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The Hustle - Silicon Valley Tech News

October 31, 2019




Happy Halloween, people. We hope you dressed up today — as anything but Elizabeth Holmes, that is: The disgraced Theranos founder’s signature Jobs-esque style was such a popular costume that Uniqlos across the Bay Area sold out of black turtlenecks. Anyway… In the news today: Robots may become your coworkers for the holidays, and Tulsa wants you to know that working in Oklahoma pays. Umm, trick or treat, we guess?

The Hustle Daily Email

Retailers are turning to ‘cobots’ to guarantee a high-yield holiday season

The holidays are just around the corner, which means it’s that time of year again: brightly lit lawn decorations, ugly sweaters, “We’re hiring!” signs at all the big retailers… 

The Wall Street Journal reports that some retailers are rolling out a new solution to the age-old holiday hiring crunch: They’re ordering huge fleets of collaborative robots — or “cobots” — to help address labor shortages.

’Tis the season for eggnog, latkes, and… cobots??

Every year, retailers struggle to find enough seasonal workers to satisfy the demand for last-minute gift buying. This year, a number of robotics companies are producing “surge robots” to help increase the efficiency of overburdened workforces.

These cobots use lasers, cameras, and other sensors to assist their human co-workers. They can direct their human counterparts to the proper aisles and shelves, or carry bins of items between workstations. 

Rakuten, the Japanese mega-retailer, used 40 robots for its Super Logistics division during last year’s holiday surge; this year, the company ordered 200 robots.

And the number of cobots is expected to rise

“It’s a strategy for holiday peak that worked so well in 2018 that we’ve ramped it up this year and bought 30% more,” Troy Cooper, president of XPO Logistics Inc., told the Journal.

Since American unemployment is at a 50-year low — and since many seasonal workers are over 55 and struggle to do jobs that involve heavy lifting — many analysts expect warehouse automation to accelerate.

In 2018, 3% of warehouses globally used commercial robots alongside their human-ployees. But by 2025, analysts predict that 27.6% of warehouses will employ commercial robots.

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This week’s Signal

Dopamine Fast

Whether you call it stimulus control or, sigh, dopamine fasting, the startup community is realizing the need to take temporary fasts from the objects and activities that give us quick pleasure. Although therapists have been advocating this concept for years, a wellness company that includes stimulus control activities could stand out.

Try for a buck

Would you move to Tulsa for $10k? 10k people tried to 

How did Tulsa, a Great Plains town historically known for oil and evangelicals (what up, Oral Roberts), become a hotspot for priced-out Californians and New Yorkers?

By giving them $10k to move there through a plan called Tulsa Remote.  

You’re doin’ fine, Oklahoma 

Within 10 weeks of announcing the program last year, 10k people applied, according to Next City. Of the 10k applicants, 100 people were accepted, and 75 actually made the move. The George Kaiser Family Foundation, which is running the program for Tulsa, wants to pay another 250 to 300 applicants next year. 

A majority of the people who moved to Tulsa are from California, Massachusetts, and New York. Madeline Kelley fled Williamsburg, picking Tulsa over Brooklyn. Megan Villanueva, who left Washington D.C., is now paying $1,650 for a 2-bedroom house near downtown. And she’s considering buying a home.           

More love for the Midwest? 

With high housing prices on the coasts and remote work becoming more common, should the Detroits and Cincinnatis of the world create comparable incentives? Vermont has tried a similar plan, offering $10k to a select few transplants. Maine has a student loan payback program. 

Tulsa believes the investment is worth it. Kaiser program manager Aaron Bolzle says the newcomers offer social and economic opportunities to longtime residents.

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Things you should…

CELEBRATE: Halloween the only way we know how…

With David S. Pumpkins… any questions? (Happy ‘Ween, y’all.)


LAND: More conversions with a stunning landing page, Free lookbook

“The Ultimate Ecommerce Landing Page Lookbook” from Unbounce gives marketers like you some much-needed inspo to turn browsers into buyers. This free lookbook compiles some of the boldest, best, and most beautiful landing pages built in Unbounce, giving you all the inspiration you need to create your next high-converting page.


BEAT: Your bank by finding a better mortgage deal using LendingTree, See how See how

Banks want you to pay interest — after all, it’s how they make their money. But finding a better loan through LendingTree might help you spend less and save more. Search for refi offers now and see how you could save tens (maybe even hundreds) of thousands in pure interest just by switching today.


SCORE: An Amazon gift card when you attend a demo of, $50 gift card

From the innovators at KAYAK comes, the new way to book your business travel. pulls double-duty, helping you save time and money when booking flights, hotels, and transportation. It could save your company an airplane-load of cash, and you get a nice little gift when you attend a demo. That’s what we call a win-win. *Terms apply

Netflix’s new variable playback feature lets you chill at warp speed

Netflix is testing a hyper-binge feature that has some in the film industry pissed. It offers audiences the opportunity to mainline content at almost double speed… bypassing the creators’ artistic vision.

Is this healthy?

Is your candy corn fixation healthy, Karen? Who cares? Variable playback is huge in other areas like podcasts and audiobooks. So why not TV and video?

Last week, a site called Android Police reported on rumors that Netflix was testing a feature that would allow viewers to take in content at 0.5x, 0.75x, 1.25x, or 1.5x speeds. 

Want to learn a language or immerse yourself in a favorite scene? Done. Want to blast through several seasons of a new show or hit the high points of an old favorite? You get the idea.

Yesterday, Netflix confirmed this is a go… for now.

But this is not art!

Judd Apatow, the auteur behind such hits as “Girls” and “Knocked Up,” is not pleased. He took to Twitter and vowed to “call every director and show creator on Earth” to fight Netflix on this option. Apatow argues that creatives put a ton of work into establishing plot and pacing.

Netflix says it will test viewer feedback to determine whether variable playback becomes a permanent feature.

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If you’ve memorized every Fortnite dance…

… then we may have just the investment for you.

Look, you don’t need to know how to Floss to realize that esports aren’t the future — they’re the now. And the numbers speak for themselves:

  • 2 in 3 Americans play video games
  • There are 454 million esports viewers worldwide
  • The video game market raked in $138 billion in 2018

So, what’s the opportunity here? $NERD — the first pure-play esports ETF, combining 25 global esports and digital entertainment companies into one publicly-traded fund. 

Check out this site to learn more about investing in $NERD and see if it deserves some of your portfolio’s attention.*

*Investing involves risk, including the potential loss of principal. For a prospectus and sources, click here. Foreside Fund Services, LLC, Distributor.

Learn more
What Else…

🎓 The newest workplace perk? Help with student loans. The percentage of employers offering some kind of student loan forgiveness program increased from 4% in 2018 to about 8% this year. Companies like Fidelity, Hulu, and Estée Lauder are helping their employees chip away at the $1.5T in student loan debt owed by Americans.

Google’s got a .new trick. The search giant publicly launched a feature that lets users make a new page with the shortcut .new — and Spotify, Github, and Bitly are already on board.

📺 The next chapter in the streaming wars has started. HBO Max announced big plans to debut its new streaming service in 2020. Meanwhile, competitors are finally dropping out of the race: This week, Playstation announced plans to shut down its Playstation Vue TV streaming service due to the “highly competitive Pay TV industry.”

👞👠 Are corporations accommodating to dual-career couples? Jennifer Petriglieri, an associate professor of organizational behavior, tells Bloomberg she doesn’t think so. And now that dual-career couples account for more than ⅔ of the workforce, that’s an issue.

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