Cameo’s got huge ambitions


July 22, 2020

It could be a delivery vehicle for all kinds of expertise.
July 22, 2020
The Hustle
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The Ascent

You probably can’t jet off to Iceland right now, but the country still wants to help you release your pent-up frustration.

The tourism brand Promote Iceland launched a web app that will broadcast your most primal screams through 1 of 7 speakers set up across the country.

The one downside: Although your cry for help will fade out into the vast Icelandic wilderness, that won’t stop your roommate from hearing it.

The Big Idea

Cameo is incredibly fun… and it has the foundation for a huge business

I start my morning with a Red Bull / carrot juice concoction (pray for my soul) and a quick email scroll to find the newest addition to Cameo, the celebrity shoutout platform.

Over the past few weeks, Cameo has added pure 🔥 to its offering: Carole Baskin, the Wu-Tang Clan, Floyd Mayweather, Ice Cube, and Dikembe Mutombo. 

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Don’t be fooled by Cameo’s playful nature

The company — which has raised $65.2m (with a valuation as high as $500m) — is going after a massive opportunity. 

As recently described in Rob Litterst’s Good Better Best newsletter, Cameo isn’t only in the business of celebrity shoutouts. Per the company’s CEO, Steven Galanis, “Cameo is the marketplace where for X amount of money, you can do Y activity with Z person.”

Many people mocked the company’s recent addition of a 10-minute Zoom call with Jeremy Piven for $15k. But really, Cameo is a great delivery vehicle for personalized expertise:

  • Celebrity-driven advice: How much would an aspiring artist pay to have Ice Cube quickly critique her chorus? 
  • Tips from the pros: How much would someone starting a backyard farm pay for 10 minutes with the world’s top gardener?

Tell us about your Cameo shoutouts

Down at The Hustle HQ, we’ve definitely tasted the fruit of Cameo’s ambition.

We got an inspiring note from billionaire investor and liquor baron Russ Hanneman (of HBO’s Silicon Valley). 

Did you buy a Cameo with someone great? Tell us all about it.

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Money Talks

What’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought in cash?

When I was 20 years old, I spotted the guitar of my dreams on Craigslist: a 1983 Les Paul Custom in tobacco sunburst.

I withdrew $1,900 in $100 bills (nearly every penny to my name), drove 2 hours down a winding dirt road in the California foothills, and bought the axe off a white-bearded Deadhead named Pete.

To this day, it’s still the most expensive thing I ever bought in cash.

We want to hear your stories: What was your most expensive one-time purchase? What was the tale behind it? How about your most regrettable splurge?

If you’ve got 2 minutes to spare, please fill out our short survey.

We’ll share the most entertaining responses this Sunday.

— Zack Crockett, Sunday features editor

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Snippets

5 stories to catch you up quick

1️⃣ Apple is planning to cut all carbon emissions out of its business by 2030.

2️⃣ Uber is jumping into the world of contact tracing. 

3️⃣ Instagram is testing a “personal fundraiser” feature. 

4️⃣ Walmart, Target, and CVS just announced a $15m project to improve upon the single-use plastic bag.

5️⃣ Our favorite TikTok clone, Zynn, is back. But now instead of cash rewards, you get something called “Zynncheers.” 

And 5 more to delight you 

1️⃣ Bike thiefs, meet Proteus, a “virtually indestructible” new material. It’s so uncuttable, angle grinders can barely scratch it.

2️⃣ Serena Williams’ 2-year-old daughter just became the world’s youngest professional sports owner.

3️⃣ Japan’s nightclubs are open again — and health officials are asking customers to obey proper “kiss etiquette,” which means no deep kisses. And save the sex for your partners, people.

4️⃣ Go inside Cactus Plant Flea Market, the mysterious streetwear that counts Frank Ocean, Pharrell, and Timothée Chalamet among its boosters.

5️⃣ It’s tech meets high fashion meets literal trash: The futurist style brand Volleback just unveiled the Garbage Watch, available in 2021.  

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5 Questions With

The best advice Josh Wolfe ever received: Avoid boring people

We’re asking some of the biggest names in business and tech to answer 5 of our burning questions. Today’s guest: Josh Wolfe, co-founder of Lux Capital, who bets big on cutting-edge tech.

Josh is answering your burning questions in a Trends AMA today at 3pm ET. Want in? Sign up for a Trends trial.

What’s your favorite book that you’ve read in the last 12 months?

Burn-In by P.W. Singer and August Cole. It’s a combination of cutting-edge technology straight from today’s headlines — and Black Mirror-esque prognostications of the near future. 

It was a helpful guide to AI and robotics and the social and political implications that may arise.

What’s one thing you splurged on recently?

My Zoom setup is a bit silly with a Canon 5D Mark IV, a fixed 35mm high aperture lens, a teleprompter to make eye contact in Zoom, and HD converter cards.

Who’s the most interesting person you know?

Thomas Reardon (founder of CTRL-labs, which sold to Facebook) is a polymath who helped create Internet Explorer at Microsoft, went to college for the first time at 33 for classics and Latin, and then got a Ph.D. in neuroscience before founding a brain-machine interface company which would later get sold for nearly $1B!

What’s the best piece of advice someone ever gave you? 

Jim Watson, the Nobel Prize winning co-discoverer of DNA, gave me great advice over tea at his apartment, which was a brilliant double entendre: Avoid Boring People.

What’s one mistake you made in your career, and what did you learn from it? 

Too many to count. But most of my errors have been errors of omission, the things I should have done instead of errors of commission — the permanency of the mistake made.

But I consider mistakes to be the result of not thinking a few moves ahead. My main learning is a quote I coined that we use at Lux: Failure comes from a failure to imagine failure.

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Off the Vine

The latest turn in the celebrity booze boom is… Post Malone rosé?

Now you’ve finally got something to wash down those Flamin Hot Limón Doritos.

A rosé brand might seem out of the blue from Post Malone — most rosé fans I know do NOT have face tats. 

But the rapper said screw the stereotypes — and sold 50k branded bottles of that sweet, pink, summer bliss in 48 hours.

Like winning a Grammy or moving to Hollywood Hills, branding booze seems to be a celebrity rite of passage.

That’s showbiz, baby

Posty’s rosé, Maison No. 9, sells for $21.98 on the online wine market Vivino. A thousand cases flew off the shelves in the first hour. 

Big-name booze brands are everywhere. Marilyn Manson’s Mansinthe, Diddy’s Ciroc, and Ryan Reynolds’ Aviation Gin are some of the most well-known celebrity spirits. 

And they can be lucrative — Drake’s whiskey company sold 30k cases globally in its first year. George Clooney sold his tequila brand for $700m+ in 2017.

The rapper’s rosé actually… might be good?

Besides the Doritos, Posty’s other culinary collabs include Bud Light seltzer. So who knows what kind of flavor profile he’s cooked up for the rosé.

But after some favorable reviews, The Hustle’s resident sommelier is considering a taste. Go with God, Caroline:

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The noisiest mammals are sharing their secrets. Scientists are studying the ways animals like howler monkeys learn to exaggerate their size and strength with louder calls.

Prediction: We’ll be looking at the most talkative Twitter personalities through a whole new lens.

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Today’s email was brought to you by Nick “Frosé” DeSantis, Noah Merle Low (Wine Snob), Michael Waters, Zack Crockett, Belle Long, Trung Phan, and Bobby Durben.

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