🔍 Google’s in trouble

The Hustle

Popular salad chain Sweetgreens officially filed to go public on Monday. We can’t wait for the vegetable-related puns (“can Sweetgreens beet the benchmark?”) on the IPO day.

Today’s rundown:

  • Big Bad Tech: Facebook is hit with more leaks while Google faces a damning antitrust lawsuit.
  • Bachelor Data: What you can learn by analyzing The Bachelor.
  • Uncomfortable Cows: The odd economics of milk and sawdust.
  • Around the Web: A grab bag of wild and weird internet…things.

Let’s do it.

The Big Idea
Facebook and Google in hot water

Facebook and Google are in hot water

Sometime this week, Mark Zuckerberg is expected to rebrand Facebook to reflect the company’s ambitions as a metaverse company.

In line with this news, FB announced in its earnings that it will break out revenue from its VR/AR business line (Facebook Reality Labs).

These changes come in the midst of the latest round of The Facebook Papers — a series of damning internal documents provided by whistleblower Frances Haugen.

The Facebook Papers takeaways:

  • Storming of the Capitol: During the 2020 US presidential election, Facebook put in place 22 measures to stop the spread of speech that incited violence. Many of these safety measures were set aside in the lead-up to the Jan. 6 Capitol riots.
  • Hate speech in India: Facebook’s content moderation system in India is failing to stymie incendiary content. Some of these issues have to do with its algorithm’s failure to handle non-English languages.
  • Losing young users: Teen engagement on Facebook and Instagram is slowing. While most social networks eventually deal with users aging out, there are questions around how Facebook is tweaking its tool to keep them onboard.

Facebook rebuts that it spends significant resources — 40k+ employees and $13B — to moderate its platform and does not prioritize profits “at the expense of people’s safety or wellbeing.”

Google’s antitrust headache

Meanwhile, Facebook’s main competitor is facing big questions over its business model. Per The Wall Street Journal, an unredacted lawsuit from state attorneys general shows that Google takes a 22%-42% of transactions on its ad network (2-4x competing digital exchanges).

A viral Twitter thread highlights other allegations from the lawsuit:

  • Google had an ad deal with Facebook that was “so illegal” that the documents have “a whole section describing how they’ll cover for each other if anyone finds out”
  • Google’s ad exchanges are rigged “so that Google wins on bids where they aren’t the highest bidder”
  • Google’s attempt to turn the web into a walled garden by forcing logins with the Chrome browser

Google’s dominant position in the ad business is described by one employee like this: “The analogy would be if Goldman [Sachs] owned the NYSE [New York Stock Exchange].”

If these allegations are true, it raises the likelihood of strong antitrust action against the search giant. Having already rebranded itself as Alphabet in 2015, Google will have to find another tactic to deflect attention away.

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SNIPPETS

Amazon’s Google: Amazon launched a search dashboard for its 1.5m 3rd-party sellers to capture granular data on product performance. #ecommerce-retail

Call the exterminator: Tesla rolled back its latest “full self-driving” release after drivers reported numerous bugs. #clean-energy

Not so fast: Experts believe Amazon’s pharmacy services will continue to make up only a small market share until they add a retail component. #emerging-tech

Happy devs: Apple changed its rules to allow developers to inform customers of ways to pay outside of the app store. #privacy

In case NFTs weren’t confusing enough: “Dirt” is an entertainment newsletter on Substack funded by NFTs. #fintech-cryptocurrency

Massively meta: Facebook announced plans to spend $10B to build the metaverse. #big-tech

Dating Data
The Bachelor Instagram followers

What you can learn by analyzing ‘The Bachelor’ franchise

When educational technology director Suzana Somers was promoted in 2018, she began analyzing data from the reality TV series “The Bachelor” to learn to use Excel.

Today, her Instagram account @bachelordata has 96.4k followers, and she teaches others Excel and Google Sheets through Bachelor Data Academy.

So what kind of data can one glean from a reality show about finding love among strangers?

Somers told The Hustle that the biggest trends involve contestants’ Instagram growth based on factors like screen time and what happens during a given episode.

For example, take this analysis of the fallout from an episode of Bachelor in Paradise (pictured above).

Contestants Brendan Morais and Pieper James admitted they’d spent time together prior to filming. Natasha Parker, whom Morais strung along before James arrived, gained a ton of followers while former-favorite Morais’s count dropped dramatically.

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Got milk?
cows

Source: (kbwillis/Getty Images)

Confused about supply shortages? Consider the odd economics of milk and sawdust.

Most folks at the grocery store probably see expensive milk and think, “Are you f*cking serious, cows?”

But truth is, as with the cost for pretty much everything, more goes into the cost of milk than meets the eye.

Case in point

In 2008, something odd happened as new house construction numbers began to plummet: The price of milk shot up. Huh?

That connection — explained below — is just one of an infinite number of nuanced relationships that impact prices, and serves as a good reminder of how complex our supply chain is.

Back to milk

In the new edition of his book, public policy expert Steven E. Rhoads explained that cows produce more milk the less they’re on their feet, and farmers use sawdust to keep cows comfortable lying down.

In 2008, as house construction went way down, lumber production also went way down. Hence, less sawdust. Hence, uncomfortable cows that produce less milk.

While surely sawdust isn’t the only financial burden on dairy farmers, one 2008 story found they were paying $1.2k for a truckload of sawdust, up from $600 a year before.

So the next time you see expensive milk — or deal with any other shortage, for that matter — take a moment to consider the uncomfortable cows.

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AROUND THE WEB

🌵 On this day: In 1881, the famous shootout at the O.K. Corral took place, pitting Wyatt Earp, his brothers, and Doc Holliday against the Clanton-McLaury gang. In just 30 seconds, ~30 shots were fired.

👻 That’s interesting: The Los Angeles home seen in Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street (and Bo Burham: Inside) is for sale for $3.5m. Appropriately, offers are due on Halloween.

📱 Wait, what: After a 2-hour surgery, doctors in Egypt were able to remove a cellphone from a man’s stomach. He admitted he had swallowed it 6 months earlier for reasons unknown.

😎 How to: Everyone gets burnout, including founders. Arianna Huffington shares her best tips for preventing it.

🕵️‍♂️ Cure boredom: MetaverseNoir is an interactive film noir set in the metaverse, told entirely on Twitter. You’re a private detective. Can you find out who destroyed the mayor of New Mesh City’s avatar?

🦒 Aww: And now, a very sneaky giraffe.

Meme of the day
cow meme

That bovine hustle… (Source: Pinterest)

The Hustle Recommends

Flush

What good is a toilet if no one knows where it is? That’s the logic behind Flush, a free public-toilet-finding app that’s especially useful in big cities. There’s even a feature to rate the toilet you used. Utter genius.

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In 1994, Jeff Bezos discovered a shocking stat: Internet usage grew 2,300% per year.

Data shows where markets are headed.

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