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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
With a pair of improbable billion-dollar acquisitions, conglomerates have snapped up both of the cheap shaving startups that have shaken up the men's grooming business, Erica writes.
Giants like Amazon, Unilever and Walmart, though they are not necessarily stifling innovation, are swiftly buying out plucky companies that start to threaten them.
When it comes to shaving, the global industry goes back to the cave days, and is now worth more than $20 billion a year. But there are just 5 major global razor manufacturers, including the startups, says David Pakman, a venture capitalist at Venrock Partners and an early Dollar Shave investor.
Before the new companies came along, Schick and Gillette controlled about 90% of the U.S. market. Each charged around $20 for a three-week supply of popular brands like Mach III and Quattro, amounting to about a dollar a shave. And each had steadfast loyalty from its customers.
Men overpaid but what was the alternative if your aim was a naked face?
Now they've been gobbled up.
Just this week, Edgewell, the parent company of Schick, spent $1.37 billion on Harry's, which was launched in 2013 by two men not named Harry (Jeff Raider and Andy Katz-Mayfield).
The upside of these acquisitions for industry titans is obvious.
Inside Amazon's Baltimore warehouse. Photo: Erica Pandey/Axios
While Amazon provides UPS, FedEx and USPS with huge business, it is silently collecting mountains of data on the logistics industry through the movement of its own packages.
Erica writes: Amazon already has its own fleet of trucks and planes for some deliveries. With its data stash, it could soon get smart enough to eat the big shippers' lunch.
How it works: Amazon does not decide how a package will be shipped until it gets to the final station within a warehouse (photo above).
After making billions of decisions about how to ship packages to get them delivered as fast as possible, Amazon has insights any of the big shipping players would want. And it is using them to make its own shipping services sharper.
Photo: Marcos del Mazo/LightRocket/Getty
Were you away? No worries. Here is the top of Future for the week:
1. Long Island City's Amazon effect: A post-HQ2 boom
2. The AI weapons race: 7 countries may veer out of control
3. The future of the burger: Another tradition is under threat
4. Predicting the next power disaster: Utility companies are buying up AI
It's time to break up Facebook (Chris Hughes - NYT)
The most common jobs by age and pay (Stef Kight - Axios)
Water's most common form in the universe (Joshua Sokol - Quanta)
How to prevent far-right populism (Paul Hockenos - Foreign Policy)
Magic: The Gathering is the world's most complex game (MIT Tech Review)
Dalí in Barcelona. Photo: Jack Mitchell/Getty
Thirty years after his death, Salvador Dalí wants to take a photo with you.
Kaveh writes: In a Florida museum dedicated to the surrealist’s life, a new installation reanimates him in an interactive AI-altered video, or deepfake, The Verge’s Dami Lee reports.
Go deeper: Deepfakes for good (Axios)