Thursday, February 22, 2018
via The Sartorialist
Thursday, February 22, 2018
via The Sartorialist
The latest OVO x Jordan Brand sneaker was raffled just days ago but it may very well be the final collaborative drop. According to footwear industry insiders close to Drake, as well as HYPEBEAST’s own sources, the rapper is unhappy with his Jordan brand partnership and is seeking a deal more to his liking.
Sources also say that the rapper is in talks with adidas to forge a new partnership, where he would join peers like Kanye West and Pusha T — West famously left Nike for adidas for similar reasons. Drake and Jordan Brand have worked together since 2013, with a host of Jordan silhouettes reworked by Drake’s OVO imprint in the past five years. The rapper favors the Air Jordan 8, but has collaborated on a variety of silhouettes, including last year’s off-kilter Trunner LX.
On top of the various rumblings, adidas informed HYPEBEAST that it had a special announcement planned for last weekend’s 747 Warehouse St. activation, however by Saturday, that announcement was postponed. Lastly, we’ve noticed that Drake has been liking some of our Instagram photos of various adidas silhouettes (see below), something he never did in the past.
Stay tuned for more information, neither Jordan Brand nor Drake have confirmed or denied the rumors. 2018 has barely begun and its already a banner year for Drake, with his "God Plan" already hitting triple platinum status.
Why do we do certain things, and not others? It’s a question that has long-intrigued Gretchen Rubin, a former lawyer, and bestselling author of Better Than Before and The Happiness Project. After dedicating more than a decade to researching human nature and documenting patterns, Rubin came to a profound realization: The key to understanding our actions is how we respond to expectations, of which there are two kinds, outer (i.e. work deadlines, friend requests) and inner (i.e. learning a new language or following through on a resolution). This spawned her personality framework, The Four Tendencies, which categorizes people into four distinct groups according to how we respond to expectations.
It’s also the basis of her (aptly named) latest book, The Four Tendencies, in which she explores each personality type, shedding light on why certain things are easier for some to accomplish, and harder for others–and how we can both better understand ourselves and those around us. It’s as much a fascinating look at human nature as it is a razor-sharp, witty guide to figuring out how we can work around our inherent tendencies to live our best lives. Below, she gives some tools, whether we want to learn how to play guitar, be more accountable at work, or simply better understand our partners.
You begin your book with the idea that we all face two types of expectations–outer and inner–and how we respond to them clarifies striking behavioral patterns. Can you explain this?
Outer expectations are the expectations that come to us from other people, such as a work deadline or a request from a friend. It’s something that is coming from outside of ourselves. Inner expectations are the expectations that we place on ourselves: We want to keep a New Year’s resolution; we want to write a novel in our free time; we want to get back into practicing guitar. So, depending on the combination of whether you meet an outer or an inner expectation, or resist an outer or inner expectation, you fall into one of the four categories.
What are the four tendencies, and how do we identify ours?
The four tendencies are: Upholders, Obligers, Questioners, and Rebels.
Upholders readily meet outer and inner expectations. They meet the work deadline and they keep the New Year’s resolutions. They want to know what others expect from them, but their expectations for themselves are just as important.
Questioners question all expectations. They’ll do something only if they think it makes sense—so, they make everything an inner expectation. If it meets their inner standards, great. If not, they’ll resist it. Questioners tend to dislike anything arbitrary, inefficient, unjustified. They always want to know: Why should I do this?
Obligers readily meet outer expectations but they struggle to meet inner expectations. They meet the work deadline, but they struggle to meet their New Year’s resolution. I got my insight into this tendency when a friend of mine said, “I don’t understand it: When I was on the high school track team I never missed practice, so why can’t I go running now?” The reason is clear: When she had a team and a coach–an outer expectation–she had no trouble showing up, but trying to go running on her own to fulfill her inner expectation, she struggled.
Rebels defy all outer and inner expectations. They want to do what they want to do in their own way, in their own time. If you ask or tell them to do something, they are likely to resist. They typically don’t even like to tell themselves what to do. For instance, they likely wouldn’t sign up for a 10 a.m. yoga class on Saturday because they don’t know what they’ll want to do on Saturday–and the idea of somebody expecting them to show up someplace will likely annoy them.
You created a quiz that helps us discover our tendencies, but how do we identify another’s tendency without having them take the quiz?
There are certain questions you can ask. These questions will not necessarily lead to an answer that’s going to be dispositive, but it’s the way a person answers, and the kinds of thinking these questions invoke, that can signal what tendency someone is.
One question is: “How do you feel about New Year’s resolutions?” (To be clear—it’s not, “Do you make resolutions?” but rather, “How do you feel about them?”)
