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The Hustle

Lego is offering its tallest set yet, an Eiffel Tower replica consisting of 10,001 pieces and measuring nearly five feet tall. It’s selling for $629.

In today’s email:

  • FTX: What’s going on?
  • Chart: The economics of Ticketmaster.
  • Fusion: A scientific breakthrough, explained.
  • Around the web: Mood-boosting tips, a strange gallery, a plant ID tool, and more cool internet finds.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s 10-minute podcast to hear Zack, Rob, and special guest Lestraundra Alfred break down the big business of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You.”

The big idea
Sam Bankman-Fried

FTX’s wild start to the week, explained

On Monday, FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried admitted to playing the game “Storybook Brawl” while he was being interviewed on a widely attended Twitter Space from his home in the Bahamas.

“I hope you’re not playing video games tomorrow when you’re trying to dissuade Congress from seeing you as a fraud,” one interviewer quipped.

Bankman-Fried wouldn’t have to worry about that. Hours later, on Monday evening, he was arrested based on charges in a sealed indictment filed by the US Attorney’s office.

On Tuesday morning…

Prosecutors unsealed their indictment, which charges Bankman-Fried with eight counts of fraud and conspiracy.

  • Charges on the 14-page document span from money laundering, to misuse of customer deposits, to conspiracy to defraud the US, to campaign finance violations.

As he awaits extradition to the US, Bankman-Fried — whose net worth peaked around $26B in March and has since been wiped out — could spend time in Fox Hill, the Bahamas’ notoriously unsanitary prison.

Oh, and what ended up happening in DC?

Back in Washington, it was made clear that despite the alleged fraud’s massive scale, its complexity wasn’t all that sophisticated.

At one point, newly appointed CEO John Ray, who previously worked through Enron’s infamous bankruptcy, explained to lawmakers that FTX leaders used Slack and QuickBooks to handle the company’s finances.

“Nothing against QuickBooks — very nice tool — just not for a multibillion-dollar company,” he said.

On Tuesday evening, Bankman-Fried was denied bail. He’ll have an extradition hearing Feb. 8.

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eyeball wearing a hat

Remember that viral Pizza Rat? Matt Little, who videoed the New York City resident in 2015, reportedly still makes money from the clip. It also got him his job and may help him buy a house.


Lawmakers unveiled a bill that, if passed, would ban TikTok in the US. The move comes after seven states recently banned the app on state devices.

United Airlines ordered 100 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, for ~$25B, to expand long-haul travel routes.

Inflation is down. November prices rose 7.1% compared to the same time last year, a drop from 7.7% in October and a 9.1% peak in June.

Yikes: Three Canadian parents are suing Epic Games, alleging their kids are so addicted to “Fortnite” that they won’t eat, sleep, or shower.

DoNotPay debuted an AI-powered, bill-negotiating chatbot. Here’s a demo of it getting a Comcast internet rep to take $10 off a monthly bill.

NotCo, a Chilean food company that uses AI to build plant-based recipes, raised $70m to expand its tech to other companies.

Twitter disbanded its Trust and Safety Council, formed in 2016 to tackle problematic content on the platform.

Instagram announced its widely anticipated BeReal clone, a “Group Profiles” feature, and a Notes feature reminiscent of AIM statuses.

Songwriters Nathan Butler and Sean Hall, who sued Taylor Swift in 2017 for allegedly using their lyrics in her hit “Shake It Off,” have settled. The song’s credits remain unchanged.

Elon Musk was no longer the richest person in the world on Monday after Tesla’s shares dropped 6%. LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault, worth ~$186.2B, took his place.

$170k in 20 days: How Trendsters Lori and Kelsey executed a ridiculous affiliate program and product launch for a cannabis company.

Ticketmaster empire
Zachary Crockett

The sneaky economics of Ticketmaster

Ticketmaster is having a huge year for ticket sales — and controversies.

Over the weekend, 1.7k Bad Bunny fans were denied entry to his concert in Mexico City after Ticketmaster sold them “fake” tickets. The incident comes just weeks after fans endured extreme technical difficulties while trying to nab tickets for Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour presale.

Ticketmaster, by far the most dominant ticketing platform in the world, now faces a class-action lawsuit from Swift fans. The DOJ has opened a broad antitrust investigation of Ticketmaster parent Live Nation.

But Ticketmaster has been scrutinized many times before without serious repercussions.

Is Ticketmaster — and parent company Live Nation — too powerful? Or is the system set up to squeeze live music fans, no matter who challenges Ticketmaster?

Read the full story →
Free Resource

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As a startup founder, you build against the world. That’s why the new HubSpot for Startups homepage will be one of your favorite bookmarks. has a suite of resources:

  • A vast library including business templates, long-form blogs, research reports, and growth-focused content.
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  • Documentary films Spiraling Up: The Journey to Become a Unicorn, the latest series by HubSpot for Startups and LinkedIn, is streaming now.
  • A tech stack guide with insights from top martech/fintech outfits.
  • The unicorns of 2022 — see which startups made the list.

Plus: Qualified businesses can save 30%-90% off our award-winning CRM.

HubSpot for Startups →
Cruisin’ for a Fusion
nuclear fusion

Why the nuclear fusion breakthrough matters

Scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in California made a pretty cool breakthrough in nuclear fusion this month.

Fusion is when atoms fuse together to form larger atoms, producing energy. If we could harness it, it’d be a clean energy source that doesn’t produce greenhouse gases or radioactive waste.

Fusion is what powers the sun…

… but in a man-made setting, causing that reaction takes more energy than it produces…

Until Dec. 5, at 1:03am, when LLNL scientists conducted a fusion experiment with a net energy gain, per The New York Times.

How? It’s a complicated process (which you can read about here), but essentially, they fired 192 lasers at a peppercorn-sized target filled with hydrogen atoms, replicating the heat and pressure of a star’s core.

What’s next?

The breakthrough is key in proving that it can be done, but scaling from a lab experiment to powering the nation’s toasters won’t happen overnight.

So far, private fusion companies have pulled together ~$5B, and the Department of Energy has called for a pilot plant and $50m in research grants, per Politico.

LLNL director Kimberly S. Budil said that, with “concerted effort and investment,” a power plant could be built after “a few decades of research.”

Fun fact: Bill Nye pointed out that nearly 80 years ago, on Dec. 2, 1942, Enrico Fermi and his University of Chicago colleagues created the first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction, leading to today’s power plants.

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From our blog
from the blog

Breaking news: We have a blog. And it covers everything from how to build a business to the newest startups to watch. Speaking of cool startups, our latest post is on Humans Anonymous, an app bringing anonymous support groups to the masses.


📍 On this day: In 1911, Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen became the first person to reach the South Pole.

🌿 Useful: A plant species info tool, in Google Sheets.

🖼 Cure boredom: An interactive story about an art gallery that’s not what it seems.

🧘‍♀️ How to: Six strategies for boosting your mood and reducing stress.

🐑 Aww: And now, bring your lamb to work day.

science meme

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Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen, Juliet Bennett Rylah, and Rob Litterst.
Editing by: Mark “192 lasers” Dent.

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