🎬 Hollywood’s blockbuster deal


September 30, 2021

The Hustle

A Korean man says he suddenly began receiving ~4k calls per day after his phone number appeared in Netflix’s wildly popular “Squid Game,” a Korean series about debtors who compete in a deadly game for a massive cash prize.

Meanwhile, Huh Kyung-young, honorary chief of South Korea’s National Revolutionary Party, has offered to buy the number for $85K.

Today’s rundown:

  • Blockbuster deal: Why CAA bought ICM.
  • Airline alliance: Delta wants to curb unruly passengers.
  • Peter Diamandis Q&A: The founder of XPRIZE tells us about longevity, the space race, and more.

Let’s do it.

The Big Lead
hollywood-sign-gif

CAA is buying ICM, creating a super-agency to take on a changing Hollywood

If you’ve ever seen “Entourage,” you know agency rivalries run deep — but Creative Artists Agency’s newest deal would make Ari Gold proud.

With CAA’s fiercest competitor, Endeavor, expanding into Hollywood-adjacent businesses, the purchase of ICM Partners shows CAA is doubling down on talent representation…

… and the combined company has some serious talent

CAA has built a star-studded roster across film, music, and sports that includes Tom Hanks, Reese Witherspoon, and Steven Spielberg…

… while ICM has built a TV juggernaut that includes:

  • Shonda Rhimes, creator of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal”
  • Vince Gilligan, creator of “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul”
  • Ellen Degeneres

The combined company will take on a changing entertainment landscape

The transition to streaming is not lost on CAA, whose client, Scarlett Johannson, missed out on millions when Disney premiered “Black Widow” on Disney+.

Her situation is the most prominent recent example of traditional entertainment business models undergoing changes that impact payout structure, including:

  • Box office numbers falling due in part to simultaneous streaming releases
  • TV syndication deals drying up as streaming has overtaken cable
  • Music artists have largely been unable to tour for the past 2 years

To replace those revenue streams…

… CAA-ICM expects to focus more on helping clients build out entrepreneurial ventures. For instance:

  • Reese Witherspoon’s production company Hello Sunshine, which recently sold for ~$900m
  • Gwenyth Paltrow’s lifestyle brand Goop, which was recently valued at $250m

If CAA-ICM can help clients succeed with their entrepreneurial pursuits, lower salaries may not matter. Regardless, we’d still love to see Ari Gold go to battle with Disney execs on behalf of ScarJo.

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SNIPPETS

Staffing up: Given the labor shortage, retailers are bumping up wages and benefits to attract workers this holiday season. #ecommerce-retail

Good idea: Conservationist Brian Kreps is working to transform Virginia’s defunct coalfields into solar energy farms. #clean-energy

Rumor has it video game company Valve is building a standalone VR headset, code-named “Deckard.” You know, like the “Blade Runner” guy! #emerging-tech

Are you high? Researchers say your smartphone’s sensors, including its GPS and accelerometer, let it know if you’ve used cannabis. #privacy

Switzerland has approved its 1st crypto fund. It tracks 10 of the largest cryptocurrencies and is only open to qualified investors. #fintech-cryptocurrency

Billionaire barbs: Elon Musk is now the richest person in the world. He joked that he’ll send Bezos a No. 2 statue. #big-tech

Now on MFM: How you can get involved with Harvard’s publishing arm, the MFM NFT, and more. #mfm

ICYMI: Our most recent Sunday story details why America has a school bus driver shortage. #hustle-picks

Air Rage
banned-passengers

Could airlines band together to ground unruly passengers?

Delta revealed it has 1.6k+ people on its banned list and has submitted 600+ names to the FAA’s Special Emphasis Enforcement Program this year.

It now wants airlines to share their lists to prevent problem passengers from switching carriers.

And last week, the House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee on Aviation held a hearing about “air rage,” during which flight attendants detailed the vulgar language, slurs, and violence they’ve endured.

Have people always been this bad at flying?

No. Incidents have surged since the pandemic. Per the FAA, between Jan. 1 and Sept. 28, there have been:

  • 4.5k Unruly Passenger Reports — ~73% were over masks
  • 808 investigations
  • 169 enforcement cases initiated

A survey from the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) found that 85% of respondents had dealt with an unruly passenger in the 1st half of 2021.

Like Delta, AFA also recommends creating a centralized list of unruly passengers.

Who would be in charge of this list?

The FBI maintains a no-fly list, but only of known or suspected terrorists. It’s been criticized for its lack of transparency. Example: It took a woman who was put on it by mistake a decade to get removed.

During last week’s hearing, Lauren Beyer, VP of security and facilitation at Airlines for America, said that airlines do maintain internal no-fly lists.

But, there would be “legal and operational challenges” with carriers collaborating on a common database.

And so, as US Rep. Peter DeFazio points out, the responsibility would likely fall on the FAA.

BTW: Check out these memes the FAA made to try to convince people to behave on planes.

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Q&A
Peter-Diamandis

Peter Diamandis: ‘The world’s biggest problems are the world’s biggest business opportunities’

The XPRIZE Foundation has a straightforward pitch: it organizes competitions in which the winning team gets a large cash prize for innovation breakthroughs.

Since launching its 1st competition in 1996, XPRIZE has awarded ~$300m, including:

  • $10m to invent a suborbital spaceflight craft (this was the 1st prize and the technology was licensed by Richard Branson to start space tourism company Virgin Galactic)
  • $15m to create an open-source education software to teach children basic skills
  • $20m to convert carbon dioxide into products

XPRIZE recently launched its largest prize ever in partnership with Elon Musk: a $100m purse for advances in carbon removal technology.

Peter Diamandis is the mind behind XPRIZE

A graduate of MIT and Harvard Medical School, the 60-year-old Diamandis has spent decades at the cutting edge of technology.

In addition to founding XPRIZE, Diamandis writes extensively on innovation. He also co-founded Singularity University, runs a $500m VC fund, and has launched 20+ companies in the longevity, space, and education industries.

Diamandis tells The Hustle his mission is “helping entrepreneurs make a bigger impact on the planet.”

An area that Diamandis is spending more time on…

… is human longevity, which he believes is one of the world’s biggest business opportunities: “if you want to make a billion dollars, help a billion people,” Diamandis says.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Hustle, Diamandis breaks down:

  • The longevity industry
  • The intersection of Bitcoin and longevity
  • SpaceX (and Elon Musk) vs. Blue Origin (and Jeff Bezos)

Check out the full interview here.

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AROUND THE WEB

✈️  On this day: In 1968, Boeing introduced its 747 jumbo jet to the public for the 1st time.

🤐  Huh: Minus is a social network where you can reply as much as you want, but you only get 100 posts — ever.

📷  Wow: Artist Dominique Teufen has captured what appear to be beautiful black-and-white landscapes of distant places. But what these images really are is surprisingly mundane.

🍣  That’s cool: Conveyor-belt sushi, rivers of wine, and meals by toy train. Atlas Obscura explores the history of moving food.

🍝  Haha: Eminem’s restaurant, Mom’s Spaghetti, is now open in Detroit. It serves spaghetti, meatballs, and spaghetti sandwiches. Please don’t vomit them on your sweater.

👻  That’s interesting: A UK recruitment firm’s new campaign asks companies to stop ghosting job seekers, something that can hurt an applicant’s wellbeing and a brand’s reputation.

Meme of the day
leo-meme

Very meta (Source: Know Your Meme)

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