🍭 A food coloring disruptor - The Hustle
The Hustle

🍭 A food coloring disruptor

Plus: $6.4m fungi food coloring, 45m Mexican Pizzas, a rare armadillo, and more.

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New Zealand authorities found ~3.5 tons of cocaine floating in the Pacific Ocean, leading “Cocaine Shark” — the obvious sequel to Cocaine Bear — to trend on Twitter.

In today’s email:

  • Bing: AI may be giving Microsoft an Edge.
  • Chart: A food coloring disruptor.
  • Peep this: The evolution of sugar-crusted marshmallows.
  • Around the web: An odd armadillo, how to maintain focus, funny reviews, and more cool internet finds.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s 10-minute podcast to hear Jacob and Juliet discuss Bing vs. Bard, Mexican Pizza power, an impressive WNBA turnaround, and more.

The big idea

Microsoft and Google’s AI race

Microsoft’s new AI-powered Bing may have Chrome users trying something new.
2023-02-09T00:00:00Z
Juliet Bennett Ryla

Google has long ruled the internet as Microsoft remained a distant competitor. By market share:

  • Search engine: Google holds ~84%; Bing holds ~9%
  • Browser: Chrome holds ~65%; Edge holds 4.5%

However, Microsoft is leveraging the billions it invested in OpenAI to shake things up.

Can Bing be king?

This week, Microsoft revealed Bing and Edge will integrate an OpenAI model more powerful than ChatGPT and tailored for web searches — “an AI copilot for the web,” the company claims.

Bing will still return links and images, but also provide complete answers to questions and summarize detailed info. An accompanying chatbot can refine searches or generate content, such as:

  • Meal plans based on dietary preferences
  • Vacation itineraries
  • Drafts of emails or LinkedIn posts

Not to be outdone…

… Google announced Bard, its own AI chatbot.

It will also scour the web to retrieve and distill information, but details were scant in comparison to Microsoft’s — Alphabet’s stock fell 7%+ after Google’s AI event Wednesday.

So far…

… it’s impossible to say whose will be better. Bard is only available to a few external testers; Bing’s preview is public, but there’s a waitlist; and both are still works in progress.

Journalists who tried Bing seemed to find it useful, if a bit flawed.

  • CNN’s Clare Duffy got Bing to generate a meal plan and shopping list, but it gave her outdated info on an upcoming election.
  • Meanwhile, Bard gave incorrect info about the James Webb Space Telescope in a demo Google shared.

Either way, it’s a huge opportunity for Microsoft to lure in new Bing and Edge users. And so far, Microsoft seems to be ahead.

BTW: If Bing overtakes Google’s popularity, will we tell people to “Bing it”?

TRENDING

Huh: We get using CGI for monsters and spaceship battles, but You People star Andrew Schulz claims it was used to make the rom-com’s leads, Jonah Hill and Lauren London, kiss.

SNIPPETS

In CEO Bob Iger’s first earnings since returning to Disney, the company reported milder-than-expected losses in streaming and strong parks performance.

Uber reported $8.6B in Q4 revenue, a 49% YoY increase. It also hit a quarterly record with 2.1B rides, or ~23m rides per day.

CVS continues its health care acquisition spree, paying $10.6B for Oak Street Health, operator of 169 US senior-focused clinics.

The Michael Jackson estate is looking to sell 50% of its interests in the pop star’s music catalog for a whopping ~$800m-$900m. It’d be the largest such deal yet.

The Seattle Storm are now valued at $151m — far and away the WNBA record. In 2008, a group reportedly agreed to buy the team for $10m, but ultimately paid just $1m for it.

Saved by the Bell: Yum Brands reported $2B+ in Q4 revenue, beating expectations, largely thanks to Taco Bell. In the four months Mexican Pizzas were available, it sold 45m of them.

TikTok parent ByteDance is testing a feature on Douyin — its video app only available in mainland China — that allows restaurateurs to livestream deals that viewers can order for delivery.

