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The Hustle

Wrong direction, people — 19% of respondents said their workplace is very or somewhat toxic in the American Psychological Association’s annual workplace survey, up a point from last year. If you think you might be part of this problem, here’s a thought to consider: Don’t.

In today’s email:

  • Organized design: Shein is accused of a widespread copycat scam.
  • Face-lift: The ups and downs of Meta’s latest metamorphosis.
  • Pigheaded move: The HotHog app hopes to keep pigs cooler.
  • Around the Web: Manager tips, a virtual cello, fish vending machines, and more.

👇 Listen: Meta’s trying to be cool again. The results are mixed.

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The big idea
Shein app

Is Shein guilty of organized crime?

What does fast-fashion retailer Shein have in common with the Mafia? According to one lawsuit, organized crime.

Artists Krista Perry, Larissa Martinez, and Jay Baron all claim Shein cloned their work without permission to sell its own knockoff apparel, wall art, blankets, and pins.

The lawsuit further claims that “Shein has grown rich by committing individual infringements over and over again, as part of a long and continuous pattern of racketeering.”

If that’s true, Shein, valued at $66B, would be in violation of the United States’ Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act, passed in 1970 to take on organized crime.

What is racketeering?

Crimes committed in the course of business, which can mean everything from bribery to murder. Shein is not accused of murder, but it has been accused of:

Key to this particular lawsuit, however, is copyright infringement — it accuses Shein of using its algorithms to determine fashion and decor trends, copying them, then churning out near-identical, cheaper versions.

An artist not included in the complaint previously accused Shein of selling $17 knockoffs of sweaters she hand-knitted and sold for $330.

Why go the RICO route?

Per The Wall Street Journal, at least 50 trademark or copyright infringement suits had been filed against Shein or its parent company, Zoetop Business Co., as of last July.

But attorney John Conway told Retail Dive that because Shein consists of several entities, many of which only exist for a short time, it’s hard to pinpoint which is “doing the copying.” Shein can — and has — blamed third-party designers and vendors.

The RICO complaint alleges it’s all one big — organized, if you will — scam, and how that’ll play out in court is sure to be interesting.

BTW: Shein recently tried to boost its reputation by offering influencers a tour of its factory in Guangzhou, China. It did not go over well.

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eyeball wearing a hat

Over 100 tourists were trapped at late mystery author Agatha Christie’s former home in the English countryside after a storm felled a tree that blocked the road. This is precisely what would happen in one of her novels, but the guests passed the time drinking tea, not solving a murder.


TodAI in AI: Let the great ethics debate about AI resurrections begin because oh boy, we’ve got quite the case study a new Volkswagen ad in Brazil depicts an AI-generated Elis Regina, a musician who died in 1982, singing a duet with her daughter.

Shocking the competition: Ford is dropping prices on its electric Lightning pickup trucks by up to 17% as production charges ahead. The cuts bring the truck’s starting price back down below $50k.

Would ya look at that: Average hourly wage growth beat out inflation last month for the first time in two years. Sounds great, but the extra change could mean greater spending at elevated prices, which could lead to — you guessed it — higher inflation.

Space race: Virgin Galactic’s Galactic 02 could launch as soon as Aug. 10, carrying a mother-daughter duo who won tickets and a paid passenger, 80-year-old Olympian Jon Goodwin. In June, Galactic 01 launched with three Italian government workers studying microgravity.

Hey, look, a legit VR use case: The FAA will test out VR flight simulators as a part of its helicopter-pilot training program. The trial system, which pairs a headset and cockpit replica, was built by Swiss startup Loft Dynamics.

Ad blockers: Wish social media couldn’t track your online activity and target advertisements based on your browsing history? Norway is your new favorite place, as the nation’s data protection officials ordered Meta to cease the behavior in August.

Ain’t that a kick in the head: Millions of people around the world will tune into the Women’s World Cup starting this week, earning FIFA $200m in broadcasting rights. Soccer’s organizing body was, however, aiming for $300m.

Hey, job hunters/hoppers: No need to write resignations, resumes, and cover letters from scratch. Cop 22 job-seeking templates for a huge head start.


What if you could wear your banana peels instead of throwing them in the trash? Well, sort of. This startup is turning food waste into fabric for a more fashionable, sustainable future.

Thread lightly

Meta’s latest metamorphosis is a mixed bag

Through its history, Mark Zuckerberg’s company has been defined by its phases.

