You're viewing an email archive of The Hustle newsletter. Join free to receive the 5-minute newsletter keeping 2.5M+ innovators in the loop.

Why 3D avatars are the future

Yo, Trung here. I’ll be honest, I don’t want to talk about these Golden Tickets anymore -- but people are telling me the prizes are pretty dope. So do your boi a solid and keep opening that email so the powers that be can leave me alone. TL;DR We’re hiding golden tickets in the email every day this week -- if you get one, we’re sending you a prize.BTW: The Willy Wonka movie kinda sucks. It’s probably Gene Wilder’s 8th-best flick… Blazing Saddles is way better, IMO.

PLUS: A definitive guide on pricing models.

October 20, 2020
The Hustle

Yo, Trung here. I’ll be honest, I don’t want to talk about these Golden Tickets anymore — but people are telling me the prizes are pretty dope. So do your boi a solid and keep opening that email so the powers that be can leave me alone.

BTW: The Willy Wonka movie kinda sucks. It’s probably Gene Wilder’s 8th-best flick… Blazing Saddles is way better, IMO.

The Big Idea

This startup has created avatars for 1000s of celebrities. Now its tech is open to the public.

Genies is a leading avatar tech company.

For the past year, the LA-based startup has spun up avatars for thousands of athletes (Russell Westbrook, Victor Oladipo) and celebrities (J-Lo, Offset, Rihanna, and Justin Bieber).

Starting today, everyday users can get into the avatar action.

Genies launches its new software development kit (SDK)

Giphy and Gucci are the company’s first partners. Users across these platforms can now create their own personalized 3D Genie avatars.

Each app will have different functionality:

  • GIPHY will allow users to access their avatars in GIFs
  • Gucci will let users dress in — you guessed it — digital Gucci gear

Celebrities are an ideal training ground

According to The Ringer, the sales pitch that Genies offers to the world’s most famous names is easy: “Avatars can show up, ready for the job, when their human counterparts can’t.”

Avatars don’t get tired, can “travel” anywhere, and are available 24 hours a day. In fact, the product-market fit is so strong that Genies launched Avatar Agency, which represents the interests of celeb digital doubles (here is Cardi B’s avatar at work).

Avatars are everywhere now…

… from Snap’s Bitmoji to Apple’s Memoji.

As the next generation of consumers spend increasingly more of their lives in some form of a digital realm, 3D avatars will likely be everywhere.

Genies co-founder and CEO Akash Nigam tells The Hustle that his startup wants to be the “standard ubiquitous avatar across the entire internet.”

Today is a big first step to make that dream a reality.

(See below for a Q&A with Akash)

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Send as email to a friend View on our website


  • IB-Hurting: IBM — everyone’s favorite tech punching bag — just reported its 3rd straight quarter of revenue declines. Perhaps most worryingly, its cloud unit is slowing.
  • Lawmatics just raised $2.5m to help lawyers manage their clients, particularly at these 2 stages: 1) the intake, when clients look for legal help; and 2) after a case is resolved.
  • MoonTalk: Nokia will build NASA a 4G network on the moon, so astronauts can chat (or, per very unverified speculation, so that they can play Among Us?).
  • You can run the Stitcher podcast player on Pandora after SiriusXM closed its previously announced $325m deal.
  • Rent out an entire AMC auditorium for $99! You can bring up to 20 friends, but the film choices are a mixed bag: Jurassic Park (YAY), 2 Hearts (NAY), and Sonic The Hedgehog (Oh God).
  • Bonus: Speaking of movies, Bruce Willis brought back Die Hard for a 2-minute battery commercial (we have thoughts).
Akash Nigam

‘Avatars are the next medium of expression’

The son of a WebMD co-founder, Akash Nigam has been launching startups since college.

While a junior at the University of Michigan, he created a messaging app (Blend) and soon dropped out of school to pursue the entrepreneurial life.

We chatted with Nigam to find out more about his vision for Genies and the future of digital identities.

What excites you the most about the new Genies partnerships?

Genies has been delivering avatars exclusively to celebrities for the past year. I’m excited about taking wins and lessons from that experience to a big consumer audience (e.g., GIPHY’s 1B users).

Not only can consumers make Genie avatars now, but we’re also upgrading from 2D to 3D avatars.

What is notable about the upgrade to 3D avatars?

I think the term “avatar” is used too loosely. The best way to think about it is on a continuum.

  • On one end you basically have sticker packs, which are 2D animations with basic functions.
  • On the other end, you have what Genies is making — dynamic 3D avatars that are essentially virtual beings.

Avatars are the next medium of expression, and 3D allows you to effectively operate and command virtual beings.

Can consumers take their Genies avatars across platforms?

Yes. Genies wants to secure as many SDK partnerships as possible, and no platform will be isolated. Our vision is to create a virtual portable identity. It’ll be its own unique layer of the digital realm.

How big is the digital goods opportunity?

I’m very bullish on digital goods. Take Fortnite: Last year, it sold $1B in avatar skins.

One of our investors is an early member of Riot Games and led monetization for League of Legends, which grew to a $4B business, much of it coming from digital goods.

Moving forward, we plan on building a secondary market for these types of digital goods, which will allow users to sell digital goods to one another. That way, goods will even accrue value over time due to scarcity.

