You're viewing an email archive of The Hustle newsletter. Join free to receive the 5-minute newsletter keeping 2M+ innovators in the loop.

📦 Amazon’s “frequently returned” items

Sign up for the free, 5-minute newsletter keeping 2M+ innovators in the loop with stories on business, tech, and the internet.

View Online

The Hustle

The touring Museum of Failure has landed in Brooklyn. Its collection of questionable products includes Google Glass, a Colgate lasagna, several terrible Oreo flavors, and Bic’s “for her” pens.

In today’s email:

  • Flying colors: A new paint could transform air travel — and everything else.
  • What old sitcoms reveal about America’s housing costs.
  • Diminishing returns: Amazon looks to limit sent-back items.
  • Around the Web: LinkedIn hacks, “20 Questions” vs. AI, a very expensive ticket, and more cool internet finds.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s podcast to hear Mark and Rob break down Amazon’s new return label, Pepsi’s new logo, the latest update at Twitter, and more.

The big idea

Earth’s deepest problems are being confronted on the surface

Watching paint gets a bad rap, but everything about this new paint is cool — in more ways than one.

A team at University of Central Florida has developed a potentially game-changing coating based on “structural” color, per Wired.

  • That is, the use of light diffraction — think peacock feathers and butterfly wings — rather than pigments, the current standard in paint.

The result: a durable, ultralight, non-heat-trapping colorant bringing huge climate-friendly possibilities.

If production can scale, usage may go sky-high

We’re in early days — the plasmonic paint is still expensive to produce and restricted to academia for now — but the applications are tantalizing if it reaches mass production.

The UCF team’s research lead, Debashis Chanda, identified airlines as an ideal partner. Currently, Boeing 747s require ~500 kg of paint; Chanda estimates ~1.3 kg of the new aluminum-based substance could get the job done, producing a fuel-saving ~1k-lb weight reduction.

By reflecting rather than absorbing infrared radiation, structural paint could also keep buildings and cars cooler: Experiments show surface temps ~20-30 degrees Fahrenheit lower compared to traditional pigment-based paints.

  • That kind of temperature differential could reduce reliance on energy-consuming HVAC systems and slash increasing utility costs.

There’s no one magic answer to living cooler

Material innovations like structural paint are just one piece of a much larger puzzle. Efforts to weather increasing temperatures include:

  • China turning Zhuhai into a “sponge city,” converting roads into cooler, permeable surfaces that can absorb and store water
  • Los Angeles experimenting with cool roofs, pavement coating, and more shade trees on its streets
  • Startup BioShade fighting urban heat islands with vertical hydroponic shade structures

One last thing: If UCF needs to test body paint soon, our summers are wide open.

View on site
eyeball wearing a hat

Chips Ahoy!, marking 60 years of cookie goodness, is hosting a sweepstakes with a boatload of prizes. The grand prize is an actual boatload: a trip aboard its cookie-branded party yacht. Shattering the illusion, the cruise will take place on water, not a sea of milk.


Meta-reverse: Disney reportedly cut its ~50-person, next-generation storytelling and consumer-experiences unit, responsible for building out the company’s metaverse strategy.

What’s your two cents? The WSJ found 43% of Americans now consider “money” a very important value, up from 31% in 1998. “Patriotism” declined from 70% to 38%; “having children” from 59% to 30%; and “religion” from 62% to 39%.

Alibaba’s six pack: The ~$250B Chinese tech giant is splitting into six business units in a move “designed to unlock shareholder value and foster market competitiveness.”

Ridesharing into the sunset: Lyft’s co-founders, CEO Logan Green and president John Zimmer, are stepping down. They’ll remain on the company’s board (alongside, we assume, a bunch of people who want to know if you need to charge your phone).

Drink it in: Take a look at Pepsi’s new rebrand, its first since 2008. Embracing black, the color of its Zero Sugar line, PepsiCo hopes revenue projections will do the same — its 8.7% YoY net increase last year was largely attributed to price increases.