Upholders will typically say they like making New Year’s resolutions and they have good success with them. Questioners will likely say that they’d make a resolution if it makes sense for them, but they wouldn’t wait for January 1 because that’s an arbitrary date. (The use of word “arbitrary” is a big flashing signal that you’re dealing with a questioner.) Obligers will likely say that they don’t make New Year’s resolutions anymore because they’ve let themselves down in the past. Rebels typically don’t want to chain themselves to New Year’s resolutions.
Another question is: “Let’s say we’re sitting in the back room of an empty coffee shop where there’s a big sign that reads ‘no cell phones’ and I pull out my cell phone–how would you feel?”
Upholders would typically say they feel very uncomfortable. Questioners would ask the justification of the rule. Obligers would ask if you’re bothering anybody or if the server is going to get you in trouble. Rebels would say, “Absolutely, pull out your cell phone! I’ll pull out mine and take a picture of you under the sign!”
But again, it’s not that there’s one answer–you have to listen to the way people think.
How does understanding our tendencies and others’ tendencies help us navigate our lives and relationships?
It gives you a vocabulary to describe the way people respond to the world. It also allows you to understand and manage yourself better. If something is frustrating you about yourself, you can work to make adjustments. If you’re an Obliger, you can see you need more outer accountability. Or if you’re a Rebel and you struggle with to-do lists—which often don’t work for rebels—you may have to put a rebel spin on it to make it work for you. There are answers, there are solutions.
The tendencies also allow you to show more compassion and understanding for other people because you can see that something may come easily for you, but it’s a struggle for others. It doesn’t mean you’re lazy or have no willpower–or that I’m right and you’re wrong. It means that we need different circumstances to thrive. So, it’s a matter of creating those circumstances that will work for us.
It’s very hard to fight the impulse to assume that people see the world the way you do. People are really different from each other. So, when you have a word for it, and you see how they’re responding differently, all of a sudden you don’t have to take it personally. For instance, if a Questioner is asking you question after question after question—you don’t have to feel defensive, or like he or she is undermining your authority. It’s just who they are. I think this can take away a lot of conflict and help people get where they’re going faster.
How much does our tendency play a role in choosing a career, a partner, or even our friends?
One of the things about the tendencies is that they only describe a narrow aspect of personalities. For instance, you could line up fifty Upholders and depending on how intellectual they each were, how considerate of other people’s feelings there were, or how extroverted or introverted they were, they would all be different from each other except for one thing: how they meet expectations. So, when you are talking about people pairing up, obviously so many factors go into this. It’s not like all Xs should be with all Ys, or all of this tendency should have this type of job. With that said, there are striking patterns.
For instance, if there is a Rebel and she or he is paired up, either at work or in a romantic relationship, it’s often with an Obliger. That is a dominant pattern.
One of the pairings that tends to be the most difficult is Upholder and Rebel. This is not to say I haven’t heard of Upholders and Rebels working together or being married, but this pairing tends to have the most conflict because they are the most extreme personality types—and they’re opposite of each other. If you take one person who thrives on meeting expectations and typically loves schedules and routines and to-do lists, and the other who loves to be spontaneous and hates to-do lists, this can be hard to make work. So, an upholder parent and a rebel child, or an upholder child and a rebel parent, can be tough.
But no matter the pairing, knowing your tendencies allows you—and others—to anticipate problems.
Is it possible for someone to rebel against their tendency, perhaps to please themselves or others, or are we hardwired?
I do think we’re hardwired and that this is part of our inborn nature. But, with time, experience, and wisdom, we can learn to harness the strengths of our tendency and offset its weaknesses and limitations so that we can better get where we’re going. For instance, many Obligers have built their lives so they have outer accountability for their inner expectations. For instance, if an Obliger wants to play music, she or he could join a band. Or if you want to read more, you could join a book club. So, to me, it’s about doing the simple thing to build the life you want. Don’t try to change your inborn nature—just work with it.
One of the most well-known instruments for understanding how different personality profiles respond to external expectations is the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator. Does this method, or any others, inspire your work?
While I love personality frameworks and feel they all have their own nuances and illuminate a different way of looking at human nature, I did not use them to create the four tendencies. This one came out of trying to understand why people could or could not change habits. I was writing my book Better Than Before, and I was wondering how you explain the difference in habit formation. I was observing all these patterns around me, as well as in books and on TV, such as why this child is having such trouble finishing his homework, or why this person is always arguing with her boss, and I realized these were more than habits–these were life tendencies.
What is your biggest obstacle in teaching people about The Four Tendencies?
The most common problem is with Questioners because they question the framework. What’s interesting to me is that Questioners feel like they’re a mix of everything. For instance, I was speaking to a high school student and he said to me, “Sometimes I’m a Rebel and sometimes I’m an Upholder.” He gave me the example that if it’s a teacher he respects, he’ll do what she or he says, so he’s an Upholder. But then if it’s a teacher he doesn’t respect, he won’t and therefore he’s a Rebel. And I said, “No, you are 100 percent a Questioner because the first thing you’re doing is asking—why should I listen to you? I’ve spent a lot of time arguing with Questioners about the framework.
