Takin’ traditional cemeteries to the grave


June 21, 2019

Today, Google Maps hackers are making bank and Slack’s direct IPO joins the ranks, but first…
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Death Disruptors: The burial business is being reincarnated into startups

Funerals and burial services are expensive, but as the world progresses, the market has expanded far past alternatives like cremation.

To skirt the average $7k cost for funeral and burial services, some have opted for human composting, while others have requested burial by biodegradable pod.

Now, Fast Company reports, the people of Better Place Forests have raised more than $12m to design a cemetery model to help better signify the greener pastures ahead: A forest cemetery.

Get your ol’ bag-o-bones a redwood, would ya?

Now you can put yourself at ease on earth knowing that when you make like a banana and die you can spend… less thousands of dollars on the exclusive rights to have your ashes spread under one of the trees on BPF’s property.

At the startup’s 20-acre forest in Mendocino, California (launched this month), families can spend from $2.9k to as much as $36k to have their ashes spread underneath a tree of their choosing.

Death wellness is on the rise for the living

As people are becoming more in tune with the fear of impending death, death wellness has become a rising subset of the death biz to help the living have peace of mind for that fateful day. 

The end-of-life experience is almost never a pleasant one. But unfortunately it’s inevitable, and that fact of life (and death) is one that has catapulted the business of grief and despair to a $14B industry.

But, as anyone who has lost a loved one knows, the experience for those going through a loss can be just as cold a racket.

Better Place Forests wants to go beyond peace of mind for the dead

It also wants to disrupt the old plastic bag gift wrap that often comes with normal funeral services by offering the peaceful grounds as a funeral home as well. 

Better Place already has thousands of clients. The startup currently owns 7 properties located around the US and is in the process of transforming each one into a memorial forest. And each one of the trees paid for is protected. 

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Google’s monetization of Maps is putting conniving cartographers on the map

If you’ve ever spent 37 minutes cursing at the wheel of your Kia Sportage in an empty parking lot where Google Maps said you’d find an exotic pets dealer — you’re not alone.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal report, 11m listings on Google Maps are fake at any moment. These false listings aren’t mere mistakes — they’re crafted by conniving cartographers to manipulate Maps users.

Con artists have a place to call their own

Unscrupulous business owners register strings of fake businesses across large areas, bumping their companies to the top of Google search results.

Then, these fake businesses get more calls than competitors that are actually closer to customers. Misleading mappers then charge customers higher prices, starving legit businesses of customers.

But Google is making Maps into MORE of a game 

Google recently enabled businesses to pay to prioritize their listings in Maps in a bid to diversify Google’s revenue beyond search. 

But since Google profits off these problems, it has little incentive to remove fake businesses — and so far the company has chosen to turn a blind algorithm to rampant map mayhem. 

For legitimate businesses, one of the best ways to avoid getting spammed is paying Google for ads.

Google reportedly removed more than 3m fake businesses from its Maps app last year — but search consultants say Google-funded research suggesting that Maps fraud is only a small problem is “bogus.” 

» Map mayhem

Slack went public, and its stock sold 50% higher than expected

Slack Technologies hit the New York Stock Exchange yesterday, and well, it went pretty well.

The San Francisco-based company saw its shares fly 50% higher than expected on its debut, pushing the company’s previous $20B valuation up to $24B.

It’s only the second direct listing from a major tech company

Slack evaded the traditional public offering via a direct listing, allowing its existing stockholders to begin trading their shares immediately on public markets.

A direct listing cuts down on banking costs, but can also lead to higher volatility in the share price. Spotify paved the straight-to-stock-market trail last year, and if Slack’s decision proves to be successful, there is a fresh batch of unprofitable juggernauts looking to do the same (Airbnb is likely next).

Is Slack going to kill off email?

Ahead of Slack’s NYSE debut, its chief, Stewart Butterfield, predicted that company email will be extinct in 7 years. But, even with over 95k paying customers, it’ll be a while before Slack wipes email off the face of the interwebs.

And if it’s going to, Slack is gonna need to learn how to save some money. Like most of its peppy peers, the company puts up big revenue, yet still can’t turn a profit.

Last year, it lost $138.9m and, according to the company, losses are going to continue to win out over the next few years.

» Adding some slack

Brain-boosting startups sell heftily priced headgear despite suspect science

Ask your grandpa: Back in the day, people had to make their own tinfoil hats to protect their brainwaves.

But today, things are different: 41 products now sell futuristic headgear claiming to do everything from curbing appetite to improving memory to treating addiction, Axios reports.

But one fact remains the same: These flashy new silicon headcases are backed up by as little science as their aluminum ancestors.

Tinfoil hats, but more expensive

One device, the Modius, sells for $499 and claims to help people lose weight by “gently stimulating” the brain to curb appetite.

The Modius and other pieces of brain-gear — most of which range in price from $100 to $200 — stake their medical claims mostly on internal research and customer testimonials, not peer-reviewed research.

Of the 41 brain-gear products, only 33 supplied any research at all, and only 8 referred to peer-reviewed, non-internal research.

But these device may not only be ineffective…

They may also be downright damaging. 

Transcranial direct current stimulation — one of the types of brain-buzzing commonly used in headsets — can also cause skin burns and headaches.

But since customers are willing to pay for these products, these startups are raising headache-inducing amounts of cash ($100m, in some cases) to sell their brain-boosters before regulators catch up.

» A pain in the brain
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Learn more → shower thoughts
  1. One day, a random being will end up inhaling the very atoms that once made you.
  2. A dog might be a small part in your life but you’re a big part in theirs.
  3. The Trojan horse was just a piñata full of Greeks.
  4. Some babies born now are going to see the twenty second century.
  5. There are some babies in world that are born in the exact same moment but have different birthdays.
  6. via Reddit
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