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The Hustle

The absolutely iconic white suit worn by John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever goes up for auction this month. It’s expected to nab $200k and make whoever buys it the hit of their Halloween dance party.

In today’s email:

  • Golf: Did we lose you? What if we entice you with “phone ban” instead?
  • Video: How nuns got squeezed out of the Communion wafer biz.
  • Hello, it’s me: When texts aren’t enough, voice notes rule.
  • Around the Web: Elephant insights, lofi plus air traffic, a quirky podcast, and more internet finds.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s podcast to hear Jacob and Juliet discuss no-phones golf, the popularity of voice notes, AI raps about cats, and more.

The big idea
golfing with a phone

Phone bans often putter out, but this one may be forever

The Masters, golf’s premier annual tournament (teeing off today), is a shared societal illusion designed to give dads something to talk about. We all know this.

But there’s one more reason it grabs our attention: It’s the highest-profile cellphone-free environment still in existence.

No phones? No problem

Banning portable electronics at Augusta National Country Club is a conscious decision the hosts vow to maintain.

  • And to enforce. (Just ask the Atlanta man banned for life after his dad accidentally brought a phone to a practice round.)

Why should they do things any differently? The draconian phone policy has done nothing to slow fan interest.

  • Tickets are so in demand that, per Golf Digest, the odds of winning the Masters ticket lottery — 0.55% — aren’t far off from the actual lottery.

If anything, the ban adds to the appeal. For the 40k attendees and 10m+ TV viewers, the Masters is visually striking theater —the stripped-down presentation, not far from the sights and sounds of the inaugural 1934 Masters, provides much of its mystique.

Which is fully on brand for an event known as “A Tradition Unlike Any Other” — where many of the traditions are worth forgetting.

  • It must be noted that Augusta National, an invite-only, mostly-white-male club for the obscenely wealthy, is historically known for regressive policies — it only just marked a decade of women being considered for membership.

A true novelty

It’s only speaking technologically when we say the Masters is worthy of attention. It makes the unimaginable — a weekend sans phone — feel possible.

Most spaces can only request phone etiquette; few have the ability to enforce outright bans without bite-back from patrons. To wit:

  • Jack White caught expletives for his phone-free concert policy.
  • An internet brouhaha followed when Texas restaurant Caterina’s nixed the cellulars.
  • And phone bans in schools… That’s a lot of mess.

Golf fans, meanwhile, continue to sit in silence. Which, we guess, is their default position, but still.

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TRENDING
eyeball wearing a hat

It’s fantastic: Warner Bros. dropped a trailer and several cast posters for the upcoming Barbie film starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling. It also launched a website where you can create your own Barbie poster.

SNIPPETS

Job news: Private sector hiring slowed in March, increasing by 145k compared to 261k from February. The hospitality and leisure sector made 90k hires; trade, transportations, and utilities added 56k; and construction added 53k.

Board-game legend: Klaus Teuber, creator of Catan, has died at 70. The game, which debuted in 1995, has sold 40m+ copies.

It’s yet again time to gawk at rich people: Forbes’ billionaire list got its annual update, with fashion magnate Bernard Arnault’s $211B topping the board. New additions include Tiger Woods, LeBron James, and Jimmy Buffett.

UK data regulators fined TikTok $15.9m, claiming it used the personal data of children under 13 without parental consent. Kids under 13 aren’t supposed to be on the platform, but regulators also say TikTok didn’t do enough to verify ages.

If we can’t use AI to make Eminem-style raps about cats, then what good is it? We ask because YouTuber Grandayy got a copyright strike after Universal Music Publishing Group issued a DMCA takeout notice on exactly that.

C is for… criminal enterprise? “Operation Cookie Monster” saw the FBI take down Genesis Market, a marketplace where hackers could buy digital fingerprints that let them access victims’ banking and subscription services.

Hung(ry) jury: Chipotle filed a trademark infringement suit against rival Sweetgreen over the salad chain’s new “Chipotle Chicken Burrito Bowl,” words that make us instantly hungry no matter what a court of law says about them. Chipotle suggested a lower-case rename to “chicken bowl with chipotle,” which also makes us hungry.

Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay $8.9B over 25 years to the 60k+ plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit alleging its talcum powder caused cancer. The proposal, yet to be approved by the court, would see a J&J subsidiary file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

A first: A fleet of five autonomous buses will carry ~10k passengers per week in Edinburgh, Scotland, starting May 15. Staff will be present to oversee the bus and help passengers, but it will drive itself.

Bob Lee, Cash App founder and MobileCoin CPO, was killed in a stabbing in San Francisco early Tuesday morning. MobileCoin CEO Josh Goldbard said in a statement, “[Lee] was made for the world that is being born right now, he was a child of dreams, and whatever he imagined, no matter how crazy, he made real.”

FROM THE BLOG
laptop

Into ’shrooms? Now that we have your attention, this startup is cool AF: Hedgehog is building robotic mushroom farms that could change how food is grown, shipped, and eaten.

Video
communion wafers

Watch: How nuns got squeezed out of the Communion wafer business

Nuns have been entrepreneurs since long before Mark Cuban ever said “I’m out.”

They started hospitals and schools in the 19th century, engaging in the labor market when most women were barred from working outside the home. In recent years, nuns have done everything from breed horses to sling pizzas.

They also played an integral role in developing Communion wafers, a product that they, along with the rest of the Roman Catholic Church, believe is turned into the literal body of Christ during Mass.

The wafers used to be almost entirely produced by nuns running small-scale operations.

  • The Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration started producing them in 1910. Eventually, some weeks, nuns there churned out 2m+ wafers, shipping them to clients ranging from parishes to prisons to Princess Cruise Lines.

But today it’s a different story.

Now, almost every communion wafer comes from the for-profit Cavanagh Company, America’s altar-bread monopoly.

Watch the video breakdown →
Free Resource

How to reach more of the billions on Instagram

Before you post anything powerful, please consult the 2023 Instagram Engagement Report.

We worked with social media experts at Mention to decode data from over 37m posts. Read concise summaries on engagement strategy, caption crafting, hashtag trends, and more.

Also inside this report:

  • The state of Instagram in 2023
  • Global and regional breakdowns (NAM, UKI, and APAC)
  • What and when to post (with copious charts)
  • How top brands like Nike tackle storytelling
  • 10 tips for viral video content

Hope this helps you rack up the wins.

For the ’gram →
Of Note
voice notes

Voice notes are trending

Have you ever typed “I’m literally dying rn” in the group chat, but worried the words just weren’t enough?

Enter voice notes: Bite-sized audio messages that let you feel like you’re literally dying in the same room as your besties. And, per Vox, they’re more popular than ever.

Perhaps in search of a cure for the loneliness epidemic, Americans are opting to spill their tea verbally:

  • 62% of Americans say they’ve sent a voice note at least once.
  • 30% say they use voice notes to communicate weekly, daily, or multiple times a day.
  • Those ages 18-29 use voice messaging more, with 43% using it at least weekly.

Last year…

WhatsApp reported that users sent a whopping 7B voice messages per day. The app introduced voice messaging in 2013, and while it’s recently picked up speed in the US, it’s long been popular internationally.

Many find that voice messaging helps them overcome language barriers, with 13% reporting they use it for exactly that reason.

WhatsApp recently added a feature that lets users post voice notes as statuses for their contacts to hear — the recordings can be up to 30 seconds long and disappear after 24 hours.

But these little audio intrusions can be polarizing: People either love ’em, or want ’em gone.

The biggest downside? Typing “LOL” won’t cut it anymore — you really gotta laugh out loud.

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AROUND THE WEB

🎥 On this day: In 1968, long before ChatGPT, Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and its scary computer, HAL 9000, premiered.

🐘 That’s interesting: In all of history, only two species are known to have self-domesticated: humans and bonobos. But a new study suggests that perhaps so have elephants.

✈️ That’s cool: This lofi beats player adds in air traffic control, and it’s honestly pretty chill.

🎧 Listen: Intra Quest is a new, quirky fantasy-adventure podcast in 3D audio in which three heroes — who have very little in common — face off against an ancient evil.

🐐 Aww: And now, please look at this baby goat’s curly ears.

TWEET

No prob. Will jump right on that. (Oh no, what have we become?) (Link)

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Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen and Juliet Bennett RylahSara Friedman, .
Editing by: Ben “A whole round of octuple bogeys” Berkley.

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