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The Hustle

A pair of Air Jordan 13s worn by Michael Jordan during the ’98 NBA Finals — his final year with the Chicago Bulls — auctioned for $2.2m, becoming the most valuable shoes ever sold. (At least until the game-worn sneakers from MJ’s iconic ’96 exhibition game against the Monstars hit the market.)

In today’s email:

  • Who hustled whom? A viral sensation, an AI bot, internet beef.
  • AI gold rush: A PhD in AI is an express pass to millionaire status.
  • Digits: Phenomenal “Phantom” profits, remote employees’ breakfast edge, and more.
  • Around the Web: A candy-wrapper museum, Midjourney insights, a games expo, and more internet finds.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s podcast for a quick-hitting news rundown to start your week, with numbers and tidbits on everything from Tax Day, to workday breakfasts, to Japan’s first casino.

The Big Idea
Robot lazer eyes
Zachary Crockett

What happened with HustleGPT

HustleGPT — no relation — seems to be a modern-day Icarus tale of a viral sensation, backlash, and internet drama.

On March 15, designer and self-described “AI soothsayer” Jackson Greathouse Fall announced an experiment. He’d told GPT-4, the follow-up to ChatGPT, that it was now HustleGPT, an “entrepreneurial AI.”

HustleGPT was asked to turn $100 into a profitable business — nothing illegal, no manual labor. Fall promised to update daily for 30 days.

On Day One…

… HustleGPT suggested an affiliate marketing site for sustainable products. Per Fall’s request, his AI business partner also:

  • Provided prompts for a DALL-E-2-generated logo
  • Designed a website
  • Created a blog post featuring real products and a Midjourney image
  • Instructed Fall to spend $40 on digital ads, in addition to the $8.16 spent on the site’s domain and $29 for hosting


… it suggested hiring a content writer who’d use ChatGPT to generate posts, and developing a SaaS product “targeting a niche market with a recurring subscription model.”

After four days, Fall claimed investors had plopped down ~$7.8k in investments, per Mashable something that probably wouldn’t have happened without the Twitter hype.

By March 22, Fall said the site had made $130 in revenue.

The fall of Fall

Fall shot to viral fame, but real life got in the way. Updates slowed, and on April 12, he tweeted that HustleGPT would take a back seat to his other work and encouraged fans to join a Discord server for updates.

  • Many followers got angry and accused him of grifting.
  • The website remains unfinished, with just that first blog post and “lorem ipsum” placeholders.

The beef

Dave Craige, a consultant, claimed he’d approached Fall about a HustleGPT Discord — from which he soon banned Fall for allegedly trying to disrupt the community and trying to undermine Craige’s reputation.

Now, there are two Discords: Craige’s “official” HustleGPT with ~5.2k members, and Fall’s Makeshift with ~3.5k, all hoping to produce the next hit AI-led startup.

What we’ve learned here:

  • People are excited about AI
  • But AI ideas often require human execution
  • Going viral seems terrible, actually
  • Even the bots cannot save humans from their drama
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eyeball wearing a hat

Perhaps you’ve heard of cannabis? This apparent wonder plant is doing big business. A new forecast shows US sales topping $33.5B this year — enough to outsell some other vices, including craft beer and chocolate.


Damn: There goes our “SVP of Astronaut Stuff at NASA” LinkedIn profile. The platform will integrate owner Microsoft’s digital ID-verification service, allowing employers to confirm employees’ credentials.

… in our last act as fake SVP: NASA unveiled the 3D-printed Mars habitat simulation built into one of its Houston warehouses. Four volunteers will live — and do Astronaut Stuff — inside the 1.7k-square-foot, red-sand-bedecked space for a year.

Beginner’s luck: Japan will get its first casino in an $8.2B complex in Osaka. It’s expected to open in 2029.

Racked with guilt: The rollbacker has become the rollbackee as Walmart sold off menswear brand Bonobos for $75m — a whopping $235m less than it paid for it in 2017. Bonobos will blend operations with fellow retailer Express in the deal.

Buck of Genesis: Sega is reportedly on the verge of buying Rovio Entertainment of Angry Birds fame in a blockbuster $1B gaming acquisition. If closed, the deal would give Sonic the Hedgehog some pissy-looking avian friends and forever change the business landscape of the boys’ T-shirt clearance rack at Target.

Apple says 100% of its batteries will be made with recycled cobalt by 2025. Only 25% of its cobalt usage last year was recycled… so, pretty ambitious here. But if anyone can do anything ever, it’s the company that came into the year with $51.35B in cash on hand.

Parler is temporarily offline. The social network, which hails itself as an “uncancelable free speech platform,” will eventually relaunch under its new, non-Ye ownership (an acquisition effort from the rapper formerly known as Kanye West recently fell flat).

Round and round: Whenever one social media platform has a popular differentiator, it’s only a matter of time until others follow suit. Case in point: Instagram rolled out new editing and discovery features for Reels this weekend that feel very TikTok-y.

Meanwhile, Montana approved a bill that would make it illegal to download TikTok. A TikTok spokesperson argued that preventing downloads in a single state would be nearly impossible.

