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🪵 What happened to lumber?

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Love makes people do crazy things. Like one 21-year-old Dallas resident, who broke into the Dallas Museum of Art and caused $5m+ worth of damage because he was “mad at his girl.”

In today’s email:

  • Lumber: Prices are falling fast.
  • Chart: The perfect office temperature.
  • Two Bit Circus: A high-tech arcade gets into hotels.
  • Around the web: A relaxing game, how to be ready for anything, and more interesting internet finds.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s quick podcast to hear Rob end the office temperature debate, discuss why lumber prices are falling hard, why JetBlue and Frontier are fighting over Spirit Airlines, and much more.

The big idea
logs

Timber! Lumber prices are falling hard

Lumber dealers have experienced a seesaw of emotions over the past couple years.

During the pandemic, supply chain issues and a rise in home projects caused lumber prices to skyrocket.

But a shifting macroeconomic environment has left many dealers stumped, per WSJ, with lumber futures dropping 52% since early March.

During the pandemic…

… supply chain issues led lumber buyers to order more than they needed. But a couple changes in the housing market have drastically altered the supply and demand equation:

  • The Federal Reserve raised interest rates, causing the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage to jump from 3.1% to 5.1% since the beginning of the year
  • Single-family home completions, starts, and building permits all declined in April

This combination of rising rates, falling inventory, and big asking prices led new home sales to drop 16.6% between March and April — the largest decline in nine years.

Lumber dealers…

… have been left holding the logs.

  • In April, only 12% of dealers reported low inventory, down from 61% a year earlier
  • Many dealers are cutting prices aggressively to avoid piling up too much supply

As dealers slow their orders, lumber producers are cutting back their operations as well.

Canfor Corp., a major Canadian lumber producer, has been operating at ~80% capacity since March and expects to continue a reduced operating schedule through the summer.

What’s this mean going forward?

With the Federal Reserve committed to raising rates to fight inflation, it’s unlikely the lumber situation will get much better any time soon.

That said, one expert believes issues in Canada’s western forests, shipping problems, and duties at the US border will keep prices from dropping to pre-pandemic levels.

In short, if prices held you back from doing that home project last year, it may not be a bad time to reconsider.

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SNIPPETS

Bot king: Elon Musk threatened to terminate his $44B Twitter deal over the company not providing information he requested on its bots problem. In related news, audience research tool SparkToro found that 70% of Musk’s Twitter followers are spam, fake, or inactive users. For reference, that number is 41% for other accounts with 65m-120m followers.

Breaking news: CNN removed its Breaking News banner, which described everything as breaking news. Going forward, the label will only be applied to “truly urgent events.”

Oops: An Amazon representative accidentally forwarded an email exchange to Politico where she asked a consultant to push the narrative that increased legislation on Amazon would harm communities of color.

Never give up: JetBlue really wants Spirit Airlines. After Frontier offered Spirit shareholders a $250m payout in case its merger falls through, JetBlue countered with a $350m payout of its own. Analysts speculate that the biggest reason for Spirit rejecting JetBlue’s offer is skepticism that the deal will pass regulators.

Ask Dharmesh: A 3x entrepreneur, Dharmesh Shah has taken HubSpot from a grad school idea to a $1B+ business. Here, the HubSpot co-founder shares his wisdom, from how to evaluate business ideas to navigating a downturn, in an exclusive AMA.

🚨 Join our team: We’re on the hunt for a video rock star to build our YouTube production from the ground up. If you like the sound of working with scriptwriters, producers, and editors to make viral videos that bring The Hustle’s stories to life — check out the role.

