Brought to you by Felix Gray… Rx lenses meet blue light filters.
“Finally, an app that lets rural Indians browse the Amazon -- I mean the internet”
Amazon silently released an app called “Internet” to help Indian consumers stay “up-to-date with news, cricket and entertainment” using a “lite” browser (2MB vs. 21MB).
Much like Facebook’s “Internet.org,” Amazon’s “Internet” app promises to improve rural users’ access to the web -- while expanding Amazon’s access to rural users.
Rural India is a huge, untapped -- and competitive -- market
Amazon and Walmart are fighting a tug-of-war battle to acquire Flipkart, India’s biggest e-commerce company. But while India’s 391m web-surfers are the most numerous than any country but China -- they still make up less than 30% of the population.
So Amazon’s plans to increase the percentage of Indians online may help old guys watch cricket -- but mostly they’ll help Amazon sell more yoga mats and toasters than Walmart.
Internet altruism -- a classic way to colonize a market
India’s huge, upwardly mobile population is a classic “emerging market” -- AKA, the first stop on the global tour for big companies that have squeezed all the data and dollars out of their home markets.
But, while growing companies in any industry can barge into emerging markets to poach new customers, big tech companies (whose products are built around internet access) are among the few that can claim that they’re accomplishing a social mission by doing so.
The price of global connectivity? A lil’ conflict of interest
Let’s be clear -- bringing the internet to people who don’t have it is a good thing. But when internet is distributed, monitored, and branded by a single for-profit private company, there is both a conflict of interest and a violation of net neutrality.
But hey, what’s a violation compared to global connectivity? Google operates space balloons to “extend connectivity to... rural areas worldwide.” Facebook’s Internet.org brings “connectivity to the portion of the world that doesn’t have [it]” -- in 63 countries.
One country where Internet.org internet is not available? India -- where telecom regulators decided it didn’t meet standards for “non-discriminatory access.”
But where Facebook’s loud Internet.org failed, Amazon’s quiet Internet app might have a shot...
In it for the cricket
Wells Fargo slapped with $1B fine for more customer abuse
Well, wouldja look at that: Everyone’s favorite big, shady bank is being fined $1B for selling unnecessary products to customers for years.
The settlement aims to punish Wells Fargo for forcing customers to purchase auto insurance policies they didn’t need while charging others for missing mortgage payment deadlines to ensure certain interest rates.
How do they keep getting away with this sh*t?
Wells Fargo has been under intense federal scrutiny since admitting in 2016 that it had opened millions of fake accounts that customers didn’t want since 2005 -- resulting in a $185m fine.
But even then, these guys were no strangers to controversy: Since 2012, they’ve been hit with a bevy of student loan lawsuits, a mortgage fraud fine ($1.2B), and a fine for mortgage bias against black and Hispanic borrowers ($175m).
Now, at $1B, this most recent fine is among the largest ever levied by either the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.
Bad dudes, still no sweat to be had
While the Federal Reserve did just lay down an unprecedented hammer to stifle the company from future expansion, the bank is going virtually unpunished yet again.
With more than $1T in assets, and their last quarter earnings of nearly $6B, a billion dollars is merely another drop in the bucket for the banking giant.
Electric scooter startup wants to make it legal to ride scooters on the sidewalk
It’s been a little over three weeks since Bird, LimeBike, and Spin unleashed hundreds of adult scooters on the city of San Francisco, and already the SF scooter frenzy is underway.
But, a week later authorities started impounding them, and on April 16, the San Francisco city attorney sent a cease-and-desist order to all three companies, demanding they stop operations, and take stronger measures to keep riders off of the sidewalks.
But, instead of collaborating, Bird’s founder aims to bypass
The company founded by former Uber and Lyft executive Travis VanderZanden, is pushing legislation that would answer the city’s concerns by… not answering them at all.
His plan: convince them to see it his way by making it legal to ride electric scooters on sidewalks.
The bill aims to define “stand up electric scooters” as a vehicle powered by electric motors of less than 750 watts, with a speed cap of 20 mph (Bird’s scooters max out at 15 mph).
Straight from Uber’s playbook
The bill also states that only the “minor operator” of a scooter would be required to wear a helmet, meaning adults could stay fresh while vibing at a hard 13 mph on the ped-crowded sidewalks.
As Quartz notes, Uber -- where VanderZanden cut his teeth -- was the king of pushing through laws that sidestep the early sanctions placed on them, which is arguably pertinent to creating rules for a fresh industry, and they’ve turned out ok.
Cosmetic surgery social platform raises $40m to help people “work on themselves”
Ironically titled online community RealSelf just raised $40m to help people learn about cosmetic procedures like plastic surgery and Botox.
As more and more people go under the knife, the platform encourages users to anonymously post before and after pictures of their procedures, ask each other questions, and write reviews of doctors and procedures.
Is there a need for this?
Well, given that there’s an entire TV series devoted solely to people’s plastic surgery horror stories, a little open discourse could probably go a long way.
As TechCrunch points out, people have historically been hesitant to talk openly about getting work done -- but, as a result, shady doctors have taken advantage of people’s ignorance and profited off the lack of transparency.
SpaceX just landed a Falcon 9 rocket, Blackberry announced they’re trying to make BBM a thing again, Bezos released his annual shareholder letter, and we were doing our darndest to sling Hustle Con tickets (on sale now).
Wait a minute…
Guess some things never change
And as far as I’m concerned, that’s fantastic.
For example, Sam and I have always been inspired by our love of music: We started The Hustle as a couple of kids trying to make some organized noise that other people might like.
We did it our way and that was the only thing that mattered. It wasn’t about selling out stadiums or making platinum records or keeping our parents happy with responsible life choices (hi mom and dad).
That spirit still exists today and couldn’t be stronger. Sure, we’ve added more talented musicians and put out some experimental albums, but the core is the same.
From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for coming along this journey with us. No one knows where this road’s gonna lead us over the next 2 years but chances are Jeff Beezy will come out with another shareholder letter, Musk will keep doing his thing, and we’ll keep doing ours.
-- John Havel, Director of Nostalgic Reflection
This edition of The Hustle was brought to you by
Optometrists: “Which is better: 1 or 2?”
Me: “I don’t know, man, I just need an upgrade from my scratched up glasses that I’ve had since college.”
That’s me at the eye doctor, not diggin’ their expensive frames, nor the creepy clerk pushing that 2 for 1 deal.
If you’re like me, getting glasses is a freakin’ pain in the cones n’ rods.
Plus, Felix Gray’s new Rx lenses have the same blue light filtering and glare eliminating technology I fell in love with many moons ago. So, not only am I seeing 20/20, my eyes aren’t getting fried by all those screens.