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💤 Does sleep tech work?

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Details assigned to a prepaid $500 Walmart gift card are reportedly what helped federal agents track down the New York couple that allegedly laundered billions of dollars in bitcoin. Interestingly, that implies there are billionaires who shop at Walmart.

In today’s email:

  • Sleep tech: The $12B+ industry that wants to get you a good night’s rest.
  • Monopoly money: How Olympic ticket prices get inflated.
  • #FreeRezy: How finance bros gamed the system for NYC’s hottest reservations.
  • Around the web: Pop-up memes, incredible lectures, and more cool internet finds.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s podcast to dive deeper on sleep tech, the rise of crypto in divorce proceedings, and much, much more.

The big idea
sleep gif

The $12B+ sleep industry, explained

Did you get less than 7 hours of sleep last night?

If so, you’re in the majority. More than ⅔ of Americans fail to hit that number for daily ZZZs, per The Economist.

This sleep deficit leads to problems — like poor health and lower productivity — estimated to “cost America’s economy as much as $400B a year.”

The culprits are many

Widespread caffeine and alcohol consumption doesn’t help. Neither does having a rectangle distraction machine in our pockets all day.

Back when there were no smartphones or laptops, the great-grandparents of today’s Americans got an average of 2 more hours of sleep a night.

Sleep tech is trying to fill the void

Per The Economist, the industry was worth $12.5B in 2020, including:

  • Oura, a $1B startup selling a $300 titanium ring that can track activity, heart, and oxygen levels
  • Kokoon, a company selling $200+ wireless earbuds that play relaxing music and can track a user’s sleep stage based on blood-oxygen levels
  • Eight Sleep, maker of a $2k+ mattress that heats and cools as a person’s body temperature changes throughout the night (it’s called the “Lamborghini of mattresses”)

Major consumer tech players — like Huawei, Google, and Samsung — also sell sleep-tracking products. Meanwhile, a small company called Apple has activated 100m+ smartwatches with sleep (and health-tracking) features.

Does any of this work?

The Economist says that ~40% of sleep-wearable users “abandoned their device” when the effects didn’t take hold. Also, the tech lacks the “gold standard” to prove health efficacy: randomized controlled clinical studies.

But with a total addressable market of **checks notes** anyone who sleeps, the business case for sleep tech isn’t going anywhere.

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SNIPPETS

Cheers: Champagne saw record sales of $5.7B in 2021, a 14% increase from pre-pandemic highs, in part because the US was importing a lot of it. #ecommerce-retail

Wind woes: An NPR report explores how misinformation about solar and wind energy is causing US projects to be limited or rejected. #clean-energy

Spacecation: For a $150k deposit, you can now reserve a Virgin Galactic spaceflight (full price: $450k+). The company’s stock rose 20%+ on the news. #emerging-tech

Non-white New Yorkers who live in high stop-and-frisk areas are more likely to be surveilled by facial recognition tech, per research from Amnesty International and others. #privacy

An official of India’s central bank says crypto is like a “Ponzi scheme.” The comparison comes on the heels of a proposal to tax virtual assets. #fintech-crypto

Intel will acquire Tower Semiconductor, an Israeli chipmaker for hundreds of companies, for $5.4B. #big-tech

Monopoly
how tickets are sold

Is this the end of an Olympic monopoly?

You’ve probably never heard of the small New Jersey company, CoSport, or its parent company, Jet Set Sports.

But every American who’s purchased tickets to the Olympics over the past ~20 years has had to go through them.

When the Olympics roll around, CoSport buys up almost every ticket available to Americans — and reserves thousands of hotel rooms and restaurant tables in the host city — then sells them back to the public at inflated prices.

CoSport founder and co-CEO Sead Dizdarevic has reportedly earned upwards of $30m in profit per Games from this relationship.

But after the uproar from Tokyo and years of complaints from customers, his reign as ticket king may be coming to an end.

Read the full story
Free Resource

2X: A night of storytelling, live from LA

March 17: Save the date.

Six badass women at the forefront of business and tech have agreed to tell their stories.

So we’re making a night of it. And bringing the bottles.

Each speaker has 8 minutes to paint a pivotal shift in their lives or careers, or whatever brilliance takes over in the moment.

It’s business casual with drinks (and us 🤠).

Introducing your speakers for the evening:

Get $30 early-bird tickets. Price goes up next month.

Save Your Seat →
First World Problems
plate of food

The rise and fall of #FreeRezy, a group chat that unlocked NYC’s hottest reservations

Finance bros in New York take dinner reservations seriously.

If you don’t believe me, just watch American Psycho, where a reservation at the right restaurant is the ultimate status symbol.

While not everything in that movie is realistic (thankfully), the reservation struggle is spot-on. The best restaurants in NYC often release a small batch of reservations, months in advance, and are fully booked in seconds.

So what’s a finance bro with fine dining tastes to do?

Enter #FreeRezy

A trio of finance workers created #FreeRezy — a group chat on Telegram where aspiring diners could snag reservations at NYC’s hottest spots.

Here’s how it worked:

  • The trio searched online to find out when the best restaurants release new reservations
  • They set alarms at those times and would book tables from multiple Resy accounts
  • They listed the reservations in the group chat where members could claim them on a first-come, first-served basis

Per Eater, the trio booked 1k+ reservations in the last 3 months, growing the group chat from a few people to 700+ members.

Then they got caught

Resy’s terms of service state that the app is for personal use — meaning #FreeRezy was clearly in violation.

After discovering the group, Resy promptly banned all 3 members, leading to the swift demise of the group chat.

The craziest part? #FreeRezy never even made any money. The trio planned to monetize a premium tier eventually but never made it that far.

If you feel so inclined to revive #FreeRezy, there’s a petition on Change.org for that — but with 36 signatures so far, it seems unlikely we’ll be seeing a comeback any time soon.

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AROUND THE WEB

📞 On this day: In 1968, the 1st 911 call was made in the US by Rep. Rankin Fite in Alabama. AT&T had suggested the number because it’s easy to remember and wasn’t already an area code.

🔒 How to: You’re probably not being tracked by an AirTag. But just in case, Wired has a guide for finding out.

🎧 That’s cool: Richard Feynman’s 1961-64 Caltech Introductory Physics lectures are available for online listening. No editing, no enhancements.

☔️ Useful: Will you need an umbrella today? Find out.

😂 Art: PaperPaul turns popular memes into pop-up cards.

Meme of the day
sleeping meme

My favorite sleep tech. (Source: BoredPanda.com)

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