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The Hustle

A baseball signed by President John F. Kennedy fetched $166.8k at auction last week. JFK autographed the ball during a 1961 trip to Venezuela after meeting President Rómulo Betancourt and achieving the diplomatic equivalent of a 4-for-5, 2 HR, 5 RBI night (with some stellar glovework at shortstop, no doubt).

In today’s email:

  • Nod your head: A study reveals the best Zoom conversationalists.
  • Tesla: Going electric, but at what cost? (No, actually, how much?)
  • Barks and bytes: A new device wants to keep your dog company.
  • Around the Web: A simple music-maker, AI-generated songs, a film series about algorithms, and more internet finds.
podcast media player
The big idea
Zoom meeting

What makes someone a good Zoom talker?

At this point, we’re all very familiar with video meetings and the concept of “Zoom fatigue.” But research suggests we may like video chatting — at least with intense strangers.

Online coaching platform BetterUp launched a behavioral research lab in 2018.

It’s since created a massive database of Zoom conversations, called CANDOR (Conversation: A Naturalistic Dataset of Online Recordings), to analyze how we interact over Zoom and what makes someone a good conversationalist, per Business Insider.

How they did it

US-based participants, ages 18-65, had 1.6k+ conversations with randomly paired strangers. They were instructed to chat about anything for ~30 minutes, then review their partner.

Conversations were recorded and analyzed for things like loudness, nonverbal gestures, and “semantic novelty” (in this case, introducing something new to the conversation).

So, who Zooms best?

The highest-rated conversationalists had a few things in common. They:

  • Spoke ~3% faster — that’s about six additional words per minute.
  • Varied their volume, possibly because they were adjusting to the room.
  • Nodded and shook their heads more often, signaling appropriate responses and attentiveness.
  • Mixed it up, but not too much. They knew how to stay on topic, but also introduced more subject changes.
  • Were more “intense,” exhibiting more emotion.

It may not be that surprising…

… that the most dynamic and engaged people scored highest, but this might be: Across all groups, people reported feeling happier after their conversations, especially those ages 50-69.

Conversations took place between January and November 2020, coinciding with pandemic lockdowns — a great time to virtually connect with a friendly stranger.

Bonus findings: Older speakers took longer speaking turns when paired with younger partners, and women were more vocally expressive with one another.

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eyeball wearing a hat

Job opportunity: Lancashire’s Blackpool Zoo is hiring people to dress as birds of prey to scare away food-stealing seagulls. Not a bad way to get to hang out at the zoo — if you’re comfortable in an inflatable eagle suit.


TodAI in AI: Dr. Geoffrey Hinton, known as the “Godfather of AI,” quit his lead researcher role at Google, warning of “bad things” that’ll result from “bad actors” using generative AI.

Large and in charge: First Republic Bank, newly minted as US history’s second-largest bank failure, was swallowed up by JPMorgan Chase & Co., already the nation’s largest bank and now cartoonishly massive after adding $200B+ of First Republic’s assets.

FOMO no mo’: As you spend all day consuming or dodging fashion slideshows from last night’s Met Gala, a reminder that ticket costs were $50k per seat and $300k+ per table this year.

It was a close race: The Super Mario Bros. Movie became 2023’s first film to gross $1B at the global box office, narrowly beating Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey to the finish line by ~$995m.

Jack Ma has resurfaced after a dispute with Chinese regulators led him to leave public life for two years. Once China’s richest man, the Alibaba co-founder is now a visiting professor at Tokyo College.

Now boarding: The FAA launched 169 new flight routes — most above 18k feet — along the East Coast to curb congestion and cut an estimated 6k minutes of travel time per year.

My phone don’t jiggle jiggle? Leaked renders of Google’s Pixel Fold show off a sleek design that’s reportedly a half-inch thick when folded. The official announcement will likely come during Google’s I/O event on May 10.

Dropping dimes: Hoops legend Kevin Durant signed a lifetime deal with Nike ahead of the release of his 16th signature shoe.

Adidas shareholders filed a class-action lawsuit over the brand’s partnership with Ye, formerly known as Kanye West. The suit claims Adidas execs did not properly warn investors about the rapper’s troubling behavior, which ultimately led to the termination of the company’s Yeezy deal and $1B+ in losses.

Permanent vacation: Aerosmith says the band’s tour this fall will be its last. The rockers have played for 100m+ fans over a 50-year run.

