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Today’s meme was AI-generated by DALL-E 2 using the prompt: “a macro image of Gandalf surfing in Hawaii.” Have other prompt ideas? Submit them here.

In today’s email:

  • Optimus: Why Tesla made a robot.
  • Chart: Productivity paranoia.
  • Digits: Tomatoes, top songs, and more.
  • Around the Web: Bad leadership strategies, why we love office shows, a strange jog, and more cool internet finds.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s 10-minute podcast to hear Rob and Jacob discuss Tesla’s robot and bright spots for Meta, whose stock is down 20% from where it was… five years ago.

The big idea
Tesla Robot

Zachary Crockett

Tesla’s robot, explained

For $20k, you could soon have your very own humanoid robot, courtesy of Elon Musk.

The Tesla founder revealed Optimus, a robot equipped with some of the same sensors and AI software as Tesla’s cars, at the company’s 2022 AI Day event.

Why is Tesla building a robot?

The plan is for Tesla to start using Optimus in its own factories, then roll it out to consumers for household applications.

Consumer robots aren’t exactly a new idea:

  • Amazon unveiled Astro, a household robot designed for home monitoring, in 2021 but has yet to release it for mass consumption.
  • iRobot’s Roomba vacuum is perhaps the most successful consumer robot of all time, a big reason why Amazon acquired the company for $1.7B in August.

Besides toys and vacuums, robots have yet to live up to the hype. But Musk is bullish, calling Optimus “the most important product development we’re doing this year,” claiming future applications could include cooking and gardening.

But Optimus has a long way to go

Musk’s team brought multiple prototypes on stage; one danced and another waved — impressive feats of engineering, but well short of emptying the dishwasher.

  • Critics argue that Boston Dynamics’ robots are much further along. The company’s humanoid robot, Atlas, can do backflips.

But Musk claims Tesla’s advantage is that its robots are made for mass production — meaning, if successful, we could soon have an actual robot army on our hands.

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eyeball wearing a hat

Nice: Google Japan released the latest version of its gag keyboard, the Gboard bar. This time, it’s hilariously long and has a multitude of critical uses.


Bruce Willis did not sell his digital likeness to a deepfake firm, his team said, following reports of a “digital twin” deal with Deepcake.

Shen the T. rex, a 43-foot-long skeleton from Montana, is expected to sell for up to $25m in the first ever T. rex auction in Asia.

Tencent is no longer China’s most valuable company, falling behind liquor behemoth Kweichow Moutai, valued at ~$330B.

NASA confirmed Friday that its SLS rocket launch will be pushed back until at least mid-November.

Walgreens’ robotic prescription centers, now serving 1.8k stores, could cut costs and allow pharmacists to focus on patient services.

Live shopping on TikTok may launch soon in the US. Last year, its Chinese sister app, Douyin, sold 10B+ products via livestreams.

Peloton has agreed to sunset specific apparel designs to settle its lawsuit with Lululemon.

Smile, Paramount’s new horror flick, made $22m in its opening weekend, the first $20m+ domestic opening since Bullet Train in August.

productivity paranoia

Singdhi Sokpo

Ugh, productivity paranoia?

Headlines are still dissecting “quiet quitting,” but now there’s another alliterative term: “productivity paranoia,” referring to bosses who worry that workers aren’t doing their jobs.

In a recent report on hybrid work, Microsoft found:

  • 87% of workers say they’re productive at work…
  • … While just 12% of leaders say they’re confident that their team is productive
  • Hybrid supervisors are less trusting than in-person managers (36% to 49%)

This lack of trust has led to tracking software and other methods to retain control over remote workers (which doesn’t work).

Employees not only dislike it, they subvert it. (Remember mouse jigglers?)

And leaders have since developed what Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella calls productivity paranoia, despite findings that both meetings and productivity metrics have increased.

Microsoft’s conclusion?

Quit the productivity paranoia!

Pivot from stressing over whether employees are working enough to helping them prioritize what’s most important. That includes clarifying what to do and what not to do, and rewarding impact over activity.

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Free Resource

How to build an ideal customer profile (ICP)

Similar to buyer personas which represent individual people, ICPs are the business version of that.

Gathering key data points from your best-fit customers (like industry type, employee count, and tech stack) is the dirty work that helps you win. If you want to nail your target market, get started with this free ICP ebook.

Inside the ICP guide:

  • Find similarities between your best customers
  • Build your own ICP with an interactive worksheet
  • Create a go-to-market strategy
  • Activate your ICP along the funnel

Profile those prospects with ease. Presented by Clearbit and HubSpot.

Build your ICP →

Digits: Tomatoes, TikToks, and more

1) US tomato prices are down 2% since the start of 2022 — despite 7% inflation across food generally. The reason being a mishmash of stable inputs, already high prices, and a law regarding Mexican imports.

2) Between April and July, TikTok removed 113.8m videos from its platform, ~1% of all videos uploaded. Almost 96% of those were removed before being reported, and 42% were removed automatically.

3) In July and August, the average song in Spotify’s top 200 was there for 39 weeks. That’s up from an average of 28 in 2019. At fault: Streaming, where each listen leads to more money for the artist and more time on the charts than in the CD era.

4) Last week, Porsche’s parent company Volkswagen took the business public in one of Europe’s biggest ever IPOs. The company issued 911m shares (in reference to the car model), and the funding will help Porsche invest in EVs.

5) In announcing a swath of new search features, Google reported that people use Google Lens to answer 8B+ questions and translate text in images 1B+ times, across 100+ languages, every month.

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🎧 On this day: In 2014, true crime podcast Serial debuted, investigating the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee and the subsequent conviction of her classmate, Adnan Syed. Last month, a judge overturned that conviction.

🙅‍♀️ How (not) to: Five leadership strategies not to emulate.

🏢 That’s interesting: Why people are hooked on shows about the office, even if they prefer WFH.

🐑 Aww: Ever go for a jog only to attract a herd of lost sheep? Apparently, this bewildered jogger was hoping to lead her flock to nearby pastures.

🧘 Chill out: Pop some bubbles.

AI-generated image of Gandalf surfing in Hawaii

An AI-generated image of “Gandalf surfing in Hawaii.” Submit other ideas here.

How did you like today’s email?
Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen, Juliet Bennett Rylah, and Rob Litterst.
Editing by: Mark “The editorial robot” Dent.

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