April 29, 2020

Thermal cameras are so hot right now

April 29, 2020
The Hustle
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Paycom

Sorry, sports gamblers. With no games on the schedule, we know you’re itching for bets. But a Canadian court said high-rolling games of Rock, Paper, Scissors do not count. The Quebec Court of Appeal said a $500k+ debt that someone racked up in a game 9 years ago is invalid.

Its reasoning? Putting $500k on Rock, Paper, Scissors is excessive (seems right, TBH). And for a bet to count, it has to be based on a game “requiring only skill or bodily exertion on the part of the parties,” not just luck.

Surveillance State

Surveillance tech will be big for reopenings. Can it keep privacy concerns in check?

Smile! Whenever society emerges from lockdown, the cameras will be watching.

Businesses worldwide are investing in AI-powered thermal cameras and screening stations to keep tabs on the health of their workers and customers.

The surveillance hardware could become part of a new normal as governments look for ways to reopen their economies — without un-flattening the dang curve.

The other challenge: making sure the heat-checking tech doesn’t light people’s privacy rights on fire.

Turns out you can teach an old cam new tricks

Thermal-imaging cameras — a new spin on the security cams of old — are promising for a few reasons: Companies can monitor multiple people at once. And unlike a chaperone at a middle-school dance, they can enforce keep-your-distance rules from a safe distance.

The Washington Post and Reuters found that the market for thermal-imaging tech is running hot — FLIR Systems, a major manufacturer, has seen its stock price soar by 60% in recent weeks.

But the market is also a bit of an unregulated Wild West:

  • The Food and Drug Administration said it “does not intend to object” to the use of the technology for initial body-temp measurements.
  • The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission said businesses can take employees’ temperatures — and send them home if they’re showing symptoms.

Is a corona diagnosis the new badge of shame?

The president of the National Workrights Institute told the Post that being sent home after showing signs of a fever would be like getting “stamped with the scarlet letter.”

Privacy advocates worry that unproven systems could cause many false positives. And once employers plug in Big Brother, they may not want to go back — there would be few incentives for companies to put their new toys away after the pandemic fades.

Businesses are turning the cams on anyway

City Farmers Market, in Atlanta, tells customers that it’s using cameras for temperature screening at its entrances, and temp-checking kiosks will be key to casinos’ plans to get the poker tables running again.

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Conversation Starters

None of us are Al Roker (unless you are, in which case please reply to this email — we love you Al!), so why do we always default to talking about the weather? 

To help you spice up your pre-meeting small talk (or fill those awkward silences when the Houseparty gets a little too quiet), our resident chit-chat connoisseur Katy Huff is here with some talking points:

  1. Did you see that Guy Fieri released a limited-edition Flavortown Cooler to help raise money for restaurants? Do you think the cooler shouts “We’re riding the bus to Flavortown!” every time you open it?
  2. May is National Blood Pressure Month. How high do you think ours will be by the end of this meeting?
  3. Would you rather always be wearing wet socks or always have a little Cheeto residue on your fingers?
  4. I’ve never seen a baby pigeon. Are pigeons just born full-sized?

Did you enjoy these small-talk tips? Tell us by hitting the smileys at the bottom of this email.

Cash Grabs

The booming business of handing out $10k on Instagram

These days, there’s nothing more profitable than giving away tons of money for free.

YouTube Live’s most popular creator is MrBeast, a 21-year-old whose greatest hits include offering up dozens of cars nearly for free or leaving $30k in tips for servers. Almost all of his videos net 10m+views.

But the cash giveaway economy has grown well beyond MrBeast — and on Instagram, the pandemic is catapulting it to new heights. Influencers, Netflix stars, and… Bhad Bhabie… are all trying it. 

The real winner is social media marketing

Take, as The New York Times did, Paige Hathaway: A fitness influencer with 4m+ followers. Last month, in the heat of quarantine, Hathaway offered to give out $5k to a random follower.

The $5k came from Social Stance, one of a network of firms that promises to boost the follower counts of entrepreneurs or aspiring influencers. To enter the giveaway, all Hathaway;s fans had to do was follow accounts designated by Social Stance.

Here’s what the giveaway didn’t say: Social Stance’s clients paid big bucks — $900 apiece — to get on the list of accounts to follow. 

Some people really, really want those extra Insta followers

It’s a win-win-win, mostly: A lucky Hathaway fan gets $5k. Firms like Social Stance turn a big profit, and its clients — think of that entrepreneur on the verge of launching her company — get ~50k new followers. 