Another interesting thing is how often Rebels think they are Upholders—but Rebels can do anything they want to do. So, if you have an ambitious, highly considerate Rebel, they can look like an Upholder. But if you scratch the surface and look deeper, you can really see this is a Rebel.
It seems that Obligers face some of the greatest challenges because they don’t say “no” enough, which can lead to feeling exploited, overworked, and even “Obliger-rebellion”–when an Obliger experiences burnout and uncharacteristically starts saying “no” to everything. How can an Obliger avoid this?
I think Obliger-rebellion is mysterious for many Obligers. They never had a word for this building feeling of being exploited, and they didn’t know other people experienced it. For many Obligers, the experience feels explosive, like a balloon bursting under pressure and yet you’re not really signaling to the outside world that this is happening. Obligers may not know they’re about to burst–and when they do, people may not be helpful or sympathetic.
So, I think for a lot of Obligers, it helps, for starters, to just realize that this is something that happens. And if you let it get to full Obliger-rebellion, then, as far as I can tell, it has to work itself out; it has to wear out. When Obligers start to recognize this building feeling, though, they can do things to relieve the pressure. For instance, you can say, “If I say yes to this, I have to say no to something else.” Or you could think about your future self, like: “Right now I want to say yes, but the future me is going to be annoyed–so, I have to say no now.” You can also take some time, or ask someone for their opinion. There’s a lot of things you can do once you know that it’s happening.
Gretchen Rubin is the author of numerous books, including bestsellers The Happiness Project, Better Than Before, and her most recent, The Four Tendencies. Widely recognized as an influential observer of happiness and human nature, she is also the host the podcast Happier with Gretchen Rubin. For more of Rubin’s work, head over to her website, www.gretchenrubin.org.
via Wellness – Goop
Apple will reportedly be updating its AirPods this year, according to Bloomberg. The earbuds, originally released in 2016, will now feature an improved wireless chip, in addition to enhanced Siri activation.
All you have to do to access the Apple assistant is say “Hey Siri.” Currently, you must tap one of the AirPods in order to alert Siri. In addition, Apple is also expected to make the earbuds water-resistant in 2019.
In terms of the aforementioned chip, the accessory currently houses a W1 chip that connects the iPhone to compatible Beats and AirPods. It remains to be seen exactly what improvements will be made to such technology.
For more on the new and improved AirPods, follow over to Bloomberg.
In related news, Apple’s iOS 11.2.6 update inadvertently removes one essential feature. Head here to find out what that entails.
Speaking during an appearance on ESPN’s podcast The Plug, Chris Tucker dropped the biggest hint yet that Rush Hour 4 will definitely be hitting the big screen. This comes after Jackie Chan confirmed late last year on The Cruz Show that he has also agreed to take part in the project.
When asked if Tucker would ever be teaming up with Chan again to revive their wildly popular, crime-fighting duo of the 2000s, the actor said: “It’s happening. This is gonna be the rush of all rushes. Jackie is ready and we want to do this so that people don’t ever forget it.”
Last year, Chan stated: “For the last seven years, we’ve been turn[ing] down. turn[ing] down the script. But yesterday we agreed.” As part of that statement, Chan said Tucker was still undecided at the time but following Tucker’s latest comments it seems everyone is on board and ready to shoot Rush Hour 4.
Listen to snippets from the podcast below and then let us know your thoughts in the comments.
BREAKING NEWS: @christuckerreal confirms on #ThePlugESPN that Rush Hour 4 is happening and in the works saying, “It will be the rush of all rushes.” 🎧 NOW http//:https://t.co/HMV5KhiVVi #BreakingNews #RushHour4 #TheUndefeated pic.twitter.com/e84vte4Xbv
— Terri Foster-Brasby (@SheKnowsSports_) February 21, 2018
In other news, this is why Gucci models carried their own heads at the brand’s FW18 show yesterday.
Kevin Durant‘s tenth signature model with Nike will carry on KD’s ongoing dedication to his late Aunt Pearl, who passed away due to lung cancer in 2000. The forthcoming launch incorporates Pink Pearl coloring throughout the entire sneaker, unlike the previous black-based edition. Nods to the Kay Yow Cancer Fund return with a pink ribbon found behind the tongue, in addition to a special wings design showcased on each heel, much like the strap on the Nike KD 7 "Aunt Pearl" from 2015.
Retailing for $150 USD, the Nike KD 10 "Aunt Pearl" is expected to drop on February 28 at select Nike Basketball retailers and online. For more, watch Kevin Durant and LeBron James talk pressure, the All-Star Game and President Trump.
