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The Hustle

If you started your day hoping the planets would align for you, look up. And west. And hope for no clouds. Five planets — Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Uranus, and Mars — will line up tonight near the moon.

In today’s email:

  • Ebooks: Moving from virtual libraries to a very real courtroom.
  • Microsoft Teams: A new feature can help you save face.
  • Using their noodles: Officials reconsider the definition of pasta.
  • Around the Web: A sea experiment, talking to books, sleepy travel tips, and more cool internet finds.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s podcast to hear Jacob and Rob discuss France’s Tok block, Jay-Z’s net worth, and how Microsoft may have solved Zoom fatigue.

The big idea

Book publishers vs. the Internet Archive

Ebooks have exploded. In 2020, online distributor OverDrive processed 430m digital checkouts, up 33% YoY.

But how we access them is the subject of a lawsuit pitting four book publishers against the Internet Archive (IA), a nonprofit that offers free access to software, media, and its Wayback Machine.

So far, the publishers are winning — a federal judge decided that IA can (for now) be held liable for copyright infringement, per Vice.

How it works

Most libraries pay a fee for each “copy” of a digital book, which one patron can check out at a time, just like a physical book. These fees have gotten increasingly unaffordable.

IA buys or receives books via donation, scans them, and puts them in its Open Library. Open Library usually employs a “controlled digital lending” system (CDL), meaning, again, only one patron per copy.

But in March 2020…

… as libraries and schools shut down, IA’s National Emergency Library decided to temporarily provide immediate access — no waitlists.

Publishers Hachette, Penguin Random House, Wiley, and HarperCollins sued, alleging piracy.

  • The Authors Guild also accused IA of harming authors, who it claimed earn a median income of $20.3k/yr.

IA shuttered the program early.

The judgment

IA’s defense is fair use, which relies on factors such as how and how much of a work is used, and its impact on market value.

But Judge John G. Koeltl disagreed, writing that IA benefitted from new members and donations, while publishers faced potential harm to licensing revenue, per Ars Technica.

For now, Open Library director Chris Freeland wrote that IA will appeal while continuing to perform some library services, but future judgments could dramatically impact what Open Library offers.

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eyeball wearing a hat

Not wheels: Cyclists outnumber drivers in London, with the gap widening over the pandemic. Since 1999, driving has dropped 64%; cycling is up 386%. Walking is still the top mode of transportation.


Au revoir: Add France to the list of countries banning TikTok from government-issued devices for security reasons. French officials actually went one step further, banning all recreational apps.

Spring cleaning: Uber Eats is delisting 5k virtual storefronts, citing a “Wild West” situation in which restaurants have created multiple online storefronts selling the same items to better compete in the app.

Bank on it: First Citizens Bank will acquire a large portion of Silicon Valley Bank’s assets in a $72B deal. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. will retain $90B in assets from shuttered SVB.

John Wick: Chapter 4 enjoyed a $137.5m opening weekend globally, reaching No. 1 in every market. Not bad for a guy who just wanted to be left alone with his dog.

Elon Musk, who paid $44B for Twitter, now reportedly claims it’s worth $20B, telling employees their stock grants would be worth the lower valuation and that he sees “a clear but difficult path” to $250B.

Meanwhile, GitHub has removed a portion of Twitter’s source code leaked by a user named “FreeSpeechEnthusiast.” A legal filing indicates Twitter wants to know who that is.

“If the devil wears Prada… Does the Pope wear Balenciaga?” AI-generated images of the Pope wearing a stylish white puffer went viral over the weekend, and many thought they were real.

Survival of the fittest: Levi Strauss & Co. will use AI to show its products on models that better match customers’ bodies. Levi’s will partner with, which has also worked with Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, to bring their virtual fashion models to… life?

Cut and mouse: Seeking $5.5B in cost savings, Disney will start its first of three planned layoff rounds this week. CEO Bob Iger expects to part with ~7k employees by summer.

Sam Parr, founder of The Hustle, launched his second company today. Hampton is a private and highly-vetted community for founders and CEOs. We’re talking actual accomplished entrepreneurs here — not, unfortunately for us, the “sold something on eBay once” kind.

Get shit done and do it with structure. Keep yourself in check with this handy project management template.


