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Of Google’s new wind-powered initiative starting in 2017. Get it?
The Hustle Wed, Dec 7

Your next Google search will be powered by wind

Thanks to headlines like this morning’s, “A Chunk of Sea Ice The Size Of India Has Melted,” it’s darn near impossible to feel hopeful about climate change and the future of our planet. This might help, though:

Google just announced that, come 2017, all of its data centers and corporate offices will run entirely on renewable energy.

Impressive. How’d they get here?

For years, Google has been creating long-term contracts to buy renewable energy directly from producers (mainly wind farms).

They were one of the first corporations to do this, and as a result, are now the “world’s largest corporate buyer of renewable power,” with 2.6 gigawatts worth of commitments.

Just FYI, that’s more than twice as much as the 1.21 gigawatts needed to send Marty McFly back to the future. Great Scott!

Okay, but like, what does that mean?

Like most companies, Google gets power from an energy grid supplied by sources like hydroelectric dams, coal, solar, and wind power.

By making deals with wind farms like this one in Iowa, Google enables more renewable energy to be plugged into the grid.

And since the contracts guarantee that Google will continue buying renewable energy in the future, wind companies can get bank financing to build things like turbines and scale their operation.

Good for the planet, but also good for business

Thanks in large part to massive consumers like Google, Apple, and Amazon switching to renewable energy sources, costs have gone down quite dramatically.

In fact, over the last 6 years, the cost of wind and solar has dropped by 60% and 80%, respectively. Pretty nuts.

As a result, Google waning off the fossil fuels doesn’t just help our planet, it actually makes the most fiscal sense for them, too. That’s why they’ll continue to invest in renewable energy projects even after they cross the 100% mark next year.

Fun fact: According to this graphic, Google’s renewable purchasing is pretty much all wind, no solar. Same with Microsoft. Amazon is about one-third solar, two-thirds wind. And Apple is almost entirely solar.

 

Let’s talk about pot…

It’s been a good year for everyone’s favorite gateway drug.

Analysts are calling weed the country’s fastest-growing industry; 8 states plus Washington D.C. have now legalized its recreational use, and more than half of all US states permit it for medical purposes.

Plus…

Just last week, the New York Stock Exchange listed its first public marijuana company, Innovative Industrial Properties, a real estate firm that will lease buildings to growers.

Public weed companies have now brought in more than $700m in the public markets through IPOs (a handful are listed on the NASDAQ), debt offerings, and other capital markets transactions.

What’s up with the private markets though?

So far this year, venture firms have invested just $112m into pot startups (many in the $2-3m range). Why’s that number so low?

For one, some VCs are prohibited from investing in marijuana businesses because of partnership agreements with conservative backers.

Also, the legal framework and “up in the air” nature of marijuana’s future makes it difficult to get risk-averse VCs to sign on.

Okay, so clearly the VCs have smoken…  

And they aren’t too high on the pot.

However, if you roll the joint tight enough, they might just hit it. Take Eaze, for example.

The Silicon Valley-based company (basically the Uber for pot) uses things that VCs are familiar with (real-time data, etc.) to destigmatize their line of work and pave a path towards acceptance.

Result? Eaze has become the “most traditionally understandable [business model] for venture capitalists” and, thanks to a recent $13m round, has now raised $25m since 2014.

Then again, many marijuana companies are finding that raising money with a public company is just easier, thanks in part to the weed’s in the short-term liquidity (ability to be sold for actual cash) compared to its long-term viability business model.

Heck, Innovative Industrial Properties raised over $67m in one day on its recent IPO… which brings us back to our initial point: While VC funding might be sexier, there’s always quick money in the public markets.

 

Waffle House is the black ops of cook tops

No really, they have doomsday prepping down to a science. And, barring any major disasters, the southern beacon of hope and bacon is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The franchise’s emergency plans are so robust that even FEMA refers to the “Waffle House Index” during natural disasters.

Yes, the Waffle House Index

FEMA created the color-coded, informal index in 2004 during Hurricane Charley to identify areas in need of aid.

Green means the Waffle House is fully operational, yellow means limited menu (only nonperishable items), and red means closed (aka. time to send help).

But, is it really necessary for them to be this resilient?

Since Waffle House competes in areas frequently hit by disasters, yes it is. And it’s exactly why they’ve developed a complex system to stay prepared for increased demand.

It all goes down inside the waffle war room

At their headquarters in Georgia, Waffle House’s storm team works directly with distributors, construction teams, and government officials to supply food, generators, and volunteers to those in need.

After a storm makes landfall, employees report for duty at local “units” and respond according to the official “storm manual,” which lays out how to feed people, even without water, gas, electric… or waffles.

While Waffle House takes its “last beacon of hope” role seriously, it also understands that crisis presents opportunity. That would explain all the emergency-related flyers that remind employees, “We will be very busy and you will make lots of money!”

 

Get ready for funeral forests

Or “green burials,” as startup Better Place Forests calls them.

If you haven’t guessed by the name, the California company wants to create a new kind of cemetery, so you can help save the earth even after you’ve left it.

Basically, Better Place wants to use human ashes to grow trees. But they’re not just trying to create the ultimate haunted hayride…

They want to save the trees!

Better Place wants to use cemetary law, which prevents normal burial grounds from being disturbed, to benefit historic forests and provide a natural space for families to grieve (for $625 a plot).

And based on the fact that 64% of adults over 40 would consider it, the green burial market appears to be gaining steam.

However, not everyone agrees on how it should work.

What’s the debate?

It’s all in the execution (pun intended). Better Place’s model is purely for cremated remains, meaning less digging, more sprinkling.

But, companies like Greensprings claim that there is an “environmental cost to burning bodies,” including natural chemicals like mercury being released into the air.

Instead, they prefer a more traditional approach — burying people directly in the ground au natural (without embalming chemicals).

(Tr)icky part is, without preservation, bodies don’t keep very long… hence the logistical challenges of burying them within about 48 after passing, which is difficult to execute at scale.

Will either of these burial forests actually take off? Not sure. But, either way, they’re definitely gonna be haunted.

 
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Editor's note: Friendly reminder we’re doing the Facebook Live Q&A tomorrow with Tim Ferriss. If you want to join in on the fun, click here to get your ambassador link and use it to refer at least 4 friends to The Hustle. Once you do, we’ll send you over an invite ASAP. Over and out.

 
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