Handy: Panera Bread is now selling a green “BAGuette” for ~$40 that’s designed to perfectly fit one toasted baguette sandwich.

AMC Theatres’ new Sightline initiative, which will charge extra for better seats, is drawing heat. Actor Elijah Wood accused the chain of penalizing lower-income moviegoers.

This is neat: The late Nader Khalili designed structures fit for living in space or on the moon for NASA. His work inspired a unique Joshua Tree, California, dome house, now on the market for $2.1m.

Netflix kicked off its password-sharing crackdown in Canada. Our sympathies to our neighbors up north.

Twitter launched its longest tweet character limit ever — by far, at 4k characters — for paying subscribers.

Climate change has ramped up worldwide rainfall. This one-minute video explains how “sponge cities” are helping soak up the mess.

FROM THE BLOG

Building a quality product is no joke: It requires long-term planning and laser-sharp focus. Wondering how it’s done? We put together the ultimate guide to creating a product road map.

Chart
Olivia Heller

Michroma wants to disrupt food coloring

Its product, while fascinating, is oddly reminiscent of HBO’s “The Last of Us.”
2023-02-09T00:00:00Z
Jacob Cohen

Fungi are neat, because one day you can be watching an apocalyptic TV show about them taking over the world through our food supply, and the next you’re learning about a startup using them to disrupt food coloring.

Michroma, a San Francisco-based startup founded in 2019 by Argentines Ricky Cassini and Mauricio Braia, recently raised a $6.4m seed round.

  • The company replaces petrochemical-based coloring ingredients through “precision fermentation.” Eventually, it plans to expand into flavors and fragrances.
  • The company’s Red+, a replacement for Red 40, has already been tested with some large food companies, per TechCrunch.

Among Michroma’s investors are General Mills-backed VC firm Supply Change Capital, and Be8 Ventures, which is supported by German multinational food company Dr. Oetker.

Michroma plans on applying for regulatory approval from the FDA and the European Food Safety Authority, though that could take years.

Free Resource

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Mission Peeps

Peep this: The enduring legacy of a marshmallow chick

It once took 27 hours to make a Peep. Today, the company churns out 5.5m daily.
2023-02-09T00:00:00Z
Sara Friedman

Though Peeps creator Bob Born recently passed away, his candies will live on in our hearts, and possibly stomachs, forever.

Just Born Quality Confections was founded in 1923 by Born’s father and produces a range of sweet treats, including its bestselling brand Mike and Ike.

The company’s claim to fame, though, is the humble Peep — 5.5m of which are produced daily (that’s ~2B chicks a year).

But it wasn’t always like that

In 1953, Peeps were made mostly by hand, and the process took 27 hours from start to finish.

Born, after earning his engineering degree, spent nine months building a machine that could turn sugar, corn syrup, and gelatin into Peeps in six minutes flat.

Peeps began as yellow chicks — Just Born inherited the candy when it bought a smaller competitor — but have since mutated into a variety of colors and shapes.

Then people got weird:

Stranger still, The St. Paul Pioneer Press started a Peeps diorama contest in 2004, and ~80 newspapers across the country followed suit. (The Washington Post took its 2022 contest to TikTok and the entries are epic.)

If you’re a Peeps fan, be sure to mark your calendars for Pennsylvania’s Peepsfest, where a giant Peep is dropped on New Year’s Eve.

AROUND THE WEB

On this day: In 1960, actress Joanne Woodward received the first star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

🧠 How to: Maintain focus, per a psychologist who studies how we interact with computers. Did you know our average attention span when looking at screens is just 47 seconds?

🤯 That’s interesting: All about the rare and odd-looking pink fairy armadillo.

🐸 Haha: Here, you can rate and read reviews of stuff found on earth, like frogs, bones, and middle school.

🐬 Aww: And now, a land dolphin.

TWEET

Looking quite distinguished out there. (Link)

How did you like today’s email?
Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen, Juliet Bennett Rylah, Sara Friedman, and Rob Litterst.
Editing by: Mark “Mystery Peeps” Dent.

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