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🍔 Guy Fieri has evolved

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Coinbase is reportedly internally testing an app called Dot Collector that lets employees grade each other’s performance in real-time during meetings. What could possibly go wrong?

In today’s email:

  • Guy Fieri: The Mayor of Flavortown has built an empire.

  • Chart: WTF is UPS doing in the metaverse?

  • Electric buses: Schools can swap the old with the new.

  • Around the web: Successful pitch decks, retro Mac themes, the man behind a beloved invention, and more cool internet finds. 

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s quick podcast to hear Jacob and Rob discuss their mutual love for Guy Fieri, Dippin’ Dots’ little-known side business, UPS’s metaverse ambitions, and more.
The big idea
Guy Fieri

The evolution of Guy Fieri

What is it about Guy Fieri?

The frosted tips? The cartoonish wardrobe that’s become a staple of Halloween? Or the ridiculous catch phrases (“that’s out of bounds!”)?

Whatever it is — it’s made Fieri one of Food Network’s most bankable stars and, per The New York Times, has enabled him to become a massive advocate for restauranteurs as well.


… got his start on TV by winning the second season of “The Next Food Network Star.”

While he’s hosted several Food Network shows over the years, his crown jewel is “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,” which premiered in 2007. “Triple-D,” as loyal viewers call it, features Fieri traveling the country and sampling the menus of local greasy spoons.

The success of the show has allowed Fieri to launch a business empire offscreen, including:

  • Restaurants: He owns 14 restaurant brands that include ~70 locations across six countries
  • Booze: Including Santo tequila, which he started with former Van Halen singer Sammy Hagar, and Hunt and Ryde Winery, a vineyard named after his two sons

And the TV gig isn’t going anywhere: Fieri signed a three-year extension with Food Network in 2021 for ~$80m.

While Fieri’s public persona is all fun and games…

… the self-appointed “Mayor of Flavortown” has been using his influence for philanthropic purposes:

  • In 2018, Fieri and friends helped cook 15k Thanksgiving dinners for California wildfire evacuees
  • In 2020, Fieri partnered with the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation to raise $20m+ for restaurant workers laid off due to covid

Beyond formal charity work, Fieri and Food Network have helped hundreds of restaurants through “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,” which apparently boosts a restaurant’s sales by ~200% after appearing on the show.

So while it’s easy to poke fun at the “Mayor of Flavortown,” it seems he’s doing right by his constituents.

BTW: Before Fieri became Food Network famous, he starred in this commercial, peddling mufflers.

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BNPL problems: Klarna, one of the leaders in the “buy now, pay later” space, announced plans to lay off 10% of its workers. The company is also reportedly looking to raise a new round that will lower its valuation by a third.

Chaos tax: Amid uncertainty over Elon Musk’s acquisition, Twitter employees have experienced a culture of disarray, including hiring freezes, executive firings, and 15 companywide meetings to discuss the implications of the deal in recent weeks.

Going mainstream: Crypto exchange FTX launched FTX Stocks, an online platform where users can trade stocks and other equities.

Big purchase: Broadcom, a semiconductor manufacturer, is reportedly in talks to acquire VMware, which makes virtualization software, for ~$60B in an effort to broaden its software offering.

ICYMI: Food waste causes $940B in annual economic losses globally. A score of startups are trying to solve the issue, from making chips using juice pulp to installing smart cameras over the garbage pail.

Following in McDonald’s footsteps, Starbucks will close its 130 cafes in Russia. It will continue to pay its ~2k Russian employees for six months. #ecommerce-retail

Placing wind turbines at sea can be tricky, especially amid a labor shortage. A new heavy lifting crane could make the process easier and cut costs. #clean-energy

Spooky: Thanks to NASA, you can now listen to what a black hole sounds like. Here’s how they did it. #emerging-tech

No selfies: The UK has fined facial recognition company Clearview AI ~$9.4m for collecting publicly available images, such as selfies posted to social media, without consent. #privacy

GameStop launched an Ethereum wallet in beta that allows users to send, hold, and receive crypto and NFTs. #fintech-crypto

Instagram rolled out a new typeface, Instagram Sans. It uses “the in-between moments of a perfect circle and a square,” or as Insta calls it, the “squircle.” #big-tech

Brands in the metaverse

Singdhi Sokpo

WTF is UPS doing in the metaverse?

One of the more unexpected things we came across this week was an ad from UPS — the shipping company formed in 1907 — which read, “See you in the metaverse.”

Admittedly, UPS says it’s not even sure what it’s doing there.

But it’s okay with that

A long, growing list of brands have forayed into the metaverse across retail (Nike, Gucci), food (Wendy’s, McDonald’s), entertainment (HBO, NASCAR), and more. Some sectors make more sense than others.

On Roblox, for instance, the Gucci Garden saw ~20m visitors, and an embroidered digital bag resold there for ~$4.1k (350k Robux), or ~$800 more than the bag’s real-life price.

But then you have companies like…

… multitrillion-dollar banks JP Morgan and Fidelity, along with UPS, whose business cases for metaverse pop-up shops are less clear.

But consider this: In today’s world, brands are shifting to a relatable, experimental tone — heavily driven by the TikTok comments section — and these moves have downstream effects outside of simple PR.

  • For instance, there’s a better chance a Gen Zer might want to work for UPS if they perceived the company as a metaverse play.

All that to say, as the metaverse develops, so will marketers’ strategies. For now, these projects will be like throwing spaghetti at a wall. Many will flop. Some will stick.

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Magic School Bus
electric school bus

(Photo By Michael Macor/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

Funding is coming for green school buses

Currently, less than 1% of the ~480k school buses in the US are electric. To electrify 20% of them would cost $20B, making the EPA’s $5B Clean School Bus Program a small start — but a start nonetheless.

The program is accepting applications through Aug. 19, per Ars Technica, and will notify applicants in October.

Here’s how it works

Eligible applicants include state and local entities that provide bus service, such as public school districts, tribal organizations, and nonprofit school transportation associations.

Applicants agree to get rid of their operational and in-use diesel-powered or internal combustion engine buses. In exchange, the EPA will fund up to 25 replacement buses, including electric, propane, and compressed natural gas models.

So far, the EPA has set aside $500m for school buses in 2022, with $4.5B to come for 2023-2028.

More electrification is happening…

… at the state level. For example:

What are the benefits?

According to the EPA, pros of an electric fleet include:

  • No tailpipe pollution and reduced greenhouse gas emissions
  • Reduced maintenance costs
  • Quieter rides
  • The potential to feed power back into local grids when buses aren’t in use and electric demand is high

Alternative fuel buses, such as propane and natural gas models, also come with potential reductions in tailpipe pollution and emissions, and can save money on fuel.

Fun fact: The official US school bus color is known as National School Bus Glossy Yellow. Dr. Frank W. Cyr selected it in his 42-page guide on how to make a safe school bus.

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💬 On this day: In 1844, Samuel F.B. Morse sent the first telegraph message from DC to Baltimore. It read, “What hath God wrought?”

💸 Useful: See examples of startup pitch decks from successful companies including Airbnb, LinkedIn, and Square.

🖥️ That’s cool: Go retro with this old-school Mac theme. It works on Windows, too.

🪤 That’s interesting: Rube Goldberg, the man behind the machine, ruminates on his career as an inventor in a 1923 Popular Science article.

🐵 Aww: And now, thanks for returning the baby.

Guy Fieri meme

The man just has a way with words. (Source:

How did you like today’s email?
Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen, Juliet Bennett Rylah, and Rob Litterst.
Editing by: Jennifer “Managing editor of Flavortown” Wang.

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