🦑 The Squid Game effect
The Hustle

🦑 The Squid Game effect

This’ll be the weirdest thing you hear all day. Dauren Musa, a Kazakh businessman who claims ownership over the Soviet-built space shuttle, Burya, is refusing to hand the keys over to Russia unless they trade him the actual skull of Kenesary Kasymov, a 19th-century Kazakh leader.

Today’s rundown:

  • The Squid Game effect: The power of Netflix’s smash hit.
  • Brain Zaps: One woman’s brain implant zaps her with electricity when she gets depressed.
  • Jo Bros Q&A: Yes, we spoke with the Jonas Brothers about their new popcorn business.

Let’s do it.

The Big Lead

The power of ‘Squid Game,’ Netflix’s surprise smash hit

South Korean drama “Squid Game” has exploded in meme-form on the internet and, according to Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos, may become Netflix’s most popular original series ever.

Squid game! Sounds fun?

Wrong! In “Squid Game,” people play simple children’s games, like “Red Light, Green Light.” If they win all 6 games, they get a piece of a ~$38m pot. Lose even 1 and they’re dead.

It might sound like torture-porn a la “Saw,” but its tense drama and likable characters have reeled in a huge audience.

Netflix also makes the content frictionless for global audiences by dubbing it in 34 languages and subtitling in 37, per Vulture — though not with complete accuracy.

And those audiences are growing

Data science company Parrot Analytics uses social media engagement, downloads, search results, and other interactions to measure and predict audience demand for content.

Wade Payson-Denney, Parrot’s press insights analyst, told The Hustle that “Squid Game” demand has gone up 481% since its Sept. 17 launch, increasing every day.

This is rare for a Netflix Original, which Payson-Denney said typically peaks 2-4 days after release.

As of Oct. 2, “Squid Game” had 102.9x more global demand than the average show. By comparison, peak demand for “Game of Thrones” was 353.8x the average during its 8th and final season.

More Squid numbers:

  • 82m+ people are expected to watch “Squid Game” in its 1st 28 days on Netflix, per Fortune
  • Netflix stock closed at $610.34 earlier this week, a new high Forbes credited to the show’s proof that Netflix can still make hits
  • A Seoul candy maker says he now sells 500+ dalgonas (a treat featured in the show) a day — 2x+ more than before
  • The #squidgame hashtag on TikTok has ~27B views — including recipes for dalgona

BTW, if you loved “Squid Game,” find more terrifying games in: “Alice in Borderland,” “Battle Royale,” “Ready or Not,” “The Belko Experiment,” “Escape Room” (2019), “Cube,” “The Platform,” and “As the Gods Will.”

SNIPPETS

Thrifting renaissance: Gen Z has given new life to the thrift store industry — drawn in by stylish fits and a positive impact on sustainability. #ecommerce-retail

Paint power: The city of Phoenix painted its streets grey after researchers found it could help reduce heat. #clean-energy

Ladder up: Ladder, a digital life insurance company for people ages 20-60, raised $100m. #emerging-tech

Massive hack: Syniverse, an infrastructure provider that handles texts for telecom companies like AT&T and Verizon, reported that hackers had access to its system for years. #privacy

Big NFT games: Axie Infinity, a crypto-based online game, raised $150m led by Andreessen Horowitz at a $3B valuation. #fintech-cryptocurrency

Facebook’s disappearing act: Cloudflare shares the technical reasons behind Facebook’s outage. #big-tech

Med Tech

Can a brain implant cure depression?

OK, this one is a bit out there.

According to MIT Technology Review, a 36-year-old California woman effectively treated her chronic depression by surgically placing implants in her skull and receiving up to 300 electric zaps a day.

The zaps only occur during the day, so as to not stimulate her while sleeping.

A team from the University of California, San Francisco…

… conducted the treatment, which requires a number of steps:

  • Electrodes were used to map her brain activity over 10 days
  • The team discovered that high levels of activity in her amygdala predicted depression
  • The symptoms were offset by implanting a neurostimulation device that sent electricity to another part of her brain

This treatment — known as deep brain stimulation — has already been used by 10s of thousands of Parkinson’s and epilepsy patients (the depression use case required an FDA exemption).

Depression treatment is different, though

The reason: every person has different parts of their brain affected (hence the mapping). Also, the solution is currently not very scalable.

“It’s an invasive, expensive procedure that requires weeks of fine-tuning and a full day of surgery,” MIT Technology Review states.. “[So] it is only really suitable for those in whom other treatments have failed.”

Still, this out-there solution provides hope for those who have unsuccessfully tried everything else.

Q&A

The Jonas Brothers are putting the ‘pop’ in popcorn

Yesterday, the Jonas Brothers made their 1st foray into the CPG world with the launch of Rob’s Backstage Popcorn in a joint venture with The Naked Market.

The launch culminates a years-long passion project for the brothers. The Hustle caught up with Nick, Joe, Kevin, and The Naked Market’s CEO Harrison Fugman, to chat through the process.

The story of Rob’s Backstage Popcorn started decades ago

Nick Jonas: For me it started back in 2011, when I visited our former bass player, Greg Garbowsky, and his dad (Rob) made this delicious popcorn.

He created this seasoning decades ago, and it’s just so good. I convinced him to start making it for our shows, and it immediately became the crew’s go-to snack on the road.

We decided we had to bring it to market to share it with our fans and the rest of the world. From there we teamed up with Naked Market, who helped us create samples to get the flavor just right, talk through the brand vision, and launch the D2C store.

There are many parallels between entertainment and launching a CPG product

Nick Jonas: We’re always trying to bring great experiences to people, and with anything we do, we want to make sure we’re telling the story behind it and “eventizing” the release to make as much noise as possible.

Rob’s popcorn may be their first choice, but it isn’t their only go-to road snack

Kevin Jonas: We love lots of different things, but we’ve been living on these Mind Right bars.

Nick Jonas: Dark chocolate is a must.

Joe Jonas: Yes — any dark chocolate, especially if you throw some sea salt on there.

For more from the Jonas brothers, including favorite books and popcorn flavors, read the full Q&A here.

AROUND THE WEB

📸 On this day: In 2010, Kevin Systrom launched photo-sharing app Instagram. Long before Facebook would purchase it, TechCrunch wrote: “At least one of these apps is going to take off in a major way at some point soon.”

👻 Art: Photographer Brendon Burton’s “Thin Places” features eerie aerial shots of abandoned homes and other buildings in North America.

👂 Wait, what: The aurora borealis is 1 of the most beautiful sights on Earth. But some people say they can hear it, too.

😮 That’s interesting: Archaeologists from the Gibraltar National Museum found a 40k-year-old cave chamber with animal remains and scratch marks on the walls. They say it could reveal info on how Neanderthals lived.

🐻 Haha: In Alaska’s Katmai National Park and Preserve, people participate in Fat Bear Week to vote on which bear has prepared the best for hibernation.

🧘 Useful: myNoise lets you browse and build beautiful, relaxing, noise-blocking soundscapes like “Irish Coast,” “Rain On A Tent,” or “RPG Dungeon.” Use them for sleep, study, meditation, gaming, and more.

Meme of the day

Source: Buzzfeed

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