Want to learn how to be a more effective leader? The secret might be collaborative leadership, a management style that encourages a team-oriented, transparent approach.

Microsoft Teams's growth
Singdhi Sokpo

Whether or not it’s the answer we want, Microsoft has one for Zoom fatigue

Let’s be real — most of us don’t like having our camera on for virtual meetings. Who isn’t just waiting for that one brave soul to turn theirs off so everyone can follow suit without feeling guilty?

Video fatigue — often called Zoom fatigue — is partly attributed to the idea that most of us aren’t built to stare at faces, including our own, for hours on end. Research shows this feeling is exacerbated by having your camera turned on.

Zoom rival Microsoft knows this, but it also knows that a blank screen isn’t exactly a great option, either.

Drumroll, please…

Introducing Avatars for Microsoft Teams! (*Cue cricket sounds*)

Among the features introduced yesterday, Teams will launch a feature that lets users create 3D avatars — customizable and reactive characters that animate based on your voice — to use in meetings in place of being on camera.

Whether you woke up with a horrific hairdo, or just need a camera break, you can probably imagine the use cases here.

Will any of Teams’ 280m users choose to go this route and deliver quarterly results while looking like a slightly advanced Nintendo Wii character, we wonder? Time will tell.

BTW: Yesterday, Microsoft also announced that Teams has been redesigned with a sleek new interface, and updated to be 2x as fast and use half as much memory.

The company also recently debuted premium features powered by OpenAI… As did Slack, earlier this month… As did Zoom, just yesterday.

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Free Resource

An interview with Harry-O, the godfather of Death Row Records

The first iteration of Death Row Records housed iconic rappers, including Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and 2Pac… No Biggie.

If you like that West Coast flavor, thank Michael “Harry-O” Harris for initially funding the label. That was after he ran 11 businesses, and cocaine, throughout California.

On this episode of My First Million, Harry-O shares wisdom with our founder Sam Parr. He talks about owning an empire by 26, starting Death Row Records while imprisoned, and living life since.

The Harry-O story →
Fork in the road
pasta shapes

A long-awaited pasta shake-up is finally taking shape

Macaroni. Spaghetti. Vermicelli. If you were to take the US government’s word for it, the list of official pasta shapes ends there.

Enter the National Pasta Association, leading trade org for the American pasta industry. (And yes, they accept applications from those “with an interest in the development of the pasta industry,” which yum and check.)

When the group gathered in Florida last week, leaders relayed progress in their efforts to rewrite the federal definition of pasta, locked in place for decades.

Establishing a noodle world order

In 1939, the FDA started maintaining rigorous definitions of many food products, from cheese to peanut butter to canned fruit. And yes, pasta.

These hard-to-edit regulations — called SOI (standards of identity) — protect consumer expectations, ensuring the safety and uniformity of foods’ ingredients and production processes.

Decades later, the agency is revisiting hundreds of SOI; the pasta enthusiasts of NPA were more than ready for the moment.

Their wish list includes: updates around enriched foods, changing the limits of vitamin and mineral content, and more clarification on what is — and isn’t — officially a “noodle.”

  • Also: Shapes. The NPA recognizes 600+ pasta shapes, a far cry from the three established in the FDR era.

The results can yield a pretty penne

There’s far more than semantics on the line. Per NPA, a changed SOI will foster innovation for pasta manufacturers.

This would be a boon for the continually growing US pasta segment, estimated to bring in $8.91B in revenue this year.

BTW: This process takes time. It took more than a year for the FDA to accept the Association for Dressings and Sauces’ petition to scrap the SOI for French dressing; frozen cherry pie standards have spent over two years in purgatory.

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🏋️‍♂️ On this day: In 1891, London hosted the World Championships for weightlifting. Edward Lawrence Levy, 39, took the prize and would go on to set 14 world records through 1894.

🤿 That’s interesting: In the 1970s, a team of all-women aquanauts went on an underwater mission for science, paving the way for women in space.

✈️ How to: Sleep on a plane, according to travel experts.

📚 That’s cool: Talk to AI versions of well-known books. Here’s Where the Red Fern Grows.

🐷 Aww: And now, surprise!

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