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For many bloggers, in fact, Casper was among the first mattress companies to offer affiliate commissions, leading its competitors to respond in turn.
A few weeks later, in September of 2014, Derek spotted an opportunity.
He registered the domain and threw together a quick website comparing his experiences with Tuft & Needle and Casper (he eventually migrated his content to Sleepopolis.com, which he had also registered).
Nipping at the heels of Casper and Tuft & Needle came other direct-to-consumer mattress companies like Leesa, Yogabed, Purple, and Ghost Bed; in time, over 100 brands in all. mattress market, online mattresses only made up $300 million in sales two years ago; this year, sales may reach $1.2 billion.
Most were new companies, while others were e-commerce divisions from legacy brands scrambling to make up lost ground amidst a tectonic shift in how consumers were beginning to buy mattresses. All of these emerging brands wanted Derek to review their products like he had the Casper–and all were willing to pay Derek a bounty.
“Skinner” is the mononym of a self-taught and quite gifted Oakland muralist/illustrator who works in lysergically vivid and intricately detailed style that at once evokes underground comix father figure S.
Clay Wilson, punk skull purveyor Brian Pushead, and the violent imaginings of Mike Diana, rendered in the eyebleedy colors of the psychedelic poster era.
Like Kenny Kline in Brooklyn, Derek was soon handing out free mattresses he’d reviewed to his Phoenix friends and neighbors, and eventually had mattresses piling up in a spare room. In the months and years that followed, Derek would build his site into the most-trafficked web destination for people seeking information on mattresses, beating out a raft of competitors.
In total, his You Tube reviews have garnered 2.5 million views, while the site itself would grow to attract over half a million visits every month.
Our phone call taught me a great deal about this strange backwater of the internet economy. Throughout those first, heady months, Derek maintained a good relationship with Casper. I would have to dive into a growing stack of mattress lawsuits to find out.