​​📱QR Code: menus and beyond


July 28, 2021

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The Hustle

This is bonkers: YouTube’s Q2 2021 revenue jumped +83% YoY to $7B… basically on par with the latest Netflix quarterly numbers ($7.3B).

Today’s rundown:

  • Scan this, scan that. The QR code boom, explained.
  • Chinese tutoring stocks are getting rocked. Why?
  • A ~$15k Doritos chip? The big business of rare snacks.

Let’s do it.

The big idea
QR codes

The QR code wave is just getting started

QR code menus had an official come-up during the pandemic, enabling touchless ordering (and giving us an excuse to check TikTok at the table).

But menus are likely the first of many use cases as the technology gains wider adoption in the US.

Quick Response (QR) codes are 2-dimensional barcodes

The codes can be read by mobile phone cameras with code-reading functionality, enabling touchless transactions.

QR codes have been popular in China for years after being integrated into digital wallets like AliPay and WeChat pay.

America has been slow to catch on due to consumer confusion and the need for a special app to read the codes, per the New York Times.

Apple enabled the iPhone camera to read QR codes in 2017

When the pandemic created an urgent need for touchless transactions — QR codes took off.

Data since the start of the pandemic shows merchants are all in:

  • 50% of all full-service restaurants in the US have added QR code menus
  • PayPal has added QR code payments to ~1m small businesses
  • CVS added QR code payments at 8.2k locations in the US

QR codes offer benefits for restaurants beyond touchless transactions — including savings of 30% to 50% on labor costs and increased order sizes, per NYT.

But the biggest benefit is hyper-personalized marketing

QR code menus use cookies to capture and track customer data. This allows restaurants to store purchase data alongside contact and payment information.

Critics claim this is pulling online tracking into the real world, and could be the first step toward constant tracking outside the home.

Despite privacy concerns, expect adoption to grow as more merchants try to get a piece of the QR code marketing gold mine.

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SNIPPETS

Big Day for Big Tech: Microsoft saw revenue rise 21% YoY in Q2, with Azure cloud revenue growing 51%. #big-tech

This Robot Ran a 5K: Cassie, a bipedal robot, ran a 5K in 53 minutes on a single charge. #emerging-tech

Another One: Singapore-based B2B payments platform Nium is now valued above $1B, the latest in a string of fintech unicorns. #fintech-cryptocurrency

EV Problem That Needs Solving: Between 2022 and 2029, 18.7m electric cars will be have to be cut from global production because of battery cell shortages. #clean-energy

Cyberstalker Booked: A former eBay employee was sentenced to 18 months in prison for his role in harassing eBay critics with a funeral wreath, live cockroaches, and a bloody-faced pig mask. #privacy

Make Some Room: Soon we may see stores using 1/3 of their retail space for ecommerce fulfillment. #ecommerce-retail

China Tech
stock ticker

Apparently, stock *can* go down (Source: Getty Images)

Chinese education and tech stocks have lost $1T+ since February. Why?

Things are very unchill when it comes to Chinese tutoring stocks right now. Here’s what’s going on.

Backstory: In an effort to reverse China’s declining birthrate, the country has been finding ways to reduce the cost of starting and raising a family.

One money-suck is the $120B private tutoring industry. Per the most recent data from the Chinese Society of Education, 75%+ of students 6 to 18 are privately tutored to prep for exams.

Well, they were. Over the weekend, China announced a ban on for-profit tutoring in core subjects. The policy also:

  • Restricts foreign investments in the industry
  • Requires any private companies that still teach core subjects to become nonprofits
  • Prevents core-subject tutoring on vacations or weekends

Shareholders started dumping their tutoring stocks last week

TAL Education, Koolearn Technology Holding, and several other firms have seen their shares plummet like never before.

So, what’s next? One analyst tells Bloomberg that tutoring companies should pivot ASAP, adding “there is potentially an abundance of follow-up policies.”

It’s not just education

More broadly, China is cracking down on consumer-facing tech including Alibaba (ecommerce), Tencent (social), and Didi (ride-sharing).

One potential reason: The country wants to refocus the economy to export goods.

Either way, Chinese tech and education stocks have lost a whopping $1T in value since February.

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Priceless chips
“puffy” Doritos chip

Yep, that’s the ~$15k “puffy” Doritos chip… (Source: TikTok)

A ~$15k Doritos chip? It’s hardly the first collectible snack.

Australian 13-year-old Rylee Stuart recently posted a TikTok of a “puffy” Dorito she found in a bag of chips. The clip went viral, notching ~5.7m views.

So Stuart put the chip up for sale on eBay, where bids poured in all the way up to $100k.

In the end, Doritos awarded Stuart and her family AU$20k (~$15k) for their “creativity and love for Doritos,” and the chip was taken off eBay.

It’s hardly the first collectible snack

On eBay, you’ll find hundreds of “rare Cheetos,” including Arnold Schwarzenegger and Michael Jordan look-alikes.

Some notable rare snack finds include:

The bun was discovered at a Tennessee cafe in 1996. The cafe reportedly sold “Nun Bun” merch and kept it on display until it was stolen 9 years later.

The science behind snack imagery is fascinating

The human experience of seeing shapes out of randomness is known as pareidolia.

Studies have shown humans will interpret something as a face even with slight suggestions of facial features. It’s why you’ll think this building looks like it’s reacting to a murder.

And it’s why a Cheeto the shape of Harambe — the infamous gorilla killed at the Cincinnati Zoo in 2017 — sold for $99.9k.

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Podcast

The 3 traits Edison and Napoleon have in common

Sam finds 3 game-changing commonalities, courtesy of his new favorite podcast. Meta, we know.

Episode #199 of My First Million is (38 min.) short, sweet, and all about greatness. This time with less business-idea-generation and still plenty of gems.

Listen to Sam and Shaan discuss peculiar leaders, recent inspirations, and top lessons on wealth and happiness from Naval Ravikant.

On greatness →
AROUND THE WEB

👀How to: Want to bring some levity to your next Zoom meeting by showing up as a cartoon? Here’s how.

💔Cure boredom: The Museum of Broken Relationships, headquartered in Zagreb, Croatia, curates the relics and stories of soured romances. Explore its collection online here.

😸​​Wholesome: A Massachusetts woman consulted a pet detective and a pet psychic to try to track down her missing cat. 6 years later, they reunited thanks to its microchip.

🙀Wait, what: Speaking of cats, these are not cats. Refresh this website to see fake cats created by AI.

🔭That’s cool: The InSight lander and Perseverance rover have gathered a ton of data on Mars, including what it looks like inside. Wired breaks it down.

🎙Haha: The US government sold “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli’s copy of Wu-Tang Clan’s “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin” for an unknown sum to pay the convicted fraudster’s debts. Shkreli initially paid $2m for it.

TRENDS

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  • A breakdown of the “Floppy Fish” drop-shipping biz’s TikTok marketing
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This is what Trends is about — entrepreneurs sharpening entrepreneurs.

And when you try Trends today, your first week is just $1.

We’ll see you on the inside.

Get Access →
Meme of the day
QR code meme

Imagine getting Rick Roll’d by a tattoo… (Soure: Reddit)

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