Up your productivity: These tips and templates will help you purge procrastination and punch the metaphorical workplace clock with pride.


If you’ve been overwhelmed by the sheer amount of productivity and self-help tips on Twitter lately, you’re not alone. We scoured the internet ourselves and rounded up the best life hacks.

Tesla gross profit margin
Singdhi Sokpo

Tesla charges ahead with lower prices, sacrificing profits and shocking rivals

For investors, Tesla’s price cuts are kinda like parallel parking in New York City — tough to watch, impressive when nailed.

Whether the automaker has nailed its latest cuts, which Elon Musk says will “enable affordability at scale,” remains to be seen.

Driving a hard bargain

Last week, Musk assured investors Tesla remains the only automaker capable of selling cars for “zero profit” today, thanks to high-margin driverless software that will allow its cars to appreciate in value (and which was supposed to debut years ago).

  • Already in 2023, the company’s Model Y has seen its price drop $20k+, or 30%, to ~$47k — $759 below that of the average US vehicle.

You’re unlikely to find anyone looking to buy a Model Y who’s going to complain about this — because that would be odd.

But head over to Wall Street, and you’ll find a whole bunch of folks questioning its impact on Tesla’s profit margins, which, while still strong at 19% in Q1, was the company’s lowest in 11 quarters.

Shifting gears

Some analysts wonder whether these cuts will challengeTesla’s competition enough that they’ll be forced to slow pricey EV pivots, or worse yet, go out of business.

  • “We are trying to resist,” Luca de Meo, CEO of French carmaker Renault, recently said in regard to Tesla’s cuts.

Whatever the case: Remember, there’s always the option to get a Hongguang Mini, General Motors’ $4.5k Trojan horse that outsold Tesla’s Model 3 in China last year.

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Free Resource

3 ways to embed videos into emails

We don’t embed videos into our newsletters, since most of y’all are here to imagine us narrating inside your gem of a head.

But, in general, two-thirds of consumers do prefer video over text. So here’s a quick guide on embedding videos into your emails.

“How-tos” covered on the HubSpot Blog:

  • Embed videos as a clickable GIF
  • Embed videos as a still shot with a play button
  • Directly embed videos with HTML5 code

GIFs are the best. And don’t let anyone say otherwise.

How to bake in videos →
Pupper Management
dog and bones

Man’s best friend may be getting a new best friend — and it’s AI?

As if we needed proof that dog owners would do anything for their precious pups, the numbers back them up.

In a recent study from Ally Financial, pet parents proved their monetary commitment:

  • 46% claimed to spend the same — or more — on their pets as they do on their actual human children.
  • 51% said they’d take on debt to care for their pets’ health.
  • 53% reported a willingness to spend less on themselves to better provide for their pets.

So it’s no wonder San Francisco-based startup Companion is confident its $49/mo. doggie au pair of a device will dispense ample treats for its investors.

What is it?

Companion is a smart device designed to serve as a playmate (and nanny, and maybe kind of a veterinarian?) for dogs.

  • The stationary box features an onboard computer, AI software, and a camera.
  • Owners can monitor their dog via app, while Companion employs machine learning to track dogs’ physical and emotional health through movement and routine.
  • Stimulation and entertainment are offered through interactive games and obedience practice.
  • And your dog is gonna need to sit — sit! — before hearing this feature: Companion has an automated treat dispenser.

Who’s a good robot? Companion wants to be

We’ll find out whether it actually is, eventually. Pre-orders recently opened, with first shipments expected to go out in summer 2024.

And, per Axios, enough cats have been enamored with the device that Companion hopes to eventually launch a “feline-oriented” product.

One caveat: None of the dogs who’ve tested Companion are as perfect as your dog, who is inarguably the best dog in the world.

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🚗 On this day: In 1918, General Motors acquired Chevrolet. Chevy’s founder, William Durant, also founded GM, but was pushed out in 1910.

🤖 That’s interesting: Consumer Reports’ “Bad Input” is a new series of short films about biases in algorithms and data sets. Watch the trailer here.

🎵 That’s cool: Every one of these songs was generated by AI.

🎛️ Cure boredom: With this fun, simple beat sequencer.

🦭 Aww: And now, underwater pets.

social media meme

Your boss, probably: “Are the kids still on Snapchat? Give us a few viral posts on that, too.” (Link)


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Editing by: Ben “Got the Zoomies” Berkley.

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