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The Hustle

Australian fitness dudes have no chill when it comes to pushups. Two Aussies keep trading the world record for pushups in an hour, with 3,249 pushups as the latest number to beat. That mark is a pretty amazing coincidence — .3249 of a pushup is actually our staff record.

In today’s email:

  • AI-list: What AI has to do with the actors’ and writers’ strikes.
  • Super Bowl ads: The only thing working in the TV biz right now.
  • Digits: Growth for Threads (and Threads), Messi’s fortune, and more.
  • Around the Web: Zoom for Tarot, soothing terms of service, a tiny okapi, and more.

👇 Listen: Why protecting actors’ digital likenesses is a priority in Hollywood

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The big idea
strike signs

The Hollywood strike has a lot to do with AI

The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) and the Writers Guild of America (WGA) are officially on strike together for the first time in 63 years.

But in addition to concerns over improved benefits, wages, and working conditions, one is distinctly modern — how studios will use AI.

Literally a “Black Mirror” episode

With some media publications already replacing writers with AI, it’s no wonder the WGA would want guardrails in place.

Stranger still, SAG-AFTRA chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland claimed the Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers (AMPTP) and the studio execs it represents want to use AI to create scans of background performers. The performers would get paid for a day of work, but studios would be able to use scans whenever they wanted.

This exact thing happens to Salma Hayek in “Joan is Awful,” an episode of “Black Mirror.”

Background actors — who typically play nonspeaking roles to fill scenes, (e.g.,customers at a coffee shop, students in a school, etc.) — make an average of $38.5k per year, per Indeed.


… has denied these claims, but some allege actor scans are already happening.

Tech has also been used to de-age actors, even in instances where actors have died. Peter Cushing, who died in 1994, “appeared” in 2016’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

How does the strike affect everyone else?

With much TV and film production shut down, people who work in other parts of the entertainment industry are also out of work.

Even Los Angeles-area restaurants that provide catering or play host to industry meetings and events are feeling it, with some reporting up to 40% dips in revenue, per The Los Angeles Times.

For the rest of us, we may have to wait longer for our fave shows and movies. Already delayed are “Stranger Things,” “Andor,” “Severance,” and Captain America: Brave New World, among others.

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eyeball wearing a hat

Talk about taking a marketing stunt to a higher level: Truly Hard Seltzer is inviting fans to sip its wares in a pop-up bar — set up inside a zero-gravity plane used to train astronauts.


Can’t win if you don’t play (or even if you do): Tonight’s Powerball jackpot, $900m, is the third largest in history. Will the grand prize winner be you? Statistically speaking, absolutely not.

Man on a Mission: Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One ran — and ran, and ran, and ran — to a strong box office debut. The film’s five-day global haul reached ~$235m.

Word on the tweet: Elon Musk says Twitter has a negative cash flow, pointing to a “heavy debt load” and 50% ad revenue decline. In April, he said Twitter was “roughly breaking even.”

It isn’t all bad news at Twitter: Musk changed the rules of the platform’s new creator revenue-sharing program, with accounts devoted to animals now eligible for payouts. Prompting the change? Pressure from a right-wing beagle.

Launch product launched: EV startup Canoo has sent three new vans to NASA, niftily designed to transport fully-suited-up astronauts to the launch pad. Next up for Canoo: Delivering 4.5k vehicles for another set of American heroes — Walmart delivery drivers.

Quite a lift: United Airlines struck a deal with its pilots union worth ~$10B that’ll boost pilot pay up to 40% over four years. Delta and American also recently resolved labor disputes; Southwest pilots, meanwhile, may be headed for a strike.

Behold, the unholy chimera: Hostess has fused two fearsome forces together, Oppenheimer style, forever altering the course of humanity: Ding Dongs x Twinkies. The treat mashup combines Twinkies’ cake and filling with Ding Dongs’ frosting. Lord help us all.

Color me influenced: Did you know colors can trigger emotions? Businesses do, and they use color psychology tactics to influence consumers to buy.

Super Bowl ad prices over time
Olivia Heller

Gone in 30 seconds: a whopping $6.5m

Wanna burn a pile of money on a Super Bowl ad? Better get on that now.

CBS, which will broadcast Super Bowl LVIII in February 2024, has already sold ~70% of the event’s ad inventory, per Variety.

