The Hustle

📱 The elderly love Mark Zuckerberg

The Hustle - Silicon Valley Tech News


April 9, 2021

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Facebook will now attach “satire” labels to stories coming from satire media properties. No word yet if The Hustle will be included in that classification!

The Big Idea

The state of social media, by the numbers

Findings from a new Pew Research Center survey on America’s social media use make 2 things clear:

  • Older folks have a thing for Mark Zuckerberg (50% of Americans 65+ are on Facebook)
  • America is obsessed with YouTube

The video site towers over the social platforms

Among US adults, 81% report using YouTube, up 8% year-over-year.

YouTube was the only platform other than Reddit that saw significant growth since 2019. (This is Pew’s first such survey that includes TikTok).

For comparison — close your ears, Zuck — 69% of adults reported using Facebook, whose growth in the US has been static since 2016.

Young people are online (obviously), but so are older folks

18-29 year-olds hold the title for highest percentage of users across Snapchat (65%), Instagram (71%), YouTube (95%), Twitter (42%), and TikTok (48%) — no surprise there.

Still, a respectable 50% of Americans in the 65+ age bracket report using Facebook and 49% use YouTube.

Demographic factors also play a role:

  • Pinterest is used by 46% of women but just 16% of men
  • Instagram is used by 52% of Hispanic Americans, 49% of Black Americans, and 35% of white Americans
  • WhatsApp is used by 46% of Hispanic Americans, but just 23% of Black Americans, and 16% of white Americans
  • LinkedIn is used by 51% of adults with bachelor’s or advanced degrees, but by only 10% of those with a high school diploma or less

Platforms that never quite caught on with those 65+ include Snapchat (2%), Twitter (7%), and TikTok (4%).

We, for one, would drop stacks to meet TikTok creators in the 65+ age bracket.

Snippets
  • Tiger unicorn: Gupshup — whose platform is used by 100k+ businesses to communicate with customers — raised $100m from Tiger Global Management at a $1.4B valuation.
  • Rolls-Royce sold 1,380 cars in Q1 — up 62% year-over-year — backed by demand for its ~3-ton SUV that starts at $335k. For reference, Toyota sold 78k+ Camrys in the same period.
  • ‘Uber for personal chefs’ startup Yhangry raised a $1.5m seed round. The London-based company says 70% of its customers have never had a private chef.
  • GameStop’s new chairman will be former Chewy CEO Ryan Cohen, the activist investor who has built up a 12.9% stake in the company. (The stock is up 835% this year).
  • Netflix’s spidey sense tingled: The company inked a $1B+ 5-year deal with Sony Pictures for rights and commitments to an undisclosed number of films, including future Spider-Man movies.
  • Bezos the grocer: Amazon plans to open 4 high-tech grocery stores on the East Coast — on top of the 11 already open across Southern California and Chicago — with plans for 28 more.
  • KKR will invest $500m into Box, the cloud storage firm that’s facing an activist campaign. The money may be used to buy out activist hedge fund Starboard.
  • Spidey Senses: Netflix inked a $1B deal with Sony to stream the studio’s films (e.g., Spiderman) after their theatrical release (starting in 2022).
Currency Wars

Inside China’s quiet plan to dethrone the dollar

Over the last few months, 100k+ people in China were airdropped cold hard cash… digitally.

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) is piloting a digital version of the country’s currency (Chinese yuan) that will circulate alongside its paper and coin counterparts.

It’s similar to other digital currencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum, except for one key difference: The digital yuan is issued by the Chinese government.

Centralized vs. decentralized

The Chinese government plans to tightly control the value of the digital yuan — something the PBOC has historically done with the paper yuan — making its proposed narrow price fluctuations something of an anomaly in crypto-land.

On the flip side, the digital yuan gives the Chinese government a shiny, new spying tool, allowing the government to see transaction flows, spot tax evaders, and even experiment with expiring cash.

But it’s also about taking down the dolla…

Ever since WWII, the US dollar has been the world standard for foreign exchange trades: 88% of all trades are backed by the dollar, according to a 2019 Bank for International Settlements survey. The yuan? Only 4.3%.

