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Plus: Party bus economics, Halloween’s new mascot, bizarre manuals, and more.

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Get ready for Saturday night’s skywatching showstopper: a solar eclipse known as a “ring of fire,” produced by the moon partially covering the sun. It’ll be visible to millions across the Americas, but don’t fret if you can’t see it — social media will be absolutely plastered with shitty, dark, and unfocused photos of the phenomenon that’ll immediately erase your FOMO.

In today’s email:

  • Israel-Hamas war: How technology made dark times even darker.
  • All a-bride: The economics of bachelorette party buses.
  • The pearly gates: Airports are a hot ticket, with or without a flight.
  • Around the web: Weird manuals, surprising name origins, how employee insights impact workplace strategies, and more.

👇 Listen: Why does Gen Z love LinkedIn?

The Big Idea

The world was already horrifying — technology is making it more so

From cyberattacks to crypto-funded terror, technology has amplified the devastation in Israel.
2023-10-11T00:00:00Z
Ben Berkley

Yes, technology is also making the world a better place — medical advancements, improved connectivity, and democratized information instantly spring to mind as plusses in its corner.

But as war envelops Israel this week, technology’s power to magnify the failings of humankind has been readily on display as bad actors, using an array of high-tech tools, have deepened the crisis.

Cyberattacks have spread misinformation, cut off reliable information, and limited public utilities

In addition to Hamas’ deadly attacks on the ground, hackers targeted Israeli infrastructure, per SecurityWeek:

  • Emergency warning systems were temporarily offline.
  • A power grid organization, power plant, and the nation’s largest electrical supplier were all targeted.
  • Attacks were made on Israeli government websites.

The RedAlert app, which sends citizens real-time alerts about rocket launches, was also compromised, resulting in one particularly awful fake alert about an incoming nuclear bomb.

Hackers also went after The Jerusalem Post, Israel’s largest English-language daily newspaper, taking down its website “several times.”

  • This all says nothing about the continued demise of X (formerly Twitter) as the world’s go-to breaking news platform. It’s well documented by now why it isn’t the avenue it once was for reliable reporting, but it’s brutal seeing it come to a head in this moment of crisis, as the epicenter of what Axios called “a misinformation storm.”

When Hamas punctured the Middle East’s fragile peace this week, it was cryptocurrency that made it possible

Hamas and two other groups linked to the attack — Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah — have been designated foreign terrorist organizations by the US government, which limits their access to international banking systems.

They bypassed those institutions via crypto, funding their attacks using digital wallets, per The Wall Street Journal. The PIJ and Hamas have raised up to $93m and $41m, respectively, in crypto since August 2021.

Israeli police reportedly froze more terror-linked digital accounts yesterday, but it’ll likely remain a game of Whac-A-Mole unless leading crypto exchanges crack down on financial crimes.

One more thing: This week proved how technology can be manipulated for nefarious purposes, but it also proved yet another vulnerability in a tech-forward world: technological overreliance.

Defense experts believe Israel’s focus on high-tech intelligence-gathering methods and advanced weaponry made it susceptible to a surprise low-tech ground assault.

Free Resource

How to be a remarkable manager

Shoutout to every team leader who reads our newsletter. We know it’s not easy to always stay smiling, keep folks in check, and cobble up reports.

The job is daunting to some — but for heroes like you, who’ve mastered all the key concepts in our people management guide, it’s a welcome challenge.

We’ll just leave this free ebook below, in case you’d like to brush up on your skills or make damn sure you’re killing it.

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TRENDING

Following in the footsteps of Home Depot’s 12-foot skeleton is this year’s Halloween mascot: Lewis. Target’s $180, 8-foot jack-o’-lantern has become a social media sensation for his somewhat random audio exclaiming, “I am not a jack-o’-lantern, my name is Lewis.” The hashtag #mynameislewis has 35m+ views on TikTok.

SNIPPETS

PepsiCo’s Q3 sales rose ~7% to $23.45B, despite sales volumes falling 2.5%. The company said it increased prices 11% on average, helping it stay afloat — and beat Wall Street estimates — amid high inflation.

Google’s Project Green Light, which uses AI to optimize traffic timing and reduce idling, will scale from its dozen-city pilot to more cities in 2024. It’s reduced stops by an estimated 30% where active.

More than 4k General Motors workers in Canada went on strike Tuesday. The workers, who are members of the Unifor union, walked off three GM plants in Ontario — the latest in ongoing automaker strikes.

Here we go again: The estimated prize for tonight’s Powerball drawing is $1.73B, the second-largest in the game’s history. Before you get carried away imagining what you’d do with the money, the odds of winning are one in 292.2m.

