Companies pledge money to fight racism


June 5, 2020

June 5, 2020
The Hustle
TOGETHER WITH
Daniel Wellington

Kirstyn Shaw’s cookies were a huge hit. Shaw, a member of our Trends community, runs a business called The Very Best Cookie in the Whole Wide World. This week, we told you that she’s donating 100% of the sales of her bestselling Cookies for Equality to the Black Lives Matter movement.

She messaged us with an update — it’s a sweet way to end the week.

P.S. The Ideation Bootcamp starts on Monday and there are only 30 spots left. Sign up here, read below for more.

Mo Money

Big business puts its money where its mouth is

Black entrepreneurs this week delivered a message to companies wanting to address racial inequalities: Hire and wire. 

Statements of support are great, they argued, but what really counts is money. Hire black employees, or wire investments their way. 

The numbers are stark: Only 1% of VC-backed startups are headed by black founders, and only 3% of VC investors are black.

Some major investors have gotten the memo:

  • SoftBank quickly put together a $100m Opportunity Fund that will invest only in companies helmed by people of color. 
  • The VC firm Andreessen Horowitz is ponying up $2.2m for founders from underrepresented and underserved backgrounds.
  • Bank of America is committing $1B over the next 4 years to addressing racial and economic inequalities. 
  • Goldman Sachs’ fund to back companies fighting for social justice is starting at $10m.

Customers are saying, ‘Show us the money’

While Ben & Jerry’s was widely praised for its strong statement, a lot of other brands ended up sounding the same.

Customers want more than statements. They’re flooding brand social media accounts with demands to hire black workers and support racial justice groups.

It looks like it’s starting to work: Niantic, Uber, DoorDash, and dozens of other tech companies are all pledging money toward fighting racism. 

Even fast food companies are opening their purses. Twitter users made #WendysIsOverParty trend this week because of apparent confusion over a prominent Wendy’s franchisee’s political donations

Wendy’s clarified that the company doesn’t donate to presidential campaigns. However, it pledged $500k to the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and other social justice orgs.

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TLDR: 10 Quick Takes to Catch You Up

Pro basketball is coming back, air travel is too, and ZoomInfo got off to a hot start.

1️⃣  The NBA board of governors overwhelmingly approved a plan to return to play on July 31 — the Portland Trail Blazers were the only team to vote against the plan.

2️⃣  American Airlines is cranking its domestic schedule up to 55% in July — the latest sign that air travel is slowly starting to take off again.

3️⃣  ~1.9m Americans filed new claims for unemployment benefits last week — the lowest total since before the pandemic.

4️⃣  Facebook will prevent state-controlled media outlets from buying ads in the US, and will label posts from those outlets, too.

5️⃣  Slack is up, and Slack is down: Amazon licensed the productivity app for all of its employees, but Slack’s stock slumped after it reported its quarterly earnings.

6️⃣  Two top medical journalsThe Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine — retracted studies on COVID-19 treatments, after researchers said they couldn’t vouch for the data behind them.

7️⃣  Simon Property Group, America’s largest mall operator, sued the Gap over unpaid pandemic-era rent.

8️⃣  Plant-based burgers are coming to your doorstep: Impossible Foods just launched a D2C online store.

9️⃣  ZoomInfo opened with a bang on the Nasdaq, closing at $34 — after pricing its IPO at $21 per share.

🔟  Fitbit nabbed emergency FDA approval for its low-cost ventilator.

Introducing: The Side Hustle

Heads up, Hustle Ambassadors: We’ve got something special for you tomorrow. 

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It’s called The Side Hustle (and it was the easiest product-naming debate ever).

Every Saturday morning, Caroline will share her thoughts on some of the big trends in tech and business. You’ll meet fellow Ambassadors and hear how they get their Hustle on. It’s gonna be fun.

Want in? Join our Hustle Ambassadors program by referring 3 friends — just use your referral link at the bottom of this email.

Now you see me

Protests and a pandemic: Facial recognition gets another close-up

The encrypted messaging service Signal doesn’t want you to show your face. 

Signal has become a favorite among protesters in recent days — and it just announced a tool that blurs out faces in photos sent over the app. 

Some protesters are concerned that police departments may use facial recognition tech to identify them, using images circulating on social media.

Police departments in Seattle, Austin, and Dallas have asked for images of illegal activity that took place during the demonstrations, according to OneZero.

Plenty of other big city departments — in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, and Philadelphia — keep facial-recognition tech in their arsenals, too.

This is a strange time for facial recognition

Debates over the technology have burned for years. Last week, the ACLU sued Clearview AI — a startup that has mined 3B+ pictures of faces from across the internet — accusing Clearview of violating people’s privacy rights. 

The pandemic era has changed the backdrop: Companies and governments are floating facial recognition tools as a means to improve contact tracing.

