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🎲 Dungeons, dragons, and…therapy?

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A Morning Consult survey found that US adults consider Freddy Krueger the scariest horror movie character, followed by Hannibal Lecter and Michael Myers.

In today’s email:

  • Microsoft: The metaverse that got away.
  • Chart: Spotify’s audiobook roadblock.
  • Board games: A new tool for therapists.
  • Around the Web: A newsletter for top tweets, a club for French cheese labels, virtual paper planes, and more.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s 10-minute podcast to hear Jacob and Juliet discuss Microsoft’s AR strategy, Spotify’s beef with Apple, Elon Musk’s sink, and more.

The big idea
knocking headsets

What’s up with Microsoft and the metaverse?

Given the name change and Zuck’s numerous uncanny valley demos, everyone knows Meta is all about the metaverse.

But what about Microsoft?

Well, recently, former HoloLens director Tim Osborne lamented Microsoft’s lost opportunity to “own” the market, per The Wall Street Journal.

What happened?

Microsoft’s HoloLens is an AR device dreamed up by its video games team while thinking about the future of gaming systems.

That initial idea was “Screen Zero,” an Xbox headset to replace other screens.

  • Microsoft built a prototype in 2010 that plugged into a computer, then debuted the wireless HoloLens in 2015.
  • At that year’s E3 gaming conference, Microsoft demoed how it could be used to play “Minecraft.”

Which was cool… except the headset was harder to build than expected and, when made available to consumers, cost $3k.

That might be why Microsoft sold ~300k of them, compared to Meta’s 17m Quest 2 VR headsets, which retail for ~$400.

Since then…

… Microsoft has transitioned to selling the HoloLens to enterprises, including NASA and Mercedes-Benz.

Its largest client is the US Army, which awarded Microsoft a $480m contract to develop AR training for soldiers — a rollout that has not been without tech issues.

Meanwhile:

  • Plans for a new HoloLens have been shelved due to budget cuts.
  • Inventor Alex Kipman departed amid allegations of inappropriate behavior.

Still, Frank Shaw, Microsoft’s VP of communications, says it’s still “committed” to the metaverse — and it isn’t like it’s been a digital stroll in the virtual park for anyone else.

Only 58% of Meta employees even get the metaverse themselves.

And AR headset competitor Magic Leap has returned with an enterprise-focused device that’s even less affordable… at ~$5k.

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TRENDING
eyeball wearing a hat

Chief Twit: Ahead of Elon Musk’s $44B Twitter acquisition closing Friday, he tweeted a clip of himself entering the Twitter HQ. “Let that sink in,” he wrote, carrying a literal sink.

SNIPPETS

Meta stock sank following a weak Q3 earnings report. Revenue fell 4% YoY to $27.7B, and its Reality Labs (metaverse) unit saw revenue drop nearly ~49% to $285m.

It’s official: Apple will comply with a new EU law that requires devices to share a common USB-C charger.

A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin claims he’s 75% done with The Winds of Winter, the sixth of seven novels in his very long series.

Whatnot, a livestream shopping platform for collectibles, raised $260m, bringing its valuation to $3.7B in just three years.

Winter blues: Andreessen Horowitz’s $4.5B crypto fund reportedly lost ~40% of its value in the first half of 2022.

Twitter is losing its “heavy tweeters” — those who tweet 3x-4x/week — as interest shifts toward advertiser-unfriendly NSFW and crypto content, per internal documents.

Tyson Foods will pay $10.5m to settle a lawsuit alleging that it and 18 other companies collaborated to drive up the cost of chicken sold to restaurants.

Hedge fund legend Ray Dalio sat down with Zack to dissect America’s debt crisis. Check out a quick 2-minute clip on our new YouTube channel.

Chart
Spotify listeners
Singdhi Sokpo

Is Apple blocking Spotify’s growth plan?

“You can’t buy audiobooks in the app. We know, it’s not ideal.”

That’s the lone, blunt message Spotify now shows to anyone trying to buy an audiobook in its iOS app.

Spotify has seen quarter after quarter of uninterrupted growth, but the company believes audiobooks, which represent 6%-7% of the $140B global book industry, are needed for its next phase. Last month, the company began offering 300k+ titles.

The problem, according to Spotify…

… is that Apple makes it extremely difficult for people to actually buy one. So difficult, in fact, Spotify made a website about it.

  • Since Spotify chooses not to process purchases through Apple, which charges up to 30% fees, it’s subject to strict App Store guidelines barring it from offering or directing users toward a different payment processor.

The result: Without direction, you have to leave the app, find the book on Spotify’s website, and purchase it there.

For listeners, until either company budges, Spotify’s audiobook experience will likely remain “not ideal.”

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Free Resource

Nerdy Nuts’ $6m brand loyalty playbook

Craig’s D2C peanut butter brand went viral on TikTok.

He leveraged the momentum like a machine, reaching 20x growth and ~$500k in monthly sales — for peanut butter. Small-batch, lip-smacking peanut butter.

Three brand loyalty tips for TikTok:

  1. CEOs should hear directly from consumers. Craig stays on the pulse via a private text group with top community members.
  2. Ambassadors > influencers/referral programs. Sometimes, you gotta think smaller. As in, the ever-loyal micro-micro-influencers.
  3. Make proper use of community feedback and visibility. (Here’s how.)

Craig’s been building his business with help from our community for two years. We’re stoked for the next update.

Finish reading the article and access our 15k-strong network.

First week’s a buck →
Board Game Therapy
Dungeons & Dragons

Dungeons & Dragons and… therapy?

What if your therapist prescribed you one “Dungeons & Dragons” game per week for anxiety?

That reality might not be far off, according to Wired, with the rise of therapeutic tabletop role-playing games (TTRPGs).

In TTRPGs…

… players sit around a table, taking on the personas of fictional characters. This type of role-playing can be a helpful tool when used in a mental health setting by:

  • Providing a safe space to explore identity, traumas, and social skills
  • Helping clients who might be uncomfortable with traditional therapy

Now, startups are springing up to meet the need:

TTRPGs may seem like a relic of the past…

… but business is still booming. “Dungeons & Dragons” earns an estimated $100m-$150m annually.

And thanks in part to a prominent feature in Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” the game has a new batch of young fans, with 24% of players between 20 and 24 years old.

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AROUND THE WEB

👨‍🌾 On this day: In 1873, farmer Joseph Glidden applied for a patent for barbed wire after improving on a design he’d seen at a county fair.

🐦 That’s cool: A newsletter that sends you the day’s top Twitter stories.

🧀 That’s interesting: Since 1960, there’s been a club dedicated to collecting French cheese labels.

✈️ Cure boredom: Go to this site on your phone to throw and catch virtual paper planes with players around the world.

🐁 Aww: And now, a mouse market.

Meme
Spotify meme

“Not ideal.” (Source: imgflip.com)

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

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