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The Hustle

Good news, everyone: The Snail Racing World Championships returned to Congham, England, this weekend for the first time since the pandemic. Evie crushed the 13-inch race in seven minutes and 24 seconds, winning a tankard of lettuce.

In today’s email:

  • Hi, rent: A car for hire — with driverless delivery.
  • Chill seekers: The cooling economy’s AC innovators.
  • Digits: Boba booms, TikTok vs. Amazon, Skype surprises, and more numbers.
  • Around the Web: The best bird pics, the worst real-estate pics, tiny lions, and more.

👇 Listen: To hear about the lucrative job market… for teens.

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A Remote Chance

Your next driverless car trip may, aptly, be quite trippy

The app tells you your ride is here. (Normal so far, right?)

If startup Halo.Car strikes it big, the next part is where things will take an unexpected turn: you are the one driving.

Oh, and your car is delivering itself, sans driver — well, kind of.

Um, what’s going on here?

Halo’s thing: sending rental cars right to users’ doors using remote operators, per TechCrunch.

  • Like any ride-share service, you’d request a pickup at your preferred location.
  • Halo’s EV fleet is outfitted with cameras, modems, and antennas; a remote driver at the startup’s operations center uses live video and sensor data to pilot the car to you.
  • The remote driver then passes over control, and you pay a $12 hourly rate to drive the vehicle where you please.

Want to try it out?

Go to Las Vegas where the whole driverless delivery schtick is currently being tested.

If successful, it’d be a clever way to skirt competitors’ biggest challenges:

  • Halo could compete with Uber and Lyft on pricing by limiting the pesky “having to compensate all the drivers” issue.
  • Unlike fully autonomous robotaxi startups, it’d have fewer regulatory and perception hurdles to overcome.

Essentially, Halo monetizes like any rental car company — just using its driverless tech to optimally deploy its fleet.

What’s the downfall?

It only works if Halo can survive the expensive interregnum between now and wider adoption.

  • For now, the company deploys not one, but two cars for each rental: the remotely piloted vehicle and a tail car with a human inside. If the primary rental car fails, the tail car can take over.
  • Halo says it will stop deploying tail cars “over the next year,” per TechCrunch, if its system performs as hoped.
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eyeball wearing a hat

A Canadian farmer owes $82k for undelivered flax in a case that hinged on the meaning of a “thumbs-up” emoji. The farmer argued it meant he’d received, but not approved, the contract; the judge disagreed based on the farmer’s previous use of “yup” to commit. The takeaway, perhaps? You’d better be clear, lest you autoreply yourself into trouble.


TodAI in AI: A panel of humanoid robots took reporters’ questions at a United Nations AI conference. Asked whether AI would rebel against its creator, one robot responded, “I am very happy with my current situation.” Conclusion: humanity is safe. No need to worry anymore.

Score another point for humanity: OpenAI saw its first-ever drop in monthly users, as traffic to the ChatGPT website fell 9.7% between May and June.

Twitter threatened to sue Meta, claiming it used Twitter trade secrets to develop Threads. Meta maintains that no ex-Twitter engineers worked on the product.

Grubhub, DoorDash, and Uber are suing NYC over a new law that will bump app-based delivery workers’ minimum wage to $17.96/hour. Currently, these workers largely rely on tips.

Great news for people who like arguing about pizza: Pepsi is relaunching its pineapple soda — but only via a Little Caesars pizza combo.

Tesla is reportedly hiring test drivers in select cities for $18-$48/hour. The seasonal workers will spend three months collecting data to improve the company’s EVs.

Record scratch: Design legend Jony Ive (known for his Apple portfolio, including the iMac and iPod) has returned to hardware design — with a $60k turntable. Ive apparently worked with audio brand Linn for fun; he won’t profit from the collaboration.

Attention hog: BMW unveiled a ~$750 pair of smartglasses for motorcycling, which adds navigation and speed into riders’ field of vision. Another way the ConnectedRide glasses are groundbreaking: they’ll make riding a motorcycle look dorky.