The average price? $6.5m per 30 seconds.

The going rate is gobsmacking, but they’re still going fast

Dibs have now been called on most of the Big Game’s first half and third quarter.

The early rush tracks with last year: Fox, which had 2023 broadcast rights, sold ~95% of its inventory by September 2022. The network charged similar $6m-$7m rates.

  • The result? The Chiefs, Eagles, and halftime performer Rihanna teamed up to attract 113m viewers and Fox grossed ~$600m in ad revenue.

OK, but why do advertisers keep flocking to these overpriced ad slots?

This Super Bowl hoopla says a lot about the current state of the TV business:

  • Network ratings are atrocious — for the first time in any of our lifetimes, no broadcast drama or comedy surpassed 10m viewers across Nielsen’s latest US ratings season, per Hollywood Reporter. The only two weekly programs averaging 10m+ last season? NFL telecasts.
  • Live sports is TV’s last stand for bringing eyeballs together en masse and forcing them to simultaneously sit through ads — which is why companies are dropping wild sums (Alphabet spent $14B!) to bring the NFL to their platforms.

Another factor making sports an advertising haven: they’re a reliable bet that has nothing to do with Hollywood’s other nightmare — striking writers’ and actors’ unions.

The longer those strikes continue, the more enticing that remaining sliver of Super Bowl ads will look.

BTW: Ever wonder why so many of these multimillion-dollar ads suck? Well, some are intentionally bad.

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Free Resource

50 nifty remote team-building activities

Not every remote team is an indomitable unit. Yet.

We aren’t saying trivia games and scavenger hunts are the remedy, but they’re definitely a start. Even if you don’t like icebreakers, we bet you’ll find at least five items in our team-building activities kit to be pretty solid.

Just trying to bring y’all closer together. Since work is time. And time is money. And money has nothing on friendship.

50 team-building activities →
By the Numbers

Digits: Messi nets billions, Coca-Cola’s can-don’t attitude, and more newsy numbers

1) One sign soccer superstar Lionel Messi is just like us: He was spotted in a Florida grocery store with his family, buying Lucky Charms. One signing that shows Messi ain’t like anyone else: His new $150m deal with MLS team Inter Miami will bring his career on-field earnings to $1.6B, per Sportico. Off the pitch, Messi has revenue-sharing deals in place with MLS partners Apple, Adidas, and Fanatics — and endorsement deals with Budweiser, Mastercard, and Pepsi.

2) As for the non-Messi-backed beverage titan: Coca-Cola and some of its top bottling partners are ponying up $137.7m for sustainability investments. The shared VC fund will back tech firms that offer packaging, energy, and distribution solutions that can reduce the company’s carbon footprint. Coca-Cola is behind target on one front: its bottles contain 15% recycled material today, well short of its goal to reach 50% by 2030.

3) Threads helps Threads (no relation): Meta’s Threads is surging, with 150m users so far, and its popularity is rubbing off on another Threads, an unrelated Slack alternative launched in 2019 that started the month in obscurity and now has nearly 2m downloads. The latter owns; Zuck’s version lives at

4) Peeling and coring an avocado kinda sucks, but it’ll no longer be the pits for Chipotle. Until now, it has taken the chain’s kitchen staff ~50 minutes to create a batch of guacamole. That number’s about to go way down thanks to Autocado, a machine that automates the tedious avocado prep process, 25 pounds of the fruit at a time, built by robotics startup Vebu. That’ll be a productivity boon for Chipotle, which uses 100m+ pounds of avocados each year.

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🏰 On this day: In 1955, Disneyland opened in Anaheim, California. Due to thousands of people obtaining counterfeit passes, the park was overrun with guests.

🔮 That’s interesting: There’s now a Zoom-esque platform for online tarot reading.

🎧 Podcast: On this episode of The Science of Scaling, learn how cybersecurity firm Snyk layered sales into its business, which, oh, by the way, has a $3B+ valuation today.

😴 Haha: Legal Lullabies reads tech giants’ terms of service to soothe you to sleep. Here’s Instagram’s, coming in at 51 minutes.

😍 Aww: And now, a rare baby okapi.

office lighting meme

Close second: Work conversations that continue into the bathroom. (Link)


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Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen and Juliet Bennett Rylah.
Editing by: Ben “Fitness goal: Complete one pushup by 2030” Berkley.

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