Following the release of "Carpoolin" earlier this month, Vallejo’s own SOB x RBE is back with another single today titled, "Anti Social." The track serves as the group’s second single from their forthcoming debut album Gangin, set to arrive this Friday. In addition to the new track, SOB x RBE will also be on a run of tour dates with Post Malone and 21 Savage later this year alongside their 9 headlining shows on the West Coast.
Check out all the headlining dates down below, while pre-orders for Gangin are available now through iTunes.
SOB x RBE Headlining Tour Dates:
3/17 – Oakland, CA @ Fox Theater
3/23 – Reno, NV @ Cargo Concert Hall at Whitney Peak Hotel
3/24 – Eugene, OR @ McDonald Theatre
3/25 – Arcata, CA @ Arcata Community Center
4/06 – Santa Ana, CA @ The Observatory
4/10 – Fresno, CA @ Azteca Theater
4/11 – Chico, CA @ Senator Theatre
4/13 – Santa Cruz, @ CA The Catalyst
4/14 – Sacramento, @ CA Ace of Spades
After Pharrell‘s Billionaire Boys Club x adidas Hu NMD Trail dropped at towards the end of 2017, speculation has been rising about another collaboration. The latest leaked images shoe sneakers with a yellow, white and blue striped pattern across the upper. The potential new sneaker is similar to the last images to emerge, although it doesn’t feature the words "Heart" and "Mind" along the upper.
Other features of the sneaker include the BBC logo in gold, sitting towards the rear, as well as the group’s "B" logo replacing Pharrell branding on the left heel tab. Elsewhere, the sneaker includes classic NMD Hu Trail features such as the lacing cage and rugged outsole. It appears these images are of the shoe in sample stage, so this may not be how the sneaker looks when it releases — which is slated to be later this year.
In other footwear news, take a closer look at Raf Simons’ latest adidas collaboration.
Fashion week recently ended in New York for the Fall/Winter 2018 collections. I saw a lot of beautiful color on the runways and some inspiring outfits off the runway. The big street style trends were white pointy toed boots, oversized coats, menswear fabrics and plaid, the color red, and small sunglasses.
Another trend that I still keep seeing are cropped pants and jeans with boots. This is the one style that I don’t think it flattering on most people. On a tall woman, it looks like she couldn’t find pants that were long enough and on a petite woman, it cuts her legs off in an unflattering way.
I’ve put together a lot of the ensembles that I did find flattering and inspiring for the end of winter and early spring.
Bon week-end !
This is the cropped jean/pant look that I was referring to above. It looks good on her but I don’t think it’s flattering on most women.
via Habitually Chic®
“Dangerfield eliminated everything from his act
but the setups and punchlines”
Dangerfield reduced his act to just two lines: setup and punchline.
“Anytime you limit somebody, it always – in terms of resources – kind of creates opportunities. Our movies have few visual effects”
Blumhouse films have grossed over $2 billion worldwide.
“What if there were no punch lines? What if there were no indicators? What if I created tension and never released it? What if I headed for a climax, but all I delivered was an anticlimax? What would the audience do with all that tension? Theoretically, it would have to come out sometime. But if I kept denying them the formality of a punch line, the audience would eventually pick their own place to laugh, essentially out of desperation”
In this case, Martin’s constraint was to deny the audience the very thing they expected to be at the core of a comedy routine.
In working with entrepreneurs I often first ask them to consider what to remove from their service or application. Maybe this also applies more generally. We could then regularly embrace what happens simply by applying constraints to what we do.
When the Air Jordan 1 “Bred Toe” previews first begin to circulate last year, it was widely assumed that the remastered AJ1 would be limited like the “Shattered Backboard,” “Top 3,” and others of a similar volition. But thanks to at least one retailers release details, this much-anticipated shoe is anything but.
Foot Locker yesterday unveiled their launch locator which reveals the shoe is vastly populated throughout their shops across the States. This is about as wide a general release as you’re going to see for an Air Jordan 1 of this magnitude, so you’d be smart to take advantage.
Expect the “Bred Toe” 1s on Saturday, February 24, for $160 USD.
Colorway: Gym Red/Black-Summit White
Style #: 555088-610
Release Date: February 24, 2018
lead image by @aaronkkai
Out of the box artists may be gaining on basketball fanatics in regards to defining sneaker culture in 2018, but make no mistake, LA has never had a shortage of either.
Coming out in a big way for the All Star Weekend festivities, the Nike Makers of the Game space opened on a work day with Black Mamba fanatics, aspiring designers and Supreme soaked swaggers all taking time to line up for a chance at the UNDFTD x Nike Kobe 1 Protro and a chance to put in their 10% on the Swoosh’s smooth DIY lineup.
Similar to the AF1 custom spaces that popped up over the globe for the shoe’s famed 35th anniversary, this creative co-working space in downtown LA offered attendees the chance to dip-dye, airbrush, stamp, scribble and over-brand the likes of the Air Force 1, Air More Money, Vandal High and Air Huarache.
