👨👨 The Winklevoss twins are very busy


April 7, 2021

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The Hustle

Yahoo is shutting down Yahoo Answers, its Q&A platform that went live in 2005. The platform has drifted from serving as a useful tool to being a sanctuary for memes (which, to be fair, are also useful).

The big idea
Winklevoss twins

How the billionaire Winklevoss twins are betting on a decentralized future

Many of us know Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss as the statuesque Harvard rowing twins who sued Mark Zuckerberg for ownership of Facebook.

That image — along with Justin Timberlake’s curly hair as Sean Parker (“a billion dollars is cool”) — was seared into the public consciousness by the 2010 movie The Social Network.

Since then, the Winklevii have cut their own path… one that potentially threatens Facebook itself.

The Winklevii scored a $65m legal settlement…

… against Zuckerberg in 2008. And, as reported by Forbes, they have since built a multibillion-dollar fortune with bets on Bitcoin and startups focused on a crypto/decentralized future:

  • Bitcoin: The twins started investing in the crypto asset in 2012 when it was priced at $8. With the price now hovering at ~$58k, they turned a $10m bet into a $6B fortune.
  • Gemini: In 2014, the twins founded cryptocurrency exchange Gemini, which trades 33 crypto assets. While much smaller than Coinbase, Forbes notes that the exchange could raise money at a $5B valuation.
  • Nifty Gateway: In November 2019, they acquired Nifty Gateway, a non-fungible token (NFT) art marketplace that helped propel digital artist Beeple, who recently sold an NFT for $69m at a Christie’s auction. In March, Nifty Gateway processed 70% of the $188m in art sold across the top 7 NFT marketplaces.
  • BlockFi: The twins backed this crypto startup, which lends money against crypto holding and just raised $350m at a $3B valuation.
  • Protocol Labs: An open-source project that helps build decentralized services. One example is Filecoin, a decentralized computer storage system where users earn money by renting out their own storage space.

Winklevii companies make money from marketplace and trading fees

And not the monetization of personal information… like, say, Facebook. The twins’ portfolio doesn’t just have a different business model than Zuckerberg’s baby; it has a totally different operating philosophy.

“The idea of a centralized social network is just not going to exist 5 or 10 years in the future,” Tyler Winklevoss tells Forbes.

While this prediction sounds extreme, there is momentum towards stripping power away from the Big Tech platforms… especially after Donald Trump was wiped off the internet virtually overnight after the Capitol riots.

The Winklevoss bets are on a decentralized future, including a social network — BitClout — that resides on a blockchain and isn’t controlled by a single entity.

However it plays out, we’re ready for The Social Network II.

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Snippets
  • API unicorn: Sendbird, which provides text and video API services to 150m+ users across platforms like Reddit, Hinge, and Teladoc, raised $100m at a $1.05B valuation.
  • TikTok gets wordy: As part of an accessibility push, users are now able to automatically caption their videos in American English or Japanese, with more languages on the way.
  • Carmelo Anthony shoots his shot: The 36-year-old NBA star is launching Creative 7, a production company that plans to collab with Will Packer, Brad Pitt’s Plan B, and the teams behind Get Out and BlacKkKlansman.
  • Small businesses yell ‘Charge!’: A national group of hardware stores, office suppliers, booksellers, grocers, and pharmacies is calling for stricter antitrust laws aimed at Amazon.
  • Coinbase reported monster Q1 2021 numbers ahead of its direct listing on April 14. Revenue hit $1.8B for the quarter (vs. $191m in Q1 2020) and net income reached $730m+ (vs. $32m).
  • The EU vs. Facebook antitrust (again): European regulators may review Zuck’s acquisition of Kustomer… a, um, customer support platform.
  • Canva’s big presentation: The Australian graphics and template company announced 130% YoY revenue growth that surpassed $500m, along with a $15B valuation.
  • Bazooka gum and baseball cards company Topps Co. is planning on going public via a SPAC merger, eyeing the NFT space.
 
We coming back
Jim Halpert of The Office

One person who does not want to go back to the office. (Souce: NBC/Getty Images)

How offices are prepping for the return of workers

Don’t get too comfortable with those hokey Zoom backgrounds.

According to the New York Times, 80%+ of companies are planning on a hybrid work arrangement with employees back at the office 3 days per week.

How will things look when workers return, though?

