June 18, 2020

The App Store backlash is growing

June 18, 2020
The Hustle

What’s your first voice tweet gonna be? Twitter is rolling out tweets in audio form, starting with some iOS users. We asked our crew for their voice-tweeting ideas:

  • The child in Austin “wants it to be a fart noise,” but he says the 30-year old version would be the sad trombone. 
  • Bobby says the funniest voice tweet would be the Grinch trying yoga.
  • Katy cast a vote for “the amazing woman with the car horn laugh! Honk!”

If you’re in the voice-tweeting club, let those pipes sing. Tweet your auditory takes to us @TheHustle. If we hear anything great, we’ll feature it here.

One Bad Apple?

A new player in email knocked over a bushel of debate about Apple’s App Store

The little red bubble with the scary number proves it: Managing your email is a pain in the ass.

This week, a new service arrived on the scene to alleviate your inbox-iety:

  • It’s called Hey, and it’s from the brains behind Basecamp. 
  • For $99 a year, Hey comes with bells and whistles that are supposed to make Gmail look like a VCR (hello, email screening… goodbye, pixel-tracking spies).

Hey definitely turned heads — Casey Newton called it a “genuinely original take on messaging.”

Then the star turn took a dark turn

Basecamp execs say Apple is shaking them down — threatening to remove Hey from the App Store unless it begins offering an in-app subscription.

In case you’re wondering why: Apple takes up to a 30% cut of the revenue from in-app purchases and subscriptions.

This ain’t a new gripe

In Europe, new antitrust investigations of Apple bubbled up thanks in part to a complaint from Spotify, and Tinder’s parent company has aired grievances, too.

David Heinemeier Hansson, Basecamp’s cofounder and CTO, had been banging the antitrust drum on Twitter. And at Bloomberg, Tae Kim said Apple’s getting what it deserves.

But the crowd ain’t unanimous

Consider these takes:

  • Investor Zak Kukoff: “Software Companies Come Out Against Giving 30% Of Revenue To Platform. Also, sky is blue. More news at 11”
  • And here’s our Adam Ryan: “Call me nuts, but Apple has the right to own their distribution. Of course, they have to allow competitors to be in their platform, but charging a fee to reach their enormous audience seems right. Don’t want the fee? Build your own audience.”
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Forget Unicorns

A modest approach to venture capital — who knew?

Not every business can — or should — be worth billions. 

That’s the philosophy behind Indie.vc. As Marker told it, founders Bryce Roberts, Mark Jacobsen, and Tim O’Reilly, all veterans of Silicon Valley, became disillusioned with the MO of traditional venture capital. 

They decided to stop chasing unicorns and focus on “real businesses.”

They’re venturing outside the box

In a typical VC deal, a promising business gets millions, and the venture capital firm gets a stake. Over the years, the industry has prioritized high-risk, high-reward investments. Yet the chances of one of these enterprises becoming the next Uber is less than 1%. 

Indie.vc takes a different approach. Startups receive around $100k to $1m and don’t have to give up a board seat. The company prioritizes businesses looking to become independent, saying they “aim to be the last investment our founders need to take.”

So far, it’s working 

Over 5 years, Indie.vc has funded 34 companies with an average growth rate of 100% the first year, and 300% in the second. Its mortality rate is 10%, compared to the 44% among VC-backed companies in general. 

It’s also led to a more diverse profile. Half of the startups Indie.vc has funded are run by women, and 20% are Black-led.

When Angelica Nwandu founded The Shade Room, which covers entertainment news, she said she didn’t even consider pitching to traditional VCs. 

But after receiving funding from Indie.vc, she achieved profitability and says she grew her subscriber base considerably (The Shade Room has 19m+ followers on Instagram).

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Invest in the identity authentication AI that took down 3 organized fraud gangs in 2019

Whoever said robots can’t fight crime has clearly never heard of TrustStamp (or Robocop). 

This new identity authentication system was created to combat the widespread issue of identity theft and financial breaches… and boy, is it working.

TrustStamp even just beat out hundreds of other companies to win a 2020 Blue Tulip Award for Finance, which identifies the most promising startups and innovations. 

What’s their secret sauce? Tokenized identity.

TrustStamp’s patented tech creates individual “tokenized identities” from any biometric source. 

This allows institutions like banks and workplaces to authenticate your identity through facial recognition. In other words, nobody’s gonna be stealing your identity just because they have some of your personal info.

