📱 Vaccinated? Just check the app


January 26, 2021

PLUS: GameStop LOL.

{date(‘MMMM dd, yyyy’,time(“now”))}
The Hustle
TOGETHER WITH
Route

ICQ — the popular 1990s-era messaging service — saw downloads jump 35x following WhatsApp’s recent privacy debacle. Its “uh oh” notification sound is in the internet hall-of-fame.

The Big Idea
vaccinated people

Vaccine passports are a mess. Can Big Tech clean them up?

Nearly 150 years after the CDC gave students proof-of-vaccination cards to return to school in a smallpox outbreak, we’re using the same playbook.

Around the globe, teams are working on COVID-19 vaccine verification programs so we can go back to all the crowded spaces we so dearly miss.

Problem is, there’s no common standard for developers to use when designing “COVID passports.”

So governments are taking matters into their own hands…

… by introducing certifications of all kinds in cities and countries around the world:

  • LA County’s vaccinated residents get physical CDC cards as well as digital cards for mobile wallets
  • People in China use a symptom-checking app to access hotels and subways
  • The European Union is looking at a vaccine certification plan

These programs are a nice start, but the lack of global coordination makes the efforts a far cry from universally accessible applications we could expect to use at airport check-ins.

Cue: Big Tech

With governments failing to collab, Microsoft, Oracle, and Salesforce teamed up with healthcare giants Mayo Clinic and Epic, among others, to build a passport dream team.

The team is working to establish universal standards for verifying, securing, and providing individuals access to vaccination records.

They’re not alone in the space: IBM, The Commons Project, the COVID-19 Credentials Initiative, and the International Air Transport Association are all working on similar systems.

These groups are facing no shortage of challenges

Rapidly building and scaling a global health care platform is cause for concern among privacy hawks.

Some also worry requiring the digital passports can be discriminatory toward those who can’t access the vaccines and to some elderly and homeless populations.

Yet the biggest hurdles are logistical. Anyone trying to take a healthcare platform global faces language barriers, database overload, and privacy laws up the wazoo.

For now, as with anything COVID-related, let’s just wait and see what happens tomorrow.

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Send as email to a friend View on our website
Snippets
  • Janet Yellen is the first woman to become US Treasury Secretary after the Senate confirmed her nomination.
  • AMC gets a lifeline: The world’s largest — and most comfortable — theater chain saw shares leap 26% on Monday following news it secured $917m in much-needed financing.
  • ByteDance competish: Kuaishou Technology — a popular Chinese video app — is eyeing a $60B valuation as it nears an IPO. Kuaishou’s main app has 481m monthly active users with an average daily time spent of 100+ minutes.
  • Michael Scott x “Stone Cold” Steve Austin? The WWE is going exclusive on NBC’s streaming service Peacock following a $1B+ deal. (Read our story on how The Office anchors Peacock).
  • Google employees launched their first union a few weeks ago and are now back again… with an international union sporting a pretty sweet name: Alpha Global.
  • Amazon’s logistics business has partnered with 130 companies for its Amazon Freight Program, which currently leases out 1.1k+ Amazon-branded tractors. (We previously wrote about Amazon’s logistics ambitions here.)
  • Team effort: Twitter launched Birdwatch, a product that taps the community to fight misinformation. Users on the service (which is still in pilot) can flag and add notes to tweets they believe are misleading.
  • Taboola — makers of the advertising “chum box” (e.g., “You won’t believe what these 6 celebrities look liked in high school”) — will go public via a SPAC. We’ll have more on its business model tomorrow!
Beeper ad

Chat apps currently available on Beeper (Source: Beeper)

With Beeper, you can put all your chat apps in one place… even iMessage

Do you remember Pebble?

It’s the smartwatch that raised $20m+ from Kickstarter but got eviscerated when Apple Watch started picking up steam.

Well, Pebble’s founder Eric Migicovsky just launched Beeper, a universal chat app that can link up to 15 chat platforms including WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram, and Slack, according to The Verge.

And its killer feature is a workaround Apple’s walled garden

Among messaging platforms, Apple’s iMessage (1.3B users) trails only Facebook-owned WhatsApp (2B users) and Messenger (~1.8B).

The only (and huge) catch with iMessage is you need Apple products to make it work. So, if you don’t have one, Beeper is sending users a “Jailbroken iPhone with the Beeper app installed.”

