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Amazon is blowing our minds right now

Brace yourselves people, Amazon has opened its flagship grocery store, Amazon Go, which promises all the excitement of shoplifting with none of the lawbreaking.

Currently open for Amazon employees, the store will debut its new checkout-less system to the public in early 2017. And surprise, it involves an app.

“Great, another infuriating self-checkout…”

Hold your hummus there friends, we’re not talking self-checkout, we’re talking no checkout. That’s right. Walk in the store, log into the Amazon Go app, pick out your food, and then leave.

According to Amazon, their “just walk out technology” (yes they’re actually calling it that) will use “computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning.” Oh right, computer vision, obviously.

But seriously, what is computer vision?

We’re not exactly sure, but Amazon Go’s FAQ claims that it will use technology similar to that found in self-driving cars to automatically charge consumers for things they grab and take out of the store.

So, more than likely, a lot of cameras and facial recognition software.

This kind of technology has the potential to not only identify what people buy, but how they buy. For instance, how long you stare at the Oatmeal Cream Pies before giving in.

This has huge potential for retailers looking to better manage inventory and sell more product. And also to see when you put something back in the wrong aisle.


So you want to get into college in America…

Okay, we’re going to need you to crush the SAT, captain your high school’s softball team, play the french horn, and perform about a million hours of community service.

Or, if you’re in China… $1,450 should do.

That’s according to 8 former employees of New Oriental Education & Technology Group, who say that parents quite literally pay to get their kids accepted.

The fees cover things like…

Coaching, application help, and school-searching — all legitimate services.

However, they also cover straight up fraud, as New Oriental and other education companies routinely write entire application essays, forge teacher recommendations, and falsify entire high school transcripts.

This news comes after multiple Asian test prep companies were caught running a massive SAT cheating operation earlier this year.

Now, we don’t necessarily approve of these practices…

And at least 4 of you are sitting there right now fuming at the idea that some bogus transcript kept you out of Harvard (pretty sure it was that A- in Gym sophomore year).

But considering Chinese students have almost single-handedly saved America’s colleges (they tend to pay full tuition, the sheer number of them has increased 5x in the last decade) and contributed nearly $33B to the American economy during the 2015-2016 school year… can we just pretend we didn’t see this? Is anybody really that outraged?

Maybe it’s time to rethink the whole process

People have been arguing for the removal of college applications’ most gameable and biased aspects — like standardized tests — for years, and it’s stories like this that make their case that much stronger.

And considering 900 US colleges no longer require SAT or ACT scores, it would appear at least some folks are listening.


Under Armour makes it to the big leagues

Yesterday, Under Armour announced a 10-year deal with Major League Baseball to be its official provider of all on-field apparel.

The Baltimore-based sporting goods company will replace the current provider, Majestic Athletic, beginning in 2020.

This is a big win for MLB

No offense to Majestic, but you need only look at social media to see that their brand status and marketing ability pales in comparison to Under Armour (Facebook fans: 15,000 vs. 5.4 million).

MLB’s hope is that UA’s massive reach and undeniable cool factor will forge a stronger connection between the sport of baseball and the younger generation that it’s struggling to reach.

It’s an even bigger win for Under Armour

First and foremost, a 10-year deal with a professional sports league is quite lucrative and leads to a ton of exposure, even if it’s MLB and not the more popular NBA or NFL.

Secondly, UA already sponsors some of baseball’s brightest stars in Bryce Harper, Clayton Kershaw, and Buster Posey, so strengthening their overall presence in the sport was a no-brainer.

But most importantly of all, this deal proves that Under Armour can play on the same field as the big boys like Nike and Adidas.

Go on, Kevin, it’s okay to cry (tears of joy)…

20 years ago, UA founder Kevin Plank was sitting at the blackjack table in Atlantic City with $100 to his name and a dream of making moisture wicking gear for athletes. Now he’s competing with The Swoosh.

You think he saw this incredible success coming? No chance.

Heck, back in Under Armour’s “We Must Protect This House!” days (around 2006), we thought they were going to be, at best, the go-to place for all your compression needs.

Now they’re sponsoring some of the best athletes in the world (Steph Curry, Tom Brady, Jordan Spieth, Carey Price, to name a few), and soon enough, they’ll have all the hottest steroid users in the game wearin’ their chain.

Congratulations, Under Armour, you made it.


Almost all jobs created in the past decade are “alternative”

A new study published by economists from Harvard and Princeton shows that 94% of the 10m jobs created since 2005 are temp or freelance positions… because 9-to-5’s are just way too mainstream.

The study, originally launched to understand the growing gig economy, found that this type of “alternative work” is actually even more popular those offered by “online intermediaries” like Uber or TaskRabbit.

Why is this happening?

If nothing else, we can certainly give the gig economy some credit for de-stigmatizing non-traditional employment options.

We can also give some credit to the Affordable Care Act (thanks, Obama) for making freelancing more appealing.

Ultimately, people value flexibility over security now more than ever. Even large companies like LinkedIn advocate for employees signing on for 2 years to accomplish something big, then moving on to the next thing.

Don’t look now, but all signs point to conventional careers going the way of the cubicle (practically extinct). But what about retirement?

Is that going away, too? Our moms are worried.

Luckily, people are coming up with creative solutions to help folks with unstable employment build stable futures.

For example, new startup Vault is offering an alternative to the typical 401k to help the 70m people in the US (nearly all of whom work for small businesses, or as contractors) who don’t have access to retirement.

How? With an automated investment platform that creates and manages a custom portfolio for users based on factors like age, income, and market conditions.

Vault’s commission-free, low-cost model hopes to lower the barrier for small and alternative employers to provide their worker bees more security.

So, hopefully you won’t have to intern at Buzzfeed until you’re 80.

a few good reads

Apple May Have Finally Gotten Too Big for Its Unusual Corporate Structure (Vox)

There are two main ways to structure a business: You can build divisions around specific lines of business or you can build functional groups around particular areas of expertise. Apple is extremely functional, which is quite rare for a company their size.

What’s the Second Job of a Startup CEO? (YC blog)

An absolute must read for any CEO of a smallish company, but equally as informative for those in any type of leadership position.

So, You Were the Blue Zombie! (The Wall Street Journal)

Secrecy is paramount in the $100B video game industry. And as a result, voice-over actors often don’t have any idea what games they’re auditioning for, let alone their final roles.

How to Hide $400 Million (The New York Times)

When a wealthy businessman set out to divorce his wife, their fortune vanished. The quest to find it would reveal the depths of an offshore financial system bigger than the US economy.

This edition of The Hustle was brought to you by
Kendall "Godzilla over King Kong" Baker
Lindsey Quinn
John Havel
Noah Vale
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