👾Roblox’s next level

The Hustle

The film “Halloween Kills” brought in $50m in the US box office this weekend. We’ll wait for it to come out on streaming, where we can “watch” the horror movie with sound off while playing on our smartphones.

Today’s rundown:

  • Roblox grows up: The sandbox game targeting teens rolled out new metaverse and developer features.
  • Bolt: This $6B startup provides “1-Click” checkout for non-Amazon retailers.
  • Digits: Wild numbers on bottlenecks, miniature toys, and a $25m shredded painting.

Let’s do it.

The big idea
Roblox gif

Roblox is growing up, and bringing the metaverse into clearer focus

If there’s one company that understands the metaverse — virtual spaces in a digital environment — it’s Roblox.

At its annual developer conference, the company announced a flurry of new features to take the platform to the next level, per TechCrunch.

It will start allowing users to express themselves

Roblox is known for its lego-like characters that aren’t exactly aesthetically advanced. Going forward, the company plans to make avatars more customizable, including:

  • Layered clothing, which allows outfits to be used dynamically across a range of characters
  • Dynamic heads, which allow avatars to change facial expressions that mirror the words they’re saying

The changes will allow Roblox characters to evolve with its users as they get older and more interested in self-expression.

But they’re equally focused on keeping developers happy

The firm announced new features that offer developers more flexibility and monetization opportunities, including:

  • Open Cloud, a system that allows developers to build content in 3rd-party tools and connect it to Roblox
  • Limited edition items, which developers can sell to users and earn royalties off of (similar to the NFT model)

Both additions give developers more flexibility to build on the Roblox platform and provide users more ways to spend Robux, the in-game currency that can be purchased for actual dollars.

Users and developers are already flocking to the platform

In May, Roblox reported 43.2m daily active users, up 3x since 2016.

Additionally, the company will pay out $500m to developers in 2021, up 700%+ from 2018.

If Roblox can keep growing both sides at that pace, it won’t have to invent the metaverse — its developers and users will build it for them.

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SNIPPETS

The house wins: A new study reported Amazon routinely promotes its own brands in front of better ranked products. #ecommerce-retail

Disappearing vehicles: The Tesla Cybertruck specs and prices were removed from the Tesla website. #clean-energy

Lost robots: A dead-end street in San Francisco has become a hot spot for confused Waymo autonomous cars. #emerging-tech

UPDATE: Twitch claimed its hack had minimal impact, with only a small number of users affected by the breach. #privacy

Setting the rules: Coinbase pitched ideas to Congress for a specific body to regulate crypto. #fintech-cryptocurrency

LinkedOut: Microsoft shut down LinkedIn’s China operation and will replace it with a job board without social media features. #big-tech

Faster Ecomm
Bolt 1-Click

Bolt’s 1-click checkout works across a network of non-Amazon retailers (Source: Bolt)

Bolt: The $6B ‘1-Click’ checkout startup taking on Amazon

When Amazon patented the “1-Click” checkout in 1999, it was unheard of that people could fill out their billing and shipping details just once before enjoying frictionless shopping.

Now, the idea is ubiquitous and Amazon controls 40% of the US ecommerce market.

How can non-Amazon retailers compete?

Per Bloomberg, fintech startup Bolt just raised $393m (at a $6B valuation) to bring 1-click checkout to everyone.

Founded in 2014 by Ryan Breslow, Bolt offers a universal login credential. Shoppers provide their information once and can complete a 1-click purchase on any of Bolt’s partner sites (e.g., Forever21, Lucky Brands).

Bolt already has 10m users signed up

And Breslow says he expects that number to balloon up to 100m based on partnership deals it has in place.

The business model is straightforward: Bolt gets 2% of transactions while retailers provide its customers a better user experience, which leads to higher conversions and better retention.

Amazon’s “1-Click” patent actually expired in 2017. But don’t worry, there’s more innovation in the pipeline: the company is reportedly working on a smart fridge.

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Free Resource

Navigating email after Apple’s iOS 15

The new “Mail Privacy Protection” feature gives users the option to hide their IP address, location, and email open status with a swipe.

Big win for user privacy. But a messy development for email marketers and business builders who use open rate and location-based data for growth.

Don’t fret for your marketers — campaigns can still be saved.

Watch this 4-minute video breaking down iOS 15

Focus on what can be controlled. Use alternative tactics like SMS marketing and doubling down on traffic to recoup lost engagement.

Here’s how.

(Bonus: a free Excel/Google Sheets email marketing planning template.)

iOS 15 explained →
Digits
digits image

Digits: Bottlenecks, miniature toys, and a $25m shredded painting

1) Sometimes you’ll find jam in a glass bottle, and other times you’ll find glass bottles in a jam. With 20%-30% of food and beverage bottles used in the US sourced from abroad, they’re now facing supply chain bottlenecks.

2) Japan’s vending machine-dispensed miniature toys — known as gachapon — saw ~$360m in sales in 2019 across 600k+ gachapon machines. In Japan, you can find gachapon department stores where 3k+ machines dispense an infinite variety of cute miniatures.

3) In 2018, Bansky’s “Love is in the Bin” painting made history when it auctioned off for $1.4m and then proceeded to shred itself with a hidden machine built into the frame. Last week, it resold for $25.4m after 9 people bid on it for ~10 minutes.

4) YouTube has 1k+ employees across 45 countries advising ~12k video creators on driving views, developing business plans, and more. Each employee is assigned 10-20 creators who they reportedly text with daily, which sounds like a fun job.

5) Jennifer Gates, daughter of Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates, got married this past weekend on her $15.82m, 124-acre horse farm in upstate New York. The cost of the wedding was reportedly upwards of $2m. Must’ve been quite a cake.

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AROUND THE WEB

🚗 On this day: In 1933, R. Buckminster Fuller tried to secure a patent on his 3-wheeled Dymaxion Car. However, a deadly crash that same month scared off investors.

📼 Art: Check out this tiny, incredibly detailed video shop from miniaturist Melissa Kay.

🚙 That’s interesting: Google employee Michael Alberse shares why he prefers to live in a van on his work’s campus.

🎧 Useful: This site turns your 30-second audio recordings into visual clips. Perfect for a quick explainer or intro!

❓ How to: It can be tricky to tell the difference between science and pseudoscience, especially online. Here’s a guide to figuring it out.

🦋 Wait, what: Scientists hoped introducing butterflies to a small Finnish island would allow them to research how they dispersed. Instead, they created a monster: a butterfly full of parasitic wasps, full of smaller parasitic wasps. Happy Halloween!

Meme of the day
Self checkout meme

Source: Know Your Meme

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