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The Hustle

Over 40k people watched what they thought were illegal streams of the Qatar World Cup. They were pixelated clips from the video game “FIFA 23.”

In today’s email:

  • Influencers: Brace for a recession.
  • Video: The economics of Christmas trees.
  • Bleisure: Vacations… with your boss.
  • Around the web: Deep breathing, falling asleep faster, everything about guinea pigs, and more cool internet finds.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s 10-minute podcast to hear Jacob and Mark break down a Microsoft superapp, a recession’s influence on influencers, massive news from the cream cheese industry, and more.

The big idea

The next big thing for influencers is less influencing

Coming this season to your TikTok feed: fewer Gen-Z digital stars posing with Louis Vuitton bags.

According to Wired, influencers and the brands who pay them are reconsidering their roles as inflation dents wallets, energy prices soar in Europe, and the world flirts with a global recession.

Budget tightening has come for influencers already…

… but only a little. Industry experts told Insider that influencing will be more resilient to a teetering economy than other forms of digital marketing.

Optics, as much as budgets, may lead to greater changes.

Last month, British TikTok influencer Lydia Millen (805k+ followers) lost heat in her home — very relatable during an energy crisis. Then she checked into an opulent Victorian-era hotel while showing off ~$39k worth of designer goods — not so relatable. The blowback was immense.

To ward off similar criticism, New York influencer Sophie Wood told Wired she has switched her focus to more sustainable and ethical brands, trying to avoid marketing frivolous products in a tough economy.

Of course, we’re talking about luxury brands here…

… whose target customers scroll TikTok on their personal yachts. The filthy rich won’t face major problems from a recession and are less likely to be offended by ostentatious displays of wealth.

That means brands are not going to halt influencer ads altogether. More likely, per Wired, they will reduce their pool of influencers, using those who have developed the most trust with consumers.

At the least: Experts say influencers will be more cautious and gracious as they address their audiences. So you might see an influencer give a shoutout to everyone struggling to pay their heating bills before flaunting their Manolo Blahniks in a $1k/night hotel room.

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Time named its 2022 Person of the Year: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and the Spirit of Ukraine. Google also released its Year in Search, and “Wordle” was the top trending search globally.


Anyone can now order an autonomous Uber in Las Vegas as part of a 10-year deal with Motional. For a short time, there will be safety operators behind the wheel.

Karaoke, anyone? Apple Music’s new Sing feature will sync lyrics with songs and let users adjust original vocals.

Philadelphia Cream Cheese — the subject of a shortage last holiday season — announced a new plant-based spread.

Microsoft Teams launched Communities, a free feature for creating and facilitating groups. The move positions the company in closer competition with Discord.

Lord of the Rings fans can stay at New Zealand’s Hobbiton for just ~$6/night on Airbnb — but there are only three available bookings.

On second thought: San Francisco will not allow its police force to implement killer robots — for now.

Hertz will pay $168m to 364 customers wrongfully accused of stealing its rentals, some of whom were arrested and jailed.

The Washington Post is exploring a sale of Arc XP, the publishing software it built that’s expected to make $200m+ annually by 2027.

Apple said its $29 AirTags are “Stalker-Proof.” Two women whose exes used AirTags to stalk them are now suing Apple.

Coca-Cola dropped three short Christmas films on Amazon Prime. Read about why brands love holiday movies here.

Save the trees and $$$: Turns out going green can get you more green. The Hustle blog asked entrepreneurs for tips and tricks on how businesses can become more sustainable.

The economics of Christmas trees

Video: The economics of Christmas trees

In America, Christmas trees are a ~$2B+ business. At any given time, there are 350m Christmas trees in various stages of development growing on farms; in a typical year, ~25m will be harvested for sale.

That may seem like a clear path to profit, but most Christmas tree varieties take 8-10 years to reach six feet. During that time, it’s a bit of a financial black hole for farmers — not to mention the growing threat of the artificial tree market.

So, what are the economics behind the trees? In our latest “Hustlenomics” episode, we break down the multibillion-dollar industry.

Read the full story →
Free Resource

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Extreme Workcations
group hiking

Your newest corporate nightmare: ‘Bleisure’

Ever found yourself thinking, “I wish I could leave the comfort of my home to stand in a wine cave with my co-workers?”

Neither have we! But too bad — companies are pouring cash previously allotted for office rent into destination corporate conferences that offer remote employees a bevy of in-person social and experiential programming, per Vox.

Instead of yawning in an audience while onstage speakers click through slide decks, today’s conferences take you:

  • Fishing microplastics out of a river in Aspen
  • Paddleboarding in San Diego
  • Barhopping around Lisbon

Wait, but WTF is bleisure?

Bleisure — a portmanteau of “business” and “leisure” — is the corporate world’s newest, gross-sounding buzzword.

The common practice of tacking vacation time onto business trips is catching the attention of conference organizers.

The warmer (and more fun) the destination, the more likely attendees will make a trip out of it, ultimately drawing larger crowds.

And big numbers matter…

… since the trillion-dollar business events industry took a huge hit during the pandemic. With global conference attendance at half of what it was in 2019, alluring events could be just what the industry needs.

Conferences aren’t the only corporate staple making a comeback: retreats are being resurrected, too.

Enjoy trust falls with your boss in Maui!

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🖥️ On this day: In 1975, Paul Terrell opened the Byte Shop, the first computer retailer to order fully assembled Apple computers — not the kit Steve Jobs imagined customers would use — in 1976.

😍 Cure boredom: A website devoted entirely to guinea pigs.

🫁 Chill out: Practice deep breathing.

🏃‍♀️ How to: Research found that a winning trick for falling asleep faster and waking up more rested is aerobic exercise.

🦎 Aww: And now, hey, that’s a weird dog.

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Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen, Juliet Bennett Rylah, Sara Cravatts, and Rob Litterst.
Editing by: Mark “Extreme trust falls” Dent.

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