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The Hustle

It wouldn’t feel right to find treasure on the internet without telling you, so: Saxophonist Kenny G’s online shop sells Kenny G-branded golf balls. It doesn’t matter why we found this; it just matters that you now have a way to turn heads on the course. You can’t buy respect, but you can buy this for $44.99. 

In today’s email:

  • Business cards: Memorabilia and trading cards in the spotlight.
  • Airbnb for cars: And their headsets, roofs, and consoles.
  • YouTube and chill: For your viewing pleasure.
  • Around the Web: Weird birds, the Flash Museum, the Louvre as a tech company, and more.

👇 Listen: Why is everything — homes, cars, specific parts of cars, boats, you name it — up for rent?

podcast media player
The big idea
baseball card

Why collectibles dweebs (and big brands) are flooding Chicago right now

Today, tens of thousands of total dorks, weenies, and geeks will gather just outside of Chicago to browse 600k+ square feet of collectibles, trading cards, and assorted sports and entertainment memorabilia.

And though the National Sports Collectors Convention, AKA “The National,” is generally a joyous occasion, it isn’t entirely a happy one — after all, there are a lot of lonely moms with quiet, empty basements out there this weekend.

We kid, we kid (but also, are we wrong?).

This industry, though, is no joke

When billion-dollar companies invest in an event, it’s a good bet there are many more billions at stake, and, well, the big brands are inescapable at this year’s edition of The National:

  • $62B behemoth Fanatics is using the event to kick-start its new livestream commerce app.
  • Whatnot, the $3.7B company behind the US’s largest livestream shopping platform, is rolling out a big giveaway — Michael Jordan’s old 1996 Mercedes-Benz for just $23.
  • $23.75B memorabilia marketplace eBay has a booth accepting free drop-offs for its Vault program, which caters to the collectibles crowd.

BTW: That’s an actual vault, climate-controlled with 24/7 surveillance, biometric authentication systems, and background-checked security staff — all to keep your Albert Einstein “rookie card” safe.

Outside the convention…

… the collectibles business is packed with other intriguing stories:

  • How about a Magic: The Gathering trading card drawing $2m+ offers? The one-of-a-kind card, which depicts the “One Ring” of Lord of the Rings fame, isn’t even the Magic card known as the “Mona Lisa of collecting cards.”
  • There’s the former NFL player who retired to sell Pokemon cards full time — and who says he made $11.5m+ in a year doing so.

Trading cards remain so hot (in the next decade, the global sports memorabilia market alone is estimated to reach — yeesh$227.2B) that Disney’s even making its first foray into them.

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eyeball wearing a hat

Whoops: A California family made $7.6m by taking used cans and bottles from Arizona, where they’re worth $0, and recycling them in California, where they’re worth 5-10 cents each. Unfortunately, California prosecutors have accused the family of recycling fraud, something that 93 people have been convicted of in California between 2010 and 2019.


Wow, rude: Photographer Gene X Hwang acquired the @X handle in 2007. Now, X (formerly Twitter) has taken it away, giving Hwang “some merch and to meet with the management team” as compensation.

Meta’s Q2 revenue jumped 11% YoY to $32B; shares popped 8%+ on Thursday morning. Analysts credit online ads and Zuck’s “Year of Efficiency” — Meta has laid off 21k people since November.

Bundle bumble? The EU launched an antitrust investigation into Microsoft’s bundling of Teams and Office software. Competitor Slack filed a complaint with the European Commission in 2020.

Waymo has decided to focus on self-driving ride-hailing tech and pump the brakes on its autonomous trucking and delivery efforts.

Hot hot heat: The Biden admin announced plans to protect workers from extreme heat, plus $7m to improve weather forecasts. The announcement comes as delivery drivers fight for reliable air conditioning in their vehicles.

Anheuser-Busch has had a rough summer — Bud Light’s US sales dropped to the point where, earlier this month, it lost its top-seller crown to Modelo Especial — and things are only worsening, as the beer giant will cut ~2% of its workforce.

People wanting to appear rich are making Prada rich for real: The luxury brand is flourishing in 2023, with sales up 62% so far this year; clothing, footwear, and leather goods are all key drivers of its growth.

