Pikachu knows when you’re awake


May 30, 2019

Today, life-saving drugs are gettin’ pricey and the business of paid celeb shout-outs is gettin’ spicy, but first…
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Is Pokémon Sleep a next-level nightmare or just a distracting daydream?

Yesterday, The Pokémon Company announced a new app that will “turn sleeping into entertainment.”

“Pokémon Go turned the simple act of walking into entertainment, making the entire world into a game,” wrote Pikachu’s parent company. “We’re about to do it again, Trainers — this time, for sleeping.”

That’s right, after successfully reshaping physical reality, PokemonGo is coming for your dreams.

Augmenting reality, evolving sleep

When Pokémon Go launched in 2016, the makers of the app — The Pokémon Company and the game company Niantic — insisted their augmented reality platform offered “incentive to go outside and exercise” and learn more about the world.

But the game — which has earned $2.45B+ in revenue — also encouraged people to walk into robberies, fall into ponds, and let Nintendo draw the physical boundaries of their imaginations.

Now, that process is evolving: Pokémon Sleep claims to offer an incentive to get “a good night’s rest” — and  monetize every marketable minute of our lives, day and night. 

Gotta catch ’em all, all the time 

Pokémon Sleep will come with a device called the Pokémon Go Plus + (yes, that’s “plus plus”), a small device that spends the night in your bed collecting data about your sleeping habits. 

The device will send sleep data to a smartphone via Bluetooth, rewarding players who get enough sleep — and giving Pikachu’s producers 24/7 access to users and their valuable data.

“We love exploring the world on foot,” John Hanke, the CEO of game-maker Niantic, told The New York Times. “And that can’t happen unless we have the energy to embark on these adventures.” 

Pikachu’s next battle: Building a sleep data business

Other companies also want to shape our sleep: Wearable-makers, health insurers, and employers are all desperate to track sleep to lower healthcare costs.

But Pokémon Sleep may get there first — because, let’s face it, Pikachu has a better track record of changing behavior than the healthcare system. 

Pokémon products promise to help kids play and sleep well. But will over-augmenting reality also shrink their imaginations to a single Poké-verse that a multibillion-dollar game company dreamt up?

Don’t get Poké-conned
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Hey Hustle readers, we’ve got some exciting news to share… Our very own Wes “This moustache was made for TV” Schlagenhauf is bringing The Hustle’s hard-hitting business news to life on video every Tuesday and Thursday at 1 pm ET in partnership with Newsy — and he’s lookin’ suavé doing it. Be sure to check him out here, and stay tuned for more to come.

Say hello to the world’s most expensive drug, courtesy of Novartis

The FDA approved Zolgensma — Novartis’ gene replacement therapy drug that can cure pediatric spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) in a single treatment. For susceptible little ones and their families, it’s a huge stride in the fight against a leading cause of infant mortality.

… But the $2.1M price tag is a bitter pill to swallow 

Drug pricing watchdog ICER deems the cost appropriate based on initial clinical success. Given Novartis’s previous $4-5M prediction, ICER hails the “fair” price as a win for patients and the health system. 

Cue the healthcare debate

Despite Novartis’ promise of annual payment plans and rebates, some critics point to the lower costs of competitor Biogen’s Spinraza as proof of overpricing. Novartis says its one-time treatment is more cost-effective and less physically taxing than Spinraza’s long-term spinal injections.

Others accuse Novartis of looking to reward investors — given that Zolgensma was largely developed by its recently acquired AveXis

Is there really a ‘fair’ price when it’s life and death?

Broadly speaking, a wholly business-centric mindset posits that any company’s purpose is to maximize shareholder returns. But when (tiny) lives are at stake, it’s hard to just turn the other check.

» Not your average drug deal
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NBC News NOW follows its cable competitors into the stream

Yesterday, NBC launched “NBC News NOW,” a new streaming service that will provide 8 hours of programming every weekday.

Following the eyeballs down the stream

NBC’s new streaming content will include original video, reporting, and segments that will air every day from 3 to 11 pm, in an effort to cater to younger audiences who apparently prefer watching video in the evening.

Down the road, NBC plans to roll out 24/7 video content for all the newshounds who just can’t help checking Twitter at all hours.

But NBC is late to the stream team 

NBC is jumping into the stream behind many competitors. Rival cable networks CBS, ABC, and CNN already have rolled out streaming services.

But NBC isn’t entirely out of the loop — the network already produces products like a Snapchat show called “Stay Tuned” to connect with younger audiences who spend more time staring at social media apps than cable boxes.

NBC News NOW won’t offer any paid products, instead offering a fully ad-supported option that will run 4 ads per hour (in line with competitors).

» Streamy

Cameo, the celebrity shout-out startup, nears $300m valuation

A startup called Cameo offers celebrity worshippers the next best thing to an autographed left butt cheek: an Instagram name-drop. 

Now, Cameo’s platform — which gives fans a way to pay for personalized plugs from their favorite stars — is finalizing a new funding round (size undisclosed) that will value the company at more than $300m, Axios reports.

People will shell out for celebs

Big stars like Snoop Dogg and Brett Favre will drop your name for $500 while niche YouTuber celebs offer shout-outs for $5 or less.

Cameo is an outgrowth of the influencer economy: The company launched in 2017 when co-founder Steven Galanis saw a Seattle Seahawks superfan wig out after a shout-out and realized that people would pay for the same privilege.

How do the economics work?

Celebrities set their own prices, which range from free for some brand influencers to $2.5k for Caitlyn Jenner. For every Cameo purchased, the company takes a 25% cut — and the celebrity gets the rest.

For most celebs, it seems to be a good deal. Dorinda Medley, a “Real Housewives” star who set her price at $125 per shout-out, makes roughly $2.8k per week for dishing out a few minutes of shout outs.

» ’Grammable gold
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#47: James G. from Virginia

“I started my career with NASCAR and went on to run an automotive shop for 5 years. I left to manage a tealight candle manufacturing company, but I got hung up in a forklift and destroyed my right arm (that was in 2016 — had surgery #9 on it May 10th to remove a rib) and that company folded. Then, I moved to a modular home manufacturer. Started as a generalist and was quickly promoted to purchasing manager. Now, I’m next in line to a VP of operations. Long road but still hustle everyday to make my way to the top.”

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TODAY’S SHOWER THOUGHT

At some point, a person let a cat out of a bag and it was so significant that it became referenced for the rest of time.

*via reddit.
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