But the sub-industry’s growth is making Instagram nervous, as many cash giveaways might violate local sweepstakes laws

If you’ve ever wondered how plastic surgeons could amass such huge Instagram followings — now you know one of their secrets.

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Sponsored

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When employees manage their own data, great things happen

So, what’s the secret behind all those glowing reviews? It starts with a little concept called “autonomy” — in other words, Paycom is scratching a business itch by giving your employees more freedom, not less. 

With Paycom, they can directly access, manage, and update their own HR data (like benefits, PTO, timecards, direct deposit, and everything in between), which means their details are more accurate, their information is more secure, and your HR team is now free to focus on other aspects of your business. 

Since all this can be done in a single database, you don’t have to rely on multiple outside systems… which means no handcuffing yourself to other solutions that confuse or frustrate you. 

Looking for HR and payroll software that works better? You just found it. 

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Retail Therapy

A new Shopify app is here to connect you with local small businesses

Yesterday, Shopify unveiled a new app that could be a lifeline for the 1m+ merchants on its ecommerce platform, some of whom are struggling in a big way.

It’s a Shop fired in the ecommerce wars

The new app, called Shop, is an update to a package-tracking tool called Arrive. If you’ve ever wanted retail therapy to feel a little more like picking out a meal on Grubhub, Shop might be for you.

The app’s buzziest feature: a “shops near you” tab that shows Shopify merchants whose brick-and-mortar outposts are close to your last delivery address. 

You can follow those merchants within the app and buy directly from their Shopify listings.

One important detail, courtesy of Fast Company: Businesses don’t pay anything to be on the Shop app, and they don’t pay commissions on sales made through it, either. So it’s also a shrewd way for Shopify to get new merchants to try out its services.

Take that, Bezos

Fast Company points out that the app might be best suited to digital-first brands that happen to have stores in a few cities. Small businesses need to be on Shopify’s platform to take advantage of the increased reach.

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Digging Out

A Lithuanian city is turning its streets into coffee shops

In Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, restaurants are the new public square. As the city reopens this week, it’s putting in place basic social distancing rules:

  • Masks are a must. 
  • Only a few customers can enter a store at any time. 
  • Restaurants and cafés have to keep tables at least 2 meters apart. 

But in some cramped quarters of the city, real estate is so tight that even 2 meters of separation is too big of an ask — so the city decided to welcome businesses into the outdoors.

The central square? That’s a pasta shop now

Don’t have space in your store to keep your customers at a distance? Just haul those tables outside. Soon open-air restaurants will flood the city’s public arena, taking over plazas and closed-off streets.

160+ businesses have already applied for an outdoor operating permit, making Vilnius the first major city to contort itself into a giant open-air café. 

Long may the al fresco business reign 

Turning to open-air operations in a pandemic isn’t a totally novel idea. During the Spanish flu, San Francisco held legal proceedings and church services in the outdoors to cut down on virus transmission.

In the US, NYC has already closed off 100 miles of roads to traffic for more walking space, and some municipalities are letting restaurants set up shop in empty parking lots. 

All of which suggests: This summer, in the best-case scenario, we may all find ourselves sipping rosé in folding chairs in the middle of an Applebee’s parking lot.

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The Hustle Says

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20 growth marketing tactics for 2020

Want ‘em? We’ve got ‘em.

Okay, actually, Julian Shapiro has ‘em. He’s the founder of Demand Curve — the growth marketing course that 100s of Y Combinator startups rely on to grow.

Tune in tomorrow at 3pm ET to learn from Julian live 

He’ll cover topics like:

  • Tactics to grow newsletters and podcasts
  • How to use communities (like Facebook groups) as acquisition channels
  • What the top 1% of social media ads have in common
  • Brand new methods for B2B cold outreach

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Snippets

✅ Coming soon in YouTube’s battle against misinformation: fact checks next to search results.

🍿This seems like a bad sign for movie theaters? “Trolls World Tour” made more money for Universal in 3 weeks as a digital rental than the original film did in 5 months in theaters.

🤳A new Instagram feature will let people raise money for charity while livestreaming.

☎️ NYC launched a tip line for people to tell on neighbors who violate social distancing orders. It did not go well.

🚬 America’s leading marijuana mag is jumping into retail. The owner of High Times just snatched up 13 California dispensaries.

🍊No pulp about it: The stay-at-home era is juicing OJ sales.

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