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As you all know, astronomers just found a solar system with 7 Earth-like planets. It’s crazy. Got us thinking, though: What happens when we find aliens? Do we go to work the next day? Does ESPN just stick to the script and run highlights? Will Postmates still deliver my burrito? Society’s gonna be so flustered, man. Anyway, onto other news…
The Hustle Thur, Feb 23

“One of the most iconic duos in film…”

“Coming soon to Netflix.” Can you imagine how crazy it’ll be when that day arrives? Oh wait, it just did.

Yesterday, Netflix acquired the worldwide rights to Martin Scorsese’s $100m gangster epic, The Irishman, starring Robert De Niro.

This will be Marty and Bob’s 9th movie together, following classics like Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, and Raging Bull… and there’s a good chance it won’t be showing at your local theater. Think about that.

How it went down

The Irishman was originally a Paramount Studios production, which makes sense considering they’ve distributed Scorsese’s last 4 movies — Shutter Island, Hugo, The Wolf of Wall Street, and Silence.

Wait, Silence? What’s that? Exactly. Scorsese’s 2016 “passion project” was a box office disaster, grossing just $7m on a $40m budget.

This apparently scared off Paramount, who — like most studios — is extremely risk-averse. That’s when Netflix swooped in and scored what could end up being a classic (Al Pacino and Joe Pesci are also reportedly on board).

This is why Netflix scares the sh*t out of Hollywood

Making a movie, developing a distribution strategy, getting people into theaters — none of that is easy (or cheap), and there’s a ton of risk involved.

Heck, all it takes is one screw up (say, premiering on a crowded weekend) and revenue expectations go up in flames. That’s every Hollywood studio’s reality.

As for Netflix, they don’t need to worry about that stuff. All they have to do is produce the thing, give it prime real estate on their app, and sit back while their 94m subscribers see it flash before their eyes for weeks.

Far less risk. Far fewer opportunities to drop the ball.

So now, the real question is this…

Which streaming giant has the better distribution model for these big budget, award-winning films that are set to become more commonplace on their services: Netflix or Amazon?

Though The Irishman will get a “limited Oscar-qualifying release” in theaters, Netflix’s overall strategy is to avoid theaters and make everything available to stream right away.

Amazon, on the other hand, gives their films a proper theatrical release and waits months before moving them over to Prime — like it did with Manchester by the Sea. Who ya got?


A Whopper with a side of popcorn shrimp

Restaurant Brands International, the parent of Burger King and Tim Hortons (which, for those who don’t know, is a Canadian coffee and donut shop), announced on Tuesday that it’s buying Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen for $1.8B.

That price tag values Popeyes at more than 6x the revenue it generated last year, making this the highest sales multiple ever paid for a North American restaurant company.

Which begs the question: Why so aggressive, Restaurant Brands?

Two words: International expansion

Restaurant Brands International is owned by Brazilian private equity firm 3G Capital (the same 3G Capital that owns Kraft Heinz, is run by the “Warren Buffett of Brazil,” and unsuccessfully tried to acquire Unilever for $143B last weekend).

Anyway, it’s been about 2 years since 3G combined BK and Tim Hortons, and while both businesses are doing well, the international growth that was promised hasn’t come to fruition.

That’s why buying Popeyes was so necessary. Think about it: What’s easier to introduce to an international market: A fried chicken joint, or a coffee shop named after a Canadian hockey player? (Rhetorical question, btw).

In addition to going international…

Popeyes locations are in just 11 states, so there’s a huge opportunity to grow the chain domestically, too. And the fact that it has a cult-like following and quite possibly the catchiest jingle on the planet (LOUIIIIISIANA FAAAAST) can’t hurt, either.

Plus, as Bloomberg suggests, Restaurant Brands is now in a position to take a page out of Yum! Brands’ playbook and launch some Burger King-Popeyes combo locations (like Yum! did with their revolutionary KFC-Taco Bells). Hence the title of this post.


In Musk we trust

Yesterday, Elon got on the line with investors for Tesla’s much-anticipated Q4 earnings call, and it’s looking like everything’s going according to the Master Plan — even better actually.

Tesla’s quarterly losses came in way lower than expected, just $0.69 per share compared to analysts’ $1.14 estimates. Sure, a loss is a loss, but given how inflated Tesla stock has been in recent months, the fact that they’ve even come close to Wall Street’s predictions is a huge win.

