❌ How to break Big Tech


July 8, 2021

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The Hustle

Imagine spending almost 2 weeks this year on TikTok, every minute of every day. Now stop imagining because there’s a good chance you’re doing exactly that.

The average US user now spends 24.5 hours on the app each month (equivalent to 12.25 days/year), according to analytics firm App Annie.

Do with that what you wish.

The big idea
big tech breakup gif

What would a Big Tech breakup look like?

The phrase “Break up Big Tech” is like the word “turducken.”

It’s easy to say, but describing what it actually means is something else altogether.

US regulators recently found this out the hard way when a DC court dismissed 2 separate lawsuits intended to break apart Facebook.

Change is clearly coming, though

Last month, the House Judiciary Committee received ultra-rare bipartisan support on 5 separate bills to rein in Big Tech, including potential breakups.

The Wall Street Journal’s Christopher Mims highlights what it might look for:

Facebook

While Zucky McLucky beat back the aforementioned lawsuits, new regulation could include:

  • Blocking future acquisitions, so FB can’t acquire competitors before they become a threat (like it did with Instagram and WhatsApp)
  • Facilitate transfer of user data to other social networks

Amazon

A breakup of Amazon could separate the company’s 4 core business lines:

  • Retail operation
  • 3rd-party marketplace
  • (Incredibly profitable) cloud computing business
  • Fulfillment and logistics

Amazon says separating these complementary operations would harm small businesses looking to sell on its platform and benefit from offerings like free shipping.

Sounds like fun for the company’s new CEO Andy Jassy.

Apple

There are 1B+ iPhone users. And Apple fully controls their experiences via its software and App Store, where it takes a 30% cut on app sales over $1m.

Apple is facing various lawsuits (e.g., Epic Games, Spotify) for its App Store control. Per Mims, the company may have to “[divest] its own App Store” or let users “load apps from anyplace they like.”

Alphabet (Google’s parent company)

Interestingly, a number of US states just sued Google for its Play app store, charging that the fees violate antitrust law.

The bigger issue is search domination (it controls 92% of the market). A “breakup” could prevent Google from prioritizing its own products (e.g., maps, videos, restaurant reviews) at the top of search results.

The EU actually fined Alphabet $9B for its search practices, but with little real change to the business.

Google contends that the results it shows are the best. (To its credit, we Googled “turducken” and got a useful recipe.)

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SNIPPETS

Dunkin’, Sonic, and Chipotle are on the chopping block. UBS analysts found employees at those chains were some of the most dissatisfied in the industry. The percentage of people quitting food service jobs reached 5.6% in April, the highest ever. #ecommerce-retail

Have $15m in Bitcoin or Ether? Great, you can spend it on a 101-carat diamond at a Sotheby’s auction this Friday. The gem is expected to be the most expensive publicly offered physical object available for purchase with crypto. #fintech-cryptocurrency

TikTok resumes are a thing. The platform is running a pilot program with companies like Chipotle, Target, WWE, and Shopify in which users can apply to jobs with video resumes. #big-tech

No-code fraud detection startup Unit21 raised $34m led by Tiger Global. The San Fran-based company lets non-techies write complex fraud detection code. #privacy

Satellite SPACs are launching into orbit. Planet and Satellogic, 2 startups in the business of watching Earth from above, announced plans to go public via SPAC mergers that value the companies at $2.8B and $850m, respectively. #emerging-tech

Have you ever commissioned a webpage mock-up? Then this tweet from Trung will give you a good chuckle. #hustle-picks

Volkswagen is looking for an outlet. The company is looking to sell a $1B stake in Electrify America, which is expected to operate 3.5k chargers across 45 states by December. #clean-energy

Silicon Mummy
mummy

The future is bright for Egyptian startups

Egypt has long been known as a gateway to ancient civilizations.

In 2021, though, the spotlight is on Egypt as the Silicon Valley of North Africa, and let’s be clear — it ain’t no pyramid scheme.

Funding is coming in on multiple fronts

In 2020, Egyptian startups raised $190m in venture capital. Last month alone, they nearly eclipsed that record.

Notable deals include:

  • $42m to Trella: The digital trucking marketplace company has plans to expand across MENA (the Middle East and North Africa)
  • $40m to MaxAB: The delivery and logistics startup is looking to become the Amazon of MENA

Smaller deals were recently signed for Minly (Egypt’s version of Cameo), and for e-commerce and fintech startups DressCode, Tejarra, MoneyHash, and Tareeqi.

It’s not just Egypt that’s pro-Egypt

  • The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development recently signed over a $100m loan to help Egypt’s small businesses
  • France will dish Egypt $2.1B in financing to develop Cairo’s urban infrastructure

The Egyptian government also passed a law permitting its central bank to distribute banking licenses to fintech companies.

For aspiring Egyptian entrepreneurs, it’s quite the time to be alive.

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Free Resource

An intro to code — simplified for marketers

A wise man once said, “ain’t no shame in wanting to learn the basics.”

Unsurprisingly, teams work better together when people are speaking the same language. This language happens to be the raw framework for every website you see online.

Entrepreneurs and marketers at small- to medium-size businesses can grow better from understanding the fundamentals of code. More clarity is only a good thing.

The free bare-bones HTML + CSS blueprint for beginners

This is so clearly written that you could digest it drunk. Not that we advise that. Or are against it. We accept you the way you are.

Our mother company HubSpot is all about the collabs. This free e-book is brought to you in conjunction with Codecademy.

If you’re unfamiliar with HTML + CSS and want to grasp the gibberish, this guide was made for you.

*Hacker voice* I’m in →

AI for Hire

TikTok’s interface is perfectly optimized to gather user sentiment data (translation: it knows how to keep you hooked)

TikTok is powered by a recommendation engine — now, you can rent it

You’ve almost certainly seen a viral TikTok video.

Last year, the short video platform saw 800m+ new downloads, the most of any app.

The driving force behind its catchy dance vids, cooking shows, and cringe dad comedy…

… is an AI-powered recommendation engine

According to Financial Times, TikTok’s parent company ByteDance has turned this algorithm and other tools into a service other companies can pay to use.

It’s called BytePlus and offers:

  • Personalized recommendation tools
  • Automated speech/text translation
  • Real-time video effects
  • Computer vision tech with 18-point body detection tracking (useful for fashion companies)

Various clients are already using it…

… including Goat (US retailer), WeGo (Singaporean travel site), and Chilibeli (Indonesian e-commerce), per FT.

ByteDance is looking to diversify its business ahead of an IPO that could value the company (including TikTok) at $400B.

This isn’t its only new product: TikTok is testing a celebrity shoutout tool for its creators.

Based on how much The Hustle has spent on Cameo, that could be the real cash cow.

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Ad of the day
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Jinx “billboards” for dogs (Source: AdWeek)

Out-of-home (OOH) advertising has its place in any marketing team’s budget. Jinx — a pet wellness brand — got the memo and created small billboards… for your furry friends.

These pet eye-level billboards were rolled out to promote Jinx’s new partnership with Target. It’s the 1st time the startup — which launched by selling dog food D2C — has entered brick-and-mortar.

(Read our previous Q&A with Jinx’s co-founder Sameer Mehta)

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