A dating app for missed connections? We investigate

July 30, 2020

Plus: an eye-opening look at an MLM empire.
July 30, 2020
The Hustle

We spent way too much time yesterday poring over the best moments from the big antitrust showdown. Two standouts: Someone fed Jeff Bezos snacks from off camera. And Google’s CEO had a tough time:

Want more? We got you. Read on.

Big Tech’s Big Day

Top takeaways from the antitrust Royal Rumble

Yesterday’s antitrust hearing/circus with the CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google had a bit of everything.

Here’s one takeaway for each butt in the hot seat, plus a couple more.


The receipts looked baaaad. The questioners whipped out 2012 emails showing Mark Zuckerberg was very worried about Instagram, a competitor at the time. 

One memorable line from his outbox: “Instagram can hurt us meaningfully without becoming a huge business.” The Verge called the emails “clear statements” that Zuck “moved to buy the upstart app to insulate Facebook from current and future competition.”


It got hot inside Google’s garden. CEO Sundar Pichai took heat for an investigation by The Markup that showed many searches starting on Google… end up right back on Google (it found 41% of the first page of Google mobile results is taken up by Google products).


Those words won’t reassure anybody. Last week, The Wall Street Journal dropped a bombshell saying Amazon invested in startups — and used the intel to launch its own private-label goods. 

When asked Wednesday, Bezos said Amazon has rules against doing that. Then he added: “I can’t guarantee you that policy has never been violated.”


Tim Cook took the fewest questions. The New York Times’s tally showed he faced 35, vs. ~60 for the others. When it was his turn in the spotlight, he was fightin’ off questions about the App Store.

While all eyes were glued to the livestream…

Your take

We asked y’all which Big Tech company would reach a $2T market cap fastest. ~3k readers responded:

  • 57.8%: Amazon (current market cap: ~$1.51T)
  • 12.3%: Apple (~$1.6T)
  • 10.8%: Tesla (~$278B)
  • 7.4%: Alphabet/Google (~$1T)
  • 4.3%: Facebook (~$665B)
  • 6.5%: Someone else
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5 stories to catch you up quick

1️⃣ Arizona is leading the charge on an investigation of whether Apple intentionally slowed older iPhones. 

2️⃣ Spotify’s slump seems to be over: The company says listening is back to pre-pandemic levels. 

3️⃣ You no longer have to wait 90 days after a film’s theatrical release to catch it on a streaming service. A new agreement between AMC and Universal shortened the window to 17 days.

4️⃣ Sex workers will host a self-destructing online variety show — called E-Viction — to protest the proposed EARN-IT law. 

5️⃣ A group of investors has valued TikTok at $50B, several billion above peers like Snap. 

And 5 more to delight you 

1️⃣  We’ve all been there: Substack forgot to put users on BCC when it sent out a privacy update — revealing email addresses for Jeff Bezos, Evan Spiegel, and hundreds of others.

2️⃣ A new algorithm called MosAIc has identified some surprising similarities between art pieces from across time and space

3️⃣ Big win for Tom Nook: Taiwan police found the owner of a lost Nintendo Switch by sending them virtual postcards in Animal Crossing

4️⃣ SodaStream, the company behind at-home seltzer makers, is trying to build better ventilators

5️⃣ Red Lobster employees saved a ridiculously rare blue lobster from steamy death. They named the lil crustacean Clawde.

Let me work it

Women are the ones to watch in wealth management

Hey, laaaaadies. By 2030, we’re gonna be in charge of $30T in assets, a $20T increase from 2016. The boys in the banks better get set.

Is this a Missy Elliott track?

Nah, it’s a McKinsey banger. 

A report from the consulting giant found:

  • Male Boomers, who hold more than 70% of investable assets, will pass assets to their wives when they die. 
  • Younger women are getting sh*t done in corporate America.

It’s a shakeup for a male-dominated field

Thirty percent more young, married women are making their own financial decisions than 5 years ago. If more firms want to serve them, they should take note: 

  • Women are willing to pay for in-person advice… if they feel a connection with their adviser. 
  • Women tend to be risk-averse with their portfolios, focus on life goals like retirement, and are interested in financial literacy and community outreach.
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Ever wondered what it takes to make Forbes’ Next Billion Dollar Startups list?

Not much — you just need to solve one of the biggest problems facing business owners today, then expand that into a groundbreaking customer interaction platform (which you can try for free right here).  

See? Easy peasy. 

Podium started with a text-based customer review invitation tool that makes leaving reviews simple and ups conversion rates from ~2% to 20%.

