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The Hustle

Now this is our kind of celebrity gossip: A note penned by Mozart in 1782 is expected to be auctioned for $600k+ next month. The two-pager is a juicy one — the composer was living with future wife Constanze Weber while unmarried; the letter details her parents’ threats to have cops reclaim their daughter (and her reputation).

In today’s email:

  • Rich people fighting: At least it gave the world paintball.
  • Building block: Big Tech scales back on its new work palaces.
  • Weekend Reads: These links pair well with beaches and beers.
  • Around the Web: Websites of the past, startups to watch, Capcom’s 40th, and more.

👇 Listen: It pains us to talk about the threat of an Elon-Zuck cage match.

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The Big Idea

Why cage fight when you could paintball?

Elon Musk (net worth: $245B+) recently challenged Mark Zuckerberg (net worth: $100B+) to a cage match, inspired by news that Meta is planning a Twitter rival.

Zuck, who’s trained in jiu-jitsu,asked for a location. Musk, who’s not, proposed Vegas.

Why would two billionaires entertain the idea of a real-life MTV “Celebrity Deathmatch” — Is it a joke? Will they fight?

It all calls to mind an enduring short story — one that led, in part, to the rise of an industry we think Muskerberg would enjoy.

“A new animal to hunt”

In 1924, author Richard Connell published his short story “The Most Dangerous Game” in which an American game hunter is shipwrecked on a Caribbean island, where General Zaroff — a wealthy man bored with life and hunting animals — hunts humans for sport.

In real life, that kinda thing will get you in trouble… but you can pretend.

In 1981…

… outdoorsman and author Charles Gaines and stockbroker Hayes Noel debated if a person could rely on natural drive to survive in the woods or if they needed to learn environment-specific tactics.

So, according to legend, they organized a game. They hunted each other on Gaines’ property with CO2-powered guns and paint pellets, typically used to mark sheep or trees — Noel later referenced “The Most Dangerous Game” as inspiration.

It was such fun, they organized a larger game on June 27, 1981, in which players had to gather flags, marked on a map, while hunting one another, per Outside/In.

  • Forester Ritchie White won without firing a single round, relying instead on stealth.

From there…

… interest in the game spread after participants wrote articles about it, and Gaines, Noel, and ski shop manager Bob Gurnsey founded the National Survival Games (NSG), which sold a kit including a gun, pellets, and directions.

In 1988, Noel — Gaines had already cashed out — told The New York Times that NSG employed 100 people and made ~$10m+ in annual sales, or $25.9m today.

Unfortunately, it wouldn’t last. Noel sold his stake to Gurnsey, who filed for bankruptcy in 1995 due to too many competitors and 100+ personal injury lawsuits. Gurnsey maintained that he never lost, but fighting them got expensive.

Today, the US paintball industry is worth $1.2B, a fraction of Musk and Zuck’s respective net worths — and perhaps more fun than a cage match? Think about it, guys.

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eyeball wearing a hat

A tragic discovery: The Coast Guard confirmed it found pieces of the missing Titanic submersible on the ocean floor, and now believes all five passengers died in a “catastrophic implosion.”


Ah, friendship: A deepening of US-India economic ties was central to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Washington DC visit, which was capped with a state dinner last night.

Wow: A new NYC apartment building will rent out four-bedroom units for a gobsmacking $26k+/month. Per Bloomberg, the tower’s targeted clientele are those who can afford to buy, but prefer not to.

So hurtful: Ford CEO Jim Farley slammed Tesla’s Cybertruck, saying Ford makes “trucks for real people who do real work.” What of the techno-farmers e-plowing away in their digi-fields, Jim? So narrow-minded.

You know you missed Furby: Hasbro is rolling out a new version of the strange ‘90s sensation. The toy that loves hugs, pats, tickles, and generally looking a little creepy now boasts 600+ responses.

By design: All K-12 students in the US can gain free access to Figma, the online design tool currently in regulatory limbo. Adobe put up $20B to buy Figma last year, but US and European antitrust officials still haven’t cleared the deal. snatched up Bed Bath & Beyond’s remaining assets — including its brand name and data — for $21.5m; however, the deal does not include its brick-and-mortar stores, so don’t expect those to come back from the Great Beyond.

