The Hustle

💀 Here lies WeWork (2010-23)

Plus: The week’s best reads, an Amazon package scam, a hedgehog wearing shoes, and more.

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A remastered Sharknado launches next week to mark the 10th anniversary of the made-for-TV phenomenon. Wow. Time really flies when you’re flooding LA with tornado-riding, man-eating sharks — and the airwaves with five whole sequels and spinoffs we must name here: Lavalantula, Sharknado: Heart of Sharkness, and 2 Lava 2 Lantula.

Also: If the joy of sharing this email isn’t enough for you, we’ve got new referral prizes to sweeten the pot. Scroll to the bottom to see the goods.

In today’s email:

  • The fediverse: What is it and why does it matter?
  • WeWork: It isn’t dead yet, but we’re proofreading its obituary.
  • Weekend Reads: Sleep in, then treat yourself to these links.
  • Around the Web: Predicting SEO’s future, how to help Maui wildfire victims, and more.

👇 Listen: Trapital covers the economics of hip-hop. Its founder recaps the genre’s journey to becoming a billion-dollar global phenomenon.

Pixel Madness

The fediverse, explained

Some say the fediverse is the future of social media. But it also feels like the good ol’ days.
2023-08-11T00:00:00Z
Juliet Bennett Ryla

Upon launching Threads, Meta said its plan was “to make [it] part of the fediverse.” Now, it’s taken a step forward by allowing verified Threads profile links on platforms like Mastodon.

But quick follow-up Q: What the hell is the fediverse?

I thought the fediverse was short for Star Trek’s United Federation of Planets. Mark thought it was a fan group for Swiss tennis player Roger Federer.

Wrong!

The fediverse — a portmanteau of “federation” and “universe” — is a collection of interoperable social media platforms.

A few examples:

  • Mastodon, for microblogging
  • Write.as, for blogging
  • PeerTube, for videos
  • Pixelfed, for images
  • Funkwhale, for audio

How are they different from traditional social media?

Fediverse platforms use ActivityPub, a decentralized social networking protocol. A protocol defines how communication systems transfer info — use the same one, speak the same language.

And while traditional companies host all content on their own servers, anyone can set up a fediverse server, AKA an “instance.” Some are more general, like Mastodon’s “social,” but they can also be more specific — e.g., for journalists, New Yorkers, or Roger Federer fans.

Instances can interact with each other on the same platform or across different platforms:

  • Say you’re on Mastodon.
  • From Mastodon, you can follow your friend on Pixelfed.
  • Your friend posts a photo of his casserole on Pixelfed. You see it on Mastodon.
  • You comment, “Mmm, delicious!” on Mastodon. He sees it on Pixelfed.

Note: Instances can block each other, and instances and platforms can set ground rules, so it’s not a total free-for-all out there.

Why would I use this?

  • You don’t want a Big Tech company, like Meta, to hold all your data.
  • You want to use social media to connect with people online in an ad-free, algorithm-free environment — like you used to.
  • You hate being locked in: You can ditch any fediverse platform and join another without losing all your friends and content.

But…

… your friends and fave creators may stick to what they know — decentralized stuff can be difficult to parse and makes people think of crypto and NFTs.

Also, it’s hard to monetize sans ads or algorithms, so people who use instances may have to rely on donations to monetize them. If you want to be an influencer, you’re probably better off on TikTok.

TRENDING

That’s weird: A Canadian woman said she’s received 50+ unwanted Amazon packages, mostly containing shoes, from a buyer in North America, racking up $300+ in customs charges. The Better Business Bureau suspects a vendor-return scheme, where foreign sellers ship items to different addresses to avoid storage and shipping return fees.

SNIPPETS

Luxury merger: Kate Spade and Coach parent Tapestry Inc. will acquire Michael Kors and Versace parent Capri Holdings in an $8.5B deal expected to generate $12B+ annually.

Disney will bump the prices of its ad-free Disney+ and Hulu tiers by $3, launch its ad-supported $8 tier in Europe and Canada in November, and — like Netflix — crack down on password sharing.

The annual Emmy Awards have been pushed from Sept. 18 to Jan. 15 due to the ongoing writers and actors guild strikes, which began in May and July, respectively.

X CEO Linda Yaccarino said the platform will soon support video calls, no phone number required.

Serve Robotics, the delivery startup formerly known as Postmates X before Uber acquired Postmates in 2020, is going public via a reverse merger with Patricia Acquisition Corp.

