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🐦 The Twitter suspension spree

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In today’s email:

  • Twitter: Does Musk just want to be the main character?
  • Chart: The cost of a World Cup.
  • Digits: Submarines, parents, and more.
  • Around the web: A music game, a virtual graveyard, Santa for squirrels, and more cool internet finds.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s 10-minute podcast to hear Jacob and Rob break down box office expectations for Avatar: The Way of Water, and discuss whether hosting the World Cup was worth it for Qatar.

The big idea
Elon Musk

Is this exactly what Elon Musk wanted?

Back in April, when Elon Musk first made a bid for Twitter, people wondered why the leader of SpaceX and Tesla would want a largely unprofitable social media website.

Vice posited a theory: Musk had “terminal main character syndrome,” a desire to be the guy everybody talked about all the time.

Two months into his ownership, he has largely succeeded. A new story about Twitter and Musk breaks into almost every news cycle.

Last week…

… started with Musk getting booed at a Dave Chappelle performance and continued Wednesday when Twitter suspended an account that tracked Musk’s private jet, citing a new policy banning the release of any person’s live location.

But that was just the warm up:

  • On Thursday, Twitter suspended the accounts of several high-profile tech journalists — and then a Fox Business reporter who covered the suspensions.
  • On Saturday, Twitter suspended Washington Post reporter Taylor Lorenz, who said she had recently asked Musk for a comment on a story.

Musk’s lust for the spotlight has cost him

In the short term:

  • Tesla is slumping.
  • Forbes calculated Musk was no longer the richest man in the world.
  • A senior EU official tweeted that the “arbitrary suspension of journalists” could lead to sanctions under the Digital Services Act, according to Bloomberg.

But in the long-run Musk says his Twitter ownership will be good for Tesla (without providing details), and his actions have spurred growing influence for media companies outside the mainstream, per Axios, including Twitter itself.

Plus, Silicon Valley still likes Musk. Many tech execs and VCs are applauding his Twitter takeover as a leading example of “bossism,” the belief that management has ceded too much power to workers and must take it back.

That’s good for Musk, seeing as he’s looking for investors as advertisers leave Twitter.

But… he also tweeted a poll on Sunday afternoon asking if he should step down as head of Twitter, promising to abide by the results.

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eyeball wearing a hat

“Since the beginning of time… there have been dolls.” If you’d told us ten years ago we’d be looking forward to a $100m Barbie movie, we’d have looked at you like you were from Mars — and yet, here we are.


Following FTX’s collapse, crypto exchange giant Binance saw $6B in outflows in the first half of last week. On Friday, Binance said it fulfilled these withdrawals “without breaking stride.”

Big news, football fans: Apple bowed out of streaming rights negotiations for the NFL’s $3.5B/yr. Sunday Ticket package, leaving Amazon and Google in the running.

John Carmack, Oculus’ original CTO, is leaving Meta to work on his AI company. In a blunt note, he said Meta has “a ridiculous amount of people and resources, but we constantly self-sabotage and squander effort.”

Ironic? Netflix canceled “Blockbuster,” a mockumentary series about the last Blockbuster Video, after one season.

Ford’s electric F-150 Lightning pickup costs 40% more than it did at launch, following a $4k hike to help meet raw materials costs.

Avatar: The Way of Water took in $435m globally this weekend, the third-largest pandemic debut behind Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness ($442m) and Spider-Man: No Way Home ($600m).

Goldman Sachs is reportedly planning to lay off 8% of its staff. Morgan Stanley recently cut 2%.

Torrid, a D2C plus-size apparel brand, is partnering with ThredUp on a resale program.

Two ex-Twitter employees plan to launch Spill, a new “real-time conversational platform” in ~6-8 weeks.

Without risk, there’s no entrepreneurship. Learn more about different kinds of business risk and how to mitigate them.

World Cup costs
Singdhi Sokpo

The $220B World Cup is over. Was it worth it?

Congratulations to Argentina, who clinched their first World Cup in penalty kicks to end a thrilling final yesterday.

Qatar’s bill for the event has been widely cited to be $220B+. Bloomberg puts it as high as $300B. Now that it’s over, a classic post-gargantuan-scale-sporting-event question will be raised: Was it worth it?

  • For context, the funding is part of Qatar’s expansive National Vision 2030 plan to become an “advanced society” and global business hub. Hotels, underground transportation, stadiums, and airport infrastructure were already on the docket with or without soccer.

The World Cup was a way to market that development, and Qatar got its name out there with record-breaking viewership. At the same time, much of the conversation highlighted Qatar’s struggles with LGBTQ+ rights, migrant workers, and alcohol. Especially alcohol.

As for a return on investment, organizers hoped the event would provide a $17B boost to their economy, though a recent study found the World Cup doesn’t have a significant effect on a host country’s GDP.

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Digits: Submarines, songs, and other news numbers

1) Ray Dalio, James Cameron, and the head of a submarine company walk into a bar… Sounds like the set up for a joke but it’s not. Triton Submarines, which sells subs priced anywhere between $2.5m and $40m, is now partly owned by Dalio and Cameron.

2) Here’s a stat that may surprise you: New research found that 29% of Americans work for a parent’s employer before turning 30, which is estimated to increase one’s initial earnings by 19%.

3) You’ve heard of MIT, but you may not have heard of New York’s Baruch College, a relatively affordable public university where Masters in Financial Engineering grads see an average starting salary of ~$170k, roughly a fifth higher than those at MIT.

4) Songs sure are getting shorter. A 2018 study found that, since 2000, Billboard Hot 100 songs have trended down from ~4:10 minutes to 3:30. In 2021, the top 50 tracks on Billboard’s year-end Hot 100 averaged 3:07. Thanks, TikTok.

5) Internet traffic measurement site Similarweb found that traffic to Twitter’s desktop ad manager was down ~74% YoY in October, 85% in November, and so low in December that it has stopped measuring it.

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👻 On this day: In 1843, Charles Dickens published A Christmas Carol, an iconic story about a wealthy miser visited by three ghosts on Christmas Eve.

🎧 Podcast: Listen to this episode of The Shine Online Podcast to learn about the “Five-Layer Cake Method” of idea generation.

🎼 Cure boredom: Tap a rhythm to be matched with a Beethoven work.

💀 That’s interesting: A virtual graveyard for Twitter’s killed projects.

🐿 Aww: And now, Christmas for squirrels.

Slack messages meme Tweet

Follow us on Twitter.


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