A not so merry Zuck-mas


December 21, 2018

In the spirit of the holidays, we decided to “Weird Al” a lowlight reel of Facebook’s rocky 2018, under the guise of an old Christmas classic.
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Editor’s note: This is our last email of 2018. We’ll be taking next week to roast our chestnuts and spend time with our loved ones. See you back here on Jan. 2.

A very scary Zuck-mas and a crappy New Year: 2018’s failed attempt to ‘fix’ Facebook

After a recent New York Times bombshell exposé revealed abuse of user data, Facebook’s market cap dropped by about $30B.

Sound familiar? It should: Facebook has battled one scandal after another all year, despite Zuckerberg’s 2018 resolution to ‘fix Facebook.’

So, in the spirit of the holidays, we’ve decided to compile a whimsical, holiday-themed lowlight reel:

The 12 scandals of Zuck-mas:

  1. On the 1st day of Zuck-mas, Mueller gave to us: An indictment of Russians who hacked F-B. 
  2. On the 2nd day of Zuck-mas, the UN gave to us: FB’s role in Myanmar’s tragedy.
  3. On the 3rd day of Zuck-mas, the NYT gave to us: The mess that Cambridge Analytica made.
  4. On the 4th day of Zuck-mas, Congress gave to us: Thousands of FB ads for which Russia paid.
  5. On the 5th day of Zuck-mas, the NYT gave to us: Details of undisclosed deals with device makers.
  6. On the 6th day of Zuck-mas, FB gave to us: Info about an Iranian network of frauds and fakers.
  7. On the 7th day of Zuck-mas, the ACLU gave to us: A report about FB’s tools for gender discrimination.
  8. On the 8th day of Zuck-mas, FB gave to us: A massive data breach of 50m users’ information.
  9. On the 9th day of Zuck-mas, FB gave to us: A confession they lied about video advertising metrics and terms.
  10. On the 10th day of Zuck-mas, the NYT gave to us: A report FB weaponized opposition research firms.
  11. On the 11th day of Zuck-mas, FB gave to us: A report that 6.8m users’ photos were stolen by strangers.
  12. On the 12th day of Zuck-mas, the NYT gave to us: News that FB shared personal info with partners despite the dangers.

Can Facebook ever be fixed?

By May, Zuckerberg himself admitted he wouldn’t be able to fix Facebook in a year — or even 3 years. And as Facebook flounders for Band-Aid solutions, regulators are starting to make their own resolutions.

As Facebook enters 2019, it will be under more pressure than ever from investors, senators, and, most importantly, users. 

Last year Facebook was still a social giant making excuses. But, this year, Facebook’s playing defense — and it’s going to take more than a few turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree to win back public trust. 

’Tis the season
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Tobacco giant, Altria, inhales a 35% stake in Juul

Less than 12 days after taking a big ol’ hit off the Canadian weed bong biz, Altria announced it invested a smoking $12.8B into JUUL, the premiere cig-rig of Vapenation.

The investment represents a 35% interest in JUUL, valuing the e-cig juggernaut at $38B.

Big Cig’s trying not to get put out

With the decline of combustible cigarettes, Philip Morris’ parent company saw its stock fall nearly 25% in 2018, with an expected revenue growth of just 1%.

On the flip, JUUL has grown like the ashy tip of a cig on a windy day, becoming the fastest decacorn in history only 7 months after its first funding round (it reached a $10B+ valuation in September).

The vape stape sucked up over 60% of total e-cig sales in Q3. As of September, JUUL’s 52-week sales grew 770% representing nearly 73% of the entire category. 

It sees the writing (in tar) on the wall 

As the tobacco industry prepares for a massive shift, Altria is taking a page out of JUUL’s smoggy overcompensation handbook, masquerading as a new ambassador of the “safer” smoking method.

The headline of Altria’s press release read: “Altria Makes $12.8B Minority Investment in JUUL to Accelerate Harm Reduction and Drive Growth.” — a particularly stodgy assertion considering that cigarettes kill close to 480k Americans a year.

   @ Me Anything
Wes Schlagenhauf, News Writer at The Hustle
@wesschlagenhauf

It’s official: By 2020 the Marlboro Man’s gonna trade in his boots for streetwear, his horse for a Lime-scooter, and the open range for Post Malone after-party tickets at Coachella.
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» Got a light?

Google’s newest moonshot company thinks the future’s batteries are made of… salt

Google’s mysterious moonshot factory, X, delivered its most recent crazy business yesterday: Malta Inc., a company that builds energy storage systems out of molten salt.

The company launched with $26m of funding from some of the world’s most high-profile investors, including Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Michael Bloomberg, Ray Dalio, and Masayoshi Son. 

Is salt our savior?

There’s a lot more science behind your favorite table shaker than you may realize: Molten salt can store energy generated from intermittent energy sources (including solar and wind), so that they can be used later.

As renewable energy sources become more popular, these types of storage solutions are becoming increasingly important: Tesla is working on building lithium-ion Powerwalls to solve the energy storage problem, and other companies are also developing salt-based solutions.

Shares in one of Malta’s salty competitors, a company called SaltX, dropped more than 7.9% after the announcement.

The moonshot factory is growing up

Malta is graduating from Google’s secret incubator just a few months after Loon, the Google spinoff that uses stratospheric balloons to deliver internet to rural areas. 

Earlier X companies include Waymo, Google Glass, Wing, and several smaller companies that haven’t realized widespread commercial success.

But since Google launched its moonshot factory publicly in 2015, it has gradually shifted its focus away from true ‘moonshot’ ideas (which may or may not be financially viable) and toward companies that can can make an immediate financial impact — like Malta.

» The new salt bae

Buy? Puh-LEASE: Uber partner, Fair, gets $385m to expand its leasing partnerships

California startup, Fair.com, wants to change the tides of the car market by providing cheap and easy options for people to lease vehicles instead of buying them — and yesterday was an acceleration in the right direction.

On Thursday, Fair raised a massive Series B funding round of $385m (led by, who else, SoftBank) to take its business global. 

An uber deal for an Uber partner

Founded in 2016, the car-subscription service buys used vehicles from dealerships and rents them from an app for a monthly fee.

Fair has worked with Uber, which sold Fair its $400m leasing portfolio, to supply its drivers with vehicles. Now, the company hopes to scale its business 10-fold by minting more ridesharing partnerships in other markets.

The car leasing company is already in 15 states and 26 markets in the US (reportedly adding a new city every week), with more than 20k lease agreements from users to date.

SoftBank knows exactly what it’s doing

SoftBank’s got some hard tickle tied up in the rideshare market, backing not only Uber but also Getaround in the US, Didi in China, Grab in Southeast Asia, Ola in India and more.

The company plans to use Fair to scale those businesses by helping connect more drivers with fairly priced vehicles in a swift timeframe.

While Fair wouldn’t comment on its exact valuation, the round puts the total equity raised in Fair at around $500m; some speculate the company’s valuation to be north of $1B.

» A fair investment
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Go forth and build → shower thoughts
  1. One of the unspoken things about being an adult is having a favorite burner on the stove.
  2. Making eye contact with an in-store kiosk salesperson is like accidentally tapping a pop-up ad.
  3. When soft food ages it gets crunchy, when crunchy food ages it gets soft.
  4. If you’re lucky, your car will go its entire life without touching another car.
  5. Wasps are just bees with infinite ammo.
  6. via Reddit
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