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The Hustle

Researchers hailed the discovery of a rare creature beneath Scotland’s lochs… and they’re just freshwater pearl mussels. Endangered mollusks are great — they can live for 100+ years, grow to the size of a human hand, and spit out a few pearls now and then — but they’ll never be Nessie.

In today’s email:

  • No filter: France takes aim at influencer trickery.
  • Instacart: One grocery delivery service’s pursuit of self-worth.
  • Weekend Reads: Our best links for your best days.
  • Around the Web: Zany acronyms, Zoom etiquette, remembering another Mario movie, and more internet finds.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s podcast to hear Zack and Juliet discuss a French bill targeting deceptive influencers, MLB pay, ChatGPT mishaps, and more.

The big idea
France flag

France vs. social media dishonesty

France is cracking down on influencers, taking aim at everything from crypto scams to filters.

A proposed bill defines influencers as people who use their celebrity to promote goods, services, or causes in digital content in exchange for compensation, per The Washington Post.

Basically, anyone from Kim K. to that Instagram lifestyle guru whose positive vibe is all thanks to this particular brand of essential oils.

If passed, it would:

  • Require influencers disclose paid content.
  • Ban paid promotion of cosmetic surgery and some financial products, including crypto.
  • Require influencers to label photos and videos where their faces or bodies have been manipulated by filters or editing.
  • Add banners to content promoting anything risky, such as gambling.

If passed…

…  violators of France’s bill would face six months of jail and a $328k fine. That sounds intense, but the bill asserts that yes, influencing is a real job and should be held to the same standards as other media or advertisers.

But wait, why filters?

We’re not talking about puppy dog ears or… whatever is happening here. We’re talking about tools that promote unrealistic body types and beauty standards.

  • Studies have found young social media users’ mental health and self-esteem is negatively impacted when they can’t look like influencers — who often achieve those looks via filters, photo editing, and cosmetic procedures.
  • In 2019, The Guardian reported on “Snapchat dysmorphia,” a term coined by cosmetic doctor Tijion Esho to refer to people who want procedures to look like their filtered selfies.

Norway passed a similar photo-editing law in 2021, though experts worry such regulations don’t address the root cause of body image issues, draw more attention to manipulated photos, and encourage people to go to greater lengths (e.g., surgery, extreme diets) to achieve desired looks.

View on site
eyeball wearing a hat

Every dollar you make: Diddy said he pays Sting $5k a day for sampling “Everything Breath You Take” on “I’ll Be Missing You” sans permission. Sting, who once stated the price was $2k/day, said Diddy’s fees have helped put his kids through college, but they’re “good pals.”


TodAI in AI: A corporate cautionary tale in the making saw Samsung employees leak confidential company info by feeding it into ChatGPT — on at least three separate occasions. Yikes.

Also troubling: Brian Hood, mayor of Australia’s Hepburn Shire, may sue over ChatGPT saying he went to prison for bribery; he was the whistleblower in the scandal. ChatGPT also named a law professor in a sexual harassment scandal that never happened, citing a Washington Post article that didn’t exist.

Still no: In another effort to convince people to pay for Twitter, Blue subscribers will now see half the ads the rest of us plebes do as they scroll the app.

Meanwhile, NPR is still baffled as to why Twitter labeled it “state-affiliated media,” which it is not. Twitter’s former head of trust, Yoel Roth, said it’s “misleading” to establish a false equivalency between public broadcasters and those controlled by governments.

Pretty bleak, Kristalina: IMF boss Kristalina Georgieva expects slower growth rates for the global economy over the next five years — projecting a 3% growth rate, down from the 3.8% average of the last two decades — saying the “path back to robust growth is rough and foggy.”

Raising the Genius Bar: India will soon get its first Apple Store, with the retailer set to open in Mumbai. Apple’s investment in India is on the rise — last year saw a 65% increase in the number of iPhones made in the country. Still, iPhone’s market share in India is projected to reach just ~5% in 2023.

Vested interests: Whoever is making investments for Girl Scouts USA is living up to the “Be prepared” motto — the org reported ~$62m in real estate assets in 2022, with most of its properties located in New York. Smart cookies.

Spooky: Blumhouse’s Five Nights at Freddy’s, a film based on the horror video game of the same name, will get a simultaneous theater and Peacock debut on Oct. 27. Extra fun? The animatronic antagonists were designed by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop.

Top Ramen and Cup Noodles maker Nissin reported sales up 41% YoY in Q4 2022. Nissin has introduced healthier, lower-sodium offerings and recently dropped a line of breakfast flavors.