Weaving through the same LA traffic Drake made mention on of “Only,” arriving at the Makers Lab was well worth the trek. Upon entrance, a variety of Ekins were on site to slap fives and big-up designs while everything was on the table to make your 1-of-1s as wild, extra or just plain true to the wearer as could be.
Going the airbrush way on my left pair while keeping it player on the right side, the finished product turned out perfectly unfinished as I can doodle and dye these from home as I un-DS them around Austin. I must say, while I’m super stoked on my Air Force 1s the Air More Moneys people were customizing with added Swoosh styling and scribble details like a young KG were the top of the pops to me.
Exiting the space early due to flu like symptoms attained days earlier on the road, making my own Nikes in the city that Kobe introduced me to as a kid couldn’t have been any doper. Perhaps even better than making them though? Dipping out early and talking kicks with all the LA locals that camped out to get the UNDFTD x Nike Kobe 1 Protros. As someone that works as a creative but lives for hoops, it couldn’t have been cooler than chopping it up with fellow fans that grew up on Bean and lit up once they heard he was going to be at the space later that day.
While everyone won’t be able to get a pair of the UNDFTD Kobes, it’s hard to imagine a better roll out for the Protro line than this. Setting things off in the city he made his name with the shop he rolled up to in a DeLorean is right on time, setting the stage for one of the best signature reboots in time.
Come next year in Charlotte, could we see both worlds collide even more? Makers Lab Kobes, Huaraches or other hoop models of the performance, retro or Protro variety? I can personally say the only thing cooler than wearing around my 1-of-1 Forces would be playing in 1-of-1 Kobes. Hmmmmmm…….
Thanks to Nike for the opportunity, looking forward to see what Charlotte holds in 2019.
Kevin Durant sure knows how to keep a promise. After vowing years ago to always honor his late aunt, who passed of lung cancer back in 2000, later this month will mark the seventh edition of the Nike KD “Aunt Pearl,” with partial sales proceeds going to the Kay Yow Cancer Fund that was founded in 2007.
Like all past editions, pink is the shoes primary color and function with this variation being no different. Flyknit fabrication blankets this KDX along with matching laces, tongue branding and midsole tooling. A feathered heel accentuates the heel while a red tribute ribbon is seen behind the tongue.
The Nike KDX “Aunt Pearl” is set to release on February 28 for $150 at Nike.com.
Colorway: Pink Pearl/White-Sail
Style #: AQ4110-600
Release Date: February 28, 2018
From Wakanda to the Billboard‘s Top 200, Black Panther: The Album takes the throne. Curated by Kendrick Lamar and TDE’s CEO Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith, the compilation album features various artists including Kendrick Lamar, SZA, The Weeknd and others. The soundtrack pulled in 154,000 units in its first week sales and has become the second soundtrack (The Greatest Showman) to debut at number 1 this year.
Black Panther hit theaters on Thursday, February 15 and has grossed $192 million in three days. It is projected to put close out weekend at $218 million.
via Rap Radar
Making history is just what black people do, y’all.
Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan’s collective work together averages at least a 92-93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Their latest project, Marvel’s Black Panther, is now the fifth-highest-grossing movie at the box office and proved once-and-for-all that black people can lead a film and sell it out at the same damn time. With all this #blackexcellence going on with these two, it comes as no surprise as they will be reuniting on a new film: Wrong Answer.
Based on the 2006 standardized test cheating scandal at Atlanta public schools, Jordan will portray math teacher Damany Lewis, who joined the effort in order to prevent his school from shutting down under provisions of the “No Child Left Behind” law. That year, 11 teachers were indicted on racketeering allegations.
Coogler will direct the movie, plus produce it alongside Brad Pitt and his Plan B production company. New Regency will fully finance the movie. Ta-Nehisi Coates is also on board, as he will use Rachel Aviv’s 2014 New Yorker story of the same name to write his script. Aviv will serve as a consultant on the project with Damany Lewis, who also hails from The Bay Area in California.
Jordan will next been seen in HBO’s Fahrenheit 451 and the sequel to Creed, which will be directed this time by Steven Caple Jr..
No word as to when production will start, but this is certainly another project to put on your must-watch calendar.
The post Ryan Coogler & Michael B. Jordan Will Reteam Again For Education Scandal Movie “Wrong Answer” appeared first on Okayplayer.
If you’re a real, true blue, A+ type student and lover of hip-hop then you know the name (and rhymes) of Big Daddy Kane. His rep is impeccable and the slew of MCs that were inspired by him are Hall of Fame worthy themselves (see: Jay-Z). To let a new generation of hip-hop fans learn just how dope King Asiatic really is, BDK performed a short set of classics for NPR’s Tiny Desk.
