🚭 Juul’s valuation = vaporized - The Hustle
The Hustle

🚭 Juul’s valuation = vaporized

Plus: Montana’s car monopoly, productivity hacks, a baby skunk, and more.

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The UK has a new crime-fighting duo. After a drunk driver fled the scene of his crash, a local chef chased him into a nearby animal sanctuary, where an emu pecked him repeatedly, allowing police to catch up to him.

In today’s email:

  • Metamusic: Virtual concerts are in.
  • Chart: The rise and fall of Juul.
  • Digits: A big lawsuit, Montana supercars, and more.
  • Around the web: Productivity hacks, geography games, a viral oyster, and more cool internet finds.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s 10-minute podcast to hear Jacob and Rob discuss Netflix suing a musical, whether Marvel’s movie business is seeing cracks, and Juul’s valuation getting vaporized.

The big idea

Are virtual concerts here to stay?

Last week, MTV announced a new category for this year’s Video Music Awards: best metaverse performance.

If that doesn’t say mainstream, then consider the six nominees: superstars Ariana Grande, Blackpink, BTS, Charli XCX, Twenty One Pilots, and Justin Bieber.

What are these concerts like?

Whether they take place in VR worlds or on gaming platforms, they all involve digital musicians performing for a digital audience. But each one is unique:

  • In Grande’s The Rift Tour in “Fortnite,” players surf on cotton candy-colored waves and fight a giant monster.
  • Twenty One Pilots and Charli XCX recorded their “Roblox” sets in motion-capture suits. Here’s Twenty One Pilots in the suits; here’s the end result.
  • Bieber, who partnered with concert platform Wave, performed live in a motion-capture suit and responded to fans’ real-time messages.

There’s reason to believe the trend won’t slow down.

For fans, it offers access from anywhere in the world. It’s cheaper than an IRL concert, strangers won’t slosh beer on them, and there isn’t a bad seat in the house.

For musicians, it can be especially lucrative.

  • “Fortnite” held its first concert in 2019 with EDM musician Marshmello. It netted him 147k new Twitter followers, and grew his daily YouTube views by 500%.
  • In 2020, 12.3m+ people attended Travis Scott’s nine-minute “Fortnite” concert. It grossed ~$20m in merch, compared to $53.5m for his entire IRL Astroworld tour, per Forbes.

For platforms, music’s biggest stars draw people who might otherwise never make an account.

BTW: Perhaps you’d like to enter Megan Thee Stallion’s “Hottieverse”?

SNIPPETS

Keep it simple: Google CEO Sundar Pichai launched a new project, “Simplicity Sprint,” to help improve the company’s focus and productivity amid challenging market conditions. It’s requesting idea submissions on boosting efficiency from its 174k+ employees.

Going my way? Uber’s new feature shows drivers what they’ll earn and a rider’s destination in advance, hopefully meaning fewer canceled trips for riders.

Lost logos: Web3 company Helium is in hot water for wrongful promotion. Salesforce and Lime, whose logos were featured on Helium’s homepage, said they do not use the product. Helium has since removed both logos from its website.

Apology donut: Canadian chain Tim Hortons is apparently very sorry its app tracked users’ location data. To make up for it, affected users will get a free hot drink and a baked good, worth ~$6.71.

Celeb jet update: Taylor Swift’s team wants you to know that her private jet is often loaned out, meaning she’s not responsible for the 8.2k+ metric tons of carbon it’s emitted in the last seven months.

We have a winner: An Illinois resident has won the ~$1.3B Mega Millions jackpot. They can choose to receive an annual payout for the next 29 years, or a one-time payment of ~$780.5m, excluding taxes.

Mistakes were made: We interviewed the founder of a failed fintech startup to find out where it all went wrong. Have a failed startup story of your own? Tell us about it here and you could be featured in The Hustle.

Chart

Selina Lee

The rise and fall of Juul

In 2018, Juul was everywhere from college campuses to middle school bathrooms.

So, unsurprisingly, Marlboro parent company Altria ponied up $12.8B that year for 35% of the e-cig pioneer and Silicon Valley jewel, notching it a $38B valuation.

But something else happened

Multiple outlets reported a Juul epidemic taking place in American schools, leading the FDA to take action, including:

  • Coordinating a massive effort prohibiting retailers from selling Juuls to minors.
  • Investigating Juul’s marketing to minors (e.g., its sweet-tooth flavors like mango and crème brûlée).

In June, the FDA banned Juul from selling its products in the US, and ordered the company to remove its existing lineup from the market.

Altria’s stake in Juul…

… has since plummeted 97% in value to $450m, per WSJ.

  • One silver lining: Altria can now likely scrap its noncompete agreement with Juul and bring its own e-cigs to market.

However that effort goes, it’s unlikely consumers will feel as strongly about its flavors as the Juul faithful.

Free Resource

Join thousands of innovators at INBOUND

It’s back. And brimming with distinguished speakers.

This September, an electric lineup of leaders including Viola Davis, Dr. Jane Goodall, and Glennon Doyle take the INBOUND stage in Boston.

Tune in live or online for the annual HubSpot banger and four-day function featuring change-makers in business, tech, and beyond.

The online Starter Pass is free. Share it abundantly.

Experience INBOUND on Sept. 6-9

That free ticket lets you into Spotlight Speaker and meetup sessions…

But INBOUND is best enjoyed in full. If you’re reading this, you can cop 20% off a General Admission or Powerhouse Digital Pass with code HUSTLEDISCOUNT2022.

Featured musical guest Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue will reunite for the jams.

Ticket to INBOUND →
By the numbers

Digits: A big lawsuit, Montana supercars, and more

1) A Texas jury ordered telecommunications giant Charter Spectrum to pay $7B in punitive damages to the relatives of an 83-year-old woman murdered by one of their technicians. It’s likely the judge will significantly reduce the penalty based on precedent.

2) Big $ky country? Apparently, Montana license plates adorn a disproportionate number of ultra-luxury cars in America, including 10% of all McLaren P1s and four of the 100 Pagani Huayras ever made — the result of lax state residency laws and no sales tax.

3) Netflix has a lot of franchise-building to do. In May, ~40% of Netflix TV demand was for franchise shows, with exclusive series like “Stranger Things” making up 11.6% of that. On Disney+, for comparison, 28% of demand is for original franchises.

4) Speaking of… Netflix just sued the creators of an unofficial “Bridgerton” musical aptly named “The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical.” Understandably, Netflix wasn’t happy musicians used the show’s intellectual property to write a Grammy-winning theater album and sell out a corresponding show with $149 tickets.

5) The Port of LA gets hit with something like 40m cyberattacks every month, mostly from Russia and Europe. It’s the West’s busiest port and moves $250B+ in goods every year. Literally doesn’t sound stressful at all.

AROUND THE WEB

🎢 On this day: In 1961, the first Six Flags opened in Arlington, Texas. Today, the company owns 26 parks across North America.

Useful: The 50 best productivity hacks, as voted on by the internet.

🦪 That’s interesting: An interview with the mildly terrifying viral sensation that is the Halifax Oyster Festival mascot.

🔍 Cure boredom: This game shows you a short video clip, then asks you to guess where in the world it’s from. Play the daily challenge or check out random clips.

🦨 Aww: And now, the cutest baby skunk.

Meme

Maybe one day it’ll be cool. (Source: imgflip.com)

How did you like today’s email?
Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen, Juliet Bennett Rylah, and Rob Litterst.
Editing by: Jennifer “Are there mosh pits in the metaverse?” Wang.

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