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The Hustle

Got a hankering for some extremely old and kinda sad alcohol? Next week, unopened beer bottles dating back to 1936 will hit the auction block in England. The beer was brewed for Edward VIII’s coronation-that-wasn’t (he abdicated the throne), then got lost in a cellar for 75 years.

In today’s email:

  • Voice over? Generative AI has voice actors on edge.
  • No can do: Starry looks to hit Sprite where Sierra Mist missed.
  • Is your CEO all tuckered out? The headlines suggest yes.
  • Around the Web: A fun “space elevator,” a recipe generator for leftover ingredients, mean Clippy, and more internet finds.
The big idea

Could AI steal voice actors’ jobs?

Voice acting isn’t a bad gig. Actors can find work across ads, video games, animated series, podcasts, and more — and the pay’s not bad. The average voice artist earns ~$37/hr, per Backstage, and many can work remotely from home studios.

Unfortunately, voice acting is also a job under threat from AI.


… asking a computer to read something has resulted in narration that sounds exactly like you asked a computer to read something.

Yet new developments in generative AI have allowed bots to quickly pick up speech patterns and replicate realistic voices.

  • CNN reporter Donie O’Sullivan used AI to fool his parents, though they did suspect something was off.
  • This is not Morgan Freeman.

And Remie Michelle Clarke, an Irish voice artist whose clients include Microsoft and Mastercard, told The Washington Post that she discovered an AI voice model on that sounded just like her.

How Revoicer works

Subscribers can access hundreds of voices that can be made to say anything in various emotions and accents for as little as $27/mo.

Revoicer claims the process is simpler and faster than hiring a human — plus, companies don’t have to pay extra for updates or redos.

What can actors do about it?

Besides taking solace in the fact that many AI clips still sound stilted and unbelievable?

Not much… yet. While Universal Music Group got YouTube to scrub videos of AI-generated Eminem and Drake, voice actors typically don’t command the same celebrity.

There are also no copyright laws protecting voices from AI, and many contracts allow companies to reuse and sell voices.

Revoicer said it got Michelle Clarke’s voice via a licensing agreement with Microsoft — but agreed to remove it after WaPo reached out.

Plus side: AI voices are helping people who have difficulty speaking. Quips is a tool that allows ALS patients to record and “bank” their voice to create a synthetic voice for future use.

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eyeball wearing a hat

Icee Cereal is a real thing. Kellogg’s teamed up with the cool beverage brand on a cherry- and blue raspberry-flavored curiosity, engineered to simulate the mouth-cooling feel of sipping an Icee. Because who doesn’t love a little brain freeze for breakfast?


Looking to 1-Up the competition: It would seem Nintendo likes making money. The company is planning to follow up its latest $872m+ box office hit with further movies, says Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto, who teased that other Nintendo characters could soon hit the big screen.

Thanks a millions: Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai probably had a better 2022 than you did. The Google boss tallied $226m in total compensation last year — including his annual salary of $2m, $218m in equities, and ~$6m for personal security.

It’s a smaller world: Disney is cutting jobs this week, initiating a second round of layoffs to get closer to its 7k-role downsizing goal by summer. Hard-hit divisions of the business this time include ESPN and theme parks.

Battle of the ban: As US politicians continue to weigh TikTok’s future, a Wall Street Journal poll found 46% of Americans in support of a nationwide ban, with 35% opposed. Surprising nobody, 59% of older respondents (65+) want TikTok ousted, while 48% of the youngest demographic (18-34) oppose a ban.

Soul custody: A copyright violation trial kicked off yesterday pitting Ed Sheeran against the estate of Marvin Gaye’s writing partner. Thoughts go out to whoever pulled jury duty and will now hear Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud” and Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” over and over and over and over again all week.

Retail moves: The resurrected MoviePass will sell its subscription service at Walmart. Meanwhile, the Oura Ring is now available in 850+ Best Buy stores.

NFT scandal: Nathaniel Chastain, a former OpenSea employee accused of insider trading, headed to trial yesterday. It is the first such case involving NFTs.

Dialed up: Only two radio formats are on the rise in the US —  “classic hits” and “urban contemporary” — according to Inside Radio analysis. Classic hits stations most often play chart-toppers from the late 1960s to the early 2000s, while urban contemporary includes R&B and hip-hop.

Back in business: South Korea restored Japan’s preferential trade status, three years after tensions between the neighboring regional powers led to a mutual downgrading. Japan is expected to reciprocate soon.

LVMH has officially become the first European company to hit a $500B+ market value. Shares reached record levels on Monday following a 17% increase in Q1 sales.