Turning the space into an office block party, the rap pioneer kicked off a slew of hits such as “Ain’t No Half Steppin’,” “Raw,” “Smooth Operator,” and a bonus freestyle just to let you know he never lost it. During his set he used an interlude between songs to address the intergenerational divisiveness defining rap today and the importance of fans of all ages supporting whatever they like, while “focusing on what’s positive and keeping that in the spotlight.”
The breakout member of the Juice Crew popularized quick-cadence flows, multisyllabic rhyme schemes, some really slick dance moves and ensuring that your live show is one-of-a-kind. As hip-hop has become the most popular genre and a global phenomenon, Tiny Desk does the game a true solid by showcasing a legend who laid the foundation down before the rest of the world became aware.
Watch the performance below and check out the setlist underneath that:
• “Smooth Operator”
• “Ain’t No Half Steppin”
The post Big Daddy Kane Shows Why He’s One Of The Greatest In New NPR ‘Tiny Desk’ Performance appeared first on Okayplayer.
via Music : NPR
The artist formerly known as Young Thug will now go by SEX, according to a pair of tweets he posted overnight. “I’m changing my name to SEX….” he wrote in the early hours. “For now on call me SEX!!!” Back in 2016, Thug stirred some confusion over whether his name had changed to JEFFERY, or, as he later implied, No, My Name Is JEFFERY. It turned out the former was just the name of a mixtape he released as Young Thug shortly after. Pitchfork has emailed his reps for comment.
His last full-length was the Future collab Super Slimey.
Watch Mitski rate Young Thug and more on Pitchfork.tv’s “Over/Under”:
Sade has recorded new original music for the upcoming film adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time. Director Ava DuVernay made the announcement via Twitter earlier today, writing, “I never thought she’d say yes, but asked anyway. She was kind + giving. A goddess. We began a journey together that I’ll never forget. Proud to announce that Sade has created an original song for WRINKLE IN TIME. It’s entitled ‘Flower of the Universe.’ And it’s a dream come true.” Find that below.
Sade’s last studio album with her eponymous band, Soldier of Love, was released in 2010. A Wrinkle in Time stars Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, and more. It also features a new song from Demi Lovato and DJ Khaled titled “I Believe.” The film hits theaters on March 9.
It’s standing room only in the Thumbtack cafeteria at the last “all thumbs” meeting of the year. Marco Zappacosta, the company’s bearded, 32-year-old cofounder and CEO, grabs the microphone in front of more than 300 staffers at the San Francisco headquarters, as 300 others stream in from a customer service center in Salt Lake City.
He cues up an emoji-filled graph of his “emo ro-co”—startup pidgin for “emotional roller coaster”—from the past year. Zappacosta’s nine-year-old platform connects customers with local professionals to book everything from landscaping services to math tutoring. The rocky ride over the past year was tied to the company’s development of a new system called Instant Match, which automates the bidding process for pros and algorithmically pairs them with customers’ job requests.
The emojis form a bowl shape: In the early months of 2017, a crest of happy faces marks Zappacosta’s “blissful ignorance,” followed by a mid-year dip into crying and befuddlement, “when we were just crawling through.” At year’s end, though, a series of smiling and lovestruck faces rises triumphantly—that’s when Zappacosta realized, “Holy shit, we actually have a way to do this!” Thumbtack had transformed the process of finding and hiring service providers online for its users.
The mood of the meeting is businesslike but light—a tone befitting a startup now valued as a unicorn with young founders, and, by a scan of the room, few employees over 40 years old. A guy near the front of the room holds a mallet over a toy xylophone to gong off speakers whose updates stretch longer than two minutes. Meanwhile, Thumbtack’s business is thrumming along, as real-time requests for pros and bids for projects bloop up on a digital map of the United States that fills a nearby screen:
LEAH REQUESTED A COSTUME CHARACTER —somewhere in Nevada
JONATHAN SUBMITTED A QUOTE AS A CARPET CLEANER —in Alabama
These interactions now add up to $1 billion a year in commerce, all booked through Thumbtack. Although the company, which charges service providers a fee when customers contact them in response to a quote, is not yet profitable, Zappacosta predicts it can be by the end of 2019, thanks to Instant Match. In late September, after months of testing, Thumbtack publicly introduced the new system, which personalizes matches to the specific skills and expertise of each pro. It will be extended, in the coming months, to all 1,000 professional categories on the platform.
The feature pushed the company’s quest to monetize local services into hyperdrive: Some pros saw their bookings increase up to 50% by year’s end. It also helped Thumbtack take a major step toward becoming a truly seamless, digital marketplace for the country’s $700 billion–grossing local services industry. As Zappacosta sees it, he’s building a platform where users can book a caterer, plumber, or hairdresser as easily as ordering a book on Amazon, making him a potentially powerful ally to small-business owners across the country.
