BTC (2.4% of the holders own more than 95% of BTC) claim it will hit $115,000 in August and march to $250,000 and higher in 2022.

For now, everything in this space is fascinating to me and will become part of our ecosystem. Coinbase is going to be one of the most exciting IPO’s ever (they are doing a direct launch) and after tomorrow, millions of people will know more about all this. Back in 1990 if you thought everyone on the planet would be walking around with a cellphone, you would have been laughed at. The same thing is going to happen with digital currency but it is not going to take 20-25 years to make happen. Let’s watch and see. And if you can, buy at least one share of COIN tomorrow for history sake.

Have a great day!

Out Of My Mind On A Thursday Mornin’

Are you traveling out of state for spring break/Easter?

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A.I. and IoT has hit my office once again. Let me go back to 1990. PC’s were pretty new and very expensive. Fax machines just launched. Voice mail was yet to be invented. For me to place an order with a vendor I had to call the vendor and read each line item. When I left the office for lunch or a day off, my desk would be littered with pink “While You Were Out” notes. My desk had a computer, phone, stapler, Scotch tape dispenser, pencil sharpener, scissor, paper clips and an OKI 192 printer (at least I didn’t have to deal with the IBM Selectronic!). I barely had room to write a note.

Fast forward to today and voila! The only thing on my desk is my 21” Mac. The phone is gone! It is now incorporated into the MAC. It uses the MAC microphone. Not only can I make and receive calls, but I can chat, I can review voicemail through Outlook (which transcribes it and notifies me if it a Robocall), I can do group calls and so much more. Totally amazing. Then again, who calls anymore?

So happy that daylight savings time is here, Spring is here and warmer weather is right around the corner. Add a full dose of sunshine we have been getting along with optimism in regards to vaccines to Biden’s $1.9T gift, it could be the start of good times ahead. Finally.

We are seeing a bit of this optimism in business too. Already pedi supplies are moving out quickly and that is really good news indeed. Vegas just announced 50% capacity and they are booking events into 2022. Planes are getting full again with more than 1.3 million Americans traveling last Friday alone. But pedi’s are a better barometer of the economy because women rule it. One wildcard post-pandemic everyone has been wondering about is exactly what services consumers are going to go back to and what services will they stop. Salons and gyms are especially on the edge. Take Peloton for example. If you spent $2500 for a spinning bike, are you going to take live spinning classes at a gym once masks are no longer required?

I always said the best thing about mani’s and pedi’s is that online companies cannot offer them and even the best at-home products can’t make up for the expertise of the nail tech. Same is true for facials and massages. I think there is a huge pent up demand for these services along with traveling and going out to enjoy entertainment. And now with more than $1.8T in savings ready to be spent, demand could be off the charts.

One big question economists are asking is related to inflation. With so much goods coming from China in containers, costs are skyrocketing. Container shipments that used to cost $4500 are now $8000 and booking is not easy. Chinese factories have been raising prices at least 3-6% and now with gas at record prices since the pandemic, other items are going up too. Look for higher prices, reduced counts or sizes of products and other cost-savings measures in 2021.

Want to sell your car? At carvana.com, you just enter your license or registration number, answer a few questions and in seconds they will tell you the value and pick your car up. With new car deliveries all taking place virtually, why do we need dealerships anymore except for service?

Just an FYI, my next pedi is booked for tomorrow at PAINT. PAINT is one of a handful of franchises run by a really nice couple based in Florida. Their concept is solid and offers a refreshing and relaxing approach to mani’s and pedi’s. One of the best parts of being in the beauty business is checking out new and exciting salon concepts. Our industry certainly can use a little innovation especially now with consumers excited to get out.

Happy Thursday!

Out Of My Mind On A Monday Mornin’

When are you getting a COVID-19 vaccine?

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TGIM! That is my newest motto, love it. Only four days until Friday.

We just returned from one of our favorite resorts in Mexico. They made a business decision and expanded their gym to include one nice room for cardio and one nice room for weights. Guess what room was converted? That’s right, the salon is gone. Not enough business. With destination weddings way down and most likely for a long time, resorts are rethinking everything. As mentioned earlier, the entire fate of steam rooms, saunas and hot tubs is up in the air. Who even knows if locker rooms will exist in a post-pandemic world.

