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The Hustle

Hasbro’s updated “Generations” edition of The Game of Life is out for blood. The classic board game unfolds differently for players of each generation, with Gen Z and millennials getting $10k penalties for college debt (baby boomers, meanwhile, pay nothing). This one’s really gonna bring families together — in holding cells.

In today’s email:

  • Seed funding: Houseplant prices may make you soil yourself.
  • Carrying the torched: No rest in sight for ritzy burnout retreats.
  • Digits: Offal high prices, Subway’s lunch ain’t free, and more.
  • Around the Web: RIP to two sleeps per day, hop aboard the USS Enterprise, and more internet finds.
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The big idea
woman with plants

Houseplants get pricey as our love for them grows

In 2021, a white variegated Rhaphidophora tetrasperma auctioned for ~$19.2k in New Zealand. And here I thought my $25 lemon-lime prayer plant was a splurge.

Per The Washington Post, purveyors of rare foliage drop big bucks and engage in bidding wars for the most coveted plants, but — unlike the biblical baby that revealed Solomon’s wisdom — they can be split in half.

In fact, one collector has turned propagation into a side hustle, selling her replantable clippings on Etsy.

Yet even more common plants have shot up in price as demand has increased.

Houseplants surged in popularity…

… amid the pandemic, as people stuck mostly inside craved nature and new hobbies. In 2020, sales for potted foliage increased 23%, per Business Insider, and in 2021, the plant-growing industry was worth $16B.

Why do plants have such staying power? Some say it’s because we’re, well, sad.

  • Younger plant parents — locked out of homeownership — love house plants because they can’t have yards.
  • An essay in The Atlantic pondered if plant collecting was a manifestation of eco-grief on a dying plant. Another in The Independent chalked it up to career instability and delayed parenthood (of human children, not succulents).

Less grim?

Social media, where #planttok has 4.5B views and particularly winsome plants — like the philodendron pink princess — can become instant sensations.

The same is true of seasonal plants; in 2021, pumpkin farmer Mark Craven told The Hustle that the Pinterests and Martha Stewarts of the world influence which varieties are hot every Halloween.

Fun fact: One of the most expensive plants is the bonsai tree, which can endure for centuries with proper maintenance. At a 2011 convention in Japan, a stunning white pine tree sold for ~$1.3m.

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eyeball wearing a hat

Want a motorcycle previously owned by Elvis Presley? Sure you do. Want to spend an estimated $800k+ when it goes up for auction in Indianapolis next week? Sure you don’t. So we found this — a $35 bathroom tile from Presley’s Hawaiian honeymoon suite — on eBay instead.


High interest rates? Inflation? Banking crisis? No problem: April’s job numbers were pretty good — the US added 253k jobs, with a 3.4% unemployment rate matching a 54-year low.

TodAI in AI: Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. will pilot AI voice bots for drive-thru automation. AI vendors say increased speed and order accuracy will boost fast-food margins, but an AI test McDonald’s ran last year was 15% below the chain’s accuracy standard.

Congrats? AMC Theaters lost $235.5m in Q1 — about $100m less than it did a year ago.

In the market for a used car? This decade remains a historically bad time to buy one, but it’s slightly less bad now — prices declined 3% last month, the first time values have gone down in 2023.

No Yeezy way out: Adidas remains in limbo seven months after cutting ties with Ye (formerly known as Kanye West). With $1.3B worth of Yeezy-branded inventory in warehousing, the losses are also piling up — shoe sales are down $441m to start the year.

What ales us: Molson Coors has answered nobody’s prayers, with Miller High Life Bar Snack Truffles — beer-infused, bar menu-inspired chocolates. Flavors include Grilled Cheese, Lemon Pepper Chicken Wing, Buttery Popcorn, and Sweet Potato Fry.

Warner Bros. Discovery is still bleeding money ($1.1B in Q1 losses), but hey, at least its streaming business turned a profit for the first time. HBO Max and Discovery Plus, the pieces of the soon-to-be-merged Max platform, made $50m in Q1.

Meanwhile… Marvel is still printing money as Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 opened with a huge $266m in the global box office.

