A company makes a cherished toy. Then the kids grow up. What happens to the company? Time for the company to grow up, too. Today:
- Lego courts adults to fill in some gaps
- Researchers want to follow your apps
- And big money comes to indoor maps
Speaking of big money, the concentration of VC deals on the West Coast slipped from 62.3% to 50% last year, thanks to investment in new regions like the Midwest. But the percentage of dollars going to California, New York, and Massachusetts climbed from 75% to 78%.
Are Legos a part of your wellness routine?
Kids love Legos. But conventional wisdom says that at some point, every adolescent has to trade in the toys and take their first steps on the soul-crushing path to adulthood.
That means more commutes, more office drones, and more meetings. But definitely no more Legos. At least, that’s what it used to mean.
If you’re still a kid at heart, breathe easy. Because the Lego Group — the world’s largest toy maker — has some brightly colored blocks to sell you.
How Lego’s going after adults
These are tough times in the toy industry. Competition is tight, and digital distractions are competing for kids’ time and attention.
Lego rebounded by expanding its digital footprint and selling in different places. Think discount chains and Amazon, rather than just Toys “R” Us.
More significantly, as The Washington Post noted: The company’s pitch has changed. We’re not just for “Star Wars” obsessives anymore. Legos are part of a healthy wellness routine.
Wait, what? Legos as the new mindfulness app?
The company’s strategy makes sense. It exploits two big trends:
- Growing consumer demand for new ways to relieve stress and anxiety
- Our bottomless appetite for nostalgia — this time among Gen Xers
As the Post pointed out, adults have deeper pockets, too. The set for the Harry Potter Hogwarts Castle runs a cool $400.
Lego is about to bring the nostalgia train straight to your living room: “Lego Masters,” a new network TV series hosted by the actor Will Arnett, debuts in February.
It’s based on a British hit series of the same name, and it’ll pit teams of toy-brick layers against each other.
Inside Armslist, a peer-to-peer market for gun sales
But did you know there’s an online bazaar where private sellers hawk them, Craigslist-style?
Let The Verge and The Trace introduce you to Armslist. Their eye-opening story about the site’s rise is relevant for anyone who cares about gun violence, and the ways information and consumer goods move online.
A quick breakdown
First, some essentials:
- The site’s creators saw opportunity in Craigslist’s ban on gun listings
- It is possible to sell on the site legally — though many sales occupy questionable territory
- That’s because sellers are required to run background checks only when they’re “engaged in the business” of selling guns…
- … and separating the hobbyists from the small-time entrepreneurs isn’t easy
As you might expect, Armslist is deeply controversial. Law-enforcement authorities have linked guns recovered at crime scenes to people who’ve used it to peddle dozens of firearms.
1 key detail: The site’s legal-defense strategy is ripped right from the playbook of some Silicon Valley titans. Its lawyers invoke Section 230 of a law called the Communications Decency Act.
- That’s what protects internet companies from being held liable for information published by their users
- So the debate over the site’s fate is bigger than just guns
As the story’s authors, Colin Lecher and Sean Campbell, put it: “Seen from one angle, the battle over Armslist looks like a microcosm of the larger war over Silicon Valley power and accountability.”
The highest-paying cash back card just hit the market
Over at Wise Bread, they have a whole team dedicated to sorting through the nitty-gritty details of credit cards. All that stuff you hate doing, they live for — and it pays off, because they just found the best cash back card yet:
Here are the 5 main selling points:
- $200 sign-up bonus (that’s like 20% in cash back!)
- 3% cash back on almost everything (online shopping, pharmacies, travel, dining, home improvement, furniture, and gas)
- 5.25% cash back for Preferred Rewards clients
- No annual fee
- 0% APR until 2021
Slide into 2020 with this insane 20% cash back sign-up bonus and start stacking those dollars today.
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Our screen habits say a lot about us. Will we like what they unveil?
Quick. Take a screenshot on your phone. Keep reading for 5 seconds.
Now take another one.
Congratulations, you’re (sort of) mimicking how researchers plan to capture the digital equivalent of the Human Genome Project.
It’s called the Human Screenome Project — and it aims to help us understand the implications of everything people do on their phones.
This isn’t just about ‘screen time’
For years, researchers have thrown time and effort into understanding what happens when kids and adults stare at glowing rectangles all day long. For one thing, those screens are good at killing our zzz’s.
But the brains behind the Screenome Project say measuring time alone isn’t good enough. Watching YouTube videos for hours is different than, say, toggling between text messages, Twitter, and Instagram.
In other words: The mix of what you’re watching on that glowing rectangle is just as important as how long you’re watching it. More important, even.
The big question: Privacy. MIT Technology Review says the researchers gathered 30m screenshots from volunteers in the US and overseas.
That’s a lot of pictures of sensitive stuff already, and the researchers suggested they need more. With concerns about Big Brother only growing bigger, will people go for it?
Photo: Jp Valery on Unsplash
This week’s weirdest ways to spend money
Looking for something else? Consider one of this week’s bizarre selections, gathered from around the web.
Why finding people in big buildings is big business
If you’ve ever gotten lost in a mall, don’t fret. People will apparently pay giant sums to power the tech that’ll find you.
Case in point: A company called NextNav just raised $120m to roll out a system that will pinpoint a device’s location inside a tall building.
Think of it like GPS, but with an indoor voice
Popular navigation apps like Google Maps and Waze cover the world, but many of them have a blind spot: Once you get inside, you’re usually on your own.
Turn left at the watercooler
Some companies are even getting in the game. The Wall Street Journal reported that Exxon Mobil plans to offer a wayfinding app for workers at its sprawling Houston campus, which covers 4.5m square feet.
No wonder they have trouble finding the coffee pot.
🎧 Bose is shutting down 119 of its retail stores.
💸 There’s a huge racial-equity gap in bank fees.
⛳️ Good news for golf caddies: Endorsement deals are A-OK.
🍦Your new favorite ice-cream flavor is Netflix & Chill’d.
🔬Concrete: It’s alive!
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- If elevators hadn’t been invented, all the CEOs and important people would have their offices on the first floor as a sign of status.
- If you don’t wear the right clothes when you go for a run, you look like an insane person.
- When you’re cooking with garlic, people always tell you how great it smells, but if you had a garlic candle, people would find that weird and offensive.
- The kids of the future probably won’t make “brrmmm brrmm” sounds when they play with toy cars.
- Turbulence is the pothole of the sky.
- via Reddit
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| Brad “I Prefer K’Nex” Wolverton
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