That exchange domination lets the US government see how dollars move between borders and allows it to freeze individuals or organizations out of global financial products — a move known as dollar weaponization.

Now, China plans to introduce a currency with all the benefits of being digital and backed by a government that loves price fixing.

It’s a recipe some economists worry could make Uncle Sam’s cash look shabby on a global stage. Cue DigiDollars?

***

(Also see this: Early Facebook investor and Palantir founder Peter Thiel believes that Bitcoin could potentially a financial weapon wielded by China against US Dollar hegemony)

Q&A

Geoffrey Woo (L) and Jake Paul (R)

YouTube megastar Jake Paul and serial entrepreneur Geoffrey Woo launch the Anti Fund

Celebrity investors are not a new thing.

Actor Ashton Kutcher — an early investor in Airbnb, Uber, and Robinhood — is a well-known example.

While Kutcher came from a traditional Hollywood background, a wave of new media stars have launched VC funds to capitalize on their massive audiences:

  • Animal Capital: Three prominent TikTokers with 60m+ combined followers raised $15m for a Gen Z-focused venture capital fund.
  • Jimmy Donaldson: AKA MrBeast — one of YouTube’s biggest stars (59m subscribers) — launched a $2m fund to invest in YouTube creators.
  • Anti Fund: Jake Paul (another leading YouTube star) partnered with tech founder Geoffrey Woo to launch the Anti Fund. Structured as a rolling fund, this type of investment vehicle allows investors to continuously raise money and from smaller check sizes.

The Hustle recently spoke with Paul and Woo to find out more about the movement of influencers-turned-investors:

Mobilizing a large audience

Paul has 20m+ YouTube subs and 7B+ views across his platforms.

The structure of a rolling fund — facilitated by AngelList — allows Paul and Woo to solicit investments from their accredited fans with a minimum commitment of $25k per quarter.

Fan participation on the investing side (and in support of Paul) can help startups gain traction.

Striking while the iron is hot

While Paul is only 24, he understands that the creator life won’t last forever.

“Celebrity has a shelf life,” he says. “I want to capitalize on it and build something for the long term.”

The fund is launching as Paul prepares for a much-hyped boxing match on April 17 with MMA-er Ben Askren, where Justin Bieber will also perform.

Focusing on their expertise

In addition to Paul’s long track record as a creator, Woo is a startup veteran with a consumer focus: Before funding nutrition firm HVMN, Woo sold a company to Groupon.

Noting that “YouTuber” is the next generation’s dream job, Woo says the team has the background to “move the businesses” created to service the ambitions of the next generation.

Specifically, Anti Fund will target investment in the consumer, creator, and ecommerce spaces.

(Read the full Q&A here)

Podcast

Here’s my breakdown of how Bradley Jacobs founded 5 billion dollar companies

Sam here. My friend Andrew Wilkinson and I did a breakdown of how two different billionaires built their companies. The guy I mentioned above (Bradley) created 5 different multi-billion dollar companies starting at the age 23. You likely have never heard of him, but he’s super interesting. And I broke down his formula.

🎧 Listen below:

Greatest investment of the day

Source: VCG / Getty Images

South African media and investment firm Naspers made what many consider to be the greatest tech investment ever. In 2001, it acquired a 46.5% stake in Chinese social media firm Tencent for $32m.

Today, Tencent is worth ~$900B and Naspers’ (since-diluted) stake is worth $221B.

On Wednesday, Naspers — through its spin-off Prosus that holds the Tencent stake — sold $14.6B worth of Tencent stock.

Even with that big sale, Naspers’ stake only declined from 30.9% to 28.9%.

Shower Thoughts

  1. The modern version of “measure twice, cut once” is “Google twice, post once”.
  2. The “Don’t Text and Drive” Signs That Are All Over Our Cities Will Never Be Seen By The People They’re Talking To.
  3. Newspaper cutouts are screenshots of the olden times.
  4. ‘Switching tabs on the phone or computer and forgetting why’ is the new ‘going to a different room and forgetting why’.
  5. A papercut could probably be viewed as a tree’s last act of rebellion against its executioners.
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