Are podcasts watching you?

October 9, 2020

October 9, 2020
The Hustle
Miso Robotics

Happy Friday — or as it’s known around our office, “You have 6 more days (until Oct. 14) to enter a drawing for a MacBook Pro by getting a friend to sign up for The Hustle.” Let’s gooooo! 

The Big Idea

How much data do podcasts have on you?

Once upon a time, hosting a podcast meant recording your movie reactions on a $20 microphone in your bedroom. 

But those geeky early days are gone: Podcasting is on track to become a $1B business next year, with the biggest players raking in as much as $30m annually

Now, a bunch of new tech players are trying to bring the Facebook model — gather intel on users, pump out micro-targeted ads — to audio hawks.

The rise of targeted podcasts

As The Markup reports, these companies have sparked controversy

  • Basecamp (a project management firm) ditched its podcast host, Art19, over concerns about personalized ads. 
  • Libsyn (a podcast platform) left its analytics company, Podsights, for tracking IP addresses.

In response to these issues, some platforms, like Overcast, now let you see which podcasts track you.

Podcasts used to have an old-school edge 

Ads were pre-recorded into each episode, so that you’d hear the same ad no matter when or where you listened. 

But that started to change in 2014, when a company called Acast offered customized ads based on the date and the listener’s location.

Since then, podcasts have gotten more precise with your data. Analytics companies like Podsights will grab your IP address and device type and track whether you visited, say, Blue Apron’s website after hearing their ad. 

But that’s nothing compared to what Facebook or Google do

Data privacy becomes a bigger question when you think about the big companies creating original podcasts — Amazon, Spotify, and Apple.

Those companies already have a ton of info on you. Spotify can even tell when your phone is in your hand or in your pocket. 

Merge that data with your podcast habits, and your late-night Amazon searches for Guy Fieri merch might soon trickle into the ad section on your favorite pod.

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  • SpaceX’s Starman (a mannequin sitting in a Tesla Roadster) has traveled 1.3B miles and just passed Mars
  • Morgan Stanley is getting busy: Two days after closing its $13B deal for ETrade, the storied investment bank acquired asset manager Eaton Vance for $7B
  • The world’s first Hyperloop might be coming to West Virginia. Virgin Group just announced that it would test its futuristic trains in the state.
  • A French court is leaving Google little choice but to pay publishers for their content, a move that looks a lot like what’s happening in Australia.
  • Thanksgiving is going to look different this year — but will we still be eating turkey? The turkey biz has no idea.
  • Bonus: Riding the subway in Taiwan? You can pay for it with a preloaded Pokémon ball

Mastercard and Visa are making moves to defend their payments duopoly

Mastercard and Visa are the world’s pre-eminent payment processors. 

The two firms account for 90% of card payments outside of China and have a combined market value of ~$800B.

As the industry expands beyond cards, however, the duopoly is being forced to defend its payment turf like Ron Burgundy and the KVWN channel 4 team in Anchorman

Google and Apple both have mobile payment offerings 

Meanwhile Amazon is trying to enter the race with a palm reader.

And, according to The Economist, 55 countries have “real-time” automated clearing-houses (ACH) solutions, even bigger than Big Tech’s. 

These national bank-to-bank ACH systems were traditionally used to disburse recurring payments (e.g., payrolls, benefits) but now also serve as data pipes, which can be used to monitor fraud. 

The duopoly isn’t sitting idle

Mastercard recently partnered with ACI Worldwide, a banking solutions firm that has created software for real-time payments. 

Visa has “set up its own alternative to fast ACH, called Visa Direct, and offers services, such as security tools, to help strengthen countries’ payment networks,” according to The Economist.

Further, both firms acquired bank-to-bank processors last year to help facilitate international payments (and potentially compete against the SWIFT global bank messaging system). 

The traditional card network is still growing at double digits but these moves show that Visa and Mastercard aren’t effing around. 

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White Castle has recruited an AI assistant chef to reinvent their business

Fun fact: “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle” came out 16 years ago. 

While the Castle of 2020 may look the same as the movie, things are changing big-time behind the scenes. They’ve partnered with Miso Robotics to upgrade their kitchens by bringing in the world’s first AI assistant chef to work alongside kitchen staff:

Flippy the frying robot. 

Check Flippy’s resume and you’ll see why he’s been recruited:

  • 300% lift in margins due to low hourly cost
  • 12K+ burgers cooked to perfection
  • 60K+ lbs of food fried
  • Improved work environment by handling dangerous tasks

Thanks to Flippy, Miso Robotics is now in prime position to be one of the main players in automating the up-and-coming cloud kitchen market. 

If you want to get in on the ground floor, invest in their SeedInvest right here… but hurry, because we get a feeling Flippy is going big soon.

