📦 Cardboard had a tough Q4 - The Hustle
The Hustle

📦 Cardboard had a tough Q4

Plus: A big day for earnings, our best videos, AI for replacing your ex, a rain simulator, and more.

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The Bugatti Chiron Profilee went for ~$10.7m at a Sotheby’s auction in Paris this week, making it the most valuable new car ever sold at auction.

In today’s email:

  • Houses: Are people buying them again?
  • Chart: Cardboard boxes and the economy.
  • YouTube and chill: Our best clips from the month.
  • Around the web: “Vaporware” origins, what’s new with emoji, a rain simulator, and more cool internet finds.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s 10-minute podcast to hear Zack and Mark discuss falling interest rates in the housing market, Q4 earnings for Big Tech, and new pressure for TikTok.

The big idea

Are people buying houses again?

If interest rates fall to 5.5%, the market may recover.
Mark Dent

America’s real estate market has been a horror movie for the past half-decade.

And now, another plot twist.

Oh great, WTF is going on?

Average interest rates fell to 6.09% this week, down from 6.95% in November, and the market is (sort of) starting to heat up, according to The New York Times

  • Sales of new homes rose 2.3% between November and December 2022.
  • But sales of existing homes fell 1.5%, marking the 11th straight monthly decline.

A Zillow economist told the NYT that while she expects continued interest rate declines to entice more buyers, home prices will likely see minimal decline.

Experts suggest an interest rate of 5.5% would be a Goldilocks range — comfortable for sellers and buyers.

So is that a happy ending?


Except, recession fears may spoil it. A bad economy would likely keep the housing market in limbo, so the real estate industry badly wants the economic “soft landing” the Fed is attempting.

As for renters: After huge nationwide increases, several major markets are seeing slight declines in monthly rents.


AI, replace my ex. Video and photo editing app Picsart made a tool for replacing subjects from old photos — like your ex — with items like, for instance, a red flag or a snake. “We’ve all been there,” Picsart wrote.


Stocks: Apple posted its first revenue decline since 2019, and Alphabet and Starbucks missed their major targets. Amazon beat its revenue projection but still experienced its slowest growth year in the company’s public history.

Liftoff? Amazon’s long-awaited drone delivery program launched in December, but by mid-January it reportedly delivered to fewer than 10 houses because of FAA restrictions.

Fan-cy schmancy: Sports merchandise giant Fanatics plans to leverage its internal database of 90m sports fans to serve up livestreamed shopping experiences.

TikTok chopping block: Sen. Michael Bennet wrote a letter to Tim Cook and Sundar Pichai demanding they “immediately” remove the app from their app stores, citing national security.

TodAI in AI: UBS said ChatGPT reached 100m monthly users in around two months — a record for consumer apps. Meanwhile, Netflix Japan, citing labor shortages, is using AI-generated art.

That’s cool: Microsoft Teams dropped premium features that include automated meeting recaps, so there’s even less reason to pay attention.

Tetris fans, say hello to Tetris, a new movie from Apple about Tetris, the game, which itself is looking forward to enjoying the film.

BiggerPockets released its 2023 State of Real Estate Investing report to help investors make 2023 a year of progress and profit.

Understanding people’s needs can teach you about potential buyers and lead to better product design. Here’s how to figure out what your customers truly need.

Olivia Heller

What cardboard can tell us about the economy

We can learn more from boxes than you might expect.
Jacob Cohen

Turns out that cardboard box you just body-slammed into a recycling bin also happens to be an interesting gauge of economic conditions.

During the pandemic, a pivot in consumer demand from services to goods helped push box prices some 55%.

Industry leaders adjusted production capacity to meet demand. Now, though, like boxes, the economy is lying flat, and less material appears to be needed.

According to reporting from FreightWaves:

  • In Q4, US box shipments dropped 8.4%, the worst dip since the Great Recession, and ~20% of US box production capacity was untouched, the most since Q1 2009.
  • At 4.3 weeks, supply of the packaging material containerboard was unusually high last quarter, and boxboard saw its lowest operating capacity on record, per the American Forest & Paper Association.

What’s happened?

In a recent call to investors, the Packaging Corporation of America said inflation, rising interest rates, a shift from goods back to services, and a cooler housing market have all dampened box demand.

Good news is, despite the slump, the Packaging Corporation of America expects shipments for Q1 2023 to be 6% higher than the same period in 2019.

Free Resource

How to launch a successful podcast

Forty-one percent of Americans listen to podcasts monthly.

Twenty-eight percent of Americans bump seven episodes per week on average.

Everyone and their mother is making a podcast, sure. But plenty of them are winging it, recording in kitchens with “ers” and “ums.”

Here’s a tactful blueprint to help you hit the streaming platforms running.

Included in the four Ps for successful podcasting (video):

  • Guide for planning, production, performance, and promotion
  • Software and microphone suggestions to improve sound quality
  • New machine learning apps for transcriptions and easy edits
  • The PASS method for performance excellence
  • Examples from Slack, Trader Joe’s, and more

Jamal makes a face at 10:12. We’d like you to see it.

Learn how to power a brand through podding.

Podcast production 101 →


In case you missed ‘em, we rounded up our greatest hits from YouTube in January. There’s something for everybody:

Sit back, relax, and binge away.


🌫️ On this day: In 1986, author Philip Elmer-DeWitt first used the term “vaporware,” referring to software that hasn’t been released despite being announced long before.

🌧️ Chill out: An adjustable rain simulator.

😀 That’s interesting: All about Emoji 15.1.

✏️ From our blog: Ever dreamed of opening a cozy neighborhood coffee shop? Same. Here’s how to make it happen.

🐹 Aww: And now, a hamster in a tube.

Shower Thoughts
  1. When you flip a coin and it lands on heads, it actually lands on tails.  SOURCE

  2. There’s a certain turning point where weighted blankets go from helping with anxiety to giving anxiety.  SOURCE

  3. One unforeseen aspect of becoming a parent is that suddenly you are open to a whole new genre of nightmares that involve losing your kid.  SOURCE

  4. It must really suck for young wizards from Scotland to have to travel to London and then back to Hogwarts, located in Scotland.  SOURCE

  5. A polka dot shirt is a striped shirt, but instead of running horizontally or vertically they run in the third dimension.  SOURCE

via Reddit
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