Startup templates: To help you break the ice on kickstarting your own thing, use this all-in-one strategy kit to brainstorm, pitch, plan, and build.


The average home takes seven months to build, and 1.6m houses broke ground in 2021. That means a lot of time and money spent. But 3D-printing is here and it’s revolutionizing the construction industry. Read the full story.

breakdown of lemon-lime soda market
Singdhi Sokpo

Pepsi looks to chip away market share with Gen Z slang, and professional tongues

PepsiCo’s CEO speaks English, Spanish, French, German, Greek, and Catalan, but it’s his brand’s familiarity with Gen Z colloquialisms that may leave the competition ghosted.

At a time when soda consumption is declining — down 12% in the last decade — PepsiCo’s latest lemon-lime soda release promises to “hit different.”

Called Starry and launched in January, it’s an “optimistic” soda for an optimistic generation, so they say. (Not sure the data fully supports the Gen Z being optimists thing, but we’ll go with it.)

Fifth time’s the charm?

Following in the footsteps of Sierra Mist, Slice, Teem, and others, Starry is PepsiCo’s latest in a long line of lemon-lime liquids (say that 10x, fast).

PepsiCo’s goal here? To evaporate some of Sprite’s 73% market share, by entering the market with a pop — Starry is already the official soft drink of the NBA and WNBA.

The Coca-Cola Company’s Sprite has long been the lemon-lime king, holding a high Gen Z favorability rating and the endorsement of the King himself.

PepsiCo has a long way to go — yesterday, Coca-Cola reported global sales rose 5% in Q1 to $11B, beating expectations.

On PepsiCo’s snack front…

… It’s more of a “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” kind of situation. The owner of Cheetos, Doritos, Lay’s, Tostitos, and more, PepsiCo sees humanity eating potato chips so long as the sun rises.

To keep up with health trends, though, it’s now focused on making its unhealthy options a little less bad — by paying a team of highly trained operatives $20/hr to help taste test less salty and sugary snacks and drinks, per The Wall Street Journal.

Testers are reportedly not supposed to say “mmm” or “ugh,” but rather judge foods on flavor notes like “earthy,” “cardboardy,” and, um… “painty.”

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Mobbed Bosses
CEO working

Hey, CEOs… You good?

Done a wellness check on your CEO lately? Today may not be a bad time.

There’s been a rash of exec-in-hot-water stories lately, topped by the latest fall from grace — NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell was ousted for “inappropriate conduct” with a subordinate.

When an elite crowd holds both the welfare of our economy and millions of employees in their hands every day, it’s necessary to ask: Are they able to hold themselves together?

The headlines are making us less sure

  • Clearlink’s James Clarke is doing damage control after questioning his team’s effort â€” singling out mothers, in particular — and praising an employee who sold his dog to return to the office.
  • MillerKnoll’s Andi Owen apologized for telling her staff to “leave pity city” when they sought clarification about company bonuses — a controversy exacerbated by Owen’s ~$4m in 2022 bonuses.
  • Axel Springer SE’s Mathias Döpfner saw comments leak in which he assailed Muslims, said he’s “all for climate change,” and labeled all east Germans “disgusting.”

It doesn’t stop there. C-suite stress has poured out in more bizarre ways:

  • Goldman Sachs’ David Solomon is under fire for allegedly having employees manage his side hustle as an EDM DJ.
  • Beyond Meat exec Doug Ramsey bit a man’s nose a few months back. He was suspended, left the company, and just pleaded guilty.
  • And sure, it’s comparatively harmless, but Dodge’s Tim Kuniskis still has us worried, with his dreams about “weird, evil leprechauns.”

The strain isn’t new; the consequences are

Imagine simply getting out of bed in today’s world and not feeling at least some burnout. Then imagine running a multibillion-dollar company in that world. (Actually, no thanks. We’ll pass.)

A Harvard study puts CEOs at 62.5 on-the-job hours per week, but one must assume the stress never fully punches out. On top, social media adds further scrutiny, with every word and action (or inaction) a possible scandal-in-waiting.

The result for the executive class? A collective welfare that feels as tenuous as ever.

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☄️ On this day: In 1990, the Discovery space shuttle crew placed the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit. The bus-sized telescope orbits Earth once every 97 minutes.

🌍 That’s cool: Check out this space elevator.

🍛 Useful: This website provides recipes to use up all the leftover ingredients from your other recipes.

😲 Haha: A writing assistant just like Clippy, if Clippy were mean.

🐒 Aww: And now, look at how small this monkey is!

more work meme

Stop Avada Kedavra-ing my vibe, boss. (Link)


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