Here are a number of changes to expect, per the NYT:

  • Expanded gathering spaces: Face-to-face interactions is def one thing Zoom can’t replicate… so offices will expand meeting spaces to facilitate safe collaboration.
  • Tech for hybrid work: With many employees choosing to work remotely full time, expect more large screens, digital whiteboards, 360-degree cameras, top-tier sound equipment, and potentially holograms to make it feel like people are physically present.
  • Flexible furniture: Larger common areas will require movable tables, carts, and partitions for different arrangements.
  • Touchless everything: Moving through buildings will be a hands-free experience with turnstiles, doors, and elevators operated by sensors, voice, and apps.
  • Hot desks: Hybrid work arrangements also mean fewer people in the office and the need for fewer individual workstations. Desks will be up for grabs and have to be reserved in advance.

Frankly, we’re cool with all of these changes as long as Friday Beer Pong returns.

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small business feature
JJ Suspenders founders

Jackson Cummingham (L) and Josh Bluman (R)

These founders spend just 4 hours a week on their $500k suspenders brand

When entrepreneurs Jackson Cunningham and Josh Bluman were invited to a wedding in 2014, they knew they couldn’t show up without suspenders.

Problem was, the only suspenders that met their standards came from an old shop out of England, along with equally old designs and high shipping costs.

After some research, the duo discovered they weren’t the only ones facing this struggle. Thus the idea for JJ Suspenders — a simple, high-quality suspenders brand with modern designs.

Cunningham and Bluman are ‘niche’ experts

Prior to JJ’s inception, the duo tried their hand at kimonos, wigs, top hats, and a masquerade mask brand that hit $30k in monthly revenue in just 6 months.

The duo found success in suspenders through organic SEO, outreach with bloggers, giveaways, and Instagram. The best part:

It only takes them a few hours each week

“We’ve always optimized for time,” Cunningham told The Hustle. “We might not squeeze out every drop of value, but we only spend about 4 hours per week managing everything.”

In that allotted time, the duo has grown the operation into a $500k revenue machine.

Though 2020 decimated the brand’s No. 1 driver, weddings, Cunningham and Bluman cut expenses and have plans to expand.

Between scaling up and holding up pants, things are looking up for JJ Suspenders.

Founders: Jackson Cunningham and Josh Bluman

Year of launch: 2014

Cost to launch: $5k

Funding methods: bootstrapped

1st year revenue: $50k

Current annual revenue: $500k

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TRENDS

The summer side hustle with 60% profit margins…

With summer approaching, our analysts dove deep into a business opportunity that anyone can get ready to launch for the warmer months:

Pool service.

The home pool and spa industry skyrocketed in 2020, and similar growth is forecasted for the next 2-3 years.

The margins on pool chemical & service businesses are crazy – often 50-60%.

And the best part is – 

There are a ton of niche opportunities (within both service and supply sectors) that anyone can capitalize on in time for the summer.

And to get you started, our team put together a report outlining those opportunities with specific recommendations on how to execute.

When you read through, you’ll learn:

  • Simple strategies to generate $270K+ in your first year of business
  • Easy ways to set yourself apart from the competition
  • How one Trends member’s pool service business increased revenue by 46% last year
  • And much more

If you’re not already a member of Trends, sign up today for a $1 trial to get access to the full report.

Get Access →
Stock chart of the day
share price performance

That looks… not great (Source: FactSet / Wall Street Journal)

Credit Suisse is having a very bad 2021. Somehow, the Swiss bank is deeply involved with 2 of the biggest non-GameStop financial scandals of the year:

  • Greensill Capital: A supply-chain financing startup (which raised $2B+ from Softbank) that extended bad loads and filed for bankruptcy in early March (more here).
  • Archegos Capital: A $10B+ family office run by trader Bill Hwang that blew up at the end of March (more here).

Credit Suisse ran a supply-chain fund connected to Greensill while it was one of Archegos’ prime broker lenders. It just announced it will take a $4.7B loss from the Archegos fiasco, and its stock is down ~20% in recent weeks.

Per the Wall Street Journal, the bank’s chief risk officer (Lara Warner) and head of investment banking (Brian Chin) will leave the firm.

These embarrassing incidents come after a tough 2020: Credit Suisse’s former CEO Tidjane Thiam was ousted last February.

Why?

He was involved in a corporate spat that included espionage, a car chase, and spying.

Just wow… meanwhile, here’s Credit Suisse’s risk management department:

Source: (Twitter / @TrungTPhan)

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Editing by: Brad “Winklevii Triplets” Wolverton, Oliver Twist (Staff Martini Mixer).

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