June 10, 2020

More workers are putting the squeeze on their employers

June 10, 2020
The Hustle
TOGETHER WITH
Noom

Have you been feeling kinda overwhelmed by the news lately? We’re with you. So we did what Twitter does when the doomscrolling gets too dark: We showed each other pics of our pets. Try it in your company Slack (The Hustle’s doggie door is called #pet_pics), and you might be rewarded with… this:

That’s Ollie, one of Kaylee’s cats, smushed inside a bowl. If you’re wondering where his face is, just follow Kaylee’s diagram (the helpful red arrow).

Pointer aside, Bobby still had questions: “Do you have any videos? Specifically of him in motion? I can’t even begin to imagine how he walks.”

Actions Speak Louder

More workers put the squeeze on their companies to support Black Lives Matter

In the fallout from the death of George Floyd, brands across the world spoke out against racial inequity. Many of them pledged 7-figure donations to social justice causes. 

But in some cases, their workers are sending a message: You need to do more.

The pressure’s on Microsoft

As OneZero reported, 250+ of the tech giant’s employees backed a letter calling on company execs to support the demands of Black Lives Matter Seattle, and to end Microsoft’s contracts with law-enforcement agencies.

Last week, Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, said the company was starting out by donating $1.5m to groups focused on advancing racial equity.

Business Insider noted that it’s not clear what relationship Microsoft has with the Seattle Police Department, but companies’ ties to law enforcement are a flashpoint right now:

  • Slack deleted a blog post describing how a local police force used its platform after employees complained about it. 
  • Community activists have called on Facebook to stop contributing money to policing in the city of Menlo Park, home of Facebook HQ.
  • IBM’s CEO said the company is getting out of facial recognition, but Protocol reported that the announcement doesn’t mean IBM is cutting ties with law enforcement.

A call for change is coming from inside the house

This week, The Wall Street Journal reported on several other companies that are facing heat from their own workers, including Estée Lauder, Nike, and Adidas.

The Journal pointed out that there are no black members on Adidas’ 16-person board of directors, or among its 6-person executive team.

But the company is committing to big changes: It said Tuesday that it’s investing $20m in organizations that support black communities. And it will fill at least 30% of new positions in the US at Adidas and Reebok “with black and Latinx people.”

At Estée Lauder, top execs sent a memo to employees outlining plans to increase donations and to hire more black workers. The company is aiming to increase their ranks to reach parity with the black share of the US population within 5 years.

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Perils of procrastination

Netflix is beating the US military in the ‘Space Force’ trademark race

A quick word of advice: If you’re going to launch a new military branch, make absolutely sure you own the trademark first. 

In Europe, Australia, and Mexico, Space Force — the Netflix comedy — has quietly won legal rights over the objections of the real US Space Force, the new branch of the Air Force.  

  • The government’s Space Force has been up and running since December 2019 — and it’s currently conducting a series of experiments on how space radiation impacts seeds.
  • Space Force, starring Steve Carell, released its first season at the end of May, and reviewers deemed it an “astonishingly bad show.” (That said, it’s taking off in China.)  

The military is playing catch-up

President Trump first announced a Space Force in March 2018. By January 2019 (way before the series debuted), Netflix had filed its first “Space Force” trademark application, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Only in March 2019 did the Air Force apply to do the same. 

The trademarks are still pending in the US, which relies on a “first-to-use” system. But internationally, where “first-to-file” standards are common, Netflix will probably keep winning.

Your T-shirt profits have never mattered more

Even if it had filed first, the US government would never have been able to block the TV show Space Force. Trademark law allows for parodies.

The real stakes here are about other profits from the name “Space Force.” Say some rando makes a Zazzle T-shirt emblazoned “Space Force.” Who gets to claim the profits? Netflix or the US military? 

At least in Europe, that sweet, sweet Redbubble cash seems bound for Netflix’s pocket.

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SPONSORED

Diet struggles? There’s tech for that

Disclaimer: There’s no magic solution to weight loss. 

But there is a not-so-secret sauce: slowly tweaking your habits.

Easier said than done, though — especially during the long, dark days of quarantine.

That’s where Noom comes in.

It’s a program that brings everything you need to get healthy — a trainer, nutritionist, and health coach — all into one lil’ place on your phone.

So, how does it work? Instead of prescribing hard-to-follow diets or radical life changes, Noom helps you slowly shift your habits through education (like articles and quizzes) to simple suggestions on how to increase your exercise — and a community for feedback and support to boot.

The proof is in the (sugar-free) pudding: 78% of Noom users kept the weight off 9 months after they started their plan.   

