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As AI becomes more robust, there’s been a lot of talk about automating the workforce. Usually, the conversation centers on blue-collar jobs like food service workers and truck drivers. But what about CEOs?

The Hustle is exploring the feasibility of automating the CEO and would love to hear from you. If you work in AI, are a CEO, or just have general thoughts about this, please fill out our two-minute survey here.

In today’s email:

  • Whiskey fungus: Not as fun as it sounds.
  • Chart: Rivian’s rocky year.
  • YouTube and Chill: Our best clips from the month.
  • Around the Web: Exploring fictional universes, terrible voice-overs, high-stakes decision making, and more cool internet finds.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s podcast to hear Zack and Juliet discuss Tennessee’s whiskey fungus problem, a chocolate heist, Starbucks’ “egregious” behavior, and more.

The big idea

A woman is suing Jack Daniel’s over whiskey fungus

If you’re watching “The Last of Us,” whisky fungus sounds like something Joel and Ellie should avoid, but it’s a reality for anyone living near a distillery.

Jack Daniel’s says 14 barrelhouses in Moore County, Tennessee — where it currently has six — would generate $1m in annual property tax revenue, per The New York Times.

Residents there and in neighboring Lincoln County claim the operation is coating everything in fungus.

What is it?

Baudoinia compniacensis, a black fungus AKA whiskey or rum fungus.

Mycologist James Scott, PhD, found that the fungus feeds on ethanol, which evaporates and spreads from wooden casks as alcohol ages.

What’s the problem?

It covers everything and always returns.

Christi Long, who owns a nearby event venue, spends ~$10k on power-washing annually. She’s suing the county’s zoning office, Jack Daniel’s parent company, alleging that its barrelhouses lack proper permits.

A judge found that was true of a new barrelhouse and ordered construction to cease, but Long’s lawyer wants Jack Daniel’s to stop using all nearby barrelhouses.

Also, while no link has been established between the fungus and bad health, residents want an air filtration system and environmental impact report.

FWIW, a similar lawsuit was dismissed in Kentucky and another is pending in Canada.

What’s JD say?

Jack Daniel’s doesn’t want to install air filters because it could interfere with its whiskey’s taste, and seems to think power-washing everything every few months is fine — but JD won’t do it, lest it be held liable for any damage to homes or buildings.

Scott told the NYT that the fungus will continue to wreck patio furniture, trees and siding until the alcohol supply is turned off.

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Ripley’s Believe It or Not! is one of several potential buyers for Pablo Escobear, the taxidermied real-life “Cocaine Bear” currently owned by a Kentucky souvenir shop. Offers range from $10k-$300k, while Ripley’s has offered an undisclosed amount.


CNET is reportedly laying off 10% of its masthead. In January, CNET paused AI-generated stories after finding errors in a majority of them.

SpaceX successfully launched four people to the ISS for NASA’s Crew-6 mission, who will remain in space for six months.

Blumhouse, which recently announced a move into gaming, is partnering with Atomic Monster on a movie based on survival-horror game “Dead by Daylight.”

Update: A NY judge ruled that Starbucks committed “egregious” misconduct during a unionization campaign in Buffalo, and must reinstate seven employees and provide back pay and damages to others.

Sweet tooth: A man allegedly broke into an industrial park in Telford, England, to steal ~200k Cadbury Creme Eggs and other chocolates worth $38k+.

Nope: The FDA rejected Neuralink’s application to test brain implants in humans in 2022, Reuters reported. Concerns included its lithium battery and how it’d be removed without damage.

Tesla’s Investor Day on Wednesday disappointed analysts with few details on a next-gen vehicle. Shares sank 6%+ on Thursday.

The tea on Gen Z: Scared to embarrass yourself in front of your younger, cooler co-worker? Same. We have data on what’s actually important to Gen Z so you can finally understand them.

The Hustle Recommends
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Olivia Heller

What’s up with Rivian?

When electric automaker Rivian went public in Nov. 2021, it briefly became the world’s third most-valuable car company after Tesla and Toyota.

But the company’s stock has fallen back to Earth, with shares down ~90% since the spike.

What’s happening? This week, Rivian reported revenue and guidance that fell below analysts’ already-modest hopes, as well as losses that totaled $6.8B last year.

  • Rivian’s Q4 revenue totaled $663m, below forecasts of $742m.
  • In 2023, it hopes to deliver 50k vehicles, below Wall Street’s goals for 60k.

Like other EV startups, Rivian faces supply chain road bumps, high costs for battery materials, growing competition, and price cuts from Tesla.

For investors, a big question is whether Rivian will be able to deliver on its promises to customers in a timely manner, or risk losing them to competition.

This week wasn’t all a bumpy ride for Rivian, though. A new JD Power EV customer satisfaction survey placed the Rivian R1T at the top spot — the first time a non-Tesla has won the title since the survey began.

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Free Resource

Let’s talk about hustle culture

We’ll say the truth — hustle culture gets toxic. (Not talkin’ about us.)

But it’s also essential. And therein lies the dilemma: toeing that gritty little line. It’s tough to stay balanced when life feels like grind-and-rewind, especially as an entrepreneur.

For the longer talk, try episode 339 of the Being Boss podcast, where old friends Emily and Corey chop up the culture.

Topics from the podcast:

  • The ebb and flow of entrepreneurship
  • How to uphold boundaries and values
  • How to protect your version of success
  • An exercise to define your hustle
  • A worksheet to evaluate your load

To keep you grounded on the grind.

Hustle Your Way 🎙️ →
youtube and chill

In case you missed ‘em, we rounded up some of our latest and greatest hits from YouTube. There’s something for everybody:

Sit back, relax, and enjoy.

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🌲 On this day: In 1891, President Benjamin Harrison signed the Forest Reserve Act. The Shoshone National Forest in Wyoming became the first national forest that same month.

✏️Blog: Making decisions as a manager or a founder can be high stakes. Here’s how to do it effectively

📚 Useful: This site logs the timelines of fictional universes, including Star Wars, DC Comics, and author Stephen King.

🎮 Haha: An archive of bad video game voice-overs.

🧩 Aww: And now, the final piece.

Shower Thoughts
  1. “It will be quite complicated when you have to explain to the tax authorities that a genie granted you a wish for a billion dollars.”   SOURCE

  2. “Our brains are hard-wired for survival, yet they have no issue with letting us daydream while driving a multi-ton death machine.”  SOURCE

  3. “The second person in a conga line is always the person who starts it.”  SOURCE

  4. “In literature, shows, or stories, if they tell you the plan, it’s not going to work. If they don’t tell you the plan, it’s definitely going to work.”  SOURCE

  5. “Opening food packages that sound like dog treat packages must make your pet think you’re eating their snacks and not sharing.”  SOURCE

via Reddit
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Editing by: Mark “Neat, no fungus” Dent.

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