“Typically, the universe makes it very easy to spend your money,” Zappacosta says over lunch in the Thumbtack cafeteria a couple weeks before his year-end meeting. “But this is a world where it’s hard to spend money.” Zappacosta and his three cofounders, Sander Daniels, Jonathan Swanson, and Jeremy Tunnell, realized as much 10 years ago, during one of their weekly calls to brainstorm startup ideas that could address big problems. They landed on, “Why’s it so damn hard to hire a plumber?” Why do you have to call around, explain your problem, compare bids—or just hire the first company you encounter, and wonder if you’re getting snowed? To Zappacosta and his cofounders, a better way was inevitable. “Someone will build an Amazon- or Alibaba-size company in this space,” he says. “There’s so much money being spent, and it’s almost entirely offline and analog. There’s no way in 5 to 10 years we’re still hiring pros in the same way.”
Internet companies have tried to monetize local services since Citysearch launched in the mid-’90s, sending salespeople out on foot to convince local businesses that the World Wide Web was real and they should be on it. Since then, scores of companies have delved into reviewing or listing service providers (Yelp, Angie’s List); some have tried to make them on-demand (TaskRabbit, which sold to Ikea last fall). But Instant Match is the first to provide instantaneous quotes on specific jobs in a vast spectrum of fields. Its job categories extend from house cleaners to personal trainers, tax accountants to Santas. The site now hosts 250,000 active pros spread across all but two counties of the United States. And it’s far from a coastal phenomenon: Among the markets with the top requests per capita are Atlanta, Salt Lake City, and Minneapolis.
Today, the average quote on Thumbtack is $500, excluding pricey home improvement jobs, which are negotiated offline. While other platforms take a cut of the completed service bill (Amazon Home Services charges up to 20%) or require contractors to pay an annual membership (it’s $300 at HomeAdvisor) along with a fee for each lead, Thumbtack’s fee-per-contact model is premised on charging pros further down the hiring pipeline—when a customer responds to the quote—and lets the pro take home all of the money from the booked job. According to a recent company survey, pros earn an average of $70 an hour through the site—”a solid middle-class lifestyle,” Zappacosta says. Women, who make up 40% of Thumbtack pros, bid nearly 10% higher on jobs than men. (According to the company, women create better profiles to showcase their value.)
This puts Thumbtack in a rare position for a tech company. At a time when Silicon Valley is accused of destroying jobs through automation and AI, Thumbtack is using those tools to help people find well-paying work. After all, while software may be eating the world, it can’t dislodge the hairball in your sink pipe. “Things that can be automated will be automated,” Zappacosta says. The jobs that remain, he believes, will be local services.
True to brand, Thumbtack’s San Francisco office is a shrine to its pros. Paintings of top-rated cleaners and dog trainers line the lobby walls, and their photos bedeck conference rooms; during the holidays, staffers were encouraged to swing by a lobby desk to pen them personal greeting cards. On a December day, underperforming pros were invited in for free headshots and videos to burnish their profiles. Zappacosta addressed a conference table that was a real-life New Yorker cartoon in need of a wry caption: a magician absentmindedly shuffling a card deck sat next to a pink-haired DJ, next to a fit personal trainer in yoga pants, next to a piano teacher with a vintage pillbox hat and a piano-key scarf. After fielding their questions about Instant Match, the CEO concluded, “Without the great work you do, Thumbtack wouldn’t exist. We view it as a team sport.”
Plumbers were making good money before Thumbtack and will still make money should the company fail. To get them to participate (and keep them from penning a bad online review), Thumbtack has to find these small-business owners new customers at a high return on investment. That’s in stark contrast to the gig-economy model presented by Uber, whose amateur drivers wouldn’t be able to get fares without the app. Also, “Uber offers a commodity,” Zappacosta says. “All you care about is how cheap it is, so Uber’s incentive is to drive the cost down at the expense of the driver. In our case, these [pros] are not commodities: The reason they’re able to charge $75 an hour is [because] they do a differentiated service. Our goal is to pull them up and find the right customers.”
Thumbtack also doesn’t use salespeople to prod the small-business owners to join, so word of mouth is essential. “If we’re not able to engage and retain [our pros],” Zappacosta says, “we have nothing.”
When Kodi Hyles moved with her family from the Midwest to Texas a couple of years ago, it was to finally start her own makeup business. She set up Kodi the Pro Makeup Services, and advertised with Google AdWords and a wedding planner website. Business in the first months was sluggish, but then another makeup artist suggested Thumbtack. She signed on, and when Instant Match launched, she gave it a try.
Thumbtack’s executive team had decided, in late 2016, that it needed to shake up the platform to grow. Certainly, the company had come a long way from the days when the cofounders worked in a San Francisco house (where one of them lived in a closet, and not a walk-in one), running the business as a subscription service. They’d since landed on a model in which customers requested jobs and then waited for pros to write in with bids. (Thumbtack charged pros for each quote.) Busy pros would often lose out to competitors who had dedicated staff monitoring and bidding on Thumbtack. Others were frustrated when comparison-shopping customers didn’t respond to their paid-for bids. Meanwhile, some job requests didn’t receive any quotes, a turnoff for customers. “Imagine if Google didn’t have any results for some searches,” VP of product Noam Lovinsky says.