Uhh: Starting April 15, only paid Twitter subscribers will appear in the “For You” tab. So… not people you follow or things that interest you? Twitter users probably won’t have any feelings about that.

Meanwhile, Platformer found that ~35 Twitter users — including LeBron James, MrBeast, Ben Shapiro, not us, President Joe Biden, and Marc Andreessen — are already getting a visibility boost.

Too much TikTok: Norwegian defense company Nammo said it can’t make ammo for Ukraine because a nearby TikTok data center is eating up the electricity. Nammo blamed “cat videos,” which really undercuts the many great dog videos that are also on the platform.

Mmm: Australian cultivated meat company Vow claims it brought back the woolly mammoth as a meatball. Experts say it’s probably not safe to eat extinct proteins.

C-suite secrets: Ever wonder how top-performing executives manage to get so much done in a day? Their executive assistants spilled on how they stay organized, productive, and ahead of the curve.

Carrie Bradshaw's declining purchasing power
Singdhi Sokpo

What old sitcoms reveal about America’s rising cost of housing

As millions of Americans stream “Sex and the City” and other old sitcoms, warm nostalgia has been accompanied by a cold dose of skepticism about the characters’ apartments and houses.

Were they paying far beyond their means, or are we judging with a 2020s perspective?

As it turns out, Carrie Bradshaw’s life on “Sex and the City” wasn’t quite as unrealistic as you might think.

Sure, there’s no way she could have afforded routine purchases of Manolo Blahnik shoes and designer dresses on her estimated ~$60k-$70k salary as a freelance New York City magazine columnist.

But her ability to afford her apartment, a West Village alcove studio, wasn’t so far-fetched in the late ‘90s.

For our latest feature, we analyzed the salaries and living situations of several famous sitcom characters over the past few decades as a lens on today’s housing market.

What we found is that not every sitcom was a fantasy. But with many young people priced out of cities, and average families unable to buy homes, it just feels that way today.

Read the full story. →
Free Resource

Leadership lessons from Dharmesh Shah

Around here, we call him Papa Bear. We sing it loud and proud.

You can’t do that. But you can peek at this How To Be a Leader ebook to see why he’s a legendary chief, and how he built a culture rooted in connection and trust.

A collection of articles by Dharmesh:

  • What we wish for beyond the paycheck
  • Nine qualities of truly confident people
  • Doubtliers: Dangers of chasing an anomaly
  • The true meaning of “lead by example”

Compiled by the HubSpot Marketing team.

Lessons for leaders (ebook) →
Buyer Be Aware
Amazon listing and review

Amazon labels its ‘frequently returned’ items

We’ve probably all made an online purchase only to receive something unexpected — like these people who accidentally bought doll-sized furniture off Amazon.

Luckily, Amazon makes most returns free and relatively easy for new, unused items within 30 days of delivery. Except they’re annoying for:

  • Customers who really don’t need an extra errand
  • Sellers, who must pay a fee for items that can’t be resold
  • Amazon, which has to process — and pay for — all those returns

It’s also not great for a low carbon footprint, considering the extra transit involved, plus whatever ends up in the landfill.

Buyer beware

To curb returns, Amazon recently added warning labels on “frequently returned” items, suggesting customers read product details and reviews first, per The Information. For example:

  • This ~$31 wrap dress has 50%+ positive reviews, but others mention poor-quality fabric and stitching and a slit too high for anyone who isn’t Angelina Jolie at the 2012 Oscars.

Reading measurements carefully when you can’t try something on is probably a good idea; a 2021 Statista survey found that apparel is by far the most returned retail category.

Another problem?

Amazon is flooded with bogus reviews, enough that Amazon sued the admins of 10k+ Facebook groups for allegedly soliciting them, and filed a claim against several fake review companies in February.

By encouraging buyers to read reviews carefully, versus trusting the star rating, it could nip some returns in the bud — and encourage sellers to be more transparent.