But their complete messaging platform is where things really took off… 

A comprehensive solution to better customer interactions

It may sound buzzword-y, but that’s exactly what rocketed Podium from little m to big B valuation — and now, they want you to see what all the fuss is about. 

Try Podium Starter for free right here and instantly increase your business’ ability to talk to customers in the most engaging form: 

Text message.

Conveniently manage and respond to every message across multiple channels (all from one platform) and make your website textable with Webchat in minutes. 

They’ll even give you a textable number and 250 review invitations — which is what the company was built on — when you download today. 

Try Podium Starter →
Getting Hairy

All about ‘brushing,’ one of the seediest scams in ecommerce

It’s an agricultural whodunit: People in 28 states are receiving mysterious seed packets from China and Kyrgyzstan. 

This isn’t a Jack and the Beanstalk situation. State agencies are warning not to plant them for fear they could be invasive — and they’re pretty sure the seeds are part of a “brushing” scam. 

WTF are ‘brushing’ scams?

They work like this: A shady seller finds your info and registers a fake Amazon or AliExpress account in your name. Then they use it to buy, say, a packet of their own seeds.

When the goods arrive, the seller leaves a glowing review — now with a “verified buyer” tag.

Don’t brush off brushing

Last year, Amazon encouraged the “verified” elite to rate more purchases. The idea: Their ratings are trustworthy, so they could drown out paid reviews.

According to one study, brushers jacked up their search rankings 10x faster than unbrushed rivals. And only 2.2% of brushing accounts were caught.

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Stranger Love

We looked for love in all the wrong places

Happn is a dating app that helps you match with the cute rando you saw crossing the street. It’s kind of like Missed Connections, a classic for Craigslist stalkers admirers. 

In the Before Times, Happn only let you slide into the DMs of people who came within ~¼ mile of you. But now the company has extended its match radius to ~75 miles. 

Could the bigger net help you find love? In the name of sCiEnCe, our staff writers tried it out.

Michael: The main page asks, “Who would you like to cross paths with?” then lists gender options. Creepy factor: 5.

Caroline: Is this like Pokemon Go? Do I need to leave the house and walk around?

(Apparently not. Happn matches you with other users who’ve been near you in the past week. You can say “hello”… or send ‘em packing.)

Michael: All my matches will either be from the grocery store or coffee shop because those are the only 2 places I go anymore.

Caroline: I just matched.

Michael: Oh god. 

Caroline: Oh, sh*t. He’s, like, in college. He walks his dog by my house. Honestly, I’m going to hide for a while. I was on Happn for 10 minutes and found 2 neighbors.

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A company called Young Living runs a multilevel marketing empire, dealing essential oils. According to a Business Insider investigation, 89% of all Young Living member entrepreneurs make an average of just $4 per year.

(Source: Business Insider)

Bubble Dribble

How JaVale McGee’s producer makes video magic from inside the NBA’s bubble

The best quarantine content was ESPN’s The Last Dance.

But it took 22 freaking years to make.

Fortunately, with the NBA season kicking off today, we don’t have to wait 2 decades for more unreal behind-the-scenes footage. 

Millions of fans have tuned in to LA Laker JaVale McGee’s video dispatches from Disney World, where the NBA is posting up.

Since releasing his first clip on July 12th, McGee’s YouTube account has exploded from 37k to 469k subscribers (and counting). 

How’d he do it?

A collab with Devin Dismang — an Emmy-winning producer who’s worked with the Golden State Warriors.

In an interview with The Hustle, Dismang dished on how he spins McGee’s raw footage (from taking half-court shots with LeBron James to snagging J.R. Smith’s breakfast omelette to fishing with Alex Caruso to trolling Anthony Davis after a scrimmage) into YouTube gold:

  • How he turns 30-40 gigs of raw data into a 15-minute clip.
  • NBA players don’t use email (it all happens via Dropbox, texts, and FaceTime).
  • JaVale came strapped with Sony and Hero cams.

Check out our behind-the-scenes story here.

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How You’re Getting By

“In May our CIO sent out a note telling us to expect to be working from home at least until the end of the calendar year. I went out and bought a treadmill and built a desktop for it. Of course the people I have regular meetings with have had to get their sea legs so they don’t get sick watching me swaying on the Zoom waves.”

Bob Flynn, Bloomington, Indiana

How are you coping with the pandemic? Send us your story, and we’ll share the best ones here.

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Today’s email was brought to you by Michael Waters, Caroline Dohack, Belle Long, Trung Phan, and Bobby Durben.
Editing by: Nick “Slightly Seedy” DeSantis, Hugh Lyon Sack (Corporate Spokesperson).

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