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🪤 How to beat the blockchain

The Hustle

You’ve been telling us for years that we should launch a daily podcast.

Well, screw it, we’re finally doing it. (Cue the stomach butterflies.)

Keep an eye out for the official launch on Wednesday, Feb. 2nd. To celebrate, we’re also giving away $5k+ in prizes to 8 listeners. More details to come.

In today’s email:

  • Crypto scams: Cybersecurity researchers reveal how scammers manipulate smart contracts.
  • Face fatigue: A new study gives more proof “Zoom fatigue” is real.
  • Eat with your nose: A new startup is making plant-based meat that smells like lamb.
  • Around the web: Self-care apps, kitten cams, cool toys, and more fun internet finds.

Let’s do it.

The big idea
crypto coin gif

How scammers manipulate smart contracts to steal crypto

In 2021, scammers made off with $14B in ill-gotten crypto. So, a lot.

According to Check Point Research, the research arm of cybersecurity company Check Point, many scammers manipulate tokens’ smart contracts — contracts that exist and run automatically as code on the blockchain.

Here’s an example of a scam

In a typical transaction, you might be charged a fee when you buy or sell tokens.

Oded Vanunu, Check Point’s Head of Products Vulnerabilities Research, told The Hustle that usually fees should be no more than 12% of the total transaction amount.

But a scammer might hide a 99% buy or sell fee in the token’s smart contract that wipes all your money. Or, they could hide a function that blocks you from selling your coins at all.

Scam tokens are often hyped on social media channels…

… like Twitter, Discord, or Telegram by anonymous accounts to inflate the coin’s value.

Once the coin is popping, the scammers pull out all their money, delete the accounts, and disappear. That’s known as a “rug pull” scam.

Remember SQUID, the “Squid Game”-inspired token? It boomed to $2.8k+ per coin, then plummeted after the developers claimed they were hacked, sold their coins, deleted their socials, and bounced with an estimated $3.3m.

Speaking of hackers…

If a legit smart contract has a vulnerability, hackers could exploit it.

For example, a hacker exploited a mistake in The Zenon Network to destroy 26.4k+ coins, causing the price of wZNN to dramatically increase. The hacker then drained the pool for $814.5k+.

So, how do you avoid scams?

Vanunu said the current state of crypto is too complex and has too many moving parts for the average user to completely understand it — though we may soon see technologies geared to help.

For now?

“My main recommendation is to go after the tokens with a large amount of holders — [at least] a few thousand,” Vanunu said.

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SNIPPETS

Bentley will begin building its 1st all-electric car in 2025, part of its Beyond100 sustainability pledge to completely switch to electric vehicles by 2030. #clean-energy

Space case: Italian company D-Orbit plans to go public at a $1.4B valuation. It makes a satellite carrier that puts satellites into orbit. #emerging-tech

Bug bounty: Apple gave ~$100k to a researcher who found a vulnerability that would allow a hacker to take over a victim’s Safari browser. #privacy

Huh?: Propy is an NFT platform for buying real-world real estate as NFTs. The company says the blockchain legal documents make buying property simpler. #fintech-crypto

Roblox’s 2021 data reveals its most visited experience was “Brookhaven,” a virtual city that reeled in over 12.2B visitors last year. #big-tech

Predictions for the future are weird. For some perspective, check out a brief look at the last 500 years from The Hustle’s Steph Smith. #hustle-picks

Face Fatigue
Zoom meeting cartoon

Science says ‘Zoom fatigue’ is real — and worse when you don’t like your face

If you’ve been working from home throughout the pandemic, you’ve likely noticed a feeling of exhaustion after back-to-back virtual meetings.

Enter “Zoom fatigue,” which psychologists attribute to a number of factors, including:

  • Unnatural eye contact compared with in-person interactions
  • Difficulty sending nonverbal cues over video
  • Limiting natural movements to stay in the frame

According to Psychology Today, there’s another reason: facial appearance dissatisfaction. In other words, “Zoom fatigue” is worse for people that don’t like how they look on screen.

The finding is supported by a related spike in face-lifts when elective surgeries opened last summer.

How to fix it?