To get rid of such friction, Thumbtack needed to automate the bidding process, a monumental task. Finding a way to scale a business based on highly specialized services “is the holy grail,” says Citysearch cofounder Jeffrey Brewer. “The plumber doesn’t even know what the problem is until they put the snake into the pipe. When you start getting into the granularity of the business, they’re all so different and specialized.”
To create Thumbtack’s Instant Match system, the company’s engineering and data teams mined eight years’ worth of job information. They learned that dog groomers spend more time attending to fluffy-haired chow chows than smooth-coated beagles, for example, and charge accordingly. Wedding officiants like to specify which kinds of religious ceremonies they’ll perform, the zip codes they’ll travel to, and whether they’ll attend rehearsals or help write the vows. Thumbtack would also need to know these independent workers’ up-to-the-minute schedules, in order to suggest them for jobs. “No one wakes up saying, ‘I want to send bids,’ ” Zappacosta says. “The challenge is giving people enough control so that they trust Thumbtack to quote on their behalf as well as they could themselves.”
To set Instant Match in motion, the company now collects the job preferences, pricing details, and schedules of each pro and asks customers to fill out brief but incisive questionnaires with their job requests. The company’s algorithms predict which jobs a pro is best suited for and send out bids on her behalf. If a customer contacts her, Thumbtack charges the pro a dynamic fee based on the sticker price of the quote itself.
Thumbtack started rolling out Instant Match last February. By the end of the year, it had enabled the feature for nearly a quarter of job requests. Instant Match has boosted the number of quotes pros send out by 86%, and increased customer contacts by 60%. Anecdotally, workers have credited the feature with growing their bookings between 20% and 50%. “It was not just a small feature change,” says Lovinsky. “It was a full rewrite of our product.”
For Hyles, signing up for Instant Match immediately set her Texas makeup business boiling. A feature shows her the average price quoted on Thumbtack in her area for specific types of jobs—which Zappacosta says usually leads to pros setting their fees closer to the average. Not Hyles, who often quotes well above the average, given that she uses high-end products, has several certifications, and will travel even for smaller jobs. Each week, she sets a $120 budget cap on Thumbtack, which usually nets her about 100 quotes and 10 new clients.
Instant Match has gotten Thumbtack one step closer to the Amazon-like style of convenience that harried customers crave. But Zappacosta has no desire to fully emulate (or be bought by) the behemoth. “Amazon is good at ruthless efficiency,” he says. “It’s not known for its humanity, but humans are at the core of this experience.”
In recent years, Thumbtack has become something of a megaphone for small proprietors. Since 2012, the company has surveyed pros every month on the political and regulatory climate of cities and states. It uses the insights from this Small Business Friendliness Survey to advocate for its professionals. “We view it as our job to represent them and be their voice in these debates,” says Zappacosta.
In 2015, Thumbtack corralled 60 of its pros to talk to the U.S. Small Business Administration in Obama’s White House, and a company rep testified at an SBA hearing on federal regulatory fairness last summer. During the recent debate over the future of healthcare, Thumbtack released a survey showing that one-fourth of its pros credited the Affordable Care Act with giving them the confidence to start their own business. During a panel with Virginia senator Mark Warner at the company’s headquarters last year, Thumbtack’s managing counsel talked about the importance of portable benefits, which don’t rely on traditional employment.
Industry watchers like Steven Hill, an on-demand economy skeptic who wrote Raw Deal: How the “Uber Economy” and Runaway Capitalism Are Screwing American Workers, say Thumbtack could help its pros even more by gathering them into a pool to offer insurance and worker’s injury compensation. “If Thumbtack wants to be a cutting-edge company and part of the future,” he suggests, “they could say, ‘We are going to be a vehicle for these workers to get access to these benefits that workers have traditionally had.’ ” Zappacosta has mulled rolling out further benefits for workers. For the moment, he’s focused on delivering on his pros’ first priority: more customers. But as Thumbtack gains more power over the market—and, by extension, the small-business owners who increasingly rely on its platform—he may find himself under pressure to do more.
For Kodi Hyles, in Fort Worth, the money from her Thumbtack gigs has been its own benefit. Ninety percent of her work now comes from the platform, which brings in about $2,200 a month in earnings. Hyles has been so successful, in fact, that she recently bought an ElDorado shuttle bus and outfitted it with high-end couches, mirrors, and mood lighting. It’s the $10,000 mobile makeup studio that Thumbtack money built. Now, if the Instant Match system would allow her to set higher prices for brides than bridesmaids, she’d be totally happy. She told customer service as much in a recent call, and they said they’d work on it.
via Fast Company