🧑‍🚀 Jetpacks get serious


May 6, 2021

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The Hustle

Facebook’s Oversight Board upheld the ban of Donald Trump’s account. The ball is now in Facebook’s court to 1) impose a limited suspension; 2) permanently delete the page; or 3) appeal to the board again.

This saga may yet have a ways to go.

The big idea
jetpack

Source: Gravity Industries

Time to take jetpacks seriously? Just ask the British Royal Navy

Last week, the British navy went full-on James Bond mode and tested a jetpack in the field. The footage is truly a sight to see.

The jetpack in focus, Gravity Industries’ Daedalus, can fly for just a few minutes at a time…

… But it’s been years in the making

In 2016, 41-year-old veteran Richard Browning built the original suit at his home in Salisbury, England.

The man could be Tony Stark’s British cousin:

  • As an oil trader for BP, he quickly turned a ~$27.8k GPS ship tracking system into a ~$69.5m revenue stream.
  • One of his grandfathers was the CEO of a helicopter company, the other a wartime pilot, and his father an aeronautical engineer.

Gravity got a boost after Browning was asked to give a TED talk the same day as Elon Musk and the pope in 2017.

Tesla and Twitch investor Tim Draper invested $650k after seeing Browning fly in a parking lot — the terms were signed on the back of a $100 bill.

There are uses outside of looking like Iron Man

Gravity’s $480k+ suits could serve a variety of functions:

  • Military: The US military’s research arm (DARPA) is taking submissions for a potential $1.5m jetpack contract
  • EMS: Gravity has tested emergency rescue scenarios in the mountains of Northern England
  • Racing: Gravity has plans for a global race series with the likes of Formula One

The space is getting hotter

Pre-pandemic, Gravity’s primary revenue stream was live flight shows, where it charged up to $139k a pop. To date, the team has done 105+ events in 31 countries.

Competitors like JetPack Aviation and Zapata Racing are building the Speeder — a 150mph Star Wars-like airborne motorcycle — and the Ez-Fly flying segway.

Flying segways. What a time to be alive.

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SNIPPETS

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  • Peloton is recalling all of its treadmills following multiple injury reports and 1 death. The decision comes after the fitness firm traded multiple barbs with the US Consumer Product Safety Commission on its product’s safety.
  • Pivot: Twitter acquired Scroll, the app that lets users pay a monthly fee to read articles ad-free (a % of it goes to publishers). The social app is rolling out other products to move away from its core ad business, including newsletters and a subscription tool for creators.
  • WFH forever?: Google anticipates that 20% of its workforce will work remotely full time when physical offices are open again later in 2021.
Candy Biz
candy

Grocery impulse buying is having a COVID-fueled identity crisis

As if the pandemic hasn’t changed every facet of life, now it’s coming for our chewing gum. A recent Wired article details the industry’s recent decline, thanks in part to online grocery shopping.

While the pandemic has been a boom for other grocery staples, mint and gum sales are down 30% and 28% YoY respectively, according to Nielsen analysts.

You can’t impulse buy if you don’t wait in line

For candy pushers, waiting in line is sacred. It’s called “dwell time”: the more waiting, the more browsing packets of gum, mints, and candy bars — AKA making impulse buys.

Even with loosening restrictions, 61% of shoppers are doing more online grocery shopping than they did before the start of the pandemic. No shoppers inside = no lines = no last-scanned Trident gum cup.

But we’re talking candy people…

… they’re not ones to back down from a fight. Producers are exploring new ways to bring “impulsiveness” on- and off-line.

Hershey’s is trying out an “add a Hershey’s” button near online checkout. Orbit gum maker Mars Wrigley has experimented with a singing robot that parades the aisles displaying products. Remember: It’s only desperate if you don’t buy from the ‘bot.

Now all eyes are on vaccine rollout

With millions of Americans getting the jab inside drug and grocery stores, companies are banking on some celebratory impulse buys during the 15-minute wait required after receiving the vaccine.

This writer’s guiding impulse: Candy is dandy, but liquor is…

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Free Resource

Fact: Blogging can generate 67% more leads per month

… and up to 55% more web traffic than businesses who don’t blog, per HubSpot. That’s a lot of views.

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Philanthropy
Bill and Melinda Gates

What’s going to happen to the Gates Foundation?

Earlier this week, the tech and business world was shaken by news that Bill and Melinda Gates are getting divorced.

Dollar Bill Gates is one of the world’s wealthiest people, with an estimated net worth of $134B+.

While the fate of that fortune certainly drives interest, a more pressing concern for many is the couple’s philanthropic venture: the Gates Foundation.

Tasked with directing $5B a year…

… the Gates Foundation employs 1.6k people and has given grants to 135 countries, per The New York Times.

During the pandemic, the foundation distributed $1.75B and has been instrumental in getting vaccines to poorer countries.

Since its founding in 2000, it has given away $53.8B. The size of the endowment is $50B and — as a charitable trust — it is “irrevocable,” which means it can’t be split up in a divorce settlement.

Even with the money safe…

… concerns remain, per the NYT:

  • Mandate: The direction of the foundation can be affected by differing views between Bill and Melinda (although they’ve issued statements saying they are both “committed to the organization”)
  • Trustees: Other than the Gateses, there is only 1 more trustee: 90-year-old Warren Buffett. There could now be an opportunity to add people with different viewpoints to the board.
  • Focus: Both of the Gateses have their own personal investing funds. Melinda’s Pivotal Ventures invests in economic empowerment for women while Bill runs Gates Ventures.

Based on their track record, the “word” is that the Gateses will “excel” in whatever “windows” of opportunity they pursue. (Sorry).

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Crypto news of the day

The mainstreaming of crypto assets continues apace. S&P Dow Jones Indices — home to the ubiquitous S&P 500 — just launched 3 crypto indexes: 1) a Bitcoin index; 2) an Ethereum index; and 3) an index that includes both.

Of the 2 assets, Ethereum is currently on the hottest run: up ~2x over the past 6 weeks to a market cap of $380B+.

Not to be outdone, Dogecoin — which started out as a joke — continues to hit record highs, up more than 100x year-to-date.

In a particularly absurd stat, if someone had invested all 3 US stimulus checks into Dogecoin… this is how much they would have:

Source: Twitter / @dollaranddata

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