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The Hustle

Susan Porter claimed honking 14 times while passing a protest in California in 2017 was not “unreasonable use of a vehicle horn” as she was cited, but free speech and protected by the First Amendment. Unfortunately for Susan, geese, and all other fans of expressive honking, the court did not agree.

In today’s email:

  • Beauty booms: When it comes to makeup, inflation is made up.
  • Video: A look inside one of the last piano factories.
  • Coachella: The music festival where music takes a back seat.
  • Around the Web: Pokémon for grandpas, stroll through the “Torture Orchard,” a cat lets the drama build, and more internet finds.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s podcast to hear about Hershey’s getting salty for sweet profits, Netflix putting the nail in the DVD coffin, and a whole lot more.

The big idea
applying makeup

Inflation who? The beauty industry is boomin’

Maybe she’s born with it… or maybe she’s spending all of her disposable income on makeup.

Per The Washington Post, it’s the latter, and the beauty industry is flush with cash despite broader economic hardships:

  • Sales for US mass market beauty products — sold in drug and grocery stores — reached $30B last year, up 4% from 2021.
  • Prestige beauty brands — sold in department and specialty stores — raked in nearly as much with $27B in sales and 15% YoY growth.

With the inflation rate at 5% in March…

… many Americans felt the squeeze everywhere from grocery stores to clothing stores, and retail sales fell 1%.

But the beauty industry remains resilient, and it’s not the first time:

  • Estée Lauder chairman Leonard Lauder coined the term “lipstick index” in 2001 when he noticed makeup sales climbing despite the recession.
  • The trend goes all the way back to 1929 during the Great Depression.

And beauty is showing no signs of slowing down: LVMH, the luxury group that owns Sephora and other brands, reported an 11% rise in perfume and cosmetics sales in its first quarter.

Whether customers are scouring shelves for cheap self-care antidotes or luxury pick-me-ups, it’s likely they’ve gotten a recommendation or two from social media.

The #beauty hashtag on TikTok has amassed 175B views and counting, with 89% of users reporting they’ve purchased beauty products after seeing them on the app.

That’s a lot of lip gloss.

View on site
eyeball wearing a hat

Settlements of $700m+ are having a moment. Meta will pay out $725m in a data privacy class-action suit, Fox News will pay Dominion Voting Systems $787.5m in a defamation suit — and we assume it’s only a matter of time until CVS sends $750m our way to make good on all the hours we’ve lost to their receipts printing.


TodAI in AI: Snapchat’s AI chatbot will now be available to its 750m users for free. The bot was previously limited to Snap’s 3m+ paying customers.

Karma pays: The conversations of Reddit’s ~57m daily visitors have been free fuel for Microsoft and Google’s AI models, but now Reddit is looking for its slice of that Big Tech pie — the social network announced it will soon start charging companies for API access.

Worrisome: The war in Ukraine and flooding in Pakistan and China have contributed to the worst rice deficit in decades, pushing up prices in Asia-Pacific in particular, where 90% of the world’s rice is consumed.

OK, so it wasn’t just us… Amazon added a “Dialogue Boost” feature to Prime Video, allowing viewers to increase the volume of dialogue relative to background music and effects on select original programming.

Not that you use it anymore, but Netflix is shuttering its DVD rental program in September. Since March 1998, Netflix has shipped 5.2B+ DVDs, the most-requested of which is sports drama The Blind Side.

Why the long FaceTime? Samsung (22%) edged out Apple (21%) in global smartphone market share to start the year. Samsung may have temporarily regained the throne but nobody is celebrating — smartphone shipments are down 12% YoY.

Funding, but less fun and more dings. In the first quarter, global fintech funding fell 12% from Q4 2022 (excluding Stripe’s $6.5B raise). A year after Q1 produced 38 fintech unicorns, only one company — Egyptian microfinance firm MNT-Halan — hit the coveted $1B mark in 2023.

Tesla’s wild ride continues: Quarterly earnings for Elon’s EV automaker are in, but they probably wish they weren’t — net income dropped 24% YoY.

Viral CEOs: MillerKnoll CEO Andi Owen went viral for telling employees disappointed by a lack of bonuses not to live in “pity city,” which she now claims was meant as a “rallying cry.”

