🏈 The Super Bet - The Hustle
The Hustle

🏈 The Super Bet

Plus: Microsoft’s enormous announcement, relaxing Legos, an online hand tracker, Australian VC funding, and more.

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Anyone else see that story about a couple scheduling their first kiss on Google Calendar?

In today’s email:

  • Horizon… is looking to broaden its horizons.
  • Feature story: The Manhattan high-rise that shrank.
  • Super Bowl: 20% of American adults may bet on it.
  • Around the web: Relaxing Legos, an online hand tracker, a frustrated crow, and more cool internet finds.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s 10-minute podcast to hear Zack and Rob discuss Meta’s new plan for Horizon Worlds, Bing’s big upgrade, good news for egg prices, and more.

The big idea

Meta looks to broaden Horizon’s horizons in 2023

Meta now plans to open the platform up to teens.
Jacob Cohen

Since Mark Zuckerberg renamed Facebook to Meta and officially pivoted the company toward the metaverse in October 2021, selling consumers on his vision of “the next frontier in connecting people” has been an uphill battle that cost $15.9B last year alone.

Now, Zuckerberg’s team is hoping 2023 will be a year of strong growth for Meta’s flagship metaverse platform, Horizon Worlds, per The Wall Street Journal — in part by shifting its focus toward the next frontier of humanity: kids.

What’s Meta’s goal for the year?

Among Horizon’s early challenges has been retaining users. Across the industry, between the spring and fall of 2022, the percentage of US teens using a VR headset dropped from 17% to 14%.

In January, Horizon’s weekly retention rate was 11%, and the company hopes to bring that to 20%, per WSJ.

According to an internal memo, one way Meta plans to address this is by opening Horizon to 13- to 17-year-olds as soon as March.

For reference:

  • The 13- to 17-year-old segment is among the most engaged on Roblox, and 46% of Roblox’s 58.8m users were under 13 as of Q3 last year.
  • Globally, kids spent, on average, 107 and 67 minutes on TikTok and YouTube, respectively, every day of 2022.

Meta hopes to reach 500k monthly active Horizon Worlds users in the first half of 2023, and 1m by year-end. That’s up from ~200k today.

How will Meta do this?

The company now plans to work with outside studios to launch 20+ new Horizon experiences with the hope that at least one will be a major hit.

Meta also plans to launch a 2D version of Horizon for desktop and mobile.

For now, VR comedy is just going to have to keep holding down the fort.


“It’s a new day in search,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said, unveiling the company’s conversational AI Bing search engine that lets you chat with Bing like ChatGPT. Google is expected to showcase similar capabilities at an event today.


Nice Job-ber: Canadian startup Jobber raised $100m for its management platform for home services like plumbing and heating. The company notched $100m+ in 2022 revenue.

G’day, mate? Australian VC funding dropped 30% in 2022 compared to 2021, with startups raising AU$7.4B ($5.1B). Still, six Aussie startups became unicorns.

Nintend-oh, no: The Kyoto-based company cut its financial outlook for the year ending in March, and expects to sell ~18m Switch consoles, below a 19m target.

Trade shade: The US trade deficit rose 12.2% YoY in 2022 to a record $948.1B, with exports of goods slipping to a 10-month low in December.

Check out this wild report about voice actors who say contracts are increasingly including language around signing their voices away to AI.

Ouch: Tokyo-based SoftBank posted a $5.8B quarterly loss on its startup investments. Since 2017, the firm’s $140B Vision Fund spend has earned a total loss of $6.7B.

The good kind of dis: Federal Chair Jerome Powell said disinflation “has begun,” but strong labor market and higher inflation reports could mean rates will increase.

What happens when you take “Wordle” and breed it with “Flappy Bird”? You get Flappy Birdle. That’s what happens.

Staying private: We all hear about companies going public, but far more common is for businesses to remain private. Here’s what you need to know about private companies.

Vinyl: so hot right now

In 2021, vinyl sales hit $1B. Our team broke down how the comeback happened in this four-minute video.

Feature story
Zachary Crockett

The Manhattan high-rise that shrunk itself down


In the fall of 1992, residents of the Upper East Side of Manhattan could not escape the sense that they were witnessing history.

For the first time as far back as city officials could remember, a building was shrinking itself down in size.

Laurence Ginsberg, who ran the real estate company Algin Management, intended the newly erected 108 E. 96th St. to be a home for high-earning renters who wanted to live by Central Park.

There was just one problem

With 31 floors in an area zoned for a maximum of 19, the building was far too tall.

After a five-year legal battle, bit by bit, construction crews decapitated the building. By the time the project was finished, in May 1993, the tower was nearly half of its original size.

Within a few years, its historical importance was lost. Yet 108 E. 96th St. remains one of the strangest — and forgotten — tales in the high-stakes world of NYC real estate.

Read the full story. →
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Super Bet

The Super Bowl of gambling is upon us

As many as one in five American adults may bet on the game.
Mark Dent

Here in Phoenix, site of Super Bowl LVII, it seemed like every other person in downtown Monday night was wearing a football jersey. My Uber driver said he expects the city to be as crowded as it’s ever been.

It’s par for the course for any host of the Super Bowl, and Phoenix expects an economic impact of $1B over the next few days.

Yet that sum pales in comparison to what has become the biggest spend associated with the Super Bowl: gambling.

The American Gaming Association…

predicts 50.4m people, ~20% of American adults, will bet $16B on the big game.

That estimate includes legal and illegal gambling.

  • Despite sports betting being legal in 36 states, illicit bets are more common. In 2022, legal sportsbooks accounted for ~$950m of ~$7.6B in Super Bowl bets.

Arizona will likely see a huge portion of the bets

It’s the first state with legal sports betting to host a Super Bowl. Phoenix features FanDuel and Caesars Sportsbook downtown, and a BetMGM sportsbook near the football stadium in suburban Glendale.

One gambling expert told the Arizona Republic $700m-$1B could be wagered in Arizona alone.

A fun prop bet: You can bet on which song halftime performer Rihanna will play first. “Don’t Stop the Music” is the Vegas favorite, but we’re leaning toward “Only Girl (In the World)” as a quality underdog selection.


🐎 On this day: In 1983, thieves stole a champion Irish racehorse worth $13.5m from a stud farm in County Kildare, Ireland. The horse was never seen again, and his kidnappers were never identified.

🎧 Podcast: There’s power in vulnerability, and this episode of iDigress breaks down why it’s important for business owners and creators.

🌲 Chill out: With this tranquil cabin scene constructed of Legos.

That’s cool: An online hand tracker that can figure out what your hands are doing through your webcam.

🐦 Aww: And now, this crow is over it.


Touch base. Game plan. Drop the ball. (Link)


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Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen, Juliet Bennett Rylah, and Rob Litterst.
Editing by: Mark “Broaden your horizons” Dent.

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