💳 Mastercard’s crypto play

The Hustle

The cost of white truffles is now hovering around $4k per pound, up from ~$1.2k in 2019. At one upscale restaurant in New York, that means Parmesan grits and a sunny side up egg with 5 grams of white truffle now goes for $275, up from $175 in years past.

Today’s rundown:

  • Crypto Boomers: Financial institutions, long wary, are helping crypto go mainstream.
  • Chart: California grows an absurd amount of produce.
  • Everytable: How they manage to sell healthy eats for less.
  • Around the Web: A site to calculate sleep schedules, how you’d sound on Mars, and more.

Let’s do it.

The Big Idea
bitcoin gif

Traditional financial institutions, long wary of crypto, are helping it go mainstream

Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen a few interesting updates in the cryptocurrency space:

  • ProShares, a financial services firm that offers a variety of exchange-traded products (and has $54B+ under management), launched the 1st exchange-traded fund* (ETF) based on bitcoin futures.
  • Mastercard announced a partnership with digital wallet app Bakkt that will let banks issue debit and credit cards that earn crypto rewards, per The Wall Street Journal.

Both efforts aim to make crypto more accessible

The ProShares ETF allows investors to get exposure to bitcoin without having to use crypto exchanges. Investors are already flocking to the concept:

  • The ETF brought in $550m on its 1st day, one of the largest 1st day totals on record for an ETF
  • A similar fund, Valkyrie Bitcoin Strategy ETF, launched 3 days later

The Mastercard partnership with Bakkt…

…could accelerate crypto adoption in a couple of ways:

  • Cards powered by Bakkt will allow customers to pay merchants with cryptocurrency by converting the crypto into a currency the merchant accepts and executing the transaction over Mastercard’s network.
  • The partnership will also allow banks to issue cards that offer crypto rewards rather than traditional points programs.

BlockFi, a popular cryptocurrency exchange and wallet, launched a credit card with bitcoin rewards earlier this year — but Mastercard, with 2.8B cards in circulation, could bring crypto rewards to a much wider audience.

Not everyone is jumping on the hype train

Earlier this month, Michael Burry — a hedge fund manager and subject of “The Big Short” who predicted the housing market collapse — wrote a now-deleted tweet asking how to short cryptocurrency.

Additionally, Nassim Taleb, author of The Black Swan, recently argued that bitcoin is a Ponzi scheme.

The crypto bulls claim these critics are blinded by their identification as “bears” and have underperformed the market for the past 13 years… ouch.


* Exchange-traded fund (ETF): A type of investment fund that trades on a stock exchange and gives investors exposure to a particular asset (e.g., indexes, sectors, commodities). For example, one of the most popular ETFs of all time is the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust, which mirrors the S&P 500, and gives investors exposure to the entire index.

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Just walk out: Tesco, a UK grocery chain, opened its 1st cashier-less store, proving Amazon’s not the only one working on the technology. #ecommerce-retail

Up in the air: Alaska Air partnered with ZeroAvia to develop a hydrogen-electric plane with a 500-mile range. #clean-energy

So many kisses: Austin Li Jiaqi, a live-streamer from China, sold $1.7B of lipstick in just 12 hours during a livestream shopping event. #emerging-tech

Invisibility cloak: Unlabeled, a textile brand, developed wearable technology that prevents AI from being able to detect humans. #privacy

Buzzword overload: Faze Clan, a popular esports gaming company, filed to go public through a $1B SPAC deal. #fintech-cryptocurrency

That was fast: Amazon, which delivered 0.2% of US packages in 2014, now delivers more packages than FedEx. #big-tech

California Agriculture

What happens to the nation’s food supply in the event of a California crisis?

It’s legitimately nuts just how much food grows in California.

The state’s $54B agriculture industry is responsible for ⅔ of US fruits and nuts and more than ⅓ of its veggies. Which begs the question: Is it a problem to have so many eggs in one basket?

With cracks in the food supply chain, and California’s persistent drought, farms are drying up while costs increase.

Federal and state governments are investing billions in infrastructure to combat this threat, but it’s sure to be a relevant subject for decades to come.

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12 startups with 5-10x stock grant potential

In 2016, Sam and Sara Parr created Sara’s List:

A dozen established tech startups positioned to absolutely skyrocket over the next 5 years. A job at one of them would result in a big pay day (she wisely chose Airbnb).

Well, it’s 2021 — so Sam and Shaan updated the list:

  • Zapier: the API connection king
  • Uniswap: the crypto project to believe in
  • Airtable: the shiny new spreadsheet player
  • Figma: the shiny new photoshopping platform

Watch the pod for 8 more.

See Sara’s List 2.0 →
Food Tech
Everytable meals

How Everytable sells healthy food for less

Like many food startups, Everytable wants to supply healthy meals at affordable prices.

But it’s unique in that it offers its fare at sliding scale prices.

Everytable sells pre-made meals like salads and bowls

Its customers are either subscribers (starting at $6/meal) or visitors to its 10 stores throughout LA County. It plans to open 30 additional stores in the Los Angeles area and 100 in New York over the next few years.

Store prices vary by location. For example, the Trap Kitchen Curry Chicken, a collab between Everytable and Compton’s Trap Kitchen, is $6.40 at some locations — including several near college campuses — but $8.35 in others.

In an interview with The New York Times, founder and CEO Sam Polk compared Everytable’s logistics to Amazon’s:

  • Meals are prepared and packaged in bulk off-site in large kitchens.
  • Company-owned trucks deliver them to stores and subscribers.
  • Stores are small and stock meals in refrigerated cases. If meals are best enjoyed warm, customers pop them in the microwave.

This cuts the average production cost to ~$3.25/meal, while not having a kitchen reduces costs by 75% per store. Since its founding in 2016, Everyable has raised $32m+.

BTW: If you haven’t heard of Trap Kitchen, it’s got a great origin story. Two men — both ex-members of rival gangs — started a backyard kitchen, then marketed it on Instagram to raving reviews.

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Potato milk, $700k/yr. EDM courses, and how to write an ad

Have you visited Trends this week?

If you haven’t, you’re missing out on:

  • A comprehensive guide on how one Trends member built an EDM music production course that currently generates ~$700k/yr. in revenue
  • “How to Write Ads That Convert” — a slide deck and guide from Bobby Durben (who wrote hundreds of ads for The Hustle)
  • How potato milk is set to disrupt the soon-to-be $54B alternative milk industry
  • And much more.

To read the full reports, try one week of Trends for just $1.

Get Access →

🚇 On this day: In 1904, NYC’s 1st subway opened. The Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT) went 9.1 miles through 28 stations from lower Manhattan to Harlem. The fare was a nickel.

🛌 Useful: Tell this website when you need to wake up, and it will calculate when you should go to sleep to avoid waking up in the middle of a sleep cycle, which could leave you feeling groggy.

👂 That’s interesting: NASA has a tool that lets you record a greeting, then hear how it would sound if you were on Mars.

🧺 How to: Black clothes can be flattering and professional, but they’re prone to fading. Here are some tricks for making them last.

🐺 Wild story: This extinct Japanese wolf may reveal where modern dogs came from. It was about the size of a border collie with short legs and little ears.

🏚️  That’s cool: Check out this collection of old haunted house attractions from the University of Sheffield’s National Fairground and Circus Archive.

Meme of the day
crypto meme

It’s true — crypto prices don’t sleep (Source: Bitcoin.com)

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