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🐦 Elon Musk’s $44B microphone

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In today’s email:

  • Twitter’s new owner: Did Elon Musk really just buy Twitter?
  • Chart: Coke’s growth, and rising costs.
  • Spy bill: New laws could limit employee monitoring tech.
  • Around the web: Astronaut simulators, bread finders, panda hugs, and more cool internet finds.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s 10-minute podcast to hear Jacob and Rob discuss Musk buying Twitter, hilarious takes on Netflix’s password-sharing crackdown, and Zuck’s quest to build the next Apple store.

The big idea
Elon Musk and Twitter logo

Why did Elon Musk buy Twitter?

We knew he loved sh*tposting — we just didn’t know how much.

Per The Wall Street Journal, Twitter’s most famous sh*tposter (AKA Twitter troll), who moonlights as CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, is buying the company for $44B.

So how did we get here?

Here’s a brief timeline of events leading up to the purchase:

  • April 4: Musk disclosed he purchased a 9.3% stake in Twitter — becoming the company’s largest shareholder
  • April 5: Musk was offered a board seat, which he later declined
  • April 14: Musk offered to buy Twitter for $43B
  • April 15: Twitter’s board adopted a “poison pill” defense — a move that prevents unwanted takeovers
  • April 21: Musk secured funding for his proposed purchase, including ~$25B in debt financing led by Morgan Stanley
  • April 25: Twitter accepted Musk’s offer

Whew. So what caused Twitter to come around?

Musk, considered by some the “greatest car salesman who has ever lived,” supposedly took his sales chops to Zoom last Friday, outlining his intentions to a group of shareholders via videoconference…

… which are what, exactly?

Musk has been adamant about several changes he would make after taking the company private, including:

  • Reducing content moderation: Musk tweeted that a social media platform’s policies should leave both the left and right equally unhappy, and said Twitter has the “potential to be the platform for free speech around the globe.”
  • Eliminating bots: Musk pledged to “defeat the spam bots or die trying” and “authenticate all real humans.”
  • Relying less on advertising: In since-deleted tweets, Musk made the case for Twitter embracing a subscription model, and getting rid of ads for premium subscribers.

Additionally, Musk has joined the tech-Twitter elite in advocating for new features — including an edit button, longer tweets, and an open source algorithm.

But Musk has many critics…

… and they’re not convinced his intentions are pure. The New Yorker’s Kyle Chayka argues that Musk’s bid is an attempt to maintain his ability to influence millions of people without interference.

If that’s the case, Musk’s past criticism of Jeff Bezos and Marc Benioff, owners of The Washington Post and Time magazine, respectively, could end up looking comically hypocritical.

However, just yesterday, Musk extended an olive branch to his critics, tweeting that he hopes they stay on the platform “because that is what free speech means.”

It raises the question: Can you really trust a sh*tposter?

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Truck takeover: Ford announced plans to boost production of the Ford F-150 Lightning, the EV model of its most popular truck. The company aims to increase production to 150k vehicles in the next year, up from its initial plan of 40k.

Profitable pivot: Harry’s, a D2C pioneer, said it now makes 50%+ of its revenue from brick-and-mortar stores, including a lucrative partnership with Target. The company’s sales increased 47% in 2021.

Password crackdown: Netflix announced it will finally address password sharing on the app. Rather than freeze the 100m+ accounts that share passwords, Netflix is going to charge a fee for subscribers to add “sub accounts.”

Sneak preview: Leaked images allegedly reveal the design for Google’s 1st smartwatch. The pictures feature a prototype of the watch that was left at a restaurant.

Sobering business: An entrepreneur launched an alcohol-free bar in Austin for people who are sober-curious or recovering from addiction. He’s since taken his act national by creating pop-up alcohol-free parties.

D2C bra company ThirdLove purchased Kit Undergarments for an unknown price in hopes of attracting younger customers. This is ThirdLove’s 1st acquisition. #ecommerce-retail

Cool: General Electric is hoping a 3D printer the size of a 3-story building that can make wind turbine towers will help offset transportation costs. #clean-energy

An epic quest: Luke Ross is known for VR mods of popular games. His latest will let players explore FromSoftware’s notoriously hard, bestselling game, “Elden Ring,” in 3D. #emerging-tech

Big bird: A rare Moonbirds NFT sold for $1m on OpenSea this past weekend. It’s part of a collection of 10k NFTs that look like cartoon owls. #fintech-crypto

Dubious deletes: Apple will remove gaming apps that haven’t been recently updated from its store, drawing ire from mobile game devs who have no reason to update completed works. #big-tech

Coca-Cola growth

Singdhi Sokpo / The Hustle

Coke’s year is off to a bubbly start

Coke reported earnings yesterday.

