👀 Can Chrome keep the throne?

The Hustle

Earlier this week, we told you about ConstitutionDAO — an online group of 17,437 donors that crowdfunded $40m+ with the goal of buying a 1st-edition copy of the US Constitution at a Sotheby’s auction. Last night, though the group failed to win the intense bidding war, it may have broken records for the largest crowdfund of a physical object.

Today’s rundown:

  • Chrome’s throne: The browser battle is heating up
  • Holy cow! The Cowgorithm tech saving farmers time
  • How convenient: Mobile cannabis dispensaries are en route

Let’s do it.

The Big Idea
Chrome

Chrome owns the browser game. Competitors want to change that.

When it launched in 2008, Google Chrome had .3% of web browser market share. Today, that figure hovers around ~70%.

Nira CEO Hiten Shah, attributes Chrome’s market dominance to treating the browser as a platform, not just a tool to view webpages. Now, it’s challengers are following suit.

Companies are making the browser a focus for a number of reasons

David Pierce at Protocol says 2 of the biggest are:

  • Collaboration: Browser-first apps like Figma and Miro have shown how a web-based experience can foster collaboration better than desktop apps
  • Crypto: Browsers are where crypto users access their wallets, and identity and security tools

Now challengers are thinking about browsers as operating systems, and optimizing for different benefits depending on the company. The key players include:

  • Apple, which went all-in on customization in Safari with its OS Monterey update, including the ability to customize your start page, toolbar, and tab preferences.
  • Microsoft, which recently made it even harder for Windows users to change their default browser from Edge by blocking apps like EdgeDeflector.
  • Brave, which has always optimized for privacy, and recently doubled down on crypto by adding a native wallet where users can trade crypto and store NFTs.
  • The Browser Company, a startup that’s reimagining browser UI to combat tab overload and increasing user productivity.
  • Mighty, another startup that uses 10x less memory than Chrome, allowing users to load tabs way more quickly.

But there’s a catch…

… all of the challengers except Safari are built on Chromium, Google’s open-source browser codebase — which raises the question: Can anyone build a better Chrome than Chrome?

While Apple commands a respectable ~19% market share, and Microsoft may be able to use lock-in to force users onto Edge, the bar for browser startups has never been higher.

In such a crowded market, .3% market share doesn’t sound so bad.

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SNIPPETS

Hulu dropped an online retail site with “ugly” sweaters and other merchandise inspired by its shows. #ecommerce-retail

Ooh: Here’s a cool visualization of solar power capacity by country. China has the largest capacity now, followed by the US, Japan, and Germany. #clean-energy

Moon buggy: Northrup Grumman is designing a Lunar Terrain Vehicle (LTV) for NASA’s Artemis project. Astronauts would use it to drive around the moon. #emerging-tech

Incognito: Consumer Reports using a fake email address to reduce online tracking — and explains how to do it. #privacy

Williston, North Dakota, is all about crypto. It’s installing a government-hosted ATM machine in its airport and may also add 1 to City Hall. #fintech-crypto

Karaoke time: Spotify is rolling out a real-time lyrics feature to all users. #big-tech

Now on MFM: Dr. Andrew Huberman — professor and neuroscientist at Stanford University and host of the “Huberman Lab” podcast — on his morning routine, podcast growth, and more. #mfm

Holy Cow
cow

A smart collar for cows could revolutionize farming

WHAT’S THE DEAL?

  • There were 93.6m cattle and calves on US farms in January 2021
  • The total US farm income from dairy products in 2020 was $40.4B
  • Halter aims to save farmers 20-40 hours per week and increase pasture utilization by up to 10%

A high-tech system that can control your farm from your phone? Holy cow!

New Zealand agtech startup Halter is bringing farming into the future with GPS-enabled solar-powered collars for dairy cows that connect to a smartphone app.

Through their phones, farmers can lead herds.

The collars gently vibrate to lead the cows, and the company says cows can be trained to navigate using the collar within 4-5 days.

