📰 Meta’s lobbying play, explained - The Hustle
The Hustle

📰 Meta’s lobbying play, explained

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In today’s email:

  • FB vs. TikTok: Meta’a new strategy to beat its biggest challenger.
  • Green eggs and glam: Business is booming for Dr. Seuss.
  • Bored Apes: How they’re turning NFTs into physical businesses.
  • Around the web: An alternative search engine, specialty dad jokes, and other interesting internet finds.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s 10-minute podcast to hear about Zuck’s sketchy plan to fight TikTok, how Apple TV+ became the new HBO, Waymo’s massive robotaxi update, the US’ obsession with sports betting, and more.

The big idea

Meta’s sketchy strategy to battle TikTok

It’s no secret TikTok scares the sh*t out of Zuck.

One way Meta’s tried to stifle TikTok’s rise is by doing exactly what it did to Snap — copying features (AKA Reels, Instagram’s far inferior TikTok clone). But if you think that’s dirty — just wait.

According to The Washington Post, Meta hired a political consulting firm to launch a calculated effort against TikTok through a range of media plays.

What kind of plays?

The firm, Targeted Victory, helped Meta work with PR groups nationwide to plant anti-TikTok campaigns in local news outlets.

The work included:

  • Highlighting TikTok as a threatening foreign-owned app that collects and shares data on American teens
  • Pushing stories tying TikTok to dangerous teen behavior, including the “devious licks” challenge, which encouraged teens to steal all kinds of wild objects from schools (further reading).
  • Spreading rumors of a “Slap a Teacher TikTok challenge,” which never actually existed on the platform and started on Facebook

The firm also spread positive messages about Meta’s properties, including stories about Facebook’s moves to support Black-owned businesses.

Meta is no stranger to lobbying

The firm spends $20m+ per year on federal lobbying efforts — more than all but 6 companies and industry groups.

Now, TikTok isn’t exactly an innocent victim. Former employees claim the company is tightly controlled by ByteDance, its Chinese parent company, which the Chinese government recently took an ownership stake in. Reports also highlight the use of TikTok influencers to push Chinese propaganda.

But with your average TikTok user spending 3x the time in the app each month compared to Instagram (~26 hours vs. 8 hours), it makes sense why Zuck is hell-bent on escaping to the metaverse.


New tiers: Sony combined its PS Now and PS Plus to launch a 3-tier gaming subscription service, with prices ranging from $59.99 to $119.99. #ecommerce-retail

Bitcoin battle: Ripple co-founder Chris Larsen provided $5m to Greenpeace USA and other environmental groups to run an ad campaign alerting the public of Bitcoin’s environmental impact. #clean-energy

Podz play: Spotify started testing a new podcast discovery feature, powered by Podz, which the company acquired last summer for $49.4m. #emerging-tech

Longer window: Robinhood added 4 hours to its trading day, allowing users to trade between 7am and 8pm EST. #fintech-crypto

Messenger moves: Meta added new shortcuts to Messenger that make the app more like Slack, including a shortcut that pings everyone and the ability to send silent replies. #big-tech

MFM: Sam and Shaan discuss why rich people are so cheap. #mfm

Green eggs and glam

Singdhi Sokpo

1 fish, 2 fish, red fish, 6.9m fish

After shelving 6 books containing racist content last year, Dr. Seuss Enterprises saw a period of growth nearly as sizable as the Cat in the Hat’s hat.

Though the firm, which manages the work of the late Theodor Seuss Geisel, has seen sales slow in 2022, Dr. Seuss is the top-selling US literary license by print sales.

It’s also been finding its way into the streaming sphere:

  • Netflix is making 5 animated Dr. Seuss series and specials for preschoolers.
  • Amazon is working on a Dr. Seuss baking competition series.

And hey, as long as no one forces us to watch the Cat in the Hat live action from 2003 (trailer here), we are fine with these developments.

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Bored Ape Businesses

Can NFTs translate to real business opportunities?

Owning a Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) NFT comes with a number of perks: verifiable digital clout, access to exclusive chats, and until recently, escalating price points.

But BAYC owners are trying to prove the NFTs are good for something else — building businesses in the physical world.


… promises that holders own exclusive licensing rights to their apes, including commercial rights. Multiple entrepreneurs are using those rights to build startups, and trying to show crypto skeptics the beauty of Web3 in the process:

  • Bored Breakfast Club is a coffee subscription service and NFT collection built in collaboration with BAYC owners. Buying one of the NFTs grants access to free ape-themed coffee drops. The group also plans to open a roastery in the future.
  • Bored & Hungry is an upcoming LA pop-up restaurant. Restaurateur Andy Nguyen spent $267k+ on a BAYC NFT to establish the brand’s theme.

Both projects…

… aim to prove how NFT owners can generate revenue streams beyond NFT sales and royalties.

If successful, they would go a long way in showing skeptics the utility of NFTs, and Web3 more broadly.

If not, at least we’ll always be able to say there was once a restaurant called “Bored & Hungry.”


🇫🇷 On this day: In 1889, Paris’ famous Eiffel Tower was completed after 2+ years of construction, which was considered extremely fast for the time and nature of the structure.

🔍 That’s cool: Though perhaps not as practical as Google, this search engine specializes in showing you smaller sites you might not otherwise find in our search engine-optimized world.

🏠 That’s interesting: An examination into how housing shortages lead to numerous other problems, including poor health, climate change, falling fertility rates, and economic inequality.

😮‍💨 Haha: These aren’t just dad jokes. These are dad jokes for developers.

🌌 Chill out: Float through gorgeous universes to beautiful music in this in-browser exploration game.

Meme of the day

This is Zuck’s “just got caught lobbying” face. (Source: Know Your Meme)

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