May 31, 2019

Profit-seeking "unicorns" turn to side hustles

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Many well-known consumer service startups have begun supplementing their core businesses with secondary revenue streams.

Why it matters: After lukewarm investor reception to IPOs by Uber and Lyft, there’s increased pressure to find paths to profitability.

On-demand delivery companies, whose business model is most similar to ride-hail because of slim margins and human labor costs, have been drawing additional revenue in several different says.

  • Grocery delivery service Instacart gets paid to promote select packaged goods to consumers.
  • Meal delivery companies Postmates and DoorDash offer a range of services to restaurants, from order management software to a white-label delivery fulfillment service to merchants like Apple and Chipotle.

WeWork, best known for its flexible office rentals, sells office design and management services to companies that want to import the WeWork brand and experience without physically uprooting.

  • The company also is experimenting with such things as an elementary school and apartment building with flexible leases.

Airbnb is going with a more direct adjacency: Hotel bookings.

SoFi, which for years was best known for refinancing student loans, has recently launched new businesses like deposits and robo-advising.

The bottom line: Few of these initiatives will rival the core business, but might give future investors more comfort that growth needn't come at the indefinite expense of profit.

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Coronavirus kills 2 Diamond Princess passengers as South Korean cases surge

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's

Two elderly Diamond Princess passengers have been killed by the novel coronavirus — the first deaths confirmed among the more than 600 infected aboard the cruise ship.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed more than 2,100 people and infected over 75,000 others, mostly in mainland China, where the National Health Commission announced 114 new deaths since Wednesday.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Health

Massive MGM data breach: Guests' personal details posted on hacking site

The MGM Grand hotel in Las Vegas. Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

An MGM Resorts security breach last summer resulted in the personal details of 10.6 million guests published on a hacking forum this week, ZDNet first reported Wednesday.

Why it matters: Federal government employees and high-profile guests were affected by the breach, according to analysis by data breach monitoring service Under the Bridge and ZDNet — including officials from the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Microsoft staffers and singer Justin Bieber.

George Zimmerman sues Buttigieg and Warren for $265M

George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida, in November 2013. Photo: Joe Burbank-Pool/Getty Images

George Zimmerman filed a lawsuit in Polk County, Fla., seeking $265 million in damages from Democratic presidential candidates Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren, accusing them of defaming him to "garner votes in the black community."

Context: Neither the Massachusetts senator nor the former Southbend mayor tweeted his name in the Feb. 5 posts on what would've been the 25th birthday of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teen Zimmerman fatally shot in 2012. But Zimmerman alleges they "acted with actual malice" to defame him.