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🩳 The comfy clothes boom

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A pair of Walter White’s iconic underwear auctioned for $32.5k. Actor Bryan Cranston didn’t wear them; they were a “Breaking Bad” set prop seen in the meth kingpin’s closet.

In today’s email:

  • TikTok: Dancing around banishment.
  • Video: The $500m smiley face business.
  • Athleisure: Comfy is king.
  • Around the Web: Rodent basketball, nonlinear workdays, an intriguing newsletter, and more cool internet finds.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s podcast to catch Jacob and Juliet weighing in on TikTok’s high-stakes DC field trip, the Fed’s latest hike, Panera’s palm scanners, and more.

The big idea
TikTok with U.S. and Chinese flags

Even more than usual, all eyes are on TikTok today

TikTok’s fate will perhaps, quite fittingly, be decided by a choreographed dance.

In prepared testimony before Congress today, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew aims to assure US lawmakers the app is safe from Chinese government influence.

Chew — and the 150m+ Americans who use the social video app — will soon learn if those assurances are enough to stop the US government’s continued pursuit of a ban.

Everyone is in a pickle here

Per The Wall Street Journal, the Biden administration has so far stayed firm on its request: Chinese parent ByteDance must sell their TikTok shares or risk banishment.

Negotiations have spanned two administrations. There’s bipartisan unity around fears that ByteDance would cede user data to Chinese authorities.

  • Chew refutes this, assuring feds his team operates independently — and within global privacy laws. His testimony cites “Project Texas,” the app’s US data firewall initiative, eight times.

Both sides are digging in: TikTok has expanded public outreach this week. More members of Congress say they back legislation that would allow Biden to ban the app.

  • This isn’t just a US thing — Dutch officials just joined British and EU leadership in pulling the app from government employees’ work phones.

TikTok’s content is fleeting — its repercussions are not

A ban may damage politicians’ standing with TikTok’s younger fanbase, a group that already turns out to vote in small numbers.

  • Only 27% of Americans under 30 voted in the last midterms (actually a relatively high mark).
  • Further complicating things, per WSJ, political parties have invested in reaching younger voters using — you guessed it — TikTok.
  • Commerce secretary Gina Raimondo on a potential ban: “The politician in me thinks you’re going to literally lose every voter under 35, forever.”

The financial ramifications are significant as well. TikTok is central to the $100B creator economy, per Forbes.

Insider Intelligence data projects TikTok’s ad revenue will pass $11B by next year. (That would top Snapchat, Pinterest, and Twitter.)

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TRENDING
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A blogger declaring that the “age of AI has begun” sure hits harder when that blogger is Bill Gates. The Microsoft co-founder compared this moment to the introduction of the microprocessor, PC, internet, and mobile phone.

SNIPPETS

The Federal Reserve bumped interest rates 0.25% yesterday, the ninth increase since March 2022. CNBC noted that “ongoing increases” wasn’t mentioned this time, which could mean they’re coming to a close.

GameStop won’t stop: The meme stock is once again surging, as the gaming store — popular with social media traders — paired a 16% cost reduction with above-expectation Q4 profits.

“Buy Now, Pay Later” is clicking: Usage of online delayed-payment services (think Afterpay and Klarna) is up 10% YoY to start 2023. Delaying payment for groceries is up 40%.

Well, that’s one way to do taxes: MSCHF’s latest project is “Tax Heaven 3000,” an anime dating video game that can actually prepare federal tax returns for — get this — single filers.

Virgin Orbit is closing in on a $200m infusion from VC investor Matthew Brown. The company said operations will resume today, bumping shares 60% in premarket trading Wednesday.

High-five: Panera Bread will implement Amazon’s palm-reading system in 10-20 stores by year-end, allowing customers to pay for their bread bowls and access loyalty programs with their hands.

The FCC is suing an Ecuadorian pirate radio station in NYC for $2.3m+, using a 2020 law that allows the agency to impose larger fines against broadcasters.

Duolingo spreads its wings: The 500m-user language app is developing a music learning product. The company, which only went public two years ago, also recently expanded into math.

Not diggin’ it: Operating income of $1.5B can’t stop a company from being badgered — literally. Badgers burrowing under tracks have forced Dutch rail network operator ProRail to cancel service on a busy line for at least one week.