Virtual fences keep the cows in designated areas, and audio cues from the collar will alert cows if they’re nearing a fence — a short pulse will stop a cow from exiting should they keep moving.

Total automation over cows’ movements allows farmers to save 20-40 hours per week and increase pasture utilization by up to 10%.

The collars also send real-time alerts.

The app can let a farmer know if a cow is sick or in heat. Best of all, all these insights are made possible by the company’s unique set of algorithms aptly named… Cowgorithm (can’t make this sh*t up).

Halter just raised a $32m round of funding and is expanding to farms in another region of New Zealand.

By the way, in case you’ve ever wondered why cows have hooves instead of feet… It’s because they lactose.

(Have an idea for a Cool AF Business story? Tell us about it here.)

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Weed Tech
dispensary products

Mobile cannabis dispensaries are coming

Californians who enjoy cannabis may no longer have to go to the dispensary. Instead, the dispensary will come to them.

Once-illegal cannabis sure has come a long way. In 2020, weed sales were worth $4.4B in California alone, an increase of 57% from 2019.

And it’s never been easier to get. Instead of covert cash sales, many patients and recreational consumers can now get it delivered straight to their door — which 60% of them did in 2021, per WeedMaps.

But can it get even easier than that?

Typically, ordering cannabis would mean choosing items from a local dispensary’s online shop, then waiting for someone to drop it off. But this can take a while, especially if the nearest dispensary isn’t close by.

Bay Area startup Meadow provides POS systems specifically for cannabis retailers, processing $1B+ in sales since 2014.

Its “dynamic delivery” offers the tools for faster on-demand, mobile delivery, per TechCrunch. It can:

  • Dispatch drivers
  • Manage real-time inventory
  • Process payments
  • Help ensure compliance with local laws

Delivery vans can carry up to ~$3k in merchandise, per California law, or $5k if preorders are included.

Meadow can also set up specific zones to vend near (e.g., near events or neighborhoods without dispensaries), and send notifications and discounts to customers within those zones.

Stuff like this may be fun for recreational consumers, but will be greatly appreciated by medical cannabis patients who can’t easily leave their homes or travel far.

Meadow is starting with California, but may also expand to Michigan, Massachusetts, and New York.

Fun fact: California consumers ordered 12% more weed on Election Night 2020, per Eaze.

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AROUND THE WEB

🎙 On this day: In 1990, pop duo Milli Vanilli lost the “Best New Artist” Grammy they’d won after it was revealed they did not actually sing their songs.

💡 How to: You have a great idea. Should you patent it? If so, how do you get started? Researchers and intellectual property specialists offer their best tips here.

💄 Haha: YassifyBot is a Twitter account that takes photos of various people (celebrities, fictional characters, etc.) and uses an app to give them an extreme makeover, contour and all.

🛶 That’s interesting: In 2003, a new record was set for canoeing the Mississippi River: 18 days. This is the fascinating story of 2 ex-teammates, racing against the record and each other.

🌅 Chill out: This website is your window to live cams all over the world, including scenic vistas, wildlife refuges, and puppy rescues.

🐒 Aww: And now, booping snoots with the Austin Aquarium. And it’s not only aquatic creatures. We’ve got sloths and capybaras in here!

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

(A roundup of our best reads from the last couple weeks…)

🚔 Visual explainer: Why thieves love stealing catalytic converters.

🤏 Feel the metaverse: Meta is working on VR gloves.

Tea Mogul: Our convo with David Segal on the future of tea.

🗓️ To reinvent work, we have to destroy the clock.

🎃 The economics of pumpkin patches, explained.

Shower Thoughts
  1. “You can use social media DMs of dead people as a notepad / free storage.”
  2. “We have collectively accepted the standard of tying shoelaces, while there are so many other different ways to tie.”
  3. “You really start to feel old when you realize professional athletes are younger than you.”
  4. “A soup can’t go bad if you just never stop boiling it… ”
  5. “Your fridge is a small morgue for the dead body parts of plants, animals, or fruits that you plan on eating later.”
via Reddit

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