Short look: “Dumb Money,” the quickly spun up movie on the 2021 rise of GameStop as a meme stock, shared a trailer ahead of its September release.

Breaking ground
cost of big tech offices
Olivia Heller

After years of building pricey playgrounds, Big Tech recalibrates

Anyone else remember when cities were desperately pitching Amazon on why they should be home to the company’s second headquarters?

Tucson hauled a 21-foot saguaro cactus to Amazon’s Seattle HQ. Kansas City’s mayor wrote 1k Amazon reviews. NYC lit the Empire State Building orange. Heck, Stonecrest, Georgia, offered to change its name to Amazon.

But it was the bustling metro of Arlington, Virginia, that ultimately received the package: a $2.5B site — opened last week — that will employ 25k people by 2030.

Pumping the breaks

Amazon’s original HQ2 vision promised a $5B complex and 50k employees. The company, which cut ~27k corporate roles this year, has since scaled back, reducing the budget by half and pausing to break ground on a second phase.

It’s not the only tech firm that has reevaluated recent real estate moves amid widespread layoffs and an uncertain economy:

  • Meta, which in recent years spent $1B+ on a Frank Gehry-designed Menlo Park campus and bought REI’s Seattle-area headquarters for ~$368m, has eliminated 21k jobs since November, given up leases in NYC, and weathered billions in consolidation-related costs.
  • Google, which invested $9.5B in US offices and data centers last year and has been keen on the return to office, announced 12k layoffs in January and paused construction of an 80-acre San Jose campus.

The good news, if you like bananas: Amazon’s new Arlington site comes equipped with a free banana stand, an idea concocted by Bezos himself.

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Listen Now

New podcast drop: The Science of Scaling

When a Harvard Business School professor talks “optimal growth,” you either start to scurry away or sit up straight.

If you’re with us in the weeds, may we introduce Mark Roberge — our ex-CRO and host of the brand-new podcast The Science of Scaling. He’s sitting down with sales leaders and VC execs to help the people at large build smarter startups.

We’re sitting down in the shade with fruit and bumping this on a boombox. Since that’s how we optimally grow.

You can join us at your local branch/stream/valley/park — super bucolic out here — or just listen in, wherever you’re sitting.

Startup science 🔬 →
Weekend Reads

In case you missed ‘em, here’s this week’s best…

  • Tweet: Everyone on Zoom during that awkward pause between the small talk and the work talk.
  • Story: You might think we’re living in a Golden Age of ice cream innovation, but 19th-century entrepreneur Agnes B. Marshall probably would have found our ice cream options quaint.
  • Video: On one end of the spectrum, there’s Elon Musk; on the other end, there’s Iceland; and in the middle, probably, is you. What’s the deal with the 40-hour workweek — and should we change it?
  • Blog: Short-form video is hot right now. Here are four simple steps you can take to start making money with YouTube Shorts today.

⚖️ On this day: In 1992, Mafia boss John Gotti was sentenced to life in prison for conspiracy to commit murder and racketeering. Gotti had been head of the notorious Gambino family since 1985.

💾 That’s cool: The Web Design Museum showcases websites from the 1990s through the mid-2000s.

🚀 Blog: Take a gander at this list of the top 25 startups to watch in 2023.

🕹️ Cure boredom: In honor of its 40th anniversary, video game company Capcom released an interactive website where you can play games, find hidden characters, and more.

🦊 Aww: Say hello to these tiny bat-eared fox kits.

  1. It’s a good thing we can’t hear our eyeballs move inside their sockets. SOURCE

  2. Finding out you have the same birthday as someone makes you like them more for no reason. SOURCE

  3. The thousandth-and-one installment of Mission Impossible will be aptly named MI. SOURCE

  4. You can simply step outside and stare at the sun for two minutes and blind yourself permanently. SOURCE

  5. Original Tupperware will likely outlast all of us. SOURCE

via Reddit

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Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen and Juliet Bennett Rylah.
Editing by: Ben “Promises to never challenge anyone to a cage match” Berkley.

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