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The Hustle

Congrats to the brine shrimp, now the official crustacean of Utah. They’ve  lived in the region for 600k+ years, where they make up a multimillion-dollar industry and — unfortunately for them — feed ~10m birds a year.

In today’s email:

  • Lawsuit challenge: Counties and school systems vs. social media.
  • Nike Air Max: The legendary shoe continues to shine.
  • Weekend Reads: Have yourself a relaxing day on the links.
  • Around the Web: Hard-mode planking, 12 signs of entrepreneurial spirit, a wild scam story, and more internet finds.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s podcast for a special episode about the business of Air Max, plus a quick-hitting news rundown to start your day on the right foot. Or left — left is good, too.

The big idea
Facebook logo on a computer

Schools and parents take on social media

Courts will soon face a complicated question with ramifications for the internet as we know it: Who’s responsible for how social media affects young people?

Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and multiple school districts are suing platforms including TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, and Meta.

The complaints? These platforms cause or exacerbate mental health issues among youth, and are intentionally designed to “exploit for profit.”

Bucks County DA Matthew Weintraub likened it to the opioid crisis, with “manufacturers and distributors causing havoc among young people in our communities.”

What do plaintiffs want?

For social media to change, and for companies to pay damages to fund mental health initiatives, a burden currently placed on parents and schools.

Case in point: Seattle and San Mateo County, California, school systems are suing several social media companies, with San Mateo County Superintendent Nancy Magee blaming them for distracted students, cyberbullying, and worse.

  • Apparently, the “Devious Lick” challenge saw students stealing and vandalizing school property, especially in restrooms, before TikTok banned the hashtag.
  • Schools have been locked down due to active shooter hoaxes that spread via social media.

More broadly…

… there’s been a push to hold social media companies accountable for what people do on, or because of, their platforms.

  • Recent lawsuits have challenged Section 230, which protects website operators from liability for what users post or comment.

Companies have touted various safety features in response, but experts say some, like screen limits, are easy for teens to skirt.

The ultimate question is: Can platforms truly be held accountable and, if so, will hitting them in the pocketbook force them to change?

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eyeball wearing a hat

Be kind: Of 9k+ stores, one lone Blockbuster in Oregon remains. Yet its website is back online with the message: “We are working on rewinding your movie.” Nostalgic fans are speculating what, if anything, it means.


TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew answered US lawmakers’ questions in a tense five-hour hearing yesterday. Congress was largely skeptical while China preempted the hearing with firm opposition to a forced sale.

OpenAI launched plug-ins for its popular ChatGPT bot, allowing it wider access to the internet. The rollout is limited as safeguards are tested; the company notes that drawing from less curated environments may produce less reliable behavior.

Lindsay Lohan, Jake Paul, and Soulja Boy are among eight celebs the SEC has charged for promoting crypto without disclosing they were paid to do so.

Mmm, lab chicken: Eat Just received FDA approval for its cultivated chicken. Assuming the USDA approves, the meat will be served at a DC restaurant run by chef José Andrés.

We love our pets: Petco reported 4.2% YoY revenue growth in Q4, and ~1m net new customers in 2022.

I said “cancel”: The FTC proposed a rule requiring merchants to let customers cancel subscriptions as easily as they signed up, else face fines up to $50k/day per violation.

Apple will spend $1B per year to produce feature films, possibly including a spy thriller and a Napoleon biopic, per Bloomberg. Apple won an Oscar for best picture in 2022 for CODA.

Tall task: New Starbucks CEO Laxman Narasimhan said he will work once a month as a barista. Thoughts go out to his shiftmates whose conversations about unionization may get a little awkward.

Room for rent: Urban Outfitters’ clothing rental service Nuuly saw revenue increase 170% last year. The $130m haul still comprised less than 5% of business for the retailer, which also owns Anthropologie and Free People.

Canva added AI tools to generate templates, copy, and more via text and image prompts. Also: automatic beat syncing that matches video to music, and automatic translation in 100+ languages.

Making that bread(stick): Olive Garden grew sales 12.3% in its most recent quarterly report. Parent company Darden Restaurants attributed the brand’s continued strength to “affordable luxury.”

search interest for Nike Air Max
Olivia Heller

‘Air’ of superiority: Nike’s GOAT shoe bounds forward

During Nike’s slam poetry event — excuse us — “earnings call” earlier this week, CEO John Donahoe referred to running as “the heart” of Nike, and basketball as “its soul.”

Unfortunately, he missed the opportunity to refer to Air Max as the company’s lungs, though he did describe the unit as a “multi-billion-dollar business in its own right,” growing double digits YoY.

Next week is a big one for the Nike brand, with Sunday marking one of the holiest days of the year for sneakerheads — Air Max Day — as well as the launch of the Pulse, Nike’s first Air Max shoe designed for Gen Z.

The history of Air Max…

… stretches all the way back to 1977, when NASA engineer Frank Rudy realized the inflatable inserts he was building for his wife’s ski boots had sneaker potential.

After a meeting with Nike CEO Phil Knight, who then took the inserts on a six-mile run, the duo struck a deal.

While Nike launched the tech with the Air Tailwind in 1978, it wasn’t until 1987, with architect Tinker Hatfield’s Pompidou-inspired Air Max 1s, that you could actually see the signature Air unit in the heel.

In recent years…

… Air Max has seen strong growth:

  • In 2021, the top four bestselling athletic sneakers were Air-branded shoes, per NPD Group.
  • Between 2016 and 2020, the market share of Air Max shoes on sneaker reselling platform StockX rose 800%; between 2019 and 2020, their average value on StockX appreciated 28%.

How ‘bout that for an inflation hedge?

BTW: If the words “Michael Jordan,” “cool sneakers,” and “on the big screen” pique your interest, you’re in luck on April 5.

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Weekend Reads

Welcome to Weekend Reads

In case you missed ‘em, here’s this week’s best…

  • Tweet: How millennials feel describing to their Gen Z co-workers how they used to put on hard pants and go into the office every day.
  • Blog: The last three years showed us how delicate the supply chain is (looking at you, toilet paper). Here’s how to optimize your supply chain risk management.
  • Chart: Using powerful AI models at work was not on our “Things you’re hiding from your boss in 2023” bingo card, but here we are.
  • Story: For years, the jock tax has flown under the radar. But whether you’re Steph Curry or a remote worker — it actually matters a lot. (Also, if you actually are Steph Curry and reading this, hello.)
  • Video: Yellow circle, two dots, curvy smile — chances are you’ve seen this imagery thousands of times. The smiley face is a $500m/yr. business, and we made a video about it.

🖥 On this day: In 2001, Mac OS X 10.0 — code-named “cheetah” — was released to the public for $129.

👍 How to: Five ways to maintain confidence while looking for a new job.

😬 That’s interesting: This tale starts with a tech millionaire whose Jaguar was stolen during a bogus Tinder date. Then it gets even weirder.

✏️ From our blog: It takes something special to start a business. Do you have it? Here are 12 signs of entrepreneurial spirit.

🐶 Aww: And now, planking on hard mode.

  1. Us humans are a whole lot more symmetrical on the outside than on the inside. SOURCE

  2. Running from the cops is the ultimate double or nothing. SOURCE

  3. There must be billions of hours of cell phone concert videos that no one has ever watched. SOURCE

  4. Moving the contents of an entire house to another typically either costs pizza and beer, or thousands of dollars. SOURCE

  5. You either come to realize what an idiot you used to be, or you remain as that idiot. SOURCE

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