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The Hustle

In 2014, Molson Coors advertised Coors Light-flavored popsicles as an April Fools’ joke. Now, it’s releasing them for real as a limited March Madness promo. Perhaps disappointingly, they contain no alcohol.

In today’s email:

  • Netflix & no chill: Gaming aspirations push forward.
  • Using AI at work: New tools = new rules.
  • Courting cash: Women’s basketball looks to score big.
  • Around the Web: Lost media, a coffee recipe, a revived video game, and more cool internet finds.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s podcast to learn about Netflix’s gaming ambitions, people hiding AI from their boss, some berry bad news, and more.

The big idea
person on their phone

Netflix pushes deeper into the $170B gaming industry

Hey, should I chat up Theo, a tattooed musician, or confident web designer Dakota? That’s a dilemma in “Too Hot to Handle: Love Is a Game,” one of Netflix’s most-played games, downloaded 1m+ times since its December release.

Over the last two years, Netflix has made a series of gaming acquisitions, and opened its own studios in Helsinki and California. On Monday, VP of external games Leanne Loombe provided another update:

  • Netflix’s collection now comprises 55 games, including new originals based on Netflix IPs and existing titles from other developers.
  • It will add 40 more this year.
  • There are 70 new games in development with gaming partners, plus 16 being developed in-house.

Forthcoming games…

… include, yes, a “Too Hot to Handle” sequel, plus tie-ins to shows including “The Queen’s Gambit” and “Shadow and Bone.”

Games span a variety of genres, which Loombe wrote is an intentional strategy to appeal to a broad audience.

Despite all that…

… less than 1% of Netflix subscribers regularly engaged with its games as of August, per IGN.

The streamer’s value proposition is good. It offers members fun games — many tied to IPs fans already know and love — with no additional fees.

But they’re all mobile — not available on the laptops and TVs consumers often use to browse Netflix. Netflix intends to develop a cloud gaming service for TVs and PCs (Amazon did that last year).

That service is in very early development, but it’s hard to bet against Netflix. After all, they did get 142m households to watch people play a life-or-death version of “Red Light, Green Light.”

Meanwhile: Microsoft announced plans to launch a gaming app store for iOS and Android — but that’s assuming its acquisition of Activision Blizzard happens.

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eyeball wearing a hat

Text-to-video generative AI. With the Gen-2 system now rolling out from startup Runway, users will be able to turn brief text prompts into novel, AI-created video clips. Nobody will ever misuse that, right?… Right?


More cuts: After recently eliminating 18k roles, Amazon plans to lay off another 9k employees — mostly from its cloud computing, HR, advertising, and Twitch units.

What’s up at Ikea? Inventory-checking drones. The company now has 100 units autonomously buzzing around some European stores.

A Cut above: TikTok’s sister app CapCut, which offers free video-editing tools, reportedly has 200m monthly active users. Its downloads have outpaced TikTok in recent weeks.

Very mature: Twitter now auto-responds to journalists’ emails sent to its press address with a poop emoji.

Starbucks’ Howard Schultz is out as CEO earlier than planned, replaced by Laxman Narasimhan. The coffee giant faces federal scrutiny for alleged union-busting activities.

PitchBook’s VC Exit Predictor is a new AI tool that predicts whether a startup will be acquired, go public, or not exit. The tool was 74% accurate in tests.

California named nonprofit drugmaker Civica Rx as its partner in a 10-year, $50m agreement to make its own affordable insulin.

Fifth time’s the charm: Billionaire Rupert Murdoch is engaged again at 92, this time to Ann Lesley Smith. His four previous divorces were costly — last year’s settlement with Jerry Hall included a $13.5m home.

Berry bad news: Flooding is threatening harvests across California’s $3B strawberry industry, responsible for ~90% of US production. Strawberry prices rose 8.7% in 2022, after sprouting 41% in 2021.

Digital marketing 101: Learn how to leverage every possible channel to grow your online business with this free, textbook-classic ebook.


Do you want to quit your job and start your own business every time you watch an episode of “Shark Tank”? Same. And the show isn’t just inspirational — it’s filled with valuable business lessons.

use of AI at work
Singdhi Sokpo

Apparently workers are lying to their bosses about using ChatGPT

Even as recently as last year, using powerful AI models at work was not on our “Things you’re hiding from your boss” bingo card, but here we are.