Major strides: Minor league baseball players followed a $185m settlement with MLB on a class-action minimum-wage suit with another big win — their minimum salaries will see striking jumps this year (Triple-A players will go from $17.5k to $35.8k; rookie league players will now earn $19.8k, up from $4.8k).

Important update: Sweetgreen will change its “Chipotle Chicken Burrito Bowl” to the “Chicken + Chipotle Pepper Bowl” to resolve Chipotle’s lawsuit. Chipotle is the name of the burrito chain; a chipotle is a smoke-dried ripe jalapeno.

Instacart valuation over time

Instacart’s journey of self-discovery turns another corner

“What is my worth?” is a question all grocery delivery services must ask themselves at some point along the way. As Instacart has learned, those answers don’t always come easily.

Instacart, a personal shopping aid for ~10m users, has seen its valuation rise and fall, and now, it seems, it’s ready to rise again.

According to The Information, an 18% increase to Instacart’s internal stock price in February brings its valuation to ~$12B, up from ~$10B late last year — but a far cry from its 2021 peak of $39B.

So, what happened here?

Private tech companies have seen great fluctuation in internal value lately. (Ask Stripe, now valued at ~$50B just two years after a $95B valuation.)

In Instacart’s case, it, in part, has public rivals to thank:

  • Its internal share price is set through a 409A valuation exercise, in which consultants measure a company’s quarterlies against the stock performance of similar publicly traded companies.

Adding to Instacart’s wild ride: The food delivery sector in particular was due for some post-pandemic level setting.

  • Stocks of competitors DoorDash and Uber saw years of tumult. They’ve stabilized of late (up 31% and 25%, respectively, YTD), lifting up Instacart’s internal valuation with them.
  • This isn’t just an Instacart thing; Good Eggs, another grocery delivery firm, has cut its valuation 94% since 2020.

What’s next for Instacart?

Eleven years since its founding, it has long flirted with an IPO and appears to still be waiting for the right window.

Valuation drama aside, Instacart isn’t hurting too much in the meantime — last year’s $2.5B revenue says as much. It also introduced food-stamp payments, added stores, and grew Instacart+ memberships in 2022.

BTW: Stretching your driver’s car to capacity by ordering in bulk? Maybe tip them heartily?

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Machine learning vs. deep learning

Both of them are AI-driven tech… but what are the identifying factors?

Jamal delivers a butterlike breakdown in this video:

  • Machine learning: An algorithm that enables machines to improve performance via experience (e.g., diagnosing illnesses, predicting stocks).
  • Deep learning: A subset of machine learning that tries to mimic the layered neural network of human brains (e.g., surgery robots, self-driving cars).
  • The gap between Us and Them: Shrinking.

Spot the difference. Here’s how.

Watch now →
Weekend Reads

Welcome to Weekend Reads

In case you missed ’em, here’s this week’s best…

  • Tweet: TFW when time is a construct, but not for you.
  • Blog: Sure, accounting isn’t the sexiest topic. But when it comes to keeping your business afloat, it’s pretty darn important. Here’s everything you need to know.
  • Charts: Americans love boba tea. Meanwhile, private boards remain — depressingly — a boys’ club.
  • Story: How Becky Schroeder’s glow-in-the-dark paper made her the youngest female inventor at age 12.
  • Video: Our YouTube team explores how nuns got squeezed out of the Communion-wafer market.

🍺 On this day: In 1933, the Cullen-Harrison Act made beer with an ABV of 3.2% or less legal in the US (Prohibition was repealed on Dec. 5). Upon signing the law, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “I think this would be a good time for a beer.” Today, April 7 is known as National Beer Day.

🍄 That’s interesting: The Super Mario Bros. Movie is out now, but Inverse talked to eight people involved with the 1993 live-action disaster, Super Mario Bros.

✏️ From our blog: Three years in, and some Zoom meetings are getting sloppy. Here are best practices for virtual meeting etiquette.

🌟 Haha: The Dumb or Overly Forced Astronomical Acronyms Site (DOOFAS) is a site that… well, logs silly astronomical acronyms, such as A Broadband/Resonant Approach to Cosmic Axion Detection with an Amplifying B-field Ring Apparatus (ABRACADABRA).

🦍 Aww: And now, a daring heist.

  1. 1 April (1/4) is also 1/4 of the way into the year. SOURCE

  2. Tater tots are short for potato toddlers. SOURCE

  3. Every civilization independently found out that putting meat inside a little dough packet is delicious. SOURCE

  4. Openly saying you‘re 5’11” is an actual green flag. SOURCE

  5. Horsepower is a ridiculous way to measure something. SOURCE

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