BTW: The Hustle’s own Zachary Crockett once spent two weird weeks investigating the fake review economy.

View on site

☎️ On this day: In 1929, President Herbert Hoover had a phone installed in the Oval Office, becoming the first president to do so.

💻 Watch and learn: HubSpot’s marketing squad broke down the best LinkedIn hacks to grow your profile in 2023.

🧐 Cure boredom: Play “20 Questions” with AI.

🎟 That’s interesting: The story of a basketball ticket that sold at auction for $468k and the man who’d held on to it for 37+ years.

🐒 Aww: And now, one hug, please.

work meme

Significantly harder than surviving in “The Last of Us.” (Link)


Help your friends aboard our growing pirate ship. Share The Hustle Daily to start winning loot.

all prizes

Share this custom referral link: {{contact.referral_url}}

Your referral count: {{contact.referral_count}}


Laptop lookin’ sparse? Water bottle lookin’… clear?

You’re only {{5-contact.referral_count}} referrals away from your first Hustle swag, Sam’s Stickers. Slap a few of these bad boys on the ol’ laptop and let everyone in the coffee shop know that you know. You know?

Spread the news. Help us grow 🌱

Share this custom referral link: {{contact.referral_url}}

Your referral count: {{contact.referral_count}}


Look at you, smarty pants. You’ve already shared The Hustle with {{contact.referral_count}} friends and enemies.

We’d love to take you out for drinks, but that involves some unsightly logistics. So here’s what we’ve got planned instead.

Get {{10-contact.referral_count}} more referrals and we’ll send you a tumbler stamped with The Hustle logo.

You’ll be sippin’ in style soon enough. Here’s your link.


Your referral count: {{contact.referral_count}}

Hustle hat

You’re only {{15-contact.referral_count}} referrals away from earning our signature dad hat meant for ladies, gents, and dads alike to show folks they’re in the club.

Spread the news. Help us grow 🌱

Share this custom referral link: {{contact.referral_url}}

Your referral count: {{contact.referral_count}}

The Hustle TV hooded sweatshirt

You’re getting dangerously close to the most coveted item in Hustle-land: The Hustle Television Hooded Sweatshirt.

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

Share this link with {{25 – contact.referral_count}} more of your friends to get the goods:



Damn, you’re on a roll.

You’ve got the tumbler. You’ve got the hat and hoodie to match. It’s time to beef up that collection, don’t you think?

Get {{35 – contact.referral_count}} more referrals and we’ll send you our cozy new swag bundle: The Hustle Hooded Long Sleeve and Island Design Tee. These relaxing tops would be great accessories for your next island trip (if you get that far *wink*).

Share this link to get the goods:



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 {{75 – contact.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.

Here’s that link you’ll need:



Well, well. Look who’s climbing the ladder. We’re so proud.

You seem like the kind of person who can work a network. So you’ve landed an opportunity to bag The Hustle’s grand prize.

Get {{1000 – contact.referral_count}} more referrals and you’ve got yourself a free $1,500 airline gift card to the destination of your choosing – plus a set of Tumi luggage for all your favorite things.

If you’re not sure where you wanna go… better start looking.

You’re just {{1000 – contact.referral_count}} referrals away.

Here’s that special link one more time:


How did you like today’s email?
Love It Meh Hate It
Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen and Juliet Bennett Rylah.
Editing by: Ben “No paint, no gain(t)” Berkley.

Was this email forwarded to you? Sign up here.

FB YT Insta Twitter
{{site_settings.company_name}}, {{site_settings.company_street_address_1}}, {{site_settings.company_city}}, {{site_settings.company_state}} 02141, US.
Never want to hear from us again? Break our hearts and unsubscribe.
The Hustle

Get the 5-minute roundup you’ll actually read in your inbox​

Business and tech news in 5 minutes or less​



How'd Bezos build a billion dollar empire?

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

Data shows where markets are headed.

And that’s why we built Trends — to show you up-and-coming market opportunities about to explode. Interested?