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The Hustle

We’ve been told it’s a dog-eat-dog world, but really now? A wildlife photographer in Orlando recently snapped some real gross photos of a large bull alligator snacking on a smaller gator. Dogs would never. Pups, you’re vindicated. Gators? Not a good look.

In today’s email:

  • Groupon: A new CEO for the deal platform.
  • Women in the boardroom: More, please.
  • Digits: Wild numbers about Twitter, college, and more.
  • Around the Web: The business of Etsy, elemental music, a cute RPG, and more cool internet finds.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s podcast to hear us discuss Groupon’s rise and fall, tech’s terrible diversity numbers, and to start your week with a quick-hitting news rundown.

Groupon app

Whatever happened to Groupon?

Back when I was the Foursquare mayor of my apartment, I used Groupon to see the dentist. But in 2023, you hardly hear of either platform.

Founded in 2008, Groupon’s appeal was a supposed win-win for both customers and businesses:

  • Customers scored big discounts at local merchants if enough of them agreed to make the same purchase.
  • Businesses got exposure and new customers.

In August 2010, Forbes called the Chicago-based platform the “fastest growing company ever.” The following year, it IPO’d at a $17.8B market cap.

Today? Groupon is worth just $103m — a 99.4% plummet from its IPO. And though it does maintain ~14m active users, it had 83m+ subscribers in 2011, per TechCrunch.

Why the downfall?

Critics have long called Groupon’s model unsustainable. Customers get subpar services from swamped businesses, while businesses get a bad deal in the long term. One analysis found only ~20% of Groupon buyers returned for full-price purchases.


  • Groupon faced a deluge of competition from other platforms, many of which it acquired.
  • Google’s changes to subscription emails dented Groupon’s open rates in 2013; in Q3, Groupon reported a $2.6m net loss.
  • The platform struggled to diversify; attempts to offer physical goods faltered.

What’s next?

Last Friday, Groupon chose board member Dusan Senkypl, co-founder of Prague-based private equity firm Pale Fire Capital, as interim CEO.

Senkypl has expressed confidence in his ability to turn things around, and Pale Fire is Groupon’s largest shareholder. It has replaced Groupon’s CTO and laid off ~1k people (~30% of its staff) since August.

What exactly Senkypl intends to do next with this now-leaner company is unclear.

But in the interim you can at least still use it to become a Scottish lord or lady for ~$18… kind of.

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eyeball wearing a hat

A former Grubhub driver became “the first gig worker in America to be declared an employee by a court for wage law purposes” after an eight-year court battle. The driver’s prize? A landmark win for gig worker rights — and a $65.11 check.


Bookkeeping matters: A New York businessman was indicted late last week after an investigation into hush-money payments, issuing a stark reminder to all business owners about the possible consequences of falsifying records.

Ciao for now: Italian regulators have temporarily banned ChatGPT, pointing to privacy concerns. Italy gave OpenAI 20 days to clarify user data protections — or face fines of up to ~$22m. If “AI vs. regulators” stories aren’t your thing, the next few years probably won’t be much fun for you.

Inventor Martin Cooper, nicknamed “the father of the cell phone,” decried screen addiction, saying he’s “devastated” when he sees people staring at their phones while crossing the street. Just wait till he hears what the people driving on those streets are doing.

Couples that pay together, stay together: A LendingTree report found 23% of couples stay together due to financial dependency. A follow-up report from our living rooms found 100% of couples were happy to entirely ignore this and not start their weeks off on that note.

Pop stars: Jonas Brothers-backed Rob’s Backstage Popcorn scored a $7m investment round. “Rob” is disappointingly not the fabled fifth Jonas; the band’s “backstage staple” snack was cooked up by Rob Garbowsky, dad to former bass guitarist and current manager Greg Garbowsky.

Hungry, hungry hippos: Colombia is dropping ~$3.5m to move 70 of Pablo Escobar’s hippos to wildlife sanctuaries in Mexico and India. Since the drug kingpin’s death in 1993, his herd has rapidly bred, becoming an invasive species.

Southwest Airlines’ action plan to prevent another debacle includes increased winter equipment and staffing, and a $1.3B investment in new tech.

LeBron James’ House Three Thirty, a community space in Akron, Ohio, includes a Starbucks where all 46 employees will receive training certificates to kickstart hospitality careers. The complex also has a bank, bar, and LeBron museum.