Host hustle: Have an empty property and the dream of generating some additional income? Starting an Airbnb might be for you. Here’s how to do it.

Number of Turo hosts over time
Olivia Heller

Can’t Airbnb the house? How ’bout the car, its roof, its headrest, your parking spot…

Sure, disrupting Enterprise and its 1.7m-strong fleet of rental cars will be hard. But if the 117m+ American households that own at least one car all join forces…

Well, you get the idea.

That’s the thesis behind Turo, the “Airbnb for cars,” which, according to The Wall Street Journal, is now being used by some entrepreneurs to operate their own little rental enterprises.

On Turo, ~15% of hosts list three or more vehicles. On Getaround, a competitor, ~70% of cars are owned by “power hosts.” (One host offers 1k cars, which just seems mildly stressful.)

For rent: Just about everything

Turo is part of a growing list of companies Airbnb-ifying cars in more ways than one, including through:

  • The roof: Firefly, which has raised $53m, sells and operates digital car-top advertising units for taxis and ride-share vehicles. Both Uber and Lyft also offer this directly.
  • The parking: SpotHero has sold $1B+ in parking reservations, and the younger AirGarage has raised $14.8m for its full-service parking management platform.
  • The center console: Cargo raised $40m for its “snack boxes for Uber passengers” business — though it reportedly pivoted to car-top ads in 2020.
  • The headrest: Octopus, which T-Mobile acquired last year, offers touch screens to display ride info and entertainment to Uber and Lyft passengers.

It ain’t just cars, either. As of last year, 6m+ people had used campsite-finder Hipcamp (basically Airbnb for people who are OK with bugs). Swimply, which started out as a pool marketplace, has expanded to yards, pickleball, tennis, and basketball courts.

Another company, Boatsetter, offers access to 50k boats and has helped 500k+ first-time boaters go boating since 2012. Also, we just said “boat” four times in one sentence, and will not be saying it again for at least a month.

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Watch Now

How to win with Facebook ads in 2023

Facebook ads are still a startup/small-business staple because they don’t break the bank (relatively speaking). With ~3B monthly active users and laserlike features that help you reach them, it remains the top spot for running promos and wooing prospects.

But Facebook ad strategies have shifted — the options are abundant. The targeting is intricate. The metrics are… still super mundane. Where does one even begin?

We thought you’d never ask.

Facebook ain’t dead yet →
YouTube and Chill

Grab some corn (pop is fine — we prefer cowboy cornbread casserole), find that perfect spot on the couch, and catch our channel’s latest:

  • For some debunking: Can you make money with a ChatGPT-generated newsletter? Find out in episodes one and two of our new series: Hustles Debunked.
  • For an inside look: From Netflix’s “ta-dum” to McDonald’s “I’m Lovin’ It,” brands have used sounds to stand out for decades. Check out our on-location mini documentary about how sonic brands are made.
  • For something relatable: Is it the 27-pound bucket of mac and cheese? The tanks of gas? The passport photos? The life insurance? The $1.50 hot dog? All of the above? Here’s how Costco became wildly successful.
  • For more Hustlenomics: While you’re on a Tour de Loo, take our video about the economics of the Tour de France for a spin.

🇺🇸 On this day: In 1868, the US adopted the 14th Amendment, which grants citizenship to any person born or naturalized in the country.

👾 Cure boredom: Flash shut down in 2020, but the Flash Museum has archived 130k Flash games and animations that you can play or view in your browser.

🐶 Blog: Your dog wants in on your grocery order. Human-grade pet food is all the rage.

🕶️ Haha: The Louvre, if run by tech bros.

🐦‍⬛ Aww: TIL that English pouter pigeons exist, and I’ll never be the same again.

  1. Our faces are the end product of thousands of people who loved each others’ faces. SOURCE

  2. The spacing of vowels in the alphabet is weirdly regular. SOURCE

  3. There’s no way to smell your fingers without looking suspicious. SOURCE

  4. The ability to quickly unsubscribe from a subscription is a good indicator of how great a company is. SOURCE

  5. It is entirely plausible that some of the bipedal dinosaurs actually hopped like kangaroos. SOURCE

via Reddit

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Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen and Juliet Bennett Rylah.
Editing by: Ben “Would buy a Kenny G-autographed soprano sax so fast” Berkley.

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