The Hustle

🥩 The hottest dish is a petri dish

Plus: Lab-grown meat > plant-based meat, Google’s workcation, an AI tool for that movie you can’t remember, and more.

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In today’s email:

  • Feeling overheated? Come daydream about a space umbrella.
  • Swap meat: Lab-grown meat is outraising plant-based alternatives.
  • Digits: Reservation flakes, an Elemental comeback, Airbnb’s Wall Street woes, and more numbers.
  • Around the Web: An AI movie guesser, focus tips, and a neighborhood cat roundup.

👇 Listen: Why Impossible and Beyond burgers are dropping off investor menus.

The big idea

Cooling the planet is as easy as putting an umbrella on an asteroid and blocking out the sun

The sun is gonna keep boring a hole through our souls, but an ambitious idea to soften the blow is progressing.
2023-08-07T00:00:00Z
Ben Berkley

Who among us hasn’t gotten inebriated on a hot summer day and wondered, “Why don’t we launch a giant umbrella into space and block out the sun?”

I have, certain I had solved climate change — until I remembered my lack of credentials.

No Ph.D. in astrophysics from Johns Hopkins University. No experience as an astronomer at University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy.

Well, István Szapudi has those exact bona fides, and he’s actually on board with a space-umbrella climate solution.

For real?

Szapudi published a paper on the idea last week. It proposes:

  • Parking a solar shield between Earth and the sun — in a fixed spot ~1m miles from our planet — to reduce direct exposure to sunlight.
  • The idea has come up before, but ran into a feasibility wall: the need for a shield light enough to be launchable, but heavy enough that gravity and solar radiation wouldn’t knock it out of position.
  • Szapudi beats that with his proposal: capturing an asteroid (something that’s apparently possible) and using it as a counterweight for a screen.

The concept now theoretically works, and would offer quite a lifeline: It’d block ~1.7% of solar radiation, offering a small but meaningful global temperature drop.

Here’s the reality check

This solar shield idea entering the realm of possibility is the headline here. In practice, there’s still a long way to go.

  • Today’s materials for a shield and asteroid tether are still too heavy for today’s rockets — though Szapudi suggests that may change in the next few decades.

But hey, even if we’re a lifetime away, it’s silly-hot out there; it couldn’t hurt to have more nontraditional planet-cooling solutions in the works.

P.S. This space umbrella isn’t alone — other “solar geoengineering” possibilities include adding aerosols into the atmosphere and artificially brightening clouds to reflect some sunlight back into space.

TRENDING

Google failed to impress full-time employees with the opportunity to stay at its campus hotel for $99/night. “Just imagine no commute,” the description begins. Yeah, it’s called working from home.

SNIPPETS

It worked for Barbie? Crayola has a new entertainment division for family content. Its first project is an animated adaptation of the kids’ podcast The Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian.

Speaking of, Barbie is now a $1B film, the sixth since the pandemic.

Twitch streamers Kai Cenat and Fanum promised free PS5s to fans in NYC’s Union Square last week, drawing huge crowds that led to mayhem. Cenat was charged with inciting a riot.

Breakthrough: The FDA approved Biogen and Sage Therapeutics’ Zurzuvae, the first pill specifically for postpartum depression.

Over at X: X commandeered a user’s @music handle, while Musk offered to pay legal bills for users “unfairly treated” by employers due to their X activity. Oh, and Musk is planning to stream his cage fight with Zuck, which is… back on?

Yikes: A Detroit woman is suing the city after being arrested, while pregnant, for carjacking due to inaccurate facial recognition tech. So far, all six people who’ve reported false IDs have been Black.

Apple will reportedly reveal its new iPhone 15 on Sept. 12 or 13, with sales beginning Sept. 22. Features include a faster processor, better camera, and a USB-C charging port.

Tough call: Many companies want less work happening over Zoom, but we didn’t expect Zoom itself to be one of them. Employees who live within 50 miles of one of the videoconferencing leader’s offices are now expected to spend 2+ days a week there.

Forever young: How much would you spend to add 10 years to your lifespan? Investors, startups, and researchers in the longevity space are betting the answer is “a lot.”

Bean There, Done That
Olivia Heller

Investors in search of greener pastures look to lab-grown meat

Plus: Restaurants are sick of you bailing on reservations, Pixar’s big rebound, and more.
2023-08-07T00:00:00Z
Jacob Cohen

Moo-ve over, pea protein? Soy long, beet blood?

