📚 $800m to do your homework


May 14, 2021

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The Hustle

A man who was paralyzed below the neck in 2007 is now able to write using his mind after Stanford researchers implanted microchips in his brain. When he imagines writing in a notebook with his hand, a computer converts his thoughts into text.

Go, science!

The big idea

How Chegg built a multibillion-dollar education tech platform

Meet one of the hottest names in education: Chegg, a platform where students tap experts for “24/7 homework help.”

Chegg’s textbook answering service is a student staple — but just one of many tools Chegg offers to help students cheat succeed.

Chegg said it’s expecting $790m-$800m in net revenue this year.

But it started small as a ‘Craigslist for students’

In October 2000, a group of Iowa State students launched Cheggpost, an internet version of a campus bulletin board.

The site struggled, but 2 Iowa MBAs took over after seeing that most traffic was from searches for used textbooks. In 2005, they rebranded as Chegg and shifted focus toward becoming a “Netflix” for textbooks.

In 2010, former Yahoo COO and Guitar Hero CEO Dan Rosensweig joined. After taking the company public in 2013, the new CEO led a broader shift away from textbooks.

In layman’s terms, Chegg went shopping

Rosensweig acquired more than a dozen companies to help turn Chegg into an all-you-can-eat buffet of student services, including:

  • Internships.com for $11m
  • StudyBlue, a flashcards platform, for ~$21m
  • Imagine Easy Solutions, the company behind EasyBib and BibMe, for $42m
  • Mathway, a math problem solver, for $100m

Basically, things students drool over.

Now, Chegg is getting good grades

In Chegg’s Q1 earnings report, the company announced:

  • Net revenue of $198.4m (+51% YoY)
  • A total of 4.8m Chegg Services subscribers (+64% YoY)
  • The addition of 6m new solutions to Chegg’s Q&A database
  • International subscribers accounted for 33% of new questions

Chegg still needs to solve for cheating

The company has been called a “superspreader” of cheating, and the problem has been exacerbated by the pandemic and at-home learning.

But Chegg is making strides. In January, it launched Honor Shield, a service where professors can pre-submit exam questions to prevent them from being answered during a test.

Sorry, students.

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SNIPPETS

NEW! Introducing our new and improved Snippets. You can now get extra snippets on your favorite topics. Follow the button below to get started.

  • Disney’s latest earnings were a disappointment, with Disney+ subscribers hitting 103.6m (below the estimated 109m).
  • People are traveling again, per Airbnb. In the homesharing platform’s latest earnings, 64.4m nights and experiences were booked in Q1 2021 (+39% from the previous quarter).
  • Amazon is aiming to hire 75k logistics workers, on top of the 500k new employees it added in 2020.
  • Coinbase is riding the crypto wave hard. Revenue hit $1.8B in Q1, 3x the previous quarter.
Big Tech
iphone being broken

Apple spends big bucks on making your iPhone screen hard to break

If you like to break stuff, enjoy this video of a man discovering it takes about 442 newtons of pressure to crack the iPhone 12’s “ceramic shield” screen.

On a related note: Apple just announced it’s kicking $45m from its $5B Advanced Manufacturing Fund (AMF) to Corning Inc., the company that makes the glass used in the iPhone, Apple Watch, and iPad.

Tough as… glass?

Apple has already given Corning $450m over 4 years to help develop Ceramic Shield, a glass-ceramic material that gets its toughness from tiny, embedded ceramic crystals.

Interestingly, all the company’s iPhone glass has been produced at Corning’s plant in Harrodsburg, Kentucky.

Corning is also well known for its Gorilla Glass, which is used in other smartphones, laptops, tablets, and watches.

The AMF was established in 2017

Here’s what else they’ve done with it:

  • Earlier this month, Apple announced a $410m award to II-VI, which makes the tech for the iPhone’s Face ID and Portrait mode.
  • Last May, Apple put $10m up our noses. Meaning, they gave it to Copan Diagnostics to help speed up production of sample collection kits for COVID-19 testing.

All of this new tech probably helps explain…

… why the average selling price of a new iPhone in the US is now $873, a company record.

As for the upgraded Ceramic Shield, we don’t care how strong it is — we’re still grabbing dozens of screen and case protectors for our phones.

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Ecommerce
Earrings

Some… interesting stuff (Source: Etsy)

Ecommerce platform Vinted is minted

Vinted is an online platform that allows ~45m users to buy and sell fashion accessories, home goods, and this probably haunted doll.

