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The Hustle

A government official in water-scarce central India ordered 2m+ liters of water drained from a reservoir. Why? To retrieve his phone, which was dropped mid-selfie. The phone, found days later, was so waterlogged it wouldn’t start, which yeah — we could’ve told him that 2m liters ago.

In today’s email:

  • Reddit: It’s never been easy to read. It’s about to get harder.
  • Strike out on Beyonce tix? Just drop $24m on a private concert.
  • Digits: Towns for sale, gambling down under, and more.
  • Around the Web: Talking to aliens, old-school Windows, a gardening gold mine, and more.

👇Listen: A preview of Apple’s new (virtual) reality.

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The Big Idea
Reddit logo

APIs — and what they have to do with Reddit — explained

If you spend as much time reading Reddit as I do (hello, fellow r/nosleep fans), you know the mobile app can be a little clunky.

Thus, many users have adopted third-party readers — e.g., Apollo, Replay, Infinity — but an API change may have them doomed.

What are APIs?

Application programming interfaces (APIs) let computer programs talk to each other, which makes it easier to develop and integrate third-party applications.


  • Using PayPal to make online purchases
  • Logging in to a website with your Facebook or Google account
  • Travel booking sites that pull data from multiple airlines or hotels

What’s this got to do with Reddit?

Recently, Reddit announced it will start charging for every time a third-party API sends it a request to retrieve information.

This has some developers sounding the alarm:

  • Apollo creator Christian Selig said his popular Reddit-browsing app made ~7B requests in May, which would now cost $1.7m/month — or an infeasible $20m/year.
  • Another top app, Reddit is Fun, said Reddit will now block ads on third-party apps, which accounts for most of RIF’s revenue.

If any of this sounds familiar, it’s likely because Twitter just pulled a similar move, asking $42k+/month for access to data used by researchers. (Twitter reversed course on charging traffic and public emergency accounts.)

Why would a website do this?

Some, like Facebook, have restricted access to curb cyberattacks or leaks.

And obviously, monetization. Reddit will also cash in on AI companies that scrape its posts for data and recoup the ad revenue it loses when people use apps to bypass ads.

Kotaku speculates Reddit also wants to lure people to its ad-free Reddit Premium.

  • Meanwhile, Reddit is preparing to IPO, but lead investor Fidelity recently cut its estimated stake by 41%, part of a wider trend among growth stage startups, per TechCrunch.

Reddit’s director of consumer and production communications Tim Rathschmidt told The Verge that it intends to keep working with third-party apps “to help them improve efficiency, which can significantly impact overall cost” — but how it’ll all shake out remains to be seen.

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Oreo’s weird flavor experiments are often misses. (Watermelon Oreos? No, thanks.) Yet the company is bringing back 2015’s cotton candy flavor due to intense customer demand.


Crisis averted: The deal to raise the US debt ceiling was signed into law on Saturday, ending the threat of a national default. But it’s not all bad news for fans of potential economic catastrophe — the deal expires in two years, so we’ll be back in the same precarious spot soon enough.

RIP, Cortana: Microsoft’s virtual assistant will be taken off support and will effectively perish later this year. She is survived by sisters Siri and Alexa. In lieu of flowers, Microsoft asks everyone to start using its new Copilot tool.

Sun beams: The California Institute of Technology wirelessly beamed solar power from space to Earth for the first time. The tech could be a big positive for renewable energy.

Volkswagen’s iconic bus is back as Buzz, an electric van scheduled to hit the North American market in 2024 for ~$40k.

Loyalty play: Amazon is chatting with wireless carriers about a possible deal that would give its US Prime subscribers wireless plans for $0-$10. Prime memberships are currently $139/year.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’s $120.5m domestic box office debut made it the second-biggest opening weekend of 2023, behind The Super Mario Bros. Movie.

Yikes: DuPont, Chemours, and Corteva agreed to pay $1B+ to settle allegations that they contaminated public US water systems with PFAS — AKA “forever chemicals.”


The field of AI has been growing at double speed. Check out some of the most innovative startups in this space, tackling challenges from coffee roasting to military surveillance.

Private equity
private show prices
Olivia Heller

Private concert costs will spin your head right round, right round

Why people spent thousands on VIP access to Coachella, we’ll never know. The real event of the season was Andrew’s bar mitzvah.

