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Recode Daily: How two direct-to-consumer startups iterated their way to success

Plus: The DOJ opened a fraud investigation into Tesla over CEO Elon Musk’s tweets; Postmates is a newborn unicorn; you can never go back to the old Twitter.

Here’s how two direct-to-consumer products iterated to success: “We launched with a pretty mediocre product,” Native deodorant CEO and founder Moiz Ali told the crowd at Day Two of our Code Commerce conference in New York City. How did he know? Customers said so. They also didn’t buy the product again and gave bad reviews. So Ali launched a better formula and quintupled revenue — the company was acquired by Procter & Gamble, and Target just started stocking the web-first brand. JT Marino, co-founder of Tuft & Needle, had a similar experience with his mattress brand. “What you learn in software and technology production is ‘release early and release often,’ and iterate based on customer feedback as fast as you can,” Marino said. For more highlights from the conference, check out our “Tales of Retail” pop-up section below. [Rani Molla / Recode]

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U.S. Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley officially cancelled a committee vote on Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination, which was scheduled for Thursday. Kavanaugh and his accuser, psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford, were expected to testify on Monday before the panel about Kavanaugh’s alleged 1982 sexual assault of Blasey Ford; she said yesterday that she wants the FBI to investigate Kavanaugh before she testifies. Kavanaugh’s friend Mark Judge, a conservative writer who has written controversial things about women and is an alleged witness to the incident, has declined to testify. Anita Hill suggests how to get the Kavanaugh hearings right, nearly three decades later. [Seung Min Kim, Robert Costa and John Wagner / The Washington Post]

The new Apple Watch Series 4 “has finally achieved something like the original goal of the Apple Watch,” The Verge’s Dieter Bohn writes. “It’s not quite a do-anything computer on your wrist, but it can be different things to different people now.” Bohn loves the new screen and battery life; Siri is still unreliable, he writes. [Dieter Bohn / The Verge]

The U.S. Justice Department is investigating Tesla over tweeted public statements made last month by CEO Elon Musk about taking the company private. Federal prosecutors reportedly opened a fraud investigation into the company after Musk tweeted last month that he had “funding secured” for the deal, an announcement that initially caused shares of the company to rise. Tesla stock dropped 2.5 percent to $287.60 on the news, and are down about 7.7 percent this year — far from Musk’s $420 takeover price. [Tom Schoenberg and Matt Robinson / Bloomberg]

For women at startups, the equity gap is worse than the well-documented pay gap. Women startup founders own 39 cents for every dollar of equity a male founder owns, according to a new study based on aggregated and anonymized data from more than 6,000 U.S.-based companies; female employees at startups own 47 cents for every dollar of equity a male employee owns. [Yoree Koh / The Wall Street Journal]

On-demand delivery startup Postmates is a newborn unicorn after raising $300 million in venture funding to accelerate its growth across the U.S. Tiger Global led the round; the deal values the company at approximately $1.2 billion. “Industry wondered how Postmates, which hadn’t raised since 2016 & spends heavily, was still going,” Recode Senior Commerce Editor Jason Del Rey tweeted. “Answered now.” [Polina Marinova / Fortune]

If you wondered why “Mario Kart” was trending on Twitter yesterday, bad news: Nintendo did not release a new game overnight. Rather, according to a story in the Guardian, in Stormy Daniels’s forthcoming memoir, she describes, in excruciating detail, what the president’s staff looks like. Click AYOR. [Katie Herzog / The Stranger Slog]

Tales of Retail from Code Commerce

Why Crate and Barrel is partnering with rising digital competitor Zola: Customers “want to shop where they want to shop.”

Retailers who don’t keep up with a digitally savvy millennial customer base will lose out, according to Zola CEO Shan-Lyn Ma.

Square is considering offering investment and savings products through its Cash App.

“Anything you do today with a bank account, you should look to Cash App to begin to emulate more and more of that,” says Square CFO Sarah Friar.

Chobani CEO Hamdi Ulukaya says he would consider going public — but won’t sell to an industry giant.

But: “When I read about Elon Musk, I think sometimes maybe not.”

Instacart needs to treat its delivery workers “much, much better.”

Instacart CEO Apoorva Mehta admits that the company has had a rocky relationship with its professional shoppers.

CEO Emily Weiss wants Glossier to own the only beauty conversation.

“The shopping experience is even more broken and lacking for beauty products than what we initially believed.”

Top stories from Recode

Swiping on Tinder is addictive. That’s partly because it was inspired by an experiment that “turned pigeons into gamblers.”

Journalist Nancy Jo Sales talks about the gamification of dating and her new HBO documentary “Swiped” on the latest Recode Decode podcast.

This is cool

You can never go back to the old Twitter.

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