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📵 @realDonaldTrump is offline

Somehow, this is only the 11th day of 2021.


January 11, 2021

PLUS: How is Harvard B-School teaching COVID-19?

January 11, 2021
TOGETHER WITH

Somehow, this is only the 11th day of 2021.

The Big Idea

A parody account boomed in popularity after Twitter suspended @realDonaldTrump

It happened. Twitter shut down @realDonaldTrump for good

One of the most enduring features of William Shakespeare’s work is his mastery of “tragicomedy.”

Plays like “The Merchant of Venice” and “Romeo and Juliet” blend elements of tragedy and comedy to create unforgettable narratives.

President Donald Trump’s 72 hours, from Wednesday through Friday — starting with the deadly storming of the US Capitol to a meme-filled suspension of his Twitter account — could have been written by the Bard of Avon.

@realDonaldTrump was suspended for an ‘incitement of violence’…

… according to Twitter’s official blog post. After the tragic Wednesday events (which resulted in 5 dead), Trump followed up with tweets that initially suggested he would not endorse an orderly transition of power.

Trump’s final tweet on Friday noted that he would not attend the January 20 inauguration, which Twitter interpreted as a green light to attack the event.

The suspension of Twitter’s 6th most-followed account (~89m) was urged on by 100s of company employees, who signed a petition directed at CEO Jack Dorsey.

The post-suspension memes came immediately, with one parody account — @baronjohn1946, alluding to Trump alias “John Barron” — notching nearly 2m likes on its first tweet.

For years, Twitter has deemed Trump’s account ‘newsworthy’

This is the reason his most inflammatory tweets did not lead to a suspension, according to tech writer Casey Newton.

Per Newton, @realDonaldTrump went live in 2009 as a promotional tool but soon became a megaphone for media attacks.

Most (in)famously, Trump used Twitter to spread conspiracy theories on President Barack Obama. The vitriol earned him an audience and launched his political career.

After the suspension, Trump tried to tweet through other accounts

But Twitter blocked them all, including the official presidential account, @POTUS.

The rest of tech has also dropped the hammer, with Trump blocked or suspended from Snapchat, Facebook/Instagram, Shopify/Paypal, Discord, Twitch, YouTube, Reddit, TikTok, and other sites.

One alternative platform, Parler (AKA conservative Twitter) was taken offline by Amazon Web Services (and blocked from Android phones and iPhones) for failure to moderate its increasingly violent content.

For Big Tech — which yanked the president of the United States off the internet virtually overnight — this famous Shakespeare line from “Henry IV, Part 2” comes to mind: “Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.”

Snippets
  • Corporate red line. JPMorgan will halt PAC donations for 6 months while Blue Cross and Marriott will pause donations to Republicans who “objected to Electoral College results” per WSJ.
  • The giant Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which attracts 100k+ people a year to Las Vegas, is going fully digital this year (and starts today). Thousands of exhibitors will try to stand out with “digital activations,” which are interactive portals for presenting and networking.
  • WhatsApp’s new handcuffs terms of service may require users to share data with Facebook or lose use of the service. In the wake of this announcement, app downloads for messaging alternatives (Signal, Telegram) are exploding.
  • iCar: As part of its self-driving car program, Apple is in talks with Hyundai as a manufacturing partner and could sign a deal as early as March, with plans for production in 2024.
  • Clearview AI — the controversial facial-recognition app — is seeing use of its tech spike as authorities search for protesters involved in the storming of the Capitol.
Made Up

Makeup from a distance (Source: Perfect Corp. via TechCrunch)

As in-store sales lose gas, makeup goes SaaS

In 2001, Leonard Lauder coined the term “lipstick index” to describe the resiliency of cosmetic sales during tough times. But he never considered our lips might be hidden under masks.

During the first wave of COVID-19 lockdowns, demand for lipstick and foundation sank 70%+.

Now, Perfect Corp. — and its augmented beauty app YouCam — is raising a $50m Series C to reimagine the process of buying and trying on makeup during a pandemic.