(Read full Q&A here)

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Send as email to a friend View on our website


In your 30’s? Life insurance premiums go up ~4.5% every year you wait to buy

If you’re in your 40’s, that number rises to 7.8%. Gulp.

The point is, one of the smartest financial moves you can make for your family is having a solid life insurance policy… and one of the smartest moves you can make for you is buying it now before your rates increase.

And you can do all of that by the time you finish reading this ad.

Just click here, head on over to Policygenius’s cutting-edge insurance marketplace, and find the perfect policy for you.

It’s not only easy — it’s also financially-savvy, since they’ll help you save up to 53% on your coverage.

(In other words: save now, buy motorcycle later. You’re welcome.)

Get your quotes →

New App Alert
sports shoes

YouTube is making moves to extend its video dominance

While YouTube may be worth as much as $300B as a standalone company, the Alphabet-owned firm can’t take its position for granted.

Out of literally f*cking nowhere, TikTok has grown from 0 to 100m+ active users in the US with its game-changing video recommendation algo.

YouTube TV could be launching an app store

It’s at least testing the waters with an NFL Fantasy Football app, which is sure to drive engagement and be another surface area for epic fantasy trash-talking.

With the integration, users can track their fantasy scores alongside live games with the click of a button — keeping their dopamine rushes to one screen and eliminating the need to obsessively check their phones for updates.

As the linchpin of the cable bundle, sports is an intuitive place to start, but perhaps even more interesting is that YouTube TV can ladder up offerings in the app store… like bringing in an entire daily fantasy platform (e.g., DraftKings).

An augmented TV-viewer experience is a leg up on traditional cable

Esther Ahn, YouTube TV’s Head of Design, says the team wants to partner with apps that can make the viewing experience more clear and engaging.

YouTube is also working on a process to have creators tag products displayed in videos as a way to turbocharge its video ecommerce offering.

As Omar Little famously said in HBO’s The Wire, “You come at the king, you best not miss.”

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Send as email to a friend View on our website
The Price is Right

The definitive list of all the different pricing models you can use

Last week, electric car company Lucid Motors — which has raised $1B+ — announced the pricing for its entry-level option: $69.9k after EV tax credits.

Naturally, Elon Musk — who priced the Tesla short shorts at $69.420 — announced a pending price cut of the Model S to $69,420.

Pricing Strategy 101

Based on this hilarious incident, we put together a definitive list of the best pricing models out there (via HubSpot Blog):

  • Competition-based: Set your price on existing market rates (e.g., what your competitors charge)
  • Cost-plus: Calculate the cost of your product, then add a markup
  • Dynamic: Flexible pricing based on real-time supply and demand (think Uber’s surge pricing)
  • High-low: Set a product at a high price with the intention of marking down shortly after

Not from HubSpot — but The Hustle’s personal favorite:

  • Elon-based: Literally any numbers that contain any combination of “420” or “69” in any order or frequency

P.S. In related news, HubSpot’s CEO Brian Halligan recently joined the Trends Facebook group — BOOM!

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Send as email to a friend View on our website

The Hustle Says

This Amazon Audit from VeriShip will show you how much money you could get back from Amazon due to fulfillment errors on their end. Check it out.*

Scientists have discovered there actually *is* a perfect way to start your day: Taking this 30-second Sporcle quiz on Pixar characters. You’re welcomeeeee.

Forget $QQQ. If you’re into investing, you’re gonna want to get in on Miso Robotics while there’s still time. They doubled their revenue from 2018 to 2019 by revolutionizing dining through automation, and they’re showing no signs of slowing down.*

Charcuterie boards are out (blame it on the olives), while candy charcuterie boards are in. Just don’t tell your dentist.

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

*This is a sponsored post.


Director of Community Marketing, Shogun:

Help this page-building platform scale brand initiatives through social media and comms campaigns.

Digital Marketing Automation Specialist, SAM Labs:

This ed-tech startup wants you to go chasing waterfalls… demand generation waterfalls, that is.

PPC Associate, Seer:

I like it when you call me Big Data. And you’ll like this gig if you like search marketing.

Director of Demand Generation, Design Pickle:

A company with a silly name has a serious need for an experienced marketing leader.

Sales Manager, AdQuick:

Help other companies take their missions to the skies… by which we mean billboards.

See more →


GIVEAWAY: Share The Hustle for a chance to win a MacBook Pro

Ambassador Rewards

Every referral you get gives you an additional entry in the giveaway. Here’s a message you can use to share with your friends:

Hey! Do you read The Hustle? It’s the best daily business newsletter out there — only takes 5 minutes to read. They’re running a giveaway today so if you sign up using my link, we’re both entered to win a MacBook Pro. Sign up here, it’s free: {referral_url}

Share to Win →
How did you like today’s email?

hate it


love it

Today’s email was brought to you by Trung Phan.
Editing by: Zachary “Digital Double” Crockett, Al Takaka (Director of Elder Affairs).

Facebook Youtube Instagram Trends

2131 THEO DR. STE F, AUSTIN, TX 78723, UNITED STATES • 415.506.7210 Never want to hear from us again? Break our hearts and unsubscribe.

The Hustle

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

Business and tech news in 5 minutes or less​



How'd Bezos build a billion dollar empire?

In 1994, Jeff Bezos discovered a shocking stat: Internet usage grew 2,300% per year.

Data shows where markets are headed.

And that’s why we built Trends — to show you up-and-coming market opportunities about to explode. Interested?