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The Hustle

A funding festival in India promised access to investors controlling $600B of capital, plus appearances from Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Elon Musk… and nope, it was basically Fyre Festival 2.0. Attendees are pissed, but at least the Hulu docu-series we assume is already in development will give their businesses exposure?

In today’s email:

  • Clubhouse: Is it still a thing? Technically, yes.
  • When you were 12, you didn’t patent glow-in-the-dark paper. Becky Schroeder did.
  • Lactose intolerant: Gen Z ain’t buying what Big Dairy is selling.
  • Around the Web: An R&B exhibit, the four P’s, a wild survival story, and more cool internet finds.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s podcast to hear Zack and Rob discuss the demise of social audio, HBO’s new Harry Potter series, the downside to Forbes’ 30 Under 30, and more.

The big idea
Clubhouse logo

Clubhouse outlasted its copycats — but should keep the Champagne on ice

Two years ago, Clubhouse was the darling of social media. “Darling” isn’t even sufficient here, really — they got Oprah to do an exclusive interview.

The audio chatroom app attracted top talent, registered ~10m users, and raised $310m.

But life comes at you fast on the internet, where success often breeds success — for other companies, who produce their own resource-rich version of your most unique features.

Clubhouse spawned audio hangout products from Meta, Reddit, and Spotify, among others, and…

Clubhouse is actually still here; its rivals are not

Some credit is due here: Clubhouse remains in operation, officially outlasting its deep-pocketed challengers.

  • Reddit talked its last Talk last month.
  • Meta’s social audio products were just wiped off the Facebook app.
  • This week saw Spotify Live (nĂ©e Greenroom) shuttered as a stand-alone app.

Twitter Spaces, another product of the Clubhouse boom, may or may not have life in it, depending on how Twitter’s chief executive feels today.

If only that’s where the story ended

There’s still hope inside Clubhouse — they’ve changed strategy, waving off “broadcasting” to focus on smaller, private groups.

  • For a social platform, it’s relatively lean at ~100 employees — and claims to have “years of cash in the bank,” per Bloomberg.

But every time we’ve checked the app this week, it’s been quiet… eerily so. And there’s good reason — according to CBS News, Clubhouse is down to 200k monthly users.

Plus, it’s hard to ignore the leadership exodus. Gone over the last year, per The Information, include the heads of: Strategic Partnerships, Monetization, Global Marketing, International, News, Sports, and Brand Development. Ouch.

Some great publications have pondered the idea that social audio is already dead. They may have a point.

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eyeball wearing a hat

Gratitude for driver’s license renewal fees, which are expensive, but not this expensive. A 1955 Disneyland Autopia license signed by Walt Disney sold at auction for $12.5k — and it doesn’t even help if you get pulled over.


The last domino to fall: Apple will eliminate an unknown “small number” of corporate roles, becoming the final one of the five tech giants to cut staff this year. It’s still too early to entirely write off 2023 as a Bad Year, but it sure ain’t great in Big Tech so far.

Streaming magic: Looks like the wizards at HBO are hoping to cast a spell on audiences with a seven-season Harry Potter TV show. It’s unclear if J.K. Rowling, whose books sold 600m copies and led to $7.7B in box-office sales, will produce the series.

In other franchise news… Only 37% of Americans who started streaming Amazon’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” actually finished the series. Which, by the way, cost $500m+ to produce.

The Taurus Turnpike: Navigation app Waze is letting drivers choose from a selection of new driving experiences, including a zodiac theme. Can’t wait for all the hotheaded Aries to blame their road rage on this.

Not hiring… as much: US job openings dipped to 9.9m in February, the first drop below 10m since May 2021. Some sectors, especially the service industry, remain tight.

Skin in the game: Showing the kind of tremendous self-confidence it seeks to create, L’Oréal dropped $2.5B to acquire luxury skin and body product brand Aesop. The French beauty company will add Aesop’s $537m in annual sales to a portfolio that already includes Garnier and Maybelline.

Tesla must pay ~$3.2m to a Black former employee who accused co-workers and superiors at Tesla’s Fremont, California, factory of racist remarks. It’s far less than the $137m a jury previously awarded the plaintiff, which a judge knocked down to $15m.