Curious? Noom offers free trials, so you’ve got nothing to lose. 

Try it out →
Liftoff

Amazon’s drone fleet is late to deliver

The company that made 2-day shipping famous is not known for its delays. But Prime Air — Amazon’s drone army for packages under 5 pounds — is behind schedule.

In 2013, Bezos said the drones could be up and running in 4 or 5 years. Then, last June, an Amazon higher-up said to expect Prime Air’s takeoff “within months.”

Now we’re almost halfway through 2020, and, uh, where is Prime Air? Business Insider got ahold of an internal report that now predicts an August 31 launch date.

This should be Amazon’s big moment

The drone delivery biz is flying high right now. Thanks to the pandemic, drone honchos from Zipline to Alphabet’s Wing have been shipping medical supplies, pasta, and baby food. 

About 20k delivery drones roam our skies today, and by 2026, the research firm Gartner predicts that number is going to hit 1m+. 

But during this peak in drone deliveries, the Everything Store has faded into the background.

A look inside Prime Air 

Here are some highlights from the Business Insider report: 

  • Prime Air’s longtime leader left his role in March, one of several high-profile shake-ups.
  • The project is so sensitive that employees have their ID cards covered with a “black shield.” They can’t share the address of their nondescript Seattle office. And when asked who they work for, they use fake names like “Project Venice.”
  • FAA regulation requires that companies keep a line of sight on their drones at all times — and while Amazon asked for an exemption last July, the wait has dragged on.
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A Silver Screen Revival

Hollywood is back — just not as we know it

After months of at-home premieres, production pushbacks, and financial strain, Hollywood is eager to return to normal. California gave the green light for studios to resume filming June 12 – with some caveats.

COVID-19 puts the clamps on PG-13

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers teamed up with Hollywood’s major players on safety recommendations to reduce the risk of transmission. Here are some highlights:

  • Limits on sex and fight scenes. “Contact must be kept to the shortest amount of time possible,” the recommendations say, because of the increased risks these scenes pose. (Thank God Game of Thrones ended last year, that would have been a disaster.) 
  • Live studio audiences are discouraged. Producers might have to cue up the laugh track.
  • Actors should do their own makeup and costumes. Can you imagine Adam Sandler dressing himself?
  • Shorter workdays. This could put a big strain on budgets as 2-day shoots stretch to 2 weeks.

Just like the pandemic, the restrictions are global

The Producers Guild of India released guidelines that limit some of Bollywood’s favorite tropes – no more epic dance numbers or larger-than-life wedding scenes. And no actor above the age of 65 is allowed to film.

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TRENDS

How do you bring in 20M monthly page views?

There are over 1.5B websites in the world and counting, with an estimated 380 websites created every single minute. 

So, how did NerdWallet rank 3,595th — AKA in the top 0.00024% — in the entire world?

No, not ads. Good content. 

See, over 85% of NerdWallet’s traffic is 100% organic. That means it’s 1) repeatable and 2) costs ZERO ad dollars. 

According to Ahrefs, that’s $60M worth of organic traffic. 

So, how’d they do it? Maggie Leung, VP of Content at NerdWallet, built their content team from scratch. She’s also one of Sam’s mentors and has been a huge help to The Hustle along the way.

Tomorrow, we’re bringing her in to learn how she built the well-oiled content machine that drives tens of millions per year in traffic.

Want to learn from Maggie? Join us tomorrow, June 11, at 3pm ET (12pm PT) on Zoom. 

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Snippets

1️⃣  Facebook News — part of the company’s new-and-improved partnership with media outlets — rolled out yesterday to all US users.

2️⃣  The global airline biz expects to lose $84B+ this year, making it the industry’s worst year on record.

3️⃣  Greg Glassman, CrossFit’s CEO, resigned after a controversial tweet about George Floyd sent partner gyms scrambling away from his company. 

4️⃣  Twitter is trialing “Fleets” — its rendition of Instagram Stories — in India after testing the service in Brazil and Italy. 

5️⃣  Take that, spam caller: The FCC just proposed a record-setting $225m fine against insurance telemarketers for allegedly making ~1B illegal robocalls.

6️⃣  Start your engines: On its first day of trading, online car marketplace Vroom saw its shares more than double.

7️⃣  Swiss researchers have created transparent face masks, and the result looks a little unnerving. 

8️⃣  One group behind the stock market surge? Sports betters

9️⃣  Sex workers are finding a safe home in Animal Crossing — say hello to virtual domme islands. 

🔟  Twitter and Square are making Juneteenth a permanent company holiday.

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