Russia, Poland, and China are already using it as one of several tools to track the spread of COVID-19, and US colleges are preparing to break out facial recognition this fall. A US startup is testing drones in India that recognize faces and enforce social distancing. 

The battle is coming to… a head

Since February, California has weighed legislation that would regulate — and, critics say, expand — facial recognition tech in the state. On Wednesday, the legislature blocked the bill.

In addition to civil rights concerns, many skeptics point out that facial recognition is not very accurate and exhibits racial bias. 

But that hasn’t stopped startups from flooding in: At least 45 companies now boast that they can track faces in real time, according to OneZero

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SPONSORED

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Whether you need a gift for your dad or a grad (hey, it’s graduation season, too), it’s hard to go wrong with a Daniel Wellington watch.

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Amazon’s Ambitions

India’s potential is irresistible for tech’s bigwigs

Jeff Bezos may bust out the billions for one of India’s largest telecom companies.

Amazon is considering a $2B stake in Bharti Airtel, in a move that continues the trend of American tech giants racing to make their mark in India. 

It’s a sprint to the finish line

Everybody’s looking to get in on the ground floor, and it’s easy to see why. 

Only half of India’s ~1.37Bb people have internet access. Whoever can beef up the infrastructure and tap into the remaining 50% is in for a big payday – one prediction says mobile traffic in India is projected to triple by 2025.

The hottest player in the market is Reliance Jio, the country’s top telecarrier. In 6 weeks, Jio has raised a whopping $10B in a string of deals with companies like Facebook, Microsoft, and major private equity firms. Bloomberg reported on Thursday that Jio will add another $1.2B investment, from a sovereign wealth fund in Abu Dhabi.

Google is reportedly eyeing a 5% stake in Vodafone, India’s No. 2 telecarrier, which had more than 332m subscribers as of 2019. 

For Amazon, India is prime real estate

Amazon’s Indian interests aren’t limited to the telecom sphere. The company has made a major effort to tap into India’s budding economy, investing $6.5B there to expand its ecommerce reach.

The pandemic underscores just how important the market is for Amazon. The company said the biggest impact on its international revenue came after the Indian government limited ecommerce to essentials only.

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The Hustle Says

Omni Calculator has 1133 free calculators for everything from Running Calories Burned to Pre- and Post-Money Valuation. Because on Fridays, we prefer not to do math. 

If you find Amazon overwhelming, you’re gonna dig what Becca just found. This nifty little browser extension (called Lustre) does extensive research to find you the best product at their lowest price.*

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LEARN

Our Ideation Bootcamp starts Monday. We have 30 slots left. Want to learn processes and frameworks for coming up with business ideas capable of scaling to $100m/year? Then this is for you. 

It’s the perfect time to build something wonderful. 

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P.S. Readers of The Hustle get $100 off with code hustle100.

Snippets

🐔 In the poultry world, the fix is officially in.

🐽 Need to top up your Botox? Florida has a drive-thru for that. 

🤖 Sorry, parents, but children are more likely to share their stories of trauma with robot therapists.

🏥 One big corporate perk of the COVID-19 era may be onsite health clinics.

📺 HBO Max’s big draw? Kids shows.

Weekend Wasters

There’s been an awful lot to digest this week, so this edition of Weekend Wasters is all about stress relief. Hope it helps.

STEAM UP YOUR SHOWER: Okay, not like that (get your head out of the gutter…). We mean with one of these sleepytime Shower Steamers from Lush. How innocent. 

LOOSEN UP WITH LETTERING: This calligraphy app will let you practice your swirls — no ink or quill required. After all, there’s just something so satisfying about a long, loopy letter. 

CHILL WITH CALM: Calm.com (wow, that’s fun to say) was built to help you can meditate, relax, and basically do whatever you gotta do to feel a bit better. Ohm, indeed. 

AUDIATE SOME ASMR: Is “audiate” a word? Should we know that as a company that gets paid to write? All valid questions, dear reader, but those are for another day. For now, plug in your headphones and let the  sweet sound of finger flutters take you away. 

PREPARE YOUR PILLOW: This deep sleep pillow spray will help you slip into a sounder, more lavender-y snooze. Spritz it on your fluffy boi (the pillow, not the dog) before bed and reap the relaxing rewards. 

Shower Thoughts

Guess what we haven’t done in too long? That’s right — Reader Submitted Shower Thoughts! Email us yours and we’ll feature some next week. 

1. Sleeping late is considered lazy, but waking up early and taking an afternoon nap is fine.

2. Getting a package in the mail is more fun than buying it at the store because you get to open the package like a present.

3. We’re all probably yawning less since we can’t see other people yawning with their masks on.

4. If you’re younger than 40, nobody’s traveled to the moon in your entire life.

5. Putting paper in a folder stops it from folding.

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