So what is going on in the finance world of pro beauty? Not much. When you realize that a handful of companies own pretty much 80%+ of the business due to acquisitions, you easily understand the state of affairs. Last quarter, Sally Beauty sales were down about 4%, likewise for L’Oreal Professional sales in the USA. Both companies like to talk about the upside of this but c’mon, we know the focus is on consumer business and with more consumers doing their own personal services at home, it is no wonder that Ulta, Sephora and Estee Lauder continue to gain market share.

Believe it or not, acrylic nails is having a resurgence and that is good news for nail salons offering acrylic nails. Perhaps it is boredom with gels, dislike of powder dipping or just loving the shine and durability of acrylics, we are seeing renewed interest. Our new ForPro Expert brand is exceptional and nail techs are loving it.

Tony Cuccio and I were chatting the other day about the industry and how two young rebels got old but at least survived the fallout and are still around to run our companies. He misses traveling to his international customers while I don’t miss traveling for business one second. We talked trade shows and all the activities that took place both on and off the show floor. If Cosmoprof has another show in Vegas, as it is advertising, who is going to exhibit and who is going to attend? For the pro beauty business, days of trade shows as we remembered them are over just like the magazines, educational academies and so much more.

Jeff Bezos retired from being CEO of Amazon most likely to focus on his Blue Origins rocket company. Musk’s Space X is light years ahead and advertising consumer launches this year. Branson’s Virgin Galactic is getting ready too as Branson is set to take off this year in their first manned flight. Are you ready for space travel?

I’m getting the vaccine, but for some reason, supply and demand is not working as advertised. My preference right now is the single dose J&J.

I was reminded that I never published my quick and easy marina sauce recipe. So here it is!

Ingredients:

28 oz. can crushed tomatoes, 2T tomato paste, 3 garlic cloves crushed, 1C each diced celery, carrot and onions, Italian seasoning, salt & pepper, good olive oil, crushed red pepper flakes (optional).

In large saucepot, sauté trilogy of veggies in 1T olive oil over medium heat until tender, about 5-6 minutes. Add garlic and stir for another minute. Season with salt and pepper.

Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and 1t Italian seasoning. Bring to boil. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and boat motor until smooth (or use food processor). Taste and add more seasoning and red pepper flakes for a bit of spice.

Excellent for use for homemade pizzas too!

TGIM!

Larry

Out Of My Mind On A Monday Mornin’

Do you own any Bitcoin (you can buy on Paypal, Coinbase, etc.)

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What a world we live in today. Perhaps the Roman’s had it right all along, put Gladiators in a coliseum filled with fans to see which one kills the other first. That was the world then, 100 BCE to 400 CE, a 500 year tradition. Or how about living in 1980 when Carter was President and inflation soared over 18%? Remember when gas was over $4.00 a gallon and that we would run out of gas? Bottom line is that we are always living in some of crisis but today, the crisis seems impossible to turn around.

Just when we thought we were turning the corner on COVID-19, here comes the next variant, more contagious than the first one. And where are the vaccines you may ask? Production is way behind and countries are scrambling. Today in the USA alone, we have more than 25 million cases and more than 420,000 deaths. Fauci advertises more than 500,000 next month alone.

In Michigan, Whitmer has allowed restaurants and bars to reopen next month at 25% capacity and stop serving at 10PM. Really. In California with Newsom under pressure, he is going to reopen the state. Meanwhile, Florida is wide open and people are flocking there in waves.

Surely you have heard of the Patriot Party. Nope, not the New England Patriots partying after Brady left them, and BTW, who have thought the Super Bowl would be the two best quarterbacks defining age and youth? And why did Pepsi, Coke and Bud opt out this year? Trump’s Patriot Party could amass more than 40 million followers and then some. Just because Biden is in the White House doesn’t mean the country is ready to unite.

OK, the new stimulus package Biden wants starts at $1.9 trillion. Here is what that will buy you. It is actually how much American’s (both business and personal) pay in income taxes each year. It is also how much American’s have saved due to not spending on travel, entertainment, dining and other fun stuff. But sorry folks, Apple is worth $2.3 trillion so really, when a millionaire used to be a BIG DEAL and a billionaire was WOW, now trillions means nothing.

My optimism starts when cruise ships start sailing. Alas, now the first tentative dates are fourth quarter 2021 and even into 2022. What does this suggest? 2021 will be much like 2020 and perhaps even worse in terms of cases and deaths. The vaccine is the wild card…..