Like, subscribe, and… tip? When you love someone’s YouTube videos, do you tip? A survey from Influencer Marketing Factory shows a growing number of social media users (~40%) do, leaving tips averaging $5 to $10 for creators they like.

Q1 recap: What were the biggest business trends over the last three months? We analyzed data from 167k companies and crunched the numbers here.

burnout retreats
Olivia Heller

How many zeros would you shell out to feel less zeroed out?

Nearly eight in 10 Americans say they’ve experienced burnout at work, according to Deloitte.

Fortunately — at least for those with loads of cash to burn — burnout is increasingly a problem you can throw money at.

Luxe burnout retreats…

… are on the rise, with rehab-esque programs treating stress popping up around the globe, per Bloomberg Businessweek.

Istana is one provider filling this lucrative void, running clinics in Bali, Barbados, and Ibiza.

  • Istana’s individualized programming can integrate many treatment options you’d expect — psychotherapy, massage therapy, yoga, and meditation.
  • But also some you may not, like psychedelic-assisted therapy, art therapy, and EMDR therapy.
  • The clinic now offers a “reset retreat” in Mexico featuring transformational breathwork, crystal healing, and nature activities like surfing and horseback riding.

Istana’s founder says admission for burnout has risen 600% since March 2020, with many clients seeking concurrent treatment for PTSD, substance abuse, and depression.

It won’t come cheap…

Popular retreats range from five-night escapes to monthlong sabbaticals. The price tags vary considerably as well.

  • Bloomberg Businessweek highlighted its “ultimate burnout spas,” which range from $5k to $10k/week.
  • Istana’s starting prices run between $30k to $55k/week.
  • The Rolls-Royce of rehab, Swiss clinic Kusnacht Practice, can cost $133k/week.

OK, but I’m not that elite: There are emerging options if you can’t spare that kind of time or money — UK-based celebrity trainer Harry Jameson, for one, will establish burnout-fighting regiments in $310/hr sessions.

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Digits: Paramount’s literal cash cows, and more newsy numbers

1) New York City isn’t wasting any time solving its heaping, 24m-pound-per-day trash problem, and with a new $1.6m, 95-page study — a great read by the way — the city may have bagged a solution with a process known as waste containerization. The biggest drawback? The plan could get rid of 150k (10%) of New York’s residential parking spots… Oh, and cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

2) Five… Five billion… Five billion in financing for the footloooong. Subway, valued at $10B+, has been seeking a sale since at least February, and adviser JPMorgan is now offering a $5B debt financing package to help sweeten the deal. That’s a lot of bread! Despite closing a net of 3.2k domestic stores between 2020 and 2023, Subway leads US restaurants with nearly 20.6k stores. Starbucks, in second place, has 16k.

3) Taylor Sheridan’s cowboy dramas have been a cash cow for Paramount, to the tune of $500m+ annually. Costs have included $500k per minute of the first season of “1923,” renting Sherdian’s $25-per-cow cattle herd, and up to $50k a week to film shows on Sheridan’s 266k-acre Four Sixes ranch in Texas, which he bought in 2022 for $341m+. ​​Talk about vertical integration.

4) The cost of this weekend’s coronation proceedings for King Charles III ran in the £50m-£100m range ($63m-$125m). For reference, when Queen Elizabeth II took the throne in 1953, the pomp and pageantry cost an inflation-adjusted ~£50m, and George VI’s coronation in 1937 rang up a more thrifty ~£24.8m. With the holiday weekend, the UK’s leisure industry is expecting some royal treatment of its own by way of a £350m boost.

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🥤 On this day: In 1886, pharmacist John Stith Pemberton began selling Coca-Cola, his health tonic for “nervous afflictions,” at an Atlanta pharmacy. He sold about nine glasses per day that year.

😴 That’s interesting: Centuries ago, people slept in two shifts. Why did so many of us stop?

👀 Video: Three growth hacks startups use to go from $0 to $1B. The good news? You only need to master one of these tactics.

🚀 That’s cool: Trekkies can now take a virtual tour of every Starship Enterprise.

🐱 Aww: And now, sometimes you just want to sit in a bowl.

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Don’t take my job… Please. (Link)


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Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen and Juliet Bennett Rylah.
Editing by: Ben “Weekend at burnout’s” Berkley.

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