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The Hustle

The Talus Dome in Edmonton, Canada, is a piece of public art made from ~1k stainless steel balls. Recently, firefighters had to use the Jaws of Life to extricate a man who’d somehow gotten himself stuck inside of it. He was charged with mischief.

In today’s email:

  • Farmers’ gloves are off: The future of weed removal zaps them 200k at a time.
  • Video: How the economics of Spotify benefit labels, not artists.
  • Weather apps: Hard to swear by, easy to swear at.
  • Around the Web: AI tools, a moon park, how icebergs float, and more internet finds.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s podcast to hear Juliet and Lestraundra discuss weather app vibes, NPR vs. Twitter, historic songs, and more.

The big idea
laser zapping weeds

Why pull weeds when you can zap them with AI-powered lasers?

Laser weed removal will launch thousands of “Back in my day… ” stories about how older generations used to work the ground with their hands, pulling up weeds until they couldn’t feel their fingers.

… and sure, Grandpa, that’s great, but we’ll take the lasers.

Agtech startup Carbon Robotics continues to pick up steam with LaserWeeder, its high-tech farming machinery.

What is LaserWeeder?

A weed-obliteration machine that uses proprietary AI and computer vision technology for to-the-millimeter precision thinning of crop fields.

  • There are 30 industrial lasers, tracking cameras, and a deep-learning model on board.
  • It can kill ~200k weeds per hour.
  • Weeding by thermal energy means no damage to plants or disturbance of soil.

For scale, the LaserWeeder is ~3 Shaquille O’Neals wide, ~2 Danny DeVitos long, and ~7 bowling pins tall.

Good luck finding a cooler yardwork hack

The first weeders sold out upon unveiling in 2022 — so far, the freshman class has combined to eliminate 500m+ weeds across 40 different crops.

Why farmers are on board:

  • Herbicide-resistant weeds have tormented farmers for decades. Herbicides themselves are also a top cost (~$100/acre each year).
  • LaserWeeder takes care of both in the long run, while also helping farms navigate their current labor shortage.
  • Theoretically, it also drives chemical-free, no-till farming, which leads to higher yields of healthier, more organic crops.

Investors are on board, too:

  • Even as VC trends against robotics, Carbon just raised another $30m. Since launching in 2018, it has raised $67m.
  • Per GeekWire, Carbon believes laserweeding could be a $41B market.

What’s next?

Carbon will scale its machines (which reportedly cost between $25k-$50k) as it looks to grow across the US and Canada. As it does so, it will prep for European expansion.

Though, if we may make a suggestion, perhaps a laser whacker for our weed-riddled yards could come first?

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eyeball wearing a hat

Crypto’s moment continues to fade from memory as the industry’s VC funding shrank again last quarter, totaling up to an 80% YoY reduction. Though venture backers have shied away, crypto startups remain hot among people on Reddit who find it amusing to talk like apes.


The price is still not right: Inflation remains up in the US — but it’s rising slower. Last month saw a 0.1% increase, an improvement on February’s 0.4% rate. March also marked the lowest monthly rise since May 2021.

Passing gas: A proposal from President Biden would require 67% of new passenger cars and 25% of new heavy trucks sold in the US to be all-electric by 2032. Expect stiff legal challenges in enactment — and then steep practical challenges in implementation (5.8% of cars and ~2% of heavy trucks sold today are all-electric).

Feeling the burn: E-cigarette maker Juul reached a $462m settlement with six US states and Washington, DC to halt lawsuits over improper marketing of vapes to children. Restrictions for selling to kids will be added. Juul says it’s now out $1B+ in settlement payments since 2019.

NPR is out: With Twitter (the person) unwilling to acknowledge its editorial independence, NPR is leaving Twitter (the company). BBC, on the other hand, will shed the “government-funded media” label NPR was slapped with, getting a “publicly funded” label instead.

A free pass: Google TV has a new interface with 800+ free-to-watch livestreaming channels built in. But before you get too excited and cancel your cable service, the top-billed networks in promo materials are Ion and Tubi. You get what you pay for?

… But sometimes you get more: Another Google freebie, Maps, is rolling out updates for US national parks, including detailed trail maps and easier offline usage.

Bug hunt: If you find a security vulnerability in OpenAI’s API, including ChatGPT, you could score up to $20k. Purposefully jailbreaking ChatGPT, however, will earn you nothing.

Amazon now charges $1 for returns made to UPS Stores if a free option, such as Whole Foods, is as close or closer than the delivery address. Recently, Amazon added a label to warn customers off frequently returned items.