Stocking stuffer? Sony will release a new, slimmer PlayStation 5 model in November. The updated PS5 “Slim” is 30% smaller and 24% lighter than the standard console, and will start at $450.

Unity CEO John Riccitiello will be replaced by interim CEO James Whitehurst, ex-CEO of IBM’s Red Hat. The switch follows a controversial pricing model change that drew ire from game developers, leading the studio to reverse course.

Winds of change: The world’s largest offshore wind farm is now powering UK homes. The first of 277 wind turbines went into operation at a site that will power 6m homes by its completion in 2026.

Don’t miss this…

Wellness has never been more popular and water is no exception. In this week’s Trends TLDR, we break down opportunities to turn water into cash.

Bus Biz

The big business of bachelorette party buses

Close your eyes and imagine the city of Nashville. Maybe you picture the Cumberland River, the Grand Ole Opry, or the Country Music Hall of Fame.

But maybe you think of a different image: A dozen young women gathered atop a party bus — bedazzled cowboy hats gleaming, pink sashes flying — shouting “Woohoo!” as they toss their caution and, perhaps, a handful of plastic penis straws to the wind.

Welcome to the modern bachelorette party.

Whether you consider bachelorette parties an occasion to splurge with friends, or a scourge tormenting America’s most Instagrammable mid-size cities, one thing is true: They’re big business.

The average cost of a nine-person bachelorette party now tops $10.8k, according to data from the Bach app, which helps groups plan, book, and pay for party experiences.

And no business has benefited more than that most quintessential of bachelorette experiences: the party bus. Party buses are the most popular category within the Bach app, says app founder and CEO Mike Petrakis, with the average booking ranging from $600 to $800 for a private tour.

But will buses continue to dominate the bachelorette scene? Or are regulators and venture capitalists about to spoil the party?

Read the full story →
Taking Off

The next big travel destination might be the airport itself

Airports want tourists to come spend time — and money — without flights.
2023-10-11T00:00:00Z
Sara Friedman

Put down the passport: Your next day trip could soon be all airport, no airplane.

After pouring $2.8B into construction, Orlando International Airport’s Terminal C is ready to show off its new look — for a price.

The airport launched an Experience MCO visitor program that offers a trip option sans actual traveling:

  • After completing an online application, approved visitors go through standard TSA screening and present their passes.
  • The program accommodates up to 50 guests a day and includes access to Terminal C.
  • Inside, visitors can visit the terminal’s restaurants and shops, use its premium lounge, and admire its palm trees and murals.

Since the pilot program’s launch last month, 1.4k+ people have applied for passes.

Now, Experience MCO aims to attract even more foot traffic to the terminal, which has already seen 6.4m people pass through since opening in 2022.

This isn’t the first program of its kind

Pittsburgh’s airport launched its (now paused) program in 2017, and Seattle’s visitor pass program, launched in 2018, was so successful that it increased its guest capacity to 300 a day.

It’s a trend that’s likely to continue as investors eye ways to make airports more than just a point of transportation.

Plus, the Biden administration’s 2022 bipartisan infrastructure law has allocated $1B annually over five years to improve US airport infrastructure (though it’s estimated they’ll need $151B+ more).

And airports are increasingly betting…

… on the visitor experience — from high-tech security and bathrooms to striking architecture and greenery.

  • Oregon’s Portland International Airport has budgeted $1.5B to turn its main terminal into a Portland-inspired “street” with local shops and restaurants.
  • New York’s LaGuardia Airport recently finished its $8B overhaul to make the airport feel more like a luxury resort than a transit hub.

And back in Orlando, there’s even a digital “Moment Vault” where travelers can have an immersive, interactive experience.

Who even needs the plane?

AROUND THE WEB

🎤 On this day: In 1975, Bruce Springsteen achieved his first Top 40 hit with “Born to Run.”

🎷 That’s interesting: Things you may have never known were named after people, like the saxophone.

🎧 Podcast: On Truth, Lies and Workplace Culture, dive deep into the world of employee insights, how they can mold our workplace strategies, and why they’re more important than ever.

🍔 That’s interesting: The Internet Archive’s Manuals Showcase features some curious manuals, including a guide to training a pet rock and specifications for building a McDonaldland.

🐢 Aww: Tiny tortoise, big salad.

MEME

Now that’s a scary costume. (Link)

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Today’s email was brought to you by Juliet Bennett Rylah and Sara Friedman.
Editing by: Ben “Leaves every airport at terminal velocity” Berkley.

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