The EU fines Google
The Hustle

The EU fines Google

Today, Google gets fined, and Splice raises some cash, but first…
The Hustle Sponsored by

Sanctuary shoots for the stars with its new astrology app for millennials

The stars have aligned on the first day of the astrological new year as Sanctuary Ventures, the digital media company focused on mystical services for millennials, rolls out its new $20/month astrology app.

The Sanctuary app offers daily horoscopes, live and on-demand readings with professional astrologers, and plans to expand into the e-commerce marketplace. We’re talking tarot cards, crystals, sage bundles, incense, alllll the good woo-woo. 

The age of Aquarius

Astrology has existed for 1k years but, according to Wired, it didn’t reach the mainstream until the ’30s when R.H. Naylor, a British astrologer, offered a horoscope for newly born Princess Margaret in the Sunday Express.

The forecast predicted an “eventful life” for the royal baby and included other general horoscopes for readers by birthdate — a reader could find their chronologically ordered “sign” and have their own professional reading.

This shorthand, later called the “sun-sign horoscope,” brought astrology — designed, but not proven, to assess a person’s situation — to the masses.

What’s your (pseudo) sign?

Sun-sign horoscopes quickly became a staple for print media orgs and party guests — even the naysayers. But these days, millennials and members of Generation Z are taking the pseudoscience to the next level. 

According to 2018 market research, the budding mystical and psychic services market is valued at more than $2B.

In the last few years, it wormed its way into technology, flooding onto social media like Instagram and Twitter with accounts such as @jakesastrology (which has more than 160k followers) and @poetastrologers (over 445k) — and those are just to name a few. 

Now, Sanctuary wants to become the Headspace of astrology 

The self-care and wellness industry is a booming $4.2T market, with mindfulness and meditation apps from brands like Headspace and Calm experiencing major growth. 

Sanctuary CEO Ross Clark sees the app as “part of the broader wellness story that has been happening for the last few years.”

Mercury (isn’t) in retrograde

The EU charges Google $1.7B in fines… but that’s probably in the budget by now

The European Union fined Google $1.7B for violating online advertising antitrust rules. 

For Google, it’s business as usual: This is Google’s 3rd multibillion-dollar fine since 2017 — and it likely won’t be the last.

The EU’s long antitrust battle with Google

The EU launched an investigation into Google’s search algorithm in 2010 after smaller internet companies complained Big G was unfairly boosting its own goodies in search.

After 7 years, the EU accused Google of manipulating search results in 2017, levying a fine of $2.7B.

Then, in 2018, the EU fined Google $5B for forcing phone makers using Google’s Android operating system to install Google’s search and web apps. Now the EU’s going after Google’s restrictive 3rd-party ad contracts.

Google is fine with fines

Google now owes the EU about $9.3B — equivalent to the market caps of Groupon, Bed Bath and Beyond, Office Depot, Papa Johns, Sonos, and GoPro combined.

But the craziest part? Google has yet to pay a dime. The search giant is appealing the first 2 fines, and deciding whether to appeal the 3rd. 

Plus, paying up wouldn’t be a big deal for Googs: Last year, Alphabet did $137B in annual revenue.

The EU has established itself as big tech’s baddest watchdog. But these first few fines were levied a decade late: $9.3B in fines is nothing for Google, and a $14.5B penalty is small potatoes for a big Apple.

» Everything is fine

Ro, which makes erectile dysfunction treatment, rolls out menopause meds

Yesterday, the telehealth startup Ro launched a new product line called Rory for menopausal women.

Rory, which will offer 6 separate products to treat 4 separate conditions, joins Ro’s other product lines Roman and Zero in a growing, convenience-focused telehealth business.

A series of priceless pivots

Ro started out in 2017 as a company called Roman, offering erectile dysfunction medication on demand.

Then, last September, the company raised $88m and launched a new line of products called Zero designed to help consumers quit smoking. At the launch of Zero, the company also changed its name to “Ro” — because, you know, cigs don’t discriminate. 

The name change seemed a little unnecessary at the time — but now that the company is going after menopausal women, it’s all starting to make sense.

The 2 different directions of Hims and Ro

Ro’s original service, Roman, competed directly with other direct-to-consumer ED products offered by companies like Hims. 

But while Hims chose to double down on its Him-ness with products designed specifically for men (hair-loss, skin care, oral care, etc.), Roman decided to do the opposite — and drop its man-focus.

Now, Ro prioritizes convenience over cohesion: The company uses the same business model — convenient, stigma-free on-demand delivery — to target 3 totally different demographic groups with telehealth products.

