🥊 Apple vs. Facebook


December 21, 2020

PLUS: YouTube’s top earners in 2020.

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The most 2020 tech thing happened on Sunday: Elon Musk made a series of tweets regarding Bitcoin, including a question about how one would put the digital asset on a corporate balance sheet.

We have no idea if this would happen, but are bracing for the global earthquake that would occur if BTC ended up anywhere near $TSLA.

The Big Idea

Why are Apple and Facebook beefing?

Despite his mild manner, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook is known to throw shade… and he’s been throwing it Facebook’s way for years.

The issue is opposing business models.

  • Apple sells high-priced hardware and controls the entire experience (with an emphasis on privacy).
  • Facebook offers free (ad-supported) social and communication tools to billions of users.

Over the years, Cook has criticized Facebook for “collecting gobs of data” and “monetizing its customers” per the New York Times.

Mark Zuckerberg’s retort: Apple products are expensive…

…and not accessible to all people, while Facebook’s products are.

Last week, Facebook escalated matters by taking out full-page newspaper ads criticizing Apple’s new privacy policy that requires iPhone users to consent to letting companies track them across apps.

Facebook says it’s “standing up to Apple” and protecting the interest of small businesses that need tracking to best target ads (conveniently leaving out how Facebook benefits).

Apple has a ‘strategy credit’ in regards to privacy

Tech analyst Ben Thompson describes this as “an uncomplicated decision that makes a company look good relative to other companies who face much more significant trade-offs.”

However, it does look like a winning hand… one that Mark Zuckerberg himself has acknowledged.

In spring 2019, he announced that FB was ramping up “privacy-focused communication” in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Apple is far from out of the woods

Its iron fist on the App Store, which is a gatekeeper for 1B+ iPhone devices, is a clear source of monopoly concern. In fact, Facebook is offering up “information” for Epic Games in its antitrust suit against Apple.

The truth is that Facebook and Apple have a very symbiotic relationship right now: Facebook needs Apple’s iPhone owners, while Apple needs Facebook’s mobile products (WhatsApp, Instagram, Messenger, FB).

Per the NYT, matters could get interesting in the future because both tech giants have ambitions in augmented reality.

For now, Apple looks to have the upper hand in the privacy policy beef — and Tim just cooked Zucky McHarvard with this tweet:

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Snippets

  • Congress got a 2nd stimulus deal done. The $900B package will include direct citizen payments — with the amount ($600 per head) getting roasted on the internet — and more business PPP loans.
  • Chinese tech giant Tencent — which owns 12% of Snap and 5% of Tesla — just increased its stake in Universal Music Group from 10% to 20%, valuing the global music corporation at ~$40B.
  • Don’t call it a comeback: In 2014, Whitney Wolfe Herd left Tinder — the dating app she co-founded — to launch competing app Bumble. The company just filed for an IPO, eyeing an $8B valuation.
  • Punk’d: One of the most anticipated games of the year (Cyberpunk 2077) was pulled by Sony after a series of bugs and glitches. Lawsuits for the Polish-based game developer may be forthcoming (we’ll have more on this tomorrow).
  • New stay-at-home orders are complicating bookings on Airbnb. If people aren’t supposed to be traveling, who should be responsible for deciding what to do about the reservations? Hosts? Guests? Airbnb?
  • Gig workers to get vaccinated? Instacart, Uber, Lyft, and Doordash have requested that public health authorities classify its gig workers as “essential” so they can receive vaccines.
  • Secret sauce: We often get asked, “What’s the creative process behind The Hustle?” Here’s one hack.
 
Crypto Funding
Bitcoin

Source: Giphy

The (other) startup helping Bitcoin go mainstream

If you think you can avoid Bitcoin talk this holiday season, it’s not happening because:

  • Coinbase (the largest US crypto exchange) just filed for an IPO
  • BTC keeps hitting new highs
  • and Elon

That’s not all: Another crypto startup, Paxos, just raised a $142m round.

Paxos is a ‘plug-and-play’ service… 

… which provides regulatory know-how and back-end tech for companies to create crypto-related products per Fortune

  • Stablecoins, which are cryptocurrencies pegged to fiat currency (e.g., US dollar) 
  • Digital tokens for assets such as gold 
  • Brokerage services, for trading of crypto

Notably, Paxos helped PayPal launch its consumer crypto-trading to 300m+ users. 

And PayPal’s entry into the space may be a key driver in Bitcoin’s booming price, which has doubled to $23k+ since end-October.

Paxos has deep Wall Street roots

Its CEO — Charles Cascarilla — is a Goldman alum and works closely with key financial players like the SEC (regulatory body), Federal Reserve (central bank), and SWIFT (international money exchange network).

To get even more regulatory street cred, Paxos filed to become a chartered US bank.