The teen’s Chicago-area celebration earlier this year boasted top musical talent, too — rapper Flo Rida was ferried in by private jet from (where else?) Florida to perform at the event, per The New Yorker.

The fees were not “Low”

Flo Rida charges $150k-$300k for private US gigs (fees approach $1m for overseas engagements).

He is but the tip of a fast-growing iceberg; for-hire performances are booming.

  • Top talent agency CAA’s private-events department is bustling — once booking 100-200 dates a year, they ballooned to ~600 events last year.

What changed?

The number of billionaires in America has tripled since 2000, widening the customer base willing to shell out obscene prices for one glorious night.

That cash infusion helped change musicians’ minds — private shows once seen as the territory of desperate, over-the-hill artists are now viewed by entrepreneurial stars as lucrative revenue sources.

Reports that Beyonce made $24m+ for an hourlong January set in Dubai likely didn’t hurt there.

Not everyone makes Beyonce-level bucks…

… but their hauls ain’t shabby. A private Bruno Mars show, for instance, starts at $4m, per Rolling Stone.

  • Artists taking private gigs include: Paul McCartney, Elton John, Sting, Andrea Bocelli, Jon Bon Jovi, Diana Ross, Black Eyed Peas, and Eric Clapton.
  • Bruce Springsteen, Taylor Swift, and AC/DC are known for being rare holdouts in the private-show trend.

But be careful who you sing for: Accepting private gigs isn’t without risk for artists. Jennifer Lopez once apologized for performing for Turkmenistan’s authoritarian leader. (For her trouble, JLo was paid $1m+ — for just a three-song set.)

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Free Resource

The beginner’s guide to email marketing

The thing about email is… everybody has it. And when you can tap in to the personal space of a human being’s inbox, opportunities get intimate.

So you best not miss. Swipe this textbook-classic intro to email marketing, which simplifies all the sensible stuff you need to know to get going.

Grow your reach via email:

  • Building your list
  • Segmenting your readers
  • Maintaining CAN-SPAM compliance
  • Automating unpleasant processes

Hope this helps you deliver.

Email marketing 101 →

Digits: Your chance to buy a town, and more newsy numbers

1) The mostly deserted, 10-acre West Texas town of Lobo is on the market for $100k, and a group of German fellas who bought it in 2001 for $20k recently heard from 70+ people about why they should be given the keys. Pitches included a kangaroo farm, nudist colony, and townwide escape room. We say: Why settle for one when you can have all three and create the most bizarre tourist attraction ever?

2) Warner Bros. Discovery proclaimed with maximum delight that a whopping 70% of HBO Max customers hopped on to the company’s shiny new Max streaming platform in its first week out, proving that practically forcing people to switch to your new app is truly a brilliant way of getting people to switch to your new app.

3) Ah, Australia — the land of kangaroos, Vegemite, and a strong desire to lose money. With a whopping 190k poker machines throughout the country, and 40% of Australians gambling weekly, it’s no wonder Aussie bettors are tossing away a cool $9.9B annually.

4) For anyone confused why barbecue has turned into a cash cow, here’s your answer: the price of ground beef is up over 20% since 2020. Part of the reason is drought conditions, which have impacted the price of feed and raised operating costs per cow to $698/year in 2022, up $100+ from 2021. All this has made profit margins on cows thinner than a strip of jerky — ~$12 per cow, down from ~$400 in 2015.

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🪙 On this day: In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt removed the US from the gold standard after requiring Americans to exchange their gold for cash. In 1974, President Gerald R. Ford signed a law allowing Americans to own gold bullion again.

👽 That’s cool:A Sign in Space” is an art project that asks participants to decode an alien message.

🎧 Podcast: With ~300m views on YouTube, Epic Gardening’s multimillion-dollar business dominates the gardening space.

🖲️ Cure boredom: A Windows 98 emulator for all your nostalgic needs. (Yes, you can play several “Doom” games on it.)

🥺 Aww: And now, just a little drama.

Our AI crystal ball
Elton John catsitting

Why stop at private concerts? For a few million extra, Elton John will probably watch your cat while you’re away. (Created with Midjourney)


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Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen and Juliet Bennett Rylah.
Editing by: Ben “Livin’ la vida Lobo” Berkley.

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