Invest here →

How ecommerce merchants can prepare for the upcoming holiday madness

With Prime Day next week and the holiday season just around the corner, the ecommerce world is poised to go into overdrive. 

One company working to help merchants through the period is Wix, the $15.6B web development firm with a fast-growing ecommerce business. 

We recently caught up with the company’s head of strategic marketing, Liat Karpel Gurwicz. The Q+A below has been edited for length.

What advice is Wix giving to its merchants for the holiday season? 

We have a number of suggestions for ecommerce operators:

  • Diversify your suppliers: You should have a plan B and plan C just in case.
  • Plan and stock inventory: Look through your data to identify which products are selling well now, in previous holiday seasons, and since the start of the pandemic.
  • Get creative on delivery: Logistics will be difficult for everyone (including Amazon), so be prepared to have non-traditional delivery options (e.g., ride-sharing).
  • Make sure the website is ready: Include basics like shipping info, return/refund policies and live chat.
  • Get your payment providers in order: Make sure your account is verified and ensure that any products you sell are allowed to be sold.
  • Stagger marketing efforts: Use every channel available (social, email, SMS) to get your marketing in early and plan for a few rounds of marketing.

How is Wix’s ecommerce offering differ from Shopify?

I’d say our main differentiation with Shopify is that I believe we are a better solution for medium-sized businesses (~$1m a year in revenue). 

The reason I say this is because we offer a number of high-tier features as part of our standard package including payments, analytics, native integrations (SEO, FB), automated text, custom cart checkouts and currency conversions among others. 

What are some notable ecommerce brands using Wix? 

Here are a few good D2C names:

What’s your response to people who say ecommerce is a “race to the bottom” game with no guarantees of success?

I don’t know if ecommerce is any different than the offline world. If you’re a small business brick and mortar shop, you have to make great products, go to where your shoppers are and invest in your customer relationships. 

Wix’s platform enables people to do that online. We aim to allow any business to have the same tools as a big brand does.

You still have to do the hard work of making the business a success. 

Who’s the most interesting person you know? 

My grandma. She has 93 and has lived through a whole lot of crazy worlds. Coming off of World War II, she moved from Poland to Lesotho [a British protectorate completely surrounded by South Africa]. We are now all in Israel, where she arrived when she was 83. 

What’s the best advice you ever received? 

From my grandma, who is such a grounded and practical person. She says when it comes to hard things, you can either be a victim or a survivor. 

You can’t control what happens but you can control your response to it. This is really useful advice for 2020.

What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 12 months? 

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, which I’ve been reading to my kids. 

Do you have a request for a startup? 

If I had a really great idea, I’d do it myself haha. 

But — as a shopper — my one beef is that there’s no easy way to know all the different coupons, deals and memberships I have with one brand. I’d love if there was an app that could track all of that.

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Here’s how The Hustle drove millions in revenue for Linjer

In 2017, Jennifer Chong and Roman Khan, the founders of D2C watch company Linjer, collaborated with our advertising team to create this advertorial

It’s simple, but powerful:

“We sent over 2.6M people to the advertorial and it drove millions in sales — but 2017 was a record year for us. Not only did The Hustle drive sales, it put us on the map,” says Roman.

And he’s just one of our advertising client’s success stories. 

We’ve created endless advertorials, GIFs, listicles — and even a video game — to make our clients’ advertising dreams come true.

Want to see what The Hustle can create for your brand?

Contact us → JOBS

Digital Marketing Specialist, Blueboard:

Next-gen employee recognition platform seeks a smartie to handle demand gen campaigns. This could be you.

Email Marketing Specialist, EverCommerce:

Responsible for B2B email strategies, you’ll be sliding into DMs — or at least the inboxes of potential clients — on the reg. 

Developer Success Engineer, WorkOS:

C’mon, get appy… and be the liaison between engineers and developers.

Content Marketing Manager, Meltwater:

Don’t just talk the talk. Meltwater wants you to pretty up the writing on its content marketing team. 

Senior Account Executive, GetAccept:

Wanna take your career full… sale? This gig gives you a wide territory to conquer. 

See more →
Shower Thoughts

  1. The first successful single celled organism never died. It reproduced trillions of times and is still living as all of us.
  2. You can’t touch any reflection other than yours.
  3. Your friends have had tons of imaginary conversations with you you’ll never be privy to.
  4. Birthday presents are your free awards for leveling up.
  5. Biologists are nothing but a bunch of cells gossiping about other cells
via Reddit

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Today’s email was brought to you by Michael Waters, Bobby Durben, and Trung Phan.
Editing by: Zachary “Are you listening?” Crockett, Mehta Feingold (Jewelry Appraiser II).

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