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💬 Who wants to be a sticker millionaire?

The Hustle

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Today’s rundown:

  • Sticker gold mine: How artists are making millions on stickers.
  • Netflix and bill: What’s the deal with Netflix’s new prices?
  • Jedi Blue: How Google and Facebook rigged the ad market.
  • Around the web: DIY karaoke, an index of brand colors, and more wild internet finds.

Let’s do it.

The big idea
digital sticker

Artists are making millions creating digital stickers

When you hear the word “sticker,” you might think of the gold stars that kindergarten teachers use to reward kids for a job well done.

On Line, which is the most popular messaging app in Japan, Taiwan, and Thailand, stickers are the basis for a thriving creator economy, per Rest of World.

What kind of stickers are we talking about?

Line is primarily used for messaging, and stickers are manga-style cartoons that offer users a way to express their personalities.

With a wider cast of characters than emojis, stickers give users a more dynamic and specific form of shorthand that taps into cultural trends.

Line launched in 2011 with its own stickers, but the sticker economy took off in 2014 when the company opened up its marketplace to creators.

Business is booming

In 2020 alone, Line pulled in $200m in sticker revenue, with 4m designers creating stickers on the platform.

The economics break down like so:

  • Stickers typically come in packs of 40 that cost $1 to $5
  • Apple or Android take a 30% fee on the purchase
  • The remaining 70% is split 50/50 between Line and the creator

Like any marketplace, Line’s sticker economy follows a power law — with the top 10 sticker creators making an average of $10m in total lifetime sales.

As sticker revenue has grown…

… the marketplace has become more saturated. Artists say the most popular characters are set in place, which makes it harder to break through.

For its part, Line has played both sides — hyping the sticker opportunity for creators, while admitting that helping new creators is one of its biggest challenges.

At this point, any new designer that can break through with a popular sticker truly deserves a gold star.

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Ford’s new partner: Ford signed a 5-year agreement with Stripe, which aims to boost the automaker’s ecommerce strategy. #ecommerce-retail

EVs take Europe: Groupe Renault, a French automaker, announced it would only make electric vehicles by 2030. #clean-energy

Exotec, which makes industrial warehouse robots, raised $335m at a $2B valuation, and says its robots can help solve supply chain issues. #emerging-tech

Starting in February, Spain will enforce restrictions on crypto influencers, who will be fined if they do not pre-notify authorities of their involvement, and disclose risks of investing in crypto. #fintech-crypto

Sneak peek: An insider report indicates that Apple’s AR/VR headset will be priced at $2k+. #big-tech

MFM: Shaan Puri talks about Solana millionaires and how many of them had their lives changed in less than a year. #mfm

Netflix prices

A bigger bill for Netflix and chill

Netflix is raising prices by a couple bucks for US and Canadian customers (again).

On a micro level, that might not sound like a lot. But big picture, it is.

  • US consumers are increasingly dropping dimes on streaming, now spending $55 per month, on average, with 4.5 subscriptions.
  • For Netflix, with ~75m US customers, $1.50 more per month equates to $1.35B in new annual revenue — without actually adding any new value for customers. It’s a great business model: more money, same work.

But Netflix is also fighting against higher production costs. Last year, the California Film Commission found covid protocols added 5% to the cost of film and TV production budgets.

This raises the question: For any streaming service, at what point do people ask, “Is this worth it?”

And to that, we say — remember the days when you paid $1.29 per song on iTunes?

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Jedi Blue
Facebook and Google apps

(Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

How Facebook and Google rigged ad markets

Google and Facebook are dominant in digital ads.

The internet giants — officially (but annoyingly) called Alphabet and Meta — receive 52%+ of digital ad spend, per eMarketer.

As if this duopoly position isn’t enough, court documents from a recent lawsuit show that the firms rigged ad markets.

What happened?

In December 2020, 14 state attorneys general sued Alphabet for “anticompetitive conduct” that took place in 2018.

According to Marketwatch, the scheme was called Jedi Blue and involved Google giving Facebook a boost by providing:

  • A “Google-managed” system to bid on and manage ads
  • Preferential rates on ads
  • The 1st “dibs” on prime ad placements

These details were previously known, but new unredacted evidence made a big reveal:

The CEOs of both companies knew

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai broke the 1st rule of collusion: Don’t leave a paper trail!

Why would Google help Facebook out?

The social network planned to expand into header bidding, a type of programmatic advertising that threatened Google’s ad exchange. So, Google made “overtures” to keep Facebook at bay.

The states are actually suing Google for a number of ad-rigging schemes. If regulators win one (or more) cases, the duopoly may be just a bit less dominant.

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10+ New Year market predictions, by Trends

The Hustle staff made some bold predictions for 2022. As is tradition.

11 red-hot takes from some of our finest:

  1. Trung (Twitter Clown): 50% of Americans will interact with crypto. Shook.
  2. Ethan (Trends Surfer): Vinyls, books, and mail are up. Next is xxxxxxxxx.
  3. Steph (Trends OG): Location. Based. Salaries. Take it to the bank (don’t).
  4. Sara (Daily Scribe): The mental health movement’s next step: xxxxxxxxxx.
  5. Sam (Founder Dude): BuzzFeed stock will tank. So will xxx, xxxx, xxxxxxx.

Whoops — we’re on a word count. What you think this is?

The Trends article fills in the blanks and rolls out all 11 predictions.

Join our vibrant community for access to 17k+ global professionals and the content arsenal that just keeps getting better.

Try Trends for $1 →

🕵️ On this day: In 1985, the Coen brothers released their 1st film, the neo-noir Blood Simple.

🕺 Useful: If you’ve ever wanted to make your own karaoke track, this website lets you remove specific instruments or vocals from songs. The 1st 10 minutes are free.

🎨 Cure boredom: Browse this giant list of brand colors, including Facebook’s blue and Airbnb’s specific shade of pink.

🍳 Wait, what: Drivers in Tennessee were surprised to see a 14.3k-pound cast iron skillet on the highway. The pan was headed to the forthcoming Lodge Cast Iron Museum.

✍️ How to: Google Keep doesn’t get as much credit as Google Docs, so here are 7 tips to get the most from this note-taking app.

🥰 Aww: And now, a prairie dog says hello.

Meme of the day
bumper stickers meme

The back of the car = the real sticker economy. (Source: Memebase)


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Hey, we see you. You’re out there spreading the gospel of The Hustle like it’s nobody’s business. Seems like you might be ready for a little more…

Get {75 – referral_count} more referrals and we’ll slide you a free subscription to Trends.

And no, this ain’t an ad. We just think you’re the kinda person who would thrive in our top-tier community (it’s usually $299) full of founders, investors, and builders (AKA ambitious, no B.S. business folks like you — and enjoy our premium research and content.

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dinner with Sam Parr

Well, well. Look who climbed the ladder. We’re so proud.

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Get {1000 – referral_count} more referrals and you’ve got yourself a meeting with Sam Parr, founder of The Hustle. You might recognize him from the My First Million podcast. He loves that you love his good ol’ newsletter, and wants to treat you.

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How'd Bezos build a billion dollar empire?

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