Sam hits the road


August 4, 2020

Plus: The TikTok whiplash is getting serious.
August 4, 2020
The Hustle
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Sam’s hittin’ the road. Our founder and CEO pulled up stakes from San Francisco and is searching the country for a new place to settle down. Read on for the first dispatch from his road diary.

Sam’s Road Diary

This entrepreneur convinced investors to pour $1m each into a brand-new town

Last Friday I gave up my San Francisco apartment and left California with my wife and dog to find a new place to live. I’m staying in Airbnbs in suburban areas for 4-ish weeks at a time until I find somewhere I love.

This week I’m staying at Ryan Begelman’s house in Eden, Utah.

I met Ryan in our Trends community. He’s a 37-year-old entrepreneur who started conferences for industry leaders called Summit Series. The first happened in 2008. A few years in, Ryan and his partners wanted a permanent location. 

So they convinced dozens of attendees to invest $1m each in exchange for a plot of land in their nonexistent new town. With that money, they bought Powder Mountain.

I read about Ryan in 2013. At the time, I thought it was stupid. A bunch of elite techies secluding themselves. After yesterday’s tour I realized I was wrong (here’s video). 

The boldness of a few 20-somethings building a new city… it’s intoxicating. They had to build everything… fire hydrants, roads, streetlights. Everything. From scratch. 

“We studied the best communities and took from the best,” Ryan told me. “Like Serenbe, Georgia, which has mailbox hubs for each 20 houses so people meet one another. And regular talks, wellness classes, group runs to create shared experiences.” 

It expanded my perspective of what’s possible with some grit and luck. You can read more about them here.

I’ll send an update next week about my trip. 

Sam, Founder & CEO of The Hustle

P.S. I’m reading Tribe, a book on finding community and what makes communities great. What else should I read? Tell me here.

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Snippets

5 stories to catch you up quick

1️⃣  President Trump said he would sign off on a deal between TikTok and Microsoft as long as it happens before September 15. 

2️⃣  The electric vehicle market is revving up again: A one-year-old startup called Lordstown Motors plans to go public

3️⃣  Zoom will no longer sell directly to buyers in mainland China. 

4️⃣  Another shot fired at TikTok: Snapchat is testing a feature that lets you add music to your videos.

5️⃣  Remember the “Got Milk?” ad campaign? It’s back — with a video of Katie Ledecky swimming the length of a pool while balancing a glass of chocolate milk on her noggin.

And 5 more to delight you 

1️⃣  If you want to make your selfie look like someone else took it, this AI has you covered.

2️⃣  Greece opened an underwater museum where visitors can scope out a shipwreck from antiquity.

3️⃣  Hate constant Zoom meetings? These executives have started holding business discussions in Grand Theft Auto

4️⃣  Every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday this month, the UK government is subsidizing your restaurant meal. A program called Eat Out To Help Out gets you 50% off.

5️⃣  A sweet treat for National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day: A Tesla engineer redesigned the standard choco chip for optimal flavor and texture.

Tech Strikes Back

‘Cloaking’ is the new biz of hiding from facial recognition

Has your friend suddenly started to look a bit like Drew Barrymore? She might be outsmarting facial recognition. 

Researchers from the University of Chicago have invented a new way to fool face-detection tech. Basically, their software — called Fawkes — will Frankenstein someone else’s face over yours.

The human eye can’t always notice the results. Your friend still looks like your friend, even if, on the pixel level, Drew Barrymore’s face is on top of hers.

Clowns already beat the system 

The best defense against facial recognition used to be juggalo makeup

But the business of “cloaking” — hiding your face from snoopers — is booming.

  • The startup D-ID blurs the pixels on your face.
  • As we reported on Trends, wearing a pixelated T-shirt or a pair of these yellow glasses might trip up face readers. 
  • And there’s a market for them: 41% of people don’t want their employers tracking faces, and 54% don’t want advertisers to do the same. 

Fawkes is only available to the coder set right now, but the researchers are turning it into a free app for the masses. 

Their mission: Poison the data well 

If enough people cloak their photos, the researchers say, facial recognition systems can’t do their jobs. 

But they might be too late. Clearview AI has already copied billions of photos off the internet. And its CEO says Fawkes could improve Clearview’s tech.

Translation: You can try Fawkes, but unless you’re a social-media ghost, your Insta posts might haunt you.

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SPONOSORED

Rest In Pleats: The traditional khaki is dead

First worn in 1846 by the British Indian Army and kept alive almost entirely by Jake from State Farm, khakis had a long, uncomfortable, and poorly-fitting tenure draped over legs of middle-management everywhere. 

We’d say we’re upset to see them go, but they were dead to us the second we slipped on a pair of Revtown’s Khaki Jeans.

The Swiss Army knife of your wardrobe

Everything traditional khakis did wrong — which was a lot — Revtown’s Khaki Jeans have corrected. 

  • A modern fit replaces that baggy circus-clown styling.  
  • Revtown’s tough-yet-highly-mobile Decade Denim leaves fragile khaki fabric in the past, so you never have to worry about splitting your pants in public again.
  • It’s all topped off with killer color options like Bunker Green and Slate Blue.

Sharp enough for the office, comfy enough for happy hour, and durable enough to withstand an impromptu hike — yes, the Revtown Khaki Jean truly does it all. 

Get yours over at Revtown and wave “sayonara” to Jake from State Farm. 

Buy yours →
Family Audio Drama

Forget virality: This company is betting on podcasts that almost no one will hear

You might think 50 listens on a podcast is a massive flop. But to Artifact, that’s a blockbuster.

The audio startup isn’t chasing big audiences — it makes podcasts that only you, your weird uncle, and maybe a few others would ever enjoy.

Thought you’d heard the last of that Woodstock story? 

Think again: Artifact is the perfect place for your uncle to keep pretending he was cool back in ’69. 

You can buy a podcast to capture a piece of family history — or celebrate a colleague. Artifact’s team of pro interviewers will talk to you and your coworker’s friends, then edit the clips into a slickly made episode.

One episode costs $175, and the company claims its sound quality is 80% to 90% as good as a pro podcast.

Not that anyone will notice

The average Artifact pod snags only ~30 listeners. 

It’s a new spin on a major media trend: From The Athletic to The Information, people are ponying up for niche content. 

And what could be more niche than your uncle’s tall tale about his run-in with Jimi Hendrix?

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$15

Million
THE BIG NUMBER

The Rock is cookin’, and it smells like football. Dwayne Johnson and partners are buying the XFL for $15m. The deal emerged just before the bankrupt league was set to hit the auction block.

(Source: Sportico)

Stonks

What happens when Google barges in on your territory, in 2 charts

Google wants to keep your nest safe: It’s investing $450m in the home-security company ADT.

The idea? Turn Google’s Nest devices into the “cornerstone” of ADT’s smart-home lineup.

If the market’s reaction is any barometer, the deal is very good news for ADT and a baaaad sign for the competition.

Here’s a 5-day view of ADT’s stock — it was up 56+% (closing at $13.48) by the end of Monday’s trading day:

And here’s a 5-day look at Alarm.com Holdings Inc. — another home-security company. Its stock tanked by as much as 20% — the most in intraday trading in nearly 5 years, according to Bloomberg. It ended the day down 16+% (closing at $58.28).

Very bad day aside, don’t sound the alarm for Alarm.com just yet: Its share price is still up ~34% since the start of the year.

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Today’s email was brought to you by Michael Waters, and Bobby Durben.
Editing by: Nick “Homebody” DeSantis, Jim Shortz (Personal Trainer).

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