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🟦 Facebook = Meta

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Need a scary movie for Halloween? Juliet, our in-house expert on all things spooky, recommends Malignant (campy fun), The Night House (poignant and atmospheric), and Werewolves Within (if you do your horror with a side of comedy). Also, keep an eye out for her Sunday story on the economics of pumpkin patches.

Today’s rundown:

  • That’s so Meta: Facebook’s rebrand, explained.
  • Fantastic beasts: Which mythological creatures win the internet?
  • Foxtrot Q&A: Meet the CEO of a convenience store that’s a coffee shop in the morning and a date spot at night.
  • Around the web: Millennials running gravestone businesses, a pumpkin-carving game, and more internet… things.

Let’s do it.

The Big Idea
Meta & Facebook logos

Facebook is now Meta

The last time Mark Zuckerberg renamed his social network, it was very cosmetic: dropping “The” from “The Facebook” (thank you, Justin Timberlake).

Yesterday, Facebook received a full makeover and will now be known as Meta.

Why the change?

The official reason is that Facebook wants a name to reflect its ambitions in the metaverse, which is a future vision of the internet that is a persistent shared digital space (and probably includes AR or VR tools).

Earlier in the week, Zuckerberg announced at Facebook’s earnings call that 2021 operating profits would fall by ~$10B because of the company’s huge investments in VR and metaverse-related hardware.

On Thursday, Zuckerberge laid out…

… the full metaverse road map

It took place during the Facebook Connect event. Here are highlights per The Verge:

  • “Meta” name: While obviously a nod to the “metaverse,” Zuckerberg already owned the URL for his medical philanthropic arm
  • Facebook Reality Labs: Zuckerberg said Meta’s corporate structure will stay the same but that the company will now report 2 operating segments: Family of Apps (Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram etc.) and Facebook Reality Labs (VR/AR/Metaverse operations)
  • Examples of the Metaverse: In a 1hr+ video, Zuckerberg demo’d what metaverse life may look like including virtual fitness, exploration, and workplace activities
  • Ticker change: Facebook will start trading as $MVRS on December 1 (replacing $FB)

The changes come with Facebook under fire

Over the past few weeks, leaked internal documents — provided by former Facebook employee and whistleblower Frances Haugen — showed how the platform was failing to police hate speech and potentially creating a toxic environment for teenage well-being.

Two popular comparisons for Facebook’s name change:

  • when cigarette giant Phillip Morris rebranded as Altria
  • when Google rebranded as Alphabet

The former was done as a way to ditch a toxic brand. The latter was done to create a tech holding business. How will history remember Facebook’s rebrand?

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A Kmart specter, a Toys R Us ghost: For Halloween, Retail Dive explores urban legends and reported hauntings at US stores and malls. #ecommerce-retail

Just how many solar-power stations are there? Per researchers, nearly 69k — 4x+ the number previously found in public databases. #clean-energy

Ooh: Adobe’s new Project In-Between uses AI to create animations out of still images. #emerging-tech

Google Fi users on Android phones will get end-to-end encrypted calls by default, but only when calling each other. #privacy

A Thai department store is testing out its own crypto, first giving it to 80k employees to use at stores. If it goes well, customers could be next. #fintech-crypto

Video game company Activision Blizzard announced the steps it will take to improve after a lawsuit revealed allegations of harassment and discrimination. #big-tech

Monterey, Mac’s new OS, is here. Wired breaks down the new features. #big-tech

Creature Feature
mythical creature search stats

Viz: Singdhi Sokpo

The most popular mythical creatures for Halloween 2021

In a previous newsletter, we asked about your Halloween costumes. Here are some of our favorite responses:

  • Mrs. Frizzle, “space dress, red hair, lizard, and all” (Lindsey from Ann Arbor, MI)
  • The Little Lad Who Loves Berries and Cream (Jillian from Worcester, MA)
  • A lobster in a 1970s Elvis costume — a shellfish impersonator (Martin from Surrey, BC, Canada)

What else is popular in 2021?

Other than Squid Game costumes? Well, price comparison website scoured Reddit, Google, TikTok, and Instagram for mentions and searches of mythological creatures, assigning each a popularity score of 0-25 per platform.