Cascarilla tells Fortune that Paxos’ opportunity is huge, particularly as its unsexy infrastructure is not seen as a threat by other crypto players.

If the Bitcoin talk doesn’t stop, we know at least one person to point the finger at.

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How 3 former Under Armour execs reinvented jeans

When Under Armour’s ex-Head of Product, Brand, and eCommerce Ops created Revtown, their goal was to completely change what we expect from our jeans.

Well, take it from us at The Hustle… mission frickin’ accomplished.

They not only created the perfect material — a proprietary fabric they call Decade Denim that’s equal parts strong, soft, and stretchy — but also fixed everything that standard jeans do wrong:

  • Improved the durability and versatility so Revtowns last forever
  • Fixed the fit to be more modern, while still keeping that same classic sharp denim look
  • Ship straight from their factory to you to lock in a $79 price point

Feel like sweatpants, look like jeans, all at a price that says “isn’t it about time you bought *yourself* a gift for a change?” 

Good idea, ad copy. Good idea indeed.

Gift yourself Revtowns →

Getting That Kaji Money

Here are YouTube’s top earners in 2020

Remember when a survey showed that a bunch of kids between 8 and 12
aspired” to be vloggers and YouTube stars instead of — say — astronauts.

The news cycle definitely had a good laugh about that one. But if you peek at Forbes 2020 highest-paid YouTube stars, it kind of makes sense.

1. Ryan Kaji (earnings = $29.5m; subscribers = 42m)

Ryan’s toy unboxings, science experiments, and other stuff you do when you’re a (comically rich) 9-year old brought in 12B views. The young YouTuber is turning this attention into a media empire.

2. MrBeast ($24m; 48m)

22-year-old Jimmy Donaldson (AKA MrBeast) is the master of what investor Blake Robbins calls “Jenga storytelling” — as in, you know how something will end but are compelled to watch to the end. 

Some video samples:

  • “I Gave People $1,000,000 But ONLY 1 Minute To Spend It!”
  • “Going Through The Same Drive-Thru 1,000 Times”
  • “Last to remove their hand gets a Lamborghini” 

(PS. Yesterday, Mr. Beast hit the top of the App Store with “Mr. Beast Burger”, a network of 300 burger joints across America effectively dropshipping burgers)

3. Dude Perfect ($23m; 58m)

A team of 5 brothers who do some absurd stunts, like Go Kart paintball and challenging NFL players to a football skills competition.

4. Rhett and Link ($20m; 42m)

A comedy duo (43-year-old Rhett McLaughlin, 42-year-old Charles Lincoln III) who started with a nerdy talk show in 2012 but have built their YouTube empire into a 100-employee operation.

Skipping to No. 8: Blippi ($17m; 27m)

I’m putting this here because I’ve personally watched over 100 hours of Blippi — think “Mr. Rogers for YouTube” — with my toddler this year.

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Design Stuff

Design trends to keep an eye on

Dieline is a creative agency that just released a great year-end report on design themes that are trending up and down.

First, here are the fading trends:

  • Summer-themed alcoholic beverages, which are conveying an idea in contrast to the broader pandemic mood.
  • The geometric sans serif font, which has become maybe too popular among Instagram design agencies.
  • Ultra-luxe branding, also because it’s not reflective of the mood.

Here are some trends that are “here to stay”:

‘Accessible Wellness’…

… AKA branding that makes personal health and wellness more approachable, especially around taboo topics like women’s sexual and reproductive health.

‘Nature Illustrated’

With so many people stuck at home and the rise of screen fatigue, designs that provide a bit of escapism to nature look to do well.

‘AI-assisted Design’

With new AI-powered tools becoming more common (e.g., Zyro for logos, Adobe Sensei for video), expect to see a rise in “AI” original design content.

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‘That time Bill Gates saved Apple’ of the day

Source: John Mottern / Stringer

Bill Gates and Steve Jobs had one of the most incredible rivalries in tech history. The love-hate relationship between the CEOs of Microsoft and Apple culminated in August 1997 at the Macworld Expo in Boston.

A year earlier, Apple had brought back Steve Jobs after acquiring his company NeXT.

The company was on the edge of bankruptcy, and Jobs convinced Gates — hated by many Apple fanatics because of Microsoft’s PC dominance — to invest $150m in Apple.

Gates was beamed into the Macworld event amidst boos (image above) to announce the deal, which included:

  • Apple dropping a “you stole our operating system” lawsuit against Microsoft
  • Microsoft creating Office products for Macintosh

For Jobs, the move stabilized Apple and paved the way for incredible innovation (e.g., iMac, iPod, iPhone) over the following decade.

Here’s how their market caps have changed since August 1997:

  • Apple has gone from ~$2B to $2,153B (1000x)
  • Microsoft has gone from ~$169B to $1,652B (10x)
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