🖼 OpenSea’s buzzy valuation

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The Hustle

If you’re worried that a bad first impression has set you back in life, know this: 25 years ago, Andy Jassy accidentally nailed Jeff Bezos in the head with a kayak paddle. Today, Andy Jassy is the CEO of Amazon.

🏠 Reminder: Our Airbnb gift card raffle ends TODAY, Jan. 7, 2022, at 11:59pm ET. Enter the raffle by sharing The Hustle using your unique link below.*

Today’s rundown:

  • OpenSea: Inside the $13B+ NFT juggernaut.
  • Stale cookies: The days of 3rd-party cookies are numbered.
  • Airbnb: How the travel company is combatting racism.
  • Around the web: A time-lapse of a 1.3k-lb pumpkin, hand-painted movie posters, and more wild internet finds.

Let’s do it.

The big idea
OpenSea

NFT marketplace OpenSea is worth $13B+

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) were perhaps the biggest breakout crypto asset in 2021.

Based on a buzzy investment round earlier this week, the story looks to continue in 2022: OpenSea, an NFT marketplace, is now valued at $13.3B after raising $300m.

OpenSea was founded in 2017

It is now the go-to platform to buy and sell NFTs — unique digital assets linked to the blockchain.

The most prominent NFTs are digital art collections, like CryptoPunks and Bored Ape Yacht Club, which can start at 6 figures for a single image (owners often post them in their social profile pictures as a flex).

Countless other NFT projects — including basically any random cartoon animal you can think of — are much less valuable…

… but OpenSea’s trading volume is huge

Per Crypto Briefing, the company facilitated $14B of transactions in 2021, a 646x increase from ~$22m in 2020.

OpenSea charges a 2.5% transaction fee, which keeps piling up; trading volume has already passed $1B in 2022.

Not everyone is happy, though

Last week, OpenSea froze $2.2m worth of stolen NFTs. Adherents of crypto — who emphasize the value of decentralization — are wary of a central authority making a unilateral decision.

As tech analyst Ben Thompson points out, the stolen NFTs can still be transferred between individuals on the blockchain.

However, there is more demand for NFTs on OpenSea than off of it, which means the platform almost certainly offers sellers the highest price and best liquidity.

To Thompson, this is why OpenSea is valued at $13B+. Yes, the company is technically “centralized,” but that’s what most end users will want for their unique cartoon animals.

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SNIPPETS

Too many tacos: Taco Bell’s new subscription program, Taco Lover’s Pass, entitles members to one taco every day for 30 days, for ~$10/mo. #ecommerce-retail

Presto chango: This color-changing concept SUV from BMW can be white, black, or gray. The idea is you’d change colors with your mood or the weather. #emerging-tech

Cookie monsters: France fined Facebook ~$67.8m and Google ~$169.5m for policies that make it difficult for people to refuse cookies. #privacy

WeChat, a Chinese messaging app with 1B+ users, will support the country’s digital currency. The app’s payment system has 800m+ monthly users. #fintech-crypto

Snap is suing the US Patent and Trademark Office for not letting it trademark “spectacles.” Snap wants it for its digital eyewear, but USPTO says it’s a generic term. #big-tech

Now on MFM: The economics of book publishing, doom prep optimism, and more. #mfm

Stale Cookies
cookies cartoon

In digital advertising, the cookie is crumbling

Third-party cookies have long been a staple of any digital advertising diet, but it’s been a rough year for ad tech’s favorite guilty pleasure:

  • In April, Apple pushed an update that opted users out of ad-tracking by default.
  • Last January, Google announced plans to ban 3rd-party cookies on Chrome by 2022 (which it later pushed to 2023).

This week, Brave — a privacy-focused browser that blocks 3rd-party cookies — reported it now has 50m+ monthly active users.

What’s it all mean?

Clearly, consumers are starting to take privacy more seriously, but the end of 3rd-party cookies should benefit advertisers, too.

Why? Because the data isn’t that great to begin with.