Because it’s hard to buy makeup when you can’t try it on

Per a McKinsey report, in-store shopping made up 85% of cosmetic sales pre-pandemic. With outlets closed, 30% of the $500B beauty market was simply shut down.

With people staying home, the industry was expected to see a 20-30% dip in 2020 revenues.

For its part, Taiwan-based Perfect Corp. is doing everything it can to replicate the in-store experience.

The YouCam Makeup app boasts 40m+ monthly active users

These folks use the app’s AR tech to try on samples from 300 brands, including Estée Lauder and L’Oréal. Heavy hitters like Google, YouTube, and Snapchat also use the AR tech in their products.

Aside from augmented makeup, the company offers:

  • Remote consultations
  • Live-streamed influencer tutorials
  • A dermatologist-verified skin diagnostic tool that brands can use to recommend products

Bottom line: Expect the cosmetic industry to have a whole new look going forward.

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2021 got you rethinking your finances? Here’s how to build wealth like the 1% with just $500

When it comes to risk-reducing alternative investments, real estate is historically one of the best options.

Unfortunately, it’s also one of the markets that’s largely inaccessible to anyone who’s not the “my pet horse has its own pet horse” type of rich.

Until now.

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MBAs

Arguably, the greatest meme ever (Source: Twitter)

How is Harvard Business School teaching the pandemic?

When it comes to an MBA education, the case study method is legendary.

Pioneered by Harvard Business School (HBS) in 1919 — which itself borrowed from Harvard Law School — the approach puts students in the shoes of corporate decision-makers justifying their business choices.

The method is so popular that the sale of these case studies racked up $260m+ in 2019, about ¼ of HBS’s total revenue.

The pandemic provides countless learning opportunities

According to the Wall Street Journal, prominent new HBS cases involve:

  • Operation Warp Speed: Role-playing as Merck pharma execs, students must argue the trade-offs of taking government money.
  • Crisis management: Acting as president of Princess Cruises, students debate how to stay mentally healthy.
  • Booming business: A deep dive on managing Zoom’s explosive growth.

With HBS producing ~350 new cases a year, we can expect a lot more COVID-related themes.

Is an MBA still worth it?

This is what a lot of students are asking themselves.

Even before the pandemic, MBA applications for the top 10 schools were down 6% in 2019 (vs. 2018).

An 6-figure MBA via Zoom followed by a cold job market just isn’t as appealing, per the New York Times.

At the current pace, another HBS case study might be: “How the pandemic crushed MBA programs.”

Source: Eric Balchunas

Insane Tesla Trading

Bloomberg analyst Eric Balchunas highlighted a remarkable stat: The $62B+ in Tesla stock traded last Friday may have been an all-time high for any ticker ever in one day.

People are now buying and selling $TSLA at a higher volume than even the S&P 500 ETF ($SPY). As a final point of comparison: the $1.2T in Tesla stock traded in the past 6 weeks is more than Facebook traded in all of 2020.

On a semi-related note: GM updated its logo to signify the company’s commitment to electric vehicles. The Twitter crowd found 2 quirks with the new logo when turned on its side:

  1. The underlined “m” becomes an “El” (potentially to signify electrification) and sits on top of what looks like a gas pump.
  2. It also looks like it might spell out “Elon” (LOL)

Yes, the internet ie probably reading too much into this one…but it’s funny

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Twitter history of the day

The history of Donald Trump’s Twitter account was recounted by Time magazine in 2018.

P.W. Singer and Emerson Brooking explain that @realDonaldTrump’s first few years on Twitter (2009-2011) were purely a promotional exercise. His first tweet, for example, announced a David Letterman appearance.

At that time, Trump’s hit reality show “The Apprentice” was waning in popularity, and the Twitter account was used by his staffers to push his new ventures. Around 2011, Trump took over tweeting duties, with the content changing from third to first person.

In 2011-2014, Trump would type out 15k+ tweets and lay the groundwork for his eventual political career…

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