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🛑 The metaverse has a problem

The Hustle

Kenyon Wilson, a University of Tennessee professor, wanted to see if any of his 70 students read his class’s syllabus this semester. To do so, he wrote the location and combination of a locker with $50 inside on the 2nd page. When the semester ended on Dec. 8, the cash remained. Lesson: Read the freakin’ syllabus.

Today’s rundown:

  • Virtual harassment: The metaverse has a problem.
  • Bad bread: How bakeries landed in the middle of Turkey’s currency crisis.
  • Digits: The NBA’s nuke bunker, menu sizes, and road cheese.
  • Around the web: Rats that play video games, baking hacks, and more wild internet things.

Let’s do it.

The big idea
VR harassment

The metaverse has the same harassment problem as the rest of the internet

People are jerks in the metaverse, too, an unsurprising trend as the virtual world expands.

Take Meta’s new Horizon Worlds — a free Oculus platform that lets people create a VR avatar, build worlds and items, and interact and play games with others.

Players can gather in the Plaza, which is where a beta tester said someone tried to “grope” her avatar, per The Verge. She wrote it felt “more intense” than harassment on the regular, 2D internet.

VR harassment isn’t new

In a 2018 survey of 600 people who used VR at least 2x per month, 49% of women and 36% of men reported sexual harassment.

In 2016, a woman blogged about her experience playing “QuiVR,” an archery game. She was having a great time until a stranger chased her around trying to grope her avatar.

She told The Guardian the “shock” she felt was about equal to similar incidents in real life.

That makes sense…

… when you consider the point of VR is to be immersive.

A 2020 study also found that those who experienced a negative scenario in VR reported more intense emotions — which they dwelled on for longer — than those who experienced it in 2D games.

So, how do you moderate it?

  • After the “QuiVR” incident, its creators added a gesture that put players in their own bubbles.
  • Meta has Safe Zone, a feature that puts the user in a protective bubble. They can also report or block bad actors.

These methods put the onus on players, but some VR players say they were unable to identify — and therefore report — players using racist and sexist speech.

VR app Rec Room responded by testing and implementing AI moderation to weed out slurs and explicit statements, which could be one solution. But it still doesn’t address the groping.

BTW: We tried Worlds’ sibling, Horizon Venues, this weekend. We found a bunch of kids (despite age restrictions), a political debate, and a guy waving his hand in everyone’s face yelling, “Where are you from?” Cool?

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SNIPPETS

Linear commerce: Hearst announced plans to launch a luxury ecommerce marketplace called The Tower, led by fashion industry veteran Ken Downing. #ecommerce-retail

Electric Hummers: GM announced the 1st deliveries of its Hummer EV truck, which starts at $80k. #clean-energy

TikTok chat: TikTok announced it launched a Discord server, staffed it with 5 moderators, for users to chat about whatever they’d like. #emerging-tech

Crypto’s big hacks: In 2021, there have been 20+ hacks where hackers have stolen over $10m in cryptocurrencies. #privacy

Web3 kicks: Adidas announced it will launch its 1st NFTs. The company also purchased a plot of land in The Sandbox. #fintech-crypto

Acquisition, approved: UK regulators expect to pass Meta’s acquisition of Kustomer, which makes customer success software. #big-tech

Twitter thread: The Hustle‘s Rob Litterst details how Whoop is challenging Apple for the fitness tracker throne. #hustle-picks

Currency Crisis
loaves of bread

Source: Feifei Cui-Paoluzzo/Getty Images

Turkey’s currency crisis made bread a political issue, and bakeries are losing dough

Rising food prices are affecting consumers across the world, but in Turkey it’s on another level.

The reason? The lira, the country’s currency, has dropped in value by ~50% since February, per The New York Times.

The result is devastating for Turkish consumers…

… who are facing both rising food prices, and declining purchasing power.

To make their lives easier, both federal and local governments are pushing to make bread — a staple of most Turkish meals — more affordable.

But instead of working together, political rivals are pitting their moves against each other:

  • The federal government subsidized cheap flour, and capped the price that bakeries are allowed to charge
  • In Istanbul, the municipal government has boosted supply of cheap bread at local factories to 1.5m loaves per day at ½ the price of the federal limit

This combination of moves leaves one party in the crossfire: Turkish bakeries.

While subsidized flour is nice…

… bakeries are still facing rising costs for other ingredients, like yeast and sesame seeds. Plus, the federal price limit means many are selling their products for less than its costs.

With cheaper bread available for ½ the price down the road, bakery sales are down ~⅓, leaving many at risk of bankruptcy.

Read more: Turkish bread is widely celebrated for being delicious, and also surprisingly easy to make at home.

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Free Resource

Your “go-to-market” and “make-mad-sales” kit

A+ product launches are much less daunting when everybody’s cruising.

With all hands on deck, it’s crucial to keep internal correspondence and planning as streamlined as possible. But instead of starting from scratch, here’s a strong head start.

6 go-to-market planning templates to help you:

  • Nail the 10-part sales plan
  • Plan product launches
  • Send product update emails
  • Map product life cycles
  • Create success roadmaps
  • Conduct SWOT analyses

These docs and spreadsheets help align teams for continued success. The 10-piece sales plan template misses nothing.

You can thank SamCart and HubSpot for this clean assembly of resources.

Proper product launch kit →
Digits
tapes

Source: Koron/Getty Images

By the numbers: The NBA’s nuke bunker, menu sizes, and road cheese

1) Well, that’s neat. The NBA has 50k game tapes secured in a nuclear mountain bunker in New Jersey that was first built for AT&T. The NBA’s collection equates to 37 petabytes of content, ~2x the amount of the Library of Congress’s digital collection.

2) Run for your life, Remy from Ratatouille. Brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difenacoum, and difethialone — AKA rat poisons — are flying off the shelves. By 2027, the rodenticide market is expected to grow to $5.8B, up from $3.8B in 2020 — a problem for all kinds of wildlife who suffer from secondhand poisonings.

3) An analysis of 4.8k US restaurant menus found that 60% reduced its size in 2021. The shrinkage was especially dramatic in the fine dining category, where menu lengths shrunk by 23%. This wouldn’t have anything to do with supply chain madness and a 5.8% uptick in food prices, would it?

4) Back in the olden days, before Joe Rogan’s exclusive Spotify deal, he charged 10s of thousands for an ad on his podcast. Now, under Spotify’s rule, the price will soon be $1m a pop — at minimum.

5) It’s that time of year again. You know, the time when 15m-17m tons of road salt are dumped onto American streets. This year, though, some states are salting roads with the environment in mind. Minnesota, which spent $9m on salt last year, is experimenting with beet juice. Wisconsin, unsurprisingly, is trying cheese brine.

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AROUND THE WEB

🧚 On this day: In 1812, the Brothers Grimm published Children’s and Household Tales. The 1st of 2 volumes contained 86 folktales, including Rapunzel and Cinderella, though the Grimms’ versions were often darker than the stories we know today.

😀 Useful: Need a character that isn’t on your keyboard? Copy it from this website, which offers currency, emojis, hieroglyphs, and more.

🗡 That’s cool: Archaeologists found a rare, 9th-century Viking sword in a hidden cemetery on a Scottish island.

🍪 How to: You’re about to bake something, but realize you’re out of a key ingredient. Here’s what to sub for milk, eggs, butter, and more.

🐀 Wait, what: A neuroengineer who taught rats to play the video game “Doom II” says he wants to start a Twitch channel.

🦜 Aww: And now, a bird karaokes AC/DC.

Meme of the day
VR meme

Mom would not approve… (Source: Know Your Meme)

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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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