OK so what can us mortals do in 2021 to get us through? Personally I have been cooking up a storm, learning Chess and Spanish and working out. Just watched Fran Lebowitz’s new documentary on Netflix, a little satire on life and NYC, reminded me of Larry David. I’m using record numbers of firewood and my bourbon collection keeps on expanding because if I can’t go to a bar, at least I can think that I am at a bar. Speaking of bars, will they ever be the same?

I have also been fascinated by BTC (bitcoin), Ether and truthfully, the entire story about blockchain technology known as D3. The more I read, the dumber I become. These 20-year olds talk in a different language (mainly because D3 is a different language) and how they grew up to know this shit, I have no idea as they certainly didn’t teach this in high school. According to its fans, this will be the next big thing like the Internet was in 1995 and will be how payments are made among other things. Companies like The Graph, Polkadot, Cosmos and hundreds others are the new black web just itching to become mainstream. One of my guru’s that I follow predicts BTC is in the very early stages of development and will be worth over $150K next year and can approach $500K per coin. Then again, if GameStop can go from $4 to $159 in a couple weeks, anything is possible.

OK, enough of all that. Let’s talk beauty for a moment. Finally after more than one year in development, Ginger Lily Farms ZeroDerm is launched, the first 100% allergen-free and everything-free personal products for bath and body. With so many people allergic to just about something, this is going to be a really fun product launch. Line includes Hand Soap, Body Wash, Shampoo, Conditioner, Hand Soap, and coming next month, the signature product: 24-hour Moisturizing Lotion. All at $24.99 gallon.

ZeroDerm Advanced Therapy Nourishing Body Wash has a velvety and lush consistency and makes skin feel clean, smooth and healthy. Fragrance-free. Gallon.

Happy Monday!

Happy New Year!

How excited are you about 2021?

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One thing we can all agree upon: Take a giant tarp, fill it with everything bad from 2020, roll it up and put it in an incinerator to burn. That is the best way of remembering 2020 and getting over it.

Now comes 2021. A new calendar. 365 new days. What is going to be different?

January 21 we will at least have a new President. Biden will find out early January if he controls both the House & Senate or just the House (House is my best guess).

Other than that and everyone getting a year older, what really is going to be different? We want to be optimistic (a good trait about being human) and look for 2021 to bring a sense of normalcy back to our lives. Yes, we have a vaccine, yes we have stimulus and yes, we have reasons to be positive.

The big question in 2021 is how long that optimism and positivity will last. If for some magical moment we can make it last throughout, then we are headed for a much better year. But if that moment collapses, what is left to do? The government, even Biden & Harris, can’t write continuous checks and bail out everyone.

Here in MI, just about everything is still closed and we are looking towards January 15 for at least restaurants to reopen. Then again, dining out in the middle of winter is not the most fun thing to do. The state of CA has zero capacity in their ICU units and now with the new strain detected in CO, what will become of that?

Many of our customers are still struggling and resort spas are running at minimal capacity if they are even open. The number of nail salons that have closed just in NYC alone is astounding. The restaurant association states upwards of 20% of restaurants have shut down. The fate of small business is up in the air (literally).

What do I think? For those that care, the first six months is going to be like the past six months. We have to hope that all the holiday travel did not create new spikes and that the numbers start to recede. We have to hope that we can get 75-80% of the population vaccinated before July 1. We have to hope that the new strain is very limited and if not, the current vaccine can cure it. Bottom line: We have to hope.

The back half of 2021? Everyone is banking on a full recovery and even cruise ships sailing again (albeit most likely not until November). The big question we all have to ask ourselves is what does a full recovery even look like? So many habits have been changed, many of us will never go back to what we used to do or what we used to take for granted. I still value an amazing mani/pedi/massage and thank God that Amazon/Shopify have not figured out how to do these services on an app (I am sure that is coming, HA!).

TNG Worldwide is well positioned for 2021 and I am very excited to assist our customers in reaching their aspirations and goals. I am geeked about our new website launching January 4 along with some very cool product ideas. I am excited about containers of gloves showing up so we can continue to help our customers with the most basic of items. I cannot tell you how many doctors, nurses, nursing homes, funeral homes and first care providers we assisted in 2020. Truthfully, I will be very happy to sell pedi slippers, wax beads, Triple Treat and EMMA Beauty, the true return to normalcy. Last but not least I can’t wait for the launch of EMMA Active nail polish also coming January 4.

Happy New Year to you, my loyal readers and with that, the most important hopes are for health, safety and well-being. Whatever 2021 deals us, after 2020, we are more than ready to move forward. Thank you!

Larry