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🧾 The confusing rise of service fees

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The longtime water superintendent of a small Vermont town recently quit when officials told him to raise fluoride levels in the town’s water, but not before admitting to secretly lowering those levels for over a decade.

In today’s email:

  • Wages: NYC employers gotta be honest.
  • Chart: The top colleges for founders.
  • Service fees: WTF are they?
  • Around the Web: Revisiting the ‘90s, an unfortunate “Oregon Trail” remake, bunny stretches, and more cool internet finds.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s 10-minute podcast to hear about why it might soon be normal to ask people how much they make — plus, Twitter news, rate hikes, and more.

The big idea
pay transparency

Pay transparency is coming

If you’re considering a new job, you want to know how much it pays, right? But how often do you find bullshit non-info like “competitive” instead?

In NYC, employment agencies and businesses with over four employees — including at least one located in the city — must now include base pay in job listings, per NPR.

  • Pay or ranges must be clear; no murky statements like “up to $15/hour.” Health insurance, PTO, and other benefits are not included.
  • The rules apply to postings for full- and part-time employees, interns, contractors, and domestic workers.
  • Violators get 30 days to shape up, or else face up to $250k in penalties.

Some companies are compliant with the new rules, which went into effect Tuesday, while others earned a thumbs-down from NiemanLab for absurd ranges — like The New York Post’s $50k-$145k for a tech reporter.

Why it matters

Pay transparency is on the rise, with similar laws in place or coming domestically and abroad.

As a result, people won’t waste time applying for jobs only to find out they underpay, while businesses that do offer fair compensation will attract top talent.

Pay transparency also:

  • Helps prevent pay disparities, including wage gaps faced by women and people of color
  • Allows less experienced workers to get an idea of what a position should pay and avoid being lowballed
  • Shows students their earning potential in a chosen field of study
  • Improves motivation among workers who know they’re being paid fairly — or leads workers who discover they’re not to find better jobs.

And although many states are banning employers from asking for salary history, being underpaid can still haunt workers long-term.

Remember, that’s not just less in your pocket, but in retirement savings, too.

BTW: Need to negotiate your salary? We’ve got tips.

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eyeball wearing a hat

Whoa: Check out the jaw-dropping water visuals in the latest preview for James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water.


Twitter: Elon Musk said the company won’t reinstate banned accounts until his team sets up a clear process for doing so. Meanwhile, the “Twitter Complaint Hotline Operator” changed the location in his bio to “Hell.”

New classic: For its 60th anniversary, Audio-Technica rereleased its fun “Sound Burger” portable record player with Bluetooth and USB-C.

Home Depot workers will vote on whether their Philly location will become the home improvement chain’s first unionized store.

It’s been 18 months since Amazon’s peegate, and drivers say they’re still peeing in bottles during long shifts.

Playstation’s VR2 headset will debut in February at ~$550 — ~$150 more than Meta’s Quest 2.

CVS and Walgreens agreed to pay ~$5B each to settle lawsuits related to the US opioid crisis. Funds will mostly go toward addiction prevention and treatment programs.

Meta is ditching news curated by people in its Facebook News section in favor of its algorithms.

Get productive: Is it starting to feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish your goals? Fret not: We rounded up the six best productivity hacks from TikTok to help you out.

top colleges ranked by number of founders

Which schools pump out the most founders?

In the startup world, arguments about which colleges are best at fostering entrepreneurs are commonplace.

With new data from PitchBook analyzing 144k+ founders, these quarrels may soon be put to rest (at least for 2022).

What’s the data say?

PitchBook ranked the top 100 schools by looking at the number of founders with a degree from each school since 2012.

  • North American schools dominate, with Israel being the only country other than the US to rank in the top 20 schools for undergraduate founders, at No. 7 and No. 15.

Notably, while data shows that female founders find the most success at North American schools, the numbers are far from even with their male counterparts.

Since 2012, 219 female founders with undergrad degrees from Stanford have raised $5.1B, compared to 1.2k+ male founders who’ve raised $68.5B.

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Free Resource

This is what a $100m business looks like

BruMate sells insulated drinkware (think: thermos-style beer koozies).

Dylan Jacob grew BruMate into a $100m+ business in under five years. Our analysts wanted to know exactly how he did it.

So we asked. He broke down his frameworks for growth with specifics on how he executed in this comprehensive Trends report.

Read it to learn:

  • How Dylan built a robust marketing list before even manufacturing the product
  • What distribution channels Dylan focused on to grow BruMate to its first $20m (without hiring anyone)
  • How Dylan’s current team manages cash flow at each stage

Access this case study, an archive of research, and our private community for entrepreneurs. Try Trends for just $1.

See you on the inside →
server shrugging

Restaurant service fees don’t always check out

You might’ve noticed something you didn’t order on your last dinner bill: a “service fee.”

Not to be confused with a tip, the service fee ranges from 3% to 20% of the bill, and it’s becoming increasingly common around the country, per Vox.

But what exactly the fee represents…

… isn’t always clear. The fee can indicate a range of things, including:

  • A mandatory tip that goes directly to the server
  • Pay for back-of-house employees like chefs and dishwashers
  • Funds to cover workers’ minimum hourly wage
  • Money for a restaurant’s credit card fees or owners

The fees also vary widely by state. In California, the fees go to the restaurants; in New York, they go to the service staff; and in Florida, they can be used for whatever the restaurant wants (feels right).

The tab keeps growing

In September, Americans spent ~$87B on dining out, up 11.4% YoY, while the price of food at full-service restaurants was up 8.8% YoY.

  • Google searches for “service fee” and “service charge” have hit an all-time high with customers scrambling to make sense of their checks.

The worst part? With all the confusion, the fee can cause diners to tip less, mistakenly thinking the money is going directly to their server.

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🐕 On this day: In 1957, Laika, a dog, launched into space aboard the Soviet Union’s Sputnik 2. She did not survive, but a Moscow statue pays homage to her journey.

💾 That’s interesting: Writer Carolyn Wells unpacks the cultural legacy of the ‘90s, from Sarah Michelle Gellar to Sarah Jessica Parker.

🐂 Oh, no: Speaking of the ‘90s, here’s “The Oregon Trail,” but with realistic dysentery consequences.

⌛ How to: Practice “anti-time management,” a departure from the usual productivity hacks.

🐇 Aww: And now, kisses, please.

circle back meme

(Follow us on Twitter.)

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Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen, Juliet Bennett Rylah, and Rob Litterst, Sara Cravatts.
Editing by: Mark “Fresh Prince of Fluoride” Dent.

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