Stocks, bonds, and Bitcoins

January 15th, 2024

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Happy Monday. Today is MLK Day, which we hope is a moment of rest and reflection. Our country has come a long way, and there’s still more work to do.

It’s also a big day in general with the presidential primaries, two NFL playoff games, and more Jo Koy fall-out… hang in there.

In other news… Bitcoin ETFs are now a thing, A24 is evolving into a fashion house, and ASU launches a VR bio course.

Top Trends

YouTube → Mr. & Mrs. Smith

Google → True Detective 

Reddit → Wonka

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Time to trade // Illustration by Kate Walker

Bitcoin ETFs have a big debut

The Future. Everyday investors have started to play around with Bitcoin after the SEC begrudgingly approved the creation of Bitcoin ETFs. By removing the need for customers to sign up for jargon-riddled crypto platforms, and by adding a layer of protection through traditional asset managers, Bitcoin may have finally reached its mainstream moment.

Token investment
A lot more people might start to become HODLers.

  • There was $4 billion worth of transactions across 11 new ETFs during the first day of trading.

  • The financial products were available on exchanges like the Nasdaq and through major financial asset managers like BlackRock and Fidelity.

  • The surge in demand briefly spiked Bitcoin’s price to a high of $49,000 (still a long way off from the crypto’s all-time high of $65,000 in November 2021).

Financial analysts note that the ETFs’ performance was impressive but people shouldn’t think too much of it just yet — it may take up to six months to truly gauge the asset’s staying power.

And with asset managers like Vanguard refusing to offer the ETFs, and the SEC still coming after the crypto industry at large, it may be two steps forward, one step back for “tokenization.”

So, now we want to hear from you…


We ask the hard-hitting questions.

Do you own Bitcoin?

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86.7% of you voted No in Friday’s poll: Do you value limited-edition clothing and footwear?

“If I buy something limited-edition, it’s because I genuinely want it, not because it’s limited-edition.”

“Artificial scarcity is lame. Don’t feed the monster.”

“It retains absolutely no value.”

“I am not a collector despite being what you might call a sneakerhead. It’s frustrating when the best designs are limited-edition and then collected by people who never wear them. It makes me never want to contribute to the hype.”

“Who cares?”

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Fashion flex // Illustration by Kate Walker

A24 cultivates a merch empire

The Future. A24 is becoming a fashion house as much as a film and TV studio, changing the narrative around how fans show their love for their favorite projects. While the products are classically an extension of a popular movie or TV show, A24 may have the credibility to pull a Pixar and experiment with a fashion line that lays easter eggs across various disparate titles.

Scented cinema
A24 doesn’t just release unique specialty films… it releases unique products around those titles.

  • It’s become famous for dropping high-end products around the release of buzzy projects like Priscilla, Midsommar, and Everything Everywhere All at Once.

  • But these aren’t cheap products — A24 has collabs with high-profile clothing brands like Supreme and Burberry, jeweler J Hannah, and candle-maker Joya.

  • And in true streetwear fashion, A24 releases many of these products as limited-edition drops, which can be accessed via the studio’s membership club or app.

A24’s merch is so popular that there’s a 137,000-person Subreddit discussing the pieces, and products typically go for double their retail price on resale platforms.

But if you can’t cop a movie-specific piece, you can always don an “A24”-emblazoned tee or sweater — those have street cred in any major city and on Film Twitter.

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Courtesy of Dreamscape Immersive

Arizona State University puts students on an alien world for biology class

The Future. Arizona State University partnered with Dreamscape Immersive on a VR bio course where lab classes take place in a virtual alien environment, giving students the ability to test concepts in a way that’s both entertaining and educational. If the programs become commonplace, they may make every class a highly accessible study abroad program.

Study intergalactic program
ASU is trading in microscopes for VR headsets, thanks to Men in Black producer Walter Parkes’ Dreamscape Immersive.

  • Dreamscape Learn puts intro bio students into an alien world via VR headsets and an “on-campus motion capture environment.”

  • Students gather data and collect observations in the alien world, analyze the findings in the real world, and then go back into VR to conduct experiments not possible in the real world.

  • Aside from biological concepts, the experience is designed to teach problem-solving skills and data analysis.

Over 12,000 students have already gone through the class, which ASU alleges has boosted student performance, especially among groups historically underrepresented in higher ed, according to Fast Company. Other universities are now getting in on the action.

Additionally, Dreamscape and ASU are working on experiences for courses in chemistry, art history, and astronomy. It looks like every major may soon have a virtual study abroad program.

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The best curated daily stories from around the web

Media, Music, & Entertainment

  • The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” is the first song ever to pass four billion streams on Spotify, which equals about $22 million in royalties. Read More → variety

  • The American Federation of Musicians, the union representing composers and musicians working in film and TV, is set to start negotiations with the AMPTP on a new contract. Read More → thr

  • The NFL is playing defense against Congress and the courts over how it airs games in the age of streaming. Read More → insider

Fashion & E-Commerce

  • Pharrell is joining Human Made — founded by Billionaire Boys Club and ICECREAM collaborator NIGO — as an advisor. Read More → highsnobiety

  • Louis Vuitton is rolling out a men’s fine jewelry collection, which is inspired by Louis Vuitton’s grandson, Gaston-Louis Vuitton. Read More → hypebeast

  • Social-commerce startup SuperOrdinary wants to ride the TikTok Shop wave to American livestream-shopping glory. Read More → insider

Tech, Web3, & AI

  • Apple stresses that its upcoming Vision Pro headset is not a mixed reality device but a “spatial computing” one. Read More → fastcompany

  • Mark Zuckerberg is pivoting Meta once again — this time from a metaverse company to an AI one. Read More → bloomberg

  • Dutch aviation startup Eviation hopes to bring the electric revolution to commercial air travel. Read More → fastcompany

Creator Economy

  • Threads users will be able to follow people on rival social network Mastodon later this year, after the Meta-backed platform joined the fediverse. Read More → techcrunch

  • Substack has started losing high-profile newsletters, such as Casey Newton’s Platformer, after the company refused to remove blatant pro-Nazi content. Read More → theverge

  • CNDO, a new platform from German TikToker Tim Schaeker, lets creators compete with their followers on streak-based challenges. Read More → tubefilter

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Today’s email was written by David Vendrell.
Edited by Boye Akolade. Copy edited by Kait Cunniff.
Published by Darline Salazar.

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