» To each their Ro

Splice raises $57.5m to help find a new stream of revenue for musicians

Tech companies (*ahem* Spotify) have been notorious for pulling cash out of musicians’ gig bags, but Splice is hoping to change that after raising a $57.5m Series C funding round.

Per TechCrunch, the audio sample marketplace and collaboration tool has now paid out $15m to artists since 2013 — double what it did last year.

Splicin’ up the music biz

Splice lets musicians sell their sounds for royalty-free use, and charges users $7.99 per month. The service gives unlimited access to its array of 3m synthesizers, drum hits, vocal effects and other sounds.

Splice’s subscription revenue is gathered and then divvied to musicians based on whose samples receive the most downloads.

Musicians on the site have powered samples for many mainstream musicians, including Eminem, Ariana Grande, and Drake. That said, while it’s tailored for serious musicians, Splice’s suite of tools now has 2.5m users — up from 1.5m a year ago.

Investors are digging the sound

Union Square Ventures and True Ventures jumped on the success of Splice’s marketplace, co-leading the round for the company, bringing Splice to $104.5m in total funding.

Splice wouldn’t disclose its valuation, but estimates show the company may be valued around $285m. 

If true, that makes Splice one of the top music startups that isn’t selling streaming, tickets, or hardware. 

» Great hook

We wore Swiss running shoes for a week and now we run up mountains while eating Toblerone

Think we’re joking? If you’re in the Bay Area, look towards Mt. Diablo — those faint dots at the top, that’s us.

It all started when On sent us their Cloud running shoes to test.

We slipped into their Speedlace system and started running… straight to the candy store to pick up Toblerone. No idea why, it just felt right. 

Since then, we haven’t really stopped. 

Like running on Clouds (which is probably why they named ‘em that)

Seriously — we wear our Clouds to work. We wear them to the gym. Sometimes we even wear them to bed, because we don’t live with Mom anymore and she can’t tell us what to do. 

Our official verdict? They’re real f’n comfy

That puts us in the same company as Sergey Brin, Will Smith, Roger Federer, and the 50 world champions and Olympic medalists who go wild for On’s CloudTec technology. 

Hell, in true Swiss fashion, even their pronation is neutral.

Try one of their runners (like their newest innovation, the Cloudswift — a performance shoe that moonlights as a lifestyle sneaker) and use our exclusive code HUSTLEWITHON to get a free On pack with your order. 

To the Alps, and beyond → things you should…

EMPOWER: Your inner creator with “Women Who Create”, Free

Building a successful side job while working full time? Sounds overwhelming, but trust us, it’s doable — and you can learn how at Teachable’s 3-day “Women Who Create” conference. It’s completely virtual and totally awesome. Plus, our very own Kera will be speaking (you don’t wanna miss that).

SCORE: Leather goods that will journey as far as you do, 25% Off

The Bexar squad is a small team of craftsmen based in Texas taking leather goods to the next level. Their bags, wallets, watch straps, and more are made to stand up to any desert, river, or rough’n’tumble terrain standing in your way. Right now, their Spring collection is 25% off.

JAM: Like The Hustle with the Sonos One, $199

Like any good startup, we alternate aimlessly between total silence and blasting tunes through the office. That’s why the Sonos One is so great. When the mood strikes, we simply ask Alexa to play us some tasty tunes. Bless her soul, she never lets us down.


AUTOMATE: All your expense reports with Divvy, Free

Imagine a world where all your expenses are auto-tracked as soon as you swipe your card. That’s exactly where Divvy wants to take us. Their simple-to-use platform lets you set up and control budgets, approve expenses on the fly, and automatically file every time you pay. (If you’re a decision maker, they’ll give you $100 just to watch a demo.)


BRING: Your next Benjamin-foldin’ idea to life, Free sign up

How? With Just pick an expertly designed template, use the drag-and-drop editor to arrange your content, and Wix’s built-in branding and marketing tools will help you take care of the rest. If you think that sounds almost too simple… it is.

Now Playing:
Lyla, Big Red Machine. Justin Vernon. Aaron Dessner. Those druuuums.

Zack Crockett

Wes Schlagenhauf

Conor Grant

Bobby Durben
Brad “Oh my lucky stars” Wolverton
Hadley Newham
Owner of Boston Funeral Home
Join our Instagram community →
You opted in by signing up, attending an event, or through divine intervention. 251 KEARNY ST. STE 300, SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94108, UNITED STATES415.506.7210 Never want to hear from us again? Break our hearts and unsubscribe

Get the 5-minute roundup you’ll actually read in your inbox​

Business and tech news in 5 minutes or less​

Exit mobile version