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The Hustle

James Cameron’s $33m mansion outside Santa Barbara is for sale. It has a 24k-square-foot barn, where the Avatar director says he stored his helicopter and tinkered on underwater vehicles — a real selling point for people sick of building submarines in the clutter of their living room.

In today’s email:

  • Just a fling: Will space startups reach the stars, or see stars?
  • Make it rain: Flying straight into storms to increase precipitation.
  • Dreaming in color: The noise colors that promise peaceful sleep.
  • Around the Web: Beefcake Colonel Sanders, dancing away grief, and more.

👇 Listen: Why simply chucking stuff into space is the next frontier.

podcast media player
The big idea

The push to make space launches ‘dumber’

Ever have one of those days when you want to launch yourself into space?

We’d advise against actually doing it, but if you’re hellbent on meeting the cosmos’s cold embrace, well, it may soon become easier.

And cheaper, too, with multiple startups trying to make orbital launches more affordable.

Who are you backing?

Two top contenders, Longshot Space and SpinLaunch, both have kinetic approaches that’d project objects into space. Their flinging methods vary:

Longshot hopes to reach hypersonic launch speeds by squeezing its payload down a long, horizontal concrete tunnel with compressed gas.

  • Going for it: CEO Mike Grace calls rockets “overly exquisite,” per TechCrunch, and seeks a “dumber and much cheaper” launch option. And he means much cheaper — Longshot aims to make space Pizza Hut meal deal-level accessible at $10 per launched kilogram. (For context, SpaceX runs at $6.5k+ per launched kilogram.)
  • Going against it: Its chambers would require many kilometers of land to hit hypersonic speeds — and, given the sonic booms generated by each use, that land would need to be highly remote.

SpinLaunch, true to its name, spins objects at high speed — up to 5k mph — inside a vacuum-sealed centrifuge, then slingshots them to the stars through a “chimney-like exit port,” per Bloomberg.

  • Going for it: Costs would also undercut current options — SpinLaunch estimates charging ~$250k to put a satellite into orbit ($1m+ less than today’s starting costs) — and its zero-emissions approach gives it a sustainability angle investors love.
  • Going against it: Its accelerator concept has divided physicists, who wonder if the high-speed spin-and-release process would damage payloads.

Up next: Both startups have years of critical tests ahead; in the meantime, we’re just glad ambitiously “dumb” ideas are being explored. It gives us hope someone will figure out a breakthrough for our preferred launch method: Superman punching someone into space.

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Uh oh: We are, once again, mired in a Sriracha shortage and people are, once again, losing their minds. Case in point: a winning eBay bid of $415 for a 12-pack of hot sauce bottles. It’s hard to say when stock will return — drought has wreaked havoc on the peppers central to Sriracha’s production.


TodAI in AI: Buzzy $4.1B-valuation startup Anthropic made its chatbot Claude 2 widely available yesterday. Anthropic describes its bot with words like “friendly,” “helpful,” “harmless,” and “honest” — sounds like a nice guy.

Need stuff? Amazon’s annual sales event, Prime Day, ends tonight — a fact we didn’t really want to relay, but nearly every other media outlet deemed it top news, so here we are offering free advertising to an ecommerce giant with a $1.3T market cap.

Out for blood: Federal records show convicted fraudster and Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes’ prison sentence has already been shortened by nearly two years. She’s been incarcerated for less than two months to date.

Microsoft beat the FTC in court, moving one step closer to finalizing its $75B Activision Blizzard gaming acquisition. Still looming later this month: a hearing with UK regulators, who rejected the merger in April.

Cruise altitude: The latest Mission: Impossible film opens today, with lofty box office projections. Tom Cruise’s personal-best opening — $256.4m, set last year with Top Gun: Maverick — may be within reach.

Ho-ho-hold on: Company holiday parties are coming back — 57% of US companies said they’re throwing parties this year, more than double last year’s figures, according to a survey from Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.

Temptations: A gold crown ring that belonged to Tupac Shakur goes on auction next week. The ring — set with rubies and diamonds, and worn during the rapper’s last public appearance at the 1996 VMAs — is expected to fetch $200k-$300k.

