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January 16, 2019

As tech and journalism become more interconnected, companies like Facebook are investing loads of cash into local news.
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Facebook invests $300m in local news so people still have something to ‘Like’

Facebook announced it will invest $300m in news programs, partnerships, and content over the next 3 years.

Tech businesses created an algorithmic armageddon for local news outlets. But now, Facebook, Google, and other Silicon Valley saviors are paying to keep local news online.

Facebook wants to save face

For years, Facebook positioned itself as news agnostic — to use Sheryl Sandberg’s words, “[Facebook is] a tech company; we hire engineers. We don’t hire reporters, no one’s a journalist, we don’t cover the news.” 

But, after investigators exposed the role of Facebook fake news in the 2016 US presidential election and other global events, Facebook has reluctantly acknowledged its impact on journalism.

Now, to atone for past mistakes and restore public trust, Facebook is investing $300m in the very local newsrooms that it ‘accidentally’ put on the endangered species list.

Say hello to News 2.0

Facebook will invest between $1m and $5m in each of 6 journalism nonprofits.

Facebook also plans to invest $20m — well more than the $16m it will give to all 6 nonprofits combined — on its own in-house news product, The Local News Subscriptions Accelerator.

So, based on the way it is spending its money, Facebook wants local news outlets to survive — but more importantly, it wants them to optimize their stories for Facebook.

Tech is loco for local news

Facebook isn’t the only tech company to invest strategically in local news: Last year, Google launched a $300m News Initiative, and just this week Google and WordPress partnered to create a news tool called ‘Newspack.’

Thanks to Facebook and Google, the tech and journalism industries are becoming increasingly interrelated — and several tech founders have begun investing in news media personally. 

Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff owns Time Magazine, biotech mogul Patrick Soon-Shiong owns the LA Times, and Laurene Powell Jobs (widow of the late Apple CEO) owns The Atlantic.

I call it: Newsbook
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After getting people hooked on binge-worthy content, Netflix is raising prices again

Yesterday, Netflix jacked up its US monthly subscription prices by $2/month, the largest increase in the company’s 12-year history.

As other platforms grow, the baron of binge is doubling down on its original strategy of getting people hooked on hot original content and then upcharging them.

‘Stranger Things’ and ‘The Crown’ aren’t gonna pay for themselves

Netflix has committed $18.6B to producing the best (and the most) content, resulting in more than $14B in debt. 

Netflix had $2B in negative cash flow last year, and it’s not slowing down: Executives expect Netflix’s cash flow deficit to increase to $3B next year.

But Netflix is betting that all of that content is good enough to keep its 58m US viewers around, even as it increases prices by 13-18%. By raising its prices by $2, Netflix will instantly dial up annual revenue by close to $1.39B.

The streaming wars are just getting started

Netflix is the most popular TV-viewing option, beating out cable, broadcast, TV, and all other streaming platforms.

But, other streaming platforms are investing heavily to catch up: Amazon, HBO and Hulu are both growing, and Disney, WarnerMedia, and NBCUniversal are release streaming services in the next 2 years.

Even after the increase, Netflix’s basic plan will be $8.99/month, cheaper than both HBO ($14.99) and Hulu ($11.99). After Netflix announced its new pricing, its stock rose more than 5%.

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Lindsey Quinn, Managing Editor at The Hustle
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Brb, adding ‘streaming services’ to my prenup.
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» Leave Netflix? Yeah, in your streams

Nike has finally achieved its decade-long dream: an auto-lacing smart shoe

For the last 3 years (and much longer from concept-to-product), Nike has been developing a smart shoe with power lacing technology — and next month that shoe’s hitting the market.

But the Nike Adapt BB (for ‘basketball’) isn’t just another gimmick to make Marty McFly fans swoon. It’s the world’s first high-performance, digitally connected shoe.

Described by Nike’s engineers as an “iPhone that lives under your foot,” the shoe is designed (using a mix of sensors, software, and a connected platform) to actively shapeshift the shoe to each player’s needs.

A vice grip for your gourds

The Adapt BB goal will automatically achieve the much-sought-after shoe phenomenon known as “containment”: when the bottom of your foot and the sole of your shoe become one, so you don’t slip or lose energy as you move.

According to Nike, it takes Lebron James 10 minutes to lace his shoes before a game to find the perfect “containment.”

With Adapt BB, you slip your foot inside, press a button, and a series of straps wrap around your foot with up to 32 lbs. of pressure.

Whatchyu gon’ do with all that data?

Per Fast Company, the shoe’s hardware reportedly collects an “unprecedented” amount of data that will allow the next few generations to adapt to your foot in real time, not just through presets.

But, we smell a more ingenious business plan on the horizon: While Nike reps insist they don’t have any present plans to create revenue from Adapt BB, a subscription shoe model seems like a no-brainer in the future.

» Gotta get your feet right, McFly!

Canadian weed powerhouse Canopy Growth is approved to farm hemp in the US

Canada’s leading cannabis company, Canopy Growth, said it would decline entrance into the US market until a federal pathway became clear. Now, with the passage of the new US farm bill in December, the company is ready to rip. 

Canopy Growth has been approved for a license by New York state to process and grow the O’Doul’s beer of ganj: non-THC-laced cannabis you might know as hemp. 

Depending on board approval, CNBC reports, Canopy plans to invest between $100m and $150m into its New York operations.

C-B-D’ing its way into the states

Consumers are stoked on CBD, a non-psychoactive compound found in hemp plants thought to help with anxiety, sleep disorders, inflammation, night-blindness, all the stuff.

And, according to recent reports, the CBD market is estimated to explode to a $2.1B industry by 2020 (a 700% increase from 2016).

With hemp on the verge of being struck from the controlled substances list, Canopy wants to source hemp exclusively from American farmers for its US operations.

Canopy’s 2019 is hitting hard

After growing a respective 14% in 2018, a mere 2 weeks into 2019 has seen Canopy’s stock soar suuuper hiiiiigh at 58% — 11% alone after the NY announcement was made.

Canopy’s highly successful inferiors are also havin’ a chill time in the new year: Tilray, Aurora Cannabis, and Cronos have seen their shares rise 42%, 36.7%, and 32.4%, respectively.

» What about necklaces?
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