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Today, Boeing deals with a crash and Uber finally pays out some cash, but first…
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The feds crack down on a national college admissions scandal — but who’s Rick Singer?

Federal prosecutors charged dozens of people on Tuesday in what is now the largest college admissions scandal in US history.

“Fake test scores, fake credentials, fake photographs, bribed college officials,” US Attorney Andrew Lelling said — oh, and a whole lotta dumb parents.

At least 33 parents — from Hollywood celebrity Felicity Huffman to TPG co-founder and Silicon Valley social responsibility crusader Bill McGlashan — were charged for bribing their children into top universities.

At the center of it all sits William Rick Singer, the founder of a college preparatory business called “the Edge College & Career Network” — AKA “The Key.” And boy did he create a business model.

The feds call it “Operation Varsity Blues”

Authorities said Mr. Singer, who is fully cooperating, used The Key, and its nonprofit arm, as a front for parents to funnel money into an admittance assurance fund. 

Through this account Singer composed scenarios where students took tests with test administrators that Singer paid as much as $10k to oversee.

To ensure higher scores, Singer would arrange for a 3rd person “to take the exams in place of the students,” the Justice Department said.

And he wasn’t just the chief bribing exec…

The dude was also a real photoshop whiz.

In one example, the parents of a student applying to Yale paid Mr. Singer $1.2m to market the student, who did not play soccer, as the co-captain of a prominent club soccer team in Southern California. He did so, along with many others, by using photoshop to provide visual proof.

Parents paid Mr. Singer about $25m from 2011 until February 2019, to bribe coaches and university administrators into backdooring students into the school through athletics.

The collegiate conundrum

The charges highlight how competitive the college admissions process can be — so cutthroat, in fact, that some feel the need to break rules.

Of course, this cheats other hardworking students out of a chance at a college education.

   @ Me Anything
Wes Schlagenhauf, News Writer at The Hustle

Looking to bribe your child’s way into an elite college? Here’s a tip: Cut out the middleman. Yale and Stanford will be just as happy to take your money directly — just ask the Kushners.
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  Top news

Uber pays $20m to settle an independent contractor lawsuit

Uber agreed to pay $20m big ones to settle a class-action lawsuit filed by two drivers back in 2013 that claimed Uber classified its drivers as contractors to skirt paying them minimum wage and giving benefits. 

Rabbithole: Often, when Uber loses, Lyft wins.

Investing app, Stash raised $65m and launched a new banking app

The fintech startup raised $65m to expand its business after the roll out of its new mobile bank accounts from Green Dot Bank, along with a new rewards program called “Stock-Back.” 

Rabbithole: Why everyone wants to make banking easier.

Boeing is grounded after 2 plane crashes… and so is the Dow Jones

After 2 Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes crashed in 6 months, 30+ countries have banned the plane that accounts for 40% of Boeing’s profits. Boeing’s stock fell more than 6%… and the entire Dow Jones could follow suit.

Rabbithole: The countries and airlines who have banned Boeing.

Say hello to flight-hailing

Speaking of planes, here’s some news from friendlier skies: A startup called Blackbird raised $10m to make flying as ‘convenient, accessible and affordable as driving’ by linking up people, pilots and planes via app. 

Rabbithole: Plane startups compete to get off the ground.

A quick fix for Stitch Fix

Stitch Fix stock shot up more than 30% due to strong earnings. Stitch’s business model seemed un-patchable after a huge 37.5% December drop — but the Fix-ers found a way to thread the needle.

Rabbithole: The explosion of subscription boxes.

Business looks healthy at Truepill after $10m in funding

Truepill, the online pharmacy that powers hot D2C health startups like Hims (erectile dysfunction) and Nurx (birth control) raised $10m. The company calls itself “the AWS for pharmacies.”

Rabbithole: Through PillPack, Amazon already is a pharmacy.

Swiftmile is pitching a 3rd party charging biz for dockless scooters

Swiftmile believes its new charging stations for e-scooters will fight the dangers and charging costs that have stigmatized the e-scooter industry since day 1. Now, they just have to get cities on board.

Rabbithole: What happens we trust people to share.

UC Berkeley approves patent to help CRISPR

In the race among institutions to acquire CRISPR patents, Cal-state Berkeley received its 3rd patent that can be used to help the polarizing gene-editing tool be more precise.

Rabbithole: CRISPR’s controversial past.

In other markets…

As global investment in Latin America soars, MercadoLibre raises a quick $750m

The Argentinian e-commerce company MercadoLibre raised $750m from PayPal and $100m from Dragoneer as part of a $1.8B equity round.

Investors across the globe are lining up to toss their cash into red-hot Latin American e-commerce markets — and MercadoLibre is in a perfect position to take their money.

Everyone and their CPA wants to invest in Latin America

Last week, SoftBank announced plans to launch a $5B innovation fund in Latin America. It’s a lot of cash, even for SoftBank. But ol’ Softy’s not alone: Funding across Latin America increased from $2.3B in 2016 to $4.3B in just a single year. 

Now, global investors like PayPal and SoftBank are finally prioritizing Latin America — a region that has more internet users than the US and a GDP 2x larger than India’s.

Yeah, MercadoLibre will take your money — but it’s already huge

For global investors, MercadoLibre is a safe bet: The e-commerce giant already has a market cap of $21.7B, and last year MercadoPago (the company’s payment division) increased its payment volume by 70% to $18B.

Since secondary equity offerings dilute existing stockholders’ ownership,  they aren’t always a good thing. But in this case, a round of rocket-fuel could help ’Libre prevent Amazon from encroaching on its turf.

Plus, MercadoLibre has plenty of room to grow: There are still more than 400m consumers across Latin America who don’t have bank accounts or credit histories. As they rapidly enter the market, e-commerce will only grow more quickly. 

» Lucky ’Libre
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Now available for recreational use: Onewheel releases Pint, a fun-sized stoke machine

It’s time to toss those sidewalk-cluttering scooters in the ocean (don’t actually) because Onewheel just launched their newest individual-wheel iteration, and it’s some serious pint-sized fun. 

Introducing the Onewheel Pint: Smaller, lighter, and more affordable than the OG Onewheel, but still packed to the brim with road-carving fun. 

The cruising is still easy, and the carrying is even easier

The Pint offers Onewheel’s signature, snowboard-in-the-streets ride that owners are drooling over, but (thanks to the new lighter build) you can carry your ‘wheel on the subway, stairs, or elevator.

It may be small, but it still turns heads — the Pint has a redesigned frame, fresh exterior, and new colors like Slate, Sage, and Sand (Next up: Saffron…?)  

They’ve also added Simplestop technology. That tricky learning curve? Just like our second-favorite Ben Affleck-directed movie, it’s Gone Baby Gone

The Onewheel folks are good for business, too. They’re building a new factory in San Jose, CA so that every mono-mover is made in the good ol’ U-S-of-A.

Careful — like your other pint-sized favorites (ice cream, beer, ice cream again), the Pint is highly addictive. 

Dig into a pint → deals, deals, deals

“If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the sales tab.”

– Chef Coúpon


Now Playing:
The New Year, Death Cab for Cutie. This goes out to the people who failed to achieve their new year’s resolution long ago…

Zack Crockett

Wes Schlagenhauf

Conor Grant

Bobby Durben
Sam “Get me Rick Singer” Parr
Anita Buttkiss
Staff Promotions Director
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