Etsy is investing $25m into a purchase protection program. It will cover refunds for up to $250 when issues outside a seller’s control occur. #ecommerce-retail

There will be no new tariffs on solar panel imports for two years, which the White House hopes will get installations on track as it investigates if China is avoiding tariffs by operating in other countries. #clean-energy

Cool: Epigenetic editing is turning genes’ expressions up or down, like a volume knob. And it could be the key to undoing an effect of adolescent binge drinking. #emerging-tech

Ouch: Since 2021, crypto scammers have bilked 46k people out of $1B+, per a new report from the FTC. #privacy

Ivella, a startup to help couples manage their finances, raised $3.5m. The idea is that each person has their own account, but a shared debit card. #fintech-crypto

Uh-oh: Google contractors claim the company that recruited them underpaid them by thousands of dollars. The hourly rate it provided to Google was $5-$10 higher than what workers received. #big-tech

Chart
perfect temperature for productivity

Credit: Singdhi Sokpo

Ending the battle over the office thermostat

If you’ve been working from home during the pandemic, you may have forgotten about the oldest office debate of all time: the temperature.

We’ve all been there — wearing a winter jacket in the summer due to aggressive air conditioning, and losing layers in the winter due to overheating.

But what if there was a perfect temperature for productivity?

According to WSJ, there might be. The International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health conducted a review of scientific literature detailing temperature and work performance.

  • The study found the optimal range for cognitive and work performance to be 71.6°F to 75.2°F (22°C to 24°C).

If that range feels right to you, you’re welcome for the help with winning your next office thermostat dispute.

If it doesn’t — pretend you never saw this.

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Fun & Games
arcade

A high-tech arcade enters the hospitality biz

Los Angeles’ Two Bit Circus is a gamer’s dream, whether they’re a kid or an adult.

Co-founders Eric Gradman and Brent Bushnell — son of Atari co-founder and Chuck E. Cheese founder Nolan Bushnell — call it a “micro-amusement park.”

It’s full of unique carnival and video games, VR, mini escape rooms, hidden stories, and other curiosities.

And now, the company is expanding…

… opening a second park in Dallas and a chain of hotels called Reveler’s Resorts.

SPAC company Alpine Acquisition Corp. agreed to acquire Two Bit Circus and two hotels in Denver and Stamford, Connecticut (located a quick jaunt via car or train from NYC).

Transactions are expected to close in Q3 2022, when the combined company will be known as Two Bit Entertainment Corp. and listed on NASDAQ under “REVE.”

Why hotels?

Two Bit CEO Kim Schaefer, a veteran exec in hospitality, told The Hustle that leisure brands “rebounded faster than the conference center hotel, so it gave us an opportunity to take those [old hotels] and use them differently.”

Rather than professionals gathering for conferences, Reveler’s Resorts will offer immersive, social experiences for families, friends, couples, and co-workers looking for team-building experiences.

Guests can unravel stories woven throughout the properties while enjoying character interactions, puzzles, magic shows, and more. There will be carnival-themed restaurants and bars, while old conference centers will be converted into play zones with a variety of games.

And a bonus

Two Bit Circus has long hosted up-and-comers’ works — including games and interactive theater — through its Beta Nights. The new parks will continue this tradition as the brand expands.

“Innovators and makers are everywhere,” Schaefer said. Hey, that’s what we say! (You can submit your games here.)

BTW: Have you ever tried VR that lets you fly like a bird?!

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AROUND THE WEB

🗓️ On this day: In 1979, Texas became the first state to make Juneteenth an official holiday. Celebrated on June 19, it marks when news of the Emancipation Proclamation reached Texas.

😫 That’s interesting: An Amazon courier’s greatest foe is apparently this 40-pound box of cat litter.

🔮 How to: Futurist and game designer Jane McGonigal explains how to predict the future — no crystal ball required — and be ready for anything.

🏗 Chill out: Townscaper is a relaxing browser game in which you design a seaside city. Perfect for a quick break.

🐱 Aww: And now, air biscuits.

Meme
office thermostat meme

I vote hypothermia. (Source: Bored Panda)

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Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen, Juliet Bennett Rylah, and Rob Litterst.
Editing by: Jennifer “Mind cranking the AC?” Wang.

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