To be Frank, yikes: Charlie Javice, who founded the college financial aid company Frank, was arrested for allegedly defrauding JPMorgan Chase into buying her company for $175m. Prosecutors accuse Javice of duping them by using a data set of millions of fake customers.

Crash landing: Unable to secure additional funding, Virgin Orbit has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Despite four successful missions, its first UK rocket launch failed and sent stocks sinking.

Best of the web: Voting is open for the 27th Annual Webby Awards. Nominees include NASA, HBO, Cirque du Soleil, and our friends, My First Million. Metallica and “Stranger Things” also scored a nom for best collaboration. 🤘

More trouble for TikTok: Australia is the latest to ban the app on government devices, effective ASAP. TikTok was the second-most-downloaded app in Australia last year — behind the national Taxation Office’s app.

Entrepreneur vs. business owner: What’s the difference? We broke down all the factors that go into distinguishing the two.

Becky Schroeder
Sara Friedman

How the youngest female inventor changed the glow-in-the-dark market

On a November evening in the early 1970s, Becky Schroeder waited in the dimming light of a department store parking lot for what felt like hours.

She had a math assignment to finish, but it was too dark to see the paper resting on her lap.

That’s when a lightbulb turned on, the one inside her head: What if her paper could glow?

In the coming years, Schroeder would be featured in newspapers, magazines, and TV segments across the country as the youngest female inventor in the US.

NASA would inquire about her, the restaurant industry would use her innovations, and generations of young inventors would see her as an inspiration.

But as she waited for her mother in the parking lot, Schroeder didn’t know any of that yet. She just knew she had to finish her homework.

Read the full story →
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Spilled Milk

Gen Z just doesn’t like milk, OK?

Remember that carton of milk you had to drink at school lunch every day lest your bones crumble to dust? Well, Gen Z ain’t into it.

A generation not subjected to the once-ubiquitous Got Milk? campaign, Gen Z is more into the growing list of milk alternatives or beverages that contain no milk at all, per The New York Times.

They bought 20% less milk than the national average in 2022, though they do consume yogurt, cheese, and other dairy products.

What’s wrong with milk?

Well, ~30-50m Americans are lactose intolerant, and the likelihood increases among those of African, Hispanic, Asian, and American Indian descent. Gen Z is more diverse than previous generations. Plus:

  • They didn’t love the skim and low-fat milks served in schools (which, it turns out, are not better for you than whole milk).
  • They worry about the dairy industry’s impact on climate change.
  • Big Milk is apparently a big liar; milk isn’t as crucial for bones as previously thought.

There’s also “milk shame,” which refers to the stigma that it’s weird for adults to enjoy plain milk.

In media, villains love milk, from A Clockwork Orange, to “The Boys” and Get Out. The latter’s director, Jordan Peele, said, “There’s something kind of horrific about milk.”

Could milk be the new Gatorade?

Some studies suggest chocolate milk’s composition promotes post-workout muscle recovery, leading campaigns to position it as a sports drink.

But if the idea of crushing a creamy pint after a run curdles your stomach, the NYT didn’t quite buy it either, instead positing that milk — like many things — may come back around without splashy campaigns, thanks to its wholesome simplicity.

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🤯 On this day: In 1943, Brazilian fishermen rescued Chinese sailor Poon Lim, who’d been floating on a raft in the South Atlantic for 113 days after the British ship he worked on was sunk by a German U-boat. He survived on rainwater, fish, and birds.

🎸 That’s cool: The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s new online exhibit, “Night Train to Nashville: Music City Rhythm & Blues, 1945-1970,” showcases the history of the city’s R&B scene.

🅿️ Watch: The four P’s are a tried-and-true marketing staple. This video breaks down what they are, why they work, and how to use them.

📸 That’s interesting: The history of the mug shot, standardized by Paris’s chief of criminal identification in the late 19th century.

🐱 Aww: And now, they’re tired.

to-do list meme

Slow your roll, Janice. Give an inbox a second to breathe. (Link)


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Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen and Juliet Bennett Rylah.
Editing by: Ben “Unofficial spokesman for chocolate milk” Berkley.

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