‘Inside Glossier,’ and 4 Other Stories We’re Reading This Week

Here’s what you missed while dreaming about America’s taco truck utopia…

BuzzFeed News: Inside Glossier, The Startup That Reached Cult Status By Selling Less

Selected by Kristen Poli, content strategy associate

I feel vaguely lucky to live in a world where a woman once known primarily by the designation “super intern” is now the well-respected CEO of one of the fastest-growing e-commerce brands in the U.S. In this piece, BuzzFeed examines Emily Weiss’s approach to Glossier’s brand strategy from all angles, from social posts to packaging.

The author attributes the success of the brand to its ability to listen to, and act on, requests from its highly active audience, a group that Weiss began curating four years ago when she launched her first publication, Into the Gloss. The brand prides itself on being cool but never tries too hard, a belief that seems to extend to everything from its Instagram aesthetic to its big-picture marketing strategy.

Weiss’s decision to tap into the socially savvy community she helped develop may make her an unlikely heroine of content marketing. Also, anyone who calls a product “tactile content” is worthy of a shoutout.

The New York Times: A Celebrity Z-List? Yes, It Exists

Selected by Dillon Baker, associate editor

It used to be that reality shows were the only place to make your name if you were desperate for fame and had no discernible skills. Create an outlandish audition tape, get in a couple of fights, spew your catch phrase repeatedly, rack up the media appearances—suddenly, you’re on the C-list.

Like pretty much everything related to the media, social media has changed that equation. Now, wannabe Kardashians can do it all on networks like Instagram and Snapchat. Instead of creating the next Keeping Up With the Kardashians, just post your crazy life on social media and, boom, you have a following.

This article goes in depth on the truly obscure celebrities who dominate the gossip of social networks—and how a new kind of media industry is evolving to monetize this so-called “Z-List.” I love articles like this, and for anyone interested in the dynamics of celebrity and media, it’s a must-read.

Startup Grind: I Got Scammed By A Silicon Valley Startup

Selected by Ann Fabens-Lassen, communications manager

This is probably the worst startup nightmare I’ve read to date. Although this former director of marketing didn’t out her former employer, it didn’t take long for the internet to figure out that the company in question is WrkRiot, which sells—or sold—recruiting software.

The CEO did just about everything wrong: from the illegal, like lying about his credentials and forging wire transfers, to just bad business decisions, like trying to launch a product with no differentiator or clear story.

If you work at a startup, this article will either terrify you or make you feel lucky, depending on your situation. And if, like many people outside of the startup bubble, you already think we’re all nuts for working in this industry, well, this article will certainly reaffirm your belief.

Ad Age: So You Sponsor Colin Kaepernick, Now What?

Selected by Brian Maehl, talent development manager

It’s been an interesting month for sponsorships and athletes. First, Speedo dropped Ryan Lochte after his incident in Rio. Now, Colin Kaepernick’s protest of the national anthem could convince sponsors like EA Sports and Apple-owned Beats that he’s not front-man material, depending on how they feel about his divisive stance (or, rather, kneel).

While Lochte’s situation is more or less due to stupidity, Kaepernick could be in hot water with sponsorships due to a political view. As The Ringer pointed out this week, athletes are joining sensitive conversations more often, and how sponsors react to this increasing overlap is huge. If athletes like Kaepernick are dropped, it’s reasonable to assume we’ll see a decrease in such activism. Perhaps brands will be even more selective with the athletes they pay. If sponsors don’t bat an eye, however, there may be even more incentive for athletes to use their platform to speak out.

The Ringer: A Short History of the Spotify–Apple Music Beef

Selected by Jordan Teicher, senior editor

I love corporate beefs. Big companies worth millions and billions spend so much time agonizing over how to be bland and appeal to everyone to make more money, but when those companies start fighting with each other, they finally show some personality. Passive-aggressive tweets, petty lawsuits, shady business moves—that stuff is tremendous.

This week, Victor Luckerson wrote a timeline of a beef that’s about to outgrow the slow-cooker: Spotify vs. Apple. The article has a great dek (“It’s West Coast vs. the Eastern Hemisphere”), some sharp one-liners (“In short, the titanic Streaming Wars are a desperate fight for survival for Spotify and a rounding error for Apple”), and a Shakespearian plot in which the company valued at $8 billion is the underdog.

It’s like Athens vs. Sparta, except full of egomaniacal pop stars and overpriced headphones.