And the market for this tech is huuuuuge:

  • By 2023, biometrics will authenticate $2 trillion of in-store and mobile payments and generate $54B in revenue for the companies that handle it.
  • TrustStamp aims to have annual recurring revenue between 0.25% and 0.75% of that market by 2024 — that’s anywhere from $135-$405 million in ARR

TrustStamp has already received strategic investment from Mastercard (after graduating from their Start Path accelerator program), but now they’re looking for more. 

Here’s your chance to get in early. Invest in TrustStamp through SeedInvest here:

TrustStamp’s SeedInvest →

COVID baby boom? More like COVID baby bust — and more trouble for the economy

Did quarantine put a damper on your love life? Chill, babe. Turns out there’s been more bread baking than babymaking.

A new report from researchers at the Brookings Institution predicts a declining birthrate, which could yield significant economic losses.

It’s all just a little bit of history repeating

When times are tough, people tend to put, um… a lid on it. With the average annual cost of infant child care surpassing in-state tuition at many 4-year public universities, bringing a child into the world is a very calculated risk.

During the 1918 flu pandemic, American women didn’t put off having babies… they just had fewer of them.

And during the Great Recession, which lasted roughly 2007 to 2009, states that showed the steepest job losses also showed the greatest reduction in birth rates between 2008 and 2011. The US as a whole saw a 9% dip in births — that’s 400k — between 2007 and 2012.

Thanks to the coronavirus crisis that tanked the national economy, Brookings estimates a 300k – 500k dip in American births. And by one estimate, 40%+ of jobs lost during the COVID-19 pandemic may be gone for good.

Even if you hate kids (you monster), the numbers don’t lie

The loss of 500k births could amount to economic losses of $5T within the next few decades.

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Follow Me?

TikTok creators’ new dance move: flipping China censorship on its head

Move over, Lil Huddy. TikTok’s got a new crush – Xi Jinping, leader of the Chinese Communist Party.

Gen Z users are flexing their satirical skills with pro-China videos, hoping to turn TikTok’s China ties into more views and fewer restrictions.

As usual, sucking up is the secret to success 

The video app has been accused of censoring content the Chinese government dislikes, so users decided to embrace TikTok’s ever-ambiguous algorithm. 

Make content Beijing would approve of, the thinking goes, and you get views galore instead of censorship. 

These virtual love letters feature the Chinese flag, the country’s national anthem, and hashtags like #ilovechina and #noticemexinjinping.  

Others are buttering up China to reverse shadow bans or the removal of their videos. One user posted a clip with all the pro-China trappings, captioning it “#ilovechina (ok but fr tho can I get comment privileges back).”

ByteDance calls BS

Despite all the buzz, there is no conclusive evidence that the lovefest actually pays off. A spokesperson for the company was quick to disavow the theory, calling it “ridiculous.” 

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Death to plastic →

The next wave of unicorns

These are trying times. But trying times are ripe for disruption. Don’t believe us? 2008 brought us household names including Slack, Airbnb, Uber, Square, and Stripe, to name a few. So what will the wave of 2020 unicorns look like? 

No one knows for sure, but we want you to be riding that wave. We dug through 40+ hours of My First Million recordings to pull out 50+ business ideas that are all yours. A few teasers to get the wheel spinnin’:

  • X-prize for companies
  • Crunchyroll for mid-tier comedians
  • Always on Airpods
  • Lambda School for executive assistants

If you sign up today, you’ll also get access to two of our most popular ebooks:

  • Pivot Point: How 19 Small Businesses are Responding to COVID-19. 
  • The Operator’s Guide to Building a $100m Business. Exclusive transcripts from the 12 best Hustle Con keynotes, including the founders of Bonobos, Hint Water, and Casper.

Sign up for a $1 Trends trial and they’re all yours. Get the bundle


1️⃣  More heat on Section 230: The Justice Department released a proposal to roll back tech companies’ protections under the foundational internet law.

2️⃣  Coming soon to Zoom: Free end-to-end encryption for all.

3️⃣  San Francisco is suing DoorDash for “misclassifying” its workers as contractors.

4️⃣  The FCC is going to investigate T-Mobile’s hours-long outage, calling it “unacceptable.” 

5️⃣  After 131 years, Aunt Jemima is ditching its name and marketing logo, saying they’re “based on a racial stereotype.”

6️⃣  The CEO of Netflix is donating $120m to historically black colleges and universities.

7️⃣  Meanwhile: Google is committing $175m to support Black business owners and entrepreneurs.

8️⃣  The newest venture from the inventor of the Segway? Lab-grown organs

9️⃣  Here’s how Japanese researchers are predicting new COVID-19 spikes: By checking the sewers.  

🔟  You’re going to want to read the story behind Oregon’s Exploding Whale Memorial Park.

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