The Hustle

The Fed wants to Venmo you

Plus: Retail might be dying, but Amazon wants a piece of it.
August 11, 2020

Less than 2 weeks after the big antitrust hoedown, Big Tech ain’t exactly helping itself: Apple is going after a 5-person meal-planning startup called Prepear because the company’s pear logo (get it?) looks a bit too much like Apple’s apple.

And Google is telling employees how not to talk about the competition. More on that below.

The Big Idea

The first rule of monopoly club: Don’t talk about monopoly club

Peter Thiel once said that “the people who have monopolies pretend not to.

If we ever needed a tangible example, a leaked 2019 Google document highlighting 5 rules for written communication does the trick. 

Obtained by The Markup, the document starts by saying, “Words matter. Especially in antitrust law” — and highlights how Microsoft got in antitrust hot water when its employees threatened to “cut off Netscape’s air supply.”

Watch what you say

In an attempt to deflect perception of a monopoly in search and other products, Google coaches its employees. Massage your language, with some talking points: 

  1. We’re out to help users, not hurt competitors. 
  2. Our users should always be free to switch, and we don’t lock anyone in.
  3. We’ve got lots of competitors, so don’t assume we control or dominate any market.
  4. Don’t try to define a market or estimate our market share. 
  5. Assume every document you generate, including email, will be seen by regulators. 

The Markup noted that during Congress’ recent antitrust rodeo, Google CEO Sundar Pichai practiced what the company preaches.

Pichai fielded 61 questions and “did not say the words ‘network effects’ or ‘dominant’ once and steered clear of defining any particular market.” Now that’s discipline.

How The Hustle talks monopoly 

We have some other suggestions for how Google can try not to sound like a monopoly — ad-libbed from the American Film Institute’s top 5 movie quotes ever:

  1. “Frankly, my dear, we’re not a monopoly.” (Gone With The Wind)
  2. “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse, because it’s extremely fair.” (The Godfather)
  3. “I coulda been a contender but the market is so competitive.” (On the Waterfront)
  4. “Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in a dominant position anymore.” (The Wizard of Oz)
  5. “Here’s looking at you, kid, who is allowed to switch to other services freely.” (Casablanca)

5 stories to catch you up quick

1️⃣  Instead of full-time work benefits, Uber’s CEO wants to create flexible “benefits funds” for gig workers.

2️⃣  Retail might be dying, but Amazon wants a piece of it: The company is trying to take over bankrupt JCPenney and Sears stores.

3️⃣  Scammers are selling fake views for Instagram’s Reels. One bot baron supports himself on the income, making enough to have “a good car and a decent home.”

4️⃣  Disney, the new owner of Fox, just renamed its flagship TV studio… 20th Television. (Sound familiar?)

5️⃣  McDonald’s is suing its ex-CEO to recoup a $40m compensation package.

And 5 more to delight you 

1️⃣  The latest fitness trend? Retro roller-skating. It’s so hot skate shops can’t keep up. Anyone for 4 Corners?

2️⃣  A bunch of pranksters ripped off MasterClass and turned it into a series of fake WikiHow pages called MasterWiki

3️⃣  This foldable e-reader will soon disrupt note taking

4️⃣  In quarantine, everyone is buying tie-dye.

5️⃣  Looking for an excuse to take the pandemic puppy plunge? Some companies are offering pet-adoption stipends.

FedNow Us $5

The latest fintech disruptor: The US government

Next time you pay back your pals for a drive-in concert ticket, don’t be alarmed if they ask you to “FedNow me.”

Forget Venmo. The Fed is launching the next big thing in fintech — a 24/7 payments platform called “FedNow Service.” It charges no transaction fees, and you don’t even need an app to use it.

Call it a fintech public option

Right now, Venmo and Zelle run on a platform called The Clearing House. Basically, it’s a group of major banks that have agreed to allow instant deposits.

The problem? A lot of regional banks and credit unions don’t use The Clearing House. Only about 50%+ of the US has access.

FedNow wants ALL the banks at the party

And it’s got relationships with 10k+ financial institutions, so pretty much all of them could go.

It sounds good, but it’s going to be a while before your friends make fun of you for forgetting your FedNow username. The service isn’t hitting the market until at least 2023


The identity verification technology of tomorrow is here today

In 2020, just about every brand was forced to go digital-first — and fast.

But what sounds like a disaster in the making has actually been quite the opposite, thanks to companies like Mitek.

Mitek’s advanced identity verification tech is helping brands and consumers flourish throughout these turbulent times with:

If that was a lot to digest, don’t worry — we’ll sum it up for ya:

Brands and consumers need digital protection more than ever, and Mitek offers them exactly that with a simple platform, lower costs, and unbeatable security

Are you having challenges with the switch to digital-first? Then you need to take a long look at Mitek, which you can do right here:

Safety first, kids →

Daily Avg. Revenue Trades

You knew pandemic-fueled stock trading was popular — but did you know how popular?

The breakout trading app Robinhood logged 4.31m daily average revenue trades in June (a common brokerage-industry metric). That’s higher than any of Robinhood’s publicly traded competitors, including TD Ameritrade and Charles Schwab.

(Source: Bloomberg)

Streaming Wars

This under-the-radar streaming service might be the next big thing

There’s a dark horse candidate in the streaming sweepstakes.

Tubi is a free, ad-supported platform with 23k+ offerings and 25m viewers. It’s especially popular with millennials and Black and Latino viewers.

In June, Tubi streamed 200m hours, doubling its growth over the past year. It was recently acquired by Fox in a $440m deal.

How’d it get there? 

Founder Farhad Massoudi told Fast Company his mission is “super-serving the underserved.”

You won’t find Friends or original shows on Tubi. Instead, it curates deep cuts aimed at tapping into millennial nostalgia (shoutout to Heathers, the OG Mean Girls). Other Tubi gems: Seabiscuit and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Tubi also shows off the diversity of its catalog: It features Black cinema and Spanish-language categories on its main page, and it created a “United Against Inequality” feature during the Black Lives Matter protests. 

Infographic of the day

We spend our days in quarantine going from small screen to medium screen to big screen — but how ’bout y’all?

We asked you how much time you spend on a computer in a day. Gotta say, we’re jealous of the 7.2%:

The Hustle Says

Business ideas boiled down to a single — dare we say sexy? — graphic. That’s the concept behind Visualize Value, and we’ll be the first to tell you it’s certainly working.

Rebalance your skin with Glossier’s Super Pure Niacinamide serum. This serum will return your skin to a healthy balance. It’s like we always say: Look good, feel good, play good. Get 10% off your first purchase here.*

NASA finally invented the world’s most versatile shorts. Oh wait, no, that was Vuori. Damn. Give those designers a raise. Get 20% off Vuori’s Banks Short and see what we mean.*

*This is a sponsored post.

2 Truths and a Lie

One of these storylines isn’t real. Choose the fake.

  1. Meet TwikTwok, the ultimate Twitter/TikTok mashup
  2. AMC’s latest innovation? Pop-your-own popcorn machines
  3. SpaceX is hiring a manager to develop its first… resort

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Today’s email was brought to you by Michael Waters, Belle Long, Trung Phan, Zack Crockett, and Bobby Durben.
Editing by: Nick “Totally Tubi-ular” DeSantis, Vera Bruptly (Defensive Driving Instructor).
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