Mind-reading tech is here and it’s coming to a workplace near you (sooner than you think). Here’s what the future of controlling computers with our brains might look like.

Rainy Days and Paydays
cloud seeding

Zachary Crockett

The economics of making it rain

On an average summer day, Gary Walker arrives early to his office in Stamford, Texas. He typically does some paperwork, maybe talks to his two fellow employees.

Much like a fireman, he’s waiting for a call. In his case, a call from his meteorologist. When the meteorologist forecasts imminent rain clouds, he tells Walker that it’s time to get in the air.

Walker then strides out of his office to the nearby hangar that houses his two airplanes, small craft built in the 1970s. But he trusts them to take him straight into storms that periodically darken the skies of this flat agricultural area ~200 miles west of Dallas.

Walker’s company, SOAR, or Seeding Operations and Atmospheric Research, is paid to make it rain. Or, more accurately, to make it rain more than it would otherwise through a process known as cloud seeding.

Read the full story →
Free Resource

101 questions to qualify, close, and negotiate

We’ll assume you’ve done the prep work: getting a foot in the door.

Now, it’s time to reel ‘em in — and your line of questioning counts buckets. Here are 101 vetted sales questions to help you finesse the most comfortable fit.

Discovery questions to ask your prospects:

  • BANT (budget, authority, need, timeline)
  • Personal details and industry experience
  • Closing, upselling, circling back, and more

Add a handful of these to the master list (since you have one of those).

101 qualifying questions →
Sleep On It
man sleeping wearing headphones

The colors of sleep

If you ask TikTok or YouTube, falling asleep requires a rainbow of sound. Beyond well-known white noise, there’s now pink, brown, green, and more.

But what do they mean, and who’s capitalizing on it?

How quickly a sound wave vibrates…

… is its frequency, which is measured in hertz.

  • One vibration per second equals one hertz
  • Humans can hear between ~20 and 20k hertz
  • The higher the frequency, the higher the pitch

A sound’s color depends on how energy is distributed over its frequencies. With white noise, it’s evenly distributed across all audible frequencies (e.g., a fan, TV static).

What other colors are there?

  • Pink: Energy is more intense at lower frequencies for a deeper sound (e.g., steady rain, wind)
  • Brown: Similar, but even deeper (e.g., thunder)
  • Green: Mid-range frequencies (e.g., ocean waves)
  • Black: Silence.

Here’s a handy video demonstrating several colors.

What’s the benefit?

Most obviously, they mask other sounds, which helps people trying to sleep or focus in noisy environments.

Some studies have also found that certain colors may help us remain in deep sleep for longer or improve executive function.

With all these new color fads…

… come new products. White noise machines are adding other colors, while myriad apps offer soothing sounds. For example, BetterSleep offers custom sleep mixes, stories, meditations, and tracking. More features unlock for paid users.

YouTube channels, like “Relaxing White Noise,” have millions of subscribers, while podcasters are making bank with noise streams. One told Bloomberg he makes $18k+/month.

BTW: Sleep experts suggest setting a timer so that whatever noise you choose eventually turns off. Constant noise, even helpful ones, can be disruptive.

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🚁 On this day: In 1957, Dwight D. Eisenhower became the first US president to ride in a helicopter, deemed a safer, more efficient alternative to limousine motorcades.

🍗 Haha: “Street Fighter 6” lets players create custom avatars, then share them using “recipes.” That’s how you can play as a very swole Colonel Sanders, courtesy of KFC.

🎧 Podcast: Truth, Lies, & Workplace Culture continues its Founder Series. In this episode, Swell CEO Kevin Dahlstrom shares seven essentials for fearless leadership and a thriving culture.

🕺 That’s interesting: The Fandangoe Discoteca, where people dance away grief.

🍉 Aww: And now, sharing a watermelon.

work meme

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Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen and Juliet Bennett Rylah.
Editing by: Ben “Needs a little space” Berkley.

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