This crude hack probably accounts for Beeper’s monthly $10 subscription cost, per The Verge.

With the hack…

… Beeper can integrate chats across MacOS, Windows, Linux, iOS, and Android. The whole product is being built on Matrix, an open-source communication protocol that Migicovsky wants to become a standard.

Right now, there’s a waitlist to join Beeper.

If Migicovsky can pull it off — particularly with the Apple jiujitsu — that might be a small slice of karmic revenge for Pebble’s fate… but will it have ICQ?

SPONSORED

Work at an ecomm biz like Away or Hint? Try a 10-min demo of Route and get $100

A fat Benjamin and hands-on experience with a tool that can completely change the post-purchase experience and create more loyal customers?

This kind of deal doesn’t happen often — so when it does, take advantage before your competition beats you to it.

Book your $100 demo of Route right here.

Route completely revamps the post-purchase experience

Their free tool boosts net profits (+11.4%), ups customer engagement (+126%), and reduces “where’s my order?!?” inquiries (-45%).

Here’s how they do it:

  • Visual Tracking™ allows shoppers to keep eyes on their orders as they progress through the delivery process
  • Amazon Prime-like support lets customers resolve issues fast
  • Real-time delivery notifications mean you can beat porch pirates to the punch

63,000 online retailers in 193 different countries are already using Route technology — if your ecomm biz isn’t, you’re falling behind.

Schedule your demo right here:

Trade 10 minutes for $100 →
Stonks
GameStop stock

Inspired by the legendary Bloomberg Businessweek magazine cover…

GameStop’s Reddit-fueled rally, explained

If you’re stonking, GameStop ($GME) has been an unmissable sight in recent months.

The video game retailer — which has seen its stock rise more than 20x since March lows — is currently an epic battleground stock, pitting Reddit day traders vs. legacy hedge funds.

Bloomberg has a fantastic rundown:

  1. $GME was first pitched as an investment on r/WallStreetBets about 2 years ago, but the current craze built up over the past 12 months.
  2. Members on the subreddit r/WallStreetBets believed that GameStop, with 5k+ brick ‘n’ mortar locations, could turn around its fortunes by going digital.
  3. On Aug. 31, 2020, Ryan Cohen — the billionaire founder of pet company Chewy — bought up a big position in $GME (he now owns 10%+ of it) with plans to modernize the company.
  4. In the months since, a number of prominent hedge funds (Citron, Melvin Capital) revealed they were betting against (AKA short selling) $GME.
  5. Typically in short selling, you: 1) borrow a stock; 2) sell it to a buyer; and 3) if the price of the stock falls, you can buy it for a cheaper price you sold it at and return the stock to the person who lent it to you.
  6. One risk of short selling is called a “short squeeze.” Since you have to eventually return the stock you borrowed, problems can arise if there is a limited supply of the stock.
  7. In a “short squeeze,” the underlying stock will get bid up as short sellers try to get their hands on stock that they have to return.
  8. Options trading — the right, but not obligation, to buy a stock at a certain price — is also driving $GME up as institutions that sell these options are buying $GME stock to hedge their position.
  9. $GME stock is on an upward tear as these market mechanics play out and r/WallStreetBets traders coordinate their efforts.

Over the past 2 trading days, $GME is up +79%. We have no idea how this will play out, but do know which subreddit will have updates.

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Send as email to a friend View on our website
Jimmy Fallon

”Dear The Hustle… ” (Source: Giphy)

The Hustle: Ask Us Anything

We do a lot of talking at you, but not enough talking to you. We’d like to change that.

Got a question about your business, your side hustle, or even your love life (OK, maybe not that)? Ask us here, and next week we’ll share our thoughts “Dear Abby”-style in the Daily.

Yours Truly,

Us

SPONSORED
Start your trial →
Short squeeze of the day
Volkswagen stock

German stonks! (Source: Financial Times)

The day Volkswagen became the world’s most valuable firm. While the GameStop story is truly bonkers, one of the craziest short squeeze stories took place in October 2008, during the great financial crisis.

Starting in 2005, Porsche quietly built up an ownership position in Volkswagen for an eventual takeover attempt.

Porsche’s efforts led to a big divergence in the price of Volkswagen’s ordinary and preferred shares, with the former soaring even as the global economy was crashing.

Investors shorted the clearly overpriced ordinary shares but got caught in a short squeeze that sent Volkswagen’s stock skyrocketing.