FROM THE BLOG
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Business moves fast, and entrepreneurs need to be ready to pivot on the fly. That goes for your budget, too. Here’s how to keep your finances flexible and agile with a rolling budget.

smiley face business

Video: How the smiley face became a $500m business

The Smiley Company office in London, England, is a wonder to behold.

Smiley paintings line the walls. Smiley plush pillows adorn the couches. There are smiley backpacks, smiley T-shirts, smiley exercise balls, smiley toys, smiley chocolates, and even smiley chicken nuggets.

Nearly 50 years ago, one man “invented” the modern smiley face. Then, another man halfway across the world made it into a multimillion-dollar cash cow.

But how did it get there?

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Free Resource

10 glorious Google Sheets templates

Take our word for it: great Google Sheets help teams get things done.

Here are 10 of them. These ready-to-use spreadsheets are made to aid entrepreneurs, small- to mid-sized businesses, and jack-of-all-trades marketing operators.

Templates for planning and jamming:

  • Blog editorial calendar
  • Marketing budget template
  • Paid media template
  • Competitive analysis template
  • Email marketing planning template
  • On-page SEO template
  • Sales and customer service metric calculators

If this is your start to a new type of structure, we’re stoked for you.

10 spiffy business templates →
Athleisure Forever
Athleisure

Comfy fashion is paying off

The way we live — and what we wear — has changed in the last three years. One moment we were getting dressed for the office every day, and the next we were calling jeans “hard pants.”

The fashion industry is evolving to meet our demands (AKA being able to sit crisscross applesauce all day while working from home).

Brands prioritizing practicality and comfort are seeing increased sales:

  • Hoka’s sales topped $1.3B in Q3 2023
  • Lululemon’s revenue increased 28% to $1.9B in Q3 2022
  • LL Bean had the second-highest earning year in its 110-year history, with 2022 revenue hitting $1.8B
  • Crocs rung in a record year in 2022 with $3.6B in revenue, a 54% YoY increase
  • Kontoor Brands, the holding company of Wrangler and Lee, saw revenue rise 9% in 2022

And growth is showing no signs of slowing down, with the broader athleisure market expected to hit a whopping $662.5B by 2030.

Easy-to-wear clothes…

… aren’t just for the work-from-home crowd. The high-fashion world is gripping its dad sneakers just as tightly (even though they’re a little ugly).

From models to normal folks, people are unwilling to feel uncomfortable in their clothes, with an estimated 81% of people prioritizing comfort over cost or style.

Could onesies be the next hot fashion trend? Only time will tell. *Crosses fingers.*

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AROUND THE WEB

🛗 On this day: In 1857, Elisha Graves Otis, founder of the Otis Elevator Co., installed the first commercial passenger elevator at the EV Haughwout & Co. department store in NYC.

🌏Must read: International Intrigue is a newsletter from former diplomats who scour 600+ sources daily. Join 35k+ decision makers who trust them to deliver the global gossip.

🧑‍💼 How to: Structure a nonlinear workday to match your peak productivity levels.

🧠 Cure boredom: This game is simple. Guess which Wikipedia page is longer.

🐀 Aww: And now, the NBA… with rats.

TWEET
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You’re getting dangerously close to the most coveted item in Hustle-land: The Hustle Television Hooded Sweatshirt.

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Get {{35 – contact.referral_count}} more referrals and we’ll send you our cozy new swag bundle: The Hustle Hooded Long Sleeve and Island Design Tee. These relaxing tops would be great accessories for your next island trip (if you get that far *wink*).

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Trends

Hey, we see you. You’re out there spreading the gospel of The Hustle like it’s nobody’s business. Seems like you might be ready for a little more…

Get {{75 – contact.referral_count}} more referrals and we’ll slide you a free subscription to Trends.

And no, this ain’t an ad. We just think you’re the kinda person who would thrive in our top-tier community (it’s usually $299) full of founders, investors, and builders (AKA ambitious, no B.S. business folks like you) — and enjoy our premium research and content.

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Well, well. Look who’s climbing the ladder. We’re so proud.

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Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen, Juliet Bennett Rylah, .
Editing by: Ben “Too old for TikTok anyway” Berkley.

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