There was the early-Facebook phase, which included many regrettable profile pictures, and cast Zuckerberg as a poster child for hoodied, dorm-dwelling tech founders.

Then came the phase of rapid growth — riddled with copycat product accusations, advertising challenges, the threat of TikTok, a sunscreen snafu, and intense antitrust, political, and societal backlash.

The last few years, however, have carved out a new kind of phase: an attempt to refocus the company (and media attention) elsewhere, to mixed results.

And it all started with the metaverse

Remember that? We don’t blame you if you don’t. The pivot to Meta faced intense criticism — even before Apple’s Vision Pro picked at Meta’s all-in-on-the-metaverse scabs — and forgetting about it all almost feels like the goal at the moment.

Other recent refocuses include:

  • The act of refocusing: Zuckerberg’s “Year of Efficiency,” which has seen thousands of morale-crushing layoffs, has so far been a success by at least one measure, with Meta’s stock up ~150%.
  • WhatsApp: Last month, Zuckerberg said the app crossed 200m monthly Business customers, up from 50m in 2020.
  • Unfortunately, abs: Elon Musk recently challenged jujitsu-trained Zuckerberg to a cage match, inspired by news that Meta was planning a Twitter rival, to which Zuckerberg said, “send me location.”

The aforementioned rival, Threads, did materialize, of course — and quickly hacked its way to become the fastest-growing consumer app ever.

But big wins are hard to come by for Meta these days: Threads engagement is already tanking — last week, daily active users dipped 20%, and time spent per user plummeted 50%.

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Free Resource

Your last opp to cop an INBOUND discount

We’re changing the price. You know how this goes.

We won’t delve into the psychology of scarcity tactics. The FOMO is fizzling in your membranes. It’s just unbearable.

So in place of your next vacation, we hope you choose to join us at INBOUND 2023 — the mystical place where founders, builders, and business thinkers converge for some legendary learning. Enough knowledge to sprain our brains.

We’re stoked for September, to put it lightly. Take an extra 15% off General Admission tickets (new purchases only) with code THEHUSTLE2023.

Last Call: Save $300 on tickets →
Saving one’s bacon

Are your pigs overheating? There’s an app for that

A little perspective next time you’re cursing the heavens as you sweat your way through another overheated summer day: At least you’re not a pig?

Pigs can’t sweat, leaving them particularly vulnerable to heat stress — a rough vulnerability to have in this era of record heat.

  • It’s also a business vulnerability: The American swine industry loses ~$481m in annual revenue to heat stress in pigs.

Enter HotHog

A new app designed to help caregivers keep their pigs comfortable, HotHog uses localized weather data to predict animals’ internal stress levels.

As temps rise, the app prompts timely deployment of preventive cooling measures (like bonus water, fans, and misters).

There are other livestock heat-checking tools on the market, but HotHog — developed by animal scientists at Agricultural Research Service, the USDA’s in-house research agency — is the first one based on data specific to a critical subset of pigs, pregnant and breeding females.

  • Overheated pigs face myriad health concerns, including reproductive issues, leaving pig populations threatened by climate change.

HotHog takes a shot at this problem with its free app — though it’s only available in English right now. The HotHog team told Axios they’re adding Spanish and Chinese translations to reach other top pig-farming markets.

Why does it matter?

HotHog can immediately be a boon to the 67k pig farms in the US, which are already struggling to keep animals comfortable amid continued worker shortages.

The industry is also crucial to the US economy — it added $57B to the nation’s GDP in 2021, according to the National Pork Producers Council.

Also, pigs are cute as hell and don’t deserve anything bad… unless you’re talking about this list of badass pig names.

Stay cool, all you Smokehouses and Crushers out there.

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💰 On this day: In 2013, Detroit filed for the largest municipal bankruptcy ever, both in terms of a city’s population, then 700k, and debt, estimated at $18B-$20B.

🐟 That’s interesting: Since 2019, Singapore has had vending machines that dispense frozen Norwegian salmon filets.

🎵 Cure boredom: Play the cello.

🧠 How to: Manage an employee who makes excuses.

🐣 Aww: And now, it’s bring your baby turkey to work day.

work meme

Next time, just repeat after us: “Work is fine.” (Link)


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Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen and Juliet Bennett Rylah.
Editing by: Ben “Sorry to boar you” Berkley.

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