Free webinar on Tuesday; Cool products at CES: Willow breast pump; Brunswick boat; Uber-Hyundai flying concept car

By Whitney Tilson

Friday, January 10, 2020
A A

1) My friends Porter Stansberry, Dr. Steve Sjuggerud, and Dr. David Eifrig of Stansberry Research are hosting a free webinar on Tuesday evening at 8 p.m. Eastern time, during which they’ll:

  • Reveal their 2020 market predictions for the first time,
  • Comment on gold, cryptocurrencies, and Steve’s “Melt Up” thesis, and
  • Tell you about Stansberry Research’s Portfolio Solutions product, which has three portfolios designed for capital gains, income, and a blended, all-encompassing one. Last year, these three portfolios were up 42.0%, 27.3%, and 32.6%, respectively.

As I mentioned, it’s free to hear what these very smart guys have to say. They’ll even share their No. 1 favorite stocks right now… just for tuning in. You can register for the event right here.

2) The single most innovative and life-altering product I saw at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas earlier this week was the Willow breast pump.

Most of my readers are men, so let me give some background before I describe the product… More than 80% of new mothers in the U.S. start out breastfeeding their babies, more than half are still doing so six months after birth, and 85% of women who breastfeed use a breast pump at some point.

This is what a typical breast pump looks like: a big, loud machine with tubes connected to suction cups and bulky collection bottles:

Jessica Shortall, author of the pumping advice book Work. Pump. Repeat, notes, “the whole thing is painful, ugly, loud, precarious in terms of its operability and dependability, and very exposing.”

These pumps can also affect a woman’s earnings because for a lot of jobs, if you’re not working, you’re not earning – imagine a hairdresser or a wedding photographer, for example. Even for women who don’t work or are on maternity leave, sitting there hooked up to a machine for hours every day is a huge waste of time (and it’s often lonely).

Now, at long last, Willow and another woman-led company with a similar product, Elvie, have developed a solution: completely self-contained, app-controlled, wearable pumps in the form of sleek, orb-shaped pods. It’s like going from a Trabant to a Tesla (TSLA). Here’s what a Willow pump looks like:

And here’s an Elvie in use:

At $499, they’re not cheap (though I saw a sign at the Willow booth saying you can save $50 by using code CES2020 – I don’t know how long this offer will last). But they’re total “game changers” (to quote one mom) – allowing women to pump while being completely mobile and in public. As one reviewer wrote of the Willow:

The best part about this pump is how discreet it actually is. Willow advertises that it is so quiet you can use it during a conference call. That is 100% true. The pump is nearly silent.

The beauty of this pump, in my opinion, though really comes with its ultra portable design. Since the cups are wireless and can be tucked away under your bra, you’re not glued to an electrical outlet, and you don’t have to hide in a designated pumping area. You might not want to wear this pump during an in-person meeting or at a business lunch, but you could totally wear it in your office or cubicle with confidence.

That said, I do look like Dolly Parton when I use the Willow Breast Pump. At 5’2” and 115 pounds, I have a pretty small frame, and wearing it transformed me into some kind of Austin Powers breast pump femmebot. I would not suggest wearing the Willow Breast Pump to a meeting with your boss, but for casual office use or on an airplane, a baggy cardigan or sweater hides it just fine (and larger framed women might have less of a problem with this).

Here are links to other online reviews I read (note that Willow now sells a reusable container in addition to one-time-use bags): here, here, here, here, and here.

P.S. I hadn’t planned to write so much about this, but the more research I did, the more interested I became. I remember well my wife’s endless pumping for our three daughters (now aged 23, 20, and 17) and how miserable of an experience it was!

P.P.S. I have to imagine that if men had to breastfeed (here’s a funny video spoofing this idea) or if there were more female venture capitalists, there would have been much more innovation in this sector long ago!

3) I was impressed with what I saw at the booth of Brunswick (BC), which makes marine engines and boats. This is a sweet-looking boat (though, fully loaded, it will set you back the better part of $1 million)!

The stock is pretty interesting as well. Here’s a good write-up that was posted on ValueInvestorsClub in June.

4) I loved the all-electric flying concept car/air taxi that Uber (UBER) and Hyundai unveiled (though it doesn’t change my view that Uber remains a great short). Here’s a New York Times article about it, Where’s Your Flying Car? Hyundai and Uber Say They’re Working on It, and here’s the full-size, nonworking model they had on display:

I even took a ride in it – though, alas, only in virtual reality!

They’re pretty aggressive in their promises about when it’ll be available: “Uber has said it plans to host flight demonstrations this year and make its service commercially available in 2023.” Yeah, right – I’ll take the over on that!

Best regards,

Whitney

Whitney Tilson

Get Whitney Tilson's Empire Financial Daily delivered straight to your inbox.

About Whitney Tilson

Prior to creating Empire Financial Research, Whitney Tilson founded and ran Kase Capital Management, which managed three value-oriented hedge funds and two mutual funds. Starting out of his bedroom with only $1 million, Tilson grew assets under management to nearly $200 million.

Tilson graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College with a bachelor's degree in government in 1989. After college, he helped Wendy Kopp launch Teach for America and then spent two years as a consultant at the Boston Consulting Group. He earned his MBA from Harvard Business School in 1994, where he graduated in the top 5% of his class and was named a Baker Scholar.

Click here for the full bio