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💻 How to replace Excel

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July 26, 2021

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Olympics TV ratings have fallen to a 33-year low. There’s only one way to salvage the situation: make “Rock, Paper, Scissors” an official Olympic sport.

Today’s rundown:

  • Microsoft Excel: Replacing the popular spreadsheet program is hard. Why?
  • The Metaverse: Epic Games buys a marketplace for 3D goods.
  • The Zuck… spends $23m+ a year on personal security (a LOT more than Tim Cook).

Let’s get started!

The big idea

Corporations want to shake Microsoft Excel. It’s not so easy.

For years, finance chiefs across the nation have been trying to get their teams to replace Microsoft Excel.

In response, employees have essentially said: “Nah, we’re good.”

Things may be changing now…

… because remote work is making Excel’s weaknesses more obvious, per The Wall Street Journal. CFOs point to 3 key issues:

  • Teams are using Excel for tasks it isn’t suited for
  • Manual data entry in Excel is time-consuming
  • Remote work has caused more errors to go unnoticed (Note: data entry is much harder with Netflix in the background)

As a result, corporations are looking to platforms that automate data collection and analysis, including SAP, Oracle, Anaplan, and Workiva.

Getting rid of Excel brings its own set of challenges

Levi Strauss & Co., which is replacing some Excel tasks with a new AI tool, expects the transition to take 2 years, with the 1st changes going into effect in early 2022, per WSJ.

Beyond the time it takes to implement a new solution, there’s the learning curve for employees. Most finance professionals grew up on Excel, which was founded in 1985.

Excel is regarded as the world’s most popular “programming language” with ~750m global users (in comparison, there were only 10.7m Javascript users as of 2018).

And if that’s not enough, Excel’s dominance is growing…

… with Microsoft recently reporting monthly Excel usage is up ~30% YoY.

If the success of the Teams chat app has taught us anything, it’s the power of Microsoft Office. Not only is Excel embedded in user habits — it’s a pillar of the most prolific bundle in software history.

To replace Excel, finance chiefs have to be willing to fight the ultimate uphill battle.

SNIPPETS

Big Returns: Loop Returns, a company that handles tedious ecommerce returns, raised $65m. #ecommerce-retail

Supreme Sustainability: Inside the rise of plastic- and package-free stores. #clean-energy

Disinformation Technology: The business of promoting falsehoods is booming. #emerging-tech

Bezos-Coin: Amazon is making moves to integrate with cryptocurrencies. #fintech-cryptocurrency

About Face: Face ID is coming to the Mac within the next couple years. #big-tech

Faith on Facebook: Inside the company’s ‘prayers‘ feature, which is now available in US Facebook Groups. #big-tech

Emerging Tech

“Fortnite”… the start of something much bigger (Source: Epic Games)

Epic Games gets closer to the metaverse with Sketchfab acquisition

You may know Epic Games as the creator of “Fortnite” (and the initiator of a juicy lawsuit against Apple’s App Store).

But the company has a much larger ambition: to create a metaverse — a shared virtual space that tightly integrates with the real world.

To reach this goal, the $29B game maker…

… just acquired Sketchfab — a 3D marketplace with 3m+ 3D objects — for an unknown sum, per TechCrunch.

Here’s why that’s cool:

  • Backstory: Epic Games created its Unreal Engine in 1998 for the 1st-person shooter, “Unreal.” Since then, the game engine’s been used in 3D games like Epic’s “Fortnite,” plus AR, VR, and virtual productions, including TV shows “The Mandalorian” and “Westworld.”
  • The business model: Game developers can access the Unreal Engine for free on GitHub, and Epic doesn’t charge royalties until creators hit $1m in revenue.
  • Enter Sketchfab: Sketchfab is a platform for buying and selling 3D objects for use in 3D media — like this chameleon or this European street scene.

In Epic’s vision…

… the metaverse has its own economy where creators can make money. Jesse Damiani, who covers emerging technologies for Freethink, tells The Hustle that Sketchfab’s acquisition is the “logical next step” in accelerating Epic’s plans.

“Sketchfab plays the role in 3D that YouTube played for video,” he says. “Google took a bet that user-generated video would drive the next wave of content and they were right. Epic is making a similar bet in the coming wave of 3D.”

Meanwhile, we’re looking at metaverse real estate. What do you think about this haunted house?

(Read more: Mark Zuckerberg tells The Verge that the metaverse is the next computing platform and the future of Facebook.)

Free Resource

#WCW is hitting different these days

Get ya head out of the gutter.

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This is a movement to help you business-build better. Make the time to master 1 or 2 new essential skills.

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So learn new things next week. For you and the kids.

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By the numbers

“Natural” food colours for the win (Source: Lisa Wiltse / Getty Images)

Digits: $23m security details, a food coloring boom, and $60 jumbo crabs

1) Wholesale jumbo lump crab meat is selling for $60/lb (compared to $18-$22 normally). The reason: The Chesapeake Bay blue crab population dropped from 405m to 282m in 2021.

2) There are a lot of billings happening in Billings. The Montana city saw the average price of a single-family home jump 32% to $376k in June, compared to last year.

3) Plant-based meat alternatives are on a roll. Veggie beef sales hit $371m+ in the last year (up from $291m) and veggie chicken sales reached $272m (up from $231m).

4) Pokémon Go has made $1.4B worldwide so far this year — $300m more than it banked in 2016, the year it launched — despite the fact its user base is down significantly.

5) The market for natural food colors is forecast to hit $3.2B in 2027. Blue-green spirulina algae (which is also halal, kosher, vegan-friendly, and used in yogurts, ice creams, and gummies) is rising in popularity.

6) Mark Zuckerberg’s security detail cost $23.4m last year. Just $1.6m was spent on security for Jeff Bezos, and $470k was spent protecting Apple’s Tim Cook.

AROUND THE WEB

✍️ How to: This video explains how to draw yourself as a Peanuts character.

🐦 Wild news: Wild cockatoos in Australia figured out how to open garbage bins by copying each other, a move that shows they’re capable of social learning.

🏅Power of sport: With the 1st weekend of the Tokyo Olympics in the books, here’s a look back at 26 Olympic moments we’ll “never forget.”

🔑 Masterclass: Luxury giant LMVH just bought a 60% stake in leading streetwear brand Off-White, founded by Virgil Abloh. Abloh breaks down his process in a 2017 Harvard lecture.

🚀 Space jokes: Jeff Bezos went to space last week, which means there were a lot of memes. Popular Twitter account @ParikPatelCFA breaks down the best ones.

Meme of the day

Source: Quick Memes

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