We sure are jaded, but… as far as April Fools’ marketing stunts go, Duolingo’s fake Peacock dating show makes the grade. Also, true to its CEO’s form, Tesla made sure to get in on the trolling.

Support systems: A good mentor can make a huge difference in your career and help catapult you to success. A slightly different spin on that role: a sponsor. Here’s what to know.

private tech boards by gender
Olivia Heller

Private companies’ boards still suck at gender diversity

Rip that “Slow progress is still progress” inspirational poster right off the wall.

Its ever-optimistic worldview is not well supported by the latest report tracking gender diversity on corporate boards, produced by Crunchbase and Him For Her.

Overall, women hold more jobs than men, representing 50%+ of the US workforce. Yet this annual study of 667 private US companies — representing ~$200B in funding and 265k+ employees — shows that men still hold 91% of executive board seats.

Tech leads the way in not leading the way

The only “good” news for the tech sector here is that everyone else is still awful, too.

  • Life sciences outpaced tech, but while 75% of life science boards have at least one woman (compared to tech’s 61%), their overall numbers remain atrocious — just 19% of directors are women, and only 5% women of color.
  • Of all surveyed companies, 32% of boards have no women whatsoever; 76% of them don’t have a single woman of color.

A reason for this imbalance, per the study’s authors: an overreliance on execs’ personal networks to source board candidates.

  • Their proposed solution: increasing the number of independent board seats — women fill a comparatively higher share of those roles.

For one low-bar positive…

…this survey saw a first: There are finally more women of color on boards than men named “Dave” or “David.” Cool.

  • And yes, the aforementioned 32% of companies without women in their boardrooms is rotten, but that number does mark a YoY improvement of 7 percentage points.

The most baffling part: It’s just plain good business to have a more diverse board. Per the study, companies with at least one female board member raised 16% more money than their all-male counterparts.

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Free Resource

An intro to coding in Python

Though Python launched in the early ‘90s, it’s become a go-to coding language for beginner software developers due to its simple syntax and flex functionality.

If you’re interested in learning the robust language used by data scientists, cloud-computing experts, and full-stack engineers — download our free Introduction to Python.

Featured in the ebook:

  • What is Python?
  • Use cases across industries
  • Methods and functions glossary
  • Coding standards and best practices
  • Overview of advanced Python features
  • Links to convenient educational resources…

… like research publications, frameworks, and a browser-based code editor.

Python crash course →

Digits: Wild numbers about OpenAI, Bad Bunny, and more

1) OpenAI CEO Sam Altman said he thinks his company, which operates as a capped-profit organization, could eventually capture $100B, $1T, or maybe even $100T of the world’s wealth through the development of artificial general intelligence (AGI). OpenAI would then distribute money back to the people to make up for the fact that it may move the price of human labor to $0. Carry on, folks — nothing dystopian to see here.

2) Twitter revenue appears to still be way down. The site’s top 10 advertisers spent $71m from September to October. Over the past two months, they have spent just $7.6m. Musk’s company continues to push paid verification — an idea apparently so unpopular, even the King said he isn’t interested.

3) Apparently, there are college counseling consultancies that cost more than the average house. Command Education reportedly charges up to $750k to start helping seventh-graders get into elite schools, and up to $500k for ninth-graders. A reminder for parents shelling out that cash: save up a little extra for your child’s eventual therapists.

4) Crashing down to earth, Virgin Orbit  — valued at ~$4B in 2021 — is now worth ~$74m, and has halted operations and laid off most of its staff after its satellite launching business failed to generate enough revenue.

5) In 2019, the top 25 Latin music tours grossed $251.3m across 2.8m tickets. In 2022, the top 25 grossed $990.8m across 8m tickets. Bad Bunny alone grossed $373.5m of that. Not bad, Bunny.

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✉️ On this day: In 1860, the first Pony Express mail teams left St. Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento, California, with the westbound team arriving two days before the eastbound.

🎧 Tune in: The Product Boss Podcast broke down the business of Etsy side hustles and in-person markets.

🧪 That’s cool: Walker Smith is making music out of the periodic table of elements using each elements’ light data. Helium sounds… spooky?

⚔️ Cure boredom: Isleward” is a simple browser RPG that you play with your keyboard.

🦆 Aww: And now, a speedy duck.

tiredness meme

Taking a 9am lunch break sounds like fair game to us. (Link)


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Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen and Juliet Bennett Rylah.
Editing by: Ben “Like a human Groupon, I’m always 75% off” Berkley.

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