Plant-based food sales hit $8B in 2022, up 6.6% YoY. Milk and eggs were hits, but spending did drop for meats, ice cream, and cheese. We’ll take it upon ourselves to bring those ice cream numbers back up. We are heroes.

Warner Bros. Discovery confirmed HBO Max and Discovery will merge into one service, Max, on May 23. Ditching “HBO” is an attempt to attract viewers not into HBO’s high-brow rep — exactly what we think when we watch the “Peacemaker” dance.

New York City finally has its new rat czar. Kathleen Corradi, who led rat reduction for the city’s education department, will continue her lifelong pest-besting quest on rat annihilation’s biggest stage. What’s the going rat, er, rate for a director of rodent mitigation? $155k per year.


At an early-stage startup, collaboration between departments can be as easy as shouting across a shared desk. But as a business grows, cross-department communication can get complicated. Here’s how to make it work.

economics of Spotify

Watch: How the economics of Spotify were designed to benefit labels over artists

Spotify, the world’s leading music-streaming platform, has been heralded as the savior of the recording industry.

But it sure doesn’t feel that way to the artists, whose payouts are usually a fraction of a penny per stream.

The platform’s inequitable economics for creators goes back to its origins…

The deal that made Spotify possible

When Daniel Ek co-founded Spotify in 2006, the recording industry was in a bind — free illegal downloads on file-sharing services like LimeWire were growing in popularity.

Spotify gave listeners a new option: All the music they were illegally downloading would now be available legally, at a monthly cost or on a free ad-supported tier.

To offer that up, Spotify had to work directly with the music industry, giving the biggest labels an ownership stake and a generous royalty structure — a cut worth billions to date.

Today, the platform is a behemoth

Spotify claims 500m+ users (205m of whom are premium subscribers) and pulled in $12.4B in revenue in 2022.

It accounts for ~20% of all recorded music revenue, and towers above competitors like Apple, Amazon, and Tidal.

Yet artists —  from major stars to indie musicians — continue to feel they aren’t getting their fair share of the pie.

Why are artists still so poorly compensated on the platform? And will Spotify survive if it continues to alienate them?

Watch the video breakdown →
Free Resource

Save time at work with AI content tools

On his blog, Bill Gates dubbed AI “as revolutionary as mobile phones and the internet.” And folks around the world texted their friends something like, “This shit for real.”

One of the best ways to get acclimated early is using it in the workplace. That’s why we made this AI for content ebook with the OGs at Jasper.

Inside the marketer’s guide to AI:

  • A full-on introduction for corporate teams and creators
  • Example prompts and responses for making content
  • How to implement AI tech across content operations
  • Common questions answered
  • Current limitations explained

Wield the robots. Wield ’em good.

How AI helps at work →
Fair Weather Tech
weather app

Why do our weather apps betray us?

Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt personally victimized by a weather app.

OK, now put it down; you need to keep scrolling.

Complaining about the inaccuracy of weather apps is an internet rite of passage, and the topic pops up on social media platforms and news outlets alike.

And it’s not just one weather app we have a beef with; there are 100k+ app store options that keep us guessing, all slightly different:

While the apps themselves can vary, they’re all working with similar data, most often pulled from sources such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) or the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts.

The data is then interpreted by meteorologists and/or app-specific algorithms before being delivered to users.

So, why are they unreliable?

The best weather apps achieve an accuracy of 80% or higher, according to Forecast Advisor, a site that grades apps.

Some of the problem comes from the complexity of weather: Small changes in the atmosphere’s moisture can have big effects. And geographies with microclimates (think waterfronts, mountains, etc.) are often given one sweeping forecast, making it inaccurate for certain users.

Arguably the biggest issue: our expectations. While we yearn for tech that never errs, that’s just not the case when it comes to weather.

Sorry to rain on your parade.

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⚾ On this day: In 1978, the Yankees gave fans free Reggie! candy bars. Unfortunately, excited fans threw so many at the field after namesake outfielder Reggie Jackson hit a homer that the game had to be delayed for cleanup.

🌕 That’s interesting: Some space experts want the moon to be treated like a national park, thus protecting it from human interference.

🤖 Useful: A directory of 1.6k+ AI tools.

🧊 That’s cool: Draw an iceberg. See how it would float. Learn more than you expected about icebergs.

🐒 Aww: Germany’s Zoo Halle has a baby silvery gibbon, the firstborn son of Mia and Silver.

Airbnb cleaning fees meme

Shave off that $200 service fee and we’ll talk. (Link)


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Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen and Juliet Bennett RylahSara Friedman, .
Editing by: Ben “Laser focused” Berkley.

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