Amazon dropped several private-label brands, including 27 of its 30 clothing brands, as it seeks to increase profits and defend itself from antitrust scrutiny.

Virgin Galactic successfully completed its first private-paid space flight Thursday morning. On board were British Olympian Jon Goodwin and mother-daughter duo Keisha Schahaff and Anastatia Mayers, who won their seats via a charity fundraiser.

Shake it off, rake it in: Taylor Swift’s Eras tour is expected to become the first tour to hit $1B in ticket sales. Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour is the current record holder at $900m+.

Chart
Olivia Heller

WeWork is a poor limping gazelle in a nature documentary

Once one of the world’s most valuable startups, WeWork stock now costs less than a gumball.
2023-08-11T00:00:00Z
Ben Berkley

WeWork has cheated death 2x before — in 2019 and 2021 — but this time feels different.

The coworking company told its investors this week there is “substantial doubt” it can stay afloat. To say its stock has plummeted would be disrespectful to the word “plummeted.”

  • The cost of a souvenir WeWork share this morning would make a parking meter scoff — just 18 cents.

How’d we get here?

Hubris certainly played a role: The exploits of its founder, Adam Neumann, are literally already a TV show.

  • Neumann pushed an unsustainable rate of growth and expanded the company’s focus before getting its core business in order — with a would-be empire of schools, apartments, gyms, and even Martian colonies in mind instead.

Covid didn’t help matters, but WeWork’s first brush with death came before the pandemic. The company spent wildly on leasing, renovating, and outfitting prime real estate around the world — but never attracted enough customers to pay for it.

As a result, WeWork has lost $15B since the end of 2017, per The New York Times. Once valued at $47B, its closing valuation on Thursday was just $274m.

Can this be salvaged?

If so, don’t expect the company to look the same as it does today; WeWork’s only path back to viability includes major cost reductions.

It’s still seeking a new CEO to lead the way there, per Reuters. The last man to fill the seat, Sandeep Mathrani, departed in May. Three board members also exited this week.

Plus, customers “are canceling memberships at a faster clip than expected,” per The Wall Street Journal.

In nature doc terms, a defenseless WeWork has nowhere left to hide — the lion is gonna pounce, it’s gonna be a gruesome scene, and here we all are, unable to look away.

Free Resource

5 tips for breaking into TikTok

Lookin’ at you, old-timer. And smiling. (Love you.)

But you’re probably scared to make the jump to TikTok. It’s not even the cloud around regulation — it’s the clout implications. We understand.

In such strange digital corners, just take a page from the pros. Here are five steps from our social media team on making relevant short-form videos.

The gist of TikTok branding:

  • Be where your audience is
  • Really nail your “why”
  • Solidify your value props
  • Save time with a content calendar
  • Shoot your shots where they count

We’re rooting that you risk it for the biscuit.

TikTok branding basics →
Recs

Welcome to Weekend Reads

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

  • Tweet: A coastal battle rages on.
  • Blog: Selling your startup is a big deal. Here’s what actually goes into a startup acquisition.
  • Chart: Are investors beyond Beyond Meat?
  • Story: Why no one makes money off one of the most sampled songs in hip-hop.
  • Video: The economics of vending machines.
AROUND THE WEB

On this day: In 1929, Babe Ruth of the New York Yankees became the first MLB player to hit 500 homers. The fan who caught the ball exchanged it, at Ruth’s request, for $20 and two signed baseballs.

🔍 Blog: Predictions for the future of SEO and next gen search.

🆘 How to: Help victims of the Maui wildfires via volunteering or donations.

🌿 Chill out: By scrolling through this user-submitted gallery of bonsai trees.

🦔 Aww: And now, hedgehogs in shoes.

SHOWER THOUGHTS
  1. One of the happiest photos of yourself becomes one of your funeral photos. SOURCE
    SOURCE

  2. There’s a little Barbie in all of us, thanks to microplastics. SOURCE
    SOURCE

  3. Homeowner has ‘meow’ in it. SOURCE
    SOURCE

  4. When you pick up a quarter off the ground, you’re making $450/hour for two seconds. SOURCE
    SOURCE

  5. An hourglass tipped on its side is timeless… and looks like the infinity symbol, which is also timeless. SOURCE
    SOURCE

 
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Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen and Juliet Bennett Rylah.
Editing by: Ben “Thought the fediverse was some Kevin Federline thing” Berkley.

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