To keep the party going, TechCrunch reports that the Lithuania-based startup just raised $303m at a $4.5B valuation (a notable jump from its $1B price tag in 2019).

The pandemic has boosted…

… the circular economy (AKA buying and selling stuff you already own instead of shopping for new goods).

Why? Well, people spent a lot of time at home Marie Kondo-ing their closets or looking for new ways to bring in income, and there’s a lot of interest in finding sustainable ways to shop — like repurposing items or buying them secondhand.

Plus, as brick-and-mortar shops closed, online shopping exploded, resulting in a ~$175B boost in ecommerce revenue in 2020, according to Digital Commerce 360.

A number of similar platforms flourished in 2020

You’ve probably heard of these:

  • Etsy, the marketplace for artists and crafters to sell their wares, reported $10.3B worth of products sold, +107% YoY. Masks made up 4% of purchases last year.
  • Ebay’s US sales grew 22% in 2020, thanks in part to 11m new customers.
  • It’s not just sales platforms. After initially shutting down amid virus fears, Buy Nothing Facebook groups saw a big uptick with neighbors giving each other all sorts of things, free of charge.

That’s a lot of goods… none of which will be weirder than the Etsy find pictured above.

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Podcast

How Furqan Rydhan co-founded a $20B company

His secret? Coming into the office at noon and playing tons of FIFA (seriously). Furqan joins My First Million to break down his unconventional path in helping start gaming company AppLovin.

He also talks about what the next big wave of opportunities are:

  • Why we may all be wearing mind control hardware soon
  • The big opportunities in vertical farming
  • How he’s making money with decentralized finance
Listen to episode 180 here →
Food news of the day
food

Cookie dough will never not be good (Source: The Fascination)

One of the worst parts of being an adult is having to let go of childhood food favorites, usually for health reasons.

But in recent times, a bunch of health-conscious DTC brands are stepping in to fill the void. The Fascination rounded up some of the best “re-imagining” of childhood flavors:

  • Magic Spoon: a low-sugar, high-protein cereal alternative.
  • Chomps Jerky Sticks: beef sticks made with no fillers and ethically sourced ingredients.
  • Olipop Soda Tonics: classic soda flavors with <5 grams of sugar per serving and — sure, why not — 9 grams of fiber.
  • Immi: a low-carb, high-protein instant ramen alternative.
  • Deux Cookie Dough: a gluten-free, high-protein vegan cookie dough

We’re still waiting on that Dunkaroos replacement.

Shower Thoughts

  1. “Cats don’t understand static shock so they must think we have a mildly painful defense ability that we sometimes use on them for no reason.”
  2. “Graveyards are probably the least likely place to be haunted, because realistically none of the people buried died there.”
  3. “Glasses require your ears and your nose to do your eyes a favor.”
  4. “With the gas shortage going on, it’s gonna be embarrassing trying to fill up gas cans for your mower.”
  5. “If you remove all the numbers from a round wall clock then it would work just fine no matter which way up you hang it.”
  6. “Somebody could die next to you in the movie theatre and you wouldn’t realize for a couple hours.”
via Reddit
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Always be Hustlin' tee

You’re close to the most coveted item in Hustle-land: The Always Be Hustlin Tee.

The fabric? Luxurious. The cut? Relaxed, yet refined. The message? Indisputable.

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Hustle Hoodie

Damn, you’re on a roll. You’ve got the pint glass. You’ve got the hat. It’s time to complete your collection, don’t you think?

Get {50 – referral_count} more referrals and we’ll send you our favorite piece of Hustle swag: The Startup Sweatshirt. Slipping into this piece of fleece might just transport you to Silicon Valley (or maybe somewhere better, your pick).

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Hey, we see you. You’re out there spreading the gospel of The Hustle like it’s nobody’s business. Seems like you might be ready for a little more…

Get {100 – referral_count} more referrals and we’ll slide you a free subscription to Trends.

And no, this ain’t an ad. We just think you’re the kinda person who would thrive in our top-tier community (it’s usually $299) full of founders, investors, and builders (AKA ambitious, no B.S. business folks like you — and enjoy our premium research and content.

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Plane

If you love us so much why don’t you just marry us?

Get {1000 – referral_count} more referrals and we’ll fly you to The Hustle HQ in beautiful, downtown eastern Austin, Texas. Round-trip flight, 2 nights in a hotel downtown, and some wining and dining with The Hustle fam.

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