💰 The $1.4T Big Tech windfall - The Hustle
The Hustle

💰 The $1.4T Big Tech windfall

“There’s an app for that” is much more than a joke. According to Sensor Tower, nearly 1k app creators made their first $1m in 2021.

Today’s rundown:

  • Big Tech’s big year: Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta and Microsoft are on pace for combined sales of $1.4T this year.
  • Streaming wars: TikTok has a growing music business… which could be bad for Spotify.
  • League of Lawsuits: Riot Games agrees to pay $80m to women employees to settle a class-action lawsuit.
  • Around the web: How to become Spider-Man, figure out if a hot dog is a sandwich, and more internet things.

Let’s do it.

The Big Idea

Even in the face of antitrust scrutiny, Big Tech is on pace for sales of $1.4T in 2021

The moniker “Big Tech” refers to Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, and the artist formerly known as Facebook, Meta.

Collectively, these companies are facing anti-monopoly cases brought on by regulators around the world (i.e., Australia, EU, India, UK, US).

Despite the antitrust pressure…

… Big Tech is having a massive year, with the Fab 5 on pace for $1.4T (yes, trillion) in 2021 revenue, per MarketWatch.

More astonishingly, their cumulative profit since the start of the pandemic may reach $500B by year-end.

The pandemic forced the world to go digital

And Big Tech provided crucial services through cloud infrastructure, communication, ecommerce, and remote work tools. The 5 companies now make up 7 of the world’s most valuable firms:

  1. Apple $2.94T market cap
  2. Microsoft $2.56T
  3. Alphabet (Google) $1.94T
  4. Saudi Aramco — $1.89T
  5. Amazon $1.73T
  6. Tesla — $1.09T
  7. Meta $963B

Add it all up and the Big Tech firms make up 20%+ of the entire S&P 500.

Who was the biggest Big Tech winner?

From an investment perspective, it was Alphabet (GOOGL), which has returned ~70% this year. Here’s what drove the performance, per CNBC:

  • Search dominated: Alphabet’s core ad search business grew 43% YoY last quarter, which is wild when you consider that it’s already a massive $200B+/yr. business.
  • Android to the rescue: Apple’s iOS privacy changes hurt many digital ad firms (e.g., Meta, Snap, Pinterest), but Alphabet’s search business has been largely immune. Owning the Android mobile OS def helps.
  • YouTube on the rise: Alphabet’s video platform is now on a $28B+ annual revenue rate (putting it on par with Netflix).
  • Cloud growth: While smaller than Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services, Alphabet’s cloud infrastructure business is benefiting from the shift to remote work.

Looking forward, we have only one certain Big Tech prediction for 2022: Meta won’t change its name.


Be kind, rewind: A new DAO wants to raise $5m+ to buy Blockbuster and bring it back as a decentralized streaming platform. #ecommerce-retail

Reversing climate change: Wired explores a facility on an Icelandic lava plain that works to suck in air and trap the CO2 in rock. #clean-energy

Watch Peyton Manning try out M6 Sports’ VR quarterback simulator. M6 touts it as a way to help athletes train, including for college recruitment. #emerging-tech

Alphabet soup: TechCrunch has an explainer on the “.xyz” URL and why it’s now commonly used by Web3 companies. #fintech-crypto

Despite the rise of remote work, Meta (Facebook) is moving forward with its new 730k-square-foot office in New York. #big-tech

Now on MFM: A deep dive into Silk Road creator and black market kingpin Ross Ulbricht, plus the serial killer who got busted thanks to 23andMe. #mfm

Fun fact: If you steal property, you owe income tax on it unless you return it during the same year. (That’s how they got Al Capone.) #hustle-picks

2022 Rivalry

Watch out (Source: Mematic)

TikTok’s next victim could be Spotify. Here’s why

In November, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek told Bloomberg that “only the paranoid survive.”

Spotify is extremely popular. It has 381m users, some of whom are likely reading this right now. So why the paranoia?

Well, you see, Ek is smart. He’s seen Gen Z bow down to TikTok and stray away from the almighty Facebook and Instagram.

But what’s TikTok got on Spotify, a music platform?

