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🦥 Emoji growth is slowing

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We wanna know — if you could only use one emoji for the rest of your life, which would it be and why? Let us know here.

In today’s email:

  • 988: The US’s new mental health number.
  • Chart: New emojis are coming.
  • Unity: Breaking down a $4B gaming merger.
  • Around the web: Viral TikTok buys, interesting vaccine research, travel tips for restricted diets, and more cool internet finds.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s quick podcast to hear about the story behind America’s new mental health hotline, good gas news, a missed opportunity for Guy Fieri, and AI art for the masses.

The big idea
number keypad

What’s up with 988?

Following the pandemic, anxiety and depression increased by 25% globally.

In the US, that’s combined with a huge gap in care: Over 50% of adults with a mental illness do not receive treatment, even as suicidal ideation and substance abuse are on the rise.

Enter 988.

Designed to be easy to remember, like 911, it now connects to the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline (formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) and its network of trained professionals at 200+ crisis centers nationwide.

But some advocates worry it isn’t enough

Though the Biden admin dedicated $432m toward building 988’s capacity, only 13 states have dedicated funding to it, while a survey of public health officials found only 16% have a budget plan, per NPR.

Meanwhile, call volume is expected to triple in the first year. Kaiser Family Foundation researcher Heather Saunders told Marketplace that, while it’s a good thing that more people may seek help, current infrastructure may not be adequate.

Others have cited concerns over privacy, involuntary hospitalization, and potential interactions with police.

And the truth is a bit complicated

Benjamin Miller, president of Well Being Trust, told NPR that 2m+ people with mental illness were booked in jail in 2021, while a quarter of fatal police shootings have involved people with mental illnesses.

  • 988 is meant as an alternative to 911, and says it doesn’t trace callers’ locations, but will provide emergency services with someone’s phone number or IP address if it’s determined that they are suicidal or homicidal.

The hotline says less than 2% of calls result in emergency services and, of those, over half occur with the caller’s consent.

But some callers…

… say police showed up even when they didn’t say they were suicidal.

  • One man told Mad in America he was hauled off in front of co-workers.
  • A woman said she got a huge hospital bill after being held in a facility.

Unsurprisingly, stuff like this doesn’t help people who are struggling. So, while it may be unlikely — and while more resources is generally a good thing — people should know it is possible.

For more: Check out suicide researcher E Krebs’ in-depth Twitter thread about crisis lines.

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After the bell: Tesla reported its Q2 earnings yesterday, with gross profit up 41% YoY. The company also sold ~75% of its “digital assets” (AKA bitcoin), adding $936m to its balance sheet.

It’s going down: (I’m yelling timberrr…) Analysts believe gas prices have already peaked for the summer, and expect them to fall below $4 per gallon. The current national average is $4.47, per AAA.

Feature overload: Instagram rolled out searchable maps that allow users to find popular bars, restaurants, and other locations. The app also added a new payments feature that lets users purchase products directly from DMs.

No. 1: BeReal, the social media platform that only lets users post once a day at random times, reached the top spot for free apps in Apple’s App Store. For more, check out our previous coverage.

Media merger: Industry Dive, the publisher behind B2B news sites Restaurant Dive and Retail Dive, was acquired by Informa for $525m.

Jackpot: The Mega Millions jackpot is up to $630m, leaving it just outside the top-10 biggest jackpots of all time. Unfortunately, the odds of claiming the winning ticket are 1 in 302m.

Google is freezing: Hiring, that is, for two weeks to review headcount needs. The search giant announced a hiring slowdown earlier this month.

number of emojis trending by year

Singdhi Sokpo

Emoji growth is slowing. Why?

Last week, the Unicode Consortium released a noticeably short list of 31 new emoji candidates, including a shaking face, a jellyfish, a handheld fan, and maracas.

The volunteer-run nonprofit, which maintains emoji encoding standards, is reportedly reducing the number of emojis encoded each year, focusing more on quality than quantity, according to Input Magazine.

  • In 2010, there were ~700 emoji. Today, there are 3.6k+. A significant number of those are skin tone alternates, but still, that’s a lotta symbols.

As Alexander Robertson, with his PhD in emoji from the University of Edinburgh, recently pointed out — if you add as few as 10-15 emoji annually for 5k years, you’ll eventually have 60k+ emoji.

Fun fact: The red flag (🚩) — as in, what you hope you don’t find in a date — is the most popular flag emoji. Flags are also the least popular category, despite being the most numerous.

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Free Resource

There’s a lot of inspiration packed in this li’l e-book right here.

Savvy sales experts at PandaDoc and HubSpot assembled a whole lineup of proven templates to ride on. Each stage, from qualifying the lead to closing the deal, is covered in this guide.

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Strategy Corner
Unity and ironSource logos

Why gaming giant Unity dropped billions on an acquisition

The biggest trend in gaming has nothing to do with actual gameplay.

Already, 2022 has seen the most money spent on mergers and acquisitions in the history of gaming. In the first half of the year:

  • Take-Two Interactive acquired Zynga for $12.7B.
  • Sony acquired Bungie for $3.6B.
  • Microsoft moved to acquire Activision Blizzard for $68.7B, which, if approved, would be the biggest gaming acquisition of all time.

Last week, another deal was added to the mix — Unity confirmed a $4.4B merger with ironSource.

Unity is one of the world’s largest gaming engines. Paired with ironSource, which monetizes apps through ads and transactions, the combined entity could offer an end-to-end platform to build and monetize like never before.

But there’s another reason for the move

Analysts speculate shareholders are desperate for newfound profits, given Unity’s stock is down ~70% year-to-date.

  • Importantly, ironSource is profitable, and on track to grow revenue by 36%+ in 2022. Unity believes the combined entity will reach a $1B run rate by the end of 2024.

Unity’s move suggests gaming’s latest trend won’t slow down any time soon.

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🐒 On this day: In 1925, Tennessee high school teacher John Scopes was found guilty of teaching evolution and fined $100, though the verdict was later overturned on a technicality.

📱 That’s cool: Saw it on TikTok collects, summarizes, and catalogs products that have gone viral on TikTok.

💉 That’s interesting: Researchers found 42% of survey respondents reported having a “wonky” period following covid vaccination, including irregular or heavier than usual menstrual cycles.

🍴How to: If you have a restricted diet, then you know how difficult eating while traveling can be. Popular Science has some tech-savvy tips for finding food on the go.

🐈 Aww: Kittens vs. “worm fan.”

emoji meme

The dream team.

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 “Scream Emoji” Dent.

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