  • The good news: Revenue jumped 16% to $10.5B, buoyed by renewed consumer demand at places like stadiums and restaurants.
  • The bad news: It’s unclear if that’ll last.

Costs were a challenge, rising 17% YoY. Aluminum, plastic, sugar, and shipping crates — fairly important staples in Coke’s pantry — have all shot up in price over the pandemic.

Coke accounted for that by charging more, but CEO James Quincey told CNBC that people won’t just “swallow inflation endlessly.” Translation: At some point, people will look at the price of a Coke and say, “yeah… no.”

Unrelated, but related: The Coca-Cola Company bought Columbia Pictures in 1982. Under Coke’s ownership, the studio made hits like Ghostbusters and The Karate Kid, but it eventually spun off and sold to Sony in 1989.

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Spy Bill
laptop computer

A new bill would limit employer spying

Remote work has driven an increase in employee-monitoring software, while other workplaces have long used such tech to track workers’ location and productivity.

Employees — no surprise — hate it.

And some legislators want to set a few ground rules

Bills in New York, Connecticut, and Delaware would require employers to tell employees when they’re using electronic monitoring, per CalMatters.

Going further, the Workplace Technology Accountability Act in California comes with additional requirements:

  • Employers must tell workers when, how, and why they’re being monitored, and how their data will be used
  • Workers can view and correct data
  • Employers can’t monitor workers off-duty, on personal devices, or in private areas (e.g., bathrooms, locker rooms, and cafeterias)
  • No tech that monitors facial recognition, gait, or emotions

Employers also wouldn’t be allowed to use algorithms to make decisions about who should be punished or fired, and must complete impact assessments on how monitoring affects employees.

Why this matters

Monitoring can be harmful to employees’ mental health and their physical bodies.

Amazon was recently fined $60k by Washington’s Department of Labor & Industries, which determined that the company’s quotas and productivity tracking tech were connected to employee injuries.

California Assemblymember Ash Kalra, who introduced the bill, also argues that low-income workers of color are most negatively affected by monitoring tech “designed to squeeze out every single ounce of productivity.”

And some tech exhibits racial biases. For example, studies found AI often reads Black faces as angrier than others, regardless of their actual expression.

BTW: Employees often resist intrusive monitoring — which is why mouse jigglers have been on the rise.

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Gifting, but as a big business opportunity

Not to tarnish any acts of love, but you should see this.

As remote work rages on, establishing personal connections in a professional capacity can be tough. So, corporate gifting platform &Open garnered $7.2m in VC funding last May. &Closed.

In our Trends signal, we highlight opportunities to break into the business of giving. Here’s the quick:

  • Private gifting: gets 400k visits/mo. but may lack that special touch. We see market gaps for niche, artisanal options.
  • Corporate gifting: Forget digital whatever, tasteful bundles are in. Trendster Sam Eitzen details insights from clearing 7 figures after his 1st year selling niche or local gifts to bigger brands.

Join Trends for the sharp weekly newsletter and remarkable network of professionals.

Get Trends access →

🎉 On this day: In 1977, New York City’s famous Studio 54 opened. A PR guru’s deep entertainment connections would soon turn the discotheque into one of the hottest clubs in history.

🚀 That’s cool: This simulator lets you attempt to dock a SpaceX Dragon 2 vehicle with the ISS, using the same controls as NASA astronauts. Patience is key.

🍞 That’s interesting: Prashant Baid simply cannot eat 20 slices of bread in 3 days. So, he created a website for people to find half-loaves and it’s taking off.

🦘Useful: Jumpstick lets you explore the internet by topic. Just choose your interests and start jumping.

🐼 Aww: And now, your new dream job.

Tweet of the day
Elon buying Twitter meme

Source: Twitter (where else?)

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Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen, Juliet Bennett Rylah, and Rob Litterst.
Editing by: Jennifer “Just setting up my twttr” Wang.

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