The answer: Its own music platform.

It’s called Resso, and the strategy TikTok’s parent company ByteDance is using is a clever one. It focuses on 2 things:

  • Emerging markets: Resso was first launched in Brazil, Indonesia, and India, places Spotify must target if it wants to grow (which it does).
  • Gen Z: Resso’s main attraction is social features that let you interact with friends around your favorite tracks.

But what’s the real difference?

Look no further than the top 5 artists of 2021 on Spotify and TikTok to see the Gen Z gap.

  • Spotify: Bad Bunny, Taylor Swift, BTS, Drake, Justin Bieber
  • TikTok: Megan Thee Stallion, Doja Cat, Popp Hunna, Olivia Rodrigo, Cardi B

If you don’t know the TikTok artists, it’s because you’re old.

Today, 75% of US TikTok users find new artists on the app, and 63% discover new music on TikTok before any other platform. Reminder: TikTok has over 1B users worldwide.

Instead of finding a great artist on TikTok, then heading over to Spotify to listen, TikTok wants users to head over to its own Spotify, Resso.

Most of all, TikTok has the hearts of Gen Z, which, going into 2022, is arguably more powerful than a clever business strategy.

League of Lawsuits

Riot Games is the creator of League of Legends, a multiplayer online arena game that attracts 180m monthly players. (Source: Chris Delmas/AFP via Getty Images)

Riot Games agrees to $100m settlement in gender-discrimination lawsuit

“League of Legends” maker Riot Games has agreed to settle a gender-discrimination lawsuit for $100m, per The Guardian.

And here’s what’s really wild…

Any woman who worked at the LA-based video game company since November 2014 — which includes 2k+ employees and contractors — is eligible for a piece, per a statement from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).

The backstory

In August 2018, gaming site Kotaku published an extensive report on Riot, with sexism allegations including:

  • Lewd emails about female employees
  • Unwanted explicit images and comments
  • Passing women over for promotions or jobs in favor of less experienced men
  • Rejecting ideas presented by women, then embracing the same ideas when presented by men

In October 2018, the DFEH opened an investigation into the company.

A month later, ex-employees Melanie McCracken and Jes Negrón sued Riot Games, alleging gender-based discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and unequal pay.

Riot tried to settle for $10m…

… but the DFEH and California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) intervened, stating victims could be due $400m+ in back pay.

Now, assuming a judge agrees to the new settlement, Riot will pay $80m to the women and ~$20m toward legal fees. Plus:

  • One woman or member of an underrepresented community will sit on future hiring panels, per The Washington Post
  • A 3rd party, approved by Riot and DFEH, will oversee HR complaints for 3 years
  • Another 3rd party will analyze pay, assignments, and promotions for gender equity for 3 years

This all makes us pretty curious to see what will happen with Activision Blizzard, another California video game company facing a similar lawsuit.


Fitness hotels. Car parts. Dentist sensations.

After dinner with Olympians, Sam (The Hustle founder) has decided…

… he’s starting a resort where you can work out with professional athletes. Please tweet him with dangerous innovations.

The business ideas are aflow. The spice is original.

Listen to this episode of My First Million:

  • The podcast clips contest (0:00)
  • Straw Steel-man debating (11:24)
  • The fancy fitness hotel (31:53)
  • Why the creator economy is overhyped (49:14)
  • Dane Cook’s early growth hack (1:13:35)
Prolific insights →

📺 On this day: In 1949, Bridgeport, Connecticut’s KC2XAK became the 1st UHF TV station to operate daily.

🏺 Art: Explore ancient art and artifacts across history with the British Museum’s Museum of the World. Click on the colored circles to see a piece, then click to find out more if it interests you.

🕸 Wow: This guy used suction pads to make “Spider-Man wall climbers” that let him walk up walls.

🧑‍💼 How to: Check out these tips on how to prepare for and get the most out of one-on-ones with a supervisor.

🌭 Haha: Is a hot dog a sandwich? Is a Pop-Tart a ravioli? The Cube Rule seeks to end this debate once and for all.

📚 Useful: Alfread is an iOS app that helps you organize and read all the articles you’ve saved.

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