There’s one common thread across all the factors listed above: They all require the camera to be turned on.

Which means there’s a pretty simple solution — just turn the camera off for a while.

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Gyro Hero
gyro

Black Sheep Food raises $5m for you to smell ‘lamb’ meat

It’s often said that you eat with your nose.

While the human tongue has taste receptors, research has shown that smell accounts for ~80% of what we taste.

Now, Black Sheep Food is using the power of smell to make faux lamb meat.

The food tech startup…

… has raised $5m+ in seed funding, per TechCrunch. And it’s using the funds to create compounds that can be detected by your nose.

Per Black Sheep’s CEO Sunny Kumar, existing faux meat products are mostly focused on creating taste in the mouth.

Launched in 2019, Black Sheep is concocting “taste” by combining pea proteins and fatty acids.

A gap in the market

Beyond Meat — valued at ~$4B — is the most prominent publicly listed faux meat company.

Its go-to products are ground beef, burger, sausage, and chicken-tender alternatives.

According to Kumar, lamb is a key part of “diets in the Mediterranean, India, the Middle East, and Africa,” and it and other game meats “were left behind” by the fake meat trend.

The global plant-based market is projected to hit $16B+ by 2026. You smell that? It’s a gamey lamb scent with a dash of cash money!

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TRENDS

Climate tech was a $26B industry in 2021

As in, 75% YoY gains — because our climate predicament ain’t peachy.

Which, on one hand, is just terrifying. But on the other, it means extreme-weather contingency solutions are hot, and VCs are in. Cue our highlights.

3 new business opportunities for teeth-sinking:

  • Insurance tech has been aboom since 2020. There are apps to track floods, quakes, and hurricanes, but we have other ideas.
  • Disaster response and post-disaster support are niches still in need of modernization. We brainstorm ways to improve prep and communication.
  • Weatherproofing homes is always a thing. Naturally, sustainable insulation has a strong expected CAGR of 12.6% through 2025.

That’s just the gist. Get access to this Trends signal, hundreds more, and the professional network that keeps on giving.

Try Trends for $1 →
AROUND THE WEB

🎶 On this day: In 1985, musicians including Cyndi Lauper, Tina Turner, and Bob Dylan showed up to Quincy Jones’ invitation to record “We Are the World,” which raised $60m+ for famine relief in Africa.

🪀 Haha: CNET rounded up several toys that are meant for kids but loved by adults.

⛷️ Wow: British army officer Preet Chandi skied 700 miles across Antarctica to become the 1st woman of color to reach the South Pole solo.

🐦 Useful: Finch is a self-care app. You’ll get a little pet bird that grows as you complete healthy activities.

😷 How to: Pharmacies including Walgreens, CVS, Meijer, and Kroger will offer customers free N95 masks. Here’s how to get them.

🐾 Aww: See who’s at Kitten Academy, a cat rescue in Connecticut, via its live cam here.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

(A roundup of our best reads from the last couple weeks…)

🤡 The customers who repeatedly buy doomed products

💳 The dark side of ‘buy now, pay later’

📈 Opinion: When the stock market plunges, keep your head on a swivel

🤔 What’s going on with crypto?

🤖 The 1st Black-owned automated market is now open

Shower Thoughts
  1. “Somewhere there must be 2 bots stuck in an infinite loop of auto-reply spam for eternity.”  SOURCE
  2. “CPR can be performed to the beat of either ‘Staying Alive’ or ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ depending on if you are optimistic or pessimistic.”  SOURCE
  3. “Maybe superheroes wear capes to hide the zipper on the back of their onesie.”  SOURCE
  4. “If lab-grown meat becomes the norm, our children and grandchildren will probably think we’re monsters for killing and eating animals.”  SOURCE
  5. “Because of the fact you exist and your line survived, there is a high chance you had a good warrior among your ancestors.”  SOURCE
via Reddit

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Psst

How'd Bezos build a billion dollar empire?

In 1994, Jeff Bezos discovered a shocking stat: Internet usage grew 2,300% per year.

Data shows where markets are headed.

And that’s why we built Trends — to show you up-and-coming market opportunities about to explode. Interested?

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