On Oct. 28, 2008, Volkswagen’s market value hit $420B, briefly making it the world’s most valuable firm (larger than Microsoft and Exxon).

It literally lasted one day, but what a glorious day it was — or as they say in Germany, “Herrlicher Tag.

TRENDS

Last month, we covered an opportunity that has grown by magnitudes as the world has shifted towards remote work:

Slack apps.

Last year, the number of apps built on top of Slack increased 34%.

Slack itself invested $296.4M in companies building Slack apps in 2020 alone.

99% of remote workers surveyed want to continue telecommuting at least part of the time, so this opportunity isn’t going away any time soon.

And here’s the best part –

There are still endless opportunities to build problem-solving Slack apps in nearly every niche and vertical.

So, our analysts did what they always do, and identified the biggest opportunities that you can get started on immediately in one of our latest Signal pieces.

When you read through, you’ll learn:

  • Which niche generated a ~2,500% increase in online interest, and how you can capitalize
  • The $300B problem that surveyed businesses are willing to pay 9-figures/yr to solve
  • The area still missing Slack solutions that 70% of companies want to invest in
  • And much more.

If you’re not already a member of Trends, sign up today for a $1 trial to get access to the full newsletter.

Get Access →

SHARE THE HUSTLE
Hustle Cons Greatest Hits ebook

Over the years, we’ve learned… secrets.

The business secrets, tips, and tricks that have helped founders go from zero to millions — and even billions — of dollars.

Want to see ‘em? Just refer {3-referral_count} more friends to The Hustle and we’ll send you our curated set of interviews with founders from brands like Zola, AWAY, Vungle, Bonobos, and more.

Here’s a message you can use to share with your friends:

Hey! Do you read The Hustle? It’s the best daily business newsletter out there — only takes 5 minutes to read and you’ll sound like the smartest person in the room. Sign up here, it’s free: {referral_url}

P.S. You can always check your referral count here.

Share The Hustle →
SHARE THE HUSTLE
Stickers

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

You’re only {5-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?

Here’s a message you can use to share with your friends:

Hey! Do you read The Hustle? It’s the best daily business newsletter out there — only takes 5 minutes to read and you’ll sound like the smartest person in the room. Sign up here, it’s free: {referral_url}

P.S. You can always check your referral count here.

Share The Hustle →
SHARE THE HUSTLE
Pint Glass

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

But hey, just because you’re a business nerd doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a cool bevvy. Get {10-referral_count} more referrals and we’ll send you a pint glass etched with The Hustle logo.

Anyway, here’s a message you can use to share with your friends:

Hey! Do you read The Hustle? It’s the best daily business newsletter out there — only takes 5 minutes to read and you’ll sound like the smartest person in the room. Sign up here, it’s free: {referral_url}

P.S. You can always check your referral count here.

Share The Hustle →
SHARE THE HUSTLE
Ambassador Rewards

You’re only {15-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.

Here’s a message you can use to share with your friends:

Hey! Do you read The Hustle? It’s the best daily business newsletter out there — only takes 5 minutes to read and you’ll sound like the smartest person in the room. Sign up here, it’s free: {referral_url}

P.S. You can always check your referral count here.

Share The Hustle →
SHARE THE HUSTLE
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.

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

{referral_url}

P.S. You can always check your referral count here.

Share The Hustle →
SHARE THE HUSTLE
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).

Share this link to get the goods:

{referral_url}

P.S. You can always check your referral count here.

Share The Hustle →
SHARE THE HUSTLE
Trends Screenshot

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.

Share this link with {100 – referral_count} more of your friends to get the goods:

{referral_url}

P.S. You can always check your referral count here.

Share The Hustle →
SHARE THE HUSTLE
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.

Heck, you practically work here anyway. Copy & paste this link to share:

{referral_url}

P.S. You can always check your referral count here.

Share The Hustle →
How did you like today’s email?

hate it

meh

love it

Join 1.5m+ professionals getting The Hustle daily news brief

Business and tech news in 5 minutes or less

100% free, no ads or spam, unsubscribe anytime

Psst

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?

Join us, it's free.

Look, you came to this site because you saw something cool. But here’s the deal. This site is actually a daily email that covers the important news in business, tech, and culture.

So, if you like what you’re reading, give the email a try.

If you don’t like it, unsubscribe any time. Privacy policy.