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From: Your new best friend
Subject: The Chinese Netflix…
The Hustle Thur, July 28

That is, if Netflix also made TVs, smartphones, and a self-driving electric car.

Controlling the pipeline

On Tuesday, Chinese tech firm LeEco acquired Vizio (the biggest US maker of TVs) for $2B. Which we didn’t think was that interesting… until we did some research into LeEco. Talk about a company with a plan.

In the beginning…

LeEco wasn’t LeEco. The Beijing-based company went public as Leshi Internet Information & Technology Corp in 2010 and was focused entirely on a Netflix-style video website called Letv.

After Letv (which means “happy TV”) picked up some steam, the company decided to start manufacturing smartphones and signed deals with movie directors to create exclusive content for its devices.

In other words, they wanted to both create the content and sell the means to watch it. Vertical integration at its finest.

But phones were just the tip of the iceberg

In order to become a hardware and software company where customers buy one product to use on the other, Letv founders Jia Yueting and Hank Liu decided to take an ecosystem-driven approach.

So, earlier this year they rebranded to LeEco and developed a clear vision for the future, which entails spending the next 3 years attempting to break into specific “sub-ecosystems” and reach the top three in every industry it enters.

One of those industries is electric vehicles and LeEco’s not only building its own autonomous electric car but is also bankrolling the Faraday Future concept vehicle that has the internet buzzing.

Another sub-ecosystem is TV…

Which explains the Vizio acquisition. While LeEco’s been producing its own sets for a few years, this move instantly makes them a major player in the US market and exponentially speeds up their growth.

It also allows them to incorporate content, apps, and cloud services into Vizio products… bringing them one step closer to controlling the entire entertainment pipeline.

Soon enough, you could be watching a LeEco-funded movie on a LeEco/Vizio screen, while texting on your LeEco smartphone in your self-driving car… made by LeEco.

 

Bitcoin isn’t money

Earlier this week, a judge in Miami set a cryptocurrency precedent when she ruled that Bitcoin isn’t actually money and, therefore, can’t be used in money laundering charges under Florida law.

The decision comes 3 years after website designer, Michell Espinoza, was arrested by an undercover police detective on 3 counts of unlawfully posing as a money transmitter and 2 counts of money laundering.

What this actually means

The judge in this particular case decided that Bitcoin should be defined as property, since it isn’t backed by any government or bank, is not “tangible wealth,” and “cannot be hidden under a mattress like cash and gold bars.”

Put another way by virtual-currency expert Charles Evans, Bitcoin is basically “poker chips that people are willing to buy from you.”

Virtual currency exists in a weird no man’s land mainly because most people don’t actually know what it is. That makes this ruling important as it’s one of the first steps to informing regulations and providing a roadmap for others to follow.

Now, if only I can find a buyer for my beautiful house on Marvin Gardens...

 

Hustlers of the week

Hustling is when ordinary people go to extraordinary lengths to achieve success.

And like Moses parting the Red Sea or the guy at Panda Express hooking you up with extra orange chicken, great individual performances deserve to be celebrated.

So with that, here are our co-hustlers of the week.

Brian Everidge, the only guy whose favorite Seinfeld character is Newman

A couple months ago, Brian got pulled over for speeding about 40 miles north of Detroit in a truck full of 10,000 aluminium cans. Turns out, the cans were from Kentucky and he was in Michigan to collect on the state’s 10 cent/can refund.

But unfortunately for Brian, it’s a felony to try and collect in-state refunds on out-of-state bottles or cans, and he now faces a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison and a $5k fine.

Now, this might sound familiar to Seinfeld fans since it’s the exact move Newman and Kramer tried to pull when they used the mail truck. And like Tweedledee and Tweedledum, Brian’s margins were all screwed up.

At most, he would’ve made $1,000. Now he’s looking at 5x that amount in fines and potential jail time.

Can’t knock the hustle but next time think a little bigger. Like a muffin store selling just the tops.

Jeremy Peter Green, an entrepreneurial cybersquatter

Head to ClintonKaine.com and you’ll be treated to a couple of Blogger entries about “Hillary Potter,” as opposed to a campaign website for the newly-minted Democratic ticket.

That’s because back in 2011, a 28-year old artist/lawyer bought the domain for $8, in hopes that Hildog and Timmy might end up together.

(He also hedged his bets with ClintonBooker.com and ClintonBiden.com, but those sites aren’t nearly as exciting.)

Hoping to cash in on his foresight, Jeremy now wants $90k for the domain so he can start his own law practice. And if there aren’t any bidders, he’s prepared to go full blackmail mode on the politicians, threatening to “put something less friendly up there.”

Kudos to you, Jeremy. For an impressive entrepreneurial spirit and loose set of morals.

 

Heck yeah, humans

Two summers ago, the Ice Bucket Challenge went about as viral as viral gets. In fact, chances are your Facebook News Feed still hasn’t completely dried off.

Here’s the best part, though — the campaign raised over $115m for the ALS Association, which has since used that money to fund research and provide patient services among other things.

And the good news is that it’s paying off

The ALS Association just announced that money from the “Ice Bucket Challenge” led to the discovery of a new gene, called NEK1, that is among the most common causes of the disease.

To everyone who participated in the challenge or gave money, nice work. To those with ALS, we’re with you. And to anyone who has yet to donate to this worthy cause, get on it.

Let’s keep this momentum going.

 
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