Sales of plant-based meat alternatives are dropping, according to data from Circana. The industry has dipped 19.8% YoY in units sold this summer, quite the fall compared to conventional meat purchases (down 2.7% YoY).

We’re not gonna sugarcoat it: investor sentiment is down, too.

  • Beyond Meat stock has fallen ~76% since the company’s IPO. At Impossible Foods, employees’ shares have declined 89% in value since 2021.
  • After venture funding for plant-based meat startups fell by half last year, companies raised $75.2m in Q1 of 2023, down from $703m in Q1 of 2022, per PitchBook.

Tofu or not tofu?

Meanwhile, cell-cultivated meat bagged $356.6m in Q1. These kinds of proteins are grown in a bioreactor, and, as Axios put it, “emerge in the consistency of soup or pancake batter” which can then be shaped. Yum.

So, since that consistency isn’t a great consumer selling point, what is?

  • For one, the production process is cleaner than how we get our meat today. It’s also greener — the lack of actual animals means less methane and land use.

At this point, there’s just so little of it available. Just two companies, Upside Foods and Good Meat, have received regulatory approval to sell their cultivated chicken — and you can only eat it via:

  • Bar Crenn’s $150 tasting menu in San Francisco
  • China Chilcano’s $70 tasting menu in Washington, DC

Though, if you really, really want to buy and cook it yourself, you can do that. For now, per Axios, it’ll just involve flying to Singapore.

Free Resource

25 voicemail scripts for very professional people

Each voicemail you leave only lasts for eternity on a machine until someone deletes it… No biggie.

It’s nice to do it right. Here are 25 voicemail scripts to help professionals reach out for referrals, events, partnerships, or total cold calls — 16 follow-up and nine greeting messages included.

When it’s time for that velvety voice: drink some tea. Hum a little theme song. (Try “Hakuna Matata,” or any rendition of “Daybreak” on “Community.”)

Voicemail sales letters →
Numbers

Digits: Airbnb’s mixed review from Wall Street, and more newsy numbers

Plus: Restaurants are sick of you bailing on reservations, Pixar’s big rebound, and more.
2023-08-07T00:00:00Z
Jacob Cohen

1) Even a house full of bookings can’t prevent Wall Street from demanding a refund. Case in point: Airbnb stock dipped after the company reported bookings rose ~11% YoY. Packing 115m+ nights and experiences booked into Q2 sounds as good on paper as a four-star “Cozy Bungalow” — unless you’ve got Wall Street’s high expectations. In their case, Airbnb’s quarterly numbers sounded more like a glorified garden shed with a leaky faucet.

2) With today’s diners being as flaky as phyllo dough, restaurants are increasingly turning to reservation deposits that are applied to bills or refunded after meals. Per OpenTable data, 28% of Americans admitted to being no-shows at least once in 2021.

3) The hobby games segment (think: trading card games, board games, card and dice games, and role playing games) seems to be playing its cards right. A spike in popularity during the pandemic has held up nicely, with North American sales up 7% last year, reaching $2.89B in 2022. That’s up from $2.69B in 2021, $2.03B in 2020, and $1.68B in 2019.

4) Pixar’s Elemental began as a slow box office flicker but appears to have turned up the heat, clearing the $400m mark and becoming the first animated movie with original IP to do so since before covid. BTW, by “slow box office flicker,” we mean it opened to just $29.6m, the studio’s worst opening ever when adjusted for inflation.

AROUND THE WEB

🫢 On this day: In 1974, French street performer Philippe Petit walked on a high wire between the World Trade Center’s twin towers in NYC, 1.3k+ feet above ground. He would later say, “I see three oranges, and I have to juggle. I see two towers, and I have to walk.”

🧠 How to: Avoid letting the internet distract you when you’re working from home.

🍨 Cure boredom: Find and eat as many snacks as you can.

🎥 That’s cool: Can’t remember the name of a movie? Let AI figure it out.

🐱 Aww: I could watch this person greet cats all day.

Meme

This isn’t about differences in time zones, it’s about differences in morality. (Link)

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Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen and Juliet Bennett Rylah.
Editing by: Ben “Apply that sunscreen” Berkley.

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