A recent survey of 11k+ people on Fishbowl, a social network for professionals, found 43% of workers have now used tools like ChatGPT on the job.

The kicker? The survey also found ~70% of them are doing so without their boss knowing.

The rules are being rewritten (by humans… we think)

Some Wall Street firms including Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, and Wells Fargo have banned the use of AI chatbots, per Bloomberg. But only 3% of HR leaders surveyed by Gartner say they’ve instituted such bans.

Many companies are embracing the tools. Gartner’s survey found 48% of HR leaders are working to finalize AI-usage policies, while 34% don’t plan to issue any guidance.

At Microsoft, the company’s new AI tools are being tested with eight Fortune 500 firms.

One known in a sea of unknowns

Soon enough it’ll become increasingly difficult to not use tools like ChatGPT in some way, shape, or form at work.

  • OpenAI has made serious progress getting its technology into the office. Last week, it (quite literally) became a central part of the Office suite.

Bottom line: Early adopters are (secretly) already putting AI to work for them, and it appears much of corporate America is preparing to catch up.

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Free Resource

Might we suggest… micro-influencers?

If you (like us) refuse to drop six figures for a TikTok ad, that’s fine.

Micro- and nano-influencers are a fuego option for frugal businesses since they already have concentrated groups of consumers. Maybe you can tap in, too — if you ask nicely.

For tips on linking up, watch this six-minute intro to micro-influencer marketing.

How to find your small-time legends:

  • Search Instagram and TikTok hashtags
  • Compare engagement rates
  • Check for fake-ass frills
  • DM marketing samples

Leverage velvety voices. Fund fine faces.

Micro-maven marketing →
Nothing But Net Profits
women playing basketball

Women’s basketball: Winning eyeballs and landing windfalls

The women’s NCAA Tournament narrowed to 16 teams last night, but another Sweet 16% looms large over the sport’s future.

After last year’s tourney ratings increased 16% YoY, per AP, the national final will return to TV’s biggest stage: ABC’s April 2 broadcast will be the first women’s title game on network TV in 28 years. All ad slots have sold out.

Cash outlook: buckets

Bigger money may follow. When ESPN’s wider college deal expires next year, the NCAA will reportedly consider selling women’s tournament rights separately (as it does for the men’s tourney).

The value of sports broadcasting rights deals have exploded in recent years.

  • MLS netted $2.5B from Apple last year; the soccer league’s past season averaged ~450k viewers on network TV, per Sports Business Journal data.
  • By comparison, the women of last year’s March Madness reeled in an average of 634k viewers per game across the ESPN networks. That number jumped to 4.85m viewers for the title game, just ~1m fewer than the 2022 Emmys.

It isn’t just college basketball that’s thriving

The WNBA is also on the rise. Per The Wall Street Journal, TV ratings are up and the pro league’s first capital-raising round brought in $75m.

Franchise values are skyrocketing — The Seattle Storm was recently valued at $151m — and as journalist Lindsay Gibbs points out, the WNBA even outpaces NBA valuation at this point in its history.

League expansion is on the table. That would likely command steep entry fees.

  • Women’s soccer league NWSL, also booming, recorded franchise fees of ~$50m each for its incoming Bay Area and Boston teams.

Even the sneakers show the women’s game ascending — when WNBA All-Star Sabrina Ionescu’s Nike shoe launches this spring, adult sizes will go for $125, a higher price point than signature shoes from NBA stars Jayson Tatum and Ja Morant.

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✊🏿 On this day: In 1965, Martin Luther King Jr. began a march with 3.2k civil rights demonstrators from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, to advocate for voting rights for Black Americans. President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law that August.

🔍 That’s cool: An archive of lost media, including music, TV shows, video games, and more.

🎮 That’s interesting: Speaking of, “Cart Life,” a narrative video game about struggling street vendors, disappeared from Steam. Wired explores its return.

🫒 How to: Make olive oil coffee — Starbucks’ latest thing — at home.

🐧 Aww: And now, the true flappy bird.

taxes and social interactions tweet

Only thing worse: Social interactions with the IRS. (Link.)


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