While studying one set of 3rd-party data, Forrester Research found that gender was only correct 50% of the time, and it was the most accurate category in the sample.

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Name Experiment
Airbnb logo

Airbnb’s new experiment to reduce racism

Airbnb has been trying to curb racism on its platform for several years. Its next move? Temporarily hiding names from hosts.

Now, hosts in Oregon will only see a prospective guest’s 1st initial until the booking is confirmed, at which point the guest’s full name is revealed.

The test begins on Jan. 31 and will run for 2 years, per NBC News.

But why Oregon?

In 2019, Airbnb settled a lawsuit in which 3 Black women alleged that requiring full names and photos allowed hosts to discriminate against potential guests based on race.

The complaint claimed Airbnb was in violation of Oregon’s public accommodation laws.

And past studies have indicated racial bias

In 2014, researchers ran an experiment. They reached out to ~6.4k US hosts as prospective guests, identical except for their names. 

They found guests with Black-sounding names were ~16% less likely to be accepted by Airbnb hosts.

This isn’t the 1st study to show bias based on names, either

  • A 2017 study found that job applicants with Asian last names were 28% less likely to get an interview
  • A 2021 study found that people with white-sounding names received higher response rates from landlords than applicants with African American- and Latino-sounding names.
  • A 2016 study found that in some cities, rideshare passengers with Black-sounding names faced longer wait times and more cancellations.

Airbnb has responded with various measures over the years, including:

  • Anti-bias training for users
  • Encouraging hosts to accept instant bookings
  • A policy to rebook guests who report discrimination

This new test is just the latest in an ongoing battle.

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TRENDS

Sam’s 6-figure low-ticket course blueprint

Back in 2013, Trends member Sam launched his debut EDM production course on Udemy.

It was priced at just $80 and boosted to EDM subreddit regulars. At the end of year one, he was making $1.5k-$3k per month.

Since, he’s scaled his music production education hustle to over $500k in annual revenue, and 200k+ monthly organic site visits

but 80% of the revenue is from one killer pillar piece of content

Sam spent the 2010s exploring the best ways to monetize his expertise. His product launches were centered around long-game organic growth: strong SEO, seasonal campaigns, and steady email marketing.

Join Trends to access his go-to organic growth strategies for sending online course sales.

Try Trends for $1 →
AROUND THE WEB

💡 On this day: In 1954, the “Georgetown-IBM experiment” marked the 1st successful public demo of a Russian-English machine translation system. The IBM 701 computer had been programmed with 6 grammar rules.

🚗 Wow: China’s longest underwater highway tunnel is now open. It’s 6.65 miles long, costs ~$1.56B, and is lined with colorful LED lights.

🍿 Art: Check out these wild, hand-painted movie posters from Ghana. Films include “Death Becomes Her,” “Mrs. Doubtfire,” and “Alien.”

📁 Useful: TinyWow has several handy tools for managing PDFs, images, and other files.

🖥️  Cure boredom: In The Nand Game, players build a custom computer. It doesn’t require any prior knowledge, though some levels can be tricky.

🎃 That’s cool: We previously covered the economics of pumpkins, including those prize-winning mega-pumpkins. Now, here’s a time-lapse video of a 1.3k-pounder, from seed to behemoth.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

(A roundup of our best reads from the last couple weeks…)

📍 Apple’s AirTag problem, explained (Link)

⌨️ How did BlackBerry fail? (Link)

😡 How many Americans are quitting their jobs? (Link)

📝 Wordle, the latest viral daily game (Link)

⛪ Why pastors are turning to Big Data (Link)

Shower Thoughts
  1. “To an early human, obtaining food is exercise. To a modern human, burning excess food is exercise.”
  2. “The loss of your dog is exactly the kind of thing your dog would’ve helped you through.”
  3. “Google-ing something truly is a skill. Some people are much better and faster at finding more accurate results than others.”
  4. “If someone with ADHD gained the power of telekinesis they would constantly be dropping things.”
  5. “From the sun’s point of view, there are no shadows.”
via Reddit

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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?

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