And it’s largely due to the Model 3

Elon reaffirmed Tesla’s plan to sells the cars for close to $35k and announced that they are on track to start production in July, pegging their output at about 5,000 Model 3’s per week by Q4 2017.

All of this hinges on the ability of their flagship gigafactory (launched in Reno this year), along with two more in development, to produce enough lithium-ion batteries to fulfill the 373,000 pre-orders for Model 3’s alone. And if all goes well…

Tesla’s gonna be rockin’ the suburbs

In addition to building more Gigafactories, Tesla will be doubling down on the number of Supercharger stations across the US, with the goal of reaching 5k locations by the end of 2017.

Their new network of chargers (which give cars up to 170 miles of juice in just 30 min) will make their cars even more accessible from both a geographic and economic standpoint.

In other words, Midwesterners may be rolling up to their kids’ soccer games in Model 3’s sooner than you think.


AirMap wants to avoid sky rage

As personal drones become commonplace, Airmap just raised $26m from Microsoft Ventures to develop mapping services for lower airspace, and avoid air traffic jams before they even start.

In a sense, they’re doing what air traffic controllers have done for airports, but, with nearly 100k drone flights taking place per day (compared with the average 10k airplane flights) the challenges of managing everyone’s personal drone flights patterns at scale can’t be met by humans alone.

They’re fighting autonomation with autonomation

As drones become more and more autonomous, Airmap wants to feed their mapping information in real-time to help avoid other aircraft, bad weather, and temporary flight restrictions.

And, while they’ve got the back end on lock, they’re working with regulators on the front end to enforce airspace traffic laws before we end up with the same congestion problems we currently face on roads.

So, they’re working with some big guns — They recently partnered with 850 airports around the US to allow drones to share data with air traffic controllers and will be setting up another office at the NASA Ames Research Center in California.

Because drones aren’t just for sick skate videos…

As we’ve discussed just this week, the real opportunity lies with companies expanding their drone use into things like delivery services, which could hugely benefit from knowing the quickest, safest route to their destinations.

And soon, it’ll be flying cars, too. AirMap’s CEO Ben Marcus believes there’ll be several different aircraft in the lower skies soon, and that “unmanned flight will quickly lead to putting people onboard.”

things you should…

ATTEND: 2X, presented by The Hustle @ The Brava Theater in SF, $30 a pop

GUYS, WE’RE BACK WITH ANOTHER EPIC EVENT AND WE’RE WRITING IN CAPS BECAUSE WE REALLY WANT YOU TO COME! OKAY, NOW BACK TO normal letters. Here’s the deal: We’re bringing together 8 of the most inspiring and badass women we know (founders of TaskRabbit and Forge, to name a few) and giving them the stage to tell their story. Okay, now back to CAPS BECAUSE THERE WILL BE FREE BOOZE.


VISIT: The Netherlands, if only to gaze upon their magnificent bike lanes

Cycling is extremely important to road design in the Netherlands. In fact, it’s the #1 design concern, which is why their motor traffic lanes take up as little space as possible. Most impressive of all, though, are the Dutch-designed “bicycle roundabouts.” Its civil engineering porn.

ATTEND: Get Better At… Cracking the Code on Credit, free

We’re teaming up with NerdWallet to help you crack into the credit mainframe — Aka, figure out exactly what your score means, why it matters, and how to make it better. Super crucial stuff here, especially if you’re still dialing in your budget for 2017. Reserve your spot at our online event next Thursday at 11am PST to get all of your personal finance questions answered by an expert.

CHECK OUT: Upwork, $100 off for Hustle readers

Even if you have the most productive team on the planet, there’s only so much Jessica, Eric, and Kevin can get done, ya know? Which is why hiring freelancers through Upwork is the move. Whether you need a graphic designer in a pinch, extra manpower for a month, or a team of marketing experts for the long haul, Upwork’s massive talent pool delivers.

USE: Squarespace, 10% off w/ code: THEHUSTLE

You know that saying, “So easy a caveman can do it?” That’s Squarespace. No seriously, it’s actually insane how easy they make building a website. And here’s the best part: the end result looks gorgeous. So go on, friends, drag and drop your way to the best-looking website in town.


This edition of The Hustle was brought to you by
Kendall "Always wanted to be a gangster" Baker
Lindsey Quinn
John Havel
Maya Certz
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