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Well, that was quite a week. We launched our new podcast, The Hustle Daily Show, and on Day 1 it became a top business news podcast. Now the real work begins…

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In today’s email:

  • Reality check: How Meta shed $200B in value overnight.
  • Black History Month: Why some brands’ efforts are misguided.
  • Maus: A school board banned it. Now it’s a bestseller.
  • Around the web: Dividing the dance floor, Lego investments, and more neat internet finds.

Let’s do it.

The big idea
Zuckerberg using VR

Why did Meta lose $200B+ in value?

The phrase “Big Tech” commonly refers to Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, and the artist formerly known as Facebook (Meta).

The moniker may have to change: Meta had its biggest one-day drop ever, falling 20%+ and losing $200B+ of market value.

What happened?

The sell-off came after Meta’s latest earnings report, per CNBC:

  • Slowing sales: Meta revenue hit $33.7B in the last quarter but its guidance for Q1 2022 ($27-$29B) was below expectations
  • The Apple effect: New changes to iPhone’s privacy policy will cost Facebook’s ad business an estimated $10B this year

Meanwhile, Facebook’s daily users — 1.93B — declined from the previous period with attention moving to other platforms, namely TikTok.

Can Meta come back?

Nikita Bier — a former Facebook exec whose startup was acquired by the social network — highlights the challenges in a viral Twitter post:

  • High-value users (e.g., US coastal) are leaving Facebook and going to TikTok
  • M&A options are off the table due to antitrust scrutiny
  • Founders are choosing not to work at Meta, which means it can’t build new products

Further, Meta’s big bet on the metaverse…

… will take 10 years to play out

Bier does say that Zuck is the “greatest operator” in the world. He’s also the only founder left running a Big Tech firm, putting him in the driver’s seat — with full control — to pivot the company.

In the meantime, though, Meta (worth ~$670B) may have to be downgraded from “Big Tech.” Why? All the other firms are worth at least $1.4T.

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High-end retail: Versace plans to open ~100 new stores, citing rising revenue and interest from younger shoppers. #ecommerce-retail

Pay gap: Clean energy jobs pay less and have fewer benefits in general than Big Oil, which could become a problem as sectors shift. #clean-energy

Robotics company Electric Sheep raised $21.5m to turn old lawnmowers into autonomous ones via an attachment. #emerging-tech

Oof: A hacker stole $300–$330m in crypto from Wormhole, a cryptocurrency network, which could make it the 4th-largest blockchain heist thus far. #privacy

Blockchain romance: A study indicates that singles are looking for partners with financial stability — and that includes owning digital currencies. #fintech-crypto

Netflix has a big 2022 planned with releases including a Jamie Foxx vampire film, a Guillermo del Toro Pinocchio adaptation, and the star-studded sequel to Knives Out. #big-tech

Cautionary Tale
Black History Month cartoon

Brands are botching Black History Month

Every year since 1926, the month of February has been dedicated to honoring the history of African Americans.

The tradition is observed by the US, while Canada, the UK, and Ireland celebrate Black history in their respective countries.

Naturally, brands have joined in on the celebration, but many efforts have proven misguided.

One cautionary tale

Bath & Body Works recently launched a collection featuring candles, lotions, and fragrances to celebrate Black History Month.

The brand has been skewered on social media, and has been accused of:

  • Capitalistic exploitation, for slapping African designs on products that already existed
  • Problematic products, like a watermelon-scented candle

Bath & Body Works plans to donate $500k to the National Urban League and the Columbus Urban League, showing its intentions aren’t totally nefarious.

One strategy that likely would have gone over better? Partnering with and promoting Black brands rather than attempting to release its own collection.

For more on how not to handle Black History Month, check out this tutorial on Instagram Reels.

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Banned Bestseller
Art Spiegelman’s Maus: A Survivor’s Tale book

A school board banned a book. Now everyone wants it

They say forbidden fruit tastes the sweetest — and that certainly appears to be the case for a Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel.

The backstory

Art Spiegelman’s Maus: A Survivor’s Tale is based on the author’s interviews with his father, a Polish Jew and Holocaust survivor.

All characters are depicted as animals: Jews are mice, for example, while Nazis are cats.

Despite the novel’s critical acclaim, a McMinn County, Tennessee, school board banned the novel from its 8th-grade curriculum over 8 curse words, a drawing of a naked mouse, and depictions of violence, per The Guardian.

But the people want what they can’t have

Interest in Maus has boomed, according to Google Trends, and the book has climbed to the top of Amazon’s bestseller list, per NPR.

Additionally, several comic bookstores have offered to donate free copies to McMinn County students, while a fundraiser to purchase the book for students across the US has already raised $105k+ at press time.

The ban also resulted in an apparent flurry of film and TV offers, but Spiegelman told The Hollywood Reporter he’s not interested in adaptations because “comics adhere to the brain better.”

Quote: “Read whatever they’re trying to keep out of your eyes and your brain, because that’s exactly what you need to know.” — Stephen King, the famous horror author whose books are frequently banned

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Keys to a $34m Kickstarter product launch

Our recent Trends deep dive on camera gear company Peak Design dissects how the maverick cleared $34m from 2011 to 2020 with no VC backing.

And just 1 product launch per year. Golly.

3 crowdfunded campaign bangers:

  • Capture camera clip (2011): The premiere was a small-time hit. Demand was so heavy, they had to get creative.
  • Everyday messenger bag (2015): Executed a $4m launch (465% YoY growth) by partnering with a photography influencer and driving strategic press coverage.
  • Travel tripod (2019): Raised $12m, sending Peak Design to legendary status. The year 9 rollout was on point.

We deliver details in the Trends article.

Join Trends for insights like this, market trends, and 17k new friends.

Get in here →

📈 On this day: In 2004, a little college social networking site called Facebook launched, attracting 1k users by the following day.

🕺 Haha: A data-driven approach to getting people on or off the dance floor by generation.

🖥️ Useful: Keppler is a tool for real-time code sharing, useful for lectures or presentations.

🎵 Cure boredom: We’ve shared online music composers before, but this one, well, it’s a little different.

💰 That’s interesting: A Russian study found that Lego sets may actually be a better long-term investment than stocks, bonds, or gold.

🐶 How to: If you’re into football, then please enjoy Super Bowl LVI on Feb. 13! If you’re not, here’s where to watch Puppy Bowl XVIII, hosted by Snoop Dogg and Martha Stewart.


(A roundup of our best reads from the last couple weeks…)

🚜 We went to Kansas to meet the people taking up offers on free land.

❤️‍🔥 Lonely Americans were swindled out of millions in romance scams.

👮 The business rationale that led to Spotify’s moderation scandal.

🌶️ McCormick is building a hot sauce empire.

🥽 Meta’s job board shows how it’s moving into the metaverse.

Shower Thoughts
  1. “You can tell how bad inflation has been over the years by how much money people steal in heist movies of their times.”  SOURCE
  2. “If you’re wearing noise-canceling headphones and someone has to wave at you to get your attention, you have gone from being voice-activated to being motion-activated.”  SOURCE
  3. “The person standing in front of you is technically the person standing the furthest behind you.”  SOURCE
  4. “Trees are the earth’s lungs and even look like the bronchus/bronchiole/trachea inside our lungs.”  SOURCE
  5. “If you stare at the sun long enough, you get a dog.”  SOURCE
via Reddit
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How'd Bezos build a billion dollar empire?

In 1994, Jeff Bezos discovered a shocking stat: Internet usage grew 2,300% per year.

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