Meanwhile, Clearlink CEO James Clarke told employees they’d need to return to the office after previously saying otherwise, and praised one employee who sold their dog to do so.


Do you love beer — not just drinking it, but learning everything about how it’s made? Then the idea of opening your own brewery has likely crossed your mind. We sat down with successful brewery owners to get their advice on how you can make that dream a reality.

piano factory

Watch: We took a look inside one of America’s last piano factories

Inside an old brick building in the leafy town of Haverhill, Massachusetts, you’ll find one of the last vestiges of a once-thriving industry.

Entering the six-story structure is like going back in time: Stacks of kiln-dried maple wood line the walls. Artisans carefully tinker with tuning pins and soundboards. A light tinkling of classical music rises above the whir and putter of 100-year-old machines.

Not long ago, piano factories like this were one of America’s largest and most formidable industries, employing tens of thousands of workers.

Today, only two active manufacturers remain: Steinway & Sons in New York, and this place — Mason & Hamlin.

Over the past century, nearly all American piano manufacturers have been eradicated by foreign competition, declining domestic craftsmanship, and the rise of competing technologies.

But Mason & Hamlin has endured largely by turning to the past, drawing inspiration from a bygone era of artisanry, and striking a chord with dedication to tradition.

Watch the quick video. →
Free Resource

Free Excel marketing templates

Hey — we’re not advocating anything.

We’re not saying you should download these spreadsheets and present them as your own at your next big meeting.

That’s why they’re here, though. We use top models to keep business operations spick-and-span, and now they’re yours.

Ten essential templates for streamlining:

  • Marketing budgets
  • Blog and social content calendars
  • On-page SEO
  • Google Ads strategy
  • Service-level agreements (SLAs)
  • And much more

Next week on Zoom, Jimmy will unmute for the first time in months to say, “That’s an excellent spreadsheet.” We won’t say a word.

Steal these spreadsheets →
Life Stages

How social media influenced Coachella

In 2017, Coachella became the first music festival to top $100m in annual profits.

It’s been quite the turnaround: Less than two decades earlier, the inaugural Southern California festival — meant to be an affordable, laid-back destination for alternative music fans — flopped.

With ~25k people in attendance, the October 1999 event wasn’t profitable, costing organizers nearly $1m.

So, what changed?

The music, for one — the alternative artists who headlined the early festivals were swapped out for mainstream pop and hip-hop artists, like Jay-Z and Lady Gaga, bringing bigger audiences to the main stage.

Social media, of course, is another reason.

When influencer culture and festival fashion exploded in the 2010s, both quickly became synonymous with Coachella, which experienced a stratospheric increase in attendance.

And here come the brands and influencers

The increased prominence of content creators and celebrities working with brands has nearly overshadowed what happens on stage.

Perhaps no company has used Coachella as a marketing tool as heavily as LA-based clothing company Revolve.

  • Nearly 70% of the company’s sales come from influencers, making experiential marketing at events like Coachella a core revenue driver.
  • Since 2015 at Coachella, Revolve has hosted Revolve Festival, an invite-only party for celebrities and influencers. The event has driven ~5B social impressions.

This year, Revolve again made headlines, collaborating with Kendall Jenner’s tequila brand and Hailey Bieber’s beauty line — just another part of the social-driven $1B+ marketing machine that is today’s Coachella…

… which is all surely a long way from its modest beginnings of Rage Against The Machine and Beck playing on a polo field.

Read the full story →

📅 On this day: In 1998, an attempt to showcase Windows 98 resulted in the infamous “Blue Screen of Death” after an assistant plugged in a scanner. Bill Gates quipped, “That must be why we’re not shipping Windows 98 yet.”

👴 Haha: “Pokémon Go,” for grandpas.

🌲 That’s interesting: The “Torture Orchard” is where trees are put to extremes to test which ones could survive climate change.

📱 How to: Stop scrolling forever into the void.

😺 Aww: And now, a true “wait for it” moment.

class action settlement meme

Here’s to hoping $6 goes a lot further in the metaverse. (Link)


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Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen and Juliet Bennett RylahSara Friedman, .
Editing by: Ben “Beauty is in the eye of the shareholder” Berkley.

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