Trouble on the Back Nine

Here are the top stories for Tuesday, April 12, curated by The Hustle.

April 12, 2016

Did Wall Street watch The Masters?

Shares of sports apparel company Under Armour dropped almost 6% on Monday, a day after golfer Jordan Spieth – who recently signed a 10-year agreement with the company – suffered one of the most memorable meltdowns in sports history.

And it’d be easy to link the two events: A star athlete implodes in front of millions of sports fans, potentially hurting the brand equity of the company whose logo is featured prominently on his hat, shirt, pants, belt, shoes, and who knows what else.

Funny if it were true but doubtful there’s any real connection. According to a stock market analyst:

“[Fellow Under Armour athlete] Steph Curry is having a phenomenal season, but the stock doesn’t move on significant advances by [him]. And Cam Newton in the Super Bowl didn’t have much of an impact either.”

So what caused the stock to drop?

According to Morgan Stanley, Under Armour’s inability to sell women’s apparel is to blame.

The company saw a 7% decline in that area during the first quarter of 2016, which followed a 6% decline in the previous quarter. As a result, analysts issued “bearish reports” on the company…and the market responded.

But they’re still doing something right

I’m fully on board with Under Armour battling Nike for North American supremacy. Couldn’t care less about a dip in the stock market. And the biggest reason I’m so confident is how money UA has been with sponsored athletes recently. It’s actually insane.

Last year alone, Stephen Curry won the NBA MVP (he’s a lock to win it again this year), Cam Newton won the NFL MVP and advanced to the Super Bowl, Tom Brady came in second for the NFL MVP, Bryce Harper won the National League MVP, and Spieth had arguably the greatest year in golf history.

Ride that train, UA. Ride it.


A popular porn site just blew a load of justice all over North Carolina

If you live in North Carolina, where an anti-LGBTQ law was recently passed, XHamster is sending you a very clear message: NO SOUP PORN FOR YOU!

Here’s the official announcement they made on Monday:

“As of today, access to XHamster.com is blacked out in the state of North Carolina until further notice…We will not standby and pump revenue into a system that promotes this type of garbage. We respect all sexualities and embrace them.”

Furthermore, the company plans on replacing the black screen North Carolina’s porn aficionados are currently seeing with a petition demanding the law be repealed.

Good for you, XHamster. Good for you.

Just to recap…

PayPal hates this law. Bruce Springsteen hates this law. Pretty much the entire country hates this law. And now, we have the freakin’ porn industry demanding a repeal.

Serious question: has the United States of America ever been more on the same page?


LSD makes you feel like a baby

For the first time ever, scientists scanned the brains of people using LSD and found that the brain resembles our brain state at infancy: free and unconstrained.

Normally, our noggin performs functions like vision, movement, and hearing independently. But, on acid, the “separateness” breaks down, leading to a more unified system, aka. being “one” with the universe.

The research team from Imperial College London also found a link between LSD and “improvements in well-being” after the drug’s effects subside…which suggests that it could one day be used to treat psychiatric disorders.
 

How’d they do it?

The study involved 20 volunteers, all of whom had previously taken some type of psychedelic drug…so no bug outs.

Each volunteer was then given an injection of either 75 micrograms of LSD, or a placebo. Scientists studied their brain activity by monitoring blood flow and electrical activity.

Sounds like a fancy schmancy test but still pales in comparison to our boy experimenting with microdosing to increase productivity. And “oneness,” I guess.


Programed to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth

A 19 year old MIT programming student, Joshua Browder, made the world’s first robot lawyer dubbed “DoNotPay.” I like the price tag but, before you get your judicial robes in a bunch, it’s more of a search engine than an artificially intelligent law practitioner.

The project started out as a website to help us “normal folk” appeal parking tickets and pretty soon it turned into an automatic appeal generator that used previously successful letters as templates. In a video demonstration, DoNotPay is shown helping some poor traveler getting compensation for a delayed flight (which I had no ideas was a thing) by getting all the necessary information.

So basically, you put in your info and it spits you out a pdf with everything you need. Like a legal Mad Lib.
 

Liberté, égalité, beep boop beep

Josh’s vision is “for any citizen to get the same standard of legal representation as a billionaire” and it’s hard to see any fault in that. The problem is, while 95% of the law is process-driven, red-tape-cutting monotony, the other 5% is extremely nuanced, requiring the use of precedent and argument to present a compelling case to a judge and jury.

AI programs like Joshua’s can certainly help speed up filling out standardized forms, but don’t expect to see the law offices of Hamlin Hamlin DoNotPay anytime soon.

Bonus: if you do need a robot fix, a new “app store for bots” just launched yesterday. It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like: new ways to get cat gifs delivered by complex, semi-conscious algorithm.


Building a faster horse

Carmaker Jaguar Land Rover announced the formation of InMotion, a separate wholly-owned “innovation” company charged with building and testing products faster than its parent company. Put simply, this move is exactly how a large, old corporation reacts when called a large, old corporation. Startups. Agile development. Disruption. Bieber.

This isn’t anything new in the car industry. In fact, within the last 2 weeks Ford, GM, Toyota, and BMW announced the exact same thing: spin-out companies with the autonomy to innovate at a faster pace while preserving their core business, making cars.

Gotta respect the effort

A new car typically takes 3-4 years to make and has a lifespan of a decade. With Tesla making big moves in Silicon Valley and the grueling pace of technological advancement, these older brands have to get with the times.

Ideas from the innovation companies are about helping customers get from A to B more efficiently or in “more premium ways” but the big thing they’re trying to do is speed up product development to weeks or months rather than years.

And hey, if one of their “innovations” doesn’t exactly work with a Jaguar, they now have the option to spin that out as a totally independent company. Carmaker, incubator, venture capitalist. Check, check, and check.



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