Here are the top 5:

1. Dragon (92)

2. Zombie (91)

3. Unicorn (90)

4. Vampire (83)

5. Elf (81)

Given our pop culture landscape, these results aren’t so surprising

  • “Game of Thrones” prequel “House of the Dragon” came in hot with new teasers — and costume ideas — this month.
  • Zombies are always in, but stuff like the final season of “The Walking Dead” and Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead have kept them top of braaaain.
  • We got plenty of new vamps this year from “American Horror Story: Red Tide” and a new season of “What We Do in the Shadows” to Netflix’s new horror flick, Night Teeth.

And while fantasy horses are cool, what about dressing like your favorite tech unicorn? This guy did it with SpaceX’s Starman.

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Modern Convenience

Q&A: Foxtrot CEO Mike LaVitola on reinventing the convenience store

If you’ve been to Chicago in the last 5 years, you might have come across Foxtrot, a modern convenience store that seems to have everything you ever wanted.

We spoke with CEO Mike LaVitola about how Foxtrot got started, and how he’s redefined what a convenience store can be.

How did Foxtrot get started?

About 7 years ago, my co-founder, Taylor, and I were living in Chicago, and realized all of our favorite neighborhoods had cool bars, restaurants, and shops, but at the corner of every block was a big, multinational convenience store.

What is the biggest difference between Foxtrot and 7-Eleven?

We realized that chains like 7-Eleven know which categories drive frequency, so we followed their lead with the categories, but merchandised them with products we love.

Beyond that, it’s the retail experience. Each store functions as a coffee shop in the morning, a cafe in the afternoon, and a market at night. I was at one of our stores last night, and there were 3 Bumble dates going on. I’m guessing that’s not happening at 7-Eleven.

What are 3 of your favorite brands that you sell at Foxtrot?

  • Carol’s Cookies, which we’ve carried since day one
  • Momoshack, which makes amazing dumplings — we discovered them through our Up & Comers program
  • Athletic Brewing, which serves a great use case and really transformed a category

Do you have a request for a startup?

If someone could make a nonalcoholic wine that tastes good, I’d be all ears.

Read the full Q&A here.

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📚 On this day: In 1965, The Autobiography of Malcolm X was published, 9 months after he was murdered in New York. The book is a collaboration between Malcolm X and journalist Alex Haley, author of the 1976 miniseries “Roots: The Saga of an American Family.”

💻 How to: If you find yourself using Microsoft Teams a lot, here are 7 tips to help you use it like a pro.

⚰️ That’s interesting: Headstone carving may seem like a lost art, but there are ~20 businesses in the US keeping the tradition alive, many owned by millennial and Gen Z artists.

😮 Art: “Forever is Now” is the 1st art show to use Egypt’s famous pyramids of Giza as its backdrop, resulting in some jaw-dropping images.

🥨 Haha: Comedian Alonzo Lerone tries pumpkin-spice everything. It does not go well.

🎃  Cure boredom: For a little Halloween team building, check out “Mayor Bones Proudly Presents Ghost Town’s 1000th Annual Pumpkin Festival.”

Tweet of the day
Zuck with bbq sauce in background

During the Facebook Connect event, a peculiar object appeared on Mark Zuckerberg’s home bookshelf: a bottle of Sweet Baby Rays BBQ sauce.

Zuck is known as a BBQ enthusiast — and in the tweet above, Instagram head Adam Mosseri seems to confirm the easter egg.


(A roundup of our best reads from the last couple weeks…)

👩‍💻 The burgeoning business of OnlyFans consulting

🎥 Redbox is proving it’s much more than a DVD kiosk company

📊 What you can learn by analyzing data from ‘The Bachelor’

🐄 What the odd economics of milk and sawdust teaches us about supply chains.

🍷 BoyWithNoJob just launched Spritz Society, a canned wine cocktail.

Shower Thoughts
  1. “Teachers swear and students swear, but when they’re together they both can’t swear.”
  2. “QR codes are the opposite of Captchas. Unreadable to humans but easily interpreted by machines.”
  3. “Condom companies exist to eliminate their future customers.”
  4. “If stress ruins meat, then most humans must taste like garbage.”
  5. “Actors start off in commercials playing someone else, but when they’ve really made it they return to commercials playing themselves.”
via Reddit

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