Update: Tech consultant Nima Momeni has been charged with the murder of Cash App founder Bob Lee. A witness claims the pair argued about Momeni’s sister prior to Lee’s murder.

Data driven: This founder built AI-powered software that helps companies take informed steps toward their diversity goals.

Get a PhD in AI
Olivia Heller

It’s a pretty great time to get a PhD in AI

(Liberal arts grad students, maybe avert your eyes? This one’s gonna hurt a little.)

Every business under the sun, from Istanbul to Sticker Mule, is trying to get in on AI.

That’s good news for one group: the small number of AI experts holding advanced degrees in the field.

And when we say “good,” we mean really good. Like, $500k+-salaries-level good.

The talent wars are on

Top companies are making their presence felt at top universities. Per Insider, the corporate world is “ransacking” academia.

Headhunters are recruiting students so early — even undergrads are in demand right now — that enrollment is dipping for postgrad programs.

  • How many college kids you know would stay in school when their classmates are seeing part-time offers exceeding $350k?
  • That temptation can only be held in check for so long; computer science programs in North America annually produce ~15k master’s grads but just 1.9k PhD grads, according to Stanford’s AI Index.

Just 10 years ago, that elite class of AI PhD grads were evenly split between continuing in academia or working in the private sector. Today, with corporate enticements so grand, surveys show universities holding onto only ~25% of them.

This is just the beginning

If they weren’t already, every C-suite on the planet is having conversations about AI. Many will increase investments in the space.

  • Machine-learning talent collective Tribe AI told Insider demand for AI-related placements doubled from December to March.

More good news? While PhD programs are expensive, student debt only hurts so much when you can pay it off in two paychecks.

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Free Resource

How to make simple web forms that convert

Because once you’ve hooked someone with spankin’ copy and design, it’s time to bring ’em home… with the cozy little online form.

It seems easy on the surface, but there are many different structures and use cases to tinker with. That’s why we partnered up with Gravity Form to drop the ultimate guide to web forms.

The knowledge packed inside:

  • How to leverage forms to grow your business
  • Five top-converting web-form types (including lead generation, sales checkout, and customer satisfaction)
  • Form-building best practices
  • Form-building checklist

Close your eyes and spin clockwise and say “web-form workbook” really fast, five times. You’ve summoned it again.

Web-form workbook →
Amazon CEO paycut and more

Digits: Amazon’s CEO takes a pay cut (kinda not really) and more newsy numbers

1) In this labyrinth where night is blind, the “Phantom of the Opera” ledger will blow your freakin’ mind. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom” ended its record-setting 35-year run on Broadway, but not before grossing $1.3B+ in NYC alone (its touring productions worldwide were separate cash cows). An uneven covid recovery thinned the margins for some Broadway shows. For “Phantom,” increased operating costs of $950k/week were unsustainable.

2) It’s hard to complain about a $1.3m compensation package — unless you’re Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, one year removed from a $212.7m haul. As jarring as the drop may seem, this is all according to plan, per Insider. In 2021, Jassy received ~$212m in stock awards, which will vest over 10 years and drive a bulk of his comp over that time. With no further stock in 2022, Backup Bezos was left with his measly $317.5k base salary and $981k in 401(k) contributions and security costs.

3) What’s eating at in-office employees? Not just their commute, but also a lack of, you know, actual eating. Decision intelligence company Morning Consult found 63% of remote workers eat breakfast daily, compared to a 53% morning nosh rate for in-person workers, many of whom eat “on the go.” A further flex from the at-home crowd: lunch. They visit restaurants midday slightly more than their commuting comrades (14% to 11%, respectively).

4) You might feel like you’ve been living in a cave, but Spanish athlete Beatriz Flamini just came out of hers on Friday after 500 days. Flamini was part of an experiment studying how humans fare underground. Flamini — who was ~230 feet below — mostly read, exercised, and knit. “In fact, I didn’t want to come out,” she said.

5) Tomorrow is Tax Day in the US. You may want to grumble, but at least you can take solace in not being a Swedish bitcoin miner? The Nordic nation will abolish tax incentives for data centers this summer, amounting to a “prohibitively expensive” 6,000% tax increase per kilowatt hour of energy. The bitcoin-mining sector, drawn in by massive 2017 tax cuts, hasn’t fueled the job growth Sweden was seeking, and now it may be curtains.

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🚗 On this day: In 1964, the Ford Mustang debuted at the World’s Fair in New York and across US showrooms and became an immediate hit. In its first year of production, 400k+ were sold.

🍬 That’s interesting: Darlene Lacey has been collecting candy wrappers since she was 15. Today, you can browse her treasures via her online museum.

🎧 Podcast: Learn how Midjourney is changing the game for image AI on this episode of Marketing Against the Grain.

🕹️ Opportunity: The OKT Games Expo is taking applications from studios who’d like their game to be featured during its livestream expo in June.

🐕 Aww: OK, this is impressive.

hustle tweet three hours later

Let’s be realistic and skip right ahead to adding another five hours on top of that. (Link)


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Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen and Juliet Bennett Rylah.
Editing by: Ben “Casually looks around then sneak-updates resume from ‘BA Sociology’ to ‘PhD AI” Berkley.

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