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💸 BNPL has a marketing problem

The Hustle

Amazon abandoned a social media campaign where it paid warehouse workers to tweet positive comments about the company. Why, you ask? The firm blamed poor reach and embarrassing backfires, but we found another reason: Workers were instructed to be both “blunt” and “polite” in their tweets, which honestly seems really hard in 280 characters.

Today’s rundown:

  • Mixed messaging: The dark side ofbuy now, pay later” apps.
  • Crypto winter: It’s getting chilly on the blockchain.
  • CNN+: The news institution is joining the streaming wars.
  • Around the web: Shazam for cheese, underwater photo winners, and more awesome internet finds.

Let’s do it.

The big idea
buy now pay later gif

The dark side of ‘buy now, pay later’

Ready for a fun stat? One out of 3 millennials say their biggest fear is credit card debt (more than death or going to war).

If that sounds like a business opportunity to you — you’re not wrong.

According to prof. G (AKA Scott Galloway), that fear has helped fuel monster growth in “buy now, pay later” (BNPL) services, with 75% of users in the US either millennials or Gen Z.

The ironic part?

BNPL is still a form of credit, which brings to light the questionable marketing practices used by key players — Affirm, Afterpay, and Klarna — to attract new customers.

For the unfamiliar, BNPL services allow consumers to purchase products in installments, typically paying 25% up front and the rest in 3-4 payments over a fixed time frame. Users that miss payments are typically charged either interest or late fees.

On the consumer side…

… BNPL companies highlight how the fixed payment structure is safer than using credit cards because users:

  • Pay a percentage of each purchase up front
  • Can’t roll over their balance and continue racking up debt
  • Get cut off if they miss multiple payments

But BNPLs offer a conflicting pitch to merchants. Namely, that their technology causes users to spend more than other shoppers:

  • Klarna touts its ability to boost average order value by 41%
  • Affirm claims it increases average order value by 85%
  • Afterpay cites a 17% increase in shopping cart volume and a 12% boost in sales

The result?

Many users are landing in the same place they feared with credit cards — in debt. Case in point:

  • In Australia, 15% of BNPL users had to take out a loan to pay off their purchases
  • One UK bank reported 10% of users who made BNPL payments overdrew their checking accounts in the same month

The lesson? Before you BNPL, make sure you have the funds to PL.

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Rihanna’s lingerie brand Savage X Fenty has opened its 1st store in Las Vegas. Next up: LA, Houston, Philly, and DC. #ecommerce-retail

Uh oh: A new report indicates that Shell’s carbon capture and storage (CCS) facility in Canada actually emits more greenhouse gases than it traps. #clean-energy

Meta-work? Arthur is a VR/AR platform for businesses. Essentially, it offers a virtual office for employees across the world to interact and collaborate. #emerging-tech

DazzleSpy is a new malware that infects Macs via malicious websites, letting hackers monitor and control them. Researchers say the devs must be very experienced. #privacy

Crypto initiative The Diem Association is reportedly looking to sell its assets. The Meta-backed project formerly known as Libra has faced challenges from regulators. #fintech-crypto

More good gaming news for Microsoft: “Halo Infinite” is now the franchise’s biggest launch of all time, attracting 20m+ players. #big-tech

Don’t cry(pto)
crypto losses

What’s happening with crypto?

Crypto prices have declined for months. At one point this week, bitcoin was 50% below its all-time high in November. So why is this happening?

It’s likely a combo of reasons:

  • We may be entering “crypto winter,” which wouldn’t be unheard of. The last one took place in 2018 when bitcoin plunged 80%.
  • Institutions: As large investors have taken crypto positions, prices are increasingly impacted by traditional markets (which are also down).
  • The Fed and regulators: Traders fear the potential for interest rate hikes and crypto regulations is high.

Side note: There are now 81.4k crypto wallets containing $1m+ in bitcoin, and 7.1k containing $10m+.

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Free Resource

Snag the all-in-one sales plan template

A lot of entrepreneurs and small- to mid-sized business professionals are cruising along with a busted sales blueprint.

That’s a bad look for good things — alignment, collaboration, scaling.

But getting everyone on the same page is a simple fix. One sweeping template can help your team start to move like a smooth machine.

The stacked sales plan template, by Aircall and HubSpot:

  • Company history and mission
  • Team structure
  • Target market
  • Softwares and tools
  • Marketing and prospecting strategy
  • Goals and action plans
  • Budgeting
  • Sales cadence (new, glorious add)

Take it. Break it. Bake it. Whatever. Every piece you need to tidy up is here, and we’re not looking.

You thief
New News
CNN+ on a tv screen

Can CNN make streaming work?

The ubiquitous news channel CNN has been on a bumpy ride.

In December, the network fired its top-rated news anchor, Chris Cuomo, who was caught up in a scandal involving his brother (and former New York Gov.) Andrew Cuomo.

More broadly, the cable news industry saw ~4m households drop subscriptions. Analysts call the decline the “post-Trump slump,” referring to declining news interest.

In March, CNN will launch its streaming service…

… and, naturally, it’s going to be called CNN+. Per The New York Times, the offering — which hasn’t announced pricing — will have 3 types of content:

  • Loyal viewers who want more Anderson Cooper, Fareed Zakaria and Jake Tapper (cool)
  • Younger groups that don’t pay for cable
  • Nonfiction geeks who want more documentaries and news

A successful streaming service can bolster CNN, which lags behind Fox and MSNBC in total viewers.

Bring on the star power

To make its launch a hit, CNN+ is shelling out huge bucks for stars, per NYT.

  • Instagram celeb Alison Roman will host a cooking show
  • Actress Eva Longoria will host a culinary travelogue
  • NPR host Audie Cornish will helm a weekly streaming show

CNN+ will not lack resources: Its parent company, WarnerMedia, is in the process of merging with content giant Discovery.

As Netflix’s recent stumbles show, people may be streamed out… no matter how much Anderson Cooper is on offer.

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🌏 On this day: In 1888, the National Geographic Society, founded to further geographic knowledge, signed a certificate of incorporation.

🧀 Haha: Shazam identifies music. Cheezam, built by data scientists at, identifies cheese.

🙅‍♀️ Useful: This website generates templates for saying no, including to meetings, investors, dates, and pushy people.

👨‍💻 How to: When it comes to meetings, less may be more. Here’s a guide to running a 15-minute meeting.

🍰 That’s cool: In Japan, vending machines will sell you cake in a can.

🐙 Wow: Check out these extraordinary images from the Ocean Art 2021 underwater photo competition.

Stat of the day
millenial worries

Millennials REALLY don’t want to go into credit card debt. (Source: Klarna)


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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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Data shows where markets are headed.

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