US postage stamps increased from 63 cents to 66 cents yesterday, increasing the cost of mailing a first-class letter ~5.4% and providing what USPS called “much needed revenue.”

Blog snippet: Don’t bug out, but insects are coming in hot as a new sustainable protein source. Read more about the insect farming startups turning the food industry on its head.

Air apparent
Air conditioners in use globally
Olivia Heller

The cool air conditioning businesses keeping the economy from melting

Last week, Mother Nature cranked up the thermostat enough to make it the hottest day on record — and the economy, entrepreneurs, and certainly the thermostat dads are all starting to notice.

Chilling stats

Extreme heat costs the US $1B in health care each summer and $100B annually in worker productivity losses, a number that’s projected to reach $500B by 2050.

Developing countries will foot much of the incoming AC bill. That’s good for their body temps, but not for the planet’s: AC accounts for ~4% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions across energy use, refrigerant leakage, manufacturing, and transportation.

Chill seekers

Private HVAC companies have raised ~$350m annually in recent years. Startups like Windmill and July are going the “Tesla of AC” route, promising sleek designs, energy efficiency, and easy installation.

In 2020, Chinese giant Midea’s American subsidiary debuted a popular U-shaped window unit that keeps the noisy parts fully outside. We say “popular” because there’s literally a fan club, and because it’s on track to sell 1m units this year.

A breath of fresh air

Last year, Bill Gates’ clean tech fund led a $20m investment in AC startup Blue Frontier, whose salt-based solution produces up to 87% less emissions than traditional systems.

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Free Resource

30 practical follow-up email templates

Speaking from experience, emails can take up too much of the workday.

So, HubSpot eliminated the guesswork from a ton of potentially awkward communications, like reaching out after interviews, networking events, sales meetings, and more. Take this pack of pristine follow-up emails.

30 direct messages included:

  • Professional, customizable templates
  • For prospects, recruiters, colleagues, and more
  • Save time, but not at the cost of personal touch

Stash this wherever you keep useful things.

30 easy email templates →

Digits: Tens of millions still Skype — yes, Skype — and other newsy numbers

1) It may surprise you to learn that Skype was founded in 2003 — a full eight years before Zoom — and that it was acquired by eBay in 2005, then by Microsoft in 2011 for $8.5B. Oh, and that it still has 36m daily active users, albeit down from 40m in March 2020.

2) There are housing bubbles, and then there are bubble bubbles, except this one — the $640m US boba market  — won’t be popping anytime soon, per analysts: The industry is projected to be worth $2.2B by 2033.

3) Irish company CRH is paving the way for America. No, literally — the firm generated $10.2B in 2022 revenue across its Americas Road Solutions business, which produces asphalt to help pave the 2.8m miles of roads in the US (94% of which are made of asphalt). Our hope: they churn out even more asphalt to fill the 2.8m miles worth of ungodly potholes out there.

4) TikTok and Amazon are marching headfirst toward an ecommerce duel for the ages (i.e., millennials and Gen Zers). As Amazon dabbles with a TikTok-inspired feed of shoppable videos, TikTok is rapidly building out shopping capabilities across its platform. Gross merchandise value across TikTok Shop is forecast to reach $20B by year-end, up 4x YoY.

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🐒 On this day: In 1925, the infamous Scopes Monkey Trial began in Dayton, Tennessee, in which schoolteacher John Thomas Scopes stood trial for teaching evolution, then a violation of state law.

🐦 That’s cool: Check out the winners of the 2023 Audubon Photography Awards for some stunning birds.

🥒 That’s interesting: Crimes against sea cucumbers, tube-shaped animals that recycle waste, are on the rise in India and Sri Lanka. Here’s what that means.

🏠 Haha: This website features terrible photos from real estate listings.

🦁 Aww: And now, four little lion cubs.

AI meme

Sus. (Link)


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The Hustle TV hooded sweatshirt

You’re getting dangerously close to the most coveted item in Hustle-land: The Hustle Television Hooded Sweatshirt.

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

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